Somerville's trash disposal contractor was reappointed as a constable last week over the objections of Ward 6 Alderman Rebekah Gewirtz, who renewed her criticism of the company's labor practices.
City Constable Charles Carneglia owns F.W. Russell, a waste disposal company that in November received a five-year contract extension for the city's trash and recycling services. Gewirtz said at the Dec. 22 Board meeting she opposes Carneglia's reappointment because of his behavior during a labor dispute two years ago.
A 2007 struggle between Russell and Teamsters Local 25 turned violent when the union chained the gates to Russell's facility, forcing riot police to break up the picketers. Carneglia was a central and visible figure in the dispute, facing off against picketers and at one point donning a sombrero -- a move Gewirtz has said was racially motivated.
Carneglia could not be reached for comment.
"My concern is that people we're going to count as constables in the city should be people who are upstanding citizens," Gewirtz said after the meeting. "From my observations of Russell and (Carneglia's) actions in the street ... I'm just not so sure this is a person we want issuing subpoenas."
The Board of Aldermen learned in 2008 that Russell's pay practices had come under scrutiny by the Massachusetts Attorney General's office. An official said Tuesday the investigation is ongoing and that the office does not comment on open investigations.
The investigation did not come up when the Board discussed renewing the company's contract in November.
At the Dec. 22 meeting, after being warned by Board President Walter Pero to "be careful" about criticizing Carneglia, Gewirtz said she would not support Carneglia wielding power from the city.
"We have a real concern on our hands," Gewirtz responded. "This is someone who has the ability to issue warrants and subpoenas and approach people at their doors."
Ward 1 Alderman Bill Roche, who chairs the Confirmation of Appointments Committee, said Carneglia received a background check from the Somerville Police Department and that there are no complaints against him on file.
"There's no blemish on his record whatsoever," Roche said.
Gewirtz was the only vote in opposition to the reappointment.