Finally, this Mayor is Right! By Dalia Díaz

Finally, this Mayor is Right!

By Dalia Díaz

In the biggest display yet of arrogance and manipulation, Isabel Meléndez has once again used the residents of Lawrence to her advantage. For those too young or easily influenced, let me give you a historical background of the General Donovan School and how Isabel managed to become a squatter for so many years.

This is not the first time the administration of the City of Lawrence has tried to reclaim a property that doesn’t belong to her.

Just think about what landlords go through when a tenant refuses to pay rent and the property owner must continue supplying heating, electricity, water, and snow removal, even when there were no arrangements for rent or compensation.

As part of my preparation for this article, my research included local newspapers, which are available to anyone interested in knowing the facts of the story. Most of these articles are found in The Eagle-Tribune.

Isabel has been advocating for the deed of the building to be turned over to her but on October 13, 2013, an article criticized her tenure there stating that it was worth over $1.5 million. She has succeeded always by rallying up her constituency with the cry of community service and being there always for the needy. No city official has shown sufficient courage to kick her out and she stays.


January 22, 2018 – The Daily News of Newburyport – State investigating the rent-free deal. No-cost housing for anti-poverty programs may be illegal

The state inspector general is investigating whether a succession of mayors violated state procurement laws for almost a decade by providing a former school building valued at $1.2 million without charge to a woman who runs a range of social service programs inside — including voter registration — while actively campaigning for the mayors who give her the breaks.


April 23, 2018 – The Eagle-Tribune published City takes over relief programs run by Isabel Meléndez.  The city has absorbed a private relief program that political activist Isabel Meléndez has run in a city building she’s occupied…


Feb 13, 2018 — The bill from Isabel: at least $250000, plus rent.  State Inspector General Glenn Cunha recently directed the city to provide him with an accounting of the bills it has paid at the school since …


Apr 23, 2018 — Beyond allowing Meléndez to occupy the former General Donovan School … The EagleTribune obtained the same records under the state’s Public …


April 23, 2020 – The City takes over relief programs run by Isabel Meléndez.  The takeover comes as the state investigates her rent-free deal.


The reason for showing you these few articles is so that you can understand that this is not something unfair or discriminatory from Mayor Brian DePeña. This is a battle that has been ongoing for many years and different administrations that were too cowardly to put her in her place.

But, how much good has she been doing for the community?

She has blinded everyone with that idea when in reality, she and her daughter Marisa Meléndez had been running a business. Just take a look at their advertising below. They charge anywhere from $30 to $50 for translation of documents and a Power of Attorney costs $150. The same for weddings; they are not for free. They even have what I call an “altar” which makes for a nice background for the ceremonies.

And the clothing and furnishing donated for the needy are not given away for free, either. There’s a “donations” box and she always requests a contribution. Yes, a contribution for something that did not cost anything in a building that costs her nothing and she brags about doing it on a volunteer basis. The same for the donations to buy coffee; there has never been an accounting of the collections.

When she was running Hispanic Week, she was in total control, and not even the board could get a straight answer regarding the loss of money. The same when she was running the Christmas toy giveaway. People who were close to her and her family did their shopping ahead of the party, choosing the best toys. Having become disillusioned, they would talk openly. I blame all of them for becoming an accessory to her revolting behavior.

Now, in the most oblivious display of unprofessional journalism, she has been given a platform to cry about this injustice again rallying her troops.

She said that Mayor DePeña “Didn’t even ask for my permission to bring a boxing school into the building…” The epitome of lack of shame with the historical background I just described.

As you can see, I did my homework and the first thing on my agenda was calling the mayor.  He explained that José Madera and his group were displaced from 250 Canal St. because the building is going to be renovated. Since there’s an entire floor being unoccupied, he is allowing them to be there until a new place can be found.

The mayor further said that when he asked Isabel for the keys to the second floor, she responded not knowing where they were and he had to call DPW to change the locks.

Isabel Meléndez never wanted to apply for non-profit status because she would have to answer to a board with firing power. Isabel is the ultimate hustler!



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