From My Corner: April 8, 2024

City Council penance

Sometimes I think there are better things we could do with our time besides watching the Lawrence City Council’s meetings; then, realize that unless I subject myself to that pain, I wouldn’t know what’s going on around me since no other media covers what happens in Lawrence and give in.

Each week there are new complaints and I wonder if I am too demanding.  But HECK! When people run for those positions, they swear to be the best qualified and best prepared for the challenges and what we find is that they are unprepared, and holding office is nothing but a game they claim to have won.

Then, there’s the newly found power.  They have opinions on everything and being ignorant is not a deterrent.  Being a city councilor means that you can damage people’s reputation, that you can make working conditions for city workers unbearable, and, in the long run, mistakes could be made costing the taxpayers lots of money.  Hold your opinions for the proper time and only when they are relevant.

In my March 22nd column, I said that the council meeting was a circus.  President Jeovanny Rodriguez objected to my description, but I believe that he must instruct its members about the proper conduct and decorum in the Chamber because it happened again last week.

There was a group of businesspeople in attendance because they were waiting for the council to approve giving them grants instead of loans that Mayor Brian DePeña promised.  Some of them spoke expressing their wishes and I was happy to see that they responded to Sara Perez’s call to make their presence known.

At the end of the discussion, Councilor Wendy Luzón went to the podium (as she is President of the Federación de Comerciantes) and the group representing the businesses pulled out signs having achieved their purpose.

I didn’t notice that anyone tried to stop her or break up the celebration while they were taking pictures.  (There’s a picture on this page.)

Wendy has been involved for many years in city government with previous administrations and she must know that signs are forbidden in the Council Chambers.  As a sitting councilor, she should be aware of the rules and ordinances.

But Wendy does not care much about rules, what’s right, or honesty.  For years, I have written about how she lied about having a college degree only having to admit under oath that she only has a high school diploma.

She has an inconceivable financial record having been taken to court by credit card companies for lack of payment; in 2016, the City of Lawrence issued an Instrument of Taking for not paying property taxes and she owes the State $32,482.89 in meals tax that she neglected to pay since 2021 at her restaurant El Caldero.  Now the State has sent a Notice of Massachusetts Tax Lien on all property and rights to property.

Wendy and her husband Raul Polanco are not new to this.  In 2013 the State placed a tax lien on all of Polanco’s properties for owing $3,887.41 and later another lien against A & J Demolition Services Corp. for Wage Violation for a total of $3,055.50.

Paying bills and living a straight life is not a priority for some people and then they want to rule everybody else’s.

It goes without saying that Wendy Luzon likes to talk about others, judge and throw stones forgetting that she too lives in a glass house.

  1. Proper Decorum within the City Council Chamber during Meetings.

In order to preserve the public safety and proper decorum during Council Meetings, there shall be no signs within the Council Chambers during Council Meetings and Council Subcommittee Meetings. The intention of this Rule is to ensure that civility shall be maintained and enforced at all times within the chamber walls. The action that takes place is by and for the residence of Lawrence and deserves respect at all time.


Unprepared council

Speaking of how ill-prepared they were, Tuesday night’s meeting lasted six hours until past one in the morning because a lot of time was wasted with useless conversations or insane suggestions like Councilor Vivian Marmol’s.

During the presentation City Attorney Tim Houton was doing before the council Vivian asked him if the council could establish an ordinance prohibiting the mayor from issuing executive orders.  One more proof is that they are declaring war against him.

Of course, Atty. Houton explained that it is not possible, and Mayor DePeña has said that to get the city business done, if the council doesn’t want to work with him, he’ll do it by executive order.

Something that took me by surprise was that Atty. Houton asked to take certain item out of tabled as an emergency.  The council had approved during a previous meeting to request the State Auditor to do an audit on Lawrence Community Access Television (LCAT) and then tabled it until further notice.

Atty. Houton told the council that they should go back and rescind that vote because Diana DiZoglio cannot do an audit on a non-profit organization.  Councilor Ana Levy tried to stop him because the auditor “will be coming next week to speak with the mayor on that issue.  Why the rush to do that tonight,” she said.

Councilor Levy questioned whose decision it was for him to come before the council and ask for a vote to cancel the approved request for an audit.

She went on to say that “the only thing her office would evaluate are the contracts between the City and LCAT if the city agrees,” insisting there was no emergency for that vote.

Another example of ignorance, in my judgment, is the city council approved two vendors of cannabis in the city after the public voted overwhelmingly a few years ago not to allow the sale of marihuana in the city.  If I am mistaken because something has changed, please explain.


Lawrence Police Officers sue the city

This class action suit covers officers who attended the academy for training and were paid $15 per hour while other cities pay their trainees well above that amount.  They were also deprived of overtime when they were assigned other duties after hours.

This demand covers officers who attended the academy during the past three years.  The lawsuit has been presented as a wage violation by Methuen attorney Danilo Gomez in Essex Superior Court and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.


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