From My Corner: December 22, 2019


The MVRTA saga

For a few weeks, I have been writing about the lack of service provided to Lawrence by the MVRTA (Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority), even after we paid $225,000 for 3 bus routes to run for free. On December 18, 2019, The Boston Globe published an article (I believe it was in response to my complaints) and compelled me to send a letter to the editor.  Here it is:


Dear Editor,


This letter is concerning an article that I believe the writer of your newspaper, Nestor Ramos, just went along with a story that was already made.  I am speaking in regards to the titled ‘Just make it free’: Lawrence paid all the fares for three bus routes, and ridership is up.

That appears to be a response to several times I wrote in Rumbo about this deal with Bus #85 because having been paid for two years, it occasionally doesn’t run or runs half a day only.  The explanations in this article seemed to come directly from Mayor Rivera.

Mr. Ramos received all the information in an already made article with photos that he, nor anyone at the Globe, took themselves even though it states that photographer Nic Antaya took those photos himself. One of the photos includes a Ms. Kayla Bernardini. Ms. Bernardini is and continues to be a close campaign worker of Mayor Rivera. It is unfortunate that this young lady was used as an instrument for the many fabrications that were published in the story.  Was it coincidence that she happened to be riding the bus when the photographer was there? Attached please find a message a reader sent me listing more cancellations.

Let’s first, say that the “…small portion of the surplus…” is not that small after all.  If your writer would have viewed the city’s 2020 budget, Mr. Ramos would have noticed that the City of Lawrence already hands, to the MVRTA, over $1 million in funds based on the assessments.  In other words, the MVRTA does not make enough money on the overall city ridership and therefore charges the City of Lawrence over $1 million to continue operating in the city (and that does not include the money MVRTA charges residents for the fare.)

Second, the so call “small surplus” for the free buses that comes out to $225,000 is added to the $1 million (making payments to the MVRTA at 1.2 million dollars (more than any other community in the Merrimack Valley and to add insult to injury Mayor Rivera is on the MVTA advisory board since becoming Mayor.  He has used his positions to reward and protect those he worked or supported him during his campaign – which is a conflict all of itself.

Mayor Rivera says that “….in some of the poorest communities this is the only mode of transportation.” Let me inform you that in Lawrence, this is the only form of transportation if you exclude Ubers, Taxis (which have a monopoly in this city because of its politician’s ordinances) and/or Lyft. There are no trains or trolleys within the city.

Mr. Ramos also states in his article that Mayor Rivera implied having a $27 million deficit when he began his first term.  This is a complete lie by your writer, or whoever provided him this information. Mayor Rivera started with $7 million in free cash and $10 million in the Water Enterprise Fund.  Mayor Rivera only has increased that free cash based on a series of eight freezing spends, but not really implementing any lawful or planning changes that would save any monies now or for the future. This includes the over 3 million dollars he has spent on legal fees (outside the city) instead of entering into contracts with the City’s Firefighters and Police.

Additionally, the “clogging of the streets, pollution, and greenhouse…” issues he speaks of are of his own doing.  In the nearly eight years since he has been in office, no new green laws have been submitted or reviewed. The rest has been awful legislation of new intersections, ordinance parking, failure to fine the “block the block”, allowing taxis the luxury of driving and parking however they wish, no buses stop (allowing busses to pick up anywhere) and other failures of transportation-related ideas. 

Making all buses free is really not free.  Someone has to pay and it is usually the taxpayer’s monies that cover the expenses. However, if we really want to make an impact on the question we should be asking MVRTA is “….are they willing to make all their buses green (electric) because their pollutions are only adding to the poisons every Lawrencian is choking up.

Meanwhile, we need the buses to run as agreed or a refund should be in place.


Community Development mystery

On December 8, I wrote extensively about the loss of millions of dollars from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction Grant and the Healthy Homes Production Grant.

In my quest for the reason for being denied, on December 4 I requested under the Freedom of Information Act the most recent HUD monitoring done to Community Development.  A second request had to be sent because as of December 20 I had not received it. This is a document that they city must give anyone so I was not asking for anything out of the ordinary.

Finally, on that day, Vilma Martinez-Dominguez responding with this message:


“The entire packet is 155 pages in total.  Our office staff is in the process of copying the entire packet for you.  We will have it ready for you on Monday at 3pm for pick up at our Office of Planning and Development, 12 Methuen Street, 1st Floor.”


First, those pages are in the computers and all she had to do was email them.  No staff required, no copying, no waiting almost one month. Why does she have to test my intelligence?

I did not respond and just will be going to pick it up Monday at 3 PM.


City Council meeting cancellation

The Lawrence City Council was to meet on the 17th and was cancelled due to the weather.  It was postponed until the next night until they were made aware by certain residents that the change was illegal.  The law says that the postponement must be posted 48 hours in advance all over again and it is set for December 26.

But, there’s another problem with the agenda; they are supposed to discuss the easement in the parking lot next to City Hall.  That’s the vote they passed at a previous meeting and I sent my objection to the Attorney General’s office for a violation on the Open Meeting Law for the way it was handled.  They recognized I was correct and cancelled the whole process having to start again at the council level and then sending it to the Ordinance Committee for approval again.

The next step is going back to the council for the final OK.  The problem is that the Ordinance Committee has not met so it cannot be on the agenda for discussion.

Oh, what a City Council we have!