From My Corner: February 8, 2021

Is there progress or corruption?

Through the years, Lawrencians have experienced more than any other city the dagger of fake media willing to broadcast lies and ignore truths.  Ten years ago it was an article calling Lawrence the ‘city of the damned’ and now is another one saying that we have seen tremendous progress – both lies and exaggerations.

The reason is that most publications are willing to publish material from contributors without confirming if they are true.  The signer becomes responsible for the content, not the publication and I want to make sure that Dr. Lane Glenn, president of Northern Essex Community College takes responsibility for the inaccuracies in his article “Lawrence no longer a ‘city of the damned’” published on January 30, 2021, by Commonwealth Magazine.

He paints a picture of Lawrence as some sort of paradise and that the change in such a short time was the result of the last administration’s efficiency omitting the negative aspects of what the citizenry had endured.

Since when has the inclusion of a Starbucks coffee shop been the index for a city doing better? Additionally, when people who have never lived, or for many who have never stepped into Lawrence, write accolades of the accomplishment of the city’s last ten years is just hypocritical.

Why would a Starbucks be a symbol of prosperity to the residents of Lawrence? Or was this Starbuck build on Route 114 for the residents of North Andover?

Lawrence was never the City of the Dammed when Boston magazine wrote about it. The city was dammed before 2000. In 2008, under Mayor Sullivan, the residents themselves saved this city.  They rehabilitated and opened up more small businesses than any other city in America. The SBA notified Mayor Sullivan of such accomplishments and was asking him for the strategy to assist other cities in the US.

By 2010, Lawrence was facing a $24.5 million operating deficit left by Mayor Sullivan and the state had to step in with special legislation authorizing the city to float a bond, and appointing a fiscal overseer.  How about giving credit to the Lantigua administration for such a heroic moved to bring the city from a deficit to a surplus.

By the time Dan Rivera became mayor, the city was on a balanced budget with $7 million in free cash.  The overseer was rarely at City Hall leaving Rivera to run wild with very little supervision and finally left in February of 2019.

Dr. Glenn talks about positive changes being the result of working in a “team.”  For the past seven years, our political leadership has not worked in a team.  They have put their political career and personal finances first over the wellbeing of the community.

Between 2017 and 2020, there have been several articles in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Christian Science Monitor, (these articles started with a submission by the Lawrence Partnership, probably trying to help Mayor Rivera find a job) “holding Lawrence up as a model of civic engagement, educational reform, transportation innovation, and more”, according to Dr. Glenn.  What about our local press and the community have to say? Three outsider media organizations that have no clue of what goes on in Lawrence have a say and all of a sudden we have to believe it?

Let’s not forget that these articles have been a great way for him to promote NECC at a national level.  He uses the city and its people to promote his interests.

To clarify each point, I will be breaking down his statements according to the areas mentioned in that piece. Education, unemployment, housing, economic development, public safety and transportation, and every topic he discussed as the greatest accomplishments of the last decade, I will show where we stand.

In a city where human and civil rights have been kicked around, where laws have been ignored or circumvented to suit the wishes of a dictator, how can we continue to lie?

Our current situation with the special election fiasco shows that it’s not just city hall but the alliances they have made at the state level.  Judge Kathleen McCarthy-Neyman did not address the specific laws Modesto and I argued that were violated when we appeared before her asking for the special election to be held as the City Charter and Massachusetts General Laws require.

The worst dilemma is finding ourselves alone.  Where are the leaders?  This is an orphan community.  When the next elections come around, we will see them coming out of the woodwork asking for justice, while running for office.  Where were you when we needed your voice?

In a couple of days, don’t miss our Special Edition (printed for everyone to see) with my response to Dr. Lane Glenn.

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