From My Corner: January 15, 2020

Vilma, new MVPC Commissioner

With the resignation of Theresa Park, director of the Planning Department in Lawrence to become executive director of the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, I checked out of curiosity their website.  That organization serves several communities around and each one sends a representative. As Commissioners I saw the new, the old and the oldest. James Barnes former Community Development Director of Lawrence is a Commissioner.  Ms. Park had been Lawrence representative and now Vilma Martinez Dominguez, Community Development director will be taking her spot.

Each Member has a brief biography detailing their qualifications. I read James Barnes short but impressive credentials.  I glanced at Vilma’s, long and pompous qualifications. The first paragraph was shocking; it said that “she is an urban planner with 24+ years of experience in municipal and non-profit organizations.”  

It also states that she “provides administrative oversight to CDBG, HOME Investment Partnerships and Emergency Solutions Grant entitlement programs, and to a Lead Abatement Program.”  I don’t understand why she would cite a program that it was denied funding. We now know how the City of Lawrence lost millions in those programs with HUD’s denial this year due to mismanagement. The department that she runs also returned $134,630.84 to the Federal government because they didn’t know what to do with it.  For those of you who don’t understand how to manage public funds, let me tell you that returning funds back to the governing agency that awarded the funds is a SIN. It also puts the agency and the mayor in a predicament of bad management and the probability of not being funded as well as before. 

It is believed that Vilma holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Science from Springfield College with a major in Health and Human Services and a nine-month Certificate Program from the Institute for Nonprofit Practice from Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, meeting for four hours once a month.  Upon checking Springfield College’s website, I could not find a bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Services being offered.

Her City of Lawrence job application also states that she attended Northern Essex Community College for 1-1/2 years and then 4 years to Springfield College yet her resume says she attended from January 2000 to December 2001.  That’s two years of college! Her resume, application and cover letter does not reflect whether or not she graduated from college. The job description calls for a Master’s degree.

She was employed at the Lawrence YWCA since 2003 through 2017 when she applied for her current position.  Her application says that she has never worked for the City before but in 2010 she was contracted by Mayor William Lantigua as Coordinator of the Mayor’s Health Task Force and admits in her letter that she held that position for 15 years through the present.

Her duties at the YWCA were the skills listed on MVPC’s website (extensive training in social and racial justice, gender and health equity, and community-based participatory research) so where did she acquire the 24+ years as urban planner to qualify her for the current job.  She was a social worker at the YWCA dealing with domestic violence, not urban planning.

Mayor Rivera campaigned with a promise that he would only hire qualified, educated, professionals for city jobs. Mayor Rivera I think you should look at her application, resume and cover letter before she writes another grant.  There are a lot of inconsistencies in her writings. At this moment I questioned whether or not Vilma Martinez Dominguez has a college degree, if she does, I am sure that she will email me her transcript from Springfield College, and I will let the readers know.

But this is not the first time Rivera fails the residents with his hiring practices.  He gave us a city engineer (Theodoro Rosario) who was an agronomist. During a deposition, he lied about Wendy Luzón having a college degree when she only has high school and there are other supporters placed on good jobs with faked credentials.


Devers responds

On Friday, January 10th, State Representative Marcos Devers appeared on a radio show Fortaleciendo la Familia on WCCM 1490 AM responding to last week’s comments on this column.  Rafael Disla did a good job during the interview asking appropriate questions. He even opened the representative’s page at the State House to argue that Devers shows only four items, the same four that he has been recycling for years to appear that he is doing something.  

Devers had the nerve to say that he doesn’t bother putting what he does on that page as if he personally writes on it.  He sounded convincing and any listener that doesn’t know how that works, would believe him.

The fact is that legislators are quick to respond that 90% of the times they need to see him for any reason they cannot find him in the building – anywhere!

What’s worse is that his legislative aide is not there.  People cannot even leave telephone messages for the representative because he continues to use his aide as photographer and driver.  Yes, driver! He has done that since the first time he became state representative.

During the interview he was pressed to explain some of the issues he has been working on or what bills he has drafted.  Marcos masterfully dominated the answers by speaking in general terms about all the achievements and recently-enacted laws using the word “we” even when he was not involved in any of the things he was mentioning.

Notice that he attends more public events than any other politician and he stands smack in the center of the group for pictures.  He is a master manipulator taking credit for the work done by others.

Marcos Devers is getting paid for a job he’s not doing and the taxpayers are paying for his driver.  You can watch the interview on Facebook; look for Fortaleciendo la Familia the show taped on January 10.


Senior Center

No, I’m not talking about Lawrence Senior Center; that disappeared.  

Always amazed at how the Haverhill Senior Center thrives and engages the seniors!  Imagine getting $1375 off your taxes in exchange for volunteering and keeping active!

They produce a monthly newsletter with sixteen pages chock full of information and opportunities and they actually have a Board that meets monthly.  Amazing!