From My Corner: June 8, 2024

Hispanic Week celebration

During the past few weeks, people have been wondering if a decision has been made about where it will be held.  Hispanic Week President Germinudy Rosario has gone before the council a few times and they have not come up with a decision as to whether they will be allowed to do the festival in the park, but not the Fiesta carnival because it creates lots of damage to the grounds and the city must spend too much money to repair it.

For several years, the council has been talking about making changes to the use of machinery on the Campagnone Common but it has not been taken seriously enough.  Now that they want to impose limitations on the use of Fiesta Shows, their minds cannot meet.

Finally, since Semana Hispana is scheduled to take place on June 15 and 16, the city council called for an emergency meeting on June 7.  It was a very contentious assembly, difficult to follow but, in the end, the vote was to approve the festivities to go on at the park, except the rides.  This motion was made by Councilor Ana Levy.

The motion was approved except for councilors Fidelina Santiago and Wendy Luzón who was fighting for the Fiesta Shows to be included in the decision, considering that Hispanic Week would be losing approximately $62,000.

Then, Councilor Luzón tried bringing it up again for Fiesta to be included and some councilors, including council president Jeovanny Rodríguez, told her that it had already been decided by the recent vote.

Suddenly, to my surprise, Councilor Gregory Delrosario yelled “Charter Objection” and put an end to the argument.

It’s about time to start planning what to do with Semana Hispana for next year and beyond instead of waiting until the last minute.

It was noticeable that President Rodríguez on several occasions, asked the City Clerk Eileen Bernal what the count was before issuing his vote and voted with the majority.  I found that strange.

These meetings are difficult to watch because of the tensions between President Rodríguez and former president Mark Laplante.


Increase minimum wage to $20

The Massachusetts Legislature is going to be debating increasing the minimum wage to $20 an hour.  They should be reading the same newspapers I read because on April 1st it was adopted by California, and it has been a disaster.

Historically, fast food places were a fun place to bring your children and have an inexpensive meal.  Those restaurant jobs were created to enable to support a family but a place for young people to learn job responsibilities, and discipline while earning a little spending money.  This new law affected not only restaurant workers but anyone earning minimum wage on any type of job.

Before April 1st, 2024, businesses started doing the numbers, laying off employees and making changes.  Staff members were not happy because they had to pick up the duties of the laid-off employees and Pizza Hut canceled more than 1200 drivers when they eliminated the delivery service last December.

The result of that was that people who like to eat pizza were not going in person and those restaurants lost business

But it got worse.  Rubio Restaurant closed 48 restaurants.  Red Lobster is closing over 50 restaurants and is planning to sell them at auction.

This is also a trend we have seen all over the country resulting from the increase in crime and the economy.  Nationwide, Sears, Filene’s, Christmas Tree Shops, Walgreens, CVS, Bed, Bath and Beyond, etc. have been disappearing in the last few years; and who knows how many independent businesses have shut down as well.

We hope that our legislators see the example California represents and avoid going that route in Massachusetts.


Homeless: What’s being done?

I received the following announcement of how his administration is planning to tackle this problem.  Please let me know if you agree with it.  Below, I’ll give you my thoughts.


          Mayor Brian A. DePeña, has launched a first-of-its-kind initiative to address unsheltered homelessness.

          Mayor DePeña’s Administration, the Lawrence Police Department, and the Community Development Department along with Community Partners Launch Initiative to Support Individuals with Substance Use Disorders, Mental Illness, and Homelessness.

          The Lawrence Police Department, in collaboration with community partners, launched a new initiative to assist individuals dealing with substance use disorders, mental illness, homelessness, or a combination of these challenges.  This event featured representatives from the City of Lawrence’s Community Development Opioid Project and the Mayor’s Health Task Force, CTC, Adcare, Essex County Outreach, LGH, Essex County Sheriff’s Department Star program, Methuen Cares Program, and Lahey Behavioral Health.

          This initiative is being funded by the City of Lawrence’s Community Development Department.


I find this treatment unusual, dehumanizing, and not effective.  The government is not offering any alternatives beyond a bus ticket to a city far away from here.  They deserve better than sleeping at the police station one night.  What would they do?  Give them a fine?

Some of them are veterans and I wonder how many of them received services from those agencies above.  I have never worked with the homeless, but they keep throwing money at the problem and things remain the same.


And one last thing…

Richard Russell wrote on his Facebook page the following:


Rich Russell

It is a shame that no ‘City Officials’ could find some time to attend this ‘non City ceremony’. There were several ‘selfie’ type cameras and at least, 3 real, honest to goodness cameras there; so the chance of your photos being circulated online or in print would have been good. I am willing to bet if the city had arranged the ceremony or if it was close to election seasons, elected officials from 200 Common St would have been attendance. What gives me the right to say things like this? The fact that I am a veteran and I will honor those that possibly prevented some Lawrence residents from having to put sauerkraut on their tacos!

I would like to clarify for the residents of Lawrence that there was no publicity for this ceremony and looking at the pictures, there were no more than 20 people in attendance.  It appears to be more like a private event.

I asked several councilors and city officials, and they had no idea that it was going to take place and did not receive a notice to attend.


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