From My Corner: April 8, 2022

The Movement Family (TMF)

At last Tuesday’s council meeting, there was a new item on the agenda about a petition from The Movement Family (TMF) an organization founded 10 years ago sponsoring the Wednesday night dinners for the homeless.

They were petitioning the use of the Buckley Garage as they used to hold their dinners there in the past.  They were suspended because the city found some trash and evidence of drug use there and this time, they came prepared with enough support to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The council had no plans to discuss it at that time or take it as an “emergency” but since it was sponsored by Vice President Estela Reyes, she requested a motion to take it as an emergency.  They were petitioning for a two-year contract with the city.

Mayor Brian De Peña told me that there is a process they must follow, similar to any non-profit organization.  The organization must pick up a package of information at the DPW offices with instructions for the necessary documentation such as liability insurance, a contract with the city at the city attorney’s office, and permission from the MVRTA because they have a contract for that space.

The group was impressively supported by several volunteers including a gentleman who is committed to leaving everything clean.  He assured the city that he’ll do the clean-up.

At first, I couldn’t understand why it was approved without discussing any of the above requirements.  Since it was taken as an emergency item, they were given 60 days to collect all of those requirements.  On Tuesday, April 12, the Ordinance Committee will discuss it at length.


It’s all who you know!

If you ever wonder why fans volunteer to work in political campaigns, it is not always because the candidate fills their hopes for a better future but for promises made.  If he happens to be the boss, they tend to side with him to get in his good graces in case there’s a recompense in the future.

If there’s one positive thing I can say about Dan Rivera is that he is loyal to his friends.  He knew how to play the game of politics and managed to get a state job earning one quarter million dollars a year.  Then, he started taking city employees with him and the latest token of appreciation was a governor’s appointment to City Attorney Raquel Ruano as Associate Justice of the District Court.

When Charley Boddy left the position of city attorney vacant, Mayor Rivera and the city council started playing games with the selection of a new city attorney.  Raquel Ruano had proven herself as his assistant and she was the only person of Latino descent who spoke Spanish among the applicants.

Once she was appointed, she turned all her attention toward the mayor’s interests and it paid off!

I believe that a quote from the Yankees great Yogi Berra is applicable in her case: “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”

She will be here until June.


School Superintendent and FOIA request

In a recent conversation with a mother of an 8-year-old boy, she was almost in tears telling me about something the child was told by a teacher who was explaining how racial relations were in the past.

The child has features akin to his father’s, while his mother has lighter skin and the message from the teacher was that she wouldn’t have been able to hold his hand in public because of the obvious difference.  “He was visibly upset at that thought,” and she was hurting remembering that exchange.

Is there any need for a young child to learn about the cruelties of the past and particularly, being chosen to illustrate her point?  We all must learn about that shameful period of the history of the United States at the right time and age when we can assimilate its meaning and consequences.

There are professionals dictating how education must change in this country and parents are not aware of how sleazy they are to accomplish it.  This generation is growing up scared, confused, and unable to deal with the realities of life in adulthood.

That’s why on March 29, 2022, I requested under the Freedom of Information Act documentation on any materials, books, graphics, toys, etc. being used in grades K-12 relative to teaching about the difference in races, known as Critical Race Theory, Project 1619, or any other name that Lawrence Public Schools uses to teach racial historical disparities in the U.S.  To this date, I have heard no response from the Lawrence Public Schools.  According to the law, they have ten days to comply.

Once I bring you the examples of what they are being taught, I will be asking for your support to bring your concerns to the administration, and believe me, when you get the details, you will be outraged.


Martin Luther King is turning on his grave

Martin Luther King said in his famous I Have a Dream speech, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

That was 1963 and soon after that, in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 which banned discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. It addressed voting rights, employment, public accommodations, education, and more.

The struggles continued but other laws were enacted to protect those rights and prevent discrimination being the most important one forbidding discrimination in housing and employment.  Women of all races also benefitted from these measures protecting their job opportunities and equality in income.

Things in this country looked like a real democracy for all.  Race, gender, or nationality could not be considered in hiring since it was understood that we are all “equal” until recently when the pendulum began to swing the other way.

For the past few weeks, I have been following the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court until the official vote this week.  I didn’t want to comment on that process because I have an opinion and there are people that – before listening to the entire explanation and reasons – begin with accusations and the word in fashion these days is “racist.”

            I question why none of the senators complained that we have laws prohibiting the use of race or gender in hiring.  This is not a negative comment about Judge Jackson; I am not talking about her qualifications.  I’m talking about the requirement that “only a Black woman” should be considered.  That’s illegal because it is discrimination based on gender and race at the highest level.  White people need not apply.


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