The recent vote of the Lawrence City Council to approve by eight votes Mayor Daniel Rivera’s request to raise taxes by 2.5% is the talk of the town.
Out of nine councilors only one, Modesto Maldonado voted against it. The councilors who voted in favor were Nilka Alvarez-Rodriguez, Oneida Aquino, Marc Laplante, Eileen O’Conner-Bernal, Estela Reyes and Kendrys Vasquez.
Councilors Roger Twomey and Sandy Almonte were not present at the time to take the vote. According to statements by Modesto Maldonado, President of the Council, Mr. Twomey claimed to be ill and left before the session ended. District A Councilor Sandy Almonte to date has given no explanation for her absence, although many have already realized her irresponsibility when it comes to making a decision that could affect her political future.
According to an ancient mathematical rule, votes of absent members most likely would be inclined to the majority, although only 5 votes were enough to pass the petition.
We understand that the city has obligations to its citizens. It must maintain vital services, including security. We understand that the cost of these services fluctuates or rather, increases every year and the City has to make sure to have the necessary income to cover them; this is where the problem lies. The city does not have that revenue so it does have to resort to higher property taxes.
Although it hurts, we are not opposed to tax increases if they are consciously used for the benefit of all. We are opposed to increases before thoroughly seeking other avenues or forms of income, and for that we have a Department of Economic Development.
We are opposed to the practice of the present administration to act and/or proceed without the consent and/or approval of the city council. We remain opposed to have an individual, just because he is a friend of the mayor, occupying a lead position without the qualifications. Specifically, we are referring to Mr. Theo Rosario, who is listed as City Engineer when his degree supposedly is as Agricultural Engineer.
Still ringing in our ears are the words of a newly inaugurated Mayor Daniel Rivera before more than 300 people who attended the annual breakfast of the Chamber of Commerce, with the mayors and administrators of the Merrimack Valley on January 17, 2014, when he said, for complacency of those present, “We are cleaning the house.” He also promised that he would bring the best qualified people to work for the city.
Mayor Rivera meant the accumulation of firings of city employees that he distributed – some even before taking possession of his office – who have filed complaints with the courts.
The first case to be heard, the City’s Comptroller, resulted in a court decision in his favor. David Camasso must be reinstated in his position, reimbursement of wages, benefits and legal expenses.
And this is just the first one; there are many, many more. We’ll see how much cleaning of the house will cost us!