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Lawrence, City of the Doomed? Preliminary & General Elections

cityhall4saleBy: Kathy RungeOct. 2015

I heard that the real reason for the extreme shortage of poll workers for the Preliminary Election was that the city required the poll workers to be citizens (of the United States). Does that mean that there were non-citizens working the polls for the other elections?

There was at least one person who had an inactive voter registration that the poll workers somehow couldn’t find. This person gave the name and address that was on their voter registration and was at the correct polling location. The possibility of voting provisionally was never mentioned. Poll workers never called the Elections Division to see if the person was registered in the city. Were they too busy to help? I can hardly believe that given the exceedingly low voter turnout.

Not one member of the Board of Registrars was present in the Elections Division after polls closed except City Clerk William Maloney.

The only sticker candidate to be successful was Councilor Almonte. I hear reports that she was seen giving tickets of some sort to people who took her stickers. This could be the start of a disturbing trend. Even the appearance of an impropriety at the polls is not what this city needs.
Two ballots from District F were found in the side pocket of the voting machine after the election night tally was completed. These are ballots that the machine wouldn’t accept. They were placed in a sealed envelope. At the September 29th meeting the Board of Registrars held to certify the election results, the board voted to count these ballots.

One of the ballots contained a sticker with a vote for a candidate who was running a sticker campaign for District F School Committee. Unfortunately the sticker was placed in the write-in section for the Technical School Committee. The Board of Registrars voted 2-1 to apply that write-in vote to the Lawrence School Committee race. President Nikolas Petrakis and board member Aldonsa Pereyra voted in favor while William Maloney voted against. How can they presume to know the intent of the voter?

There were no votes on these ballots for either Richard Russell or Jorge Gonzalez, who were fighting for the sixth spot on the ballot for Councilor at Large, so Richard Russell is on the November ballot with a 3-vote margin.

This is going to be an important election. The top vote getter for Councilor at Large, first time candidate Brian DePena, is said to be gathering allies to support his bid for Council President. Heaven help us. Although Mr. DePena claims to not be associated with Lantigua anymore, the two of them were recently seen associating. Where, you ask? Here’s a hint: not in the United States. Of course, he could hardly be a worse Council President than Councilor Maldonado.
Mr. DePena claims to be against the recall but I hesitate to believe that. I’ve heard him say little else in English. He may be a great person and wonderful friend but that doesn’t make a good councilor. I haven’t seen him at any neighborhood meetings. He doesn’t seem to care about introducing himself to the voters who don’t know him.

DePena’s Spanish language campaign is at least partially based on ethnic division. In the June 4th edition of El Mundo Boston he said that the lack of minority representation in police departments is getting critical nationwide, and that although Latinos are 70% of our city there are only two or three Latino police officers and firefighters in Lawrence. Why would he lie like that?
My recommendations for Councilor at Large are Richard Russell, James Blatchford and Nilka Alvarez-Rodriguez. I don’t agree with all of their positions but I believe they are fair, knowledgeable, and intelligent people who will listen to your concerns and try to legislate fairly. For the District Council races I recommend Myra Ortiz (A), Estela Reyes (B), Kendrys Vasquez (C), Jeovanny Rodriguez (D), David Abdoo (E), and Marc Laplante (F).

Open Meeting Law (OML) Developments

As reported in the September issue, in a response dated August 14th, the Attorney General’s office ruled that the City Council violated the OML in January in response to a complaint filed by this writer. They were found to have improperly gone into executive session and were not being specific enough in describing the item on the agenda and before the executive session. I’ve been waiting since January for the council to deal with this at a public meeting.
By accident I found out that Maldonado brought the matter up at the very end of the September 15th council meeting, long after I left. Needless to say, it was not on the agenda, bringing up yet another potential violation of the OML.

Immediately before adjourning, Maldonado gives an “Oh, I’m sorry, there was a matter,” and directs Council’s attention to a bulging envelope containing information from the Attorney General. He goes on to say that there was an executive session, he couldn’t remember when but thought July. He stated that “somebody” filed a complaint saying there wasn’t enough information given and the Attorney General agreed with them. He alluded to the article in the “Patriot Valley” and directed the Councilors to read the material from the Attorney General.
Well, I guess the case is closed as far as the Council is concerned. Unfortunately the under-described item is still sitting on the agenda as a tabled item. There will be more to come on the OML next month.

Is Lawrence the city of the doomed? You will decide that question on November 3rd. Please vote.

Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan is president and publisher of The Valley Patriot Newspaper in North Andover, Massachusetts. He is an author, host of the Paying Attention TV/Radio Program, lectures on media bias and police issues, is a former Lawrence School Committeeman, former political director for Mass. Citizens Alliance, and a 1990 Police Survivor. You can email your comments to valleypatriot@aol.com.

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