There is no question that the City of Lawrence is the hub of the opioid epidemic in New England. There is also no question that while violent crime is drastically down over the last year, Lawrence is still a crime riddled city and a destination for heroin and other drug traffickers, users, and violent fugitives.
When president Trump, NH Governor Sununu, and Maine Governor LePage, all called out Lawrence as the source of the opioid crisis in New England, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera did what he always does. He shirked responsibility and made it about race.
He whined that outsiders were “kicking Lawrence while we are down.”
He denied Lawrence is where most of the opioids in New England come from. And he derided people from “outside the city” giving Lawrence a bad reputation.
As if Lawrence’s reputation is only bad because those evil outsiders say mean things.
Rivera’s position on the matter was red meat for some Lawrence residents who share his inferiority complex and want to take no responsibility for the condition Lawrence is in.
Last week, a Hollywood documentary called “Lawtown” was released. It highlights the opioid and homelessness problem in the City of Lawrence as a microcosm of the rest of the country. It clearly spells out that this isn’t just in Lawrence but all over the country. And it seeks to address the problem so that it can possibly be solved.
It is harsh. It is real, and it focuses on the fact that good people are literally dying in the streets of a once proud city, all the while Lawrence politicians deny the problem.
So, it was no surprise when “Lawtown” was released on-line, that some Lawrence residents parroted Rivera’s excuses on social media.
They complained that those “evil outsiders” were once again just “trying to make Lawrence look worse than it already does.”
SHOULD OUTSIDERS HAVE NO SAY?
Clearly Mayor Rivera and many in Lawrence are of the opinion that only people “from Lawrence” should have anything to say about what goes on IN Lawrence. That kind of thinking is adolescent and hypocritical. Here’s why.
OUTSIDERS ARE PAYING LAWRENCE’S BILLS
First, nearly 100% of Lawrence’s municipal budget comes from state and federal taxpayers. Lawrence’s city budget is nearly $180M but only takes in about $40M in property taxes. Add to that the millions in state and federal grants that are pumped into Lawrence for education, public safety, community development, etc., that are not even counted as part of Lawrence’s municipal budget. That means the outsiders are paying more than 100% of Lawrence’s expenses.
Surely, those paying the freight should have some kind of say over the lack of progress in Lawrence after pumping billions of state and federal dollars into the city over the last 30+ years.
WHAT HAPPENS IN LAWRENCE DOES NOT STAY IN LAWRENCE
Secondly; Outsiders should also have a say about what happens in Lawrence because surrounding communities are severely affected by the crime in Lawrence. It spills over into Methuen, Dracut, North Andover, Andover and Salem, NH.
In fact, US Attorney Lelling recently stated in another newspaper:
“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that most of the heroin and fentanyl being sold on the streets in Portland, Manchester, Concord and other locations in those states is coming from Lawrence,”
“We’ve known for years that a lot of drug trafficking happens in Lawrence, but it’s become a source for the rest of New England.”
Last year the DEA revealed after a major raid in Lawrence that a finger of heroin costs about $400 in Lawrence. But, that same finger of heroin goes for about $600-$800 in central NH, and can fetch as much as $1,000-$1,200 in Maine and Vermont.
Anyone with a basic understanding of economics knows that the price of any product is cheapest where it is most plentiful. Heroin and fentanyl are obviously more plentiful in Lawrence because this is where they are manufactured, packaged, and distributed to other New England locations.
No wonder why Lawrence is a tourist destination for drug dealers all over New England.
MORE OUTSIDERS TRYING TO MAKE LAWRENCE BETTER
Thirdly; On a regular basis, the brave law enforcement officers of the FBI, DEA, US Marshalls, State Police gang and drug units, as well as a plethora of other “outside” law enforcement agencies come into the city to make major arrests for drugs, guns, and violent fugitives. Outsiders, who put their lives on the line to protect the good decent law-abiding citizens of Lawrence. Surely those “outsiders” should have a say.
AN IMMIGRANT CITY
Lastly; The real kicker here is that Lawrence residents boast of an “immigrant city” and brag about how so many people from so many different countries have come to plant roots in the once thriving mill town. By their own admission, a large number of people in Lawrence are not only “not from Lawrence” but are, in fact not even from this country.
Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, it’s not.
What I AM saying is that an immigrant city which prides itself on the fact that outsiders have come to settle down here from all over the globe, should not be so hypocritical as to complain about outsiders who are trying to call attention to Lawrence’s problems and also trying to fix them – while local ‘leaders’ fail year after year to put a dent in the epidemic of drugs and violence.
There is no doubt that most of the people who live in Lawrence are good decent people who deserve to live in a community that is safe. They deserve leaders who care enough to tackle these issues head on, and call them out for what they are.
But they don’t. So, it’s up to those outside of Lawrence to try and fix the city and perhaps team up with those who live in Lawrence who actually care and want to make a real difference.
If you want to understand why the drug and crime problem in Lawrence has not gotten any better in the last few decades, it’s because Lawrence officials (and those who parrot their talking points) would rather exploit fears of racism, make excuses, and blame “the others” for pointing out the problem.
It’s not because of a documentary or “outsiders” saying mean things. ◊