Charlie Baker: I will put Lawrence into receivership

Baker says if elected, Lantigua will not manage city finances

 Candidate for Governor Tells Tea Party Lantigua not Fit

By: Tom Duggan – October, 2010

Candidate for Governor Charlie Baker
Candidate for Mass. Governor Charlie Baker

Earlier this year, Lawrence Mayor Willie Lantigua partitioned the state legislature to borrow $35Mil claiming there was a $24Mil. deficit in the city’s budget. Governor Deval Patrick wrote House Bill 4421 to do just that and the legislature approved the borrowing measure. Immediately after receiving the borrowed money, Mayor Lantigua gave raises to people in city hall, laid off 24 firefighters and 25 police officers and spent $10,000 on new curtains for his office among other frills.

State Representatives Barry Finegold and David Torrisi voted to give Lantigua the money without any financial controls, without receivership and without a finance control board.

Charlie Baker was asked to address the financial mess in Lawrence and what he would do about it if he was elected governor.

“I have said and I will say it again, we have to have receivership or a control board in the City of Lawrence or we will never straighten this out.

A $25MIL deficit, $35MIL of everybody’s money invested in the city and the governor, I believe for political reasons, chose not to go with a control board and decided to hand the keys over to the newly elected mayor… who, by the way, didn’t think he needed to be the mayor 24-7, 365 days a year. Remember that? He actually thought he could continue to be the State Rep. at the same time. That should have been the warning bell to everybody that this guy didn’t understand the size and significance of the problem that Lawrence faces.

So here we are, six months down the road and all that has happened is what everybody who wanted a control board or receivership said was going to happen; it’s gotten worse in Lawrence.

We still need receivership in Lawrence and we need it now. We needed it yesterday, and we need it tomorrow. And I still expect that people in this administration are going to fiddle with this one and try to play it through until after the election.

Well, the problem that’s going to create is, all those other communities that are expected to step up and provide mutual aide and provide fire protection and police protection for the citizens of Lawrence, they’re not going to be able to do it.

The problem here is that the Governor, Deval Patrick, should have taken ownership and responsibility for this and made the proactive decision months ago to do the right thing. He didn’t do that and as it sits today we still need receivership or a control board in Lawrence. We still need some sort of aggressive, independent review board for the city and we don’t have it.

I will tell you something, the governor sold out the people of Lawrence on this one, he sold out the business people of Lawrence… the people who have businesses there, the guy who is worried every single day about whether or not their business is going to be able to survive… and he sold out the kids of Lawrence!

What you get out of receivership or a control board is professional financial management. Chelsea and Springfield both had receivership and financial control boards and they got better! And they got better quickly because, you had pros in there with leverage and authority to make decisions. That is what we need in Lawrence.
We don’t have it, we desperately need it and I really hope that at some point the governor is going to wake up on this issue because what’s going on right now isn’t fair to anyone who lives in Lawrence.

It certainly isn’t fair to the surrounding communities like North Andover, Andover, Methuen and others who have to send in your public safety officials to the city, leaving your citizens less protected.

I have said all along on this one that Governor Deval Patrick has been kicking this can down the road hoping he can avoid the Lawrence problem till after the election. He’s hoping we can keep Lawrence off the front page and let them continue in the direction they are going in and that’s just not acceptable. Let’s face it folks, Governor Deval Patrick has been the governor for the last four years while the financial problems in Lawrence have festered and gotten out of control.

He is just as much a part of the problem here than anyone else. On his watch, Deval Patrick has allowed the deficits to climb in Lawrence, he has cut millions in local aide to that city and he has done nothing to ensure financial accountability with your tax money.

And remember, 100% of funding for Lawrence’s schools comes from you the state tax payers. About 70% of the entire city budget comes from you the tax payer. And if Mayor Lantigua can’t pay back the $35Mil you’re all on the hook to pay it back.

This governor’s solution to the problem is to throw more money at it and it’s clear now to anyone who has been watching this, that throwing money at the problem in Lawrence has made things worse.

If you elect me as your next governor, I will clean up the mess in Lawrence. I will restore financial accountability in that city, I will implement a receiver or a control board to make sure that your state tax money that we send to Lawrence will be spent wisely and a mechanism is put in place to hold people accountable. Thank you!”