Planning Board Member is Already Fleecing the System Part 1
Originally published on tommyduggan.com (10-10-03)
PAYING ATTENTION! WITH TOM DUGGAN
Before there was a Valley Patriot (established in 2004) there was tommyduggan.com, a blog before there were blogs, a news webpage before there were news webpages. Long before there was an Eagle Tribune web page or a boston.com there was a tommyduggan.com. Valley Patriot Publisher Tom Duggan has allowed The Valley Patriot Web archive to list some of his previous columns going as far back as 1999.
He is also an employee of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, specifically he is overseeing the road and sidewalk reconstruction project on Broadway in Lawrence (Route 28).
Mr. Reyes is running for City Council, At-Large (City Wide) in Lawrence.
He raised $18,820.00 for his campaign prior to the September 23rd preliminary election. If he wins, the job of City Councilor pays $5,000 a year before taxes.
There were six candidates in that preliminary election. All six candidates were nominated. The top three vote-getters in the final election (November 4th) will be elected to the Lawrence City Council. Mr. Reyes came in third place in the primary.
Many of the contributors to Israel Reyes’ campaign are people who build, sell and develop properties as well as the businesses which occupy those properties. They are business owners and members of Real Estate Trusts.
Mr. Reyes is also a Realtor.
In an interview on www.lawrenceinteractivo.com Israel Reyes was asked about a possible conflict of interest as a member of the Planning Board accepting campaign contributions from people who are in the business of going before the Planning Board.
Mr. Reyes unequivocally stated that “none of the contributors to my campaign have been before the Planning Board.”
Real Estate Developers and Real Estate Trusts
Here is a look at Mr. Reyes’ campaign finances and the people who donated to his campaign after their projects received favorable votes and enthusiastic endorsements by Mr. Reyes on the Planning Board.
(Note: Many of the projects that are approved by the Planning Board must also get approval from the Lawrence City Council.)
Jeffrey Steuart of 819 Summer Street, Manchester, MA is a broker for the Real Estate trust of “Corporate Realty Advisors.” According to minutes of the Lawrence Planning Board, Mr. Steuart and a Mr. Bud Robitaille, President of “Metro Sign and Awning Company” appeared before the Planning Board to have their project approved. The project is a strip mall on Broadway.
Mr. Reyes enthusiastically lobbied his fellow board members to approve the project proposed by Mr. Steuart and Robitalle at 372-374 Broadway. (Remember Mr. Reyes is overseeing the Broadway reconstruction project for the state.)
Reyes is quoted in the minutes as saying he “supported the project, as it is a tremendous benefit to the community.” The minutes also stated, “Mr. Reyes said he was willing to support the request in order to continue working with one or two other members of the Planing Board, (and) with the applicant on determining the most appropriate signage (for the property at 372-374 Broadway).
On Mr. Reyes’ recommendation, the Planning Board tabled the item and a subcommittee was set up to deal with this project. The subcommittee consisted of Israel Reyes to review the proposal for the property.
On February 5, 2003 the project was approved to build a strip mall at 372-374 Broadway which houses “Showcase Laundry,” Auto Zone, and other businesses.
The same Mr. Jeff Steuart who appeared before the Planning Board donated $500.00 (the maximum amount allowed by law) to the City Council campaign of Israel Reyes. The donation was made on May 22, 2003.
Coincidentally, Arthur Robitaille, president of “Metro sign and Awning” of 95 Audubon Street in Wakefield donated $400.00 to Mr. Reyes’ campaign on July 10, 2003. Kathleen Robitaille of the same address donated to Mr. Reyes’ campaign as well, in the amount of $100.00. Arthur and Kathleen Robitaille (combined) contributed the maximum amount of $500.00 to the City Council Campaign.