Lawrence: The City of the Damned Forgotten

By: Kathy Runge – Feb. 2017

If you want to see forgotten people, come to Lawrence. They’re easy to spot. Just hunt for the person who seems out of place and looks like they can’t understand the conversations around them. They are the English only speakers. In this city, bilingual means fluent in Spanish, hardly any ‘bi’ needed. Many who can speak English just prefer to not speak it. And they don`t have to, because our mission is to cater to the non-English speaker. They are not forgotten.

We have three city wide Councilors at Large, who happen to be Hispanic, and rarely go to any neighborhood association meetings. At council meetings they ask questions that are regularly answered at neighborhood meetings. People have gotten to the point of trying to shame them into going to meetings in south Lawrence to no avail.

At a recent council meeting, Councilor at Large Alvarez-Rodriguez stated that the people who go to the neighborhood meetings in south Lawrence don’t need her. They have strong voices, can take care of themselves, and can call her if needed. She’s not forgetting about them.

The Committee of the Whole had a meeting devoted to the opioid crisis on January 30. They could just muster a quorum of five councilors. The good excuses were given, mostly illness to be fair, and the meeting started late.

We learned that although Lawrence is overwhelming Hispanic, a disproportionately large number of Lawrencians who died of overdoses in 2015 identified as white, not Hispanic. It was speculated that this may be the result of programs over-targeting the Hispanic community and, well, “not targeting” the rest of the residents.

Much of the meeting focused on the problem of addiction and its treatment. Reports were given about treatment programs at the Middlesex House of Corrections and state resources.
District D Councilor Jeovanny Rodriguez noted the number of out of state residents using resources meant for Massachusetts residents at the methadone clinic in his district, as evidenced by the number of cars with out of state plates.

It was mentioned that there are many people who are rich from the drug trade in Lawrence living in the Dominican Republic. The promise of an additional meeting to focus on the dealers was made.

Sanctuary Cities: While we heard statements in the English speaking media regarding sanctuary city status from other mayors around the state, all I have seen from Mayor Rivera to date was a statement in Spanish regarding his support of Lawrence being a sanctuary city. Was he forgetting anyone?

With the exception of Councilors Abdoo and Laplante, I don’t foresee any candidate for municipal office in Lawrence being against sanctuary cities, certainly not any Hispanic candidate. Even after Councilor Rodriguez’s statement regarding non-residents using state resources, I’m afraid to ask him his views on this topic.

President Trump, please don’t forget about Lawrence when stripping sanctuary cities of their funding. None of our other politicians will help us. Ignore the pleas of our mayor and “Republican” governor.

Also President Trump, if you want to look for evidence of voting fraud, might I suggest a peek at our voting records? We are a relatively small city that’s full of non-citizens, so it would be a good place to start. In the November election I found over 30 pairs of duplicate registrations that were both credited with voting. As citizenship status is not public, we can only speculate on the number of non-citizens that voted.