By: Tom Duggan – September 17, 2012
In the wake of two more members of the Lantigua administration being indicted last week, State Representative Jim Lyons, (R) Andover, is calling Lawrence Mayor Willie Lantigua’s administration a “corrupt criminal enterprise” that should no longer be enabled by the state taxpayers.
Lyons says that the corruption in Lawrence will continue as long as the state money being dumped into the scandal ridden city continues to flow with no accountability.
Last week Lantigua’s friend and former campaign manager Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla was indicted for “trick, scheme or device to mislead in the procurement of supplies, fraudulent conversion of city property, unlawful use of official position, conspiracy, extortion or attempted extortion.”
Lantigua’s former Chief of Staff Lenny Degnan was charged with solicitation of a bribe with corrupt intent, knowing solicitation of a bribe, unlawful use of an official position, conspiracy, extortion or attempted extortion.
Mayor Lantigua was named in both indictments and his name was prominent in the indictment and conviction of former Lawrence Superintendent of schools Wilfredo Laboy.
“Just based on what we know now,” Representative Jim Lyons told the Valley Patriot in an exclusive interview Monday morning. “the Superintendent of Schools has been indicted and convicted for corruption. We know now that the Deputy Police Chief has been indicted. We know now that Mayor Lantigua’s chief of staff has been indicted. When is this going to stop? My role is to protect the taxpayers money and to do that we need a full state takeover of the City of Lawrence. In my opinion what we should be doing, if we are going to be fully funding their schools and a majority the city, is to have the state step in and run it. I am calling for full receivership of the city and I am I am calling for it now,” Lyons said.
Under full receivership Lawrence Mayor Lantigua could be removed as mayor, as well as the city council and be replaced with a state run receivership board.
“Why should communities that are doing it right and acting responsibly with the money we give them, have to suffer because of Lawrence and communities like Lawrence. It’s not fair to the people of Andover, North Andover and Tewksbury. It has to stop,” he said incensed.
“We have to stop funding this criminal enterprise, we have to stop doing it. Why should the state continue to fund a corrupt administration? We all see what is going on here. The state needs to take it over and run it themselves, put them into full receivership. Why should we allow this kind of activity go on unabated? It’s our money. We need to take over that city at all costs. Whatever it takes to do that, we ought to do it.”
Lyons said that he is also concerned that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick continues to conceal the spending of state taxpayers money and is calling for a full funding of what is called “Target Share” chapter 70 education funding.
Lyons said he is “very concerned, that the Patrick Administration has refused to fund “Target Share Funding”.
Target Share Funding is legislation that was passed in the last year of the Romney administration to fully fund chapter 70 by allowing local communities to get at least 17.5% of their educational foundation budget from the state.
“That Patrick administration has refused to fully fund it, costing communities such as Andover and North Andover substantial money in education funds.”
Lyons recently filed an amendment in the budget process to fully fund “Target Share” throughout the Commonwealth, which would cost the state about $112 million. It was defeated in the house but the senate was able to get some money back into the budget which resulted in education funding increased this year for education to local communities.”
“Everyone talks about fairness,” Lyons said.
“Currently there is $152 million out of 158 million going to the City of Lawrence and what we are doing basically is, we are funding
what we now know is a criminal enterprise at the expense of well run, efficient communities. And that has to stop. The Patrick administration has to recognize that we should not be funding these corrupt communities at the expense of the honest communities that do it right. It isn’t fair to towns like Tewksbury, Andover and North Andover.”
Currently The Town of Andover gets 13-14% of their education funding from the state , North Andover gets about 15%. “The city of Lawrence gets more than 95% of their education funding rom the state and look at what they are doing with it. This is why we need transparency on Beacon Hill. The Deval Patrick Administration refuses to tell the public where their money is going. Whether it is illegal aliens getting benefits, the EBT spending, patronage jobs, the process has to be opened up on Beacon Hill and we have to let the people know what we are doing with their money. Right now it is funding corruption and criminal activity and I ask is that fair?
Lyons says that the Target Share funding for education and a full takeover of the City of Lawrence will protect the taxpayers money and is urging Governor Patrick and his colleagues in the legislature to “move immediately” to take over the city and fairly distribute education dollars.