Our Politicians Failed Us in the City of Lawrence


By: Robert O’Koniewski – October, 2011

Election time is once again upon us here in Lawlesstown.

The choices we make on Tuesday, November 8 will dictate how the remaining two years of the Lantigua cabal at city hall will go – that is, if he is still around.

Elections have individualized meaning for voters, but they all come down to one thing: A referendum on where we are at and where we are going.

Concerning incumbents, I tend to view these things as a type of employee performance review: Is the incumbent meeting the demands of the job? Is he or she responsive to those that pay his/her salary? Does he/she set reasonable, useful goals and work to meet them? Is there a special skill he or she brings to the table that is a key part of the workplace that would be a detriment if missing? Does the person answer to me, the taxpaying boss, or to some other entity?

But the overarching question at times like this always comes down to one thing: Are we as a city better than we were two years ago when these cats got hired?

As I tend to think that most hours of most days I am a somewhat rational person, to me, these are all reasonable questions. Unfortunately, most voters do not go to the necessary rational lengths to make reasonable judgments. Instead, we get people who vote for someone because they share a nationality, or they speak well, or they smiled at me at the grocery store, or my kid plays Little League with that guy’s kid. You get the idea. For these people, I wish long-term oxygen use for them because evidently their surrounding atmosphere is depleted of this vital element. These airheads, for example, have given us a president so out of his depth we may have suffered complete, irreparable harm as a nation. But I digress.

Going in to November, in the city council races, I have to look at four slots filled with incumbents: my District “A” councilor Sandy Almonte-Rosado, and the three At-Large incumbents Frank Moran, Dan Rivera, and Roger Twomey.

Let’s take the District “A” slot first. Sandy will not be getting my vote. And not really for any personal or subjective reason other than I think she brings a middle school mentality to a grown up’s world. (By way of full disclosure, my wife was a candidate for this seat two years ago when it was an open seat, the other candidate being Joe “Where Are They Now” Armano.) I am always willing to give someone a fair shot whether I voted for them or not. After all, even the blind squirrel can find the occasional nut. Whether you agree or disagree with a particular councilor’s point of view, you can respect what they say if they act like a grown up and have a well thought out approach. You may not agree with it, but at least it is a starting point for a potentially productive discussion.

To listen to her at council meetings and the inane, irrelevant things that come out of her mouth make me want to jam knitting needles into my ears. In addition, she has to be the least responsive politician I have come across in my lifetime. Oh, I am sure she calls back “her” people, but if it is coming from my spouse or my neighbors, that sound you hear are the crickets amidst the silence of her response. This is a person who quit a full time job to take a part time job as city councilor, and now wants the council to increase the pay to $35,000 a year to cover her immaturity. Simply pathetic. Maybe if we didn’t have burned out buildings throughout the district for years now (on which her signs are placed, by the way), or people getting shot on my street one Easter and all around us along with the increased drug activity at my doorstep, or the illegal dumping throughout the neighborhood, maybe we can shake it off to the rookie syndrome. In this instance, I’m sorry – I think not. She is simply so out of her depth she needs scuba gear.

District A better than two years ago? Nope. Sorry, Miss Rosado-Almonte. Maybe next time.

Now for the three at-large seats. First, again, by way of full disclosure, I will not comment on Roger Twomey because I am too close to the situation. Two terms ago I was very active in Councilor Twomey’s first election and I cannot be objective in what I have to say so I will keep that counsel to myself. A decent man, an intelligent man, a hardworking man. Good luck, Councilor Twomey.

As for Councilors Frank Moran and Dan Rivera, I will not be voting for them. I personally think both are decent people but the manner in which they have allowed this city to deteriorate legitimately brings to question whether they should be re-elected. In my view, we are certainly a worse city under their stewardship than we were two years ago.

As far as I am concerned, they have failed us. They have abandoned us. They have answered to a higher calling at city hall who is not Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer but one William Lantigua, mayor and master of all that surrounds him. And it all goes back to one, albeit rather major, issue – our public safety.

Without fully staffed public safety the social fabric of a community can be torn asunder. In a community like Lawrence, a fully staffed police force is a necessity, a vital necessity, and not a luxury. During his time as police chief, John Romero took great strides to beat back the Vandal and Visigoth hordes knocking at our gates. In the areas of fighting car thefts, gangs, drugs, violence, Chief Romero met the challenges head on and succeeded. He brought the citizens and taxpayers into the fold as part of that team. One month of Willy Lantigua and his cast of characters on the council and all those accomplishments were cast aside.

And I do not want to hear about all the money we don’t have. This city has plenty. It is how it is prioritized for spending that is the problem. Unfortunately for Moran and Rivera and his council mates they fall into the trap of inside the box thinking: We need budget cuts and everyone needs to take a haircut. Well, that may work in Andover and Wellesley, but here at the ground zero of criminality, we need our police and we need them fully staffed, equipped, and trained.

Families suffer economic disruption and hardship all the time. However, there are certain bills you always need to pay – your mortgage, your oil or gas, your electricity. These are areas you cannot ignore; you need shelter and you need warmth and light. There’s no option here.

The police are this city’s mortgage. Without it you have no protection from the elements. If there is one thing that should be staffed up first and foremost at the level the chief needs to continue with his work it is the police force. And for dropping that ball last year, I will be voting elsewhere.

I’ve enjoyed watching my property values plummet each month as we are fed a steady diet of shootings, killings, drug activities, thievery, beatings, home invasions, muggings, political corruption, riots, bar closings, and all the other elements of general chaos and mayhem the mayor and the city council allow to exist in our community.

We need councilors to take up the bully pulpit and drive this community to a higher level of success. Instead we get enablers who allow a government to destroy that which we need in this city to survive and thrive. I don’t want huggers and lovers – we need fighters and commitment to the homeowners and taxpayers who pick up the tab around here.

As far as I am concerned they have failed us and abandoned us. Only they know their motives. We can only speculate. But now you know mine come November 8 in Lawlesstown. May God help us (or at least U.S. Attorney Ortiz and DA Blodgett).