The City of Lawrence The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly


By: Peter Larocque – January 2013

Lawrence Mayor Willie Lantigua
Lawrence Mayor Willie Lantigua

First, let me say Happy New Year to all the Valley Patriot readers and let’s expect the absolute best in 2013 for everyone.

If I were to give this column a second title it would read something like this, “Why Supposedly Good Elected Officials say and do nothing when Bad things happen to Good People, while at the same time saying and doing nothing when Good things happen to Allegedly Bad People?” Obviously the latter is way too long but it encompasses what I want to convey in this column.

It drives me crazy when I read news from the Valley Patriot Facebook posts or the yesterday’s news today from the daily paper that concerns the city I live in. Then after reading such outrageous news there are no comments from the supposedly good elected officials that represent Lawrence! I am talking about our wonderful State Senator, Mr. Barry Finegold and our distinguished State Representatives, The Honorable Marcos Devers and State Representative Elect and City Council President, Mr. Frank Moran. These are good people who say they make decisions and vote from the heart, but how they can remain silent while lots of shenanigans at City Hall are going on is beyond my comprehension. What does this say about what’s in their hearts?

For example, how they can remain silent when a Lawrence DPW worker, Mr. Tom Sapienza got fired right after Thanksgiving for taking leave to care for his wife at home dying of cancer? Then on the same day of his firing a former enemy and now new FOW, (Friend of Willy, Mayor William Lantigua), Mr. Jose Santiago was hired as a DPW worker. How can they remain silent when Highly Decorated Firefighter, Mr. Tim Atwood gets fired after submitting Doctor’s documents that state that he got sick on the job? How can they remain silent when Lawrence Deputy Chief of Police, Mr. Melix Bonilla gets indicted on extortion charges and suspended with pay in September of 2012, (Salary, $140,000.00)? How can they remain silent when Police Officer, Mr. PJ Lopez was Indicted on Bribery charges and suspended with pay in September of 2012, (Salary, $60,000.00)? Both gentlemen in law enforcement are taking $200,000.00 from a poor city; clearly it pays to be a FOW, (Friend of Willy, Mayor Lantigua).

This is definitely some of the bad and the ugly of the happenings in the city of Lawrence. Not a good way to end 2012, but I am left to think that this is okay with the elected officials representing Lawrence. I am left with the old maxim of “see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.” This seems to be the rule of conduct by our elected officials. This explains why at the beginning of this column I offered a second title of, “Why supposedly good elected officials allow bad things to happen to good people while at the same time allowing good things to happen to allegedly bad people?”

Oh’ I can already hear the response from their supporters, “What do you want these Politicians to do? My answer is simple, show some signs of life and say something! Do they agree and stand with the Mayor of Lawrence with these actions of his or do they disagree and condemn these actions?

At the time of the writing of this column, The Honorable Mayor, Mr. William Lantigua announced his intentions of running for another 4 year term as The Mayor of Lawrence. He actually believes that he has done a marvelous job and that the City is much safer now due to the policies that he has implemented, therefore deserving of 4 more years! The boldness and arrogance of this guy is outstanding! From day one it has been an in your face type of arrogance with the promoting of his friend Police Sergeant Melix Bonilla to Deputy Chief of Police who as I said before is now indicted for extortion. The Mayor ended 2012 with the hiring of his long time enemy and now new friend Mr. Jose Santiago to work in the DPW Department. Surrounded by supporters, he boldly announces that due to his good leadership and the work of his administration be believes he should continue to be the Mayor of Lawrence for another term. This has to be the height of arrogance and self-righteousness! I pray that the majority of the Hispanic community of Lawrence who supported him 4 years ago sees through this bunch of smoke and corruption and comes to the conclusion that the City of Lawrence really deserves better.

In conclusion, I thank God the See no evil, Hear no evil and Speak no evil way of doing things by the City Politicians is not the rule of conduct by the people, the citizens of Lawrence. I am now happy and delighted to share the GOOD of what makes Lawrence a wonderful place to live. I refer you to an article in the daily paper by Keith Eddings, published December 19, 2012, entitled “Community rallies for family facing cancer, foreclosure.” In this article you will find the details of how a community of caring neighbors and friends came to the aid of the Sapienza’s in their difficult time of need.

The good news is that the good deeds done by these good people outweigh the continued silence or lack of action from the elected officials of Lawrence. The good deeds done by the people of Lawrence will continue into the New Year with a benefit planned for the Sapienza’s to help them keep their house and help with other financial hardships they may have on January 12, 2013 at the Relief’s Inn Social Club on Market Street in Lawrence. (More details to follow). Former City planning Director Mr. Mike Sweeney who also was fired by Mayor Lantigua is organizing the event. So it is good to see that in spite of what some may call heartless efforts by the Mayor of Lawrence and his administration, good can and will prevail in Lawrence in 2013!

Once again, have a Happy and Safe New Year!

God Bless You All!