The News: Good, Bad and Absurd Lawrence Elections: Preliminary & General

By: Kathy Runge – November, 2015

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Modesto Maldonado

The election has come and gone and the good news is, I should have no scarcity of material for the foreseeable future.

The bad news is that Brian DePena was top vote getter in the Councilor at-Large race. Mr. DePena, I will be thrilled if you prove me wrong. The good news is that maybe with his newfound fame and fortune, he can afford to move his son out of the Tenares Tire Shop. Yes, according to the voter registration list, that’s where his son lives.

The bad news is that Council President Maldonado won the third Councilor at-Large seat. The good news is that five of the six district councilor seats went to reasonable people.

The bad news is that Councilor Almonte won in District A. She thinks the main issue the city faces is that the councilors should be full-time. In an executive session from this January, the minutes show that the topic of not letting employees park on the street outside city hall was discussed. Almonte’s comment? She hoped that this didn’t apply to city councilors. Does anyone see a pattern here? If you live in District A and didn’t vote, you got what you deserve.

Under the heading of the absurd: Council President Maldonado has launched an investigation into possible collusion between members of the Budget and Finance Committee and Mayor Rivera regarding the committee’s lack of action on the supplemental budget. The committee members are Councilors Vasquez, Laplante and Reyes. The council had 30 days to act on it before it was automatically approved.

The supplemental budget was submitted by Mayor Rivera during the council’s “summer vacation,” that Maldonado was personally responsible for. This fact seems to be irrelevant to the esteemed council president. The man who called special meetings just to pass the Sanctuary City Ordinance couldn’t interrupt his vacation to deal with this pressing business.

Maldonado has filed a FOIA requesting all communication between the above-mentioned people regarding this subject. For some reason, Councilor Aquino was left out of the request, although she was a member of said committee before she resigned her seat. But she was probably busy colluding with Maldonado, so that’s OK.
During Maldonado’s presidency, numerous board appointments have not been taken up within the thirty-day limit, hence were automatically confirmed. The Police Chief’s appointment was over thirty days old when the council voted on it, but everyone pretended it wasn’t and the council got to look important. Maldonado couldn’t even get it together enough to conduct interviews for the City Attorney position even though the applicants had been ranked.

More absurdity: On October 29, the Board of Registrars voted to issue petitions to recall #2 without having any report on the validity of the signatures. City Clerk Maloney stated that as the signatures were on affidavits, the documents were self-certifying.

According to Maloney, the affiants attested under pain and penalty of perjury that they were registered voters in Lawrence, and he believes them. My question is, what pain and penalty? Has the city ever prosecuted anyone for illegally signing an affidavit of this sort? Not that I know of. Typical of Lawrence, they point to a law that they ignore and say see, this is how we do business, aren’t we great? The law sounds good but it’s only for show.

On Election Day, we had two recalls and anti-recall sign holders battling on the streets in the northern part of the city. Disgruntled city employees, including Lantigua’s multi-year temporary-hire-turned-full-time-employee, Nazario Esquea (funny how the Council didn’t care about that), left work to go collect recall signatures that day. I wonder if he got permission from his supervisor?

That these employees were not immediately retaliated against is proof that Mayor Rivera is a better mayor than Lantigua was and does not deserve to be recalled. During Lantigua’s first recall, I can personally attest to the fact that many people who wanted to sign were afraid to, including city workers, non-profit workers, and their families. The most fearful were immigrants. I saw absolute terror in people’s eyes. That tells you a mayor deserves to be recalled.
The good (or bad?) news is that as of this writing the second recall has been suspended pending objections. Thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving to all.