By: Kathy Runge, July, 2015
The City Council, led by Council President Maldonado, a.k.a. Lawrence’s Ambassador to the UN, has been busy in the last month. The FY16 budget got approved with Maldonado providing the only dissenting vote. He proposed a series of potential cuts and argued for them while acting as president of the council, a clear violation of their own rules. Somehow he can’t bring himself to give the gavel to the Council VP when he argues for or against an issue.
Mr. Maldonado has also been busy trying to ram a resolution and ordinance to help illegal immigrants through the council. On June 20 there was a gathering sponsored by the Merrimack Valley Partnership, a coalition of area churches and nonprofits, at Saint Mary’s gymnasium to win the Council and Mayor’s support of the Trust Act Ordinance and a resolution supporting the Safe Driving Law.
The Trust Act Ordinance prohibits Lawrence police from detaining anyone for ICE if they are arrested for a minor offense. This is the current practice of the Lawrence police. The Safe Driving Law is at the state legislature and would let illegal immigrants obtain a driver’s license in Massachusetts.
Councilor Maldonado sat on the stage and spoke in support of these issues. The event consisted of testimonials from illegal immigrants regarding the hardships they endured entering and living in our country illegally followed by a summary of the laws given by Maldonado.
Most of the audience was provided by the member churches, many from outside Lawrence. The host parish brought 150 people. I think it was the host parish, but the meeting was held in Spanish. They were nice enough to offer the English speakers with translation via an earpiece, but it was still hard to decipher. In an effort to make it look like there was no opposition to these measures the meeting wasn’t publicized, at least not to the English speaking community.
These two items were approved at the June 23 meeting of the Ordinance Committee and were sent up to the full council for them to call a public hearing. In the normal course of events a public hearing would have been ordered on July 7, the next scheduled meeting, and held at the meeting after that. That wasn’t quick enough for Council President Maldonado, who called a special meeting for June 30 so the public hearings could be held at the July 7 meeting.
Why the rush? Both of these items are largely symbolic and certainly not emergencies, but Maldonado wanted to get them passed quickly with minimal notice. I’m guessing he wanted to include these in his list of accomplishments while on the campaign trail.
In my opinion, the Trust Ordinance is dangerous and will lead to police not detaining illegals that would otherwise be detained because of the threat of a formal complaint, which is provided for in the law. How much time and money will resolving these complaints cost the city?
If we had an ordinance forbidding the police to waste their resources investigating auto insurance fraud would we have more or less fraud in the city? What about heroin dealers?
The piece de resistance came when the notice for the public hearings illegally appeared the morning of the 30th, before the vote to call a public hearing had actually been taken. That killed the possibility of holding the hearings on July 7, so they were pushed back to the next meeting of the council, which is currently set to be August 11.
I’d like to thank candidate for Councilor At Large, Richard Russell, for pointing out the early public notice. In the interest of full disclosure I am actively supporting Russell and encourage you to give him one of your votes.
If you don’t want these items to be passed, come to the public hearings on August 11th at 7 pm. There will be many people coming to testify in favor of these issues. For your voice to be heard you have to speak up.
Ironically, the Council has less sympathy for homeless people from our neighboring towns. At the meeting of June 16 the topic of out of town homeless people and panhandlers came up more than once.
Maldonado said other cities are flooding us with their homeless. Councilor Almonte made the point that the city is only 6.4 square miles. At the pro illegal immigration rally we learned that there are thousands of illegals living in Lawrence, yet a handful of poor people from neighboring towns is not acceptable. Yes, the city can only hold so many people, so if you’re a homeless person from Lowell, go somewhere else. If you’re an illegal immigrant, welcome.