EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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February 5, 2014

Rivera promises more cops, a tax freeze, renewed hope

First State of the City address is cautious and brief

LAWRENCE — Mayor Daniel Rivera yesterday renewed his campaign pledge to keep the lid on taxes and hire more cops in a State of the City address that was most notable for its brevity and its cautious pronouncement that the state of the city is “hopeful” rather than “strong.”

Rivera bypassed the word most mayors, governors and presidents prefer in their similar annual addresses, in a speech that came on a day when he confronted new revelations about the bills left over from the mayor he succeeded.

Among them, The Eagle-Tribune reported this week that former Mayor William Lantigua left a $300,000 paving job unpaid for and ordered another $400,000 paving job just before the Nov. 5 election, when he responded to a contractor’s warnings that it was too late in the year to do the work by waiving its warranty. A few of the roads have started to buckle, public works chief John Isensee said.

Rivera did not mention the paving jobs or the former mayor, whose administration was hampered by the steady drumbeat of scandal, indictment and grand jury leaks. But the absence of any significant initiatives in his eight-minute address to the City Council last night suggested the new mayor is mindful of the problems left on his desk, although Lantigua also left Rivera a balanced budget.

Besides reiterating his promises to hire more cops and keep taxes flat in his own first budget, which he said he will submit to the City Council two weeks before the deadline in May, Rivera promised only to reorganize some departments and to make the library a center for arts and culture.

Rivera last night embraced only one or two of the dozens of reforms and initiatives proposed in the 76-page report his transition team handed him on his first full day in office on Jan. 3, which called for new programs in housing, education, health, the arts, economic development and other areas.

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