EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 4, 2014

Opinions vary on mayor's first snow performance

Rivera gives himself a C grade

LAWRENCE -— Mayor Daniel Rivera got a wintery mix of opinion yesterday from residents about how he handled the frigid nor’easter that dumped a foot of snow on his first day on the job.

One resident said his commute went smoothly while another said Rivera’s predecessor, former Mayor William Lantigua — who spent some of the last week vacationing in Florida — did it better.

After the last flake fell yesterday, Rivera gave himself a mediocre grade for the way his administration performed during its first snow storm.

“I think we got a C,” said Rivera, who wore dungarees to work because he knew he’d be spending a lot of it on the streets and in the public works yard.

“We’ve got to do better. Some roads are down to pavement. Others aren’t. And we need to have a walkable downtown,” he said.

Snow, or clearing it, is the kind of stuff on which mayors build their reputations because of the visible, tangible evidence it provides citizens as to whether they are up to the job, and because messing it up can be a catastrophe. For Lawrence’s new mayor, most of the two-day storm fell between his private swearing-in Thursday evening and his public inauguration today, giving him barely enough time to put Acting Public Works Director John Isensee on his speed dial.

Both men said the two were in constant contact, including outside City Hall at 8:30 a.m. yesterday, when Rivera expressed concern to Isensee that downtown sidewalks were still snow-packed.

“He said there were a lot of people on the street,” said DPW laborer Keith Hamelin, who was at the street-corner meeting between the new mayor and the veteran DPW chief and then spent most the day clearing sidewalks with a Bobcat snowplow. “He was concerned. He wanted to get us on the sidewalks,” Hamelin said.

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