EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 12, 2014


Rivera on the fast-track to remaking Lawrence


More cheers ensue.

“He’s amazing,” Madison Ramirez, 4, said as Rivera shook hands and left for his next appointment, a little late. “I love when he reads books.”

As Rivera enters City Hall 20 minutes later, a 40-year resident flags him down to ask for help obtaining U.S. citizenship.

The conversation, all in Spanish, ends with smiles and a handshake. Rivera heads inside to meet with the technical school students, which is followed by the meeting with Police Chief Fitzpatrick and the probation officials to discuss assigning former inmates released on probation to do community service work in Lawrence.

Rivera promises to clear the way for the project with the union representing the city’s public works employees, who blocked an earlier attempt to assign the former inmates to do landscaping, painting and trash pickups at city parks and buildings and at Bellevue Cemetery. Rivera also told the probation officials he will put one or two of the former inmates to work in his office “as long as they can wear a tie.”

As the meeting ends, Reilly, the mayoral aide, hands Rivera a roast beef sandwich and chips from Heavenly Donuts on Essex Street. A few steps behind her are three veterans, including Antonio Molina, who received a Purple Heart after he was shot in the head by a sniper in Vietnam in 1965.

The three represent the Puerto Rican Veterans Monument Square Association, which recently erected a $400,000 bronze monument in South Boston commemorating Puerto Ricans who served in the armed forces. Rivera – who is half Puerto Rican and a veteran of the first Iraq War – is meeting with the group to discuss his role at a fundraiser in Boston on June 21 to raise $50,000 still owed for the monument.

Next through the door are police captains Scott McNamara and Denis Pierce, along with acting Chief Fitzpatrick, to discuss strategies for combating the recent increase in home invasions and stolen vehicles.

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