EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

June 23, 2013

Editorial: Culture of dependency leads to fraud, theft

(Continued)

In late 2011, Nunes confirmed earlier Eagle-Tribune reports that the city came out on the short end of a car swap between the Police Department and a Lantigua crony. The deal is under scrutiny by a grand jury.

Last fall, Nunes reported that a building inspector failed to inform assessors of $33 million worth of new construction, costing the city $300,000 in uncollected property taxes.

The lack of oversight is nothing new and predates the Lantigua administration by many years.

Just yesterday, we reported on theft and fraud charges brought against the IT director who served under Mayor Michael Sullivan, Lantigua’s predecessor. Essentially, authorities say, he contracted with friends to do the job the city was already paying him to do -- in effect charging twice for the work.

No one noticed, apparently, until Lantigua was elected and began turning over some rocks.

So the problem of lax oversight leading to lost money is longstanding and endemic to Lawrence.

Why?

What is it about Lawrence that causes it to be so careless with cash?

The common denominator in all of these scandals is that Lawrence is dependent on outside help to stay afloat.

It is playing with other people’s money -- like the federal grants that the former IT director allegedly milked for personal gain.

Who isn’t more reckless when playing with other people’s money?

As long as that culture of dependency continues, so will the scams.

Nunes’ report on the parking operation calls for “a comprehensive, independent, outside forensic audit” of the system.

We would extend that to the city’s entire financial operation, given the long history of abuse of other people’s money.

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