Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just an Open Letter

As a City Councilor in Chelsea I would receive letters from people every so often and still do on occasion even after leaving the council this past winter. They have been tapering off and I have not received any for a month but I just got one last one from a gentleman from Canada. It was several pages long, he claims to have sent letters to many elected officials over the years and was decidedly anti-gay marriage (I am curious if anyone else out there got this letter.) I decided to write him back and post my response on my blog. He signed his letter "Just a man named John".

Dear "Just a man named John",

I received your letter in regards to gay marriage in Massachusetts, the United States and beyond. While you are entitled to your views I believe you are wrong and your rationale is irrational. I disagree with your assessment that gay marriage in Massachusetts is a blight on the Common Wealth, in fact I believe it to be a beacon of hope.

Gay marriage has been legal in Massachusetts for a while now and we have yet to be destroyed by any divine being. In fact the countries and states you mentioned in your letter as being pro gay marriage tend to have higher GDPs and better quality of life then those countries that are most anti-gay marriage. I have many gay and straight male friends and not one has married a friend just to get the benefits of marriage, has it not occurred to you that a straight guy and a straight girl could marry each other just to receive the benefits of marriage? Even with the acceptance of gay marriage most straight men would still be unwilling to pretend to marry a male friend just to save money on his taxes.

Your segway about halfway through the letter to focus on immigration and dissolution of American culture was interesting and I do give you credit for being able to weave that argument into your anti-gay marriage argument. You seem very concerned that God will not be on our side in future conflicts due to our views on gay marriage but I am not sure if God chooses sides to begin with. Throughout human history both sides of every conflict have believed God was on their side, which obviously is not possible. I myself believe that any reasonable God would love all people regardless of sexual orientation, I know you disagree with this assessment but I also know you are incapable of coming up with a reasonable reason as to why God would be against homosexual behavior.

I also would be remiss if I failed to address the following quote:

"The responsibilities associated with your position mean that you are not 20, but at an age where a level of life experience, and therefore wisdom, is with you."
For the sake of brevity I would like to point out that you continued on this tract and implied that young people (under 40) are not capable of seeing the big picture and that older citizens need to reign them in. I hate to be the one to break it to you but I am in fact 28 years old. I first got involved in politics at 17 and have since served on numerous boards and commissions culminating in being elected to my position and subsequently "retired" at the age of 28. I am amused by your statement because I know many elected officials under the age of 40 both at the local and state level. People around here seem to trust us, it is sad to hear that you do not.

The human spirit yearns to be free, you can not hold it back. As you may be aware yourself gay marriage legalization has faced set backs in many other states but this is a road block rather then a full stop. Freedom , once unleashed will spread, especially in a Democratic society. You wrote that younger people are missing the experience to know right from wrong but maybe it is you that is incapable of empathizing with other people. You told me to sit in a quiet place and read the letter with an open mind, I ask you to do the same thing.

To freedom from tyranny,

Matt Frank

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thoughts on Lawrence Mayor Lantigua

Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua , AKA Massachusetts State Representative William Lantigua, , AKA Willy Lantigua seems to have made an unwise move in whatever power game he is playing up in Lawrence. During the run up to the 2009 Municipal elections then Representative Lantigua, he was elected to that seat in 2003, said he would give up his State Rep seat if he won the office of Mayor. Win he did and one of the first things he did while in office was to go back on that promise, declining to vacate his Rep seat, he claimed that the flailing city of Lawrence could only benefit by having a Mayor who was also a State Representative. With the city, by some estimates, 25 million dollars in the hole his gamble blew up in his face as a crucial vote for an emergency loan from the State was put on hold, partially due to his absence.

Lantigua failed to show up to the hearing at all because he said it would be a conflict of interest. The Eagle Tribune, in an editorial, claims that no contact was made with the State Ethics Department but I can put that aside and say I understand his thinking. As Mayor of Lawrence he would benefit from any vote or influence that could be derived from the presence of himself as a State Representative. In this line of thinking both Willy the Mayor and Willy the State Representative could be ethically blocked from the hearing. Due to the absence of Lantigua the issue was pushed aside, neither the Mayor or State Rep, in his mind, could exert any pressure on the members of the committee and the Speaker of the House Deleo.

Let's forget for a moment that he failed to even attempt to get clearance to attend and focus on his own convoluted (yes even for us political people this is a whopper) rationale. He kept both seats because he felt he could exert more influence and do a better job in both positions by holding both positions (Kind of like how each subsequent Railroad in Monopoly gives you more money every time someone lands on your property.) The problem is he has just proven his own theory false by failing to exert influence in any manner on what could be a life saving bill for the City of Lawrence. Rather then making the positions stronger by combining them he has managed to make them both weaker and make Lawrence weaker by extension.

The argument can be made that the Mayor did not want to leave the State Representative seat vacant during a time of turmoil for Lawrence, which could be seen as commendable if it were not for the fact that if he had only resigned the seat upon winning the Mayors race that Lawrence would only be days away from electing a replacement (As an example my State Senator, Anthony Galluccio, left office a little over a month ago and we will replace him in April, not even four months later { My vote: Michael Albano} . November was about four months ago) who would have been able to speak at this hearing and that Rep would be standing tall next to the Mayor of Lawrence who would also be in attendance.

Maybe the Mayor is not taking the threat of State takeover seriously, alternatively maybe he wants a take over. A take over could be just what Lawrence needs but I would hope that it not be taken lightly.

I remember, even as a child, the break down of Chelsea before, after and during receivership. The City felt so dark, no holiday lights, the streets were not swept, any mention of your city in the news was always bad news. I grew to hate Howie Carr with his constant attacks on the city. I remember the national press. When I was in kindergarten I had a speech problem and remember sharing a special needs class, in the basement of an old school house, with kids who all had behavioral problems. Having spent most of my time in Catholic schools I do not know much of the old state of our school system was but I did spend 6th grade in public school... we shared a room with a 5th grade class separated by a long curtain... It has been almost two decades since the take over and I feel like we are finally recovering. As a City Councilor I saw people getting involved again, community bonds forming, the artist community taking hold. Our Latino population is finding it's voice, we have even had vibrant civil discourses on garbage that filled a huge room (normally a discussion that would go down hill fast.)

This is coming only after the breakdown and the removal of power structure that was in place prior to the 1990's. My warning to Mayor Lantigua is that if Lawrence does collapse and the State does step in it is possible that Lawrence will still be able to see better days in the future, the bad news for him is that the State will make sure the future of Lawrence is Lantigua free.