LAWRENCE — Mayor William Lantigua will hold an open house tomorrow to recruit applicants for dozens of empty seats on city boards, commissions and authorities. Already, two lack enough members to do business, and vacancies threaten to shut down several others.
At least 54 seats on 11 agencies are vacant or are filled by people whose terms have expired but are continuing to serve, allowing the agencies to hang onto their quorums until Lantigua acts to fill them.
Last week, the city Conservation Commission and Planning Board were disabled when resignations left them without quorums.
On Thursday, Alice Baker’s resignation from the Planning Board left that board with three members, one shy of the number needed to carry out most of its key functions, including issuing special permits. On Friday, Conservation Commission Chairman Tennis Lilly canceled the commission’s Aug. 20 meeting after the resignation of Barbara Huntress-Rather left it with just two of its five members.
Last year, the Licensing Board went out of business for two months when the death of its chairman left it with just one member, Mayra Lantigua, the mayor’s ex-wife. The third seat had been empty for nearly a year.
State Rep. Marcos Devers, D-Lawrence, one of six candidates Lantigua will face in the Sept. 17 preliminary election as he seeks a second term, said the empty seats, expired terms and hobbled boards are a sign of Lantigua’s inability to lead or recruit people to his administration.
“The lack of leadership has brought us to this point,” Devers said. “That’s why he lost the schools to the Department of Education. He gave the DOE the pretext to take the schools. Now we’re losing quorums on those boards and commissions because there’s no leadership. He needs to inspire people to work with him.”