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December 28, 2013

No advice as Rivera succeeds Lantigua

LAWRENCE — Outgoing Mayor William Lantigua and Mayor-elect Daniel Rivera have not met since Rivera defeated Lantigua on Nov. 5 — despite statements from both men on the night Lantigua conceded that they would meet to plan a transition.

The two men have been on unfriendly terms for at least two years, since Rivera began criticizing Lantigua’s leadership style, his appointments and his budgets. Rivera invited Lantigua to debate during the campaign, but Lantigua ignored the invitation.

When Lantigua conceded the race after a recount at an evening press conference on Nov. 23, he said he called Rivera earlier in the day and offered to meet with him to discuss the transition. Rivera said he accepted and expected the meeting would occur the next day.

“He has a term he uses,” Rivera said then, describing what he said was Lantigua’s gracious tone during the phone call. “He calls people ‘manito,’ which is ‘brother.’ I took it to be a heartfelt sentiment. I’m hoping there will be a smooth transition because of that.”

The meeting never happened.

Rivera said said he’s ready, even without Lantigua’s advice and the handshake and photo opportunity that typically accompany transition meetings from one chief executive to another.

“We’ve been in transition since the day we won the election,” Rivera said yesterday. “We’ve done all we need to do with the department heads. By the time I get sworn in, we will have done the work needed to transition to power. His staff has been helpful. So have the department heads.”

Rivera and his chief of staff, Lisa Torrisi, have met with Robert Nunes, the state-appointed fiscal overseer, who has veto power over city spending and recently blocked Lantigua’s attempt to promote three police officers to the rank of sergeant.

Nunes declined to describe his discussions with Rivera and Torrisi, except to say each meeting lasted several hours.

“We have a good working relationship and I’m confident that will continue,” Nunes said Friday.

Rivera is vice chairman of the City Council and chairman of its budget committee. He gives up those posts when he is sworn in as mayor Thursday night.

Lantigua did not return a phone call.

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