EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 12, 2013

City contractor plowed Lantigua's driveway

By Keith Eddings

---- — LAWRENCE – A contractor hired by the city to plow streets during the blizzard spent part of the weekend clearing Mayor William Lantigua's 100-foot-driveway on Boxford Street.

Photos taken Sunday afternoon by a city councilman show a snowplow owned by S&W Paving clearing the mayor's driveway, at the time Lantigua was meeting in the driveway with two Department of Public Works officials who were helping coordinate the city's response to the blizzard.

Lantigua did not return messages left with his staff at City Hall yesterday seeking to determine whether he paid the contractor.

Roads foreman Joel Chalas, who visited Lantigua's property at about the time the Bobcat was clearing the driveway, hung up on a reporter seeking comment.

Parks Foreman Jorge Jaime, who visited the Lantigua home with Chalas, did not return a phone call.

Ivelisse Mateo, who owns S&W Paving, also did not return phone calls. The company is located at 26 Steiner St. in Lawrence.

Lantigua lives in Unit A at the three-unit condo complex at 86 Boxford St. with his wife, Lorenza Ortega, who owns the unit. Last year, Ortega was required to repay a $500 heating subsidy she received from a federal program helps the poor pay pay their heating bills after The Eagle-Tribune revealed she was sharing her home with the mayor. Together, the two earn $150,000.

Acting Public Works Commissioner John Isensee said the city's contract with S&W Paving required the company to provide three full-sized trucks and a pick-up truck over the weekend. The contract did not require S&W to provide a Bobcat, Isensee said, so an S&W Bobcat plowing Lantigua's driveway would not have been diverted from plowing local streets for the city.

City Councilor Marc Laplante, who photographed the Bobcat plowing at Lantigua's home, said it doesn't matter.

“The fact that there is a city contractor providing services to the mayor is deeply disturbing,” said Laplante, who is considering challenging Lantigua in September's preliminary election, when Lantigua will seek a second four-year-term. “He needs to respond as to why these contractors are doing what they're doing at the time they're doing it. What's that mean to the rest of the people in the city? You'd see a lot of anger raised from other citizens of this city who haven't seen their streets plowed.”

Laplante represents District F, which includes the Lantigua/Ortega home on Boxford Street.

City Councilor Daniel Rivera said Lantigua should have found another company to plow his driveway. Rivera declared his candidacy for mayor last week.

“If he paid the guy to do it, I'm not sure it's against the law, but it creates an appearance of impropriety,” Rivera said. “What's a contractor going to say if he's asked to provide a service to the mayor?”