EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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December 24, 2011

Recall petition effort continues; fate of 500 signatures may be in courts

LAWRENCE — A petition drive to recall Mayor William Lantigua appears to be moving ahead as scheduled now that new petitions have been issued by the city clerk's office that are in English and Spanish.

"We are still going forward with it," said Josue Hernandez, president of Uniting Lawrence, the group trying to recall the mayor for what they call "failed" leadership. "It's going to be a chalenge, they wasted five of our days and won't restart the clock over a mistake they made.

"We asked if they could start the clock over because they screwed up, but they said 'No.'"

Last weekend, City Attorney Charles Boddy determined that the recall petitions issued the previous week to Uniting Lawrence by City Clerk William Maloney were illegal because they didn't have a Spanish translation of the reasons the group is using to attempt an ouster of the mayor.

By the time Boddy made that ruling, however, Uniting Lawrence volunteers had already collected 500 signatures.

Anthony DiFruscia, a local attorney who had been working with the group, brokered a deal Monday morning with Maloney and Boddy that would have allowed the 500 signatures to stand. As part of the agreement, the clerk agreed to issue new petitions with the Spanish translations at the top.

The agreement, which was supplied to the The Eagle-Tribune, states that the original petitions weren't bilingual, which is required by a consent decree issued by the U.S. District Court stating that all elections materials in Lawrence must be in English and Spanish.

The agreement goes on to say Uniting Lawrence "will return all the recall petitions with signatures on them" while Lantigua agrees that "he will not object to those petitions on the basis of the petition form used, but reserves the right to make any other objections he would otherwise have."

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