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July 25, 2013

Vacancies, expired terms hobble boards


The damage done when agencies that exercise vast power over life in the city and preside over several of its most important institutions are left to languish played out dramatically on the Licensing Board last year. The three-member board was reduced to one member for about two months after the death of its chairman, causing it to shut its door on applicants looking for one of the many licenses issued by the board, which has life-and-death power over restaurants, bodegas, nightclubs, car dealerships and other businesses, including any that sell milk.

The Licensing Board’s senior member and acting chairwoman is now Mayra Lantigua — Mayor William Lantigua’s ex-wife — whose term expired six years ago.

Mayor Lantigua did not return a phone call yesterday.

“There hasn’t been a lot of effort on behalf of the city to fill the Conservation Commission or any of the other boards,” said Lilly, a member of the commission for 12 years (his most recent appointment expired in 2011). “Municipal boards have a lot of power. They exercise an enormous amount of authority over day-to-day, nuts-and-bolts aspects of daily life. If you’re a developer and you have a project, maybe it’s getting into fall, you don’t what to get your permit issued in the middle of winter. You need to get your permit issued in a timely fashion.”

The Planning Board will all but shut down after its next meeting Aug. 7, when member Alice Baker moves out of the city and a second of the board’s five seats become vacant. (Baker’s appointment expired July 20, 2011). With just three remaining members — all of whose terms have been expired for as long as three years — the board will be unable to issue special permits, which represent the great bulk of its work and require four votes to approve.

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