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April 21, 2014

Rivera, council spar over nominee

City planner's hiring goes to council for a vote tomorrow

(Continued)

Most recently, last week Aquino voted against Rivera’s request to give acting Public Works Director John Isensee a permanent appointment to the job, even though she voted for Isensee when Lantigua nominated him three years ago.

The council rejected Isensee for the appointment in 2011, but approved him last week after a debate in which Aquino questioned him intensely about why he waited until Lantigua was defeated to speak out about what he said was the former mayor’s meddling in his department. Aquino was joined in the grilling by Council President Modesto Maldonado, who also supported Lantigua over Rivera in last year’s election.

Reading from handwritten notes, Aquino pressed Isensee on a range of issues involving the Public Works Department and the former mayor, including whether Isensee aided Rivera in purging at least nine employees — many of them Lantigua campaign workers — at city parking garages because they allegedly were not needed, but then replaced most of them.

Also at last Tuesday’s meeting, Maldonado questioned Isensee about whether he would look the other way if Rivera sent him unqualified workers, as Isensee alleged Lantigua did often.

“I understand that maybe out of fear, that you didn’t oppose the previous mayor when people were placed (in jobs) without qualifications,” Maldonado said. “I want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Council members seem split

The council meeting tomorrow is shaping up to be another rough one for Rivera and for Park, but the outcome could be worse for Park because she resigned as Lowell’s Economic Development Director to take the planning job in Lawrence. A defeat could leave her unemployed only a month after coming to Lawrence.

On Friday, the councilors who could be reached or earlier expressed an opinion appeared to be split 4-4 on Park’s nomination.

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