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September 12, 2013

Council approves 20 for city boards

LAWRENCE — The City Council last night approved 20 of Mayor William Lantigua’s nominees for seven local boards and commissions, endorsing 16 by unanimous votes and heaping praise on most of them for their offers to serve.

But the council rejected one of Lantigua’s choices for the Airport Commission and blocked another, and it declined to consider a nominee for the Human Rights Commission out of concern that she lost interest when all of the nominees got caught in a political battle between a councilor and the mayor.

Four other nominees for the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Board of Registrars never reached the council when Lantigua withdrew their names, saying he submitted them in error.

The council’s 8-0 vote to deny Vinicio Frometa a seat on the Airport Commission was a rare defeat for Lantigua on the council, and it may have been the first time Councilor Oneida Aquino — the mayor’s most reliable vote on the council — publicly opposed the mayor.

Frometa is Lantigua’s City Hall receptionist. He is a political foot soldier for the mayor and testified last year before a grand jury investigating allegations of corruption in the administration.

Aquino, who is finishing her second two-year term, did not join the council’s discussion of the nomination last night and declined a request to comment after the meeting. But Councilor Sandy Almonte said Frometa showed few qualifications for the post when he was interviewed by the Personnel Committee, which Almonte chairs.

“Mr. Frometa didn’t seem to know anything about the Airport Commission,” which operates the city airport in North Andover, Almonte said. “He didn’t seem to have any type of qualifications or experience at all. When we asked him if he knew anything about the airport commission, he said he didn’t. So we decided he was not a candidate for the commission.”

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