EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 21, 2013

Lantigua nominates 27 to agencies

By Keith Eddings

---- — LAWRENCE — Mayor William Lantigua is nominating 27 people to nine city boards and commissions, including several that have been shut by vacancies or are hanging onto their quorums only because members whose terms have expired are continuing to serve.

The list of nominees suggests Lantigua wants to steer the agencies in new directions and with new leadership: of the 27 nominees, just seven are incumbents.

Planning Board Chairman Norman Nimmo, who has continued serving since his term expired two years ago, is not among the five nominations Lantigua made to the five-member board.

Nimmo could not be reached yesterday to determine if he asked to be reappointed.

Lantigua’s search for nominees sometimes ended where it began: at City Hall. His nominees include:

Vinicio Frometa, Lantigua’s receptionist, whom Lantigua nominated to the Airport Commission;

Lydia Bonilla, the wife of Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla, who has been on paid leave since he was indicted on corruption charges in September. Lantigua nominated her to the Housing Authority.

Joanna Infante, a secretary in the Planning Department. Lantigua nominated her to the Cultural Council;

Giovanni Bonet, son of Personnel Director Frank Bonet. Lantigua nominated him to the Airport Commission;

Patrick Driscoll, president of the Lawrence firefighters union. Lantigua nominated him to the Housing Authority, on which Driscoll has served before.

Not on the list is Mayra Lantigua, the mayor’s former wife, who chairs the Licensing Board even though her term expired six years ago.

State law allows members of local boards and commissions whose terms have expired to continue serving until they are reappointed or replaced, so Lantigua need not submit her name to the City Council to allow her to continue serving. Several councilors have said they would oppose reappointing her because of what they allege is a conflict of interest.

The Licensing Board was unable to meet for a month or two last year when the death of its chairman left Mayra Lantigua as the only member of the three-member Board.

Council President Frank Moran last night sent the 27 nominations to the Committee on Personnel.

Even if the council approves all 27, Mayor Lantigua still will have work to do: at least 28 more seats on the boards and commissions are empty or are held by members whose terms have expired.

They include three members of the Conservation Commission, whose chairman canceled a meeting on Tuesday after a resignation reduced the five-member agency to two. Chairman Tennis Lilly said he has not heard back from Lantigua since he asked to be reappointed several weeks ago.

Lilly and Nimmo have been outspoken in recent weeks about the need for Lantigua to show more urgency in restocking the dozen or so local boards and commissions, which have wide jurisdiction over a range of issues and institutions in the city, including land use and development, human rights, voting, housing, licensing and the sewage treatment plant and airport.

“My only concern — other than that I want to be reappointed — is that we have a quorum and can do business,” Lilly said yesterday.

Lantigua could not be reached.

The nominations came a week after about two dozen residents attended a meeting to hear city Economic Development Director Patrick Blanchette describe the duties of the boards and commissions and to invite applications.

“I can’t stress how important these positions are,” Blanchette told the group.