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October 12, 2012

City attorney: Mayor broke state law

(Continued)

Boddy’s memo said Garcia’s appointment is invalid because the Licensing Board is a state agency – even though its members are appointed by towns and cities – and so the appointment process has to follow state law. State law does not allow for emergency appointments to state boards.

Although Lawrence’s City Charter allows emergency appointments, Boddy said the charter governs appointments to city boards and departments only.

“The Licensing Board is not a city department, it is a state office, and therefore the appointment procedures of (the City Charter) are inapplicable,” Boddy said in his memo to the council and the mayor.

Although the Licensing Board has been down at least one member since Jan. 1 – and Murphy announced months in advance that he would be stepping down – Lantigua has done little to bring the agency up to speed.

He waited until March nominate a candidate to fill the Murphy vacancy, when he nominated Garcia.

The City Council rejected the nomination because members said Garcia, a school employee, would face a conflict by ruling on city business while also getting a city paycheck. They also noted he already collects a city paycheck; Licensing Board members receive a $2,400 annual stipend.

Lantigua sent no other nominations to the council for seven months, but his hand was forced when the board was left with just one member when Fielding died Sept. 9.

Hours before the Licensing Board’s Sept. 26 meeting, Lantigua deemed the two vacancies an emergency because of the board’s impending meeting. He gave the emergency appointment to Garcia, sidesteping the council’s earlier vote against him.

Garcia hosts a Spanish-language talk show on WCEC and writes an occasional column for Rumbo, a Spanish-language newspaper. On the air and in print, he is a steadfast supporter of Lantigua. In an internet blog last year, he described a recent effort to recall Lantigua as a “dirty, negative and divisive political campaign.”

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