Council President Frank Moran did not return a phone call yesterday. Councilor Roger Twomey, a former chairman of the Licensing Board, also did not return phone calls.
Lantigua’s inability to restock the Licensing Board stretches to late March, when he nominated Alfonso Garcia to fill the seat held by Tom Murphy, who stepped down from the board Jan. 1. The council rejected Garcia, citing the conflict he might face while serving on a board that sets city policy while also collecting a city paycheck.
The Licensing Board continued to meet with just two members until Sept. 9, when former chairman Richard Fielding died, leaving the board with just one member and unable to meet. Lantigua declared at the time that the lack of a quorum was an emergency, which he said allowed him to bypass the council and put Garcia on the board without its approval. Two weeks later, City Attorney Charles Boddy said the mayor has no emergency powers to fill vacant seats on the board and invalidated Garcia’s appointment, as well as the votes Garcia took at the Licensing Board’s Sept. 25 meeting.
Lantigua then nominated Luis Martinez and Pedro Torres. The council approved them on Oct. 16.
A few days later, City Attorney Boddy said the two also were ineligible because of a state law requiring local licensing boards to have at least one Democrat and one Republican who have been enrolled in their parties for at least two years. The Lawrence board already has one Democrat — Mayra Lantigua — so it must have at least one member who has been an enrolled Republican for at least two years before it can conduct business. Martinez enrolled as a Republican last month. Martinez said he is unenrolled.
Lantigua responded by calling for yesterday’s special council meeting, telling the councilors by email that he would ask them to consider a new nominee – presumably a Republican – and also would resubmit Martinez’s name.