EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 30, 2013

Lantigua is raising more, spending less than Rivera

By Keith Eddings

---- — LAWRENCE — Mayor William Lantigua raised nearly $14,000 more than challenger Daniel Rivera over a recent six-week period by tapping the generosity of city employees, contractors and nightclub owners, financial reports the two filed this week show.

Lantigua also is spending less than Rivera, which combined with his more fruitful fund-raising left him with $29,000 going into the campaign’s final three weeks, more than three times the $9,000 Rivera had in the bank on Oct. 18.

In all so far this year, Lantigua raised $72,622 through Oct. 18, when the last reporting period ended, while Rivera raised $56,892, their reports show. But City Council Vice President Rivera has outspent the mayor by just over $3,000 so far, spending $61,862 on advertising, printing, mailing and other services, compared to $58,461 that Lantigua has spent.

Both men had about $15,000 on hand when the year began.

Lantigua’s donors are much more likely to live or work in Lawrence than are Rivera’s donors, and much more likely to work for the city or its schools, according to the financial disclosure forms they filed Monday.

Fifty-six percent of Lantigua’s donors listed a Lawrence address for their home or business on the form the mayor filed Monday, compared to just 22 percent of Rivera’s donors.

Nearly one in four of Lantigua’s supporters collect a city paycheck, ranging from his chief of staff, Frederick Diaz ($200 so far this year), to his confidential secretary, Maria Cruz ($150). The two men Lantigua elevated from City Hall receptionists to public works foreman also have given back: Street Foreman Joel Chalas has given $300 and Parks Foreman Jorge Jaime has given $500, the maximum allowed in a year.

Where Rivera’s donors work is harder to track because just 58 of the 133 donors who gave to him since Aug. 31 listed their employers. Just one reported working for the city or its schools. Only donors who give $200 or more are required to list where they work, as did all but one of Rivera’s bigger donors.

Lantigua did not return a phone call seeking comment yesterday.

Rivera accused Lantigua of shaking down city employees.

“If you coerce the staff at City Hall, you can raise money,” Rivera said. “Some of those people have been working at City Hall for 30 or 40 years. What are they going to do? Say no when the mayor asks for money?”

Among city departments, the deepest wells for Lantigua are at public works and police, his most recent financial report shows. Eight cops gave to Lantigua between Aug. 31 and Oct. 18, including Daren Fraser ($100), whom Lantigua put on paid leave for 29 months after he was charged with assaulting his girlfriend, allowing him to collect paychecks totaling $150,000; and Scott McNamara ($450), head of a union that represents the city’s superior police officers, which has not endorsed a candidate in the race.

Also writing checks to Lantigua is Lydia Bonilla, the wife of Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla, who Lantigua put on paid leave from his $140,000-a-year job after he was indicted for extortion and other crimes 14 months ago. Lydia Bonilla has given Lantigua $500, the maximum.

At the Public Works Department, at least eight employees have given to Lantigua since Aug. 31, including foremen Chalas and Jaime and Felix Matos, whom prosecutors said accepted an envelope containing cash allegedly skimmed from a city garage by parking attendant Justo Garcia earlier this year.

Garcia, Lantigua’s campaign photographer, has been indicted on larceny and other crimes; Matos was accused in a police affidavit but has not been charged.

Several city contractors also have given to Lantigua, including Ivelisse Mateo, owner of S&W paving, which holds a city plowing contract and also plows Lantigua’s Boxford Street driveway; Maurice Ryan, owner of Patriot Ambulance, who testified before a federal grand jury investigating whether Lantigua pressured city contractors to ship vehicles to his native Dominican Republic; and Robert Sheehan, owner of Sheehan Towing, who was on the witness list for the trial of Police Officer P.J. Lopez, who was recently convicted of shaking down towing contractors.

Lantigua’s biggest donors are Scott, John and Brian Anderson, the owners of an Andover Street bakery, who gave a total of $1,500.

His other donors include several bar owners and managers, including Juan Hidalgo, who owns Bali’s and Malaya’s; Angel Villalona, who owns Rio’s; and John Tarshi, who manages El Centro.

Ana Medina, a member of the city’s Board of Registrars, which oversees city elections and rules on voter challenges and the validity of absentee ballots, has given $400 to Lantigua so far this year.

Rivera also has tapped local bars for campaign cash. Brian Farrell, manager of the Claddagh, gave him $350. James Kearney, manager of the Irish Cottage in Methuen, gave $250.

Among Rivera’s biggest donors are the family of Alfred Torrisi, owner of Jackson Lumber, who with his son, David, a former state representative, and other family members have given $3,150.

Other big Rivera donors are William Perocchi, a Lawrence native is now the chief executive a the Pebble Beach Resorts in California, who with his wife gave $1,000; Rivera’s boss, Joel Sitak, owner of Birddog Solutions in Andover, who gave $300; and the American Federation of Teachers, which gave $500.

Both Lantigua and Rivera are spending heavily to advertise on local Spanish language radio and television but are spending little or nothing to advertise in the local print media, their reports show.

Lantigua also spent $982 to mail birthday cards to residents, for which he is well-known, over the six-week period covered by the recent report. He spent another $3,267 to print the 8-feet-by-4-feet campaign posters that recently began popping up on walls and fences around the city, which appear to violate a local law limiting the size of political signs to six square feet.