EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 23, 2012

Latest Licensing Board appointee may be in jeopardy

More delays for liquor, other applicants possible


Councilor Marc Laplante voted against Martinez, noting that he switched his party enrollment to Republican only six days before Lantigua nominated him to the board, which Laplante said makes him ineligible to hold the board’s Republican seat.

State law requires that local licensing boards include at least one Democrat and one Republican who have been enrolled in their parties for at least two years. Martinez was enrolled as an independent for 16 years and regularly pulled Democratic ballots when he voted in primaries, then switched his enrollment to Republican six days before he applied for the Licensing Board seat, his voting card at the Lawrence Election Division shows.

Jon Carlisle, a spokesman for the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, said yesterday that Martinez would not meet the partisan requirement for serving on the Lawrence Licensing Board if he has been enrolled as a Republican only since Sept. 25.

Laplante has asked Boddy, the city attorney, for an opinion about whether Martinez is qualified to take a seat on the Licensing Board. He said he hopes to receive the opinion in time for the board’s meeting tomorrow.

Without it, Laplante said any licenses and other approvals the Licensing Board issues tomorrow will be under a cloud because the board will not include the Republican member that state law requires. He also blasted Lantigua and his aides for bungling the succession of Licensing Board appointments.

“They’re either incompetent or their purposely trying to deceive the council,” Laplante said. “It’s a shame that the city needs to be put through this some more.”

Lantigua and Boddy did not return phone calls yesterday.

The controversy over Lantigua’s appointment to the board comes as the agency faces several significant votes, including a proposal to revoke a liquor license held by Jowa Lounge at 336 Common St., after a string of fire code and other violations. Jowa would be the fourth Lawrence bar or nightclub to lose it license since the summer.

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