Perocchi’s letter did not mention Lantigua, but said if Lawrence were a business, “you would fire the CEO.”
Lantigua did not return a phone call to comment.
Rivera, 43, said he knew little about Perocchi, 56, until their breakfast meeting last fall.
“I knew he was a famous guy from Lawrence who grew up in the projects and did well,” Rivera said. “He thought he could be helpful here at home. He had the same sentiment a lot of people had, that we really needed to make a change in this community.”
The new mayor acknowledged that $31,500 is a sizable contribution from a single person, but said Perocchi has no financial stake in Lawrence.
“It’s a best case scenario,” Rivera said. “When you have someone with no vested interest in the city, and whose track record is only one that helps the city, then those concerns can be lessened.”
In 2003, Perocchi wrote a far bigger check to bring another change to Lawrence. The $1 million check helped rebuild the run-down Boys & Girls Club building on Water Street, where Perocchi spent much of his youth after his mother died in a car crash when he was 9 and his father became permanently disabled when hit by a falling branch while working as a laborer for the city.
An uncle, Paul Perocchi, was a Lawrence District Court judge for 22 years, until he retired in 1985. Another uncle, Steve, was a football coach at Lawrence High School.
Both Perocchi and Rivera emphasized that Perocchi has no business interests or investments in Lawrence. Rivera also said he has no plans for a golf vacation in Pebble Beach.
“What I do cannot be considered golf,” Rivera said.