LAWRENCE — A City Council committee last night set aside John Isensee’s nomination as public works chief, after a debate that set in motion a first challenge to the new mayor and suggested the council’s shifting political alliances.
For Isensee, who has been acting DPW director for nearly four years, the committee snub was deja vu all over again.
Last night’s story began Sept. 21, 2011, when the council rejected then-mayor William Lantigua’s effort to give Isensee a permanent appointment as director because he lacked a technical qualification. The 5-4 vote followed a fierce debate between Lantigua loyalists and detractors on the council about whether rejecting Isensee was a disguised attempt to embarrass the former mayor.
The new mayor, Daniel Rivera, served on the council at the time and led the attack against Isensee’s nomination because he did not have the procurement certification that the job required.
Isensee continued serving as acting DPW chief and has since received the procurement certification, prompting Rivera to submit the nomination he opposed as a councilor the first time around. The council forwarded the nomination to its Personnel Committee, which took it up last night.
Committee member Oneida Aquino, a Lantigua loyalist who supported Isensee three years ago, also reversed herself and led the charge against his nomination last night. This time, she objected that Rivera did not post the job and did not send Isensee’s application or resume to the council.
“We have nothing,” Aquino protested. “We don’t know what certificate he got, just a letter from the mayor. I don’t think that’s enough.”
Council President Maldonado added that Rivera’s failure to post the public works job violates the city’s personnel policies.
“As a councilor, a committee, we have a responsibility to make sure policies are followed,” Maldonado said.