Torrisi disagreed but did not directly respond to a question about the potential for conflict when he lobbies a mayor whose top advisor is his sister.
“My sister is a great person and does a great job for the city,” Torrisi said. “I don’t really care what a professor from Bentley thinks about this. This person doesn’t know the first thing about me or my family. I represented the city for 14 years. I have clients that do business in the city. The American Red Cross. Sal Lupoli. Those organizations touch the city in a positive way. I have nothing to hide in that regard.”
Torrisi represented the 14th Essex District at the Statehouse from 1999 to 2012.
He said Patriot had more than its Lawrence contract in mind when it hired him, noting that he represents the company in other communities it serves in the region and on Beacon Hill.
Records on file with the Secretary of State show Patriot had not employed a lobbyist for at least 10 years before hiring Torrisi on Jan. 20, 18 days after Rivera took office and soon made it known that the company’s contract was up for grabs. Patriot co-owners David Walton and Maurice Ryan met with Rivera 11 days after hiring Torrisi.
Walton and Ryan did not return a phone call seeking comment for this story.
The state allows mayors to ask for bids for ambulance contracts but does not require that they do so. The Lawrence City Charter allows mayors to sign contracts of less than three years without submitting them to the City Council.
Rivera said he has reminded Lisa Torrisi to alert him whenever a potential conflict arises, as required of all city employees by city policy.
Rivera said Lisa Torrisi was in the room for at least part of his meeting with her brother and Patriot’s owners but did not participate in the discussion. He said the fact that he gave the ambulance contract to Lawrence General Hospital rather than renew it with Torrisi’s client is proof that the proper ethical controls are in place in his administration.