EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

August 16, 2011

Group says names on Lantigua website a form of 'intimidation'

LAWRENCE — The names and addresses of thousands of city residents whose names are on petitions to recall Mayor William Lantigua were posted on websites endorsing the mayor — a move a recall organizer said is an act of "intimidation."

Although the petitions are public information, Attorney Robert Okoniewski, a Lawrence resident who is supporting the recall, said he's concerned "how this information is going to be used."

He pointed to the "intensity of emotion" surrounding the recall effort and questioned whether the list and certain names will be used "to inflame Lantigua supporters."

Okoniewski, said yesterday the recall group should file a federal lawsuit against Lantigua and the city over the recall process, which they say was botched by City Clerk William Maloney.

The recall group called Its Your Right, collected 5,483 signatures to recall Lantigua. But, the group came up 866 votes short of the needed 5,232 votes to oust Lantigua, the city's Board of Registrars announced Friday night.

Lantigua and his supporters posted links to the names and addresses of those who signed the recall petitions on the website Yo No Firmo (I Won't Sign) and William Lantigua's Facebook pages.

"If your name appears and you did not sign, please go to City Hall and report this fraud to the Election Division," reads the instructions posted with names collected by Its Your Right volunteers.

A search mechanism is posted at the top of the website, allowing visitors to plug in someone's name to see if they signed to recall Lantigua.

Wayne Hayes of Its Your Right said he's received calls from people concerned about the listings. Hayes said he's been telling supporters "not to pay any attention to this," he said, adding it is an "asinine stunt by Lantigua to imply power and intimidation."

The group has vowed to restart the recall process and have Lantigua, the city's first Latino mayor, removed from office by Christmas.

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