LAWRENCE – Long-time City Attorney Charles Boddy left for an open-ended vacation Monday, deciding to take time off rather than continue in the job while Mayor Daniel Rivera and the City Council debate keeping him on.
His departure, temporary or otherwise, extends the uncertainty and upheaval in a busy legal department that once was staffed by as many as five full-time lawyers. More recently, the department was reduced to just Boddy and a para-legal during the budget crunch under former Mayor William Lantigua.
The office now has two assistant attorneys, including Raquel Ruano, a former prosecutor and assistant city attorney in Boston who joined the Lawrence Law Department last year and has been running it since Monday.
Despite his departure, Boddy, 51, said yesterday that he believes he remains City Attorney because he said Rivera and the council did not give him the 90-day notice that his contract would not be renewed, as the contract requires. Without the notice, Boddy said his contract automatically renewed for another five years.
Boddy's argument hinges on whether the council violated the state's Open Meetings Law when it voted 8-0 on March 18 to notify him that his contract would not be renewed. Because the issue was not scheduled for a vote that night, Boddy said the vote was illegal.
“My opinion is that I do have one,” Boddy said about his contract. “Their opinion is that I don't. They've been saying they'll begin negotiating a contract with me for three months. It's not rocket science, yet there's been no proposals made.”
The councilors voted after Rivera sent them a memo saying he was notifying Boddy that his contract would not be renewed. Rivera said he has not ruled out keeping Boddy on, but said he sent him the notice to allow his administration time to renegotiate a new contract with him if he is retained.