By Keith Eddings
---- — LAWRENCE — After defeating former Mayor William Lantigua in November and then firing his wife from her secretarial job in the Personnel Department on his first day in office, Mayor Daniel Rivera is pushing to end the city service of a third Lantigua.
Rivera on Tuesday will ask the City Council to replace Lantigua’s former wife, Mayra Lantigua, on the Licensing Board with Pedro Torres, a general manager at Napolitano Marble and Granite.
Mayra Lantigua was first named to fill an unexpired seat on the board on April 14, 2005, by Mayor Michael Sullivan at a time when she was married to Lantigua, who was then a state representative. Although her term expired June 1, 2007, she has continued to serve under a state law that allows members of local boards whose terms have expired to stay on until they are reappointed or replaced. She has chaired the board for about a year.
She said at a Jan. 8 Licensing Board meeting that she had not made up her mind about whether she would ask Rivera to reappoint her, apparently unaware that her former husband had nominated her for another term a month earlier and sent the City Council a letter asking it to approve her.
The council is scheduled to formally receive Mayra Lantigua’s nomination Tuesday, along with Rivera’s nomination of Pedro Torres to the same seat.
City Council President Modesto Maldonado did not return a phone call seeking to learn how he would handle the two nominations to the single seat, but his options include asking the council to remove one from the agenda and sending the other to its Personnel Committee for review. The term would be six years.
The three members of the Licensing Board are paid $2,500 a year. The chairman receives an extra $2,600 stipend.
If the council replaces Mayra Lantigua with Torres, the number of former Mayor Lantigua’s former or current wives on the city payroll will be reduced to one: Maggie Fawcett, a traffic enforcement officer, who earns $36,919. Fawcett and the former mayor have one child together. Mayra Lantigua and the mayor have three. Lantigua and Lorenza Ortega, his current wife, who earned $50,000 as a personnel secretary, have no children together.
Lantigua nominated Torres to the Licensing Board last year, but he served for only a few days until City Attorney Charles Boddy ruled him ineligible because his appointment left the board without a Republican, as required. Torres is not enrolled in a party.
Torres, 48, said he would support a moratorium on new liquor licenses in Lawrence, which Rivera also supports.
“I work six days a week. I don’t have time to go to the bars (socially),” Torres said. “But I’m going to make time to go out and monitor the bars. I’m going to be pretty hands on.”
Rivera will have a second chance to reshape the Licensing Board in June, when Ronald Martin’s term expires. Rivera opposed Martin’s nomination when Lantigua sent it down in November 2012, saying he had served too many years on city agencies.
Martin, a retired IRS employee, resigned from the Board of Registrars after 14 years to take the Licensing Board seat. His public service to the city began as a member of a charter study commission in 1972, and since then he has served on the city’s housing and redevelopment authorities as well as the Board of Registrars, which he chaired for the last five years. He also worked as an assistant tax collector from 1999 to 2008.
“When you’ve served six mayors, maybe it’s time that the sixth mayor look for somebody else to serve,” Rivera said at the time. “It’s just asking too much of the same people.”