LAWRENCE — Three weeks out of office, former Mayor William Lantigua suffered two final defeats on the City Council last night when it refused to consider his requests to give his former wife another term on the Licensing Board and to give acting Police Chief James Fitzpatrick a permanent appointment to the job.
Lantigua nominated Fitzpatrick and his former wife, Mayra Lantigua, who chairs the Licensing Board, in the final days of his administration.
Mayor Daniel Rivera moved to cut off the two nominations in some of his first official acts after succeeding Lantigua on Jan. 2, when he nominated businessman Pedro Torres to Mayra Lantigua’s seat on the Licensing Board and asked the council to take Fitzpatrick’s nomination off their agenda to allow him to conduct a search to fill the chief’s job.
The unanimous votes last night suggested that a council that still includes many Lantigua loyalists, including its new president, Modesto Maldonado, is ready for a honeymoon with the new mayor, who served four years on the council before he was elected mayor in November.
Rivera addressed the council briefly before last night’s votes.
“This is the beginning of a great partnership,” Rivera told his former colleagues. “I’m a resource for you and I know you’ll be a resource for me as I try to figure things out.”
Maldonado and Rivera have met several times since Rivera was elected mayor and Maldonado was elected to the council and then chosen its president in a unanimous vote after only a single term and an absence of two years.
“It would be fair to give the opportunity to Mayor Daniel Rivera to make his own appointments and fill those boards with the people he would prefer,” Maldonado said before joining the 9-0 vote to send Torres’ name to a committee for review.
The council last night also began acting on several other Rivera nominations, sending them all to committee. Besides Torres, they included James Patrick O’Donoghue, who ran unsuccessfully in the preliminary election for mayor last year, and Elias Rodriguez, both of whom were nominated for five-year terms on the city’s Redevelopment Authority.
Also sent to committee last night were Jose Pino, whom Rivera nominated to the Zoning Board of Appeals, and Glavielinys Cruz, whom Rivera nominated to the Historical Commission.
Also last night, the council accepted the resignation of Abel Vargas from the Greater Lawrence Technical School Committee. Vargas was re-elected to the committee in November, but resigned to take a job as Rivera’s director of business development.
The council’s decision to replace Mayra Lantigua on the Licensing Board ends a term that began when former Mayor Michael Sullivan named her to fill an unexpired seat on April 14, 2005, 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 Licensing Boards whose terms have expired to continue serving until they are reappointed or replaced. She has chaired the board for about a year.
The Licensing Board’s three members are paid $2,500 a year. The chairman receives an extra $2,600 stipend.
The vote to remove Mayra Lantigua from the Licensing Board severs a tie the former mayor had with the city’s vibrant nightlife, where he was a regular in the bars and clubs through his four years in office.