EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 12, 2012

City attorney: Mayor broke state law

LAWRENCE — Mayor William Lantigua violated state law when he bypassed the City Council to make what he called an emergency appointment to the Licensing Board, the city attorney said in an opinion that also said the votes the appointee cast at a recent meeting are no good.

City Attorney Charles Boddy’s opinion could reduce the three-member board to a single member, making it impossible for it to act, and suggests that any of the 14 bars, bodegas, car dealerships, rooming houses and package stores that received approvals at the board’s Sept. 26 meeting have been operating without licenses.

The opinion also extends the showdown between the mayor and the council over the vacancies on the board, which was reduced to two members when Thomas Murphy stepped down Jan. 1, and then to one when Richard Fielding died Sept. 9.

The remaining board member is the mayor’s ex-wife, Mayra Lantigua.

Boddy did not return a phone call seeking to learn what force his memo would have, including if the emergency appointee, Alfonso Garcia, attends the next meeting Oct. 24 and attempts to vote.

Garcia and Mayra Lantigua also did not return phone calls yesterday.

But City Councilor Eileen Bernal, who has led the charge against Garcia’s appointment since the mayor made it Sept. 26, said Boddy told her Garcia won’t be seated at the next meeting.

“I asked, ‘What happens if he shows up?’ “ Bernal said about her conversation with Boddy after she received his memo Tuesday. “He said, ‘This will not happen. It’s not a valid appointment. You don’t have to worry about that.’ “

Unless Mayor Lantigua makes at least one nomination to the board in time for the City Council to approve it, the board could be unable to conduct business at its Oct. 24 meeting. The council has one meeting before then, on Tuesday, which would mean it may not have time to refer any nominee it receives by then to its personnel committee for review.

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