EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 13, 2013

City contractor: Lantigua paid full rate for private work

By Keith Eddings

---- — LAWRENCE — The city contractor who sent a bobcat plow to clear Mayor William Lantigua’s driveway during the weekend blizzard said yesterday Lantigua paid him $225 for the three-hour job.

Juan Mateo, who runs the business owned by his wife, Ivelisse, said he charged Lantigua his full $75-an-hour rate for plowing the 100-foot driveway at 86 Boxford Street, a job he said he has been doing for the last two years while also plowing local streets under a contract with the city.

Two city councilman criticized the work, saying it’s inappropriate for Lantigua to hire city contractors to work at his house.

Lantigua could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Mateo said he acquired the plowing and paving company, S&W Plowing, in 2007 and immediately registered it on the list of contractors who offer workers and equipment to the city during heavy snows. He said no one called until 2010, when Lantigua took office.

He said he also plows for the city’s public schools.

“They never called me,” Mateo said about the three years he waited to be offered city work. “I was very angry because they were hiring companies from other cities.”

A year after he began plowing for the city, Mateo said Lantigua asked him to also plow the Boxford Street driveway at the small condo complex where the mayor lives with his wife Lorenza Ortega, a City Hall employee who owns the unit they share.

An Eagle-Tribune reporter yesterday asked Mateo to see the $225 check he said he received from Lantigua for his work Sunday. Mateo said he would discuss the request with his wife, who does billing for the company, but did not respond by midnight.

He said he does not have a contract with Lantigua, but said Lantigua calls him each time he wants his driveway plowed. He said Lantigua is one of his 10 private customers, which he said includes no other public officials.

Mateo supplied the city with two full-sized trucks and a pickup truck during the weekend blizzard. He declined to say what the city pays to hire his workers and equipment.

Asked whether Lantigua tips well, Mateo said only, “I really, really admire this guy.”

City Councilors Mark Laplante and Daniel Rivera said Lantigua shouldn’t be hiring city contractors regardless of how much he pays them.

“If he paid the guy to do it, I’m not sure it’s against the law, but it creates an appearance of impropriety,” said Rivera, who announced last week that he will challenge Lantigua in September’s preliminary election. “What’s a contractor going to say if he’s asked to provide a service to the mayor?”