Former Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua was so eager to pave his way to victory in last November’s election that he signed away the city’s guarantee of quality work from a road contractor. He did this despite warnings both from the contractor and from within his own administration that the late-season road paving would not last.
But, with everyone believing that Lantigua would cruise to a win at the polls and another four years in City Hall, no one had the courage to stand up to the vindictive mayor and say “No.”
Lantigua had made the repaving of streets in the city the centerpiece of his re-election campaign. As each street got its fresh coat of asphalt, a distinctive blue sign crediting the paving to Lantigua would be installed on the roadside. Lantigua posted on his Facebook page photo after photo of himself personally directing the paving program.
The former mayor spent a total of about $1.8 million in city and state money paving streets and filling potholes across the city.
The campaign resonated with voters, several of whom told our reporters covering the preliminary election in September that they were supporting Lantigua because of his efforts to repair the streets.
Lantigua is hardly the first mayor to make road improvements in an effort to win support of voters. After all, street repairs are a tangible reminder to voters of the role government plays in their daily lives.
But Lantigua’s campaign was different. He circumvented the normal bidding and contract requirements, directly ordering a paving contractor to continue repairing city streets long after its initial contract had been completed.
In the 15 days from July 22 to Aug. 6, the bills from Highway Rehabilitation Corp. of New York approached $400,000. But company had a contract with the city to perform just $84,979 worth of repaving.