EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

July 28, 2013

Editorial: Lantigua needs to keep city boards current

The first step in extracting oneself from a hole is this: Stop digging.

That’s a lesson that hasn’t yet been learned in Lawrence. Businesses or developers that show an interest in investing in the struggling city are running into a frustrating roadblock — city boards that cannot legally meet to hear their proposals and move them forward.

That’s largely the fault of Lawrence’s do-nothing mayor, William Lantigua, who has failed to meet his responsibility to appoint new members to vacant seats on city boards and commissions or to re-appoint sitting members when their terms expire.

A mayor is supposed to promote and advance a city, not hobble it. Perhaps Lantigua might try actually performing the job he was elected to do.

The problem first became apparent last year with the Licensing Board, which regulates, among other things the city’s restaurants, nightclubs, car dealerships and any businesses that sell milk.

The three-member board was reduced to one member for about two months after the death of its chairman, rendering it incapable of taking any action. Once this crisis point was reached, Lantigua acted appointing two new members to join the board’s senior member Mayra Lantigua — the mayor’s ex-wife — whose term expired 6 years ago.

State law allows municipal board members whose terms expire to continue serving until their replacements are appointed. But in Lawrence, reporter Keith Eddings found, those expired terms lead to vacancies on boards and can result in the boards’ being unable to reach a quorum and conduct their business.

That happened recently on the five-member Conservation Commission, which has two vacant seats. Winn Development, one of the region’s largest developers, is working on a project to build 65 apartments at the Malden Mills site. Winn needs the Conservation Commission’s approval of its project to apply for state tax credits to help finance the construction of the apartments.

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