By: Kathy Runge – December, 2014
The election has come and gone, the employee residency requirement has been discussed ad nauseam by the council with more to come, and we’ve had more senseless deaths of young people in Lawrence.
The residents of Lawrence can breathe a sigh of relief that William Lantigua isn’t on the public payroll again. I heard that he’s considering running for City Council. If so, I’m hoping he runs for Councilor-at-Large as no one knows where he really lives.
City Councilors, here’s a charter amendment to consider: No resident who has refused to testify before or been the subject of a grand jury investigating government corruption shall be allowed to run for any municipal elective office.
What qualities should we be looking for in a city councilor?
It’s time for every voter in the city to start thinking about this as municipal elections are less than a year away. We need qualified and educated councilors!
One of the first questions a candidate for councilor should answer is: What do you want to do as a councilor that you can’t do as a private citizen?
Everyone wants to make Lawrence better, reduce crime, etcetera. Apart from performing constituent services, a good councilor needs specific goals, goals that can be best addressed as a councilor. We don’t need more “cruise directors.” Councilors should spend a few years working toward their goals and then get out. They should have term limits. Being a councilor isn’t supposed to be your permanent part time job! Establishing term limits for councilors ensures an ever expanding group of people would have the knowledge to hold the government accountable and has the added advantage of limiting the reigns of incompetent councilors.
Even a good councilor shouldn’t make it a lifetime occupation. We need more people to be aware of and actively participate in the decision making process in our city, and having councilors serve in perpetuity does not encourage that.
Viewer alert! Get your popcorn ready; the City Council is requesting that Mayor Rivera appear in front of them for a chastising at the Dec. 16th meeting. The title of the document submitted by Council President Maldonaldo is “Request for the Attendance of Mayor Rivera Before City Council – RE: function, powers, authority, and duties within the scope of the Office of Mayor.”
Finally some of the councilors are realizing that mayors overstep their authority! I guess they finally agree with Councilor Laplante, who pointed this out during Mayor Lantigua’s administration. A few disgruntled employees spoke during the public participation section of the Dec. 2nd meeting.
One of the speakers was Nazario Esquea, a city employee and longtime Lantigua ally who didn’t get another city job that he applied for. Ironically, one of the issues councilors are finally concerned about is temporary city positions, which come in a variety of flavors and are supposed to be of limited duration.
It seems the council is unhappy that many “temporary” workers stay more than the allotted time. Boy, nothing gets by these guys! That’s been happening for many years. It only took a mayor they didn’t endorse to get some of them to notice. For instance, Nazario Esquea started his career with the city as a temp under Mayor Lantigua and worked in that capacity longer than the allotted time, eventually getting the permanent position he now holds.
I wonder how many interviews Willy conducted for that position. Where was and is the council’s outrage over this instance of mayoral overstepping? It’s non-existent; the concerned councilors are upset that Mr. Esquea didn’t get promoted.
Another personnel faux pas committed by Mayor Lantigua was the demotion of Deputy Police Chief Mike Driscoll and the unilateral promotion of his campaign manager, Sgt. Melix Bonilla, to “Acting” Deputy Chief. Outrage, I ask? Oh no, not about that; the outrage is because Rivera demoted Bonilla back to the positon of sergeant.
Lorenza Ortega, William Lantigua’s mistress/wife/ex-wife, provides yet another example cited by the council for her unjust removal. She was promoted to her final city position as secretary in the Personnel Dept. during Michael Sullivan’s administration as a “provisional” appointment. I wonder who recommended her? I have a letter in my possession from the Personnel Dept. dated December 27, 2007. We don’t know who authored this letter, but this is an example of the work coming out of the Personnel Dept. during Ms. Ortega’s tenure.
The first sentence is “Your union has exercised its bumping rights associated with layoff that are to take effect on December 31, 2007.” We can only hope that this was produced by a provisional employee that did not get hired permanently, but what are the chances of that?
It seems that Bonilla, Esquea and Ortega all got their positions by precisely the methods that some of the councilors are now complaining about.
They claim that supporters of William Lantigua are being unfairly discriminated against. If so, how do they explain the pay raise of Lantigua supporter Raul Batistine, who recently moved from Administrative Assistant in Inspectional Services to Housing Code Inspector?
If the purpose of the upcoming discussion is to flesh out the exact scope of mayoral powers and how to best prevent future abuse, we have many spectacular instances of Mayor Lantigua overstepping his authority, far too many to mention in this article.
At the very least we must understand the subtle distinctions that made Mayor Lantigua’s acts permissible and Mayor Rivera’s acts an overstepping of authority.
Any investigation that only looks at the actions of Mayor Rivera is a witch hunt at best.