The Download: Lantigua lets down Lawrence

The coda has yet to be written on the political career of Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua.   But attracting the attention of federal law enforcement officials never bodes well, as Sal DiMasi, Dianne Wilkerson, and Chuck Turner can attest.

The social and economic challenges facing Lawrence, a city that has been dealt more than its fair share of bad cards, should be the story these days. But the Immigrant City has been upstaged by the Lantigua drama.

Elected nearly two years ago, Lantigua got a pass on being blamed for the years of municipal mismanagement that preceded him and culminated in a de facto receivership-lite. What Lawrence demanded was a chief executive who could fill the leadership vacuum in the city, begin to attack its problems and rise above its petty political turf battles.

But instead of playing this new hand, Lantigua threw down the demagogue card. Refusing to debate his mayoral opponents. Trading accusations with the police department. Engaging in bizarre run-ins with local residents. Important issues like mismanagement at the agency that handles poverty issues on behalf of the state and federal government are taking a back seat.

Gov. Deval Patrick and most of Lawrence’s state lawmakers are largely mum on Lantigua’s recent trials and tribulations. Patrick is in an especially uncomfortable position after pulling out all the stops to help Lantigua become the state’s first elected Latino mayor and sanctioning a $35 million bailout. Unfortunately, the governor won’t find it easy to “unfriend” Lantigua, as Red Mass Group put it.

The abrasive Lantigua has never lacked for detractors. But now the spotlight will burn hotter. In addition to the Eagle-Tribune, which has been relentless in its coverage of his missteps, the Boston media is now circling. The Globe takes the civic pulse in Lawrence and finds lots of discontent with the mayor. Rumbo, a regional bilingual newspaper published and edited by an ally of Lantigua, has been more circumspect in its coverage. And, not surprisingly, newspapers in his native Dominican Republic are also following the story.

Many Latinos have been muted their criticism, whether in ethnic solidarity or out of fear of reprisals from City Hall. That is, until the latest allegations emerged. Rev. Edwin Rodríguez of the Movimento Evangélico Misionero formed the group “It’s Your Right” to work on an effort to recall the mayor. Latingua owes his career to Lawrence’s Latino residents. By flexing their new political muscles, they could also help bring him down.

                                                                                                                                                            –GABRIELLE GURLEY

BEACON HILL

In a big win for House Speaker Robert DeLeo, the Globe reports on the Massachusetts House vote to limit collective bargaining by public sector unions on municipal health care benefits. WBUR, via AP, reports the reaction of AFL-CIO President Robert Haynes, who says: “We’re going to fight this to the bitter end.”

Jury selection got underway yesterday in the corruption trial of former House speaker Sal DiMasi, who told reporters outside the federal courthouse, “You’re going to hear a lot of interesting things in this trial that you’ve never heard before.”

The House votes to repeal the state’s medical industry gift ban – a measure that has enjoyed the staunch support of Senate President Therese Murray.

Peter Koutoujian talks about his time as Middlesex County sheriff.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Swampscott passes police station override, the Item reports.

Adams agrees on a two percent lodgings tax.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Will this shut Donald Trump up? Probably not, but here it is anyway.

Pretzel logic? In the National Review, Andrew C. McCarthy takes the “Lawyer Left” and the Obama administration to task for defending Al Qaeda but not the Defense of Marriage Act.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner presses the GOP, again, on the debt ceiling.

The Obama administration is pulling the plug on 137 data centers nationwide, including one on Causeway Street in Boston.

ELECTION 2012

Alan Khazei jumps into the US Senate race for Scott Brown’s seat, WBUR reports. NECN says Khazei plans to run a grass-root campaign. NECN’s Jim Braude weighs in.

Joe Trippi, of Howard Dean fame, joins Bob Massie’s Senate campaign.

Ron Paul forms a presidential exploratory committee. The Atlantic parses the way his 2008 long-shot campaign shifted the national political landscape, and rounds up his greatest debate hits. The Texas libertarian is also the subject of an Esquire profile this month.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Richard Dimino, president of A Better City, and former GOP state rep Karyn Polito, who is as ubiquitous now as when she ran for state treasurer, debate the need for a newer, bigger convention center on “Greater Boston.”

The MetroWest Daily News laments that summer job prospects aren’t good for college students.

EDUCATION

Haverhill declares three elementary schools surplus property and offers them for sale, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Meet Jeb Bush, education reform oracle.

HEALTH CARE

Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital has performed its third human face transplant, the fourth done in the US, the Globe reports.

House Republicans begin to feel some blowback on their Medicare plans at town hall meetings. Last week, Slate’s David Weigel wondered aloud why the proposal hadn’t been greeted by the same sort of populist anger that met Democrats’ earlier health care reform efforts.

TRANSPORTATION

High gas prices are starting to change consumer habits, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A Superior Court judge has signed off on a $12.4 million agreement to settle a suit by Mattapoisett residents against a barge company that caused an oil spill in Buzzards Bay 2003.

Wareham town meeting rescinded a controversial bylaw passed by voters last fall that required new developments of 10 units of more to be “nitrogen net zero” as a way to limit the release of nitrogen into nearby waterways.

Disks from a New Hampshire wastewater treatment plant are expected to show up on Cape beaches through the summer.

Dennis says no to wind turbines.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The Globe reports that prosecutors have reached an agreement with five of the six defendants charged in the bullying case of South Hadley’s Phoebe Prince.

A Lawrence man takes the stand to explain how he set up fake auto accidents in return for payments from lawyers and a chiropractor, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Gerald Kirby, a former Norfolk County prosecutor and well-known lawyer in Quincy, was suspended from practice for mishandling two estate cases of elderly women.

MEDIA

The UK version of The Spectator runs its winners in the “toe-curlingly bad analogies” contest, an idea that they purloined from The Washington Post. One of the best/worst: “His morals were as twisted as an expensive Sicilian corkscrew that had been used as a way of extracting the pith from a bad apple before being driven over by an Eddie Stobart truck.”