Lawrence’s licensing board circus
Nothing is easy in Lawrence — even filling empty seats on the city’s Licensing Board, which regulates nightclubs and hands out liquor licenses. One of the board’s three members stepped down at the beginning of this year, but the other two formed a quorum and were able to carry on the board’s business. Work ground to a halt, however, when board chairman Richard Fielding died in September.
Mayor William Lantigua initially tried to fill one of the board slots back in March, nominating Alfonso Garcia, a supporter who works for the School Department and also hosts a radio talk show. But the City Council rejected Garcia, apparently out of concern that it would have been inappropriate for him to sit on a board setting city policy while also collecting a city paycheck.
After Fielding died, Lantigua declared an emergency and tried to appoint Garcia to the Licensing Board without first gaining City Council approval. City Attorney Charles Boddy two weeks later said the emergency appointment was illegal. He invalidated Garcia’s appointment, as well as all of the licenses he approved at the lone meeting he attended.
Lantigua earlier this month nominated Luis Martinez and Pedro Torres, and the council quickly approved them. But several days later Boddy tossed out their appointments. By law, the three-person board must have at least one Republican and one Democrat who have been members of their parties for at least two years. It turned out that Martinez joined the Republican Party a week before his nomination, making him ineligible. Press reports were unclear on why Torres’s appointment was invalidated.
Martin said it’s not easy finding a Republican in Lawrence. “We’re an endangered species in this city,” he said, noting that Republicans represent only 7 percent of the city’s 40,000 registered voters.
City Councilor Marc Laplante posted on his Facebook page that if anyone knows a Republican in Lawrence they should get in touch with the mayor’s office.
Meanwhile, the lone member of the Licensing Board is Mayra Lantigua, the mayor’s ex-wife. The mayor confirmed in August that he was married to Lorenza Ortega, another city worker, although details of the marriage and his divorce from his previous wife are sketchy. Mayra Lantigua was appointed to her Licensing Board post by Lawrence’s previous mayor. Her term has expired but her former husband has made no move to replace her.
Leaders of the state’s judiciary say they need $13.6 million to deal with the legal challenges that will result from the mishandling of drug samples by former state chemist Annie Dookhan. Gov. Deval Patrick named an interim public health commissioner to replace John Auerbach, who steps down next week in the wake of the Dookhan scandal, WBUR reports.
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Sen. Al Franken pens a remembrance of the late Paul Wellstone for The Atlantic.
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An appeals court in New Jersey rules that state officials can impose salary caps on public school superintendents, the Star-Ledger reports.
Brockton Mayor Linda Balzotti signed a deal with the city’s 17 unions to stem health care costs over the next four years without joining up with the state Group Insurance Commission.
Partners HealthCare System and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care have struck a four-year agreement under which the large provider network will care for Harvard Pilgrim subscribers under a global payment system designed to restrain health care costs while providing better quality care.MEDIA
The New York Times Co. has total of 592,000 digital subscribers, but only 26,000 of them are to the Boston Globe, Poynter reports. Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the chairman and publisher of the Times, gives his support to his incoming, embattled CEO, Mark Thompson, the Times reports. The Daily Beast examines Thompson’s rocky start.