The long shadow over Willie Lantigua

Former Lawrence mayor William Lantigua is laying the groundwork for a political comeback. Former Lawrence mayor William Lantigua has a number of former aides lining up behind a courtroom defendant’s table. In Lantigua’s world, there’s no connection between those two developments. But a string of criminal proceedings lie between Lantigua and his potential November date with a state rep ballot. And the more things unfold in court, the tougher things will get for Lawrence’s own James Michael Curley.

The first domino fell yesterday, as an Essex County jury convicted Leonard Degnan on four acts of bribery and conspiracy. Degnan, Lantigua’s former chief of staff, fell in an investigation into the shipment of a garbage truck to a town in the Dominican Republic. The town, Tenares, has close ties to Lantigua and his political base.

A jury found that Degnan illegally pressured Lawrence’s garbage contractor to donate a trash truck to Tenares, by threatening to cancel the company’s $6.4 million contract. Lawrence’s trash contractor bowed to the pressure and shipped a truck overseas, and Lantigua repaid the gesture by not voiding the trash contract.

“This case was not about a trash truck,” Essex County DA Jonathan Blodgett said yesterday. “This case was about corruption and criminal wrongdoing perpetrated on the citizens of Lawrence.”

Later this month, another former top Lantigua aide, Melix Bonilla, goes to trial on charges that he scammed Lawrence’s police department for the benefit of another Lantigua supporter. Bonilla, Lantigua’s former campaign manager, allegedly forced Lawrence Police staffers to sell 13 cars to a Lantigua-allied used car dealer; the department received four cars, worth half what they’d given up, in return.

A third city worker with ties to Lantigua’s campaign, Justo Garcia, is awaiting charges he stole piles of cash from a municipal parking garage. State police investigators have alleged that Garcia deposited the stolen cash in Lantigua’s campaign account.

Lantigua is reportedly trying to put together a campaign for his former state rep seat — a seat now held by one of his longtime political opponents, Marcos Devers. And while it went unsaid yesterday, the real target of the corruption probes into the trash truck donation and the police vehicle trades aren’t Degnan or Bonilla, but their boss, Lantigua.

It was Lantigua’s name, not Degnan’s, splashed across the trash truck that now sits in Tenares. It was Lantigua’s political ally who stood to profit by short-changing the city police on a used car swap. It was Lantigua’s campaign that state police believe was the destination of the stolen garage cash.

Prosecutors haven’t been able to make any of these connections stick in an indictment. But Degnan’s fall can’t be sitting well with Bonilla and Garcia. It’s still only April. Lantigua’s date with a November ballot is still a long way away.

–PAUL MCMORROW  

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch and the City Council held a post-mortem on Koch’s decision to sever ties with the developer of the $1.6 billion downtown revitalization and to figure out a way to get the stalled project moving. The hearing included this muddled metaphor from Ward 2 Councilor Brad Croall: “If we’re eating the elephant in small chunks going forward, then wouldn’t it make sense to have that ‘show me the money’ conversation up front?”

After this column last week making much the same point, the Globe‘s Shirley Leung tag teams with reporter Casey Ross on a front-page news story today reporting that developers are getting antsy over the Boston Redevelopment Authority‘s lack of direction and go-slow approach to projects since Mayor Marty Walsh took office.

But when things finally do kick into gear, Paul McMorrow writes, Marty Walsh’s BRA may be poised to build higher than before.

Rep. Kevin Murphy is selected as Lowell‘s next city manager, the Sun reports.

Brockton Mayor William Carpenter is looking to implement a program to get the city’s large nonprofits, who own more than $500,000 in property, to make payments in lieu of taxes.

An estimated 10,000 firefighters from across the country and world are expected to descend on Boston for the funerals on Wednesday and Thursday of Lt. Edward Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy, who were killed in last week’s Back Bay inferno.

ELECTIONS

Attorney General Martha Coakley , on a campaign swing through Taunton, told supporters she favors keeping Taunton State Hospital open, despite Gov. Deval Patrick‘s efforts to shutter the facility and move patients and services to the new Worcester Recovery Center.

Charlie Baker , who has been critical of the recent travails of the Department of Families and Children, made a go of revamping the agency himself during his time in state government, with mixed results, the Globe reports.

Slate thinks Jeb Bush would be the perfect 2016 Republican nominee, except for the fact that he would tear the Republican Party apart. The Wall Street Journal previews the nascent GOP presidential campaign by candidate type — insiders and insurgents.

The Democratic National Committee takes a Keynesian approach to its finances.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Federal investigators greet Michael Lewis‘s latest book with a criminal investigation.

EDUCATION

In a CommonWealth Perspective piece, Barry Koslow says we need to get over the hangup of paying college presidents well.

A review of data by an online salary comparison site finds that wealthier universities with higher graduation rates have a lower percentage of students receiving Pell Grants, indicating those schools have a smaller enrollment of lower income students.

A report commissioned by the American Academy of Arts Sciences concludes that the organization’s former president, Leslie Berlowitz, lied and cheated her way to an extra $2.2 million in compensation over her 17-year tenure.

A compromise on pre-K funding for New York City will make Bill de Blasio‘s town one of the most charter-friendly cities in the country.

HEALTH CARE

The state and federal health exchanges experience record traffic as the deadline nears, Governing reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The state Department of Environmental Protection has levied a $160,000 fine against the owner of a controversial private landfill in Dartmouth that is still causing problems 25 years after its closure.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The lawyer for a man charged with shooting his uncle, rapper Raymond Scott, who goes by the stage name Benzino, says it was self-defense. The wild scene unfolded along Route 3 in Duxbury during a funeral procession for Scott’s mother, who was the grandmother of Gai Scott, the man charged in the shooting.

Boston ‘s gun buyback program nets 136 weapons, NECN reports.

A former youth football league coach in Leominster is accused of assaulting one of his charges, the Associated Press reports.

MEDIA

Susan Crawford , a former top aide to President Obama, talks about why public Internet service is needed, Vox reports.

Voice of San Diego and MinnPost receive a Knight grant to build their membership bases, the Nieman Journalism Lab reports.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg makes a cool $3.3 billion exercising stock options in 2013, Time reports.

Many were upset by the finale of How I Met Your Mother.