Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thoughts on Lawrence Mayor Lantigua

Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua , AKA Massachusetts State Representative William Lantigua, , AKA Willy Lantigua seems to have made an unwise move in whatever power game he is playing up in Lawrence. During the run up to the 2009 Municipal elections then Representative Lantigua, he was elected to that seat in 2003, said he would give up his State Rep seat if he won the office of Mayor. Win he did and one of the first things he did while in office was to go back on that promise, declining to vacate his Rep seat, he claimed that the flailing city of Lawrence could only benefit by having a Mayor who was also a State Representative. With the city, by some estimates, 25 million dollars in the hole his gamble blew up in his face as a crucial vote for an emergency loan from the State was put on hold, partially due to his absence.

Lantigua failed to show up to the hearing at all because he said it would be a conflict of interest. The Eagle Tribune, in an editorial, claims that no contact was made with the State Ethics Department but I can put that aside and say I understand his thinking. As Mayor of Lawrence he would benefit from any vote or influence that could be derived from the presence of himself as a State Representative. In this line of thinking both Willy the Mayor and Willy the State Representative could be ethically blocked from the hearing. Due to the absence of Lantigua the issue was pushed aside, neither the Mayor or State Rep, in his mind, could exert any pressure on the members of the committee and the Speaker of the House Deleo.

Let's forget for a moment that he failed to even attempt to get clearance to attend and focus on his own convoluted (yes even for us political people this is a whopper) rationale. He kept both seats because he felt he could exert more influence and do a better job in both positions by holding both positions (Kind of like how each subsequent Railroad in Monopoly gives you more money every time someone lands on your property.) The problem is he has just proven his own theory false by failing to exert influence in any manner on what could be a life saving bill for the City of Lawrence. Rather then making the positions stronger by combining them he has managed to make them both weaker and make Lawrence weaker by extension.

The argument can be made that the Mayor did not want to leave the State Representative seat vacant during a time of turmoil for Lawrence, which could be seen as commendable if it were not for the fact that if he had only resigned the seat upon winning the Mayors race that Lawrence would only be days away from electing a replacement (As an example my State Senator, Anthony Galluccio, left office a little over a month ago and we will replace him in April, not even four months later { My vote: Michael Albano} . November was about four months ago) who would have been able to speak at this hearing and that Rep would be standing tall next to the Mayor of Lawrence who would also be in attendance.

Maybe the Mayor is not taking the threat of State takeover seriously, alternatively maybe he wants a take over. A take over could be just what Lawrence needs but I would hope that it not be taken lightly.

I remember, even as a child, the break down of Chelsea before, after and during receivership. The City felt so dark, no holiday lights, the streets were not swept, any mention of your city in the news was always bad news. I grew to hate Howie Carr with his constant attacks on the city. I remember the national press. When I was in kindergarten I had a speech problem and remember sharing a special needs class, in the basement of an old school house, with kids who all had behavioral problems. Having spent most of my time in Catholic schools I do not know much of the old state of our school system was but I did spend 6th grade in public school... we shared a room with a 5th grade class separated by a long curtain... It has been almost two decades since the take over and I feel like we are finally recovering. As a City Councilor I saw people getting involved again, community bonds forming, the artist community taking hold. Our Latino population is finding it's voice, we have even had vibrant civil discourses on garbage that filled a huge room (normally a discussion that would go down hill fast.)

This is coming only after the breakdown and the removal of power structure that was in place prior to the 1990's. My warning to Mayor Lantigua is that if Lawrence does collapse and the State does step in it is possible that Lawrence will still be able to see better days in the future, the bad news for him is that the State will make sure the future of Lawrence is Lantigua free.