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Mayor Controversy Throws Lawrence Bailout Into Jeopardy

This article is more than 10 years old.

Massachusetts state lawmakers are considering whether to provide a $35 million loan to Lawrence to avoid bankruptcy, while the troubled city's newly-elected mayor faces criticism for simultaneously holding two salaried government jobs.

William Lantigua has come under fire for refusing to resign as state representative after his mayoral inauguration in January. Fellow lawmakers and Gov. Deval Patrick say Lantigua's stubbornness takes attention from Lawrence's fiscal problems and threatens the prospects of the bill.

Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua (WBUR)
Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua (WBUR)

Lantigua serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, which is convening Tuesday's hearing on the possible bailout. It is unclear whether Lantigua will attend the hearing or recuse himself from the debate. Calls to the mayor on Tuesday morning were not immediately returned.

The governor on Monday renewed his call for Lantigua to resign from his state representative post, citing potential conflicts of interest between the two roles. Patrick also noted that the city is nearly bankrupt and needs a leader.

"This whole decision to try to do both jobs at a time when Lawrence needs the undivided attention of its mayor is a problem," Patrick said Monday. "I think the people in this building want to support him and support the people of Lawrence, but I think he's got a decision to make and I hope he makes it soon."

House Speaker Robert DeLeo, however, said lawmakers do not have the right to force Lantigua to resign one of his positions. "That's up to the voters of Lawrence," DeLeo said. "I think they made their decision."

Though Patrick has criticized Lantigua, he is in support of financial assistance for Lawrence. The governor said Lawrence will be forced to discontinue certain city operations in the spring without the bailout money.

This program aired on February 9, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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