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Risky business

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Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua isn’t the first American mayor to run into trouble with shipments of city-owned vehicles to the Dominican Republic.

The Immigrant City controversy, involving promises of a school bus, an ambulance, and a garbage truck to a small Dominican town, resonated with Washington Post local politics and government reporter Mike DeBonis, who recalled the District of Columbia’s own “fishy fire truck” affair.

In 2009, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty failed to keep tabs on a plan send a fire truck and an ambulance to Sosúa, a town on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. The shipment broke a number of District procurement and personnel rules. The city’s attorney general learned about the plan through a press report and ordered that the vehicles be returned to the city. The fire truck and the ambulance were sent back to the District as soon as they arrived in the country.

Some members of Fenty’s administration had vacationed in the seaside town, but there was no other connection between the DC mayor and the community.

The DC Inspector General recommended administrative sanctions for the several city employees involved in the shipments. The US District Attorney’s office also investigated, but did not turn up any major-league wrongdoing, so Fenty himself never faced any criminal prosecution. He lost his re-election bid last year.

In the case of the Lawrence shipments, only the garbage truck made it to the Caribbean country. The trash truck has pride of place in the town of Tenares, the hometown of the mayor’s girlfriend.

DeBonis observes that Lantigua “seems to be in a little bit more trouble.”

“For one, he is accused of not only sending surplus city property, but also leaning on city contractors to send vehicles...to...Tenares, which is the ancestral home of many Lawrence residents. This would seem to be using his office to build political goodwill on his own behalf, which could run afoul of Massachusetts state law.”

Lantigua’s troubles continue. The former general manager of Lawrence’s trash-hauling company tells the Eagle-Tribune he is a cooperating witness in a federal grand jury probe of the mayor. The grand jury is investigating Lantigua’s involvement with the vehicle shipments, along with a laundry list of other matters. 

                                                                                                                                    --GABRIELLE GURLEY

WHITEY BULGER

The government is seeking to drop a set of racketeering charges against Whitey Bulger in order to focus their prosecutorial aim at the 19 murder charges he faces. High-powered Boston attorneys Howard Cooper and Max Stern are lined up to represent Bulger, the Globe reports.
NECN provides video of the scene yesterday outside the federal courthouse.

The Globe editorial page has dueling columns by Scot Lehigh and attorney Harvey Silverglate on William Bulger’s obligation -- or lack of obligation -- to help rein in his murderous brother. But it is sportswriter Bob Ryan, in this blog post, who cuts through all the clutter of the argument and nails the essential truth here.

BEACON HILL

The Patriot Ledger reports on a contentious hearing on the “Right to Repair” bill. The bill would require auto manufacturers to provide more data to repair shops.

A Suffolk Superior Court judge says she’ll decide by tomorrow whether the state can revoke former House speaker Sal DiMasi’s pension now that he’s been convicted of crimes related to his public office. DiMasi lawyers are arguing that the payments should continue because the conviction is not yet final because DiMasi has yet to be sentenced or exhaust his appeal rights.

A Boston Herald editorial rips the Legislature’s inability to pass a timely budget, and chides Gov. Deval Patrick for not pounding the podium on lawmakers.

The Berkshire Eagle smells a rat: The Governor’s Council postpones a vote on Rep. Christopher Speranzo’s appointment as clerk magistrate of Central Berkshire District Court

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Members of the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence protest the sudden firing of a coach and teen director. Details on why he was fired are not released, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Brockton receives $2 million in federal transportation funds to make improvements to its downtown, the Brockton Enterprise reports.

The city of Fall River is getting more aggressive when it comes to collecting delinquent taxes, the Herald News reports.

Hingham residents tore into their water supplier at a town hearing yesterday for proposing to raise water rates by 16.5 percent.

Attleboro eyes a rescue plan for its debt-laden redevelopment authority.

The Springfield Republican hails Roca, the Chelsea-based organization that works with at-risk youth, which has been in Springfield almost a year.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Tea Party groups have trouble agreeing on what they actually stand for. And Congressional freshmen who identify with the movement find that governing is more difficult than campaigning.

ELECTION 2012

Tom Petty tells Michele Bachmann to quit using “American Girl” at her rallies.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

WBUR’s On Point examines the causes and possible solutions to Depression-era unemployment in the black community.

Video shot by a group called Mercy for Animals depicts incredible cruelty at an Ohio pig farm that provides meat to a number of major retailers.

Bank of America will repay $8.5 billion to buyers of soured mortgage bonds.

EDUCATION

New state regulations will require that teachers be evaluated based on the progress their students show on MCAS and other standardized measures. Here’s CommonWealth’s story on the new rules and this morning’s Globe story. The Lowell Sun reports the new teacher evaluation process may deter teachers from taking jobs in low-income school districts where students often perform poorly on standardized tests.

The Lowell Sun offers a detailed look at allegations by the state’s Inspector General concerning fraud involving special education funds pooled by communities like Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, and Westford.

States like Idaho and Kentucky start to rebel against the federal No Child Left Behind law, WBUR reports.

A retired superintendent and middle school principal in Marblehead are each fined $500 by the state Ethics Commission for hiring the wife of a school committee member, the Salem News reports.

HEALTH CARE

Radio Boston examines whether poorer patients are subsidizing health care for the wealthy.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The AP’s investigation into nuclear power plant safety continues with a look at evacuation plans for areas surrounding plants. Via the Patriot Ledger.

A company trying to build a biomass plant in Springfield is suing the city for revoking a special permit in May.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Boston officials vow to crackdown on disorder in city parks following the shooting of a 4-year-old boy at a Dorchester playground. Mayor Tom Menino ordered an immediate ban on the use of motorbikes in city parks. Was there really no such prohibition until now?

The Barnstable Sheriff’s office gets an additional $1.89 million from the state.

VINEYARD HAVEN

The Obama family will be off to Martha’s Vineyard again in August.

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