William “Willie” Lantigua, the controversial mayor of Lawrence, Massachusetts, does not give a fuck. “Controversial” doesn’t really do him justice though, since that implies people have good opinions of him in addition to bad ones. Last week, he got married to his mistress, who was a City Hall secretary and one of the many people who got grilled by a grand jury over Willie’s shady dealings. And when I say “shady dealings” I mean stuff like alleged bid rigging, suspicious out-of-state travel, illegal swapping of city-owned cars, and corruption and campaign finance violations.
Luckily for Willie under Massachusetts law the new Mrs. Lantigua doesn't have to tesitfy against him if he's formally charged with anything. It's her "spousal privledge" as his wife to refuse to testify, which probably had nothing to do with their eloping.
Lawrence is the poorest city in Massachusetts and the 18th poorest in the US. The high school, which has a drop-out rate of over 50 percent, has been taken over by the federal government, there were almost 3,000 felonies in 2011.
Again, Willie does not give a fuck. He just divorced his wife, Mayra, who is the city’s Licensing Commissioner, the official in charge of deciding who can sell alcohol at the clubs that Willie frequents. And he loves his clubs. The best way to prosper in Lawrence is to own a club that Willie likes, or even better, be Willie’s flesh and blood. The unemployment rate is 17 percent, but Willie has found jobs for his wife, mistress, and his daughter who gets $100 a day as a per diem educator.
Willie’s new bride, Lorenza Ortega, testified she and the mayor were living in her condominium together, which put an end to the year-and-a-half-old question as to where Willie even lived. If you were cynical, you might think he was hiding from his constituents. One reason he might be hiding is Lorenza, whose yearly salary was $45,000, was getting federal assistance for her heating bill, as well as other benefits she wouldn’t qualify for without Willie. Willie said he had no idea that homegirl was getting any aid to pay for things in the condo they shared, but the feds decided the Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, which is the state-run anti-poverty center for the area, needs to pay some of the money back to the state.
Willie just returned from his third trip to the Dominican Republic this year, where he and his new wifey attended the wedding of Joel Chalas, the city’s recycling foreman that he appointed. Yes, Willie will go on vacation when his city is falling apart. Willie does not give a fuck. Meanwhile, the Lawrence police department is getting busted for trading 13 city vehicles for four Impalas. The 13 cars were seized in drug busts and Melix Bonilla, Deputy Police Chief and former Lantigua campaign manager, dealt them to a company called Santo Domingo Motors owned by Bernardo Pena, who’s day job is a party promoter. In fact, he co-sponsored the mayor’s birthday bash at a Lawrence nightclub right around the time of the swap in 2010. Again, the best way to stay employed in Willie’s town is to keep him happy.
If you don’t live in Lawrence, Willie’s tenure, as mayor is almost funny—a character right out of a TV show. Just picture him going “Sheeeeiit,” a la Clay Davis from The Wire. If you do live in Lawrence, it’s a little less funny. You probably have some problems, but again, Willie doesn’t give a fuck.