02-19-2014 News

Well, it was a night that will go down in history as the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to censure Alderman at Large Joe Kelly Levasseur for the false and unfounded claims he made about Manchester Police Chief David J. Mara, Assistant Police Chief Nick Willard, Manchester Police Patrolman’s Association President Steven Maloney and the Manchester Police Department in general.  Led by Ward 3 Alderman Patrick Long and Ward 4 Alderman Jim Roy who made and seconded the motion to censure, several aldermen expressed their displeasure not only with the fabrication of false complaints, but also with the damage those lies have done to the reputation of the police department in the city and around the state.   Long recounted stories about questions and comments he’s had to deal with from others who’ve heard Levasseur’s claims not knowing they weren’t true.  Roy said he would hold his tongue no longer now that the investigation was done saying he didn’t want to be seen, in any way, as condoning Levasseur’s behavior.  The marquee moment of the night came when Ward 7 Alderman Bill Shea called on the board to remove Levasseur saying he no longer deserved to be an aldermen and the board should get rid of him predicting he won’t stop the behavior that had brought them to this point.  The aldermen’s discussion came after intense and emotional testimony from Maloney, who was vindicated by the Attorney General’s investigation into Levasseur’s false assault claims. who recounted stories of his teenaged daughter coming home from school asking if he’d committed a crime because of what her friends parents had heard in the news.  Maloney said he’d received inquiries from other friends and family, including those out of state, about the false charges made against him.  Willard, noting his more than two decades of distinguished service to the city, said Levasseur not only blatantly lied about him, but continues to do so and said that if the board failed to act, it would be an affront to the department and an insult to his service to and sacrifice for the city.  Mara distributed the city’s workplace violence policy and showed all the areas Levasseur had violated saying that while he’s not an employee, he should be held at least to the standards of the people that work for the board and noted the post report statements Levasseur’s made on his TV show and social media posts as evidence that further action must be taken to stop his continued spewing of lies about the department.  In addition to the censure, which was opposed by only Ward 12’s Keith Hirschmann who said he revered the police but that it wasn’t right that only Levasseur was being held to account for his actions, Board Chair Dan O’Neil gained unanimous approval for a statement asserting the neither the board nor the city will tolerate personal attacks, threats, or innuendo against its employees or other officials.  A loose thread that remains comes from the testimony of former Ward 10 Alderman Phil Greazzo.  He noted that he’d filed complaints with Mayor Ted Gatsas over many of the allegations now proven false by the A G’s report and wondered when action would be taken to refer those matters to the Conduct Committee.  Greazzo believes, as do I frankly, that the board does have the authority under section two point oh two of the city charter to remove an alderman and may be ready to press that point, especially if Levasseur continues to restate the falsehoods as he was again doing after last night’s meeting.  We’ve linked to our real time blog of the meeting, the testimony of Maloney, Willard and Greazzo as well as the motion of O’Neil from this newscast at Girard at Large dot com.  Tomorrow and Friday, we’ll have audio and video of the dramatic showdown at City Hall to share with our audience.  Alderman Long will be with us beginning right after the news and Officer Maloney will be in for an interview at eight forty this morning, so stay tuned.

News from our own backyard continues after this.

In other business from last night’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the board accepted more than one hundred thousand dollars from Walmart to improve the rails to trails corridor that runs through the South End.  Ward 9 Alderman Barbara Shaw opposed the move noting her continued opposition to Walmart’s construction of a super store that she says will negatively impact the surrounding neighborhood.  Board Chair Dan O’Neil also opposed accepting the money.  The board also approved an amended version of the proposed increase in parking fees.  Ward 3 Alderman Patrick Long successfully reduced the increases arguing the proposal was too much too quick, but that some increase was in order given it had been seven years since the fees were adjusted.  The Administration Committee received and filed proposed changes to the city’s ordinances that would allow folks to have chickens in their yards.  Next to the Levasseur censure, that had the most discussion of the night.  The committee also buried the dog park controversy, hopefully for good, by receiving and filing the request from Ward 10 Alderman Bill Barry, on behalf of unnamed constituents, to launch yet another investigation into whether or not the association that runs it has insurance.  Barry himself backtracked on the issue saying he’s satisfied the group has insurance after speaking with city officials.  Who knew you could talk to people in the know and learn something?

That’s just some of the news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ starts right now.