Girard at Large carried the fight over the Right to Know requests obstructed by Alderman at-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur‘s lawsuit to the Aldermanic Chambers in Manchester City Hall last night. In testimony given during the special meeting held to allow the public to speak, I, your Humble Host, told the aldermen the truth about Levasseur’s claims, which is this: I did not make broad requests for constituent emails nor was did I originate the request that yielded the eleven thousand pages of information I received. I also questioned how, still not having the one narrow request that I did make and asking for material that had already been assembled, could consume any amount of staff time, let alone the forty hours claimed by Levasseur. Former Ward 10 Alderman Phil Greazzo brought the fight into the chamber as well. In his testimony before the board, he highlighted not only the fifteen weeks he’s waited for his Right to Know request, but also read a transcript of statements made by Levasseur on his T V show about how he’d stalled the release of those documents as long as he could before filing the injunction. Greazzo charged that Levasseur’s trying to prevent the release of those emails because they’ll prove he lied to their faces about not colluding with the critics of the Manchester Dog Park Association. He requested the immediate release of the information since the court refused to enjoin its release, despite Levasseur’s request, stating that fifteen weeks is long enough to wait. Later in the meeting, Levasseur would defend the law suit claiming it was all about protecting constituent privacy and essentially argued that technology has rendered the city’s copy fees for documents irrelevant and that citizens getting information free of charge wasn’t fair to business owners like him who have to pay for permits.
Also last night, the aldermen received and filed Greazzo’s citizen’s complaint against Levasseur. Greazzo invoked the city charter’s clause enabling citizen complaints in an attempt to convene a hearing of the city’s Conduct Board to review a number of transgressions he filed with Mayor Ted Gatsas in November, which were heightened by the report of the Attorney General’s investigation into what turned out to be false charges made by Levasseur against various members of the Manchester Police Department. Interestingly, Levasseur seconded Ward 12 Alderman Keith Hirschmann‘s motion to receive and file, which is kind of odd, don’t you think? Anyway, at the prompting of Ward 7’s Bill Shea and Ward 4’s Jim Roy, City Solicitor Tom Clark, who stood by his position that the board cannot remove one of its members without a court fight, the board did discuss options, including amending the city charter, to enable it to act in the future should another Levasseur type situation happen again. Clark said he would consult with the Attorney General over questions of how the charter could be amended. Greazzo told Girard at Large after the meeting, he’ll be taking the city to court believing they violated the charter by refusing to convene the Conduct Board.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
The election for school board in Hooksett has one fewer candidate. Becky Berk has circulated an email asking her supporters to vote for someone else as she’s taken a new job she believes will potentially present conflicts of interest, either real or perceived, if elected. Berk, a one time member of the board, has accepted the position of Executive Director of Breakthrough Manchester, an affiliate of a national program model that has quote “students teaching students and teachers training teachers.” End quote. She said the program works closely with the Manchester School District to quote “(launch) high-potential middle school students with limited opportunities on the path to college, while also mentoring and inspiring high school and college students to pursue careers in education.” End quote. She feared the need to work closely with city middle and high schools, given the state of affairs between the city and town, could present at least the perception of a “conflict of loyalty” she believes elected officials need to avoid if are were to have the integrity necessary to represent their community fairly. Memo to Hooksett School Board member Phil Denbow, you might want to take notes on this one.
The New Hampshire Senate’s Ways and Means Committee voted to hike the state’s gas tax by more than by 25% yesterday. State Senator Jim Rausch, Republican of Derry, has led the charge on this one saying it will generate another thirty eight million dollars a year for needed infrastructure projects around the state. Our very own Liberal Lou D’Allesandro voted for the tax hike as did Senator Bob O’Dell Reublican of Lempster, who represents the towns of Weare, Hillsboro and Deering in our listening area and Senator Andrew Hosmer, Democrat from Laconia. Senate President Chuck Morse, Republican of Salem cast the lone vote in opposition to the tax hike. It now goes to the Senate Floor for final action. Might I recommend that you call your state senator and tell them that before they pick your pocket for another forty million bucks they ought to use all the monies they’re taking out of the Highway Trust Fund for general fund spending and use them for the purposes intended?
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is straight ahead!