Ward One Alderman Joyce Craig tried to head off trouble by asking the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to refer Alderman at-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur’s agenda item regarding the residency requirements for officers and supervisors of the Manchester Police Department to the coming labor union negotiations rather than the Human Resources Committee. Her motion was seconded by Ward Three Alderman Patrick Long, but before there could be a vote, Levasseur called Police Chief David Mara to the witness table and began to question him about the residency provisions of the contract and why they’d apparently not been enforced.
During the questioning, Long interrupted with a parliamentary inquiry, which does enable a board member who isn’t recognized to interrupt another, to make the point that the police department wasn’t the only one with residency requirements and that the city should deal with the issue as a whole in negotiations, not just one department. Levasseur interjected that he wasn’t making an parliamentary inquiry, but chastised Long for giving an “editorial” and making a motion.
Mayor Ted Gatsas didn’t recognize Long’s motion to call the question and tried to intervene between the two, repeatedly telling Levasseur that he was going to let him finish what he wanted to say and that he’d not taken the floor from him. Levasseur surrendered the floor to Ward Twelve Alderman Keith Hirschmann, who defended him and offered a rather eloquent statement in defense of residency requirements.
After Hirschmann’s comments, Gatsas recognized Craig, but Levasseur jumped in saying he only had one more question and then he’d allow the question to be moved.
He then proceeded to harangue Mara and Assistant Chief Nick Willard saying quote “You guys can beat me up and bully me all you want. I don’t care, I live in this city. It’s my city. I grew up here. I have my real estate here.” At that point, Mara tried to gain recognition to speak from the mayor and Levasseur yelled quote “I don’t care if they don’t like the questions. I’m on the floor.”
Mara asked for permission to respond, but Levasseur talked over him loudly saying quote “I don’t care” as Mara rose from the witness table, along with Willard and walked back to where he’d been sitting in the gallery. As he did so, Craig motioned to table the item, which is non debatable, and Levasseur upped his verbal assault on the chief shouting quote “getting up and walking out…just real professional. You don’t live in the city, so you don’t care.” He continued to shout “you don’t care” at Mara as Long seconded Craig’s motion to table and Gatsas called the vote.
Levasseur’s diatribe continued off mic as the mayor looked to move onto another item, calling Mara a big baby who couldn’t take any criticism and quote “why don’t you leave the building. Go back to Bedford you big baby.” End quote. At that, Mara rose from the gallery and walked toward the witness table, again asking for permission to speak. Gatsas stopped him short, saying he understood, but the item had been tabled.
Mara stood in the gallery, before the entrance to the chamber, and said he felt he had a right to speak as a department head. He said he went to sit down, but continued to be yelled at. Mara stated he wasn’t one of Levasseur’s employees at the restaurant he could yell at, at which point Levasseur shouted him down, saying it was “outrageous,” and told Mara, who asked for Levasseur to be referred to the Conduct Committee, to go home.
Gatsas gaveled the meeting into recess as Levasseur continued to verbally assault the chief, at which point Long hammered Levasseur in a raised voice condeming him for how he’d handled the issue. Folks, it continued from there and we’ll play the audio of the whole sordid affair later in the show.
After the meeting, Ward Two Alderman Ron Ludwig told Girard at Large he was embarrassed by what happened and said the reason why good people aren’t coming to the city to work, open a business or live is probably because they’re watching the board meetings on T V and seeing this behavior. On the issue of residency, Ludwig also said he’d like to survey the employees who live outside the city to find out why they’ve chosen to do so.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
In other action last night, Manchester’s aldermen entered into a spirited discussion with Mayor Gatsas about his proposal to consolidate the Office of Youth Services with the Health Department in a move designed to save money given the deaprture of the Youth Services Director. There was also a lengthy discussion of the city’s ability to deal with distressed properties and a presentation regarding the utilization rates of the city’s health care plan. Not much good news on either front to be sure, though the board did vote to direct the Planning Director to initiation action against the problem property at 2 6 9 Hanover Street.. Hopefully, we’ll be able to tackle those issues in some detail if certain aldermen manage not to vent their spleen in pursuit of political agendas.
The Merrimack Police Department wants to remind you that The Merrimack Senior Fair is happening at the John O’Leary Adult Community Center in Merrimack, today between 9:00 and 11:30. Residents are welcomed to come and see all the services available to Merrimack Seniors and get information on how to access those services right there in town. We’ve linked to the page on their Web site that has all the details if you’d like additional information.