MANCHESTER, N.H. – A pair of investigation requests the city’s sitting at-large Aldermen are now history.
In an 8-3 vote, requests to send separate incidents related to Joseph Kelly Levasseur and Dan O’Neil to send both matters to the city’s conduct board were received and filed by the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA), effectively killing them.
The issue with O’Neil was requested by former Ward 6 Alderman Elizabeth Moreau, referencing a recent incident where O’Neil was listed as a vice president of a company in Massachusetts, Brooks and Associates, something he did not state on his required campaign financing documentation.
Last month O’Neil called the allegations politically motivated and said he was only a consultant with the company, never a vice president.
The allegations against Levasseur stem from a recent incident where he allegedly issued verbal abuse against a parking division employee who gave him a ticket.
The request to send that matter to the conduct board was requested by Jon Hopwood, a man that Keith Hirschmann (Ward 12) referred to as not rational and having an animus against the BMA in past years.
Hirschmann opposed the request to receive and file both items concurrently, made by Bill Barry (Ward 10), stating that Levasseur wants the chance to clear his name and the matter regarding O’Neill should be investigated to see if the company used his personal information without permission.
Hirschmann also took offense to a call from O’Neil asking to quash the investigation, contrasting it with Levasseur’s determination to clear his name,
Barbara Shaw (Ward 9) and Anthony Sapienza (Ward 5) felt that both requests were a waste of time, with everything needing to be said already said on both issues, with Sapienza adding that the conduct board had little power to do anything in any case.
“Let’s face it, this is Manchester. You have two political groups sniping at each other,” said Sapienza. “If someone wants to do an investigation, go do an investigation and bring us an actual crime.”
Later in the meeting, Jim Roy (Ward 4) made a motion to request that the BMA ask the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office regarding the O’Neil issue for the sake of transparency.
Roy said that he wants to see O’Neil vindicated, but believed that it was important for an independent investigation to restore faith in city government.
Barry replied that such an investigation would open up the flood gates to investigations on all city officials whether or not there was need, also pointing out there was no proof of wrong doing on O’Neil’s part to begin with.
Levasseur thanked Barry for asking to receive and file the request for an investigation, but believed there was a double standard when it came to the allegations against him and the allegations against O’Neil. He also was frustrated that supporters of dismissing the allegations painted them against O’Neil when he reiterated his belief that the investigation would be against the company in Massachusetts in order to support O’Neil and other public officials that may have had their identity stolen.
“This is a real thing we’re talking about, not a parking ticket all you guys think is a joke,” said Levasseur.
Sapienza reiterated his plea to move on from both matters, saying that he is all for investigations but the BMA had no authority to force the Attorney General’s office to do anything and he was fervently opposed against spending any taxpayer money on either investigation.
Roy replied that his motion was just to ask the Attorney General’s office to investigate, and he was not seeking money for the investigations.
Levasseur interrupted attempts by Pat Long (Ward 3) to ask questions regarding Levasseur’s incident to the point that Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig threatened to eject Levasseur from the call if he did not stop.
Long then noted that the investigation was not about the parking ticket, but about Levasseur’s behavior during the incident.
Long also noted that there was a typo in Roy’s letter, that “ethics” was incorrectly spelled as “ethnic” and this should be pointed out.
In Barry’s initial vote to receive and file both items, O’Neil and Levasseur abstained with Roy, Michael Porter (Ward 8) and Hirschmann voting in opposition.
As the need to abstain due to conflicts of interest seemed to be voluntary, in the vote on Roy’s motion, Levasseur joined Roy, Ross Terrio (Ward 7), Porter, Shaw, and Hirschmann in support. The measure was opposed by Kevin Cavanaugh (Ward 1), Will Stewart (Ward 2), Long, Sapienza, Barry and Normand Gamache (Ward 11).
Mayor Craig broke the 6-6 tie by voting against Roy’s motion.