Another column of controversy

This week, it was about what made it in, what didn’t and one messed up headline.

Levasseur’s actions noted in JCC reprimand of Stephen

MAKING HAY. Joe Kelly Levasseur found himself in the middle of a judicial reprimand last week. And Mayor Ted Gatsas got a mention, as well.

The New Hampshire Judicial Conduct Committee issued a reprimand to Judge Robert Stephen last week over an altercation with Manchester firefighter Kevin Healey. Judge Stephen is the brother of 2010 gubernatorial candidate John Stephen, and is reported to have had a heated exchange with Healey over signs the firefighter posted that criticized his brother during the 2010 campaign.

A story about the JCC reprimand appeared in the New Hampshire Union Leader on Thursday.

The JCC report noted that Gatsas called Fire Chief James Burkush to ask if Healey had been on duty at the time of the incident. Healey was not. Although Gatsas inquired about the incident, it appears that’s the last involvement he had.

Levasseur, however, saw the flap over the signs as a good way to make political hay. The JCC report noted Levasseur “identified himself as being very active in Republican politics,” and that he “viewed the incident as a potential opportunity for political advantage.” He “used the incident for political purposes in blogs and press releases prior to the election and continued to do so even after the election,” the report said.

While ginning up controversy was well within Levasseur’s right, the JCC questioned whether Judge Stephen should have involved Levasseur in the first place. The report noted the judge should have known pulling in Levasseur “would also appear to be geared to political ends as later events demonstrated.”

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THE BAKERSVILLE Elementary School flag pole will be illuminated at night once more.

The Board of School Committee voted unanimously Monday to turn back on a light that points toward the U.S. flag, as is required by federal law.

Committee member Arthur Beaudry raised the issue at Monday’s meeting, saying he had heard Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez ordered it turned off because school neighbors complained it was shining into their homes. Both Beaudry and Lopez said the issue has been going on for about a year. Lopez said he brought it to Beaudry. Beaudry said he brought it to the board only after unsuccessfully trying to resolve the issue with the administration and after learning Lopez made the order.

Lopez asked, and so did Mayor Gatsas, why the flag couldn’t be raised and lowered each day. Beaudry said it’s not about raising the flag, it’s about having a light there and an alderman ordering it shut off without going through the proper channels.

“I question the authority of the alderman acting alone and requesting something for the school district,” said Beaudry. “The light is there. We paid for it. We might as well put it on.”

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CANDIDATE FOR WARD 6 Alderman, Brian Desfosses, has touted his service on the zoning board of adjustment as an asset. Little did he know it would be held against him, particularly in his own neighborhood.

Neighbor Darlene DeSilva is upset the zoning board issued the Sisters of Holy Cross variances allowing them to expand the retirement and nursing-home facility they operate on Island Pond Road and finance it with the construction and sale of 27 homes on the property. DeSilva and other neighbors strongly opposed the project and the way it passed through the city boards. For this, DeSilva said, Desfosses should be held accountable.

But Desfosses said he had little to do with the decision and was across the country visiting family when the project variances were discussed and voted on.

“It would be the easiest thing in the world to say, ‘Yeah. I would have been against that,’ but it’s not the truth. I didn’t hear the testimony. I didn’t review anything because I wasn’t at the meeting,” said Desfosses.

That’s no excuse, said DeSilva.

“He let his neighborhood down by not making sure he was at a very important meeting,” she said.

DeSilva is also upset Desfosses did not vote for the neighborhood’s request for a rehearing and telling them the protest was “clearly an emotional reaction to the development.”

Desfosses abstained, which he said is typical if a member isn’t present for the initial decision.

DeSilva wants her neighbors to know Desfosses sat on the zoning board when the sisters of Holy Cross development came up and said she has even considered sending fliers to people in the ward.

Desfosses has sent out fliers in which he states that people are “spreading falsehoods about my background.”

“A bunch of people started this rumor that I’m associated with (developer) Dick Anagnost and I’m associated with the nuns, none of which is true,” Desfosses said.

“I think because I haven’t run for political office people don’t know a lot about me as a person even though I’ve lived in the city all my life,” said Desfosses. “It really bothers me when someone tries to take something that’s a non-issue and make it an issue.

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THE REQUEST for a special election for former state Rep. Mike Brunelle’s vacated seat was submitted on Tuesday. Manchester has until Oct. 26 to ask the Governor and Executive Council for the election, but the city was waiting to figure out a way to get the Ward 3 representative race on the presidential primary ballot. State law permits a small window for scheduling special elections, but hitting all the deadlines and aiming for a moving target makes a primary add-on nearly impossible.

Mayor Ted Gatsas said the request was also forwarded to the state Attorney General’s Office to see if there was any way Manchester could hit that primary date, whenever that may be. It could save Manchester up to $5,000.

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