January 20, 2009
When the Board of Mayor & Aldermen all voted to file my complaint against Alderman Peter Sullivan last month, the outcome was Mr. Sullivan continuing his mean-spirited and harassing behaviors to intimidate Citizens such as myself from participating in government.
Alderman Peter Sullivan most recently posted a damaging Blog article against me whereby he labeled me as “the accused felon” who praises Joe Kelly Levasseur. I have copied a printout of Mr. Sullivan’s Blog posting for each of your review.
Please note that I am INNOCENT of the seven (7) false criminal charges made against me for my upcoming trial by jury (on March 30, 2009). I am a victim of police brutality and lies!
Alderman Peter Sullivan has sent me harassing emails, made false complaints against me to the police, and posted many negative Blog postings against me.
Moreover, Mr. Sullivan has abused his power against an Asian-American Laundry Lady. Swore at his constituents, voted for Saturday parking fees, and proposed a totalitarian-like anonymous hotline where a secret bureaucracy may punish people without open due process of law.
Alderman Peter Sullivan already uses my seven (7) false criminal charges against me. Mr. Sullivan has no regard for open due process of law. I have not yet had my day in court.
Alderman Peter Sullivan is slandering, harassing and intimidating Citizens from participating in government. He is breaking laws and abusing his power.
Alderman Peter Sullivan is putting both himself and the city government at great risks of legal liabilities. If find it totally unacceptable for Mr. Sullivan to harass Citizens while the City Government sits by in silence. At least MCAM reprimanded Mr. Sullivan for ripping up my newspaper 2.5-months ago. It is wrong that the Mayor & Board of Aldermen wont do the same as MCAM and take legal action against Alderman Peter Sullivan’s bullying behaviors against his constituents and people of Manchester, NH.
Mayor Frank Guinta is similar to Alderman Peter Sullivan for asking me to give up my 3 minutes of free speech at the 1/20/2009 Board of Mayor & Aldermen Public Participation meeting. I saw that Alderwoman Kelleigh Murphy wanted to speak about Guinta’s censorship of my right to free speech, and the Mayor ignored her!
I have spoken out many times before against Mayor Frank Guinta because I believe that he is the worst Mayor in the history of the World! Local taxes and fees have risen far above inflation, the city’s one-time and emergency accounts are all greatly diminished, all of the public schools are now labeled deficient, and the Mayor’s flawed tax cap proposal would gut the city’s funding towards public safety (police, fire) and lead to increased crime and tragedies, while he still wont disclose the outside lobbyists PAC dollars and institutions funding his conflicting NH Advantage Coalition group.
If Mayor Frank Guinta tried to silence my right to speak against the harassing actions of my Ward 3 Alderman, Peter Sullivan, because I oppose his failed and unaccountable “leadership”, then he has shown himself to be a leader of men, not of laws and their institutions. This is the same Frank Guinta who has publicly stated he wants to run for higher office and make a career out of politics in the New Hampshire Republican Party. Frank Guinta would be a big government Pol who serves special interests, suppresses freedom, and covertly supports fascist, top-down leaders like the infamous US Senator Joseph McCarthy!
I have a right to free speech and I proudly submit my comments to the news media for publication. I will always speak my good conscience for as long as I shall live. Lastly, I am happy to be moving out of Manchester to neighboring Amherst NH by the end of next month. I am tired of being beaten up by abusive and lying police officers, John Cunningham, harassed by my downtown Alderman, Peter Sullivan, and censored by my career politician Mayor, Frank Guinta!
Jonathan A. Melle
Ward 3 Alderman Peter Sullivan
"Tempers run high in aldermanic chamber"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, January 21, 2009
MANCHESTER – A routine city meeting devolved into a shouting match last night when two political rivals from Ward 3 confronted each other in the aldermanic chambers.
Alderman Peter Sullivan and former Alderman Joe Kelly Levasseur hurled a series of allegations at each other in front of a roomful of city officials and a set of local-access TV cameras.
The confrontation took place at the tail end of the public-comment session before last night's board meeting.
Board members shifted in their chairs, and at one point, several of Sullivan's colleagues got up and left the room.
Afterward, the fire chief wedged himself between Sullivan and Levaseeur as they argued in the back of the aldermanic chambers.
"I was trying to keep them apart," Chief James Burkush said.
Eventually, Levasseur left the chambers, and Sullivan returned to his seat.
The dispute between Sullivan and Levasseur has a long history. Sullivan claims Levasseur has repeatedly harassed him, bombarding his e-mail inbox with angry or threatening messages. Recently, he said, he turned the e-mails over to the police department.
Levasseur, a pizzeria owner and former Ward 3 alderman, has berated Sullivan on his public-access TV show and written unflattering items about Sullivan in his political column, which runs in the Manchester Express.
The two have repeatedly butted heads over the past year, but never in such a public forum.
Their kerfuffle in the aldermanic chambers was preceded by an uncomfortable exchange between Sullivan and Jonathan Melle, a downtown resident who frequently speaks during the board's public sessions. Melle started to criticize Sullivan last night, but Sullivan interrupted him. Guinta warned Melle about attacking an alderman, and when Melle continued to rail about Sullivan, the mayor told Melle he would have to leave the room.
"It's everybody's right to come before this chamber and express their opinion," Guinta later said. But, he said, "I think the decorum of this chamber requires your comments not be antagonizing or attacking any one member of this board."
Later, Levasseur had his turn at the microphone and proceeded to accuse Sullivan of "attacking his constituents." The meeting then took a bizarre turn, as Sullivan -- who, as an alderman, is not supposed to speak during the public-comment session -- left his chair and took a seat in front of the board, saying, "I'd like to speak as a citizen, not as an alderman."
Sullivan told the board the e-mails he has received from Levasseur are "the most foul, repugnant e-mails I've ever received.
"I'm not going to stand for this any longer," he said.
Guinta, as he always does at the end of a public-participation session, said he would take all comments under advisement.
CORRECTION: When first posted, the headline to this story identified Levasseur as an alderman. The story was correct.
The alderman from Ward 3 really needs to show a thick skin. The problem is, when someone like Levasseur constantly berates you over and over again, at some point, something has to give. I watched the 2 Joes show last night and did not feel that Levasseur really did anything wrong other than point out some facts. I think the Melle guy clearly went way above and beyond what is acceptable but at the same time, it seems like Melle tried to have the issue resolved but the Aldermen refused to do anything about it. Sullivan should be brought before the conduct committee for his behavior as a sitting alderman and his blogs. At the same time Levasseur and Melle should take their case to court if they feel they have one.
Airing out the problems in the aldermanic chambers is inappropriate and all 3 need to have this entire dispute resolved before it continues.
- Jeff, Manchester
I have to say that I do enjoy the 2Joe's and rhetoric of both fellows. It is politics and it is interesting and entertaining. Peter Sullivan clearly took the bait. He's the elected official and should behave that way. I have liked him in other forums. I hope that Joe Kelly continues to keep our elected official's feet to the fire. I'm glad that someone is out there pounding the pavement on our behalf!
- Mark L, Manchester
How unprofessional, and disrespective of everyone who was in that room. Shows me exactly who not to vote for, it was like two little boys fighting in a school yard. Both need to grow up, the Mayor should have had them tossed out, or atleast put them in a corner until they cooled off.
- Pat, Manchester, NH
How is it that ANYONE takes ANYTHING that Joe Kelly says as newsworthy?
He's a cipher on the pettiest of all issues in Manchester, and should be ignored.
- Kris, Concord, NH
Thankyou guys for the great entertainment! There should be more of these characters in Manchester!
- Wendy T.R., Manchester
My guess is that someone forgot to put valium in the drinking water .
- Lew, Manchester
I have been involved in government for nearly thirty years on the State, City and Town levels of governent. This type of childishness is what serious public servants do not need. It gives us all a bad name. Levassaeur should not be allowed to carry on his theatrics in the chamber and Sullivan should grow a thiker skin which is what it takes to survive in the public sector. Grow up.
- Paul, Manchester
Jeff,Manchester, You are right on tarket in regards to Beaudry ! If more people watched the school board meetings, the more they would understand why Kathy called him what he is ! yes it was wrong to say it to him in a public forum, but he has a way of getting under your skin ! And as far as Lavasseur goes, he is the biggest joke in Manchester ! He ran a whole 1/2 hour show on the Kelley/Beaudry incident. Defending Beaudry and slamming Kathy. I don't recall Lavasseur having a show when it came time for the tax payers of Manchester to foot the legal bill (WELL over 100,000.00 )that Beaudry created ! How soon we forget....
- John, Manchester
Petty, yes... Childish, yes... entertaining, of course... but seriously, the city of Manchester has some big issues they are facing right now. Focusing on the ridiculous squabbles between two grown, intelligent men who have chosen to publicly humiliate one another is a waste of our local governments (and local papers) time and energy. I like the Thunderdome idea, perhaps a Super Bowl Halftime show entitled "Pizza vs Peter".
- Rachel, Bedford
The other antagonist is on the school board. His name is Beaudry. This guy runs every board meeting. There isn't an issue he won't comment on and there is nothing this guy won't do to let others speak during the meetings. They should not call it school committee meetings, they should call it the Beaudry meeting. The guy answers his own questions. Maybe he likes to hear himself talk. Maybe he goes home and watches the meetings to listen to himself. Kathy Kelly said what others are probably thinking and it is about time somebody on that board tell Mr. Beadury the way it is. Maybe Beaudry, Levasseur and Sullivan (ald. Sullivan) can get their own TV show and call it Friday Night Fights.
- Jeff, Manchester
Ted, what are you talking about! Free staters are socialist?? Free staters are as socialist as Obama is a Republican. Stop making yourself look silly.
- Don Rubby, Exeter, NH
kudos to the UL; nice use of the word 'kerfuffle'.
Thank God for Joe Levasseur, I've had enough of this 'hope and change' nonsense. I say we put him and Sullivan in a cage with a couple of chainsaws and let them settle this thing 'Thundedome' style.
Whoever lives gets to rule ward 3 like some post-apocalyptic despot.
Of course, Sullivan doesn't have the secret recipe to Joe's 'world famous' seasoned french fries so I'm going to have to pull for Levasseur.
- Mark, Manch-vegas
Joe Kelly Levasseur is a poster child example of why lawyers have the horrible reputation they do. Joe - either run for office or shut up!
- Frank, Manchester
Joe Kelly Levasseur is the court jester, but the jester serves an important function of using the absurd to make points that others ignore. He's a little kooky, but he has always been committed to make Manchester, and particularly the downtown area, a better place.
Peter Sullivan, on the other hand, has been an alderman and state rep for years, and I still can't identify one accomplishment he's had.
- Glen, Manchester
Really? Manch- get your act together! You look like fools. Joe Kelly is an embarrassment! Mr Mayor, show some leadership and put this insult to your city in his place.
Why would anyone run for local office and then have to deal with this meathead?!
- Chris, Nashua, NH
This is as much Sullivan's fault as anyones. He should have known better than to get in a screaming match with Levasser in the chambers. How highly inappropriate and disappointing.
- Frank, Manchester
Jack is right, Levasseur sold out to the FreeStaters. Everyone should do their homework on this group. They are dangerous zelots who want to install their brand of socialism in our city. These people are hungry for power and Joe knows that. They welcome all facist thinking dum dums who will blindly follow them. Find out all you can before its too late!
- Ted, Manchester
I wasn't able to watch the BMA meeting last night and am curious why MCTV is still running replays of the 1/13 meeting after the 1/20 has occured. Can MCTV be a little more up to speed please. MCTV's webiste also features a schedule from 1/5 only through today so if you want to know what you could have watched 2 weeks ago that's great but don;t expect to be able to know what you could watch tomorrow.
I do not think that MCTV should be editing any of the televised meetings at all. Kathleen Kelly's swearing at a fellow school board member last week should have been included in the replay so that Manchester residents can see what actually happened.
I hope the entire public comment portion of last night's meeting won't be edited and will be replayed in its entirety.
- Mike, Manchester
This is GREAT,, keep it up! As long as the aldermen are fighting with their constituents, they can't build anymore baseball parks! Joe Kelly .. you go guy.. and Sully,, yes.. you the man! The funny part is, I like both of them.. they have some passion.. O'Neil never gets upset, he is too busy winking. And Lopez does not look at the public speaker, he has his mirror in front of him. Maybe Guinta can do a Jerry Springer [former Democratic mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio] and we can get some real nasty stuff going on... can't wait until one of the aldermen is accused of being the father of someone's baby.. yes we can .. hope and change.. !!
- tom, manchester, nh
Joe Kelly Levasseur should stay out of politics and stick to the one thing he has mastered, french fries! He has the best french fries and steak and chesse subs in the City. I wish he would stay open later on the weekends.
- Peter, Manchester
Joe Levasseur has over-stayed his welcome. He is right on par with the free-staters who have infested our city.
Maybe he should stop running his mouth and causing problems, or try to become part of the solution. Oh, that's right, that means he would actually have to be elected by people who think he has something worthy to offer other than pizza.
- Jack, Manchester
First of all, Why is Joe Levasseur going to these meetings trying to antagonize people...yet again? Second, why is Mr. Sullivan even responding. These two need to work out their differences in an adult like manner. If I am correct, both of these guys are lawyers and they should learn how to behave in public. Maybe it is time for the overseers of Lawyers in NH to get involved and tell both of them they need to have better public behavior.
- Jeff, Manchester
Sullivan, Levasseur, and Mele three apostles of acrimony using public forums to vent their childish behavior for their personal self serving goals, They are not satisfied with having turned the Manchester Express into supermarket checkout rag, now they want to do the same with City Government forums, what's, next? The use of the Union Leader to spread their garbage, I certainly hope that we will not have to read their kiddy diatribes in the Leader.
- Richard L. Fortin, Manchester
Guinta later said; "I think the decorum of this chamber requires your comments not be antagonizing or attacking any one member of this board." Very well said. I missed this one, had another meeting to be at. Which gets back to one school board member using a cuss word on public television directed to another committee member. Thankfully Mr. Sullivan of MCTV was able to edit out that one word. Let's focus on the tasks at hand shall we, our upcoming budget of 2009 and the tax cap question please.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester
Looks like Sullivan took the bait from Manchester's own "Rush Limbaugh". Sounds like Sullivan needs to learn a little more self composure.
Can the UL articulate what was the content of the "attacks"? Was it personal? Was it voting records? Was it political?
Having recently moved from ward 3 to Pembroke, I really do miss the "take themselves to serious" crowd.
- Scott, Pembroke
Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta
"City Hall: Speak up, but do it in a proper, adult manner"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009
Officials in Manchester continue to grapple with questions over censorship.
The issue has arisen twice in the past two weeks, most recently when a Ward 3 resident sat before the aldermen in City Hall and made a series of accusations about Alderman Peter Sullivan.
The episode sparked a debate about whether the board has the right to silence a member of the public who says objectionable things. Mayor Frank Guinta says it does.
"It's the people's chamber," Guinta said during the Tuesday night meeting. "You have the right to speak. But we just ask people to express reasonableness and decorum when they make their comments."
Aldermen also argued over whether it's OK for the board to strike a person's comments from the public record. Mike Garrity, the Ward 9 alderman, made just such a motion Tuesday, and though it initially passed, Garrity wound up withdrawing the motion after several of his colleagues called it inappropriate.
"Whatever's said in City Hall should be in the record, no matter what it is," Alderman Ed Osborne said.
Censorship has been a hot topic in city government this month. Just two weeks ago, the folks at Manchester Community Television made waves when they edited a broadcast of a school board meeting so viewers wouldn't hear Committeeman At-Large Kathleen Kelley use a foul word.
The board's vice chairman, Katherine Labanaris, suggested MCTV blew the call, saying, "It's extremely important that the record be exact."
The resident who sparked the controversy in City Hall last week was no stranger to the aldermen. Jonathan Melle, a downtown resident who maintains a blog about Manchester government, is one of several people who routinely sign up to speak during the public-comment sessions that precede each board meeting.
Melle has been critical of Sullivan before. This time, he chastised the Ward 3 alderman for "harassing" him and for referring to him in an unflattering way on a blog.
Sullivan interjected, and Guinta warned Melle to stop his attack. When Melle persisted, Guinta said, "I'd ask you to please leave the chamber."
The mayor's actions didn't sit well with some aldermen.
"Everybody has a right to come in here and speak," Alderman Kelleigh Murphy said. "It's called freedom of speech."
Several board members said they, too, have been scolded and slimed during public-comment sessions. Alderman Mark Roy said he's heard things that "turned my stomach" and "made my blood boil."
And yet, he said, "I honestly believe that anyone that sits in that chair has their three minutes to say what they like."
The city charter requires the aldermen to provide a "period of public comment" at least once a month. Board rules, however, are silent on what a person can or can't say during those sessions.
The issue was the subject of some discussion in the City Solicitor's Office last week.
"I guess we would think that it is a bad idea to remove things from the record," Deputy City Solicitor Tom Arnold said. "I'm not saying that it couldn't done. I'm just saying, practice-wise, it is probably a bad idea."
- - - - - -
MUD WRESTLING: Those who sat in the aldermanic chambers that Tuesday know the meeting only got zanier from there. In a matter of minutes, board members were filing out of the room as Sullivan and former Alderman Joe Kelly Levasseur let fly with a barrage of allegations against each other.
Sullivan blames Levasseur for provoking him, but he concedes he probably shouldn't have responded the way he did.
"You know," Sullivan said, "there's an old saying that says when you get in a mud wrestling contest with a pig, you're not going to win, because you're going to get dirty, and the pig's going to enjoy it.
"I think that's what happened (Tuesday) night. I got dirty, and the pig enjoyed it."
Levasseur maintains he kept his cool and never raised his voice. He called Sullivan a "short-fuse, short-temper guy."
- - - - - -
CRACKED: Levasseur clearly got under Sullivan's collar. At one point, while the former alderman and restaurateur was addressing the board, Sullivan stormed out of the chambers. Witnesses heard a clatter from behind the door.
"You can hear him slamming stuff in the back room," Levasseur said, still speaking into the microphone.
The ruckus was of just enough concern to Acting City Clerk Matt Normand that he later went to check the room for signs of damage.
He found a hairline crack on the wall near one of the windows, which one clerical worker described as about a foot long.
A maintenance man quickly patched it up.
Normand said there's no way of knowing what caused the damage or whether it was freshly made.
Sullivan said any suggestion that he damaged the wall is "absolute nonsense."
"Was I upset? Yeah," he said. "But I'm not going to go and punch the walls."
- - - - - -
IN CHECK: Superintendent Tom Brennan is watching the bottom line.
Approaching his first budget season, Brennan instructed all principals to keep their budget proposals at current funding levels -- no higher. Those proposals are already in, he said.
As for the rest of the budget, he said, "Our intentions are to produce a budget that is as close to level funding as possible and still meet the needs of our students."
The superintendent is planning to unveil his proposal Feb. 2.
- - - - - -
REELECTED: State Rep. Will Infantine will return as chairman of the Manchester Republican Committee. Infantine was reelected last Wednesday in a landslide victory over frequent GOP candidate Bob Tarr.
Also returning are First Vice Chairman Keith Murphy, Second Vice Chairman Jean Esslinger and Treasurer Bryan Bernier. Win Hutchinson will serve as secretary.
- - - - - -
THEN AGAIN: Doubts have surfaced about a proposal to merge the city's Building and Planning departments.
Aldermen raised several concerns about the plan last week. One board member, Bill Shea, said it wasn't clear a consolidation would improve city services. Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez questioned whether the will exists to go through with the plan.
The aldermen's concerns prompted both department heads to ask whether it wouldn't be better to drop the idea, for the time being, at least.
"If there's no will to do this, we're fine with this staying as separate departments," Interim Planning Director Pam Goucher said at a Human Resources and Insurance Committee meeting Tuesday.
For now, the proposal remains under review.
Read Scott Brooks' coverage of Manchester City Hall during the week in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PEG (Public Access TV) should not be censored - ever... Unless there is an obvious violation of the law (murder, child molestation etc), PATV is unedited.
Slander? These are PUBLIC people, not private individuals. Have a fun time trying to prove slander on a public official or person!
Of course MCTV is not the official record of the meeting and no one should think that is the case. MCTV only video's the meeting(s) and then apparently cuts out the parts they don't want the public to see/hear...
- Peter, Manchester
The official record of official city/town meeting's is held by the clerk. That would be the City Clerk's many jobs Peter. PEG access tv's job is not to be the public record. PEG access tv is a service to the community, NOT the official record keeper.
- Judith, Manchester
Freedom of speech is a right until it becomes slanderous. I don't know what Melle and Sullivan have going on but it should not be aired out in city hall. Between Sullivan, Melle and Levasseur none of them seem to have the best interest of the city. They each carry their own personal agenda. I agree with the Mayor that there was no place for the comments of Jonathan Melle in the aldermanic chambers. The public speaking session is for the public to discuss city business or issues involving city matters, not personal vendettas. I also agreed with the rest of the board who decided not to edit the minutes of the meeting. The words were spoken and should be recorded as such. Maybe it is time for the three participants to sit down, iron out their differences and stop thei childish antics.
- Mike, Manchester
If you don't have the stomach to be criticized, don't run for office.
- Kevin C, Nashua
Congrats to those who will help the GOP in this years elections. As a candidate, I often heard people saying they wanted the GOP to get back to it's principals and reach out to everyone throughout the city. Hopefully that will happen, otherwise we will continue to go down the wrong road. Thanks goes to the people who voted for me and believed in my abilities. I will always support the citizens of Manchester and continue to do my best to represent them when questions and issues arise in our city. On to planning for my second run for Alderman of Ward 5. See you on the campaign trail everyone.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester
Joe Levasseur, Peter Sullivan, Jennifer Peabody, Peter Leonard.......all elected officials from Ward 3 over the past several years. When will the voters in this ward get it right???
- Len B, Manchester
Public Access Television (PATV) should NEVER be censored. Since it is not over the 'airwaves' and on cable only - PATV is not regulated by the FCC. In some stations, complete nudity and 'naughty' words are used in the show. The only thing the station managers do is show those shows late at night. It is kind of like PATV 101 that every novice manager/producer understands.... except here in Manchester!
But, this is not the first Time MCTV management has censored the public - there was a case a few years ago in Manchester about this and MCTV management lost big time. This IS the first time that a public official has been censored by MCTV, however.
- Peter, Manchester
No one yelled bomb... didn't swear ... wasn't upset at the system just a man who took issue with an alderman.
But keep it in the record! That record would include that he was removed for being inappropriated.
What if someone does something that later warrants court action? There will be no record.
- Sharon, Manchester
Really Mr. Brooks, was this all there was to write about this week? More garbage regarding the Sullivan/Levasseur/Melee soap opera? Enough is enough. Stop giving it space in the paper.
I don't blame Guinta for putting an end to this garbage. It has gone on for MONTHS and all these loons do is constantly fight in public and private forumes and the last thing I think we need is to constantly give these men a platform at City Hall. The Union Leader makes it seem like the mayor asked the guy to leave after he just made some disagreeing statements a single time about an alderman. This has been going on at every board meeting and it needs to stop. Sure, free speech is one thing, but that doesn't mean you can swear at someone in a public meeting, scream, yell, ect EVERY month!
In reference to- "Everybody has a right to come in here and speak," Alderman Kelleigh Murphy said. "It's called freedom of speech." There might be free speech, but you can't go on a plane and yell "bomb!" Or come into a public forum and swear, yell, scream, or make a mockery of the system. In my opinion, these individuals have taken advangtage of the public forum and don't deserve to take part in it anymore if they are just going to use it for a personal hatred of eachother.
- Jake Thompson, Manchester, NH
MANCHESTER EXPRESS: January 26 - February 1, 2009, Volume 4, No. 5
"under ‘Attack’: Battle between alderman, two constituents, erupts at City Hall meeting"
By ANDREW J. MANUSE, email@example.com,
A complaint against a downtown aldermen at a City Hall hearing erupted into a three-way hissy fit that continued after the meeting.
Jonathan Melle, a downtown Manchester resident with a long history of publishing critical blog posts about public officials in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, told aldermen last week in public session that his Ward 3 Alderman Peter Sullivan ripped up his newspaper, sent him harassing emails and posted damaging blog articles about him on a Blogspot site, called “The Truth About Joe Kelly Levasseur.”
Melle spoke during a public comment period at the aldermanic meeting last Tuesday. During his speech, Sullivan called a point of order, saying Melle had made accusation against him. Mayor Frank Guinta then advised Melle to refrain from mentioning an alderman by name in a disparaging manner and to use proper decorum.
Melle, who at first calmly expressed himself, grew agitated after several similar interruptions from Sullivan and Guinta. At one point, Guinta called Melle’s comments “salacious.”
Yet, Sullivan admitted to creating the blog about Levasseur in an interview with the Express, which was Melle’s main point of contention. Melle was also upset that the board had not reprimanded Sullivan for ripping up his newspaper. The Board of Trustees at Manchester Community Access Media had issued a letter of reprimand to Sullivan about the incident. The Ward 3 resident pressed on, saying that it was his First Amendment right to complain about his alderman.
“People in government shouldn’t harass citizens while the city government sits by in silence,” Melle said. “You guys should stand up for what is right. We are a nation of laws, not of men. We stand up for justice.”
Melle submitted a copy of Sullivan’s blog, “The Truth About Joe Kelly Levasseur,” to the board, in which Sullivan had written an article, “Joe Kelly Levasseur has accused felon as his sidekick.” In that article, Sullivan wrote that Melle is facing trial in Hillsborough County Superior Court for allegedly attempting to run down a Manchester police officer. In that same article, Sullivan said, “The accused felon has high praise for Joe Kelly Levasseur.”
During his speech last week, Melle said that the language implies that he is guilty, and he asserted that he is innocent and still awaiting his day in court.
Then, Aldermen Mike Garrity and Jim Roy motioned to strike Melle’s comments from the public record, and Mayor Guinta ruled that the motion had passed.
Garrity, explaining the motion later in an interview, said Melle’s conflict with Sullivan is personal in nature and should not be addressed during a public forum. Roy said the record should be struck because Melle disobeyed the mayor’s ruling to respect decorum. Alderman Ted Gatsas, who left the room during the incident, agreed with the sentiment, he said in an interview.
Alderman Mike Lopez called for a roll call vote, and asked for a discussion on the matter.
“We have many people come here and they have used your name, my name and probably every other alderman here,” Lopez said to Guinta. “It is a public hearing for an individual to come and express his concerns in the community. I don’t think we have to interrupt the individual. Give him his three minutes like we have always done, in courtesy.”
Several aldermen, including Kelleigh Murphy, Betsi DeVries, Mark Roy, Real Pinard and Russ Ouellette, supported Lopez’s points. Alderman Ed Osborne said the testimony should be left on the record simply so that it could be used as evidence in court, if the altercation makes its way to a civil proceeding. After the discussion, Garrity withdrew his motion.
The drama continued, however. According to what he said in an interview with the Express, Melle left the chamber and went to Levasseur’s nearby restaurant, “Joe Kelly’s,” to explain what had happened. Then, Levasseur, who is also an attorney, Express columnist and former alderman, walked into the aldermanic chambers to make his own public comments. (For the record, Levasseur is not Melle’s attorney in his criminal trial. Thomas Ficarra is representing Melle in the case.)
Starting in a respectful tone, Levasseur said he understood what it was like to have someone come in and criticize your actions.
“It is a very uncomfortable feeling,” he said. “As a former alderman, I know where you sit.”
Continuing, Levasseur said Sullivan had published several false statements about him on the Blogspot site about him. Among those accusations was an item about Levasseur “screaming” at former Mayor Robert Baines and his wife, citing a story the Union Leader later had to retract because it was actually a different alderman who had yelled at the mayor. He also said Sullivan had posted an item on DemocraticUnderground.com that told people to boycott Levasseur’s restaurant.
“Levasseur is own (sic) of the most foul and repulsive right wing politicians in New Hampshire,” Sullivan wrote on the blog.
Levasseur, sticking up for Melle, also said Sullivan had also gone after other constituents in his ward.
“We all know about the Chinese laundry lady,” he said.
Levasseur referred to Young Heekim, owner of North End Laundry & Dry Cleaners on Elm Street, who alleged that Sullivan tried to block her request for a commercial parking sign after she closed up her business for the day with Sullivan’s laundry inside. Sullivan has denied those allegations, and the sign request has since been granted.
During Levasseur’s testimony, Sullivan interrupted several times, speaking directly to Levasseur. When Levasseur responded directly to Sullivan, Sullivan called a point of order. Levasseur asked what the point of order was for, since Sullivan had been having a direct conversation with him against the rules of decorum, then called Sullivan a “nut.”
Soon after, Sullivan left the public hearing room and went into the private aldermanic suite. Loud bangs were heard while he was in the back room as Levasseur continued.
“This is a guy who has been attacking us viciously,” Levasseur said. “You can hear him slamming stuff in the back room. This short-fuse, short-tempered guy is out of control.”
Sullivan then came out of the room and asked to speak as a private resident, not as an alderman. During his speech, Sullivan noted that since his election, Levasseur has sent him “70 to 80 e-mails” that were “the most foul, repugnant messages you have ever seen.” He went on to describe some of those e-mails to the board, and was interrupted once by Mayor Guinta when he said Levasseur has “taken advantage of an individual with a demonstrable mental illness and has used him for his own personal political agenda,” referring to Melle, who was honorably discharged from the military due to a mental disability.
After the meeting, several alderman and other public officials noted a crack in one of the walls inside the aldermanic suite. When asked by the Express about the crack, Acting City Clerk Matt Normand said it did not exist before last Tuesday’s meeting and that he had asked a custodian to repair it on Wednesday.
When asked about the crack, Sullivan denied that he had caused it.
“That crack was there before; it was not mine,” Sullivan said. “And if you print that you will be taken to task for it.
“I don’t know if it’s Lopez or Mark Roy or any of those assholes [who told the Express about the crack], Sullivan continued. “They have their own agenda, they want Pat Long elected.”
Neither alderman mentioned by Sullivan told the Express about the crack.
When asked about it, Lopez said everyone heard a bang when Sullivan went into the back room. He said he hadn’t noticed the crack before Tuesday. (Sullivan said the bang was him slamming a door.)
Commenting on the meeting, Lopez said people should be able to voice their opinion in a gentlemanly way. He said a person has “free speech” rights to come in and express their opinion, and that people come in and chastise aldermen all the time.
“If the mayor would have let the guys speak and go home, everything would have been fine,” Lopez said.
“Sullivan stormed out of the room and came back and said he wanted to speak as a private citizen, which is unheard of, because he’s not a private citizen, he’s an alderman,” Lopez continued. “A lot of it didn’t make sense and everyone was getting irritated by that point.”
Melle said he has had a problem with Sullivan since he tore up his newspaper.
Levasseur said that the spat between him and Sullivan has been going on since he revealed that Jennifer Peabody did not live in the ward that she was elected to represent for the school board. Peabody resigned from the board last year after officials discovered the allegations were true. Sullivan backed Peabody during the affair.
Sullivan contends that the fight is due to emails Levasseur has been sending to him.
“He has attacked my wife, personal friends, family members, he has questioned my integrity, my mental stability and my professional competence,” Sullivan said in an interview. “This is a guy who has some serious personal issues he has to work through if he expects to be part of the public discussion here in Manchester.”
Sullivan said he created the Web site, “The Truth About Joe Kelly Levasseur,” because Levasseur is a political rival. He said Levasseur “has fashioned himself as an opinion maker in Manchester” and has demonstrated “a lack of credibility” that has to be pointed out.
After the Express pointed out that a few of Sullivan’s posts on the blog were inaccurate last Wednesday evening, Sullivan removed all of them on Thursday, Jan 22. In their place, he posted a new item, called “Mud Wrestling with a Pig.”
“There’s an old adage that says you should never get into a mud wrestling contest with a pig. You end up getting dirty, and the pig enjoys it,” he states on the blog. “That’s the situation one finds themself in when dealing with an individual like Joe Kelly Levasseur.”
In an interview, Levasseur acknowledged that he had sent “vitriolic” e-mails to Sullivan, but said they were sent directly to Sullivan and were never meant for public consumption. Levasseur said his e-mails were written in response to public comments Sullivan made on the Internet about him and in-kind vitriolic emails that Sullivan sent to him first. Sullivan has forwarded some of Levasseur’s e-mails to others, including this newspaper.
“I felt I had the right to send him e-mails saying I didn’t agree with his politics,” Levasseur said in an interview. “Some of those e-mails between him and I might have gotten a little — well, we definitely didn’t pull any punches — but I felt [since he is] alderman of the ward, I had the right to criticize him and his votes.
“I’m OK with an alderman attacking my show [on MCAM] or me personally or things that he doesn’t like about me, but it really got out of hand when he went on a blog and requested that people boycott my restaurant,” Levasseur added. “He’s made allegations that are completely inaccurate. He’s told me that he is manic depressive. I think he should get a job, get a life, stop picking on his constituents and double up on his medication.”
Sullivan, responding directly to the above quotation in an interview, said Levasseur should talk.
“I’ve been treated for depression and have made no secret of that. The people with mental illness should be able to obtain the help they need without the fear of being ridiculed and hassled by people like Joe Kelly Levasseur,” he said. “For him to think that is a relevant topic of discussion shows a lack of understanding about mental health issues and a lack of maturity.”
When asked why it was OK for him to point out Melle’s mental illness, he replied:
“Melle’s mental illness is only relevant in that it affects his conduct with other people.”
On Friday, Sullivan pointed out that Melle has created a Web site on Blogspot, called, “The Truth About Manchester NH Pol Peter Sullivan!” in defense of Levasseur. The site directly quotes articles written by and about Peter Sullivan.
- Jonathan Melle
- Amherst, NH, United States
- I am a citizen defending the people against corrupt Pols who only serve their Corporate Elite masters, not the people! / My 2 political enemies are Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., nicknamed "Luciforo" and former Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. / I have also pasted many of my political essays on "The Berkshire Blog": berkshireeagle.blogspot.com / I AM THE ANTI-FRANK GUINTA! / Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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