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Has Phil Greazzo's Political Career Burned Out?

Former Alderman Phil Greazzo at Manchester City Hall
Former Alderman Phil Greazzo at Manchester City Hall
Jon Hopwood

Manchester, NH - Phil Greazzo is not a happy camper, according to someone who spoke to the former two-term alderman at the June 10th meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Greazzo appeared at Manchester City Hall for the first time since it was revealed that the insurance policy maintained by the Manchester Dog Park Association (MDPA), which Greazzo founded and serves as co-vice chair, did indeed lapse, despite his months long denial that a cancellation had occurred.

Greazzo stood in the back of the Aldermanic chamber and listened to citizens speaking during the public comment session that precedes all regular meetings of the Board that he had been a member of for four years from December 2009 through December 2013. He listened to Tammy Simmons, his fellow MDPA Board member who had served as campaign manager for his failed reelection bid, as she testified in favor of maintaining the tax cap, the issue that helped bring both of them to power. However, he did not speak himself.

And how could he have brought himself to speak before the Board he had so recently sat on, when his "truthiness" problem has reduced his once promising political career to a smoldering heap of ashes, swept out of the both City Hall and the halls of power? Once talked about as the Republican candidate to take on Executive Councillor Chris Pappas, there is a question whether Greazzo will run for any office at all this year.

For a perpetual candidate who has contested one election after another since moving to New Hampshire with the new millennium, the question must be asked: Has Phil Greazzo's political career burned out?

Insurance Lapse

The revelation of the lapse in the MDPA insurance policy by Alderman-at-Large Joseph Kelly Levasseur occurred at the October 29, 2013 meeting of the Board. That meeting was held exactly one week before the 2013 general election, in which Greazzo lost his seat in Ward 10 to Democrat Bill Barry. It was the second political defeat in two consecutive years for Greazzo, a one-term state representative from Ward 10 who chose to challenge Democratic warhorse Lou D'Allesandro for his seat in the New Hampshire Senate.

The man Greazzo derided as "Liberal Lou" crushed Greazzo in November, chewing him up like a dog devours a rawhide bone, then passing him effortlessly, without complication, like one of the pups who frolic at the municipal dog park maintained by the MDPA passes their waste material.

Yes, D'Allesandro had reduced Greazzo to dog poo, but it was Joe Kelly Levasseur, who nearly unseated "Liberal Lou" during the 2010 election, who was left to dispose of the steaming odure.

Levasseur's announcement of the cancellation of the MDPA insurance policy, coverege mandated by the MDPA's contract with the City, touched off a battle royal between the two. Beginning that very night, Greazzo launched a vituperative campaign against Levasseur that lasted for months. It was a war Greazzo waged as an alderman in the last two months of his term, and then as a citizen sitting on the other side of the chamber.

Greazzo attempted to get Levasseur hailed before the Board of Mayor and Alderman's conduct board on charges of having engaged in conduct unbecoming an elected official. With the aid and support of reactionary radio broadcaster Rich Girard, Greazzo unsuccessfully tried to have Levasseur removed from the Board, by filing a complaint under the City Charter. The efforts to exact revenge against Levasseur failed.

Libelled Levasseur

Ultimately, Phil Greazzo wound up being sued for libel by Levasseur, after Greazzo was quoted by Union Leader City Hall columnist Ted Seifer calling Levasseur a "pathological liar". During depositions taken during the discovery phase of the lawsuit, it was revealed that the MDPA insurance policy had indeed been cancelled, just as Levasseur claimed.

Greazzo quickly became the "Rubber Band Man" of the Queen City, stretching every which way but loose to avoid accepting personal responsibility for the lapse. At first, he blamed a mysterious "new treasurer" for the problems with the insurance policy, despite the fact the policies had been mailed to his address for four years. Then, Rich Girard on his radio show claimed to have an email blaming yet another unnamed party in an attempt to exonerate Greazzo.

The recent update of the MDPA's Web site reveals that the "new treasurer" likely was Tammy Simmons.

Tellingly, Greazzo had been sued for allegedly committing adultery with Simmons by her then-husband William Simmons, an Iraqi war veteran who claimed his wife had become cold to him when he returned to The States. William Simmons had blamed Greazzo, his next door neighbor, for the alienation of his wife's affections.

The charges of adultery against Phil Greazzo and Tammy Simmons eventually were dropped. William Simmons' lawyer during the divorce trial and his appeal of his own adultery conviction was: Joseph Kelly Levasseur, attorney at law. The enmity engendered by the 2007 divorce clearly had poisoned relations between Greazzo and Levasseur.

Faced with a libel lawsuit and the discovery that the policy had indeed lapsed, exonerating Levasseur, Greazzo tried a new tack that called into question his truthiness: He blamed Union Leader columnist Ted Seifer for revealing confidential information, the quote about Levasseur being a pathological liar, that Greazzo had allegedly told him was off record.

The stratagem apparently would have brought the Union Leader into the lawsuit to defend the libel, if Levasseur had not dropped it, feeling vindicated by the proof he did not lie about the insurance policy lapse.

Up In Smoke

The fallout from this fiasco was the immolation of Phil Greazzo's political career, which went up in smoke when Levasseur was exculpated from Greazzo's charge he had lied about the cancellation of the insurance policy.

The ongoing revelation of the lapse brought into sharp relief the problem with "truthiness" that has been a hallmark of Greazzo's political career since the beginning, when he burst like a flame onto the Queen City scene as a libertarian and president of the New Hampshire chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NHORML).

At the 2002 Veterans Day parade, Queen City police, under the order of then-alderman Mike Lopez, organizer of the parade as head of the Manchester Veterans Council, had had Greazzo removed from the festivities. Greazzo showed up with a jeep festooned with a "Hemp for Victory" banner. Greazzo's jeep and another jeep manned by NHORML were to participate in the parade behind a troop of girl scouts, according to the parade program.

What Lopez objected to was the banners promoting the relaxation of marijuana laws, which he felt was inappropriate. Lopez did not allow any parade participants to display any propaganda, even military recruiting slogans.

Greazzo disputed Lopez's claim that the NHORML jeeps had not been approved for the parade, claiming that the jeeps and their banners had been given the OK by another parade organizer who refused to comment on the issue.

This was Manchester's introduction to Phil Greazzo, who would run for office at least nine times in his New Hampshire political career, finally winning three contests before dropping his last two.

All four Republican slots for state representative have been filled for the 2014 election, and New Hampshire Liberty Alliance Chair Eileen Landies has filed as a Republican to oppose State Senator Lou D'Allesandro. Furthermore, two Republicans are queuing up to face off against Chris Pappas for Executive Councillor.

Phil Greazzo, New Hampshire politician, may have reached the end of his rope, hemp or otherwise.