Manchester, NH - Phil Greazzo is through as a political force in New Hampshire, but the incredible tricks he played with the truth, including performing a rhetorical rope-a-dope on the Girard at Large radio show on the morning of April 30, 2014, live on in Queen City legend. That was the day the disgraced former alderman tried to explain away the revelation that the liability insurance policy on Manchester's municipal dog park had indeed lapsed, despite his protestations over the prior six months that it did not. Greazzo seemed to think that GAL listeners were dopes, but even his staunch defender Rich Girard -- a man known to have problems distinguishing reality from his own biased fantasies -- had to tread carefully in his attempt to help Greazzo exonerate himself.
Denying culpability for the dog park fiasco, the cunning politico sought to blame everyone but himself: Though he did not mention them by name, the Apsen Insurance Agency that issued the policy, former Manchester Dog Park Association (MDPA) treasurer Mike Ball and current treasurer Tammy Simmons were fingered by Greazzo as the culprits for his current woes.
My late father would have classified Phil Greazzo as a "Rubber Band Man", one of those benighted individuals who stretch themselves (and the truth) every which way to avoid responsibility.
State of Confusion
"I have to admit that I find the situation somewhat confusing," Girard said as he attempted to lead Greazzo through the interview as carefully as a lawyer cross-examining a guilty client.
The Union Leader had revealed that the MDPA's insurance policy was cancelled on September 20, 2013 and was not reinstated until October 26th, at which time the MDPA's management of Manchester's dog park had become a political issue. The revelation was the result of a libel suit filed against Greazzo by Alderman-at-Large Joseph Kelly Levasseur.
Levaseur subsquently sued Greazzo for calling him a "pathological liar". Once he had proved that he had not lied about the lapse, Levassuer dropped the suit.
The lawsuit came out of a bitter campaign against Levasseur launched by Greazzo, and seemingly stage-managed by Girard.
Greazzo's attacks on Levasseur began the night of October 29, 2013, when Levasseur informed the Board of Mayor and Aldermen that there had been a major lapse in insurance coverage for the dog park. Greazzo's MDPA, which runs the park under a five-year contract with the city, is required to maintain insurance under the threat of having the contact cancelled.
"I thought this was laid to rest," Greazzo quipped on air. "It's the gift that keeps on giving."
When asked if there had been a lapse in coverage, it was Greazzo's turn to play dope.
"I'm still wondering if that is the case," Girard answered. "I haven't found a definitive…. I still have some answers which I need to seek myself."
The word choice was very revealing. Greazzo seemed to be saying he is still seeking an alibi. He knew that he was likely going to be deposed personally in the lawsuit and would need to get his story straight.
Girard then began leading his witness in earnest. "There were people who were inattentive about what [was] to be done."
It became apparent that Girard and Greazzo's rhetorical strategy was to blame the Apen Insurance Agency, which is owned by their close political ally, Will Infantine, both of whom have recently been caught up in sex scandals. (The back up strategy, developed later on and never used, was to blame the lapse on Mike Ball, who had left for Toronto, Ontario and thus was a convenient scapegoat.)
Even with this strategy in place, the fact the policy was cancelled could not be denied.
"The insurance agent says there's a lapse," Greazzo admitted before going into full Rubber Band Man mode.
"I see other information that has other dates. I'm still trying to nail that down," he said. "They are not my documents. They are not something I can publicly disclose....
"It's very tricky at this point," he said.
This is a man who was born to be a politician! Perplexing Phil is the Tricky Dicky of New Hampshire.
A Matter of Principle
Phil Greazzo and his acolyte and campaign manager Tammy Simmons are masters of victimology. It was now time to blame his troubles on a conspiracy, which alleged was proven by what he called an affaDAVID provided by an employee of the insurance agency, the source of the Union Leader revelations.
This conspiracy -- which Greazzo has claimed he has have asked the New Hampshire Department of Justice to investigate -- supposedly involves Joe Kelly Levasseur, myself and another critic of the MDPA who testified before the Board of Mayor and Alderman on October 29th.
Let me tell you, it's hard to be involved in a conspiracy with someone (Alderman Levasseur) whom you had never met or spoken too at the time you allegedly were in cahoots with him. Since I have never been contacted by the NH DOJ to provide testimony on this matter in the half-year since Greazzo claimed he had instigated the investigation, I can safely assure you, my readers, this permutation of Rubber Band Man Phil Greazzo's rope-a-dope defense is not worth addressing.
A master at obfuscation and rhetorical prestidigitation, Greazzo actually voted with the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to permit the City Solicitor to contact Aspen Insurance and the insurance carrier to get to the truth of the lapsed policy. The Board would subsequently find out from the City Solicitor's Office that Greazzo would not give the insurance agency permission to release any information.
At the time, his public mouthpiece Rich Girard -- who serves as a minister of propaganda for the reactionary anarcho-libertarian faction of the Republican Party that Greazzo and Simmons and several other Republican politicians associated with the MDPA are charter members of -- said that the MDPA would not authorize the release of information as a matter of "principle". The principle was that Levasseur acted improperly in asking the insurance agency whether the policy had lapsed.
Levasseur does business with Aspen Insurance. He and its owner, Will Infantine, once co-hosted a public access TV show called Will and Joe. It was Levasseur who, on Friday, July 11th, used his Facebook page to break the story of the Rich Girard sexting scandal that subsequently revealed that Infantine had his own extra-marital activity skeleton in the closet.
On Girard at Large, the Rubber Band Man Phil Greazzo stretched this matter of principle argument to the breaking point.
Playing the victim who himself was confused by all the hullabaloo over the cancelled policy, Greazzo portrayed himself as a cooperative person who was just trying to get to the truth.
"The Board directed the City Solicitor to look for information -- as is proper," he said. The inference was that Levasseur's inquiry was improper.
Both Girard and the Rubber Band Man himself failed to mention the fact that it was Greazzo who stymied the City Solicitor's "proper" investigation of the insurance policy lapse.
Failure to Communicate
Then it was back to blaming others. In the words of Strother Martin in Cool Hand Luke, "What we've got here is failure to communicate." It was this type of obfuscation that doomed him; he did not file to run for office for the first time in a baker's dozen of years.
What disgusted the audience and the Manchester political community was the fact that the Rubber Band Man could not give Rich Girard a definitive answer over whether the insurance lapsed as there were many different insurance documents with different dates, but gee whiz! He surely thought the policy didn't lapse.
Girard asked him, "The documents that have different dates. They aren't yours. If they aren't yours, whose are they?"
"Communications with individuals that are involved with the issue. Let's say that."
"Why was a new policy put in place?"
Greazzo said that it was his belief that the new policy was put in place to allow the MDPA to get away from making monthly payments that incurred finance company charges.
It had come out during the hearings into the dog park that, with a drop of paying members from approximately 300 two years ago to about 13 at the end of 2013, the MDPA had had to resort to a loan to pay for the insurance.
Greazzo said that everything was confusing as the old treasurer (former Manchester City Republican Committee Chair Matt Ball) had been replaced by a new treasurer (current Manchester City Republican Committee Chair Tammy Simmons) who decided to change from a monthly policy (brokered by Aspen Insurance, which is owned by Will Infantine, who preceded Simmons as Manchester City Republican Committee chair) to an annual one, to cut down on finance company charges.
This was worthy of a dialogue penned by S.J. Perelman and delivered by Groucho and Chico Marx. "Viaduct?" Why a duck, indeed!
Now it was time for Greazzo to answer just why did the policy wind up cancelled or not cancelled, depending on your point of view?
"According to the numbers," he said, "more money had been paid for than the policy required."
After this whopper that actually made me laugh out loud, Greazzo said, "I am in the belief that the policy did not lapse."
Rich Girard maneuvered the conversation to enable Greazzo to further shift the blame to others.
"You weren't the treasurer at the time and you weren't involved in this thing until October 29," he asked.
Greazzo said that he, in fact, wasn't the treasurer, and at the time was no longer the chairman of the MDPA, and furthermore, he hadn't involved with making the insurance payments. He was forced to step into the breach caused by the poor management of those who were responsible for the payments only when the lapse was revealed by Levasseur.
It is important to remember that at the time of the revelation of the lapse, Tammy Simmons, as Manchester GOP sachem, not only was overseeing the party's political fortunes but personally was acting as Greazzo's campaign manager. These people are close friends, as well as political allies, and even live on the same street. Yet apparently, they couldn't even co-manage something as simple as paying an insurance policy, which was a prerequisite for their MDPA holding the City contract for the municipal dog park.
Was it a matter of incompetence or their lack of interest in the dog park? These were points were made about their management style by MDPA critics, that they had lost interest in the park and had let it decay tot he point of failure.
On the Up and Up
There was still air time left for another whopper from the Rubber Band Man: "I want to make sure that the things are on the up and up."
This could have been accomplished months ago, if Phil Greazzo and the MDPA had been forthcoming to the Board of Mayor and Alderman and the City Solicitor's Office. This was so obvious, even Greazzo apologist Rich Girard could not ignore it. Girard asked him why, at the time of the revelation of the lapsed policy on October 29th, he just didn't come forward and admit it.
Greazzo played some more rope-a-dope by jumbling up the time frame of various inquiries into the issue, before finally admitting, "I at that time and at this time cannot unequivocally say that this took place here and then."
Whoa! Even those marvelously creative screenwriters known as the Hollywood Ten who were hailed before the House Unamerican Activities Committee to answer charges of communist subversion would have been proud of that evasive answer. Phil might have used this as a dry-run for his upcoming deposition in the Levasseur libel lawsuit.
Girard at Large co-host ended the segment by asking Greazzo if he would have created the dog park if he knew it would have brought him such grief.
After jocularly stating that his political mantra was No good turn goes unpunished, Greazzo answered, "I did it so my dogs and other dogs in the city had a place to play," giving the impression that he was a dog owner.
Phil Greazzo, in fact, does not own a dog, nor does Tammy Simmons, onto whom he tried to shift -- rightly or wrongly -- blame for the insurance lapse.
What is apparent from this fiasco is that these two career politicians cannot successfully run a small dog park, which during the period of their (mis)management, has shed most of its membership and is, truth be told, all but bankrupt. The erosion of paying membership created a financial shortfall that forced the MDPA to turn to a finance company to obtain the funds to cover the insurance. Greazzo even said at one time that the money for the new policy is coming out of his own pocket.
Wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that, tempted by the lack of city oversight of the park and a new state law that immunized dog parks from lawsuits, that Greazzo and Tammy Simmons decided to let the MDPA liability insurance policy lapse to save money? Money that they did not have due to the death of paying members. Doesn't this explain their inexplicable behavior at the time of the revelation of the insurance lapse, during a heated political campaign that Greazzo subsequently lost, of not just coming forward and admitting it?
How can Phil Greazzo and Tammy Simmons be be expected to run a city or a state? Yet, Simmons has already declared herself a candidate for the State House of Representatives with her "Main Man", Free Stater Dan Garthwaite, vying for the seat once held (for one term) by her hero Greazzo.
Greazzo had been considering challenging Chris Pappas for his seat on the Executive Council, but is sitting this one out.
The five-member Executive Council advises the Granite State's governor and has to approve all contracts with a value of $5,000 or more. Phil Greazzo had shown himself to be incapable of managing a small dog park and a liability insurance policy costing about $1,000 annually. He had shown voters that he was not fit to run Manchester's municipal dog park, let alone be elected to such an important office as executive councilor.
His political career is over.