Manchester, N.H. - Many citizens of Manchester believe that Ted Gatsas is attempting to cover up his failure to control crime in the Queen City by overstepping his authority and closing a public park to the public the park is meant to serve. In the wake of a wave of overdoses related to the synthetic marijuana product known as "Spice", Gatsas issued a ukase closing Bronstein Park, which is located near Central High School, to anyone not affiliated with Central when the school is in session.
Ironically, just like the sharp increase in crime and drug abuse that have plagued Manchester since he became mayor, Central High is emblematic of the failure of the Gatsas administration, coming close to losing its accreditation. Just like the Manchester Police Department, the school has been severely hurt by the budget shortfalls caused by the tax cap championed by Gatsas as both an alderman and mayor.
The recent wave of "Spice" overdoses has highlighted the incompetence of Ted Gatsas, who used a reputation as a successful businessman to promote himself as a politician possessed of extraordinary management skills. Unfortunately for the Queen City, those management skills have proven to be nothing but hype. Alderman Joe Kelly Levasseur, Gatsas's nemesis, even went so far to question Gatsas's business acumen, attributing the success of the Gatsas family company, which was sold for millions, to Gatsas's brother.
It was Levasseur's humiliation of the Gatsas administration, in court, that likely triggered the executive order closing Bronstein Park to the public, an act that the New Hampshire chapter of the ACLU says is probably unconstitutional.
Convenience Store Closings
Joe Kelly Levasseur, who in addition to being an elected official also is a criminal defense attorney, successfully fought the Gatsas administration's closing down of a convenience store that sold "Spice", even though none of the product was found on the store premises during a police search that the store owner allowed. When dozens of overdoses related to "Spice" began to occur, Granite State Governor Maggie Hassan issued an order declaring a public health emergency. Not to be outdone, Mayor Ted Gatsas sicced the Manchester police onto convenience stores that allegedly had sold "Spice", resulting in the shutdown of three convenience stores, including Levasseur's client, TN Gas.
The police targeted TN Gas on the basis of a tip from a "Spice" user, a bit of hearsay whose validity was questioned by the judge who heard Levasseur's appeal of the store closing. The judge lifted the ban on TN Gas and two other convenience stores. Later the owners of TN Gas and the other stores that had been closed down appeared before the Board of Mayor and Alderman's Administration Committee and pledged not to sell any more questionable products akin to "Spice" and were allowed to keep their businesses licenses.
Levasseur appeared before the Committee as counsel for the TN Gas owner, and as the owner's alderman. Within a matter of hours, Joe Kelly Levasseur had humiliated Ted Gatsas in court, and then before the Board of Mayor and Alderman's Administration Committee when the court order mandating the reopening of the stores was validated by Levasseur's fellow aldermen.
Reactionary radio host and Gatsas cat's paw Rich Girard, appearing in public for the first time since the revelation of his sexting scandal, latched on to Joe Kelly Levasseur's appearance before the Committee as an attorney to launch a new attack on him. When Girard was spotted in the Aldermanic chambers on the night of the Committee hearing, it was remarked that it likely was Girard's animus against Levasseur that had brought him out of his lair where he had been licking his wounds.
The consensus is that Girard, a failure as a politician whose ability to support a wife and five kids on the income from his twin professions as the world's most boring blogger and talk show host on a 15W radio station whose signal cannot reach all of Manchester, is consumed by jealousy of Joe Kelly Levasseur, who has become a folk hero in the Queen City.
Reemerging to play the role of Ted Gatsas's lickspittle, Girard glommed on to Levasseur's having praised Governor Hassan, a Democrat, for her deft and legally sound handling of the "Spice" crisis, in contrast with the heavy handed tactics of Mayor Gatsas, a Republican. Levasseur is a Republican, but last year, he was denied the good graces of the City GOP after Will Infantine (who had co-hosted a public access TV show with Joe), surrendered the chairmanship of the Manchester Republican Party to Tammy Simmons, the anarchist-libertarian radical.
Levasseur had represented Simmons's ex-husband in their contentious divorce in which Tammy and her close political ally and Ward 10 neighbor Phil Greazzo were both charged with adultery. The charges of adultery were eventually dropped, but the divorce suit apparently estranged Simmons from Levasseur. As party chair, she denied him any help from the Queen City GOP.
With Tammy Simmons as party chair, the Republicans suffered humiliating setbacks, including the near defeat of Mayor Gatsas by two-term alderman Patrick Arnold. It was widely believed that if New Hampshire Democratic Chair Ray Buckley had not ignored reports that Arnold was capable of scoring an upset over Gatsas, which may have been the reason that Infantine stepped down as Queen City GOP Chair during the campaign season, and had thrown NHDP resources into the mayoral race, Pat Arnold would now be sitting in the cat bird's seat at City Hall.
The near-defeat doomed Ted Gatsas's dream of being governor of the Granite State, and likely means he will not be seeking re-election as mayor, a perception shared by most Queen City political players.
It was time for some payback, and who better to carry Ted Gatsas's bilge water than Rich Girard, the professional factotum whose own dream to succeed Gatsas as mayor was dashed by the revelation of his stunning hypocrisy with the breaking of the sexting scandal.
Rich Girard, who had helped stack the cord wood and light the fire for the planned auto-da-fé that was to immolate Joe Kelly Levasseur's political and legal career linked to his hassles with the police department, a ceremony that only singed the hem of Levasseur's jacket, took to the radio waves the day after the Committee hearing to question the propriety of Alderman Levasseur appearing before the Committee in his capacity as a lawyer. This was clearly a breach of the New Hampshire bar rules and the City Charter, the cautious Girard intoned.
Girard was being cautious as there are more skeletons in his proverbial closet, and he has a real fear of Joe Kelly Levasseur. Apparently, as is evidenced by his sexting behavior, he also has a strong self-destructive streak as taking on Levasseur again is likely to bring him nothing but grief. But a lickspittle is a lickspittle; a factotum is factotum, and Girard went on the attack.
Girard pointed out that Levasseur was criticizing Gatsas's conduct as mayor during the wave of "Spice" overdoses. Levasseur, of course, was right to criticize Gatsas. Nashua had experienced no synthetic marijuana overdoes as that City administration had long ago taken a proactive stand, using the Nashua police to educate store owners about the dangers of "Spice". In Manchester, there was no proactive policy. The Manchester Police Department has been severely hampered by a lack of personnel caused by budget cuts. The men and women of the MPD had their hands full with the unprecedented crime wave that is the hallmark of the Gatsas mayoralty.
The "Spice" overdoses were a crisis caused by Ted Gatsas and his penny pinching policies and lack of management skills. His heavy handed reponse to the crisis, the illegal shutting of stores, served to highlight his incompetence.
In a sense, as the example of Nashua shows, Mayor Gatsas is responsible for the wave of drug overdoses. To divert criticism over his failed policies, the mayor overstepped his authority and closed Bronstein Park to the public, and now plans to use a renewed attack on Joe Kelly Levasseur to throw up a smoke screen.
Gatsas and Girard have attempted witch burnings before, using Joe Kelly Levasseur as a "scape goat". However, they are likely to find that Levasseur, whom they consider inflammable, is fireproof, as he has proven before.