Nashua official blasts Union Leader column
"I was simply responding to an inquiry from a citizen when I moved to change the meeting times. I did not orchestrate any type of controversy. This is not true," said Tracy Pappas, commissioner on the Nashua Board of Public Works. "These efforts to change the meeting times were not about me or anyone else on the commission. This was about the public and always has been."
Pappas, responding to a Gate City Musings column published March 25, said she is incredibly frustrated that her attempt to change the meeting times from 2 p.m. to evening hours to accommodate more members of the public was misconstrued.
The column's author, whose identity is known to the paper but kept confidential because of the individual's position in the community, claimed Pappas' interest in evening meeting times was "apparently a way to show up her fellow board members." The columnist also cited an anonymous commissioner who claimed the whole controversy was "nothing but a publicity stunt to cover up a lackluster performance."
Pappas maintains that her efforts to amend the meeting times were in the best interest of the public, as more citizens are likely able to participate and attend evening meetings as opposed to afternoon meetings.
"While we appreciate the commissioner's opinion, we also stand by our Musings columnist's right to his/her view," said New Hampshire Union Leader Managing Editor Amy J. Vellucci. "It happens that our own editorial page endorsed the move to night hearings of these public bodies."
Pappas also disputes the notion that her past concerns about a city building at Greeley Park being misused several years ago had anything to do with the recent meeting time debacle, as hinted at by the columnist.
"I never claimed that there was partying going on. That has absolutely nothing to do with this. That problem was solved six years ago after cameras were put up," she said.
Pappas admits she can often be blunt and outspoken, and acknowledges that she has apologized for making certain statements in the past. Still, Pappas says she is outraged that an undisclosed author can quote an anonymous commissioner in an attempt to make her look bad.
A former alderman, Fred Teeboom, is backing Pappas' opinion. In an email, Teeboom said the column falsely accused Pappas' motives and behavior. Another local resident, Doris Hohensee, requested that the Union Leader write Pappas an apology for the column.
"Nashua residents are getting pretty tired of (Mayor Donnalee Lozeau) attacking Commissioner Pappas for doing her job," said Hohensee. With the Board of Public Works overseeing the construction of the multimillion dollar Broad Street Parkway project, Hohensee said the project needs public scrutiny, and that the Board of Aldermen decided on its own accord to support the evening meeting times.
Following extensive public debate on the meeting times, which were originally raised by local resident Robert Sullivan, Alderman-at-Large James Donchess filed a proposed resolution that, if approved by his fellow board members and ultimately city voters, would have amended the city charter to require the Board of Public Works meet no earlier than 6 p.m. except for an emergency circumstance.
However, the charter change wasn't necessary after Brian McCarthy, board president, sent a letter to the Public Works commissioners last month asking them to reconsider, which the board eventually did when it agreed to a 5:30 p.m. meeting time.
Although the recent column claimed there was "no hue and cry for evening meetings," Sullivan argues that several citizens have recently approached elected officials requesting to shift the meeting hours to a later time.
"Regarding Commissioner Pappas, she is well-thought-of by the majority of people in Nashua. She stood up for the citizens of Nashua regarding this situation," wrote Sullivan.
In a letter to the editor (See Page A7), another local resident, Barbara Nelson, praised Pappas for being the only commissioner who speaks for what she believes is right for the citizens of Nashua.
The author is standing by his/her statements made in the Gate City Musings column.