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No apology for former Nashua alderman


The president of the Board of Aldermen finally addressed an issue that has been looming for several months by telling a former alderman on Tuesday that he will not offer her an apology.

Paula Johnson, a one-time alderman and state representative, has attended many public meetings in the past nine months and asked Alderman Brian McCarthy, board president, and Alderman Diane Sheehan, Ward 3, to apologize for what Johnson claims was a "verbal attack" on her following a meeting last September.

In an effort to halt the frequent public requests for an apology, McCarthy addressed the matter for the first time in months on Tuesday.

"I am not going to issue an apology, and I am not going to ask Alderman Sheehan to issue an apology," said McCarthy. "There is nothing to apologize for."

Late last year, an informal investigation into alleged misconduct by Sheehan was undertaken by McCarthy, who determined there was no wrongdoing or misconduct by Sheehan.The problems began during a meeting on Sept. 19 at Main Dunstable School when Sheehan, who spoke publicly at the hearing, claimed Johnson made "several facial gestures and other body language that showed contempt for what she was saying," says a previous letter written by McCarthy.Then, a few days later following a meeting of the aldermen on Sept. 25, Sheehan acknowledged that she told Johnson she thought she was rude. However, Johnson maintains Sheehan verbally attacked her in the rear parking lot of Nashua City Hall.

"This needs to stop. It is just ridiculous," McCarthy told Johnson on Tuesday after she again sought an apology from either Sheehan, McCarthy or the entire Board of Aldermen. "And I hope that is the end of that."Following McCarthy's comments, Johnson maintained that the board president is again out of line, calling his statements "abrasive."

Another board member, Alderman Paul Chasse, Ward 6, also addressed the matter.

"I was not there. I do not know what happened. I only hear hearsay," said Chasse, speaking for himself and not the board.

While he feels for Johnson, Chasse said the battle is really between a couple of people and should be resolved between the individuals involved, not the full Board of Aldermen.

With or without an apology, Johnson and Sheehan will each be vying for one of three at-large aldermen seats this fall. Johnson said it was McCarthy's letter, which found no misconduct on Sheehan's behalf, that provided her the motivation to return to public office.

Sheehan has not publicly commented on the matter.

The meeting that initiated the turmoil between the two women was about a proposal for the city to acquire three West Hollis Street properties.

At the time, Sheehan described the nearby landfill as a 300-acre eyesore, saying she supports purchasing the land from the two homeowners who have remained there since the dump was built.

"To me, it is remediating and making whole what we have done to these people," Sheehan said at the time.

Johnson disagreed, arguing that without any formal, long-term plans for the properties, the city should hold off on the $650,000 acquisition that was ultimately approved by aldermen.khoughton@newstote.com

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