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Nashua mayor speaks out, says bullying 'will not work'

Union Leader Correspondent

November 08. 2013 9:30PM
Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau speaks at a press conference on Friday at Nashua City Hall about the ongoing dispute between the mayor's office and the Nashua Police Department. She pledged Friday to put aside differences and take the high road. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON /Union Leader Correspondent)

NASHUA — While pledging to repair the relations with Police Chief John Seusing, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said Friday that the police chief was one of a small group of people attempting to bully and intimidate her.

Lozeau addressed the media and Nashua residents about the city police department's investigation into her and her husband about allegations of bid rigging, drug use and corruption — an investigation that resulted in no criminal charges.

"I believe that this situation, dredging up old reports, leaking information and backroom whispers, was the work of a small number of people in positions of authority. Their goal was to intimidate me enough that I would stop asking questions and objecting to their proposals. It did not work and will not work," said Lozeau.

The mayor refused to answer questions about specific allegations detailed in 100 pages of police records, including accusations from a confidential informant that she and her husband smoke marijuana, privately released bids for construction work and that husband David Lozeau — as a former bail commissioner — allegedly issued low bail amounts in exchange for drugs.

"I am sorry to disappoint you. I am not going to do that. I am not going to get in there and look line-by-line, who said what, whether they were credible or whether they weren't," she said.

Joined by a small group of supporters in the audience, Lozeau said she is less concerned about what happened than why it happened.

"How could it be that relations between two key city officials could become so strained that it could devolve into intimidation and character assassination?" asked Lozeau. " … At its core, whatever problems exist between the mayor and the chief of police are all about that most basic of municipal concerns — taxpayers' money."

She said Seusing is naturally interested in city spending that benefits his department. And while the mayor is also concerned about public safety, Lozeau said she must be just as concerned with fire protection, education, public works and other functions of the city.

Lozeau said tension between her and Seusing began soon after she took office in 2008.

"Our differences have included basic things like what kind of information that I should be made aware of, such as major crimes, homicides and crime trends, along with requests by me for an increased presence in the downtown and to work together to find a way to close a known drug house. But most of our conflict has been over dollars."

Conflicts over the police budget, police details, payment for dental benefits, police overtime and other financial issues have not been trivial disagreements, she said. As mayor, Lozeau said she must maintain a balance of competing interests when putting together the city budget.

The tension between Lozeau and Seusing cannot continue, she said, adding it is her hope to begin monthly one-on-one meetings with the chief.

Repairing the working relationship between the mayor and the chief of police will take time, work and commitment, she said.

"In spite of the circumstances, I am pledging to the people of Nashua that I am dedicated to taking that time, to do that work and to honor that commitment," she said.

Lozeau acknowledged that she has not spoken with Seusing since Oct. 28, when she first issued a statement about the police investigation involving her and her husband.

David Lozeau resigned as bail commissioner earlier this year. Seusing said this week that Lozeau revealed the identity of at least one police informant while serving as bail commissioner.

"I stand by my husband. He is a remarkable man," Lozeau said on Friday, adding the couple have been married for nearly 31 years. " … I am not ashamed of my husband. … He is my guy, and I'm keeping him."

Personal attacks will not stop Lozeau from getting city business conducted, she said, acknowledging the struggle over limited resources will continue. It will not be easy, but Lozeau said she will continue to take the high road with clear-eyed leadership.

Lozeau posed and answered her own questions during the conference. Lozeau asked whether this controversy will tarnish the city's reputation, andresponded: "No chance. No chance."

Seusing was not available for comment on Friday. Earlier this week, he strongly denied the mayor's implication that the Nashua Police Department conducted a smear campaign.

"These allegations could not be any further from the truth," he said. "… It is the Nashua Police Department's responsibility to investigate any and all allegations of criminal conduct or wrongdoing regardless of who it involves. To do otherwise would be contrary to our code of ethics and would erode the trust and confidence that the citizens of Nashua have in their police department."

Seusing said earlier that there is no connection between the investigation of David Lozeau and the dispute with the mayor over union contracts or budget issues.

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