Manchester Alderman Levasseur files lawsuit to block release of his email records
Levasseur, who is also an attorney, filed the suit in Hillsborough County Superior Court on Tuesday. He also personally delivered copies to the city solicitor’s office and to the home of radio host Rich Girard, the defendants in the suit.
Girard, who has publicly feuded with Levasseur, maintained that his right-to-know requests pertained specifically to a prior request from the New Hampshire Union Leader for the aldermen’s email correspondence with city departments and, more recently, for communication regarding the Manchester Dog Park.
Last week, Levasseur was formally censured by his fellow aldermen following an investigation by the state attorney general that concluded he made unfounded allegations of intimidation and misconduct against the Manchester Police Department.
“My wife said Joe Levasseur was on the front porch, which she wasn’t terribly comfortable about,” he said. “I find it interesting that the fellow complaining about intimidation shows up at my home unannounced.”
“If the court ends up siding with the city, constituents will at least realize that they have to be careful what they say,” Levasseur said. “How we act as a body and how the city acts are definitely something to be open to the public, but I don’t think somebody should just be able to ask for 30,000 emails.”
Girard had received two electronic files of information late last week from the city. According to Levasseur’s suit, additional documents were to be released Tuesday.
In the suit, Levasseur noted that Chapter 91-A, commonly known as the right-to-know law, defined governmental records as “information created, accepted, or obtained by, or on behalf of, any public body, or a quorum or majority thereof” — not by a single elected official.
“A communication between a member and a non-member of the public body does not involve any kind of deliberation between members of the public body, so it cannot be said that disclosure is necessary to keep the public apprised about discussions that are occurring behind the scenes,” Johnston wrote in the article.
Johnston said in an interview Tuesday that the concerns he raised were reflected in the language of the 2008 law, including the definition of a government record.
In an email last week to Levasseur, Arnold maintained that email that goes through city servers would be presumed to be public.
Girard said he hasn’t had a chance to review the records he has received so far, but he said he had no intention of keeping any relevant information under wraps.