Telegraph, The (Nashua, NH)

March 4, 2005
Section: Amherst
Alderman: Actions show ‘level of arrogance’
Telegraph Staff

NASHUA – After Mayor Bernie Streeter agreed to a plea bargain Thursday to close his case in Manchester District Court, aldermen voiced their displeasure at the mayor’s actions. Alderman-at-Large Jim Tollner, vice president of the Board of Aldermen, said there might still be political fallout now that the legal process is complete.

There likely will be conversations among aldermen about how to show the board’s disapproval, Tollner said. The mayor should have admitted his error from the beginning and apologized, instead of dragging the matter out for four months, Tollner said.

The incident showed a “level of arrogance,” he said.

Streeter pleaded no contest Thursday to two violations stemming from a collision with a Manchester taxi cab in October while he was driving his city car on a Saturday morning. He was fined $2,400, paid $1,076.40 in restitution to Queen City Taxi, and was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service in Manchester. At various political and business events around the state, people have joked at the city’s expense about the mayor’s actions, Tollner said.

“It embarrasses the city,” he said.

Some aldermen adopted a wait-and-see attitude after the mayor’s arrest in October and noted how human failings and mistakes are inevitable. Others submitted legislation to clamp down on the use of city vehicles. The aldermen approved legislation requiring city seals on city-owned and leased vehicles, but have not taken final action on proposals from Ward 3 Alderman Kevin Gage and Alderman-at-Large Paula Johnson to restrict use of city vehicles outside of business hours. Johnson said it would be proper for the mayor to write a letter to the residents of Nashua apologizing for his behavior.

“I hope, in the future, he will be civilized,” she said.

The punishment is fair as long as the fines and community service are similar to what any other driver would have received in a similar situation, Johnson said.

Ward 8 Alderman David MacLaughlin said the court’s action seems to be “a just punishment.”

MacLaughlin, who has criticized Streeter for damaging the reputation of the mayor’s office, said Streeter showed very poor judgment in handling the incident. The alderman said his biggest concern was how Streeter appeared to use his elected position as a “shield” from taking responsibility following the collision.

“As long as his community service in Manchester is not done on city time, I think we’ll be OK,” he said.

Nashua Mayor Bernie Streeter waits for his sentencing to begin at Manchester District Court on Thursday.
Streeter drives away in his personal vehicle after his appearance in court.

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