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December 12. 2012 11:10PM

Former Nashua official outraged over findings of investigation

NASHUA - A former alderman who has been seeking an apology from an elected official for more than two months said she is outraged with the findings of an informal investigation into the alleged misconduct.

Paula Johnson, previously a city alderman and state representative, has attended numerous public meetings and asked Alderman Diane Sheehan, Ward 3, to apologize for what Johnson claims was a "verbal attack" on her following a meeting several weeks ago.

Board President Brian McCarthy was asked to look into the matter. Before Tuesday's aldermanic meeting, he provided Johnson a letter detailing his findings.

According to the letter, Sheehan acknowledged that she told Johnson she thought she was rude after an aldermanic meeting on Sept. 25. Sheehan's comment was in response to a prior encounter between the two women during a meeting Sept. 19 at Main Dunstable School.

Sheehan claims that when she was speaking, Johnson made "several facial gestures and other body language that showed contempt for what she was saying," McCarthy's letter says.

McCarthy goes on to say that he has seen this type of behavior from Johnson on many past occasions.

Johnson maintains that she never spoke with Sheehan at the meeting. Johnson also contends that after a separate meeting at City Hall shortly thereafter, Sheehan "verbally attacked" her, screaming and yelling at her in the parking lot before peeling out of a parking space.

McCarthy's investigation determined that Sheehan simply told Johnson she was rude.

"I find nothing that indicates any misconduct on the part of Alderman Sheehan, so I intend to seek no further remedy on your behalf. If she chooses not to apologize as you have demanded, that is her right."

At the end of Tuesday's aldermanic meeting, Johnson said she was shocked and appalled by McCarthy's findings.

" ... How dare you call me a liar," she said, pointing to McCarthy. "I want an apology from you. I want an apology from her."

McCarthy then told Johnson that it was rude to point at people.

She threatened to take the issue to the Ethics Review Committee.

"I am told to let it go. I won't let this go," said Johnson. "This is a disgrace."

Sheehan has not publicly commented on the matter.

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Kimberly Houghton may be reached at khoughton@newstote.com.


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