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January 23. 2014 10:22PM

Accountable in Nashua: Who's watching Police Commission?

Attorney General Joe Foster is supposed to be investigating the scandal involving Rep. David Campbell, D-Nashua, five dead ducks and the chairman of the Nashua Police Commission. Gov. Maggie Hassan handed the task to Foster as a matter of course. That reveals a lack of judgment and a dodging of her responsibility.

Under both state law and the Nashua Charter, the governor is responsible for appointing and removing Nashua police commissioners. (Appointments and removals must be approved by the Executive Council.) Nashua Police Commission Chairman Thomas Pappas, who intervened on behalf of Rep. Campbell when Nashua police were trying to investigate a report of a “gentleman who is drunk” running over ducks in a parking lot, is accountable not to Nashua officials, but to Gov. Hassan.

The governor may remove Nashua police commissioners “for malfeasance, misfeasance, inefficiency in office, incapacity or unfitness to perform assigned duties, or for the good of the department, agency, or institution to which such official is assigned,” according to the statute.

She has not sought to do so. Instead, she has trusted the investigation of this incident involving two politically connected Nashua lawyers to Attorney General Foster, who is a politically connected Nashua lawyer. The inappropriateness of that move is obvious. Gov. Hassan needs to insist that Foster appoint a special investigator. That is, if she doesn’t simply ask Commissioner Pappas to resign, as the law puts it, “for the good of the department.” Commissioner Pappas should do that on his own, but unfortunately he has left it to others to suggest this obvious move.


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