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June 10. 2014 9:53PM

Nashua aldermen clamp down on mayor’s changes to contracts

NASHUA — Aldermen voted 11-4 Tuesday to override Mayor Donnalee Lozeau’s veto of an ordinance requiring her to notify city officials of any amendments made to city contracts.

The ordinance was written after some aldermen were not informed that a rebranding contract was terminated early. It was newly adopted on Tuesday.

“This is an open government reform,” said Alderman Jim Donchess, who spearheaded the ordinance. The ordinance will require the mayor to inform the aldermanic Finance Committee of any amendments made to city contracts over $10,000 within 10 days of the change.

Donchess said the mayor still has authority to make amendments to contracts.

Lozeau stressed that she is working with the city’s Information Technology Department to make the contracts even more visible on the city’s website.

“I understand that you want to know this information,” Lozeau said.

Currently, all approved contracts are posted on the city’s website; efforts are being made to make the documents even easier to navigate, according to Lozeau. In addition, staff is attempting to find a way to automatically alert aldermen when something new is posted to the contracts, she said.

Prior to the vote, Lozeau urged aldermen to consider tabling the issue to see if the new website adjustments are adequate.

Jeff Kleiner of Courtland Street voiced support for the ordinance, encouraging the board to override the mayor’s veto.

“Now, there is apparently something to hide,” Kleiner said of Lozeau’s veto. Two other residents also asked the board to override the veto, stating transparency should be a priority in city government.

Lozeau noted that positive changes have been made to make city government more open to the public, agreeing that the “public doesn’t trust what the public doesn’t see.”

Alderman Richard Dowd, who does not support the ordinance, said city officials should have faith in the corner office. The ordinance, according to Dowd, implies that the board does not trust the administration.

Alderman Pamela Brown said she fears the ordinance could lead to micro-management.

“I never viewed this as punitive ... I look at this as expectation-setting,” said Alderman Ken Siegel, who co-sponsored the ordinance.

Voting against the override were aldermen Dowd, Brown, Brian McCarthy and June Caron.

khoughton@newstote.com


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