Manchester, NH – Phil Greazzo was called a liar by his former Board of Mayor and Aldermen colleague Joseph Kelly Levasseur, who released evidence to the Union Leader newspaper that insurance coverage of the municipal dog park was cancelled, a situation he had revealed to the Board back in October 2013. Levasseur has sued Greazzo, the ex-aldermen and former member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, for libel for labeling Levasseur a “pathological liar”.
Now, it is Greazzo who faces charges of lying.
Politicians and Peanut Park
Phil Greazzo is the founder and a board member of the Manchester Dog Park Association (MDPA), which operates the Queen City’s municipal dog park, “Peanut Park”, not far from Greazzo’s home in Ward 10, which he represented for two terms from 2009 to 2013.
Greazzo and the MDPA, including fellow board member Tammy Simmons, the chair of the Manchester Republican Party Committee, came under fire before the 2013 general election for mismanagement of Peanut Park. I, myself, testified before the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen on what I believed to be political corruption at Peanut Park.
It is my belief that the dog park essentially was created for and is being used as a political propaganda vehicle by Greazzo, Simmons and their fellow founding board members, all of whom were close Republican allies and career politicians.
Joseph Kelly Levasseur also is a Republican, but he is a nemesis of Tammy Simmons as well as Phil Greazzo. Levasseur represented Simmons’ ex-husband, William Simmons, in his bitterly contested divorce from Tammy.
Simmons was a soldier who, upon returning to Manchester from duty in Iraq, believed that the alienation he experienced when trying to reconnect with his wife was the result of his having been cuckolded by Phil Greazzo, a friend of the couple’s who had lived across the street from them. During William Simmons’ absence, Greazzo had helped Tammy with home improvement projects.
During the divorce proceedings, William charged Tammy with adultery, naming Greazzo as correspondent. Tammy countercharged that her husband had committed adultery.
William Simmons may have been suffering from post-traumatic stress (PTSD) disorder. Unfortunately, services at the Manchester veterans hospital had severely eroded after the election of George W. Bush and proper treatment for William may have been lacking. The estrangement between the Simmonses may have been the result of PTSD.
It is a common scenario that has afflicted warriors and their families for millennia: A solider returning from a war zone has psychological issues that create a wall between him and his loved ones. Many returning soldiers and their significant others are unable to cope with the personality changes wrought by PTSD. William Simmons may have been unable to deal with the emotional gulf between himself and his wife and rationalized her own inability to handle their changed marital situation as being the result of unfaithfulness.
William Simmons eventually dropped his charge of adultery against his wife. He, himself, was convicted of adultery by the divorce hearing master, but Attorney Levasseur had the conviction quashed on appeal. As Phil Greazzo was a career politician who had contested multiple elections, the prolonged proceedings gave birth to salacious rumors that are still bandied about in the Queen City.
in 2014, the New Hampshire General Court finally moved to strike down the 1791 law criminalizing adultery.
Undoubtedly, the divorce proceedings, during which both Tammy Simmons and Phil Greazzo were questioned by Joe Kelly Levasseur in his adversarial position as William Simmons’ attorney in a case involving charges and counter-charges of adultery, helped poison relations between Simmons, Greazzo and Levasseur.
Acting GOP Chair
Tammy Simmons, upon becoming acting chair of the Queen City GOP when Levasseur’s former TV show co-host Will Infantine stepped aside from the post, cut the City Republican Party’s ties with Levasseur, who was running for re-election as alderman.
Along with Greazzo, Levasseur was one of only two Republicans on the 15-member board, which is headed by Mayor Ted Gatsas, a Republican who is on the outs with Levasseur. The other dozen aldermen were Democrats.
At the October 29, 2013 meeting of the Board at which I and another former dog park member testified, Levasseur revealed that there had been an approximately six-week lapse in insurance coverage for Peanut Park. One of the few mandates the City had put on the MDPA as a prerequisite for running the park was that it maintain a liability insurance policy. If that policy lapsed, the City’s five-year contract with the MDPA could be voided.
Greazzo Declares War
Rather than admit to the lapse, which the Union Leader reveals did occur, Greazzo denied there was any lapse in coverage. He denounced Levasseur at the October 29th Board meeting and soon launched a campaign against his fellow alderman, charging that Levasseur had broken the law by bringing up the matter. Greazzo charged Levasseur with the crime of “advancing a private interest” as part of an alleged conspiracy involving me and another citizen who testified against the MDPA.
The charges are absurd as neither I or the other person had ever met with or talked to Levasseur before the October 29th meeting.
Rather than just admit to the insurance lapse, Greazzo instead declared war on Joe Kelly Levasseur. The upshot is that Greazzo lost his bid for reelection by the substantial margin of almost 100 votes while Levasseur was the #2 top vote getter in the Queen City, easily reelected as alderman-at-large. Levasseur, despite the animosity of Tammy Simmons, might just emerge as the Republican candidate for mayor when Ted Gatsas steps down in 2015.
And still, Greazzo waged war against his former Board of Alderman colleague, which culminated in his calling Levasseur a “pathological liar” which resulted in his being sued for libel.
Greazzo, who seemed to be humiliated and unhinged by his defeat, would not let things be. He appeared before the new Board of Aldermen (still skewed 12-2 Democrat-Republican) and threatened to close Peanut Park if an aldermanic committee pursued the issue of whether the insurance policy did lapse. (On the advice of Greazzo’s successor, Bill Barry, a conciliator rather than a divider like Greazzo, the committee tabled a proposal made by myself and other critics to follow through on a motion voted for by the previous Board that allowed the City Solicitor to contact either the insurance agency or the insurance company. Greazzo himself had voted for the motion, then in his capacity as head of the MDPA, he forbade the insurance agency from releasing any information. We critics wanted the Board to follow through and contact the insurer to find out if the lapse did occur, but faced with Greazzo’s threat to close the park, we agreed that dropping the matter for the time being would be best. The main thing was to keep Peanut Park open.)
Greazzo also lodged a formal complaint with the Board of Mayor and Aldermen that Levasseur be hauled before a board of conduct and expelled for his allegedly criminal behavior stemming from an imagined “conspiracy” to advance a private interest. (That “private interest” that Greazzo alluded to was a Facebook page, some of whose members wanted to turn the MDPA into a publicly accountable charitable organization rather than let it remain under the thumb of four Republican political activists whose reactionary political ideology and dictatorial bent translated into minimal member participation and no fund-raising. During its existence, paid membership in the MDPA dropped from approximately 300 to about 13.)
The Board of Aldermen tabled the motion to convene a board of conduct. (One of the reasons was that, despite Greazzo’s contention that Levassuer could be expelled, by law, he could not). Subsequently, an angry Greazzo lashed out at Levasseur with the “pathological liar” comment.
And Levasseur sued.
The Truth Will Out
Greazzo, who had apparently done his best to dissemble and cover up the lapse, seemingly has never heard of the legal process of discovery. Now, the legal machinery is in gear and moving forward, and the truth he so desperately tried to deny is coming out.
The great irony is, if Greazzo had admitted to the lapse, there is little chance that the Board of Mayor and Aldermen would have stripped the MDPA of oversight of Peanut Park, my protests and those of other MDPA critics not withstanding.
An employee of the insurance agency has now revealed that the MDPA’s insurance policy on Peanut Park was cancelled on September 20, 2013. The MDPA did not acquire another policy until October 26th, by which time controversy over Peanut Park and the MDPA’s management style was swirling, and the election was close at hand.
Speaking to the Union Leader, Greazzo still maintains that the insurance coverage did not lapse. It will be interesting to see whether he sticks to that story under oath when he, himself, is deposed in the libel suit. And whether this career politician who has run in no less than nine elections since first campaigning as a pro-pot smoking libertarian in 2002 will once again throw his hat in the ring for 2014, with this scandal dogging him.
CORRECTION NOTE: The original article published on April 29, 2014 implied that Tammy Simmons had committed adultery when in fact the charges were dropped. After the “Politicians and Peanut Park” section, two new sections, “Contentious Divorce” and “Adultery Charges” have been added to remove the error and provide a more accurate picture of the divorce proceedings. The author regrets any consternation caused Ms. Simmons by the error.