Resident Calls For Town Manager’s Resignation

During Public Comment at the Friday, Jan. 12, Town Council meeting, resident, Richard Bielinski Jr., addressed concerns he had with how some in the community have been treated by town officials.
One of those issues was in regards to how a 91A request made by former Town Councilor, Deb Paul, was handled. Paul was looking to receive a copy of a sexual complaint letter sent from Town Manager, Mike Malaguti, to the Town Council last year, on comments she had made while on the council.
The town refused to handover the letter, and instead Paul’s only recourse was to take the issue to court, leading to a judge siding with Paul, requiring the town to handover the letter and for the town to pay for her legal fees.
Superior Court Judge, Andrew Schulman, said it was a “frivolous sexual harassment complaint.”
The complaint against Paul, was over a comment Paul made during a Feb. 6 meeting when she said , “… that’s a conflict of interest with the Planner being in economic development. You have someone seducing businesses to come here and then looking at their plans. That’s not a conflict of interest?”
Paul made the statement in response to concerns she had over making the Town Planner also in charge of economic development for the town.
“The judge said that the town should’ve known better,” Bielinski explained, regarding the decision to withhold the letter.
Noting that the town had to pay all the legal fees in the case, including Paul’s.
Bielinski also said he had issues with Malaguti issuing no trespass orders last year to former Associate Planner, Laura Gandia, and her husband, Chris Gandia, a former Londonderry Police Captain, after Malaguti made the decision to reorganize the town’s planning department leading to Laura Gandia’s position being eliminated.
He noted that the ACLU became involved, forcing the town to end the no trespass order.
“What do the people in this town have to do to get correct answers from this town? When is Deb Paul and the Gandias going to get an apology for what should have never happened,” he said.
Bielinski also accused Town officials of trying to “scare” members of the community.
“You’re trying to scare people from speaking,” he said.
Bielinski also added that after an apology is issued “the town manager, when this is done, should resign,” also calling on Town Council Chair, John Farrell, and Vice Chair, Chad Franz, to resign as well, since they attended the hearing regarding Paul’s 91A case, and didn’t do anything to stop it.
Following public comment, Farrell said that under federal law when a harassment complaint is brought forward “the authority has no choice but to investigate that harassment complaint.”
He said that it was thoroughly investigated “and found to be completely unfounded,” noting that the investigation determined the same thing that the judge determined.
Farrell said that once the investigation was completed, they were told by their attorney that the town councilors should allow Paul to be shown the letter and read what happened.
“We did that,” Farrell said, noting that Paul had the chance to read over the letter and ask questions of the town’s human resources director, but was not allowed to take a copy of it.
“They could’ve wrote the letter down word for word,” Farrell said.
Farrell said that based on rules around harassment complaints, they felt that they couldn’t release the letter, so the Town Council decided to defend the rights “of people being able to bring forth a complaint without retaliation.”
“That’s why we didn’t turn the document over, that’s why we went to court, that’s why we chose to protect the process,” Farrell said.
Farrell further explained that Paul was seeking the letter to publish it in the newspaper (the letter in its entirety was not published in the Londonderry Times to date, however, a link to the letter was made available online).
“It appears the only reason that the complaint had to come out in public was…. so it could get printed in a local publication,” he said.
Paul following Farrell’s comments looked to refute claims made by Farrell, however, was not allowed to since public comment was over.
After the meeting, Paul explained that writing down what was written on the letter would be meaningless, “It would have come down to my word against theirs without the actual letter.”
Paul added, “As far as Farrell saying the only reason for my request was so I could put it in the paper, there would have been far less attention paid to this if they had just given me the letter.”

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below and subscribe to our newsletter