By: Tom Duggan – January 2007
Lawrence City Council President Patrick Blanchette has been on a mission for the last few months.
His mission: create a firestorm around Budget and Finance Director John Griffin so that he either quits or gets fired, create a firestorm around Caroline Ganley (who has left) and Planning Director Mike Sweeney, so that they will either quit or get fired, and most recently create a firestorm around Assistant City Attorney Jim Bowers until he either quits or gets fired. In defending himself before the council last week, Bowers called Blanchette “dangerous!”
Blanchette has also attacked John Griffin calling for him to be fired for spending $10,000 on office renovations while the City Council Offices were getting a $16,000 makeover.
Lawrence City Council President Patrick Blanchette publicly called for the firing of Assistant City Attorney Jim Bowers at a public meeting and also announced that he would be reporting Bowers to the Board of Bar Overseers so that Bowers would be disbarred.
Blanchette called for Bowers’ job because, he said, Bowers had “lied” to the city attorney regarding his involvement in negotiating a buyout deal for Finance Director John Griffin (whom Blanchette also drove out of Lawrence).
Below is the word-for-word response Assistant Attorney Bowers gave at the January 3rd meeting of the Lawrence City Council, where Blanchette had placed the item on the agenda to fire Bowers.
I would like to now make a personal response to the allegations made against me, as the allegations have been personal in nature, and are an attack on my integrity, and question my ethics as an attorney.
Please do not mistake my outline as an effort on behalf to “save my job.” I am a part-time employee for the city. I am an attorney with a private practice in Lawrence, having practiced in Lawrence for the last fourteen (14) years. I have been an assistant city attorney for just short of seven (7) years.
In the past, I have offered my resignation to the city, due to the significant workload placed upon me as a part-time attorney for the city. I was asked to stay on, and, after the hiring of a full-time assistant city attorney to assist with the city of Lawrence caseload, agreed to do so.
As I told Councilor Patrick Blanchette in my phone conversation with him on December 19th, “fire me if you want to, but please make sure you have your facts correct.”
Apparently, Councilor Blanchette did not take me up on that offer. Councilor Blanchette is apparently not one to let the facts get in the way of an agenda he is pursuing.
My purpose for providing this information to you is to correct the record, and at the same time, make an effort at restoring my reputation, which has been tarnished by Councilor Blanchette, as my reputation is far more important than my position as an assistant city attorney for the city of Lawrence.
For what is a game to Councilor Blanchette, is real life for others. He has no sense of accountability. Councilor Blanchette’s comments have been broadcast on television, and have been published by secondary media outlets within the city.
As for City Attorney Charlie Boddy, I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt in this matter, by stating that, with the many things going on today in city government that require the attention of the city attorney’s office, that he had an incorrect recollection of the events from the week leading up to December 19th, however difficult that may be to believe, given the importance of the subject matter.
However, I cannot overlook the fact that, once the correct set of facts was brought to his attention, he did nothing to formally correct his earlier statement.
In fact, it took me four requests to even get a copy of his memorandum from him.
As for City Council President Patrick Blanchette, he is a dangerous individual. He is reckless, and states things that are either in ignorance of facts, or in complete disregard for the facts, regardless of whose reputation he is damaging. His defamatory allegations, with full knowledge of the falsity of the statements, or in reckless disregard for their truthfulness, are far worse than any allegations he has made against the mayor of the city.
One should be allowed to be a participant in government without having to be the subject of personal attacks. When one sets out to work in municipal government, he or she does not sign on for the likes of Patrick Blanchette.
One should not have to work in fear that Patrick Blanchette will use his microphone to launch a personal attack upon an individual, regardless of worthiness of such an attack, or the truthfulness of his comments.
I lament the fact that I had to spend time over the New Year’s holiday, having to prepare a response to Councilor Blanchette’s reckless statements, taking away time from my wife and two small children, in order to defend myself.
I lament the fact that an individual such as Patrick Blanchette serves as the president of the council.
I lament the fact that so much time has been taken to address this issue, when there are far more important matters that require the council’s attention.
Councilor Blanchette drew me into this fray, despite having documentation that the information supplied to him by Attorney Charles Boddy, regarding my knowledge of a signed contract, was factually inaccurate.
Councilor Blanchette decided to broadcast his falsehoods, both verbally and in print, because it advanced his agenda for that evening, which was an attack on the mayor. Councilor Blanchette has no credibility with me.
Whatever impact his actions have on the remainder of this council, and the citizenry of Lawrence, is not known. However, in the least, I would hope that any words spoken by Councilor Blanchette in the future be met with extreme skepticism, given his actions in this manner, and the depths into which he will dwell.
Until this moment, I had never gauged the actual levels of Councilor Blanchette’s recklessness, having only viewed it from the sideline. I have now witnessed it first-hand, and have been damaged by it. In my close to seven years as a part-time assistant city attorney, I have made an effort to stay out of the political aspects of city government, as politics has no place in the city attorney’s office. Unfortunately, I apparently was unable to remain dissociated with the politics of the city completely.
I now speak openly regarding my impressions of this city council president. I am not a native to the city, but have worked in the city for the last 17 years, a personal choice on my behalf. I enjoy this city, and have been welcomed by the people who live and work here.
I do know some members of this council, while some of the members I do not. Let me state that, what plagues this city is the destructive efforts of the few which impede the progress advanced by the many.
I hope that the remaining council, in this New Year, can re-focus its efforts, away from the destructive agenda of one, and toward the constructive agenda of the many.
I will make available my comments and the documentation provided to the city council this evening to anyone who so requests.
I am willing to answer any questions that the council has on this matter.