Tired of unflattering reader comments regarding his record, Mayor Michael Fressola felt compelled Monday to fight back against claims that his office has ethics problems.
Fressola noted posts on the Manchester Patch that showed how he paid $100, but did not admit guilt for improperly using the address and telephone number of Manchester City Hall in a political mailing piece.
The fine was levied after the mayor won re-election in 2010.
Fressola's office sent Manchester Patch a copy of a letter written by campaign aide Bill Osberg, and published in The Manchester Times last year, that called the incident a "minor issue."
Here is the letter:
It's time to set the record straight. A full-page paid ad published in your newspaper on March 21, paid for by one Henry Dudley, leads off with the headline, “Mayor Fressola Found Guilty.” The article goes on to say, Fressola was assessed a “heavy fine.” Please allow me to describe factually what actually occurred. I know because I was actively involved in Mayor Fressola’s re-election campaign.
The re-election committee decided that a letter to voters, asking for support in his re-election bid, would be a good idea. The mayor was asked, and wrote the letter and turned it over to the campaign committee. The committee duplicated a piece of township letterhead and took the letter to the printer/mailing service and letters were subsequently mailed out.
Mr. Dudley must have received a copy and at some point filed a complaint with the state Department of Community Affairs, the state agency responsible for overseeing municipal government operations. He apparently accused the mayor of spending township money on this letter.
After extensive investigation, the DCA agreed no township money was spent, but the use of the letterhead was a violation of a state statute.
Mayor Fressola was given the right to appeal or pay a very minor, not hefty fine, as Mr. Dudley stated, of $100. So as to not involve his re-election committee in any way, and taking one for the team, Mayor Fressola, in a letter to the state, paid the so-called “hefty” fine, without admitting any guilt. That completely ended the minor issue and the state closed the file.