Aldermen tuning up vehicle policy

NASHUA – Aldermen are lining up to file legislation dealing with the use of city vehicles, as the repercussions continue from Mayor Bernie Streeter being charged with leaving the scene of an accident while he was behind the wheel of a city-leased car.

Three more ordinances dealing with city vehicles are to be introduced Tuesday for the Board of Aldermen’s consideration, and likely will be sent to one of the board’s committees for discussion. One would require city seals to be “clearly and proudly displayed” on city vehicles, and the others would restrict the use of city cars outside of business hours.

Streeter is accused of leaving the scene of a minor collision in Manchester in October involving the 2002 Ford Crown Victoria the city leased for his office and a Queen City Taxi cab.

After investigating, police charged Streeter, 69, with conduct after an accident, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. He is scheduled to appear in Manchester District Court for a pretrial conference Dec. 30, but no trial date has been set.

Manchester police charge Streeter had words with the cabbie, but left without identifying himself or providing insurance information. Police towed the city car, which Streeter had parked in the private parking lot of an apartment building near the Verizon Wireless Arena.

The collision took place on a Saturday morning in October, and Streeter was in Manchester to attend the circus, according to the police report.

Alderman-at-Large Paula Johnson sponsored the first ordinance related to the mayor’s car in November.

Her first proposal would have restricted use of the mayor’s car for only “business-related purposes, which shall not include commuting to and from home.” The measure was referred to the aldermanic Personnel/Administrative Affairs Committee, which has not held a hearing on it yet.

Johnson is now proposing to broaden the prohibition to include all city officials or employees. Her latest proposal would ban taking home a city vehicle after a workday “for any reason,” according to the proposed ordinance.

Ward 3 Alderman Kevin Gage is offering a competing ordinance that is more flexible.

Gage would allow some high-ranking city officials, including the mayor, the police and fire chiefs and their deputies, the public works director, and the on-call public works foreman, to take home a city vehicle.

Alderman-at-Large David Deane has sponsored an ordinance to make city vehicles more easily identifiable.

Deane said his legislation is not a response to Streeter’s fender-bender, but rather is meant to allow taxpayers to identify the vehicles they helped purchase. The proposed ordinance would require all vehicles owned or leased by the city to be affixed with a copy of the city seal.

The seal would be at least 10 inches in diameter “so that it may be clearly and proudly displayed,” according to the ordinance. The proposal states that dark-colored cars would carry white seals and light-colored cars would carry dark seals.

“They are readily available. I believe we have them in stock in the Street Department,” Deane said.

The ordinance makes an exception for cars used by the Nashua Police Department.