Rep. Watrous: Concord mayor should sit out on business with city developer Duprey
State Rep. Rick Watrous has asked Concord Mayor Jim Bouley to excuse himself from city business involving developer Steve Duprey.
Bouley’s lobbying firm rents office space from Duprey. In an email sent to the city clerk’s office yesterday, Watrous said that business relationship is grounds for Bouley to “recuse himself, or be recused, from any council business with Steve Duprey.”
Bouley is a partner in the lobbying firm Dennehy & Bouley, which has rented an office from Duprey in the Hills Court complex on Hills Avenue since 2008.
Watrous’s email – which he asked the city clerk to forward to the entire city council – alleges that Bouley violated the Concord city charter in 2009 as Duprey prepared to develop the Sanel Block, which became Duprey’s Smile Building on South Main Street. Documents that Watrous obtained through a right-to-know request suggest that Bouley lobbied for a change in state law that helped Duprey’s project, he said.
Reached yesterday afternoon, Bouley declined to comment. He said he hadn’t received the letter from the city clerk’s office.
Watrous, a Concord resident, filed ethics complaints against Bouley and City Councilor Dan St. Hilaire last year. All of his complaints were dismissed by the city’s board of ethics. Watrous said yesterday that he didn’t file this complaint to the board of ethics because he believes violating the city charter is a more serious matter.
“But if you look at the city charter itself, these violations are misdemeanor violations which is beyond what the ethics board handles,” he said. “It appears to be a criminal matter.”
A violation of the city charter could be a misdemeanor-level offense, but “only where there’s no other remedy set forth in the charter or another city ordinance,” said City Solicitor Jim Kennedy.
The city charter does have another procedure for handling one of the violations Watrous alleges against Bouley. If a city councilor attempts to influence the official actions of the city manager or other officials, the accused member must respond within 10 days of a formal complaint, and the city council must schedule a special meeting to determine whether there is “clear and convincing evidence” of a violation.
Watrous’s letter does not formally call for action or an investigation. Instead, he requests that Bouley be excluded from city business with Duprey. In May, Duprey announced that he submitted a proposal to redevelop the state Employment Security headquarters on South Main Street. The city council is expected to announce its preferred developer this summer.
“As long as this financial relationship continues, the mayor should not be involved with Steve Duprey’s bidding on the (employment security) building or any other city business directly involving Duprey,” Watrous wrote.