By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
The Executive Council refused to confirm David Mara, Manchester’s former police chief, to become an assistant attorney general to take over duties at the Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office at its Wednesday meeting in Peterborough.
The council’s tie vote 2 to 2 means Mara will not be confirmed to the $96,425 position. But the other attorney who will work in the Hillsborough County office training prosecutors, David Rotman, was confirmed on a unanimous vote.
Democrats Andru Volinsky and Debora Pignatelli voted against Mara and Michael Cryans abstained, according to Russell Prescott, who along with Ted Gatsas, Manchester’s former mayor, voted yes on Mara. Prescott and Gatsas are both Republicans.
At its regular meeting, the council also approved the nomination of Dianne Martin as chairman of the Public Utilities Commission and approved the state’s consumer advocate Don Kreis to a second term.
The discussion over Mara became a matter of conflict, Prescott said.
“I thought Mara would be good because he was chief in Manchester and Portsmouth and would already have the respect of the police chiefs,” Prescott said.
Pignatelli and Volinsky were not immediately available to comment after the meeting.
The Union Leader quoted Pignatelli saying the Hillsborough County Attorney’s office has long been in disarray going back to Dennis Hogan. “It was an extremely dysfunctional office when (Conlon) took over,” Pignatelli said.
Earlier this month, Attorney General Gordon MacDonald said Mara would take over the criminal cases in the Hillsborough County Attorney’s office. County Attorney Michael Conlon refused MacDonald’s call to step down and has been critical of the takeover by the Attorney General’s Office. Conlon was elected as a Democrat.
The Attorney General’s Office first had problems with Conlon’s predecessor Dennis Hogan and Conlon says he has been working hard to correct the problems. Democrats have criticized the attorney general for taking no action until after Conlon beat Hogan, a Republican who was also inexperienced when first elected.
But Deputy Attorney General Jane Young insisted during a recent press conference that Conlon refuses to implement the changes she has suggested and is simply unaware of what is going on in several high-profile case. Young was clear during the news conference that she is tired of questions asking if the office is acting out of politics.
“We are veteran prosecutors. All of us came from county attorneys offices, We have tried misdemeanor to homicide cases. We are not politicians and we do not do things for political reasons…
“To say that is an insult to us and to our office that we are asked that question. We need it to stop,” Young said.
Young didn’t respond to questions emailed to her Wednesday.