By Shawn Regan
---- — HAVERHILL — Police will resume their fight to close a local taxi cab company tonight.
Two weeks ago, City Council voted to postpone for two weeks its decision on whether to renew American Transportation Taxi Service’s license to operate two cabs in Haverhill. The decision effectively closed the business until a final decision is made at tonight’s meeting at 7 in City Hall.
Police have recommended the council deny the renewal, but the reasons for that recommendation have not been made public.
Councilors met in a rare closed-door meeting Sept. 24 with taxi company owner Dean Manemanus, his lawyer Paul Magliocchetti and police. Two female taxi employees also attended parts of the secret meeting.
After the private meeting, councilors reconvened in public and agreed to give Manemanus two weeks to try to resolve his dispute with police.
But yesterday, Magliocchetti said police have refused to negotiate or even speak to him about the matter since the meeting.
“I reached out to police like the council requested, but they didn’t respond,” Magliocchetti said.
Police Chief Alan DeNaro said he never agreed to negotiate to keep Manemanus in business.
DeNaro said he received a proposal from Magliocchetti late last week, but that he is not comfortable with the terms. He said he would attend tonight’s meeting to explain his concerns to councilors.
“Our position is the same, that he is not operating his business in the best interest of the community,” DeNaro said of Manemanus.
The Sept. 24 private meeting, known as an executive session, was the first time the council met outside public view in at least a decade.
“The evidence established a pattern that was so egregious that I’m compelled to deny the license due to the police recommendation,” Councilor Michael Hart said of American Taxi after the council emerged from the closed-door session.
Hours before the Sept. 24 meeting, Manemanus contacted The Eagle-Tribune and said police were trying to shut him down because they have a vendetta against him. Manemanus told an Eagle-Tribune editor that he would provide the newspaper with a copy of a police memo that lays out the department’s case against him.
But at the meeting, he refused a reporter’s request for the document and declined to comment at all.
“No clear law has been violated, but there’s an established level of behavior,” Councilor John Michitson said after he heard the police case against Manemanus behind closed doors. “If we approve this license, we lose all credibility.”
The public discussion that followed became heated at times, with Councilor William Ryan accusing Magliocchetti of inappropriately lobbying a police officer who was in the room during the council’s deliberations. Magliocchetti told Ryan he was offended by the accusation, but then sat back down after he was he asked to do so by Council President Robert Scatamacchia. Magliocchetti is also a member of the School Committee.
The loss of American Taxi leaves Family Cab as the only taxi service in the city. That company operates about a dozen cabs, while American Taxi was licensed for two vehicles.