“I feel like I was used by Jajuga and the mayor,” Scatamacchia said. “You have a lobbyist for a company who’s aware of the licensing process, who writes a letter and then dupes me into signing it thinking it’s no big deal. I think it’s illegal and corrupt. And if it’s not illegal, it’s immoral. I want the attorney general to investigate this.”
In yesterday’s phone interview, Jajuga said he was unaware until recently that the community support or non-opposition letters carried so much weight in the state’s evaluation of applications for dispensary licenses.
The undated letter signed by Scatamacchia is on official City of Haverhill letterhead. It states the city is “neither in favor or opposed to the siting of a marijuana dispensary in Haverhill.” It mentions a moratorium was in effect pending a council decision on zoning for a dispensary.
Scatamacchia said the letter looked “innocuous” and he thought its purpose was only to show the state that the city had a moratorium on dispensaries but planned to pass zoning regulations within a few months allowing a dispensary in a specific area of the city.
Scatamacchia, who was council president at the time, said he assumed copies of the letter would be distributed to other councilors, as is the custom for all letters written or signed by the president on behalf of the council.
“But obviously that never happened,” Scatamacchia said.
Van Dam, the mayor’s aide who was at the late November meeting with Fiorentini and Jajuga, said it was an oversight that the other councilors weren’t given copies of the letter. But he also said it’s not the responsibility of the mayor’s office to make sure other councilors are given copies of letters by the president.