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January 18, 2014

Business attacks N.H. state government on billboard

Plaistow town manager wants border business' message changed

PLAISTOW — On his way to work each day, Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald passes a large electronic sign in front of Mortgage Specialists at the Plaistow/Haverhill border. This week, he was unhappy with what he saw.

The sign flashes messages labeling New Hampshire’s governor, attorney general and state Banking Department as corrupt. The sign then flashes the New Hampshire state flag and labels the state as “corrupt.”

“It’s very offensive,” Fitzgerald said. “I contacted the building inspector about the regulations of the signs to see if it was permitted.”

But Fitzgerald and the town of Plaistow have no jurisdiction over the sign. Although the business has a Plaistow address, the sign stands across the border in Haverhill.

Fitzgerald said he spoke to a manager at Mortgage Specialists on Thursday about the sign. He plans to talk to owner Michael Gill in the near future.

“I hope we can get back to that sign to what it was intended and permitted for,” Fitzgerald said. “We all have a lot of responsibilities and, frankly, it doesn’t seem like the appropriate use for sign that purpose.”

Gill did not return calls for comment yesterday.

Fitzgerald sent town building inspector Michael Dorman to look at the sign yesterday. Fitzgerald said Dorman would be calling Haverhill to express Plaistow’s concerns about the sign.

“It’s certainly a distraction and I think there are better ways to address someone’s concerns,” Fitzgerald said.

Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini did not return calls for comment yesterday.

Mortgage Specialists has had run-ins with the New Hampshire Banking Department in the past. In August 2008, the New Hampshire Banking Department levied $450,000 in fines against the company for forging signatures and destroying records.

In February 2010, former Mortgage Specialists vice president Jean Duerr sued the company, claiming she was fired for refusing to hide documents from state and federal investigators.

Fitzgerald said he did not know what prompted the sign.

“They informed me that their concern wasn’t with the town,” Fitzgerald said. “They told me they felt strongly about certain judicial differences.”

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