EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 17, 2013

Zanni: Kannan's conflicts key issue

METHUEN — Family conflicts could prevent mayoral challenger Jennifer Kannan from negotiating contracts with four departments that represent a collective 60 percent of the city’s total operating budget.

That’s according to a letter Mayor Stephen Zanni sent Kannan yesterday. In the letter, Zanni requested “clarification and additional information” about a statement Kannan made earlier this month regarding state conflict of interest law.

Kannan’s son, daughter, brother and sister-in-law work for the city. In the Oct. 9 edition of The Eagle-Tribune, Kannan said that, if elected mayor, she has been informed by the state Ethics Commission that a member of her staff will be allowed to sit in on contract negotiations in her place with any employee group that Kannan has a family conflict with.

Kannan has served as a city councilor-at-large for six years. Her brother, Richard Aziz Jr., is a lieutenant with the Methuen Fire Department. Her son, Billy Kannan Jr., joined the police department as a full-time patrolman in 2012 after serving for several years as a reserve officer. Kannan’s daughter, Brittney Kannan, is a teacher’s aide at Marsh Grammar School. Kannan’s sister-in-law, Maria Becotte, works as a teacher at the Marsh.

In his letter, Zanni wrote that the police, fire and school departments “represent approximately 60 percent of the total budget or more than $86 million of our $145 million budget.”

Zanni wrote that the city depends on the mayor “to ensure contract negotiations are approached with respect for both employees and taxpayers alike.”

“That you are proposing an unprecedented move to give this responsibility to an unelected individual raises serious questions about your ability to perform the duties of the office of the mayor,” wrote Zanni. “Given your abdication of responsibility in negotiating these contracts, the residents of our city deserve to know who they can expect to perform this critically important duty affecting $86 million dollars of their taxpayer money.”

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