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Jourdain intends to continue fight

Date: 8/22/2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

HOLYOKE — Mayor Alex Morse said last week the issue of the needle exchange is over, but City Council President Kevin Jourdain disagreed.

Morse, speaking to Reminder Publications at Sheriff Michael Ashe's annual clambake, said, "As far as I know it is [settled.]"

Jourdain, however, still plans to pursue whether or not the mayor and the Board of Health had the legal right to approve of the needle exchange without a vote from the City Council.

The City Council voted 13 to 2 to approve of Jourdain's efforts to seek an injunction against the needle exchange, he said. Jourdain added attorneys have approached him about representing the City Council.

Jourdain maintained state statue is explicit about how a needle exchange should be approved and noted once more the legal precedents set by previous efforts to establish a needle exchange in the city.

He charged the mayor and his staff are "blindly ignorant of the law."

He said the country is "blessed" with having a judicial system to settle such matters and added that he "tried many times to appeal to the mayor with reason."

While Jourdain said that he is personally against a needle exchange and would vote against it if it came before the council, he also said that if it passed the council, he would support that decision.

He is most concerned with what he sees as a much larger issue: the mayor usurping the authority of the council.

"Today it's the needle exchange," Jourdain said, "tomorrow, fill in the blank."

Jourdain disagreed with the opinion of the city's Legal Department that Holyoke could set its own rules on how issues such as the needle exchange are approved.

He said he would like to see the proponents come to the council and make a presentation.

Right now, though, he is preparing for a legal challenge.

"We're going to put it in front of a justice of the Superior Court and see who is right," Jourdain said.