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Are the right questions being asked in the latest mayoral controversy in Chicopee?

Date: 10/16/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

I ask questions all the time. It’s part of my job. The City Council in Chicopee also asks questions quite often and it’s part of their job. The questions that have been posed by a number of councilors recently have concerned a series of statements made by Mayor Michael Bissonnette about the actions of several Chicopee police officers during the investigation of the murder of Amanda Plasse.

Bissonnette’s remarks have focused on the disciplinary procedures in the Police Department.

City Councilor John Vieau provided the press last week with a timeline of statements made by Bissonnette about when he was informed about the actions of the officers in question – there were photos taken on a cellphone of the crime scene – and how he responded.

It must be noted that former Police Chief John Ferraro Jr. had disciplined the officers involved without the mayor’s knowledge, which was his right.

The issues brought by the city councilors seems to be far less concerned with what Ferraro did and far more interested in Bissonnette’s statements.

Vieau’s motion before the council to contact the Attorney General’s Office for an investigation was withdrawn at its meeting on Oct. 15. Fellow councilors expressed numerous concerns about how their actions could affect the investigation and how their statements could hurt the family of the victim.

What I found interesting about the entire incident is some of the councilors had seemed less concerned about the actual incident of police officers doing something unethical and more interested in whether or not Bissonnette misrepresented what he knew and when.

To me the real issue centers on the actions of the officers and the question of whether or not they received adequate punishment. I’m not saying Vieau and his colleagues shouldn’t have asked the questions they posed – that is their right – but I’m wondering how their actions will help the on-going murder investigation.

Would an investigation by the AG into Bissonnette’s statements be about police procedure in Chicopee? The rules governing police behaviors? How and when a police chief informs a mayor about disciplinary actions? Would the investigation look at how and when those actions are released to the public? Should a mayor speak about those matters?

Ultimately, did any of the public statements made by Bissonnette actually affect the murder investigation?

Those are some of my questions.

Something to think about

If you didn’t see the story I recently wrote about the new effort by Link to Libraries, then I’d like to call additional attention to it. The all-volunteer organization does a great job of putting books into the hands of children around the region in an effort to support literacy efforts and is looking for companies or individuals to make a commitment.

The organization is recruiting sponsors for “Business Book Link,” who would donate $1,200 annually for three years to a specific school. The contribution would partially underwrite the cost of 300 to 500 books over that period, with the rest of the expense picked up by Link to Libraries.

The idea is to build a bond between a sponsor and the children in a school.

This is a great program and one I hope you will consider if you’re in the position of sponsoring it. For more information on how to participate in the Business Book Link, call 224-1031 or go to

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.