Holyoke Mayor to suspend use of city-issued vehicle

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Mayor Alex Morse says he’s suspending use of his city car while policies on take-home vehicles are reviewed in Holyoke. The Mayor addressed the controversy involving his cousin’s OUI charge while driving his city vehicle.

Morse spoke publicly Tuesday for the first time since his cousin was arrested for driving the mayor’s city car while allegedly operating under the influence. Morse stands by his word, his cousin didn’t have permission to take the keys although his cousin stated in a police report he did.

“I’ll take full responsibility for the incident Friday night, obviously I can’t control the actions of others but I can control how we respond to that, so I want to work with the city council to thoroughly review the city policies  to make sure that this never happens again,” Morse told 22News

According to a police report obtained by the 22News I-Team, the two had been hanging out at Bishop’s Lounge in Northampton, when Nicolas Duclos allegedly left with the mayor’s car. Duclos was later arrested and charged with operating under the influence.

Now, all eyes are on the mayor who claims it’s not against policy to use the car for personal reasons.

The city ordinances don’t permit personal usages,” said Mayor Morse. “It’s calculated as a fringe benefit as part of my income that I pay taxes on every year so in many respects it’s used as a personal and professional vehicle.”

However, he says his cousin shouldn’t have driven it, which is why he’s voluntarily suspending use of the car while the City Council reviews their travel and take-home car policy.

Councilor Anthony Soto told 22News he’s planning to file for next weeks meeting. “Personally, whatever the mayor or anyone does in their personal time I don’t really take too much concern to that. What I do take concern to is if there is any city property involved in any misuse whatsoever, I do take great concern with that.”

Morse says he only had one drink that night and wasn’t planning to drive drunk. “I’ve never driven a car while intoxicated.”

According to the police report, this wasn’t the first time Morse’s cousin drove his car. Morse told 22News that was true, he has people drive him sometimes; he also noted non-city employees are covered under the cars insurance policy with his permission and with him present.

Duclos was arrested and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Northampton District Court on Monday. Duclos is due back in court on Friday.

City Councilors have until Friday at Noon to file a motion for next weeks City Council meeting. The 22News I-Team will continue to follow the developments.

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