So late last year, the office of Councilman Patrick Dowd put together what they thought was a pretty innocuous annual District 7 newsletter. (Scroll down if you'd like to see why others disagree.) They were printed up in the city's own shop in mid-January and sent to the city's mailroom.
From there, they were supposed to be picked up by a mailing service the city contracts with to slap postage and address labels on city mailers and to fold them. But instead, they sat and sat and sat, despite multiple assurances that the company would be picking them up, according to Mr. Dowd.
After a bit of digging, Mr. Dowd found out on Wednesday the newsletter had become the subject of a "legal investigation" by the city's Law Department, which was reviewing whether or not the mailer fell within the city's franking privilege -- basically, the privilege of council members and the mayor to mail constituents on the city's dime. Generally speaking, these mailers cannot be partisan or political. But you can put a picture of yourself, say, on the city's garbage pickup calendar.
Joanna Doven, spokeswoman for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, said there was a sentence that was inflammatory and defamatory of Mr. Ravenstahl. She said all mailers are reviewed by city treasurer Margaret Lanier. Mr. Dowd was unaware of this policy.
Either way, this led to a polysyllabic tongue-lashing from Mr. Dowd to city solicitor Dan Regan. In an email, he called Mr. Regan "puerile and unethical." He complained that no one had informed him of this review and demanded to know the parameters of it.