The Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen awarded its coveted emergency ambulance service contract to AMR, the same company whose contract they, and Fire Chief James Burkush, refused to renew a few short months ago over billing issues that had Mayor Ted Gatsas threatening to terminate them and Board Chairman Dan O’Neil threatening to ask New Hampshire’s Attorney General to criminally investigate. The process of awarding the new contract became hotly contested and very controversial after Girard at Large received and published a letter from Harold Shaitberger, General President of the International Association of Firefighters accusing respondent American Ambulance of falsely implying the union’s support in an attempt to manipulate the evaluation committee. The resulting investigation showed that it wasn’t American Ambulance that had done anything to manipulate the process, but AMR that had done by falsely claiming that they hadn’t been subject to any administrative or judicial action in the past two to five years and that they’d not walked away from or been dismissed or terminated from any contracts. The facts didn’t seem to matter last night as the aldermen appeared intent of supporting Chief Burkush as the guy who has to live with the decision. Even the testimony of the city’s Medical Director, Dr. Tom D’Aprix, who said that the management team responsible for the significant improvement in the quality of care since Rockingham Ambulance lost the contract three years ago was the team now working for American Ambulance had no effect. The aldermen did extract concessions from AMR that shortened the contract to two and a half years and extended the amount of time before going to collection to one hundred eighty days, but in the end the question asked of Chief Burkush by Ward 10 Alderman Phil Greazzo seemed to reflect the attitude of many board members and that was this: Are you willing to stake your reputation and maybe even your career on this recommendation if things with AMR go bad again? The chief said he was and that was enough. Only Ward 3 Alderman Patrick Long, Ward 4 Alderman Jim Roy, who clearly presented the facts last night, and Ward 5 Alderman Ed Osborne who told Girard at Large you only get a chance to rob the bank once, opposed giving AMR the contract. Ward 8’s Tom Katsiantonis was absent. We’ll have more on this during the show.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
In other business last night, the aldermen gave final approval to the contract with the school district’s paraprofessionals’ union and, on a unanimous voice vote, without discussion or even a presentation from the school board’s Negotiation’s committee, gave preliminary approval to the principals’ contract. At the request of Greazzo and after testimony from Police Chief David Mara, they voted to send a letter to the Attorney General asking for clarification on the laws governing when, when and how the cops can conduct surveillance. They also voted to enter into a purchase and sale agreement with an undisclosed party to sell the police station for one point three million dollars. They reversed course on locating the city’s economic development staff in the mayor’s office and will now proceed with making it a separate department, again. They discussed an offer received by the developer who basically wants to drop a college dorm housing twelve hundred kids on the Pearl Street Parking Lot…not sure where that’s headed, actually, and they adopted an aggressive animal ordinance…finally. They also heard from residents on Laurel Street about disturbing conditions in their neighborhood they say is caused by the outreach center in the neighborhood. Neighbors complained about public urination and defecation, drug dealing and usage, vandalism and break-ins, and RVs and campers parked on their streets for prolonged periods of time, with people coming and going on a regular basis. Neighbors say they campers are dumping their waste on the streets and in their yards and they need help. Oh my head!
On a note, Manchester’s fireworks are tonight, weather permitting. We’ve posted details with this news read at Girard at Large dot com. And, if you’re expecting your Union Leader newspaper tomorrow, don’t. They won’t be publishing on yet another holiday.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large is coming at’cha right after this.