The city of Manchester is on the precipice of taking more aggressive action against the owners of blighted property in the city. In an interview on Girard at Large yesterday, Mayor Ted Gatsas said the city has the authority under state law to order the repair or razing of buildings considered hazardous. If the property owner fails to comply, the city can repair or raze the building itself and place a lien not only on that property to recover its costs, but also on any other properties possessed by that owner if there is insufficient value to cover the city’s costs. Gatsas said there were roughly twenty buildings the Fire Department has marked as hazardous and abandoned to alert firefighters not to take any undue risks in the event of a fire. He cited a property at two sixty nine Hanover Street, across from Bronstein Park, as an example of what the city’s dealing with and why it needs to take action. The property has been vacant and blighted for years, attracting vagrants and activity that’s made life miserable in the neighborhood. Gatsas said the city’s been dealing with it for four years and indicated the city will use the state statute authorizing action aggressively to protect neighborhoods. We’ve linked to the interview and the law for your convenience.
We think we may know why the contract of Litchfield Superintendent of Schools Brian Cochrane was not renewed by the Litchfield School Board. Turns out that the wife of School Board Chairman Dennis Miller was laid off by the district after the funding for her position ran out. Girard at Large has received an email Miller sent quote un quote as a private citizen” to Cochrane back in May regarding the matter. He was indignant that available funds in the Athletics Budget weren’t transferred into her position’s line item in the budget so she could finish the rest of the year. In asking why it wasn’t done, Miller pointed to several other budget transfers to other salary line items that were similarly over expended and asked if there was method to determining how funds were transferred, charging it appeared to be random.
Our information is that Miller’s wife Dawn worked more hours than budgeted, causing the shortfall in the line item. The failure to transfer funds to keep his wife on the payroll had Miller charging Cochrane with demonstrating to his wife, who was passionate and committed to her work and is directly involved in student activities, that she is not important. He threatened to ask about the various budget matters he raised in the email during the next school board meeting’s community input agenda item (that would be the acting as a private citizen, not a school board member thing again) so that the questions he posed in the email would be answered on the record. Within days of Miller’s email, funds were transferred and Miller’s wife was restored to her position. We’ve published the email with this newscast at Girard at Large dot com.
News from our own back yard continues after this.
Donna Green, that pesky member on the Timberlane Regional School Board has launched a four part expose on what she and her pesky budget committee member husband Arthur say is the Timberlane Regional School District’s failure to comply with NH budget law in the fiscal year that ended on June 30. In installment number one, entitled Budget Fudge, the Greens cite R S A 3 2 : 8 which says that no school board shall pay or incur expenditure for any purpose for which no appropriation has been made. “Purpose,” they write, is defined in R S A 3 2 : 3 V as a line on the budget as presented to Town Meeting. This means that when a line item has a zero, no money can be spent on that line item description. They go on to point out that the administration spent nearly one hundred thousand dollars in three budget lines with no appropriation in the fiscal fourteen budget, and, of course, provided all the details and explanations made. In the post, the Greens write quote “Our goal is to prevent future non-compliance and to show taxpayers that our school board needs to exercise more oversight over the financial affairs of the district. These laws exist for a reason and that is to protect and honor the taxpayers’ wishes.” Wow, where do trouble makers like this come from? Anyway, we’ve linked to the blog so you can review their allegations in their entirety.
The spirit of charity is alive and well in the Diocese of Manchester. At a recent reception held at Trudel House in Manchester, The Most Reverend Peter A. Libasci, Bishop of Manchester, thanked the over four hundred guests who paid five hundred bucks a ticket for their generosity and support in helping Bishop’s Charitable Assistance Fund raise over two hundred thousand dollars this year. Since 1 9 8 5 the B C A F has raised over 5 point 5 million dollars enabling the Catholic Church to provide assistance to non-profit organizations addressing basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, heat, medicine and health issues. The Fund enables the Bishop, through a board of directors, to make grants without regard to religious affiliation to organizations in New Hampshire whose mission and operations are consistent with the mission of the Roman Catholic Church.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is straight ahead!