Chaos and confusion came forward from the Hooksett School Board last night as the board voted yet again to recommend the tuition contract with Pinkerton Academy to voters. We’re still gathering details, but the vote failed on a three to three tie, with board member James Sullivan abstaining. Sullivan objected to taking what amounted to a third vote on the contract, believing the board had already taken the necessary votes. He also noted his prior abstention on the vote saying he would remain consistent as a matter of principal. Sullivan was absent due to illness at the January sixth meeting where the matter was first taken up. He abstained on the subsequent vote at the special meeting on January twelfth citing his absence from the first meeting and deference to the board’s first vote. I’m not sure where this leaves the warrant article, but we’ll get to the bottom of it in time for tomorrow’s show. (Publisher’s note: This news read was altered from its original once clarifying information was obtained.)
By the way, that’s not the big news that came out of the Hooksett School Board last night. The big story is the resignation of Board Clerk Todd Lizotte. Lizotte announced his resignation last night to enable candidates to file during the upcoming filing period, which opens next week, and campaign to fill out the remainder of his unexpired term, which is just one year. To fill the vacancy, the board appointed him to the position he resigned. He will serve until his successor is elected. More to come. Stay tuned. Our inbox has lots to sort through.
The Goffstown Police Department has issued a warning to residents in the Pinard Street area following a report they received yesterday afternoon of two men in dark clothing walking down Henriette St from Edmond St. They were seen approaching vehicles and pulling on door handles to see if vehicles were locked. Goffstown and Manchester police checked the area and were unable to locate these subjects. The department also reported an increase of thefts from motor vehicles in the area of Tanager Rd, Goldfinch Rd and Eagle’s Nest Rd. As a result, they are urging residents to secure their vehicles and report suspicious activity immediately.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
The Manchester Police Department presented its crime stats and strategies at last night’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Leading the presentation was the police version of the Geek Squad, those would be there scary smart crime analysts, who detailed how the department was using data to drive its Hot Spot Policing Program, which channels police resources into the right neighborhoods at the right times to both deter and arrest criminals. Apparently, it’s been a big success and will be reinforced as fourteen new officers hit the streets on February first, with eleven more on their way in the near future and another eight or so off in the distance.
The data showed the department’s efforts had dropped burglaries seventeen percent below the five year weighted average. Murder was down by twelve percent and rape by eighteen. Robberies were up six percent. Chief David J. Mara said the department’s outreach efforts to prevent crime were having a substantial impact and that the newly announced Urban Violence Working Group was taking their efforts to a new level, especially with the city’s youth. There was significant discussion about reaching the city’s youths before the gangs did. Mara said the best way to prevent youth crime was a quote “jobs program,” unquote, which he said would have to be community based. He also expressed confidence that department efforts to engage the community in the fight against crime, coupled with the new officers on their way would prevent the city from becoming like unnamed cities to our south and make Manchester even safer than it already is. We’ve linked to our Live Blog Forum of the presentation from this news read at Girard at Large dot com.
Also last night, and I hardly know where to start, Ward One Alderman Joyce Craig, a potential candidate for mayor, announced her opposition to the expansion of the Manchester School of Technology during the meeting of the Joint School Buildings Committee. She said the funds would be better spent addressing the building concerns that affect more students at more schools. M S T Principal Karen White said that without the expansion, the school would be unable to accept any more students into its budding four year high school program. Superintendent Debra Livingston said the four year high school program at M S T was a critical alternative education option the district needed if it was to serve populations that don’t do well in traditional school settings. She noted the district’s progress in reducing drop out rates and worried those efforts would suffer if the school wasn’t expanded.
In the Committee on Administration, Craig cut short the discussion with officials from Uber on a proposed ordinance to govern their operation in the city. She said their answers to questions asked by City Clerk Matt Normand cleared the air on a number of issues, but that it would be better for them to meet with city staff to iron out what remained rather than hash it out with the committee. Both parties agreed to have something ready for the committee’s next meeting in two weeks.
The brawl over converting Manchester’s street lights to L E D fixtures went nuclear at last night’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The votes authorizing the bonds predictably failed. Siemens, a union contractor, submitted yet another final and best offer at three o’clock yesterday afternoon, which, of course, wasn’t available for the public at the meeting. We’ll see if they honor our request and send it along. Who knows, maybe an alderman listening to this show will forward it.
Anyway, there was a dramatic show down over the contract between Mayor Ted Gatsas and Board Chairman Dan O’Neil, Lord Emperor at-Large. You’ll have to read our Real Time blog to get the details. Suffice it to say, Gatsas handed O’Neil his lunch. Public Works Director Kevin Sheppard unequivocally stood by what he called HIS recommendation of Phillips Lighting North America and, under direct questioning by Alderman Bill Shea, said nobody, including the mayor, interfered in any way with the process, which he said was normal for this type of service. Alderman Joyce Craig’s motion to reconsider succeeded with Gatsas breaking the tie only after the board agreed to refer the matter to the Special Energy Committee, which is chaired by Shea, who made it clear that he would only entertain the recommendation of Public Works officials and not the competing claims of the contractors, especially those not chosen by the department.
That news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!