The city of Manchester lost two of its own, yesterday. First came word that State Representative Steve Vaillancourt, also a former Alderman from Ward Eight, was found dead in his home. Then, shortly thereafter, came word that former Ward Nine Alderman Bob Pariseau had also gone to his eternal rest.
Sources tell Girard at Large that Vaillancourt, who had a heart attack last year, had twice passed out at the State House last week and hadn’t been feeling well. When he didn’t show up for a committee meeting yesterday, something that never happened, and couldn’t be reached by telephone, the Manchester Police Department was asked to check in on him. When they did, they found he’d died in his home.
A Vermont native, Vaillancourt was often a lightning rod for controversy given his penchant for strong political and personal opinions which he was never shy to voice and often very colorful in presenting. A fiscal conservative and social libertarian, he was sometimes hard to predict, but always strident in his tone and willing to do political battle. He opposed the construction of the Manchester Civic Center, was an advocate for casino gambling, an expert on the state budget and part of the effort to impose the current tax cap in Manchester. He was serving a tenth, non-consecutive term.
Pariseau, whose father Henry died of a heart attack in his first year as mayor in nineteen seventy, served two terms as alderman before running for mayor in nineteen eighty three. He was defeated in the Republican primary by Bob Shaw, who went on to serve two terms as mayor. A congenial and affable man with a rapier wit and extraordinary sense of humor, he was a tough political competitor and half of one of Manchester’s great political rivalries, which included former Ward Nine Alderman Peter Burkush.
A lifelong Republican, Pariseau made his political comeback in nineteen ninety one as Mayor Raymond J. Wieczorek ran for reelection seeking to turn the floundering city around. He went on to serve four additional consecutive terms. Pariseau could be counted on to deliver direct, even blunt, but brief commentary at board meetings and wasn’t shy about speaking his mind. However, once it was over, it was over and he’d be the first one of the bunch to say “let’s go grab a beer.” With Bob, it was rarely, if ever, personal. According to our information, Pariseau died at his winter get away in Florida after a bout with cancer.
Governor Christopher Sununu issued a statement on Vaillancourt’s passing saying he had quote:
deep respect for his commitment to fight for what he believed in and doing what was right for the people of Manchester and for all of New Hampshire.
Of Vaillancourt’s passing, House Speaker Shawn Jasper expressed great sadness, saying quote:
We will remember Steve as an outstanding orator and a man who was certainly dedicated to his principles. Rep. Vaillancourt was a valuable member of the House Finance committee where he served as a strong advocate for the taxpayers of our State.
Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas issued statements on the passing of both men. He said it was an honor to work with Vaillancourt, calling him his friend. Quote:
Steve loved Manchester and he was always proud to call the Queen City his home. He will be remembered for his tenacity and his ability to convincingly articulate his position on the issues he was passionate about.
Of Pariseau, with whom he served for a term on the Board of Aldermen, Gatsas said the city mourned his passing. Quote:
During his tenure on the Board of Alderman, Bob Pariseau worked with south-end residents and the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport on soundproofing and neighborhood issues, as the airport, and the area, experienced unprecedented growth.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
The Manchester Board of School Committee met last night and, well, probably didn’t do itself any favors with the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, with which their funding future lies. A bid by Ward Twelve Committee Member Connie Van Houten to reconsider the board’s vote to cut city service payments by five percent failed by just one vote. Van Houten argued that there was information the board didn’t have before it made its vote and, noting the presence of city department heads whose services would be affected by the vote, said the board should reopen discussion and vote in consideration of all the facts.
Board Vice-Chair Arthur Beaudry strongly opposed the reconsideration saying if the funding was added back to budget, it would come at the expense of losing more staff positions. Beaudry had some rather uncharitable things to say about the aldermen, appearing to bite the proverbial hands that that hold the purse strings.
At-Large Member Rich Girard said he learned of the service impact via the newspaper and that the board should discuss the consequences of the cuts with the city departments present. A former alderman, Girard pointed to the aldermen’s reaction to the cut as evidence that antagonizing the body that controlled the purse strings wasn’t a great idea, predicting it would likely not end well for the schools.
The seven who voted in favor of reconsideration were Van Houten, Girard, Kate Desrochers of Ward 11, Leslie Want of Ward 4, Dan Bergeron of Ward Six, at Large Member Nancy Tessier and Mayor Ted Gatsas. Opposed were Beaudry, Ward Ten’s John Avard, Ward One’s Sarah Ambrogi, Ward Two’s Debra Langton, Ward Three’s Mary Georges, Ward Five’s Lisa Freeman, Ward Seven’s Ross Terrio and Ward Eight’s Erika Connors.
Last week, the Candia Police Department reported it received several calls about gun shots being fired from a motor vehicle on South Road. The vehicle was described as being a small dark colored hatchback, possibly a Volkswagen, with loud exhaust. It was last seen heading towards Auburn on Old Candia Road. Well, the Candia P D issued a release yesterday saying that, on Sunday, it learned that the vehicle was owned by a town resident and that NO shots were fired, except by the car, which backfired. They announced that the investigation had been closed. Oh My HEAD!
That’s NEWS from our own backyard! Girard at Large hour ___ is next!