Recent personal and political attacks against Secretary of State Bill Gardner by senators Jeanne Shaheen, Health Care Queen and Margaret Wood Hassan aren’t going without notice or without response. The senators issued a joint statement on Facebook again criticizing Gardner for his involvement with the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity after Vice-Chair Kris Kobach, Kansas’ Secretary of State, penned an op. ed. declaring that, were it not for voter fraud, Senator Kelly Ayotte would likely have been reelected.
Kobach’s piece ran after New Hampshire House Speaker Shawn Jasper released voter statistics he received from the Office of the Secretary of State and the Department of Safety regarding not just the number of people who used out of state drivers licenses to register and vote, but also the number of returned and un-responded to mail pieces from same day registrants.
After again criticizing the commission and Kobach, which has been something of a sport for these two whose narrow election victories have been called into question, they called on Gardner to resign from the commission, saying his, quote:
“association with this partisan commission risks tarnishing his long legacy of fighting for the New Hampshire Primary and promoting voter participation, and it would be in keeping with his distinguished record to immediately relinquish any role with this commission.”
In comments published in the recent edition of the New Hampshire Sunday News, Gardner said they were being hypocritical in asking him to do that, arguing they don’t resign their positions on senate committees because they have a disagreement with their leadership. Said Gardner, quote:
“They should know better than to ask me to do that.”
He said he was on the bi-partisan commission to establish the facts and see where they lead.
The senators’ attacks rallied state Republican lawmakers to Gardner’s defense. Senator Regina Birdsell, of Hampstead, Chair of the Senate Election Law & Internal Affairs Committee, issued a statement praising Gardner’s forty year history of working with both parties on elections and other issues. Birdsell said she believed Gardner quote:
“has our state, the Constitution and our citizen’s best interests at heart, regardless of party affiliation, in every well-informed decision he makes,” .
Also issuing a statement was Senator Sharon Carson of Londonderry, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Quote:
“Attacking the integrity of Secretary Gardner is reprehensible. He has always maintained a non-partisan stand on election related issues and should be commended for his work for New Hampshire over many years.
While we’re on the topic of voting, the Supervisors of the Checklist in Derry have announced they will meet tomorrow afternoon from four to five at the Derry Municipal Center to register new voters, receive name, address and party affiliation changes, approve applications for voter registration and approve changes to the checklist. Voter registration applications or changes may also be completed at the town clerk’s office during normal business hours or at the polls on Election Day.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
It was a dark and stormy night!
Not really, just couldn’t figure out a way to start this story about last night’s meeting of the Manchester Board of School Committee. It was long, lasting until just about Midnight. And, it was, at times, stormy. Come to think of it, there was a dark item or two the board had to deal with, so I guess the opening sentence of this report was accurate!
Anyway, the board approved a contract with City Year to provide services to eight elementary schools. In submitting the contract for approval, City Year Executive Director Pawn Nitichan stated the number of staff members in the schools had been reduced from seventy to sixty one because the district had reduced its funding by three hundred twenty five thousand dollars. The district was able to maintain service levels last year by obtaining a two hundred thousand dollar “Title I Reallocation Grant” from the state Department of Education. The one time funds proved to be what they were as the city was unable to obtain another grant.
Superintendent Dr. Bolgen Vargas gave the board an update on a range of issues from class sizes, which he said were moving significantly in the right direction, the opening of school, which went very smoothly, and the budget which is being closely monitored.
During his presentation, there was a bit of a dust up between at-Large Committee Member Rich Girard and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Christine Martin and Special Services Director Dr. Jennifer Dolloff over changes to the city’s pre-school program. Girard said the issues were brought to his attention by parents and staff and that while complaints had been resolved, they seemed to exist because of unannounced changes made to the program.
Dolloff blamed changes on lack of space and staff, despite having three new classrooms, and said that the growing numbers of special ed students were forcing the district to reduce the number of Title I students in the program. That led to a challenge from Girard who recounted testimony given by Martin to the Special Committee on Redistricting who said the district was required to have a certain number of regular education students intermixed with special ed students. Dolloff said that wasn’t the case. Ultimately, Vargas intervened in the conversation saying the administration would come back with a definitive answer after Girard asked Martin if she just “didn’t know any better” at the time she provided that information.
The board approved Vargas’ request to hire a lawyer for the district to provide access to legal counsel on a day to day basis and reduce outside legal fees. The move was tabled at the last meeting, but after hearing about a couple of minor changes brought forward by Board Vice Chair Arthur Beaudry, of Ward Nine, the board supported it unanimously. It also gave direction to Vargas on what it wanted to see in a reorganization of the district’s management structure.
Things seem to be changing for the better in the Manchester School District.
That’s NEWS from our own backyard! Girard at Large hour ___ is next!