Manchester’s candidates for Welfare Commissioner presented themselves, their views and approaches to serving the city’s poor during a ninety minute forum held at the Brookside Congregational Church.  The event, cosponsored by the Granite State Organizing Project and the Greater Manchester Clergy Association, was witnessed by about eighty people.  Hey, how many turned out for the Manchester Chamber’s mayoral debate?  Sorry, I digress.  Anyway the candidates, who didn’t engage each other directly, but presented opening and closing statements, replied to prearranged as well as audience questions, sounded familiar themes.  Incumbent Welfare Commissioner Paul Martineau, who spoke first, emphasized the work his office has done to improve the screening process, reduce fraud and refer people to the city’s more than eighty social service agencies where more appropriate assistance could be rendered.  He emphasized that, by law, the city’s Welfare Department was for emergency purposes only, not ongoing support.  Challenger Diane Guimond, who served as Deputy Commissioner under Martineau for two years, a position he eliminated after she left, was critical of the twelve page application assistance seekers are required to complete and questioned why the department needed to have security guards when it had bullet proof glass and panic buttons.  Where Martineau was reserved and matter of fact in his presentation, Guimond was a bit of a firebrand, playing to a crowd whose members views were largely in line with her own of going above and beyond to help the individual than Martineau’s emphasis on the process.  In a key issue, Martineau asked the crowd to ask for the department’s Notice of Decision whenever anyone tells them the department didn’t help them.  If that’s true, said Martineau, the reasons will be spelled out in the notice, which allows for a Fair Hearing challenge by the applicant.  Guimond said the process needed to operate more by common sense than applications and procedures.

The Manchester Education Association political action committee released a list of its endorsements yesterday at the request of Girard at Large.  Seems they like most incumbents, although there were some exceptions.  The big one, of course, is their endorsement of Alderman Patrick Arnold for mayor.  Ward 3 school board candidate Theo Groh, the executive director of the Manchester City Democratic Committee, got their nod over incumbent Christopher Stewart, a member of the contract negotiations committee.  For alderman, Bill Barry, the guy who hangs up instead of answering questions about thousands of dollars of improperly reported special interest and union PAC money, gets the nod over incumbent Phil Greazzo in Ward 10.  Other than that, they declined to endorse candidates in eight races.  We’ve posted their list of endorsements with this news cast at Girard at Large dot com.

News from our own backyard continues right after this.

Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram, the content experts who refused to validate the Common Core State Standards despite being hired and paid by Common Core to do so, have offered their assistance to the Manchester School District as it embarks on the development of its own academic standards.  In the letter addressed to Mayor Ted Gatsas in his capacity as  Chairman of the School Board, the two offered their assistance and expertise at no cost to the district.  Stotsky is largely credited with developing the standards that led Massachusetts students to the top of national test scores in a mere four years, and Milgram was intimately involved in the development of California’s mathematics standards, which were viewed as among the best in the country.  The two submitted frameworks in English Language Arts and Mathematics with the letter as a starting point and a contrast with the Common Core and said they would be willing to advise the board on an efficient and transparent process to develop the new standards, review and comment on the standards as their promulgated, and suggest textbooks and other curriculum materials to help implement the standards once adopted.  In an interview with Girard at Large, Gatsas said he was sure Dr. Livingston will be more than happy to take anyone’s input once she gets things up and running.  Girard at Large obtained the letter as Stotsky and Milgram, both of whom have been interviewed on this show, asked us to forward the matter to the Mayor, Board of School Committee and Superintendent Debra Livingston on their behalf.  We sent it to the mayor figuring he’d handle it from there.  We have, of course, posted the letter and its attachments with this news cast at Girard at Large dot com.

That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is straight ahead.