01-08-2014 News

Manchester’s Inaugural Ceremonies took place yesterday as dozens of officials from ward selectmen to the mayor were sworn in for a new term of office.  In his inaugural address, Mayor Ted Gatsas, advancing the theme “Look Forward,” seemed to look for common ground on issues saying everybody wanted a future with safer streets, better schools, more student opportunity, quality services and economic development.  He asserted that difficult times in the past hadn’t prevented the city from investing in itself and said it must continue to do so as it approaches a critical, if not a tipping point, in its history.  Underlying those thoughts were praise he heaped upon former Mayor Raymond J. Wieczorek, who administered the Oath of Office to Gatsas.  He credited Wieczorek’s initiatives during tough times with the revitalization of the Amoskeag Millyard and the downtown, as well as the rebirth of economic activity on Elm Street south of Granite.  Gatsas announced that Manchester Police Chief David J. Mara would be presenting a plan to stop rising crime once and for all at the board’s next meeting.  He also called for the expansion of the Reading Plus program saying it has helped students jump two grade levels in just eighteen weeks.  Gatsas also made a curious statement, which we plan to investigate during our interview this morning, about continuing to provide quality services and paying for them with new revenue streams outside of the traditional tax base.  Hmmm.

Following the Inauguration, Gatsas convened the organizational meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.  Alderman at-Large Dan O’Neil was reelected Chairman of the Board without opposition.  Ward 5 Alderman Ed Osborne abstained on the vote.  He appointed Georgie Regan his Assistant to the Arts and shook up the committee structure a bit.  Ward 4 Alderman Jim Roy was appointed Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Finance and retained the chairmanship of the Community Improvement Program Committee.  Ward 1 Alderman Joyce Craig was appointed Chair of the Committee on Administration and Information Systems.  Ward 2 Alderman Ron Ludwig replaced her as Chair of the Committee on Bills on Second Reading.  Osborne was removed as chair of the Committee on Lands and Buildings and replaced with Ward 3 Alderman Patrick Long.

News from our backyard continues after this.

Where the meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen was brought to a conclusion within five minutes, the meeting of the Board of School Committee was an entirely different story.  It seems that board has had enough with the antics of Ward 9 Committeeman Arthur Beaudry who only managed to muster support from Ward 2’s Debra Langton and occasionally Ward 10’s John Avard on a slew of amendments he proposed to rules changes brought forward by at-Large Committeeman David Wihby.  Wihby’s changes basically remade the parliamentary and committee processes in the image of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen with a couple of important differences.  Difference 1:  It looks as if the board will continue to operate with one regular and one special meeting a month.  Special meetings don’t allow for public participation or new business.  Difference 2:  It looks like the school board will now be able to change its governing rules with a simple majority of those present and voting, rather than the two thirds they previously required, which is also required by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.  Gatsas also shook up the committees a bit, replacing Ward 1’s Sarah Ambrogi as Chair of Curriculum and Instruction with Ward 8’s Erika Connors, Beaurdy with Ward 3’s Christopher Stewart as Chair of Information Technology, and Wihby, who was elected Vice-Chairman of the board with Ambrogi as Chair of Athletics and Extracurricular Activities.  The meeting lasted well over two hours.

Things were again ugly in Hooksett last night.  A bid by John “Angry Elf” Lyscars to bar the public from making personal attacks during public comment sessions went down to defeat on a three to two vote, causing members of the public to chastise the board for failing to constrain speakers to issues that needed to be addressed rather than engage in personal attacks.  The board finally tackled the question of what to do if the minimum number of kids required by the Pinkerton contract don’t sign up to go to the Derry school.  To be honest, I couldn’t tell what passed, though it looks like it was some kind of lottery system.  After it was settled, the board, on another three to two vote, displaced other high school agenda items with a complaint from administrators against Lyscars.  Seems they didn’t like an email he sent letting personnel in the building’s know they could call his education hotline with any concerns they may have about what’s happening in the schools.  The board has a policy prohibiting direct communication between its members and the district’s employees and the administrators say he violated it.  Vice-Chairman David “The Pariah” Pearl pointed out that the letter going directly to their board, without going through the superintendent first was a violation of policies as well.  Didn’t matter, though.  Chair Trisha “The Gavel” Korkosz waived the rules so it could be heard.  Superintendent Charles “Chucky The Super” Littlefield chimed in, of course.  He said he did his job because he had bills to pay and a ninety five year old mother to care for and he’s afraid at work because of emails like the one the administrators complained about.  He said that teachers and administrators don’t feel safe doing their jobs, either and it has to stop.  I don’t know how it all ended because The Gavel recessed the meeting after bursting into tears while asking the administrators if they’d felt their complaint’s had been heard.  After the recess, frankly, I went to bed.

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