02-10-2014 News

The people of Manchester are rallying around the family of Maggie Philbrook, the almost fourteen year old girl who was laid to rest on Saturday after losing a year long battle with and aggressive and rare cancer.  Mayor Ted Gatsas called for a moment of silence in her memory at last week’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, marquees at various venues like Pappy’s Pizza and the Brady Sullivan Tower near the Amoskeag Bridge bid her farewell and friends of the family have posted a link on various social media and Web sites, including Girard at Large dot com,  to an online fundraiser to help the family offset the double whammy of out of pocket medical costs and income lost by her self employed dad.  The Manchester School District even got into the act be approving a request to declare St. Valentine’s Day Maggie Philbrook Day and allowing teachers to wear jeans if they contribute at least five dollars to a fund for the family.  The documentation in the Board of School Committee’s agenda does not indicate who made the request , but the phone poll conducted last week to enable the fundraiser received thirteen votes with at-Large Committeeman Kathy Staub and Ward 6 Committeeman Robyn Dunphy unable to be reached.  We’ve posted the link to the Go Fund Me fundraising page that’s been started for Maggie, which , by the way, contains the text of the eulogy given by her dad during her Funeral Mass at St. Joe’s Cathedral on Saturday Morning, with this newscast at Girard at Large dot com.  Having been there, I can tell you, it was a moment frozen in time.  I trust the Girard at Large audience will rise to the occasion.

Things got dicey for the Hooksett School Board during the deliberative session held on its budget Friday night as a resident came to the mic and questioned the staggering increase in the high school tuition amount the town will pay.  Hooksett resident Pete Farwell wanted to know what the town was getting for its two million dollar tuition increase to Manchester and Pinkerton and why the board was so over the barrel that it will cost the town considerably more per student to get them educated.  Farwell didn’t see they were getting much back for it.  After a long and awkward silence from the board as Board Chair Trisha “The Gavel” Korkosz and Clerk Cheryl “BT” Akstin exchanged nervous glances, Farwell questioned why there was a delay saying the tuition hike’s been around for quite a while, since the chair and the superintendent negotiated it, though the board’s never issued a statement as to why it had to happen.  He said I know it’s a tough question, but someone’s got to answer it.  Amen brotha!   Akstin gave it her best, but ultimately blamed Manchester for Hooksett filing of breach of contract which led to the settlement that got them out of the contract, but cost them more money.  She said if the board could have done something else, it would have and that she really couldn’t talk because of legal matters.  Oh my head…The back and forth between Farwell and Akstin during her explanation was the perfect example of engaged citizens holding their elected officials to account.  After the exchange, Board Vice Chair David Pearl left the table and went to the public’s mic in the room and called the board out for the settlement.  He said their attorney warned them their actions would likely provoke Manchester to sue and that he would not have voted to allow seventy six children to go to high school outside of Manchester if he had any reason to believe the rest of the board, knowing the risk but supposedly believing the town was right, would have caved in on a settlement.  Folks, it was an extraordinary eight minutes of drama, which I recommend you watch.  We have of course linked to the story we released over the weekend with the details.

News from our own backyard continues after this.

Some news notes from the State House.  The Senate Rules Committee permitted a bill sponsored by Senate Finance Chair Jeanne Forrester, Republican of Meredith, to introduce a bill to transfer the un-designated surplus from last year’s budget to the state’s Rainy Day Fund.  The fund currently only has nine million dollars and State Treasurer Catherine Provencher has feverishly lobbied legislators to fix the state’s sagging emergency reserve.  To put that number in context, the city of Manchester, whose budget is ninety two percent smaller that the state’s has a nine million dollar Rainy Day Fund.  Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, Republican of Wolfeboro, won Rules Committee approval to introduce a bill that would prevent money in the state’s highway trust fund from being spent on agencies outside of the Department of Transportation.  Those who’ve opposed raising gas taxes have often pointed to the state’s misuse of those funds for other than their intended road and bridge expenditures.  The legislature will take one hundred sixty million dollars out of the Highway Trust Fund for other state agencies in the current budget.  I’m thinking that might help pay for all those projects Governor Margaret Wood Hassan and the Democrats in the House say we need to hike gas taxes for.  Anyway, Senator Andy Sanborn, Republican of Bedford gained approval of the committee to introduce legislation reducing the state’s Business Profits and Business Enterprise taxes.  Sanborn said now is the time to discuss what their proper level should be, before the next budget gets put together, noting that New Hampshire has some of the highest business taxes in the nation and that providing relief from them to spur economic growth is imperative.

That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ starts just moments from now.