The Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen met last night and it took some unexpected turns. The board took forty five minutes to debate, and at times grandstand over, a motion supporting Fire Chief James Burkush’s desire to hire Jonathan Faucher, the Manchester kid who wants to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather as Manchester firemen. Interesting thing is they persisted in their desire to adopt the resolution, despite being asked by Burkush to receive and file the Committee on Human Resources and Insurance recommendation in support of that desire. Burkush asked for it to be received and filed saying that because the city’s medical examiner was finally provided with Faucher’s medical records and was able to consult with various doctors, he would clear him for duty.
That brought the wrath of Board Emperor Dan O’Neil down upon Deputy Fire Chief Dan Goonan who broke that news, who complained bitterly about all the time, effort and energy wasted by an arrogant doctor who had a convenient last minute change of heart on the matter . Not so, said Goonan, who said until he’d asked for all the medical information to be sent to the city’s doctor, it hadn’t been sent.
Not only did the board ignore Burkush’s request, it ignored the advice of City Solicitor Tom Clark who said the supporting motion made him uncomfortable because it implied the chief had to hire Faucher and that the board should simply stay away from personnel issues like this because the charter prohibits its involvement. Only Ward Three’s Patrick Long, Ward Four’s Jim Roy, Ward Five’s Ed Osborne and Ward Nine’s Barbara Shaw opposed the charter violating move. It was enough to sustain the veto of Mayor Ted Gatsas, who said the matter had noting to do with the Faucher family and everything to do with the charter and the terrible precedent it would create if the board got involved on any level. Ward Eight’s Tom Katsiantonis was absent.
During the discussion, it became clear that O’Neil was the power behind the throne on this issue, by the way. In response to a question, Alderman Roy said it got to the board because O’Neil sent a letter on the matter directly to the H R committee, which in and of itself raises a number of questions and potential charter violations as individual aldermen are not to interfere in personnel matters. Girard at Large asked Burkush after the meeting if he had anything to do with O’Neil’s letter being sent or if he supported it and all he would say was that O’Neil sent the letter. We’ll have something to say about this during the show. In the meantime, we publicly apologize to Chief Burkush for our prior coverage of this story which wrongly identified him as the initiator of this whole mess. It is now clear he was an unwitting participant.
Oh, almost forgot to mention that under new business, Board Emperor O’Neil made a motion to terminate the city’s hiring freeze, arguing that the departments heads should be allowed to manage their departments without the mayor having to approve their hires or promotions. Ward One Alderman Joyce Craig seconded the motion saying the charter gave them that authority. Gatsas argued that reviewing the hiring requests would better enable the board to spot places where the changes they all said they wanted to make while hiking the tax cap could be made. Only Ward 4 Alderman Jim Roy voted against the motion. So, it appears as if the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, in what was clearly an orchestrated move that most of them knew was coming, has decided to make changes. After breaking the cap, they’ve now terminated the hiring freeze, which, as Gatsas pointed out, means the departments can now hire at will. That’s just the kind of change we expected we’d get after blowing the tax cap, isn’t it.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Residents of Hooksett are being warned to be on the look out for an aggressive coyote. Police conducting a business check at One Ninety Three Londonderry Turnpike were confronted by the aggressive animal yesterday afternoon. After coming face to face, the officer and the animal separated, but the coyote turned back toward the officer growling and coming toward him at an increased speed. The unnamed officer shot into the woods to stop the coyote’s advance and it worked. The animal ran off into the woods behind the business. Hooksett P D is asking anyone who comes into contact with an aggressive coyote to call them at 6 2 4 1 5 6 0 or N H Fish & Game at 2 7 1 3 5 1 1. They promise their officers won’t let a potentially dangerous animal run off to be a threat to someone else again. Oh my head…
New Hampshire Lottery officials and the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office are alerting the public to an active lottery scam targeting New Hampshire citizens. The phone scam appears to be originating from the Jamaican 8 7 6 area code which is notorious for lottery scams. We’ve posted the details of the scam with this news read at Girard at Large dot com so you can check it out. In the meantime know this. The Lottery does not place calls to winners because winners are unknown until they come forward to claim their prizes after numbers are drawn and that neither The Lottery nor its regulated operators require you to pay to collect your winnings. You are warned not to return any telephone calls to numbers starting with the 8 7 6 or 8 7 7 area code.
Finally this morning, Crystal Lake is closed due to E. coli contamination again. Results from water sampled yesterday will be known today. Until it clears, the public beach will remain closed.
That’s news form our own backyard…