Things were interesting at last night’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Mayor Ted Gatsas‘ proposed charter amendment on the Tax Cap was approved by the board unanimously on a voice vote with little discussion, but that doesn’t mean the night was quiet. Fireworks broke out over Fire Chief James Burkush’s request to fill a vacant District Chief position. Opposed by Gatsas, the Fire Department had some interesting apologists and excuse makers for why things just couldn’t change, at least right now. Leading the fight to preserve the status quo were Alderman at Large Dan O’Neil, no surprise there, and his counterpart Joe Kelly Levasseur, who argued that the district chief was needed because the fire department had eleven buildings. Apparently, he was unaware that all of the district chiefs, and there are five of them, operated from the Central Fire Station. Anyway, Ward Twelve Alderman Keith Hirschmann, who along with Levasseur criticized the board during the budget process for being unwilling to cut and stay below the tax cap, argued Burkush’s case, too and the board approved filling the position over the mayor’s objections.
That happened after the board wrangled over a request from the Manchester School District to engage an architect to develop bid specs for work at Beech Street and Webster schools and the School of Technology. Seems the aldermen don’t much care for the School Board’s chosen priority there with M S T. Ultimately, the measure passed because it’s simply developing bids, but it looks like the M S T project is in trouble. Ward One Alderman Joyce Craig took the lead opposing that project saying she didn’t agree it was in the best interest of Manchester students and wanted city resources focused on schools that served Manchester students, not MST where kids from nine different communities go to school. M S T Principal Karen White and Assistant Superintendent David Ryan argued the school was maxed out and could not continue to develop as a four year high school without more room. The also said that its development was a significant reason why the city’s drop out rate has been cut in half in the past two years.
The issue of border children came up when Ward Three Alderman Patrick Long objected to language in the mayor’s letter to Homeland Security classifying them as undocumented aliens. He said they were processed at the border and therefore were documented. Not so, says Gatsas, who said he was only using terms obtained from Barbara Seebert, who works in the Governor’s Office of Refugee Relocation and that he could find nobody who thought those children were legal. Gatsas took aim at the International Institute of New Hampshire ffor saying that Manchester was ideally suited to accept these border children for the very same reasons it’s flooded the city with refugees. As he did in his interview here yesterday on Girard at Large, Gatsas said the city cannot handle the influx and that the city needed to take care of the thousand children already here and homeless before it took any more.
The Hooksett School Board met last night and in a consequential decision designated Manchester as its school of record on a vote of four to two. Board Chair Joanne McHugh and Board Clerk Todd Lizotte opposed the move, which will assign all students to Manchester high schools, except those who choose to go to one of the other four districts the town maintains agreements with. Mike Berry was absent. The board also approved a new policy regarding when and how students who start at a high school can transfer to another one.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
G O P Gubernatorial Candidate Walt Havenstein released his eight fifteen seventeen plan at a press event in Manchester yesterday. It’s a jobs creation plan named eight fifteen seventeen because he says it will create twenty five thousand jobs by August fifteenth two thousand seventeen, which would be near the end of his first term as governor if elected this fall. The eleven page plan documents New Hampshire’s relatively grim job creation history dating back to two thousand two and enumerated a number of causes, from taxes and power costs that became too high to regulations that became too difficult. Havenstein’s plan calls for a reduction in the Business Profits Tax, passage of a Right to Work bill and marketing the state to businesses. Former Governor Stephen Merrill issued a statement saying that during his two terms as governor, the state created fifty four thousand new jobs, so he believes Havenstein’s goal of twenty five thousand in the next term is achievable. We’ve linked to the plan for your convenience from this newscast at Girard at Large dot com.
Unimpressed by the plan was primary rival Andrew Hemingway, whose campaign released a statement. While he said he actually agreed with some of Havenstein’s proposals, he referred to the plan as “boring” and “ineffective” using “platitudes.” Quote: “Those 11 pages could’ve been condensed in to one line that reads, ‘I propose doing what everyone else has proposed doing for two decades and watch history repeat itself.’…the people of the Granite State deserve at least a little bit of effort when it comes to how they’re going to put food on their tables, beyond stale campaign promises and rhetoric.” End quote. In the statement, Hemingway touted his own proposal to overhaul business taxes, saying it quote “changes the entire current system of taxation in the state and I’ve done that because if we are to actually grow, expand and maybe get twenty five thousand jobs in here, that’s what we need to do. A moderate reduction in one business tax, which only benefits large companies, will not create any economic growth.”
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is on the way!