The Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen meets for the first time in about five weeks tomorrow night and it’s expected to be, well a long and probably volatile meeting. Among the more mundane issues on the agenda are a city staff reply to a rezoning request on Hackett Hill that would change commercial land into high density, multi unit rental housing. Planning Director Pamela Gaucher advised the board in a letter that’s on the agenda for referral to committee that the rezoning request is not consistent with the city’s Master Plan. Amen! Also on the agenda is the action of the Committee on Lands and Buildings to reaffirm Bronstein Park as part of Central’s campus and maintain the regulations against trespassing on school grounds during school hours. Expect there to be fireworks.
The main item of interest, however, isn’t on the agenda, but is expected to be brought up under New Business and that is the recent lock down of West High and the alleged lock out of West Side aldermen who wanted to tour the facility. Last week, Ward Twelve Alderman Keith Hirschmann and Alderman at-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur claimed a tour of the school requested by Hirschmann on behalf of himself and aldermen Normand Gamache of Ward Eleven and Bill Barry of Ward Ten was scuttled by School Superintendent Debra Livingston at the behest of Board of Aldermen Chairman Dan O’Neil. It was not. While city Security Manager Red Robidas did forward an email saying Livingston didn’t think the time for such a tour was right, she did offer to meet with any of the aldermen to discuss their concerns and she was informed of their potential visit before O’Neil sent an email noting she’d not been copied on any of the communications sent regarding the tour and that administration approval of a tour should be sought.
Unfortunately for the public, a story written in the New Hampshire Sunday News City Hall Column by Tabloid Ted Siefer, which claimed to be based on emails he somehow obtained while Manchester’s City Clerk tries to figure out whether or not our request for the emails sent to the mayor, all the aldermen and various city staff by an alderman and the replies is subject to the state’s Right to Know Law, contains material misstatements of fact which we took the time to correct in an article published at Oh My BLOG! at Girard at Large dot com. We’ve liked to the article and will be sharing the details during this morning’s show.
Manchester’s teachers go back to the polls today to cast their votes on the contract tentatively agreed to by their union’s executive board and Mayor Ted Gatsas. The last contract vote approved the agreement by a mere two votes. Opponents of the contract, who have openly protested at schools across the city in recent weeks, complained that the vote didn’t conform to the union’s by-laws because the polls closed earlier than required on the second day of voting, even though they were open longer than advertised during the prior week. We should know Tuesday night whether or not third time was a charm or the third strike was thrown as the teachers have twice rejected contract offers and have been without a contract since June of last year.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Governess Margaret Wood Hassan has cracked under the budget pressures facing the state. Late last week, Hassan directed state agencies to find $30 million in cuts in addition to a separate $40 million hole at the Department of Health and Human Services. Senate Finance Committee Chair Jeanie Forrester, Republican from Meredith, who has repeatedly called on Hassan to release spending figures, said she’s quote “pleased that the Governor has finally admitted that New Hampshire is facing a severe spending problem in the F Y 1 5 budget. On the heels of her $ 2 2 million shortfall in the F Y 1 4 budget, and mounting problems at H H S, addressing this spending problem is long overdue…The Governor needs to be transparent and share state spending data with the Legislature and the public.”
Republican candidate for Governor Walt Havenstein waded into the issue, calling on Hassan to stop covering up her budget crisis and come clean about the true state of New Hampshire’s finances. Quote “On Tuesday she tried to say she has a surplus. On Thursday, she revealed the size of her spending problem by calling for $ 3 0 million in cuts in addition to the growing gap at H H S. She justified her mistakes with misleading claims about revenues…This is no way to manage a budget…Her overspending and incompetence are driving New Hampshire towards a sales or income tax.,” Said Havenstein, who will be our guest tomorrow morning.
Today at High Noon, Scott Brown will square off against Senator Jeanne Shaneen, Health Care Queen for the first time since the general election began. It is sponsored by the Mt. Washington Valley Economic Council, which sponsored one of the very few debate invitations Brown accepted during the primary. Shaheen has refused to participate in three of seven proposed debates, including one of the state’s mainstay events hosted by the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, this year to have been co-hosted by the Greater Nashua Chamber.
The Historic Preservation Committee of the Manchester Historic Association is now accepting nominations for the 2 0 1 5 Historic Preservation Awards. The Historic Preservation Awards program recognizes and supports the efforts of individuals, businesses, and organizations who have made significant contributions to the preservation of buildings, neighborhoods, and other historic resources in the city. If you are interested in nominating a person, organization or business for a Historic Preservation Award, please complete the nomination form, available on the MHA website. We’ve linked to it for your convenience from this newscast at Girard at Large dot com. The 23rd Annual Historic Preservation Awards Dinner will be held on May, yes, I said May, fifteenth.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next.