“We want to send a message, a clear message that gun and gang crime will not be tolerated in the city of Manchester. Period. If you commit a crime with a firearm, you’ll be arrested, you’ll be prosecuted, and you will go to jail. If you commit a gang related crime, we will charge you with gang enhanced penalties that could mean up to ten to thirty years in prison.” That’s what Police Chief David J. Mara had to say yesterday at a press conference unveiling a multi-jurisdictional effort launched in June.
Also present at the meeting were Attorney General Joseph Foster, U. S. Attorney John Kacavas, County Attorney Patricia LaFrance and representatives from the F B I, B A T F, City Solicitor’s Office, and state corrections and parole operations. Mara said clashes between rival gangs O T L and 1 8 0 motivated him to take action before things got out of control and said the effort had already caused reductions in gun crime by the two gangs.
While he said there were other gangs operating in the city, the rivalry between these two was of primary concern. The widespread availability of drugs, especially heroin is fueling gun crime in Manchester and beyond, said Mara; a fact echoed by Kacavas and Foster during yesterday’s press conference. All said the state is working on the issue and that expanded treatment capacity for drug addicts would be key to the state’s ability to combat the problem. Mara, as he has done on several occasions, said the city cannot arrest its way out of the problem and that the problem is much bigger than anything the Manchester Police Department can solve.
Foster said if recent changes to juvenile laws, which were opposed by Mara in the General Court, got in the way of effectively addressing the gang issues in the city, he would support legislation to make needed changes.
High drama at last night’s meeting of the Manchester Board of School Committee as three members resigned from the Student Conduct Committee after it was, apparently with the support of the board, defied by the administration on the reintroduction of a student that was awaiting an expulsion hearing. The first resignation was announced by Ward Six Committeewoman Robyn Dunphy who after expressing a litany of frustrated efforts to get results said quote: “Since protocol, the training our subcommittee has received and the district’s Code of Conduct hold no bearing for this committee to receive the support of the full board, I see no reason to continue working on a committee which holds no meaning. Therefore, I am letting the public know my reasons and feelings and am resigning from the Conduct Committee.”
After she resigned, Ward Two Committeewoman Debra Langton, who has chaired the committee for several years, followed. Langton said her issues were not about a particular student or incident, but about a general pattern that she believed was undermining the committee and the safety and well being of all students and staff. She faulted Assistant Superintendent Karen Burkush, whose retirment was announced yesterday, for entering into an agreement with the Office of Civil Rights with absolutely no communication, input or knowledge of the committee, saying it posed an ethical problem. Langton also faulted Superintendent Debra Livingston for saying Burkush acted acceptably. In citing the board’s failure to take the incident referenced by Dunphy up in non-public session after it was mentioned in public, Langton said quote “the silence of this board was both deafening and frightening to me. Not only am I appalled, but more importantly, I am troubled about the safety in our schools.” End quote. She resigned both from the chairmanship and the committee saying she hoped her actions will do what her words did not, help make the schools safer.
Ward Nine Committeeman Arthur Beaudry resigned in solidarity with Dunphy and Langton. The committee is now without a quorum and unable to meet, which apparently will make no difference given how it’s been ignored by the administration and apparently unsupported by the board.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Quote: “…regardless of how some may feel about the election, the power to appoint remains in the hands of the speaker. Representative Jack Flanagan is the majority leader of the NH House of Representatives. He serves at the pleasure of the speaker and only he may call a caucus of our members.” So says Speaker Spokesman Jim Rivers in reply to our inquiry on why Speaker Shawn Jasper would appoint a Republican Leader rather than let the Republican Caucus in the House choose its own leader after he was elected by the Democratic Caucus in conjunction with a couple dozen Republicans against the nominee of his own caucus.
Kinda makes one wonder whether or not the folks in the Speaker’s Office understand the depths of the antipathy many Republican House members have for Jasper right now. Stating that Flanagan is the only one who may call a meeting of the G O P Caucus seems not to acknowledge the reality that one has been called for the purpose of electing a Republican leader in the House. It was originally scheduled for yesterday, then rescheduled for today and has reportedly been canceled due to concerns with the coming weather and has not yet been rescheduled.
Right to know shenanigans are again afoot in the Timberlane Regional School District. In reply to an email sent by School Board Member Donna Green to Board Chair Nancy Steensen, board member Peter Bealo asked Steensen to advise members not to conduct board business via email saying Green’s email was a violation of the open meetings law and board member Rob Collins said Green had been warned enough not to violate that law and that her email was reportable and that it should be pursued immediately, whatever that means.
So, what did Green do to provoke these two defenders of the public’s right to know? She asked Steensen to provide her and the board with the legal opinion supporting Superintendent’s Earl Metzler’s claim that Fifth Grade students can be educated outside of Sandown in consideration of the Timberlane Articles of Agreement and pointed out that the school board has sole authority to close facilities and that it will need to vote to do so if that’s what Metzler wants to do. We’ll have more on this during the show.
Those in the town of Pembroke will want to keep their cars off the street. A Winter Parking Ban has been ordered and will be in effect until eight A M tomorrow morning. No parking will be allowed on town streets during the ban.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!