Governess Margaret Wood Hassan will kick off her responsible budget tour today as she makes an appearance before the House Finance Committee this morning at ten thirty. Evidently, Her Highness the Governess will descend to the people’s house to goad them into accepting her budget, which increases state spending by six and one half percent by doling out employee pay raises and further expanding Medicaid, raises a variety of taxes on businesses and consumers that will negatively affect businesses, especially along the state’s borders and, once again, as if it worked last time, and it didn’t, expects serious revenues from a variety of gambling sources that don’t yet exist. I guess when Her Highness says her budget is moving the state forward, we can infer that means to the number one position in business taxes. Currently, the state’s business tax burden has is only number the second highest in the nation. Looks like Hassan’s looking to make us First in the Nation in that category, too.
The Manchester Police Department’s Mounted Unit is seeking volunteers to assist with the care of their horses. Applicants must be at least 18-years of age, have prior experience with horses and possess an overall knowledge of barn and stable duties. Nights, weekends and holidays are required and a background investigation will also be completed prior to acceptance. The department’s media release states that volunteers are NOT allowed to ride the horses. If you have any interest, we’ve posted the relevant officer’s contact information with this newscast at Girard at Large dot com. [email protected]
The National Association of Attorneys General sent a letter to the CEOs of nine oil companies asking them to help eliminate any synthetic drug sales from retail locations operating under their brand names. Over the past few years, dozens of owners, managers, and employees of branded gas stations and convenience stores have been arrested for selling synthetic drugs. Synthetic drugs are chemical alternatives to cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine. They are illegal and are often just as dangerous, if not more so, than the substances they mimic. Synthetic drugs started appearing in gas stations, tobacco shops and liquor stores over the last seven years. In 2010, more than eleven thousand people, many of whom were younger than seventeen, went to the emergency room after using synthetic marijuana. “Young people are the most likely to use these dangerous drugs and their availability in stores operating under well-known brands gives the appearance of safety and legitimacy to very dangerous products,” reads the letter signed by forty three state and territorial attorneys general, including New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster. The dangers of these drugs were experienced first hand in the Queen City last summer when dozens of people accidentally overdosed on bad batches of Spice, causing the city to shut down three stores to which the drug sales were traced.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Proponents of a form allowing parents to officially refuse to have their children take the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Manchester are crying foul over a series of moves by Ward Eight School Committeewoman and Board of School Committee Curriculum and Instruction subcommittee Chair Erika Connors. In January, Connors refused to take up the matter at committee after it was referred by the board saying she needed clarification as to whether or not the board wanted a general opt out form or one designed just for the Smarter Balanced Assessment. At the last meeting of the board, Connors fought off an attempt by Ward 9 Committeeman Arthur Beaudry to adopt a parent refusal form by saying she’d worked with the district’s legal counsel to develop a form and that it would be presented at the next meeting of the committee. Beaudry withdrew his motion in deference to her request.
Now that the agenda is out, it is painfully clear that Connors has no intention of developing a form that will allow parents to simply refuse to have the test administered to their children. Instead of an opt out or refusal form parents can use to tell the district not to include their children in the Smarter Balanced Assessment, Connors will present a form where parents can ask the State Department of Education to exempt their children from the test. That my friends is a big difference with a big distinction.
While Connors’ form does state there are no laws or rules at the N H D O E that would penalize a student for not participating in the statewide assessment and that there are no laws or rules that would penalize a parent for requesting such an exemption, notice it neglects to point out there is also not penalty for opting your kids out no matter what the state says, it only does so after providing the excerpts of the law requiring students in the designated grades to participate and then lists the legally allowed exemptions. After listing the exemptions allowed by law, her form goes on to say “or other” with blank lines for parents to fill in with their reason, as if the state might actually grant an exemption not allowed for by the law. Also drawing the ire of parental rights activists is the timing of the meeting.
Connors called the meeting for tonight at six thirty. The committee will meet in a very small conference room on the second floor of City Hall while subcommittees of the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen meet in the Aldermanic Chambers with the board itself meeting at seven o’clock to take public input before its meeting at seven thirty. The upshot, say critics, including this one, is that once again, Erika Connors has gone out of her way to schedule a meeting at an inconvenient time and in an inconvenient place for the public to participate or even watch live on TV. You can bet there will be discussion of this during this morning’s show as we bring parent advocate and Cornerstone Education Liason to the General Court Ann Marie Banfield in to discuss the matter and I’m sure there’s a rant or two in me about this, too.
That’s news from our frigid backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!