Well, it was as good a knock down, drag out as any in recent memory, as the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen failed to support any motion in favor of converting the city’s street lights to L E D fixtures, with or without the quizzically controversial smart controls. A disbelieving Mayor Ted Gatsas concluded the hour and fifteen minute long argument by saying quote “We’re done talking about this. Let the taxpayers make decisions on it in the future.” End quote. That came after Ward Twelve Alderman Keith Hirschmann, who voted against every motion to proceed with the program that, after expenses is projected to save the city a quarter of a million dollars a year, wanted to say something after the forth vote to adopt the proposal failed.
We’re not sure where to start this one, but the issue got off to a tenuous start in the Committee on Energy Contracts and Related Matters when Alderman at-Large Dan O’Neil stated immediately and unequivocally that he would only vote to give the contract to Siemens, the contractor that would use union labor from I B E W Local 4 9 0 and that he would only vote for the project’s bonding if the Board awarded the contract to Siemens.
Later, in the meeting of the Board of Mayor and Alderman, Ward Seven Alderman and Energy Committee Chairman Bill Shea, would take issue with O’Neil’s pronouncement, urging members of the board to think independently and vote their consciences. He, along with Ward Four Alderman Jim Roy, accused Siemens supporters of doing it for the union. Shea was particularly sharp in his commentary saying that while he was a union guy himself, as an aldermen, he had a responsibility to act in the best interests of the city and that the bids clearly showed the Philips proposal was the better of the two.
Ward Three Alderman Patrick Long said he favored Siemens because they pledged that seventy five percent of the employees working on the project would be Manchester residents and that Philips said they’d only guarantee twenty five percent of those working on the project would be from Manchester.
In going through the documents, Roy questioned where those statements were made and pointed out that the Philips proposal actually had identified more Manchester residents that would be working on the project than the Siemens bid and that more Manchester businesses would be involved in the project. The only difference between the identified Manchester resident employees he said were that Siemens was using union labor.
Public Works Director Kevin Sheppard, in direct response to a question from Gatsas, recommended the proposal from Philips. That caused an outburst from O’Neil who demanded to know why Sheppard hadn’t put that into his letter to the committee or made that recommendation in committee. The problem for O’Neil is that, in direct response to a question from Shea as the committee meeting came to a close, Sheppard did, in fact, recommend Philips.
The issue will come back at the next meeting as Long gave notice of reconsideration on one of the four motions made on the question. We’ve linked to ourReal Time Blog of the arguments, with who voted on what, from this newscast at Girard at Large dot com. You can bet we’ll have something to say on this today and probably for a long time to come.
Click here for a spread sheet showing all contributions, including union and other special interests, to candidates in Manchester in 2013.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
City buildings: In need of lots of repair
In other Manchester business, the Committee on Community Improvement received a report on the condition of the city’s buildings, including schools. It identified about one hundred and seventy million dollars of work that needs to be done.
At last night’s meeting of the Committee on Administration, a motion to proceed with a new ordinance governing so called Transportation Networking Companies, those would be ride sharing companies like Uber, was approved. However, the vote contained several alleged public safety measures demanded by city licensing officials and opposed by Uber. Didn’t seem that the committee’s majority understood that Uber and compatriot companies, probably are more concerned with public safety than the city is given that if their rides are unsafe, their business dies.
The board tabled the one point eight million dollar bond to expand the Manchester School of Technology. Without the two aldermen who were absent, Ward Two’s Ron Ludwig and Ward eleven’s Normand Gamache, the bond was unable to obtain the ten votes needed to pass.
Polling hours were set for the May twelfth special election set in Ward Five to replace the late Alderman Ed Osborne. The city will run its normal six A M to seven P M schedule on that day.
In other news, the Hooksett School Board voted to approve the one year contract extension as adopted by the Manchester Board of School Committee. It also voted four to three in favor of using the Common Core National Standards with board members David Pearl, John Lyscars and Todd Lizotte opposed.
And, in a shocking development, the Timberlane Regional School District actually complied with one of our Right to Know Requests! We now know which legal bills they blame on School Board MemberDonna Green and her Budget Committee husbandArthur. We also know that School Board MemberRob Collins is the one who requested the information and can guess he’s responsible for posting it to various social meeting sights. We’ll attempt to get additional details on why these fees are being affixed to the Greens today so we can chat about it more.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!
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