Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas has entered the fray of what we’ll now refer to as the city’s Uber Stupor. On Wednesday, following his appearance on Girard at Large, Gatsas sent a letter to Police Chief David Mara asking the department to work with Uber and the City Clerk’s Office to review how Uber screens drivers. In the letter, Gatsas notes that for all the time the matter’s been in committee, nobody sought the input of the police department on the outstanding items of concern, which include driver registration, background checks and drug testing. Gatsas wrote quote: “It is my hope that if we address these concerns by way of Chief Mara, or his designee, we can alleviate some of the concern held by the Aldermen (sic) and work to address the city policies for both ride sharing companies and the taxi industry.” End quote.
In a Facebook post late Wednesday evening, Gatsas said quote “The overlap between Uber customers and taxi customers is small. There is a need for the traditional taxi industry here in Manchester but it is not our role to provide them a monopoly in the marketplace. Our role is to ensure that public safety is not at risk and that is all anyone is asking anybody to do.”
After tweeting the article we published on the Girard at Large Web site, which we’ve linked to from this news read, we got two funny tweets back.
One came from New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Raymond Buckley who pointed out a rather embarrassing typo in our headline. Doh!
The other came from mayoral candidate Joyce Craig’s campaign manager Rahul Kale who responded quote “After not saying a word on Tuesday” end quote in response to our headline, which was “Gatsas tries to resolve Uber impasse.” Why’s that funny, you ask? Well, while we applauded his candidate’s vote against banning Uber from the city and fighting to adopt a Temporary Operating Agreement that would enable these issues to be worked out, we also know his candidate chairs the committee at which this matter has sat unresolved for six months. Mayors, by the way, very rarely involve themselves in matters referred to committee until they come to the full board. Doh!
News from our own backyard continues after this.
“Hello Rich, I am denying your request to review the papers. Debbie” That’s what Manchester Superintendent Debra Livingston had to say to our request to see the scraps of paper on which children at the Hallsville School anonymously wrote various insults, including profane ones. We thought it was a simple request given that Livingston said she’d personally reviewed the papers used in the bullying lesson taught to fourth graders last week. Livingston published a statement saying quote “Some of the insults written by students indicated swear words, but none of them were spelled out, and none were spoken.”
We wondered how she could know that until we heard the audio of the meeting she had with parent Keith Katsikas in which she said she’d seen the papers. When we heard that, we thought we should be able to see them too, our surprise that somebody would have still had them in hand so long after the lesson had been completed notwithstanding. Livingston has still not replied to our reply questioning the grounds on which she was denying the request. Under the state’s Right to Know Law, the specific reasons for not providing access to information has to be spelled out. And for those of you who think it’s to protect student privacy, remember the insults were anonymously written and know that in the meeting with Katsikas, she had glowing reports about the lesson from a handful of children in the class, who were also unnamed.
Our question is this, IF she has those papers and IF they support the findings of her investigation, then WHY is she denying access by an objective third party?
Oh, Livingston also hasn’t replied to our request for a response to a Facebook comment made under one of our posts in which another parent wrote her child told her swears were said out loud and that the original story was true. Remember, instead of questioning the Katsikas family as part of her investigation on Monday, including the fourth grader from the Hallsville classroom, Livingston presented them with her findings which said no swearing occurred. Imagine her surprise when the boy not only recounted the words said, but named the names of the kids in the class who said them. Wonder if she’s now going to reopen the investigation and speak with those kids and their parents about what happened. Just sayin’…
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!