An exciting night of government meetings in Manchester and Derry last night, so we’ll get right on with it.
In Derry, the barrage against the four town councilors who voted to cut the town’s municipal tax rate by a buck twenty one per thousand continued, although it seemed to be the last hurrah as counter attacking citizens in favor showed up to not only express their appreciation, but also to say things like “I called my insurance company and they said my rates won’t be going up because a fire station was closed.” Looks like the average folk in Derry are starting to cut through the billowing fog created by the employee unions, particularly the firefighters who saw some push back from speakers last night.
It doesn’t look like things are going to settle down much in Derry anytime soon, however. Councilor Joshua Bourdon is threatening to sue the council over its budget cuts, arguing state statute required the proposed cuts to be proposed in advance and sent to public hearing before being acted on. Hope he’s got money to burn because that’s not what the statutes say and, well, we’re pretty sure the courts aren’t going to take that one too seriously.
On related, but separate topics, Councilor Mark Osborne proposed two new ordinances to advance the cause of transparency. The first is an ethics and conflict of interest ordinance and the second a campaign disclosure ordinance requiring candidates for school board and town council report, on the town’s Web site, who has contributed to their campaigns and who much was spent. Anyone following the budget brawl in Derry will understand why these ordinance proposals are connected. Stay tuned…
In Manchester last night, there was a ceremonial changing of the guard as Assistant Police Chief Nick Willard’s nomination to be Chief of the Manchester Police Department was approved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The confirmation vote came immediately after Mayor Ted Gatsas presented retiring Chief David J. Mara with a resolution. In prepared remarks, which we’ve published in full at Girard at Large dot com and linked to from this newscast, Gatsas said quote
When you became Chief you told this board that Community Policing was most important and that the relationship an officer has with the citizens of our city is paramount. You also told us that the relationship an officer has with city youth can be life-changing for that youth – and the officer.
You have made it your personal mission to foster lasting relationships in this city between the police department and the community. Without a doubt this has made our community stronger.
An emotional Mara bid his farewell, thanking the city and citizens for the opportunity to serve. An equally emotional Willard said quote “The way I see it, my job is to serve you,” as he thanked the board and city for its support and pledged himself to the officers he will lead and the city he will be in charge of protecting starting July first.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Also last night, the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen agreed to take the steps necessary to receive a million dollar grant from the state to build a solar energy production facility on top of Mount Manchester, that’s the old city dump for those of you in the North End. Without committing the city to any course of action, plans to finalize the project will continue and be brought forward for approval in the not too distant future.
The board also began, after a tedious forty five minute committee meeting showed just how convoluted the regulatory process in this city and state have become and why Rails to Trails is just a bad idea for industrial cities like Manchester if the goal is to redevelop aging industrial areas, the process of transferring a measly fifteen hundred foot parcel of land to the owners of the former Hoitt Furniture Store at the corner of Valley and Wilson streets. Without it, there’s no access to the building, which is being blocked by the Rails to Trails corridor. Oh My HEAD.
Senior citizens flooded the public participation hearing, urging the board not to close the Cashin Senior Center. Several of the seniors in the audience told Girard at Large that the retiring director of the facility, Barbara Vigneault, told them the mayor was going to close the center. It was a lousy thing to do and the mayor, once again, assured the seniors their center will not close. The thought of closing the center has never been broached and I’m glad to see she’s moving on. Frankly, this isn’t new behavior for her.
If you haven’t registered your dog in the city yet, get to City Hall and get it done as the aldermen have committed the unregistered dog warrant to the police department. So, don’t be surprised if Officer Friendly come’s knocking on your door about your unregistered dog. You won’t think he’s so friendly.
There’s been another delay in the sale of the former Manchester police station and another extension as aldermen shared their displeasure with the process. I think I heard the late Ward Five Alderman Ed Osborne saying “I told you so” from his grave in the chambers last night.
A valet parking pilot program proposed by Picola Ristorante was approved by the board and the Hanover Street summer weekend closures were approved as well.
And it would appear as if the Uber Stupor continues. City officials across the board reported that Uber simply disappeared after the last meeting at which the aldermen gave Uber an ultimatum, either conform to our rules or you’ll be barred from serving the city. Well, they haven’t been in touch. Alderman at Large Dan O’Neil, Lord Emperor of the Board, rallied behind a motion of Ward One Alderman Joyce Craig to put a temporary operating agreement in place, but to no avail. Craig said it would apply rules to govern them until an ordinance could be worked out. Alderman at-Large Joe Kelly Levassuer had a change of heart, supporting the motion saying the city should have taken what it was offered last month. He said their willingness to allow the city to review its background checks was evidence they do them. But, the follow the rules crowd or get out crowd won the day as Craig’s motion was defeated ten to four.
Click here for our Live Blog Forum of the meeting for ALL the details of the above stories and OOOHHH sooo much more!
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next…