Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas lowered the boom on the Hillsborough County Delegation in his weekly interview on Girard at Large yesterday, criticizing the lawmakers for their failure to support the establishment of a drug court in Manchester. Gatsas has pushed hard to establish the alternate court system which would deal with drug addicted criminals outside of the normal judicial process. It keeps them out of prison, said Gatsas, and requires them to seek treatment and enter recovery programs over an eighteen month period, during which convicts are subject to regular drug testing and other direct oversight by the court.
Strafford County, he said, has been operating and paying for their drug court for three and a half years and sixty four percent of the people subject to its authority satisfy its requirements. Those who fail to meet the court’s terms go to jail. There is also a drug court in Nashua which was more recently established with federal grant funds. Gatsas has been meeting with officials around the state and observing the drug courts in action to push for one here in Manchester.
He was critical of county legislators who he said didn’t want to expend the less than half a million dollars it would take to start the court because it was a quote unquote Manchester problem or because the county isn’t responsible for people’s decisions to stick needles in their arms. It’s clearly not a Manchester problem countered Gatsas and it’s not as simple as irresponsible people doing wrong things with drugs. Heroin use has become epidemic across the state and nation and much of it starts with people who innocently get hooked on prescription pain killers after an injury.
An impassioned Gatsas said “we’ve been talking about this for two years. Something has to be done,” as he recounted heart wrenching stories of residents who’ve shared their stories with him. As there is still time before the delegation, which is made up of all the state reps in the county, has to make final budget decisions, Gatsas said he will be calling on and meeting with as many of them as he can before the budget deadline passes. Particular attention will be paid to those Manchester state reps who voted against funding the court.
In addition to Gatsas, Manchester Police Chief David J. Mara has advocated for a special drug court. Mara has famously and repeatedly said “we can’t arrest our way out of this problem,” and has advocated for post arrest treatment programs as an alternative to incarceration. We’ve linked to Gatsas’ interview from this newscast at Girard at Large dot com.
Speaking of the mayor, he officially kicks off his reelection campaign with a party and fund raiser tonight at the St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Hanover Street. It’s scheduled from five thirty to seven. The public is welcomed to attend. If reelected, Gatsas will become one of a handful of mayor’s in the city’s history who have been elected to a fourth term.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
The Manchester Water Works is now taking application and payment for the city’s Environmental Protection Division’s deduct meter program at their office on 2 8 1 Lincoln Street during regular business hours. Final eligibility decisions will continue to be made by waste water treatment facility’s staff and specific questions about the program and the meters should be directed to them. Deduct meters are those miraculous things that deduct the amount of water that goes through your outdoor sprinkler system from your total water usage so you don’t have to pay sewer fees on the water that goes on your lawn.
In the N H House of Representatives yesterday, lawmakers, by a wide margin, passed a bill that will force Eversource to sell off its power generation facilities in the state. While supporters hail the bill, negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, Republican from Wolfeboro, as a path toward lower power rates, critics point out that the bill transfers more than four hundred million in stranded costs incurred by the installation of state mandated scrubbers at Merrimack Station in Bow from the plant’s production costs to transmission fees and also point to admissions by Bradley and other supporters that changes to the bill shifted the cost burden from business to residential rate payers to gather support from the business community.
The House also passed the bill that would redefine domicile as one’s primary residence and require someone be a resident of the state for at least thirty days before being eligible to vote.
It looks like the budget battles in Derry will soldier on. Derry Residents United, a group of citizens opposed to the recent budget cuts, has created petitions asking the the town council to reverse some of the cuts or put it to a public vote. The petition drive has been scheduled for this Sunday from nine to one at the Upper Village Hall. Petition signers must be registered voters in Derry. Under the town’s charter, if enough signatures are gathered, the petition will be placed on the town council’s agenda. If the requested actions are not taken, a special election on the petition will be held, which ought to put to rest the question of whether or not Derry citizens want higher or lower taxes. I wonder if someone will answer the question about how the town council can act to alter the budget after the statutory deadlines have passed.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!