District Nine State Senator Andy Sanborn, Republican from Bedford issued a statement yesterday calling on “Drug Czar” John Wozmak to resign.  Said Sanborn, quote

Sanborn:  Time for Wozmak to go

Sanborn: Time for Wozmak to go

“When Governor Hassan appointed John Wozmak as ‘drug czar’, she said one of his most important responsibilities is to coordinate the state’s response to New Hampshire’s substance abuse crisis (with) the law enforcement community.  But after six months on the job, top law enforcement officials in Manchester, Nashua, Concord and Salem have come forward to say that he has failed to reach out to them and offer assistance. Mr. Wozmak’s lack of communication with local officials and all those working so hard to solve this issue is extremely troubling and unacceptable.”

Sanborn’s comments came after police officials in Salem and Nashua came forward to say they’d not heard from Wozmak, just as officials in Manchester and Concord said they’d not heard from him.  Mayor Ted Gatsas has openly questioned Wozmak’s activities, wondering how it could be that nobody in the Queen City had heard from him since his hiring in January.  In separate interviews with Girard at Large last week, Gatsas, Police Chief Nick Willard and Public Health Director Timothy Soucy all said the city was way ahead of the recommendations made by Wozmak because of a working group of city officials and citizens convened by Gatsas to address the epidemic several months ago.

Wozmak:  Woeful?

Wozmak:  Wrong for the job?

“Additionally,” said Sanborn, “on Mr. Wozmak’s watch, Governor Hassan’s office lost track of a $12 million federal grant to combat substance abuse.”  Sanborn dismissed the plan Wozmak released less than twenty four hours after meeting with public safety and health officials in Manchester as quote unquote “a stale set of retreaded talking points.”  After faulting Governor Margaret Wood Hassan for vetoing the budget that contained a seventy five percent increase in the funds available to fight the drug epidemic, Sanborn concluded quote

“…it’s clear that Mr. Wozmak is the wrong person to coordinate the state’s response to the substance abuse crisis.  It’s time for the Hassan Administration to replace him in this position and develop a better strategy to respond to the concerns of the local officials, health providers, and legislators who are fighting on the front lines of New Hampshire’s heroin epidemic.”

Heroin forum tonight.

Heroin forum tonight.

While we’re on the topic, a reminder that from Five to Seven tonight, at the Center of New Hampshire Radisson Hotel, Willard will host a now seven member panel for a heroin forum to share and receive information with  and from the public.  Recent additions to the panel include Soucy and Fire Chief James Burkush.  Girard at Large will be in the house live to both broadcast and blog the event in real time.  Be sure to tune in.

News from our own backyard continues after this.

Announces academy for non-profits

Announces academy for non-profits

Aimed at helping the region’s nonprofit organizations increase both their capacity and their effectiveness, the Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce’s Nonprofit Academy will host its first workshop from Noon to one thirty on, Thursday, Aug. 6 in their offices at 29 West Broadway, in downtown Derry.  New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits Assistant Director Laurette Edelmann will present on “Board Recruitment for Nonprofits.” This workshop will assist nonprofit staff and volunteers to find, attract, and retain those high quality volunteer board and committee members who are necessary for their organizations’ growth and survival.

Stewart:  Announces workshops

Stewart: Announces workshops

The Chamber’s Nonprofit Academy is a four ­part workshop series featuring one workshop per quarter.  Future workshop topics, as determined by the Chamber’s nonprofit members, include “Social Media,” “Networking,” and “Risk Management,” of course, all for non-profits.  Noting that “nonprofits are businesses too,” Commerce President Will Stewart said ensuring the region’s nonprofit community continues to be strong is important to the overall health of the region and its economy.”

The Queen City:  Great for teachers

The Queen City: Great for teachers

Manchester is one of the top ten places to be a teacher.  That’s according to a recent article published on.  Manchester placed seventh on the list because, according to the article quote

Manchester is often listed among the best cities to live…The New Hampshire city has more than 220 teaching jobs currently available, with an average salary of $55,390. It’s also one of the lowest on our list for cost of living, so that salary will go a lot farther.  And Manchester isn’t just good for teachers – according to a 2013 study, it’s the seventh best metropolitan area for upward income mobility, regardless of field.”

Livingston:  No comment

Livingston: Short on details, no comment

We forwarded the article to Superintendent  Debra Livingston to inquire about the number of teaching positions available last week.  She said that the district has had a total of one hundred twenty five positions filled since January, but couldn’t say how many of them were teaching positions.  It was too late on a Friday afternoon to get that data, she wrote.  She did, however, note that there were forty retirements this year.  And, although we asked her for comment on the article, she did not respond with one.  The rankings were determined by Average Annual Salary, Available Teaching Jobs as of May sixthTeaching Jobs Per Capita, High School Graduation Rates, Cost of Living Index, and an Amenities Score.

New evaluations on the way

New evaluations on the way

Manchester’s teachers, by the way, are soon to be in for a new evaluation system.  The Board of School Committee’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee meets tonight to rubber stamp the new evaluation system proposed by the administration.  There are letters of tacit support from both Brendan McCafferty, President of the Association of Manchester Principals and Ben Dick, President of the Manchester Education Association.  Each sought assurances that the new system would be evaluated itself within the school year and tweaked with their respective organizations’ input as necessary.

New Teacher Evaluations:  Whose in control?

New Teacher Evaluations: Whose in control?

Having taken a look at the system, which seemed rather involved, and not knowing how it currently works, I’ll take a pass on commenting, except to say that something that spans forty seven pages, probably isn’t understandable by the lay person, and references the federal and state evaluation requirements that come with accepting School Improvement Grants has probably got some things that need to be questioned, not the least of which is just who is calling the shots on the evaluations of our teachers.

That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next.