Quote “Based upon that review and research, I would continue to recommend that you recuse yourself from the decision making process concerning the (MEA collective bargaining agreement).” That’s how Manchester City Solicitor Thomas Clark concluded a letter to Ward Two Alderman Ron Ludwig, whose ability to vote on the pending teachers’ contract was called into question by Ward Four Alderman Jim Roy at the last meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Roy’s challenge came after a motion that the contract be “approved and lay over” passed on an eight to four vote, with Roy, Bill Shea from Ward Seven, Keith Hirschmann from Ward Twelve and Alderman at-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur also opposed. Aldermen Garth Corriveau from Ward Six and Tom Katsiantonis from Ward Eight did not vote as they were absent.
Roy cited charter sections he believed disqualified Ludwig from voting because his wife is a teacher and subject to the terms of the contract. After a brief review of the charter that night, Clark recommended Ludwig abstain pending a further review. Ludwig withdrew his vote, but not before an ardent, some would say angry, defense of his ability to objectively represent the people of Ward Two, who he said would be deprived of their voice as a result of the move. He chastised Roy for raising the issue, stating it was evidence of a “do anything to win mentality.” He then went on to complain, bitterly, that his wife was only making sixty three thousand dollars after thirty five years of teaching.
Unfortunately for Ludwig, charter section nine point oh two defines immediate family as a “(s)pouse, children and spouses of children, step-children and spouses of stepchildren” and section nine point oh three bars a conflict of interest saying quote “No city official shall participate in the decision-making process of any matter in which the official or a member of the official’s immediate family has a direct personal or financial interest.” End quote. Clark came to his conclusion not only after reviewing those provisions in the charter, but also provisions in other jurisdictions with similar or identical language. We’ll have more on this during the show.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
In a story we broke on Girard at Large dot com and shared via our email alerts and social media pages yesterday, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas has asked Governor Margaret Wood Hassan to declare a Public Health Emergency in order to combat the heroin epidemic that is spiraling out of control around the state. In a letter sent on Friday, Gatsas wrote quote
“The structure of our emergency management system is such that when an emergency challenges the local community we look to the State for additional help as the next logical step. I believe at this point in time we are at that point and respectfully request that you declare a public health emergency consistent with RSA 21-P:53.”
Gatsas pointed to Hassan’s declaration of that same state of emergency when Manchester and Concord were facing staggering numbers of Spice overdoses last summer, suggesting it was consequential to the city’s ability to put a stop to it. He underscored the statewide nature of the problem by referring to the recent heroin forum organized by Police Chief Nick Willard, which drew some four hundred quote un quote “concerned and frightened people,” many from outside the city from and from as far away as Belmont. In asking for the emergency declaration, Gatsas said it would quote “further raise visibility surrounding the issue and mobilize any additional resources consistent with an emergency declaration.” End quote.
Gatsas took the opportunity to again seek funding for a drug court in the Hillsborough County North Superior Court District. He said drug courts had proven their worth in other jurisdictions and wrote it was his understanding that the state had two and a half million dollars from the feds specifically to fight the heroin epidemic that will have to be returned if they aren’t spent by October first. He suggested drug court would be a good place to spend some of those dollars. The letter was sent after Gatsas met Willard, Fire Chief James Burkush and Public Health Director Timothy Soucy.
Next year’s race for governor in New Hampshire may be getting off to an early start. State Representative Frank Edelblut, Republican from Wilton, issued a statement saying is considering a run and will begin to campaign around the state. Edelblut, an entrepreneur and financial investor, said quote “For too long, our officials in Concord have functioned more like custodians than leaders.” End quote. He said that as custodians they’ve done little more than “tread water” and missed multiple opportunities to improve things in the state for their failure to lead.
In his statement, he said he would commit a quarter of a million dollars in personal funds toward his exploratory effort and the primary. Edelblut founded Control Solutions, a company he started at his kitchen table and grew to a global enterprise with eight hundred employees before selling it in two thousand nine. He now works with Common Angels, a company that provides capital to early stage technology companies to help them grow.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ starts right now!