“I have concluded that the city cannot afford the proposed agreement between the Manchester School District and the Manchester Education Association. Therefore I respectfully veto the ratification of the tentative agreement…”
Those were the closing sentences in the veto message given by Mayor Ted Gatsas at last night’s meeting of the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
In the message, Gatsas congratulated the negotiations committee on its hard work and singled out several items he supported in the contract, noting that many were items he’d long supported, including, among others, the hours calendar, a permanent substitute pool and health insurance changes. Despite this, the financial analysis provided by city Finance Officer Bill Sanders and school district Business Administrator Karen DeFrancis, showed the contract proposal would exceed the city’s tax cap, which Gatsas said he was sworn to uphold as a provision in the city’s charter.
School board members Katie Derochers of Ward Eleven, Connie Van Houten of Ward Twelve, also a member of the negotiations committee and Ross Terrio of Ward Seven spoke in favor of the contract during the public comment session.
Incoming M E A Vice President Maxine Mosely, with incoming M E A President Sue Ellen Hannan by her side, urged the board not only to approve the contract, but she also asked asked the mayor not to veto it and encouraged Ward Two Alderman Ron Ludwig and Ward Nine Alderman Barbara Shaw to vote on the contract, the conflict of interested over their family members who are teachers not withstanding. Mosely said they were elected to represent their constituents, who knew them and their families.
M E A negotiations chair Mark Boisvert said the contract was fair and that there were quote “concessions and celebrated gains for each.”
Before the contract vote, which was seven in favor, three opposed, three abstaining and one absent, Shaw announced that her daughter was a Manchester teacher and that, after discussion with City Solicitor Tom Clark, she believed she could not vote on the contract, though she gave an impassioned plea on its behalf and strongly disagreed with the charter provision, vowing to see it changed. Despite that, she said she was one to follow the rules, not break them.
Ludwig similarly condemned the charter language and pointedly insulted those who raised quote “this ridiculous argument” end quote, saying those in his ward knew who he was, what he stood for and who he was married to. He said going after the conflict of interest issue was quote “a way of those who cannot get elected to find ways to suppress the vote of those who can” and trashed those in the media who took him to task for saying his wife only made sixty three thousand dollars after thirty five years and comparing her to a “dock worker.” He said it showed how little work experience they have in their life and said he had “no respect for commentators who’d never worked a day in their life.” Ouch!
In the end, after an aborted attempt by Ward Three Alderman Patrick Long to overturn Ludwig and Shaw’s decision not to vote on the contract, aldermen Joyce Craig, Long, Tony Sapienza, Garth Corriveau, Dan O’Neil, Tom Katsiantonis, and Bill Barry voted in favor of the contract. Aldermen Jim Roy, Joe Kelly Levasseur, Bill Shea and Keith Hirschmann voted to sustain the mayor’s veto. Alderman Normand Gamache was absent from the meeting, recovering from surgery.
Mayoral Candidate Patrick Arnold issued a statement late last night calling the mayor’s veto quote “just plain absurd” and saying the contract was a tremendous opportunity squandered by the current administration.
School Board Negotiations Committee Chair John Avard opened both barrels on the mayor last night posted a statement on social media saying quote “It is high time we find a new mayor for this city and stop bleeding money. We have high crime, a run-down city, underfunded schools and disheartened educators.”
Oh and just one more note on this topic to show just how strong feelings were running on this matter. During the debate on agenda item following the contract vote and well after most, if not all of the teachers had left the chambers, a blonde haired, red shirted teacher stopped just outside the entryway to the chamber, looked at the mayor and defiantly raised her middle finger, before turning around and walking out.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
The Executive Council will vote on whether or not to fund Planned Parenthood today. On that matter, District Twelve State Senator Kevin Avard, Republican from Nashua, released a letter he sent to the council yesterday opposing funding. He said the
“secrecy of the sales of these dissected children indicates that the taxpayers for some time now, have been funding a black market organization which operates under the guise/auspices of ‘women’s health.’ In addition the Planned Parenthood organization is receiving taxpayer money while they lobby against pro-life candidates and pro-life interests.”
He continued, writing his quote “constituents are overwhelming horrified even more outraged that this cruel practice is being paid for on their dime.”
On a brighter note, the Friends of the Merrimack Dog Park won the twenty five thousand dollar runner up prize in the Pet Safe Bark For Your Park contest! In an email to Girard at Large, they said that put them near their sixty thousand dollar goal and that they will go to the town council on August Twentieth to accept the winnings and ask to start the RFP process for construction to hopefully start this fall! They thanked the Girard at Large audience and the Manchester Animal Shelter for their support of their efforts. Congrats on a job well done!
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!