Manchester Education Association President Ben Dick isn’t just leaving his union position at the end of the month, he’s leaving the city. In an interview with N H 1 TV, Dick said he was packing up his family and moving to Bedford because education was simply not a priority in the city. That interview came after Mayor Ted Gatsas vetoed the teachers contract, leaving the impression that had the contract passed, Dick would have stayed in the city. However, Dick’s house was listed for sale on May eighteenth and put under contract on July fourteenth. So, it appears as if Dick was on his way out well before the contract was vetoed. In fact, it looks like he listed his house a month before the tentative agreement was entered into. Would Dick still consider Manchester un-supportive of education had the contract passed? Would he have stayed in the city? Maybe, someday, curious minds will get a chance to know. Dick said nothing about leaving his teaching position in Manchester for greener pastures in more appreciative communities.
No doubt, we’ll hear about the veto of the contract at tonight’s meeting of the Board of School Committee. It will be the first time the board has met since the mayor’s veto. Unhappy teachers protesting the veto are expected to be there in force following an email sent by the union calling its members to rally outside City Hall tonight. We broke that story last week. Dick and incoming M E A President Sue Ellen Hannan urged teachers to bring their “Teachers Deserve a Fair Contract” and anti-Ted Gatsas signs. They said members of the Board of School Committee wanted them to attend the meeting, though they did not identify which member or members.
Adding to the drama at tonight’s meeting will be a presentation from Dick about the district. He was invited to address the board after his retirement as union president was announced. He’s been placed on the Super Secret Agenda, that’s the Superintendent’s Communications for the uninitiated among you, and will be free to speak for as long as he chooses. The president of the paraprofessionals union is also scheduled to present.
La piece de la resistance, however, just might be the vote on contracts for Superintendent Debra Livingston, Assistant Superintendent David Ryan and Business Administrator Karen DeFrancis. In a story we broke over the weekend, rather than make the public documents public by placing them on the agenda for tonight’s meeting, Livingston had them sent to the board separately, under confidential cover. She did this despite telling Girard at Large she was quote unquote “working on” our multiple requests to have the information released following public votes taken on the documents at the July twenty ninth meeting of the Committee on Coordination and Administration. While they’ve refused to release the contracts, from the committee’s public actions, we know that all three contracts are proposed to be extended for two years, instead of the typical one, that Livingston and DeFrancis will see a pay raises tied to the tax cap and Livingston will get another couple of personal days. Ryan will see at least a twenty five hundred dollar bump in what the city gives him to take college classes.
The story we published on Saturday regarding the super secret contracts Livingston originally hinted to us wouldn’t be released until after the board voted on them tonight caused a firestorm on Facebook, having been shared about three dozen times, reaching some thirty five hundred people, receiving dozens of comments and hundreds of likes. In about thirty six hours, it became the number four story on Girard at Large dot com in the last thirty days. Nope, nothing to see here.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Governor Margaret Wood Hassan has declined Mayor Ted Gatsas’s request to declare a Public Health Emergency in the battle against heroin in the state. In a letter to the Gatsas last week, Hassan said she agreed that an emergency exists, but that it’s not one that could be dealt with in the twenty one day period allowed by law. She also declined to use any of the two point five million dollars the state has in federal funds earmarked to fight the heroin epidemic for a drug court in the Hillsborough County North Superior Court District. She said the monies may only be used for existing programs, not to start new ones. If not used by October first, the money has to go back to the feds.
Not one to be outdone, however, Hassan gave Gatsas a bit of a “back at’cha.” In stating that the Expanded Medicaid program had funds to treat drug addiction, she asked the mayor to publicly support the program. As you know, it is something of a bone of contention between the governor and Republican legislative leaders in the stalemate over the budget vetoed by Hassan.
Finally this morning, Ward One Alderman and mayoral candidate Joyce Craig says Mayor Ted Gatsas is for sale. She sent out a press release on Friday that said quote: “Donald Trump said he has given money to many politicians over the years so he can call them for political favors down the road. In June, wrote a personal check for $5,000 to Ted Gatsas’s campaign. Do you really want a mayor who owes Donald Trump a political favor?” (Emphasis in the original.)
Craig, who has not yet released her campaign finance report, and doesn’t have to until between September fifth and fourteenth because she chose to file under a political committee, not as an incumbent like Gatsas did, didn’t say whether or not she would accept money from Democratic presidential candidates and hasn’t replied to our inquiries regarding whether or not she would take money from Planned Parenthood, an organization for which she has expressed gret support before the controversy broke, in light of the revelations they’re trafficking in butchered baby body parts. In an interview on Girard at Large, Gatsas has said he will not accept funds from Planned Parenthood.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next.