AnnouncementsOur top story this morning (kidding):  The Bedford Police Department’s monthly “Meet the Chief” meeting with Chief John Bryfonski is moved to Wednesday, August 12th, from five to seven, that’s tomorrow night at the Bedford Safety Complex.  The regular schedule for Meet the Chief will resume on the second Tuesday of the month, starting in September.

Now onto the other news.

Avard:  "Here, you are not the mayor."

Avard: “Here, you are not the mayor.”

It was something of a brutal night of political warfare at the Manchester Board of School Committee last night as mostly red shirted members took a vote of no-confidence in Mayor Ted Gatsas.  Ward Ten School Committeeman John Avard launched the invective against the mayor saying, quote

“You, Ted Gatsas, have two jobs.  Here, you are not the mayor.”

School board in red

School board in red

Ward Two Committeewoman Debra Langton was the first to react to the motion, which was seconded by Ward Eleven Committeewoman Kate Desrochers, by saying it came as a shock to her and she would vote against it, to the groans of the teachers in the crowd, because, even though she disagreed with the veto, she believed Gatsas did what he thought was best for the city.  Ward Five Committeeman Ted Rokas was the only other member to oppose the motion.  Gatsas abstained on the vote.  No vote was cast from Ward Six as the seat remains vacant and Ward Seven Committeeman Ross Terrio was absent from the meeting.

Avard wasn’t finished with a vote of no confidence.  He offered a motion asking the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to reconsider their vote on the contract and demanded that the mayor recuse himself from the matter, citing a conflict of interest in his being both the chair of the school board and mayor of the city.   The motion passed with the same vote as the vote of no confidence.

Gatsas:  Undaunted, calls special meeting to review financial impact

Gatsas:  Undaunted, calls special meeting to review actual financial impact

Toward the end of the meeting, the mayor said he was going to call a special meeting of the board to address what he called misinformation given in the chamber over the contract’s financial impact.  He disputed statements that he did his own numbers and ignored those of the city Finance Officer Bill Sanders and the district’s Business Administrator Karen DeFrancis.  He said he used them in his presentation and even had a higher tax cap number than the one they presented, but that the contract was still unfordable.

Dick:  Teacher pride is hurting

Dick: Teacher pride is hurting

All of this came after outgoing Manchester Education Association President Ben Dick gave a rather engaging presentation over what he called a disconnect that separates the teachers from the administrators at both the building and district levels.  Dick said teachers don’t do the job to be thanked and recognized for their efforts, but that going long stretches without recognition for their efforts diminishes the pride they take in doing the job.  Dick said teachers feel unsupported by the administration and often made to blame for things that aren’t their fault, such as the dysfunction of the Aspen system and violations of the No Touch Policy.  Dick was critical of the district practice of automatically suspending staff for alleged violations of the policy without any prior investigation of any complaint.

Livingston:  No raise or contract for us

Livingston: No raise or contract for us

Dick came to the floor during the Superintendent’s Communications agenda item, after Superintendent Debra Livingston announced she was going to ask the board to table the three administrators contracts pending before it.  She said she could neither morally nor ethically accept a contract which included pay raises while the people behind her, those would be the teachers in the gallery, were without a contract.  Several members of the public, including yours truly, asked that those contracts, which the administration refused to release prior to last night’s meeting, be tabled, released or outright killed during the public input session.  Apparently, public outcry had no bearing on Livingston’s decision as she said the decision was made the night the teacher’s contract was vetoed.

Beaudry:  Not buying it

Beaudry: Not buying it

Langton asked Livingston why it was the board wasn’t informed that the contracts were going to the Coordination Committee so that members with concerns or questions could attend.  Livingston said she worked with the process she knew.  Ward Nine’s Arthur Beaudry challenged that saying he’d never seen the contracts for administrators handled in such a secretive way.  Under questioning from Gatsas, the district’s attorney Matthew Upton said he didn’t direct Livingston to withhold the contracts from the public, but that the items acted on by the committee were just proposals and that the contracts didn’t actually exist to release until just before the meeting.  Now that they were in the hands of a quorum of the board, however they could be released.  Yeah, the only problem with that is that they were sent to the entire board on Friday, under confidential cover because the administration still refused to release them.  Anyway, as she walked by your Humble Host later in the evening, she handed me a copy of her contract, but not those for the assistant superintendent or business administrator.

Teachers protest in City Hall

Teachers protest in City Hall

As you may know, there was some protesting going on last night.  Roughly two hundred current and retired teachers marched outside City Hall carrying placards that said “teachers deserve a fair contract” and various negative things about the mayor.

Standing room only in City Hall

Standing room only in City Hall

Several electoral threats were made by speakers in front of the cheering and jeering crowd during the public input session.  All of the mayor’s opponents spoke.  Jawed Alibaba Shaikh said the raise for teachers was “only ten or fifteen percent” and that wasn’t a lot of money and should just be given so the teachers would be happy.  Patrick Arnold told the mayor to work with those elected to represent the people or step aside for someone who would.  Joyce Craig again stated the mayor made up his own numbers and that she took issue with the one taxpayer who thanked the mayor for his fiscal responsibility saying the veto wasn’t fiscally responsible, claiming it was costing the citizens hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in lost savings.  Welcome to the new math.

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