Two hundred sixty five thousand dollars. In an interview here on Girard at Large yesterday, that’s the amount of money Mayor Ted Gatsas said was headed the state’s way following the White House announcement it was going to help the region combat the heroin epidemic. While thankful for the funds, Gatsas said they weren’t enough to impact the problem and said while nobody was really sure what was coming our way, it looked like the help coming was mostly on the law enforcement side, not on the treatment and rehabilitation side. He said he had a problem with assistance that was heavy on coordinators, not on counselors. Rather than spending the money itself, or directing how states must use what it was making available, Gatsas thought the states should be allowed to determine how best to use the funds and other resources.
He also hammered the F D A for approving Oxycontin for use by children as young as eleven and expressed disbelief that nobody in the federal government, congressmen, senators, even the President had spoken out against the announcement. Opiate based prescription drugs have, over and over again, been cited by law enforcement and treatment counselors as a major cause of heroin use.
Also in the interview, Gatsas put the lie to charges that he was seeking to offset tuition revenue losses with contract concessions from the teachers. He said that his priority was to use monies saved by changes to their health plan was to hire more teachers, as he did with the contract extension he negotiated with the police department unions more than three years ago.
The teachers union rejected the contract extension Gatsas negotiated with M E A President Ben Dick in the Spring of two thousand twelve. Absent the four and one half million dollars in projected health insurance savings, the district was able to recall only about half of the teachers who received layoff notices. Approximately eighty teachers were laid off, while about half of the teachers remaining on the payroll received raises averaging eight percent, a combination of their so called step raises and cost of living adjustment, with the other half receiving a COLA raise of two and a half percent.
Meanwhile, in an interview elsewhere, mayoral candidate Joyce Craig doubled down on teacher contract numbers dis-proven by objective analysis and once again put words in the mouth of Police Chief Nick Willard regarding support for the Expanded Medicaid program in the state.
Craig told interviewer Jack Heath that the teacher’s contract would cost the taxpayers nothing next year because of projected savings in the current year, which she double counted like school district Negotiations Committee Chair John Avard when she subtracted them from the alleged seven hundred thousand dollar cost she said would exist next year, leaving a balance due to the taxpayer of four hundred thousand dollars. She then went on to say that because the district had turned in surpluses averaging four hundred thousand dollars in recent years, the cost would be nothing. That math, my friends, not only triple counts the projected savings from this year, after all, any surplus this year will include any actual savings from the contract, it fails to disclose that she had to use one point two million dollars in projected savings due to retirements, which has nothing to do with the contract, unless you believe teachers will only retire if a contract passes, which is absurd, to get to her seven hundred thousand dollar starting point.
She also said is that in order to get the treatment services the city needed, the police chief, among others including the governor and city health director, said we need to advocate for Expanded Medicaid. Problem is that Chief Willard didn’t really say that. In texts to Girard at Large, Willard said
“I agreed with Tim Soucy’s analysis of the benefits of expansion relative to treatment. At the committee meeting, Tim Soucy said he thought Medicaid expansion was important because it was increasing the ability to get treatment and I said I agreed with Tim insofar as treatment goes.”
News from our own backyard continues after this.
The Bow Police Department is warning residents in the Ridgewood Drive area to lock their doors, garages and cars and to keep exterior lights on, which is probably good advice for everybody in our listening area. On the night of the eighteenth, the homeowners at 3 1 Ridgewood Drive awoke to the sound of someone opening their back door. They looked outside, saw a flashlight out back, and called 9 1 1. Officers responded with a K-9 unit, however they were unable to locate anyone. Yesterday morning dispatch received a phone call from the owners of 2 9 Ridgewood Drive reporting that someone had gained entry to their garage and had gone through both vehicles. The burglars took a jar of change, ten bucks and a folding knife. The police are suggesting if you see or hear anything suspicious to call 911 right away. Anyone with information about these events is asked to call the Bow Police Department at, 2 28-0 5 11.
Leaders in the NH Senate and House have offered a compromise budget to Governor Margaret Wood Hassan. They say they’ll fully fund the pay raises negotiated between the state and its employee unions in their budget if the governor urges Democrats to override her veto. Don’t hold your breath!
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!