Well, call me a monkey’s uncle, but it looks like the candidates for mayor in Manchester will engage each other in twelve town hall meetings across the city between now and the general election.  Yesterday, Mayor Ted Gatsas announced that late on Wednesday evening, he’d received an e-mail response from mayoral opponent, Ward One Alderman Joyce Craig, accepting his request a town hall meeting in each of the twelve city wards.

In making the announcement, Gatsas said he was looking forward to the town hall tour and took direct aim at Craig’s record on the budget.  quote:

It is important that the taxpayers hear from both candidates side by side as there is a stark contrast between myself and Alderman Craig when it comes to taxes and spending.  Twice the majority of voters in Manchester have voted to limit spending and support the tax cap.  Joyce Craig has already proven that she has little regard for the voter approved tax cap.  She authored the only budget in city history to override the tax cap and this year she led the effort to approve the teachers contract that included 18% pay increases that will bust the tax cap.

We’d love to share what Craig had to say about her reasons for participating, but she’s neither replied to our request for comment on the mayor’s challenge, nor to our offer to host a debate between the two, a debate to which the mayor has publicly agreed.

Meanwhile, Craig doesn’t seem to be crowing about a recent endorsement she received.  The Manchester Education Association, not surprisingly, endorsed her campaign for mayor earlier this week, which only makes sense.  After all, they both agree that the best way to improve education is to give pay raises, that in the aggregate, are more than twice the size of the savings gained from changes to the health insurance, which causes a net increase in spending that breaks the city’s Tax Cap and likely leads to fewer teachers next school year as the district, due to revenue losses and debt service increases, will likely have to leave unfilled any vacancies created by retirements and may even have to lay teachers off.  Craig has said the mayor made up the deficit numbers, but school district Business Administrator Karen DeFrancis confirmed the looming deficit in the next budget at Monday’s meeting of the Board of School Committee.

The Derry Town Council met in special session last night to discuss the recent court order requiring them to hold an election on eight petitions filed by citizens to overturn budget cuts made by the council.  At what was yet another meeting that had citizens removed by police for outbursts that disrupted the meeting, the council voted five to two to appeal the court’s order.  Derry Town Councilor Mark Osborne will be our guest to discuss the details this morning.

News from our own backyard continues after this.

Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard has announced that the city will hold Trick or Treat on Halloween, Saturday October 31st from five to eight P M.  By city ordinance, the city’s police chief gets to determine when Trick or Treat festivities are held.  After decades of holding Trick or Treat on Sunday afternoons, former Police Chief David Mara made the change to holding it on Halloween Night about five years ago.  Looks like Willard’s going to continue with that timing.  Reminder on how this works.  If you want to participate in Trick or Treat, turn your outside lights on.  If you don’t, keep them off until it’s over.

The Bedford Police Department will hold a public auction of lost and found bicycles and unclaimed property. This auction will be held on Saturday, September twenty sixth, from 10:00 to 1:00 during the Old Towne Day celebration located at Riley Field on Nashua Road.  All property and bicycles will need to be picked up by 2:00 that afternoon.  Proceeds from the bicycle auction will be used to support the Bedford Police Department’s bicycle safety program.  Proceeds from the unclaimed property will go to the town’s general fund.  If you have any questions, please contact the Bedford Police Department at 4 7 2 5 1 1 3 extension 3 4 0.  Old Towne Day, by the way, runs from ten to three.

Also on that day, the department will participate in the National Drug Take Back Day.  From ten to two, Bedford residents may rid their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs by bringing them to a special drop off box in the department’s lobby.  The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.  Please include only prescription drugs.  Syringes, needles or liquids are not accepted.  Check with your local police departments to see if they’re participating.  Chances are, they are.

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