Well, we predicted this day would come and it finally has. No, we’re not talking about Pope Francis‘ address to Congress, we might talk abut that later. We’re talking about the city of Manchester being sued over the violations of the city’s charter committed by aldermen Ron Ludwig of Ward Two, Barbara Shaw of Ward Nine and Normand Gamache of Ward Eleven in voting on the contract with the Manchester Education Association. As most in this audience are aware, those three aldermen have immediate family members, as defined by the charter, covered by the contract. The charter also declares that because they have a financial interest in members of their immediate family, they are prohibited from participating in matters affecting those financial interests. Translation: If, as in this case, your wife or child is covered by a city contract, you can’t vote on it.
In pointing that out, the plaintiff, former State Rep. Matthew Swank, who was instrumental in citizen efforts to add the current Tax Cap to the city charter, said that had the three aldermen followed the law, and the advice of the city solicitor, there would not have been enough votes to override Mayor Ted Gatsas‘ veto of the contract. In the complaint, which was filed Wednesday afternoon and brought to our attention yesterday, Swank asks the court to decree that because Ludwig, Shaw and Gamache had a conflict of interest, as defined by the charter, which made them ineligible to vote, that the vote to override the mayor’s veto “is void and having no effect.”
Swank also asked the court to issue a temporary injunction preventing the execution of the contract pending a final ruling. Swank argues that if the court does not issue the preliminary injunction, there would be “no remedy at law” to prevent the contract’s financial burdens from being imposed on the city’s taxpayers, or otherwise allow citizens to compel the city to follow its own charter.
Swank took things a step further, asking the court to permanently restrain the aldermen from violating the charter’s conflict of interest rules in the future. That would prevent any alderman from future casting votes on matters involving immediate family, which, for example, in this case, would mean Ludwig and Gamache couldn’t vote on the firefighters’ contract because they have sons on the job.
Swank’s asking for his legal fees to be paid. Speaking of legal fees, Swank’s attorney, Brandon Ross, said he’s been approached by others interested in filing suit over this matter and that Manchester residents who wanted to have their name added to Swank’s suit could join it at not cost. He said he would gladly revise the complaint to add the name any resident interested in enforcing the charter. Those interested should send an email to Brandon@B D Ross law.com For complete contact information, visit BDRossLaw.com.
During this morning’s show, we heard from three people who’ve already joined the suit, including Michael Sigurd Olszta and Robert Tarr who filed complaints with the city over the aldermen’s actions and Keith Katsikas, the parent who founded SPRAG.org, a parents rights organization, after his son was subjected to a controversial anti-bullying lesson at the Hallsville School.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
In a follow up to two stories we brought you yesterday, Manchester School Superintendent Debra Livingston said the district will release the information on which school board members are taking taxpayer provided health and dental insurance tonight at five. Livingston released that info in reply to yet another request filed for it yesterday. So, today, Friday, at five o’clock, the district will finally cough up what it should have coughed up no later than five P M on Tuesday the fifteenth, the day it was requested. We’ll see whether or not they spill all the beans, which we doubt, and be sure to make it public.
In a related story, mayoral candidate Joyce Craig has not replied to our inquiry regarding whether or not she agrees with the mayor’s proposal to have school board members pay one hundred percent of the premium for their taxpayer provided health and dental benefits nor has she answered our inquiry asking whether or not school board members should release that information to the public or whether or not the school district should release the information as the city has released the aldermen’s.
Also, in response to our story about the availability of Smarter Balanced Assessment scoring yesterday, Livingston confirmed the district had its preliminary testing data, but not the state data. Shortly after we got that email, we got one from the state which was an awful lot like the one we originally got from Livingston. It neither confirmed nor denied the state average scores we presented. There was more to it than that, of course, but we didn’t really get a chance to digest it all. Not to worry, we will.
The Timberlane Regional School District is back on our radar after an interesting meeting of the district’s budget committee. The Budget Committee voted four to three with two abstentions/absences to require the district to provide it with Excel spreadsheets in electronic format so its members could sort or otherwise arrange the data as they saw fit. That didn’t go over well with Business Administrator George Stokinger who said he was going to raise the matter with the district’s legal counsel.
Last March, the committee voted to request Excel spreadsheets, but their request was ignored. Apparently, those who are supposed to answer to the elected officials that oversee them feel all they need to do is comply with the state’s Right to Know Law in providing documents. That provoked budget committee member Josh Horns, who is being sued by the district in an attempt to remove him from the budget committee because he’s also a Danville selectman, to remind Stokinger that committee requests are not Right to Know Requests and that state law requires them requests to be fulfilled. It’s no wonder why Superintendent Earl Metzler wants this guy gone.
Finally this morning, the Londonderry School District has upped the ante in the competition for Hooksett’s high school kids. At last night’s High School Fair, where the high schools Hooksett’s kids can choose from showcased their offerings, Londonderry High School Principal Jason Parent announced that if twenty or more students take a bus to Londonderry High this coming year, Londonderry will pay for that bus. Currently, the bus that travels from Cawley Middle School to Londonderry High is paid for directly by the parents. Hooksett School Board Member John Lyscars said the proposal could be quote “a game changer” with regards to enrollments at the school.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next