The full Joint Task Force on the Response to the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic in New Hampshire met yesterday to make recommendations on fast tracking legislation this January as part of an interim report. It’s recommendations are bound to make officials in the city of Manchester unhappy as legislation establishing and providing funding for drug courts is not among the fast track. Just three bills gained fast track status.
- The first increases penalties for distributing fentanyl to match those for heroin, eliminates insurers’ prior authorization requirements and requires providers to use the prescription drug monitoring system (LSR 2758)
- The second studies expanded distribution of Narcan (LSR 2955)
- The third expands alcohol and drug education in schools (LSR 2879)
Senate Majority Leader and Task Force Chairman Jeb Bradley said the expedited bills should be on the governor’s desk in January. House Majority Leader and Task Force Vice Chairman Dick Hinch of Merrimack said they quote “will take action as appropriate and move forward on other initiatives as the legislative session plays out in 2016.” Guess that means drug court legislation will just be another bill in the mix.
The New Hampshire’s Attorney General’s Office notified the Timberlane Regional School District that Joshua Horns, the Danville Selectman and Timberlane Budget Committee member is not violating state statute by serving in both offices. The district had filed a complaint with the A G alleging Horns’ service on both boards violated the state’s Incompatibility of Offices statutes. The A G’s office, apparently able to read the clear language of the law, ruled it did not as the two are politically separate entities. Horns, along with the Danville Board of Selectmen, has been a critic of Superintendent Earl Metzler and the Timberlane Regional School Board over their handling of a number of budget and related issues.
The Auburn Budget Committee will meet tomorrow night in Town Hall at seven. On the agenda are warrant articles that will find their way to the ballot in March, including the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Auburn Police Union, Mosquito Control Program, Cemetery Maintenance Expendable Trust Fund, Accrued Benefits Expendable Trust Fund and the Town Buildings Rehabilitation Capital Reserve Fund.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
It was a busy, and at times bitter, meeting of the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen last night. Things began rather blandly as the board conducted a public hearing on the proposed rezoning of the former Osram Sylvania site on South Willow Street from Industrial to General Business. Numerous concerns were aired by aldermen over traffic studies, the condition of Driving Park Road and the neighboring Little League field, recommendations of the Planning Department and all the usual stuff. It was all taken under advisement, of course.
From there, a presentation by Building on Hope and the Manchester Police Athletic League about the renovation of the Michael Briggs Center, the former St. Cecilia’s Hall at the corner of Beech and Lake, was given in support of a request that the board bond half a million dollars to support the proposed renovations. Former Manchester Police Chief David J. Mara, Chairman of M-PAL’s Board of Directors, said the group had already raised one hundred thirty thousand dollars to support the project.
Mayor Ted Gatsas agreed with Building on Hope officials that the city’s commitment to the bond would enable the group to raise funds and in kind contributions to cover the million dollar project, to which the city itself has already donated twenty five thousand dollars and Gatsas announced Waste Management had agreed to contribute another twenty five thousand. Gatsas said he believed that enough money would be raised to make the bond unnecessary, but that the city had to commit to the bond to enable the funds to be raised. Mara said that M-PAL would pay any debt service for any bond the city ultimately issued to support the project. At-Large Alderman Dan O’Neil, a former member of M-PAL’s board of directors, abstained on the vote saying it should go through the committee first.
It was that same insistence on the committee process that caused a big dust up over a contract extension Gatsas negotiated with Waste Management. The original contract to haul the city’s trash from Waste Management’s transfer station in Auburn and truck it to their landfill in Rochester provided for a ten year contract with four five year extensions. The extension presented to the board last night was the third. Among other perks, like a new compactor to replace the aging and dying one at the city’s Dunbarton Road Drop Off facility, the contract will save taxpayers two hundred eighty thousand dollars in the coming year.
Ward one Alderman Joyce Craig, chair of the Solid Waste Committee, expressed her disappointment that the matter did not go to her committee and said that if Waste Management didn’t agree to give the city savings retroactively so that it could go to committee, they’d appear to be hiding something.
The board also received and filed Ward Four Alderman Jim Roy’s motion to refer Ward 2 Alderman Ron Ludwig, Ward 9 Alderman Barbara Shaw and Ward 11 Alderman Normand Gamache to the Conduct Committee based on the findings of the City Solicitor’s Office that they’d voted on the teachers contract in violation of the charter. Roy cited the city’s argument in favor of dismissing the pending court case which said that the matter hadn’t been referred to the conduct committee as the reason. Alderman at-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur argued it should be tabled until the court ruled.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next.