Willard: Trying to uphold rights of all


Next time, before you give, ask yourself, can your donation to a panhandler be better spent giving to a food pantry, a recovery center, or any of the many agencies that seek to give a hand up and not just a hand out?  The answer is yes, it may even save a life.

That’s just part of an open letter to the public on panhandling, authored by Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard.  In the letter, which was published in full yesterday afternoon at Girard at Large dot com, Willard urged people to stop giving to panhandlers, writing, in many cases, those donations are being used to buy drugs and alcohol.  Willard said, according to police records, two dozen known panhandlers have overdosed, many on multiple occasions, six of them fatally.

Panhandling: Expect roadway crackdown

Willard wrote the letter as criticism of the department is rising amongst accusations that it’s quote unquote “doing nothing” about the proliferation of panhandling in the city, some of which is very aggressive.  Two years ago, the city passed an ordinance prohibiting motorists from passing anything, including money, from the inside of their car to anybody outside of the car.  Willard said the department has used the ordinance to ticket motorists who stop at green lights to give money to panhandlers.  He also said the department has acted when the panhandlers have been considered threatening or have acted to create a hazard to motorists. 

Outside of that, he writes, panhandlers aren’t criminals and there’s little law enforcement can do, which is why he’s urging the public to give to the charities and organizations that provide the help many of them need with drug addiction and mental illness instead.  While saying it’s an issue that requires a community wide response, he said to expect a police crack down on motorists who violate the ordinance and give to panhandlers on the roadside.

Gatsas: He’s in

As we heard during his interview on Girard at Large yesterday, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas is running for reelection.  In a memo sent to supporters, Gatsas said, quote:  

Manchester is experiencing unprecedented economic growth.  Everyday there is something new and exciting happening here in Manchester.  I am proud of all that our city has achieved together, and in the next two years we will build on this foundation for the good of all.

Both in his interview and in the announcement sent to supporters, Gatsas sited the success of Safe Station, a strong and improving economy, significant reductions in crime, achievements of the school system and the need to fight for responsible budgeting that safeguards taxpayer dollars.  Said Gatsas, quote:

I am going to run a vigorous campaign and work hard to earn the votes of my fellow residents.  I look forward to going door-to-door, neighborhood to neighborhood talking to people across the city about the progress we are making, my vision for the future and how we can move Manchester forward together.

Craig: Not impressed

Unsurprisingly, not everybody was impressed with the announcement.  Rival Joyce Craig, whom Gatsas narrowly defeated in a hard fought contest two years ago, issued a statement to her supporters announcing Gatsas’ entry into the race saying quote:

For eight years, Ted Gatsas has let our city stumble from crisis to crisis and now he wants another term. On virtually every major issue, the current mayor is either missing in action or leading us in the wrong direction…We need a plan for our city that encourages and supports hard working families.  It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get down to the business and hard work of improving our city.

Craig, a former one term school board member and three term alderman, released no such plans during her time in office and has yet to release any plans a candidate for mayor, including during her last run.

News from our own backyard continues after this.

Candia School Board: Suffering a coordinated effort designed to intimidate?

The Candia School Board is expected to take up the controversial policy on trans-gendered and gender non conforming students at its meeting tonight.  Last week, the board held a public hearing on the policy that drew L G B T Q advocates from around the state to oppose changing the policy.  Fueled by out of towners, those who spoke in favor of keeping the policy outnumbered those who favored repealing it by about two to one.  However, even policy proponents agreed the wording needed to be changed to clarify the policy’s intent, especially regarding communications with parents.

LaFlamme: Orchestrating outside organizations?

Since the hearing, Girard at Large has obtained an email that indicates former School Board Chair Nicole LaFlamme, who was defeated in a reelection bid in March because of the policy’s adoption, may have colluded with outside organizations to mobilize policy supporters to attend the hearing and otherwise oppose changes or repeal.  The email in question went to the Candia School Board from GLAD, a Boston based L G B T Q legal advocacy group.  It was sent in response to a letter the Candia School Board received from the Alliance Defending Freedom, which provided the board with a legal analysis of why it was okay to rescind the policy if it so chose.  A D F said it sent the letter, and a sample replacement policy, at the request of several concerned Candia parents who asked for their help.

Apparently, a member of the Candia School Board sent the Alliance’s letter to LaFlamme who apparently forwarded it to GLAD, which then sent the board its legal rebuttal.  The fun part in all of this is that the GLAD email copied LaFlamme, who wasn’t part of the original email chain involving the letter from the A D F.

Now, there’s nothing improper about members of the board sharing a document or an email that was sent to the entire board.  That’s a public record and it’s perfectly legal to disseminate it, so long as it doesn’t contain any exempt material.  So, nobody did anything wrong.  But, we found it interesting to see LaFlamme’s inclusion and wonder whether she’s just trying to sandbag the board that’s poised to eliminate or change to the policy she and her compatriots jammed down the town’s throat, despite overwhelming opposition, a move that cost her and fellow incumbent Karen Yeatman their seats.

Ah, the games we play.  Of course, we will publish it all with this news read at Girard at Large dot com.

Click here for video of the public hearing.

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