Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I turned 39 (2014)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

We need better than Frank Guinta

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Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta, along with wife Morgan, takes the oath of office from city clerk Carol Johnson yesterday morning at the Palace Theatre as Master of ceremonies Louis DeMato looks on. (JAMES COOK) 1/1/2008.
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Mayor Frank Guinta
Mayor Frank Guinta talks with both NH Governor John Lynch and his local Police Chief

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Manchester Daily Express, Published by HippoPress LLC

Published on Page 12 of "The Manchester Daily Express" on Thursday, September 27, 2007

OPINION PAGE

To: news@manchexpress.com

Re: Letter to the Editor to The Manchester Daily Express

Dear Editor:

Prior to the 9/18 municipal primary, I was excited to vote for a very qualified candidate for Mayor, Joe Kelly Levasseur, who then went onto finish third and was thereby disqualified from the general election in early-November. The reason why I supported “Joe for Mayor” is because he is a man of ideas and his dual foci were the people and the community. The bottom line to me was that Joe did not owe anyone anything, and he wanted to give Manchester everything.

Unfortunately, I became disillusioned with the outcome of Joe’s short-lived populist-campaign when he caved into some of the very people he spoke out against and threw his support behind the crux of Manchester’s biggest political problem: incumbent Mayor Frank Guinta!

While I am still mostly proud of Joe for his promised-commitments to the people of Manchester, I will NOT be deferring to his double-dealing endorsement for Mayor!

As Mayor, Frank Guinta has demonstrated himself to be a minion of the elite’s special interests that have doomed the city’s public education operations to state and federal bureaucratic eccentricities, created an artificial environment of hopelessness and perverse incentives, and predictably raised regressive tax revenues by approximately 7% to scare away any real economic growth.

When Frank Guinta campaigned and then administered the city government, the only thing that changed in Manchester were the trivial, always-manipulated municipal social statistics that have only demonstrated short-term, band-aid economic solutions (“save now, pay later” / “penny-wise, pound-foolish”) to the real, unresolved long-term social problems.

Unlike Joe, Mayor Frank Guinta does not care about the people he serves. To illustrate my point, when Mayor Guinta prioritized economic efficiency initiatives to reduce local tax liabilities, he had initially said he would sit-down and study long-term trends in the city’s yearly budget cycles, which never happened.

One of the Mayor’s efficiency-initiatives was a proposal in this year’s city budget to end a local social program providing dental care to the city’s public school children-in-need. Saving money by hurting the poor is the only place where Mayor Frank Guinta demonstrably saw wasteful or inefficient budget trends. The one-time tax savings from Frank Guinta’s then-proposed FY08 municipal budget was a forecasted savings of a paltry $18 per household. So instead of the poor receiving vital local social services, the Mayor is giving away the equivalent of a free large pizza with a few yummy toppings per household.

I believe Manchester deserves better than Frank Guinta!

Jonathan A. Melle
Manchester, NH

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"Taxes, Crime, And Change: Three cities, three mayoral races and more on Nov. 6"
By Brian Early bearly@hippopress.com
the Hippo, Manchester, New Hampshire
~In Part~

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2007,...Manchester, NH,...will all go to the polls to pick a new mayor.

In Manchester, NH, most political watchers are probably betting that Mayor Frank Guinta will keep his job.

Manchester’s mayor

There are probably few political watchers in Manchester who would say the mayor’s race is exciting, except those directly involved.

In the handful of mayoral debates so far, incumbent Mayor Frank Guinta has clashed with challenger attorney Tom Donovan over crime, taxes and schools. But so far, most of the fighting words have been in the debate (though Manchester has seen many an end-of-the-campaign negative mailer).

“The majority of the citizens of Manchester want a change in leadership,” Donovan said on the night of the primary in September.

But Guinta beat Donovan by 12 points in the primary, taking 45 percent of the vote. Donovan’s camp declared victory after keeping Guinta to below 50 percent in the vote.

State Rep. Jane Beaulieu, who ran unsuccessfully in the primary, thinks this campaign is a yawner.

“I think it’s uneventful,” she said. She has yet to endorse fellow Democrat Tom Donovan (Guinta is the Republican in the race, though technically the mayor’s race is non-partisan). Beaulieu lacked the large financial resources afforded to Donovan and Guinta.

Attorney Joe Kelly Levasseur, another mayoral challenger who was eliminated in the primary, agrees.

“I don’t think many people are really interested in this race from what I’m hearing. It’s more of a screaming match and a finger-pointing contest,” Levasseur said.

“I know what it was like to be a challenger I was always careful to talk about the record,” Guinta said.

“If you compare the campaign this year with the campaign two years ago against Baines, I would say our campaign is much more positive than it was two years ago. It’s not personal, it’s about issues,” Donovan said.

Levasseur tagged Guinta as “Republican lite” during the primary but has endorsed him during the general election.

He doesn’t see a big issue that would keep Guinta from winning reelection.

“Most people are willing to give him a second chance,” he said. “The pressure is going to be on Guinta next time,” especially if like- minded aldermen are elected. Then he won’t have any excuses about passing his agenda, which focuses on tax relief, Levasseur said. He predicts Guinta will win the election with 58 percent of the vote.

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Joseph Kelly Levasseur
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Joe is a Manchester, NH, politician, attorney, & business owner.
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The Manchester Daily Express, November 7, 2007, Page 12
"I am watching you, Frank Guinta"
Letter written by Joseph Kelly Levasseur

I have tried to stay neutral as best I can the past 2 months, but the onslaught of misleading and inappropriate statements and mailings from Mayor Frank Guinta has forced me to say something. Guinta is being disingenuous when he says he is the 1st Mayor in a decade to "provide a tax cut."

First of all, he had nothing to do with the "tax cut" we will receive next month. The responsibility for the "tax cut" was lead by and voted on by the board of alderman, most importantly Lopez and Duval - Lopez for bringing the idea of taking money out of a revenue fund and Duval for overriding Guinta's veto. Without that action by the aldermen, there would be no tax cut. For Frank Guinta to say he "delivered" the tax cut is just plain silly.

Secondly, it has not been a decade since the last tax cut. In 1999, Mayor Wieczorek and a majority board of Republican aldermen delivered a hefty tax cut. Maybe Guinta has a problem counting or thinks he can get away with his tricky numbers? Numbers like violent crime is down 17 percent, schools are better under his administration? Add in a murder that was not counted in the recent Manchester police statistics and violent crime has not gone down at all.

I should stop here but there is one more thing Frank Guinta recently stated that irks me to no end. He actually stated in the last debate with Tom Donovan that he knew what it was like to "live from month to month." Huh?

This from a guy who has had everything in the world handed to him? This from a guy who lives in a $425,000 house in the north end? Give me a break. That ridiculous statement was a slap in the face to every person who has had to struggle every day of their lives to make sure that they can make ends meat. That statement proved to me what I already knew, that Guinta will say anything to anyone to get them on his side.

If Frank Guinta wanted to win this election so badly, all he had to do was say to the voters, "Look, I did not get everything I wanted to do do done on time. I will do better, but I need a group of likeminded individuals to help me." Instead, Frank Guinta told falsehoods and tried to rewrite a very poor performance over the past 6 years as mayor and former alderman. Guinta won because the city Democrats went over the top negative and Tom Donovan started his run for mayor too late. But rest assured, Guinta won't get a free ride in this next cycle. When the presidential primary is over and done, Manchester, NH, taxpayers will turn a closer eye towards City Hall. And with me watching Guinta's every move, he will either have to really deliver or move to some other gullible city or town to continue his overly ambitious drive towards Washington, D.C.

-Joe Kelly Levasseur

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The Manchester Daily Express – OPINION PAGE – November 28, 2007 – Page 12

“Guinta drops the ball again!”

The second term has not even begun and already Mayor Frank Guinta dropped the ball again. The disgraced former superintendent of the Manchester School District came under fire last week after someone tipped off someone that Dr. Ludwell had given himself his own pay raise. What did Guinta and the chief of the Manchester Police Department do? Nothing! Absolutely nothing at all!

It is no wonder that we cannot trust government in Manchester? Why did Guinta get reelected? He got elected because not enough people in Manchester know that Guinta will do everything in his power to shield his office and himself from any controversy he can. He had an opportunity to rid the school district of this obviously incompetent man 2 years ago, but that would have created controversy. Now, when we all find out that Ludwell gave himself a raise without any authorization to do so, Guinta and the police chief let Ludwell walk away without any criminal punishment.

Is this just another one of [Frank] Guinta’s backroom deals to hide the facts from the citizens of Manchester and avoid personal mismanagement or incompetence on behalf of the mayor’s office or the human resources director of the school district?

We have a right to know when Ludwell gifted himself a raise and why it took so long for the mayor’s office to find out. If this happened in any other corporation, an investigation would have been started immediately. Instead, taxpayers are left to wonder how in the world someone is allowed to take more than $1,000 over four months without anyone knowing about it.

I personally demand that Mayor Frank Guinta investigate this matter fully and let us know the facts. I want to know who wrote the checks, who tipped the mayor off, and why it took so long to find out about this. Heads need to roll at the school district. I am tired of backroom deals that allow corrupt individuals to run out the back door free from criminal prosecution.

We all need to know the facts of this case. If it is found that Ludwell gave himself a raise, then Ludwell should not be allowed to ever run a school district again, not only because he in imcompetent but because he could be an embezzler, too.

[Frank] Guinta needs to clean up this city once and for all. He needs to start representing all of us taxpayers and stop giving incompetent city employees a break when they do something like this. Controversy be damned: Guinta, stand up and be a leader and stop letting these corrupt individuals sneak out the back door just so you can avoid controversy or the possibility of the fallout landing on you.

Joe Kelly Levasseur
Manchester, NH

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"There is no Ludwell conspiracy"

In response to a letter published last week, I would like to voice my support for Mayor Frank Guinta's handling of the Superintendent Ludwell issue.

It is surprising to me just how many issues Joe Kelly Levasseur can find to criticize Mayor Guinta on. This constant harping and distorted criticism only further proves that there is a serious stink of sour grapes coming from Joe Kelly.

The public has been made aware of Ludwell's actions, and the police themselves have decided against an investigation. It is plain to see that there is no third shooter and no grassy knoll. Joe Kelly's conspiracy seeking behavior is not beneficial or productive for the city of Manchester.

The Ludwell issue is solved and wrapped up with a nice bow. Joe Kelly's desire to perform surgery on this issue is unnecessary and a waste of time for all involved. Mayor Guinta and city officials did their job and put an end to Superintendent Ludwell and his future in the Manchester school system.

It is easier for attorneys to jump towards legal action than most of us, and for those of us who do not collect our paychecks from legal fees, the benefits to the children and school system are greater now than if enthralled in controversy and investigation.

Mayor Guinta is focused on serving the residents of Manchester and working to improve the school system. Michael Ludwell is no longer in charge of the school system. That in itself is a great improvement to the city.

Joe, you cannot uncover things that don't exist. Stop seeking controversy and conspiracy, it serves no one and only further speaks to your resentfulness towards city hall.

J. Holden
Manchester, NH

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Manchester Daily Express, Published by HippoPress LLC
Published on Page 12 of "The Manchester Daily Express" on Friday, November 23, 2007
OPINION PAGE

To: news@manchexpress.com -
Letters
Manchester Daily Express
49 Hollis Street
Manchester, NH 03101

Re: Letter to the Editor to The Manchester Daily Express
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11/20/2007 - My thoughts on Manchester’s local election...

"Who is representing me?"

To the Editor:

I believe the worse the societal outcomes become, the more popular the politician producing those deleterious results becomes in the hearts and minds of most voters. I strongly believe my negative feelings against “special-interest-pols” holds true to form in Manchester’s most recent municipal election.

Mayor Frank Guinta’s city government has thus far raised local taxes and fees by a net amount of about 7%, all of our public schools are now deemed deficient and are now under the scrutiny of the state and federal government, violent crime is still a real problem for many law-abiding citizens, and poverty is still seen everywhere in the inner city, as I cannot go for a walk even one time without a destitute individual asking me for money.

In my Ward 3, Joe Kelly Levasseur initially impressed me, but then he broke with his positive messages for change by backing Frank Guinta after losing to him and also Tom Donovan in mid-September.

I was disillusioned to see Jennifer Peabody, who is a transient who works as a bartender at Raxx Billiards, elected to the school committee. She campaigned along side of Aldermanic candidate Peter Sullivan, who is a disingenuous Democrat who has promised to carry out the economic-perversely incentivized political agenda of Mayor Frank Guinta.

So now, my two Ward delegates— Peter Sullivan and Jennifer Peabody—are there as Mayor Guinta’s political puppets who are only going to really represent Mayor Frank Guinta and his vain (in both meanings of the word) political machine, certainly not me!

So now, I have a returning Republican Mayor who places administrative fiscal matters for the benefit of an elite few before the public good of the city’s vital institutions that retain and create true and real value for all citizens, especially the middle-class. Because I am not, nor will I ever be, part of Frank Guinta’s vain political machine, nor will I be supporting Frank Guinta in his probable future bids for higher political offices, nor do I ascribe to the elite few this Mayor is exclusively serving, I am without any real political representation in Manchester!

Jonathan A. Melle
Manchester, NH

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The Manchester Daily Express – OPINION PAGE – November 27, 2007 – Page 12

“Here is who represents you”

I think I can answer Jonathan A. Melle’s question “Who is representing me?” published in your Nov. 23rd issue. The answer is: the mayor Frank Guinta, his alderman Peter Sullivan, and school board member Jennifer Peabody are representing him.

Mr. Melle criticizes Peter Sullivan and Jennifer Peabody when those two have not even been sworn into office yet. It is not fair to criticize them for their jobs when their jobs do not start for another several weeks. If hostile negativity is to be taken out of politics, then that task should begin with “we the people”. We should not be hostile to them when they have not even started their jobs. We should not be calling them “puppets” when they have not cast a vote on their boards yet. No one knows how Peter Sullivan or Jennifer Peabody will vote on matters before their respective boards, not even Peter Sullivan or Jennifer Peabody; circumstances may drastically change their ways of thinking between now and when a particular issue comes to a vote many weeks from now.

Mr. Melle is correct when he criticizes the tax increase passed in Mr. Guinta’s first year as Mayor. But it should be remembered that Mr. Guinta proposed a tax cut for his budget that year. It did not pass because enough of the board of alderman overrode the mayor’s budget so that they could have another tax increase to pay off those alderman’s well-connected friends. Thus we see that the mayor is looking out for the people of Manchester and is representing the people’s common interests. Whereas the previous board of aldermen were looking out for the elite few, Mayor Guinta was looking out for the public good.

Also mentioned in his letter were the issues of crime, poverty, and panhandling. Those issues are universal. Poverty can be found in every state, county, and municipality in this country, and around the world. Crime also exists everywhere, and panhandling is a nuisance whose presence can be found in so many places, big cities and small towns alike.

Mr. Melle is searching for Utopia or Shangri-La, but there is no such perfect place. However, the mayor has addressed these problems. As the top law enforcement official in the city, Mr. Guinta has cracked down on problem nightclubs and enlarged the police force. But these problems cannot be solved by politicians alone. The whole community (i.e. everyone) must get involved to stop crime and poverty. I do my part through my donations and my time. Are your readers spending time and donations to combat these problems?

The answer to Mr. Melle’s question is Mayor Guinta is Mr. Melle’s political representation in Manchester. And perhaps Peter Sullivan and Jennifer Peabody will represent Mr. Melle’s interests also, but we must wait until they are sworn into office and case votes on those tough issues.

E. Nicholl Marshall
Manchester, NH

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The Manchester Daily Express, December 3, 2007, Page 11, READER OPINION
"Here is why Frank Guinta does not represent me"
Letter written by Jonathan A. Melle, November 28, 2007

Re: “Here’s who represents you” (An opinion letter by E. Nicholl Marshall, Page 12 of the Manchester Daily Express, November 27, 2007): I take very strong issue with a Frank Guinta supporter labeling my speech as “hostile negativity” when the most unfair and false accusations in Manchester’s public record was made by Frank Guinta’s campaign supporters in 2005 against then-Mayor Bob Baines, spuriously connecting Mayor Baine’s public tenure to tragic crimes that had occurred in Manchester at that time. [Hostilely negative mailings were sent out by Guinta supporters blaming then-Mayor Bob Baines for a rape in a nearby park, a recent murder, and a variety of other crimes. The heading of the negative ad was “It is a crime what Bob Baines has done to our city.”] This was the first time that a candidate for mayor—Frank Guinta— blamed an incumbent for “specific” crimes happening in the city.

Mayor Frank Guinta does not represent me for the following 5 reasons:

1. [When one looks up the definition of “double standards” in the dictionary, the first thing they see is a big picture of Frank Guinta as the illustration. Frankly (pun intended),] I find it very disturbing that Frank Guinta’s hypocritical public record includes his outrageous and spurious connections to his aforementioned past political opponent in 2005, but when one now criticizes Mayor Frank Guinta’s evidentially deficient public record of perverse societal outcomes, they are labeled as both “hostile” and “negative”.

2. Interestingly, during this year’s campaign, Mayor Guinta’s supporters described the Manchester, NH, Board of Alderman as “HOSTILE”, and they further explained that the city Democrats have a mindset of “tax and spend”. Guinta supporters argued—in an indirect slap on the face to Bob Baines—that the Democrats for years have ignored the public safety needs of our community, and the tax relief cries of our citizens. That is not the politics of unity, but rather, the politics of division and marginalization [-ing diverse political dissenters].

3. Mayor Frank Guinta’s deficient public record includes (a) his broken promises to cut taxes, as the tax rate has had a net increase of 7%…and counting…, (b) every public school in the Manchester School District is now “in need of improvement” and is facing “corrective action”, which is a net increase of 19 local public schools deemed deficient, (c) violent crime, drug addictions and gang activities are all still serious social problems in Manchester, and (d) the poor are being immorally neglected by this administration, as Mayor Guinta heartlessly proposed cutting dental benefits from needy public school children in his FY2008 budget proposal [as a way to save on taxes].

4. In 2007, Mayor Frank Guinta broke the record he set in 2005 for campaign money raised and spent during a single mayoral election in Manchester. That is the very definition of corrupted politics via SPECIAL INTERESTS! There is certainly no grassroots support behind Frank Guinta’s elitist campaign finance numbers. Rather, Mayor Guinta’s politics is “of, by and for” the elite few, not the people!

5. In the September 2007 municipal primary, more than 55% of voters demanded new leadership in Manchester by voting for candidates other than Mayor Frank Guinta. On November 6th, only about a little over 1-out-of-3 local voters, or 35%, turned out to vote. Mayor Frank Guinta received 10,381 votes, or 54%, to challenger Tom Donovan’s 8,842 votes, or 46%. The two mayoral candidates collectively received a paltry 19,223 votes, as voter turnout was slightly lower than it was two years ago.

For the foregone reasons, I hereby proudly defend my stand against Mayor Frank Guinta’s elitist leadership in city government. Moreover, I still believe that both of my Ward 3 Delegates-elect, Alderman-elect Peter Sullivan, and School Board-elect Jennifer Peabody, won the past election on the premise that they will both carry out Mayor Frank Guinta’s perversely-incentivized and elitist agenda, but I also have some hope that Mr. Sullivan and Ms. Peabody will prove me wrong. Whereas I have a sliver of hope for my Ward 3 Delegates-elect, I have none for Mayor Frank Guinta. I hope that my writings serve as a voice for the many common people being neglected by Mayor Guinta, and I also hope that my writings will be used against Frank Guinta when he will be predictably running for higher political offices in future years.

Jonathan A. Melle
Manchester, NH

~The letter was edited for length.~

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April 13, 2007

Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta's "leadership" on the municipal budget should be by him standing on the front lines only. His proposal to cut dental benefits and other health related programs for needy and at risk city children should only begin with him first going to the dentist and paying the good tooth doctor out of pocket to pull out all of his teeth. The inequitable Mayor should then go around the city with no teeth and without dentures and give toothless smiles to all of his constituents and say, "I lead only by example, not inequity. My budget proposals are equitable because I don't believe in my constituents having teeth!"

Morover, in his 2005 campaign of false promises, Mayor Frank Guinta promised to cut the property tax rate. In 2006, property taxes went up by 7%. In 2007, in what is to be yet another election year of false campaign promises, he promises to marginally cut property taxes by a paltry $18 per average homeowner on the backs of poor and middle class children in need of dental and other related healthcare services.

Until Frank Guinta actually leads by having his teeth pulled and gives toothless smiles to his constituents, he should not be inequitably pulling the teeth of Manchester's most vulnerable and needy population: the city's poor and middle class children. It is crystal clear that it is high time for a new Mayor of Manchester, New Hampshire!

-Jonathan A. Melle

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January 05, 2006

Re: Government Efficiency at the Municipal Level

I have only lived in Manchester for one-year, but I have studied public administration in college and through my studies have found ways to create value in local government.

First and foremost, one needs only to look at the community’s public schools and the performance of the public school students. Why would this be important for government efficiency? The answer, like many of the following points, lies not in cutting costs but rather in increasing revenues by way of both new growth and citizen investment dollars. The number one investor in a community really is not businesses, but families. A family will be the one to take out the dreaded long-term mortgage and assume all of the fixed costs associated with investing in their future and the community they choose to live in. For Manchester to achieve an optimal level of municipal government operations, Manchester needs to have quality public schools or else many families are going to move elsewhere in the region. When families choose other places to live or move away from Manchester, then Manchester loses new growth and investment dollars.

Second and also foremost, one needs to look at the status of the public safety force. When a young high school girl was raped while walking to public school, that violent incident sent pain down every part of my body. As a citizen of Manchester, I asked myself how could such an event happen? The answer, along with Mayor Frank Guinta’s citing of an ever-increasing percentage of crime in the Queen City, is that Manchester needs not tens, but hundreds more police officers patrolling the city streets. How does this deal with economic efficiency? The answer is the same as before. With negative news like increasing crime and a girl being raped while walking to school, no young family in their right mind is going to be willing to relocate to Manchester and place their children in under-performing public schools and on violent and unsafe streets. Manchester is losing revenue by not providing the optimal level of basic public services to its citizenry.

Third and also foremost, we must explore the issue of business dollars. My mother is an artist. She is impressed with Manchester’s cultural selections. She often frequents the Currier Art Gallery and goes to performances at the Palace Theater. But, she is intimidated by the downtown’s selection of drug-infested nightclubs and seedy bars. Tourists such as my mother want less of a “Pottersville” feel to a downtown and more of a “Bedford Falls” feel. Manchester would do well to shutdown the ill reputed nightclubs and seedy bars by placing more inclusive and warm businesses in there place. What does this have to do with economic efficiency? Tourist dollars are increased government revenues. Without a stronger tourism economy, Manchester will be doomed to having very scarce public resources to provide the important aforementioned public services and will fall deeper and deeper into the cycle of violence and poverty it is currently spiraling into.

How can Manchester attract business dollars? My answer is for municipal officials to be more selective in what businesses they allow to come in to the community. Drive away the ill reputed nightclubs and seedy bars by inviting in more art galleries, movie theaters, restaurants, colleges, concert halls, and other safe and fun activities. Manchester needs to be for everyone, including children, adults and senior citizens.

In conclusion, Manchester’s problems are not only about the efficient management of very scarce dollars and cents, but the much-highlighted lack of common sense that plagues such a promising community filled with pride, families, friends and hope. Economic efficiency in municipal government is not achieved solely through the consolidation of entities and services to lower administrative and staff costs, but also by attracting new growth and investment dollars that will generate revenues for the long-term. The optimal way to achieve this end is for Manchester to attract young families who are willing to invest their money and lives into making their community into a fun, safe and prosperous place. No Wal Marts or other models of economic efficiency in the shark-infested business world will have the same positive impact on Manchester as will a mother and father who care about the place their children will grow up in. Manchester must attract businesses through lower taxes, but not at the cost of scaring away the people who pay the bills.

-Jonathan A. Melle

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January 3, 2006

I attended the Manchester, N.H. Municipal Inauguration today. It was held at the Palace Theater on Hanover Street, which is the same street I currently live on. I listened to the newly elected and sworn-in Mayor’s speech. Mayor Frank Guinta wants to cut taxes, reduce crime and provide educators with the resources they need to provide a quality public education. He along with his public safety officials are going to travel to New York City to find out information on a crime fighting system that reduced violent crime there by 38% in recent years. Mayor Guinta’s favorite platform is government efficiency. He is going to intensely focus on the municipal budget to root out wasteful spending. I did not follow the many budgetary proposals he made in his speech, but he wants to look at spending over longer periods of time, not just once every year, to see the trends of where money is going to and where cuts can be made.

After the inauguration, I met Mayor Guinta, as well as my newly sworn-in Alderman and friend [Real Pinard], who then introduced me to the Governor of New Hampshire, John Lynch. I never met Governor Lynch before, but I did see him campaign and I voted for him, too. I told Governor Lynch that I am very happy to meet him, and that I voted for him and wanted to belatedly congratulate him on his victory in 2004. I told Governor Lynch that he is a great Governor. He replied with a Thank You.

-Jonathan A. Melle

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Manchester's City Election Guide, October 2007
Paid for by the NH Democratic Party. www.nhdp.org

"Guinta Breaks His Promises: Frank Flunks on Crime, Taxes & Education"

3 Strikes for Guinta

Promised to Lower Crime
X ASSAULTS UP 31%, ROBBERIES UP 16%

Promised to Cut Our Taxes
X TAXES UP 8% in 2006

Promised to Improve Education
X ENTIRE DISTRICT NOW GETS FAILING GRADE

Frank Guinta was elected Manchester, NH's Mayor in 2005 because he had promised to improve failing schools, lower crime, and cut taxes.

Only 2 years later, the entire school district is now failing, according to NCLB standards, and is facing very serious "corrective action." The Manchester school district is now entering the "corrective action" phase under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. This means that the district has failed to make adequate yearly progress for a number of years and that the state Government will now intervene in Manchester schools.

In 2005, Frank Guinta attacked then Mayor Bob Baines for what Guinta called the city's "three failing high schools." As Mayor, Frank Guinta has watched the number of Manchester schools on the "in need of improvement" list explode from 3 to 22! In an August 13th, 2007, mayoral debate broadcast on MCAM, Frank Guinta confessed publicly that he regretted having no time for education reform.

Only 2 years later, crime in the center or inner-city and West Side are plagued with acute crime problems, including violence, drugs, and gang activities.

Only 2 years later, taxes have had their largest increase in a decade, which was an increase of 8% in 2006.

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NH Union Leader, Tuesday, October 30, 2007, Page B1

“Mayor’s race: It’s all about the money” – (Very Mixed Results with an Unknown Outcome)

Manchester, NH, Mayor Frank Guinta, Republican, is leading his Democratic Party affiliated rival, Tom Donovan, in fundraising during the campaign’s final stretch, newly released finance reports show.

Frank Guinta raised $55,302 during the past month, bringing the Mayor’s campaign total to $228,628, which is about what he spent in 2005. Tom Donovan raised $34,785 since September 29, 2007, including $5,000 of his own money, bringing the challenger’s campaign total to $143,791.

The fundraising gap between Guinta v. Donovan is $84,837. Out of the their collective total, Frank Guinta raised 61.4% versus Tom Donovan raising 38.6%, which is a gap of nearly 23-percentage-points in Frank Guinta’s favor.

Frank Guinta had $100,000 raised before Tom Donovan entered the Mayoral race, which means that Tom Donovan actually coterminously raised $15,163 more than his opponent. Holding constant for these adjusted numbers shows that Tom Donovan raised 52.8% versus Frank Guinta raising 47.2%.

As of the end of October 29, 2007—about one week until the November 6th general election, Frank Guinta had $44,000 on hand, while Tom Donovan had $40,000 on hand. While Guinta has raised more campaign money than his opponent, Donovan has outspent his opponent by $5,866 as of the end of October 29th, 2007.

In early-September, 2007, Frank Guinta hired a local consulting firm, Riverbank Communications, to oversee his campaign fundraising efforts, which has since greatly increased the Mayor’s campaign coffers over the past nearly two-months.

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NH Union Leader, Tuesday, October 30, 2007, Page B1

“Guinta, Donovan don’t pull any punches during debates” – “Mayoral candidates: Republican Frank Guinta levels charges of ‘gutter politics’ against Tom Donovan, and the Democrat counters them.”

Mayoral challenger told his opponent, “Frank [Guinta], you ran the most negative campaign in the history of Manchester [NH],” referring to the 2005 race, in which Guinta unseated three-term incumbent Bob Baines. “Apparently, you are having trouble taking the same medicine you dished out. I know that our politics in this town in rough, but that is the way it is.”

Mayor Frank Guinta responded to his challenger by saying he has run a business, held elective office, been a husband and father. “I guess none of that matters. None of it counts. This race in the last few weeks has turned into gutter politics. On Tuesday, November 6th, 2007, when you vote, I hope you remember this exchange,” he said.

Tom Donovan’s platform includes calling for effective police presence on the West Side of the city with a fully staffed precinct to serve residents there. (Mayor Guinta is against his opponent’s public safety campaign proposal.) Tom Donovan is accused of wanting to raise local taxes. He denies this accusation.

Mayor Frank Guinta’s platform includes crafting budgets that reduce local taxes. Mayor Guinta is accused of using phony gimmicks to cut local taxes. He blames the Democratic Party affiliated Aldermen for using designated funds to complement the General Fund in order to have produce the approximately +1% tax cut following the nearly-8% tax increase last year.

Both Guinta and Donovan support the preservation of Manchester’s architectural heritage and have endorsed its future preservation.

Both Guinta and Donovan have reservations about building a convention center or performing arts center in Manchester, NH. Donovan said he needs to see a viable business plan first. Guinta said he will wait to read the report of a feasibility study currently under way. Both do not want local taxpayers to subsidize the operation.

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NH Union Leader, Tuesday, October 30, 2007, Page B3 - Letters

Tom Donovan has my support in his upcoming election for Mayor of Manchester, NH. A mature Businessman and Corporate Attorney, Tom Donovan has the right attitude and the background to take Manchester forward.

He has spent most of his career in downtown Manchester, NH, and he has lived in the Queen City for over 25-years. He has a real understanding of where Manchester, NH, has been and where it needs to be heading. Let us elect a mayor who has made a commitment to Manchester, NH, and will work hard to make Manchester, NH, the best it can be. Let us elect Tom Donovan as our mayor this November (2007).

He will be a mayor we can really be proud to call mayor!

-Giselle Brown of Manchester, NH

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NEWS ARTICLE:
Manchester Daily Express
Free - www.manchexpress.com - Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Dems rally for Tom Donovan: Governor John Lynch, Shaheen in Manchester (NH) to support candidate
By Dan Magazu - dmagazu@manchexpress.com

NH Governor John Lynch and former NH Governor Jeanne Shaheen were in Manchester (NH) last night (10/30/2007) to rally support for Tom Donovan's mayoral campaign during a dinner hosted by the city's Democratic Committee.

"If everyone works hard, I know we will be able to come back together and recognize Tom Donovan as the next mayor of Manchester (NH)," Governor John Lynch said during the dinner, which took place at the Puritan Backroom.

Tom Donovan, an Attorney, is hoping to unseat Republican incumbent Mayor Frank Guinta during next week's municipal election.

Shaheen, who recently announced that she is running for the United States Senate, said that local government is where the "rubber meets the road" in politics.

"That is why it is so important that we elect Tom Donovan as mayor," Shaheen said. "Tom could not sit back and watch as 19 more of our schools were labeled as in need of improvement. Tom could not sit back when the city he loves is going in the wrong direction."

About 150 people, including almost every Democratic candidate for alderman and school board, attended the dinner.

During a 10-minute speech, Tom Donovan accused the mayor of FAILING TO live up to his 2005 campaign promises to LOWER CRIME, IMPROVE EDUCATION & LOWER TAXES.

"We need to stop holding press conferences after tragedy strikes and start being proactive," Tom Donovan said.

Tom Donovan called on the dozens of volunteers in the room to work hard over the next week to get out the vote.

"There is no earthly reason we cannot win if you do," Tom Donovan said.

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NEWS ARTICLE:
Manchester Daily Express
Free - www.manchexpress.com - Friday, October 19, 2007
City police to wait on replacing all radios
By Dan Magazu - dmagazu@manchexpress.com

City officials have decided to replace the police department’s outdated portable radios incrementally, rescinding an earlier decision to immediately replace every radio at a cost of more than $800,000.

During a meeting earlier this month, the Board of Mayor and Alderman authorized the police department to immediately purchase 50 new radios. At that meeting, alderman also instructed city staff to search for a funding source to allow police to purchase another 200 radios.

But on Tuesday, following discussions with police officials, alderman rescinded the decision to authorize the purchase of the additional 200 radios.

Instead, police will purchase 50 radios immediately at a cost of about $167,000, and then phase in 50 more radios each subsequent year until the entire supply is replaced.

Asked in August to come up with a list of top priorities, police officials put the replacement of portable radios at the very top, ahead of the need for additional officers.

“It is approaching critical,” Deputy Police Chief Marc Lussier said at the time. “These radios are an officer’s lifeline.”

Police officials originally came to alderman requesting the phased-replacement approach and have assured the board that it will satisfy their needs.

It has been 10 years since the department last purchased new radios. Lussier said that the radios have an average life expectancy of between five and seven years.

The current radios are also no longer produced, making them increasingly difficult to repair.

Manchester Daily Express – Published by HippoPress LLC –
49 Hollis Street, Manchester, NH 03101 – (603) 625-1855.

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INFORMATION ON MANCHESTER, NH’s POLITICIANS, November 6, 2007, Election Day.

TOM DONAVAN - Lost. He received 8,842 votes.

* On the Web: www.donovanformayor.org *

Tom Donovan

The 2007 Democratic Party candidate for Mayor of Manchester, NH

SOURCE:
Manchester, NH’s City Election Guide – early-November 2007 – by the NH Democratic Party * www.nhdp.org *

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Headline:
“Tom Donovan Ready to Lead: Candidate Surges Across Finish Line”

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Biography of Tom Donovan – “A People Person”:

Tom Donovan is 54-year-old Democrat who resides at 875 Chestnut Street, Manchester, NH, and is a partner at the McLane, Graf law firm. He is a family man.

Tom Donovan has lived in Manchester, NH, for 4 decades and brings a deep love of Manchester, NH, and a dedication to making life for all residents even better.

Tom Donovan will make an incredible Mayor and he will be able to hit the ground running in January 2008 because of his knowledge of Manchester, its finances, and the growing challenges the city faces.

Tom Donovan served 2 terms on the Manchester Board of School Committee, from 2002 through 2005. He was first elected from Ward 3 and then at-large. He chaired the Finance Committee for both of his terms. During this period, Tom Donovan worked to pay off the School District’s $3 Million dollar deficit and then returned surpluses to the taxpayers. He also helped implement the long overdue capital project to improve and expand 22 Manchester schools as well as negotiate long term high school tuition agreements with surrounding towns.

In the community, Tom Donovan has been a leader for many years. He has served as Chairman of the Palace Theater, Chairman of Child & Family Services, Senior Trustee of the Norwin S. and Elizabeth N Bean Foundation, member of the Manchester Conservation Commission, Director of the United Way, and Chair of the St. Anne-St. Augustin parish finance council. He also chaired the board of Leadership New Hampshire, a community leadership development program for business and government executives.

At the McLane Law Firm, Tom Donovan’s practice focuses on business and intellectual property litigation. He has served 2 terms on the firm’s management committee, which he also chaired. He has led its hiring, personnel, and strategic planning committees.

Tom Donovan has been married for 27 years to Stephanie, a psychologist who practices at Pastoral Counseling Services. They have 2 children, Kate and Pat, who both graduated from Central High School.

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Key Points in favor of Tom Donovan:

In the September 2007 municipal primary, more than 55% of voters demanded new leadership in Manchester, NH by voting for candidates other than Mayor Frank Guinta.

Tom Donovan has lived in the Queen City for 29-years. He has served in many community organizations, including on the Board of Child and Family Services and the Palace Theater Board.

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Endorsements for Tom Donovan for Mayor:

City Democratic Chairman Chris Pappas

NH Governor John Lynch

State Senator Lou D’Allesandro, Democrat from Manchester, NH

State Senator Betsi DeVries, Democrat from Manchester, NH

U.S. Representative Carol Shea-Porter

U.S. Senator Joe Biden

U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton

U.S. Senator Chris Dodd

John Edwards

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Tom Donovan’s candidates riding on his campaign coattails:

Mike Lopez, Alderman-At-Large, Chairman, Incumbent - Won 8,301 votes
Dan O’Neil, Alderman-At-Large, Incumbent - Won 8,326 votes

Kathy Kelley, School Board At-Large, Incumbent - Won 8,650 votes
Debra Gagnon Langton, School Board At-Large, Incumbent - Won 8,170 votes
Wendy Garrity, School Board At-Large, Challenger - Lost 6,004 votes
Mike Reuschel, School Board At-Large, Challenger - Lost 4,240 votes

Mark Roy, Alderman, Incumbent – Ward 1 - Won 1,686 votes
Joyce Craig *, School Board – Ward 1. * She is a member of the Manchester School District’s “District In Need of Improvement” Assessment Team. - Won 1,755 votes

Bob Leonard, School Board, Incumbent – Ward 2 - Lost 736 votes

Pat Long, Alderman, Incumbent – Ward 3 - Lost Lost 437 votes
Seumas Regan, School Board – Ward 3 - Lost 336 votes

Jim Roy, Alderman – Ward 4 - Won 657 votes
Chris Hebert, School Board, Incumbent – Ward 4 - Won 688 votes

Ed Osborne, Alderman, Incumbent – Ward 5 - Won 648 votes

Paul Porter, Alderman, Challenger – Ward 6 - Lost 862 votes
Donna Soucy *, School Board – Ward 6. * She is Chief of Staff of the NH State Senate. - Won 991 votes

Bill Shea, Alderman, Incumbent – Ward 7 - Won 1,079 votes
Dave Gelinas, School Board – Ward 7 - Won 1,211 votes (unopposed)

Betsi DeVries *, Alderman, Incumbent – Ward 8. * She is also a Democratic State Senator. - Won 1,099 votes
Tom Katsiantonis, School Board – Ward 8 - Lost 1,160 votes

Jesse Martineau, Alderman – Ward 9 - Lost 464 votes

George Smith, Alderman – Ward 10 - Won 973 votes
Sean McGorry, School Board – Ward 10 - Lost 735 votes

Russ Ouellette, Alderman – Ward 11 - Won 607 votes
Steve Dolman, School Board – Ward 11 - Won 801 votes

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Kelleigh Domaingue won the 11/6/2007 Election for Ward 12 Alderman with 667 votes.

Kelleigh Domaingue*, Alderman – Ward 12. * She is an attorney at Tober Law Office. She is a 2005 recipient of the Union Leader’s 40-Most-Influential-People-Under-40 award. She is the co-founder & Vice Chairwoman of the Southern NH Women’s Business network, & the Chairwoman of the Manchester Arts Commission.
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Kelleigh Domaingue
-

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A young woman Manchester, NH, attorney, community activist and local politician. She has been a member of the NH Bar since 2004. She argued her first case before the NH Supreme Court and won! She attended public schools in Manchester, graduating from Memorial High School. Following high school, Kelleigh Domaingue attended Boston College and majored in political science. Her law school years were spent first at the University of Richmond and then at Vermont Law School. She speaks French fluently.
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"Oscar - ManchVegas style"
Tickets are on sale for the fourth annual Manchvegas Oscars Party and Red Carpet Gala, to be held from 6 p.m.-midnight Sunday, Feb. 24, [2008], at Murphy's Taproom on Elm Street in Manchester. Tickets are $25 each, and proceeds benefit the NH Food Bank. In addition, for every canned good you bring with you, receive raffle tickets for prizes, including tickets to the Philharmonic's Holiday Pops concert!!
This year's Oscars broadcast will be shown on a 10-foot projection screen television. Light appetizers will be served, and there will be a cash bar available for attendees. Dress in your red carpet best!
Details will continue to be posted to www.manchvegasoscars.com as they become available.
The first 100 attendees will receive swag bags filled with local merchandise and gift certificates. In addition, items will be raffled off to raise additional money for charity, and raffle tickets may either be purchased with cash or by bringing nonperishable items to the event.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.manchvegasoscars.com, by sending payment through paypal to manchvegasoscars@gmail.com , or by mailing a check to Chair Kelleigh L. Domaingue, 2 Blackberry Way Unit 202, Manchester, NH 03102.
To donate an item for the raffle, or 100 items, gift certificates or coupons for the swag bags, e-mail manchvegasoscars@gmail.com.
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Published: Friday, February 22, 2008
"Hey baby, get your red (carpet) dress on"
There is still time to pick up tickets to the fourth annual ManchVegas Oscars Party and Red Carpet Gala.
The event will kick off at 6 p.m. and run through midnight at the Murphy’s Taproom, 494 Elm Street, in the historic gaslight district of downtown Manchester. The evening will feature music, hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar and multiple televisions, including a 10-foot projection screen to allow partygoers to follow all the action during the 80th annual Academy Awards broadcast.
But the acceptance speeches may not be limited to Hollywood’s Kodak Theater.
At 9 p.m., ManchVegas Oscars Committee members will award trophies in the following categories:
• Best dressed couple
• Best dressed male
• Best dressed female
• Most unique
• Most elegant;
• Best accessorized.
All proceeds will benefit the NH Food Bank. Additionally, partygoers can purchase raffle tickets at the event, or exchange a nonperishable good for a raffle ticket, making them eligible for jewelry, gift baskets and other prizes.
Tickets are $25 apiece and may be purchased at the door or onlineusing the PayPal link on the event’s official Website, www.manchvegasoscars.com. Swag bags filled with approximately $150 in event tickets and items will be given out to the first 100 individuals to purchase tickets.
Lead sponsors of the 2007 ManchVegas Oscars Party include Murphy’s Taproom, New Hampshire Sports and Social Club, Southern NH Women’s Business Network, Shipyard Brewery and Hippo Press.
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The evening’s supporting sponsors include Chalifours; Coldwell Banker/Jason McMahon; Designs by Melissa; General Linens; Healing Hands Chiropractic/Dr. Jessica Leavey; Horizon Beverage Company – Ultra Division; Lia Sophia/Michelle Strasburger; Manchester Wolves Arena Football; Melissa Page Cosmetics; Muchacha K Designs; The Music Connection; The New England Sampler; New Hampshire Eye Associates; New Hampshire Fisher Cats Baseball; New Hampshire Philharmonic; Oxyfresh Worldwide; Silpada Jewelry/Jazz Barnette; Sweet Petals, LLC/Holly Lafond; Southern Beverage Company; UNH Manchester; Yoga at Healing Hands with Jenny Everett King and more.
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For more information, visit www.manchvegasoscars.com, or contact Kelleigh Domaingue at kdomaingue@gmail.com.
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http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Kelleigh+Domaingue%3A+'Motivated+to+serve+and+achieve'&articleId=e0cdae83-480e-4df6-bc66-b3d0b2ef164e
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Jonathan Cote, School Board – Ward 12 - Won 687 votes

Paul Martineau – Welfare Commissioner, Democrat, Incumbent - Won 12,275 votes

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Negative Campaign Propaganda against Tom Donovan:

The Manchester, NH, Board of Alderman are described as “HOSTILE”, and the city Democrats have a mindset of “tax and spend”. The Democrats for years have ignored the public safety needs of our community, and the tax relief cries of our citizens.

Prior to Mayor Frank Guinta, Manchester, NH, residents endured its sixth consecutive tax increase, a 55% increase in violent crime, and the public school system was failing the children.

TOM DONOVAN WILL RAISE TAXES!

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Related Democratic Party Campaign Propaganda:

Stop Sununu - www.stopsununu.com

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FRANK GUINTA

Biography of Frank Guinta – “Successfully Delivers Results”:

Frank Guinta is a 37-year-old Republican who resides at 221 Crestview Road, Manchester, NH, and is serving in his first-term as Mayor of Manchester. He previously served as an Alderman. He is a family man.

In local politics, Frank Guinta has proposed 3 budgets that contained tax relief. As Mayor, Mayor Frank Guinta passed the first tax relief budget in a decade, while returning a $3.2 Million surplus by implementing sound fiscal management and efficiencies.

Mayor Frank Guinta is bringing innovations, efficiencies, and accountability to our city government. He claims to have successfully delivered results by making progress in the areas of Safety and Security, Neighborhood Revitalization, Tax Relief and Fiscal Responsibility. The bottom line is to make the city safer and more affordable so that Manchester, NH, will be a better place to live, work and raise a family.

Mayor Frank Guinta is looking to build a team of elected officials to support his public policy initiatives. This political networking conservative political group is called “The Guinta Team”, and their mission is to: “lower taxes, keep spending under control, continue to support crime-fighting by the local police department, find innovative and effective solutions with our school district by keeping money in our classrooms, not administrative costs.”

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Key Points in favor of Frank Guinta:

Under Mayor Frank Guinta’s leadership, Manchester, NH, saw the numbers of high schools “in need of improvement” drop by one third – from 3 to 2. He pushed for more money to go into the classrooms without wasting it on administrative costs. He claims to have worked closely with educators and parents to improve our schools.

Mayor Frank Guinta has shown “true leadership” by prioritizing saving and cutting taxes. Mayor Frank Guinta has produced a long-awaited tax cut—the first in a decade—while also expanding the local police force by 10%—nearly 20 new police officers. Violent crime dropped by 17%, while neighborhood watch programs increased to about 50, as well the watch group members to about 800 volunteers. Mayor Frank Guinta implemented a Bratton Community Policing and Technology Model in Manchester, NH.

Spending restraints and tax relief are now a reality due to Mayor Frank Guinta’s leadership and vision for Manchester, NH.

Mayor Frank Guinta leads “a team of tax fighters and fiscal conservatives that will keep taxes low and put more money into our public schools’ classrooms”.

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Endorsements for Incumbent Frank Guinta for Mayor:

State Senator Ted Gatsas, Republican, from Manchester, NH

Former U.S. Congressman Jeb Bradley

U.S. Senator John Sununu

Jerry Thibodeau, Chairman, Manchester, NH, Republican Committee

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Frank Guinta’s candidates riding on his campaign coattails:

Jerome Duval, Alderman-At-Large, Challenger - Lost 7,685 votes
Christine Pariseau Telge, Alderman-At-Large, Challenger - Lost 5,685 votes

Debra Gagnon Langton, School Board At-Large, Incumbent - Won 8,170 votes

Janis Higgins, Alderman – Ward 1 - Lost 895 votes
Jean Esslinger, School Board, Challenger – Ward 1 - Lost 1,027 votes
Diane Beaton, Clerk – Ward 1
Justin Gamache, Moderator – Ward 1

Theodore L. “Ted” Gatsas *, Alderman, Incumbent – Ward 2. * Republican State Senator & Retired Businessman (Ted Gatsas is probably worth millions of dollars; Ted Gatsas is one of the Corporate/Ruling Elite Masters of the City & State’s Republican Party apparatus). - Won 1,452 votes (unopposed)
Bob O’Sullivan, School Board, Challenger – Ward 2 - Won 895 votes
Nichol Marshall, Clerk – Ward 2
Win Hutchinson, Moderator – Ward 2
James Musheno, Selectman – Ward 2
Phil Therrien, Selectmen – Ward 2

Peter Sullivan *, Alderman, Challenger – Ward 3. * Democrat. (????). Supporter of Republican Frank Guinta.
-Peter Sullivan Won with 456 votes.
Marion Russell, Clerk – Ward 3
Edward Russell, Moderator – Ward 3
Robb Fremeau, Selectman – Ward 3

Leo Pepino, Alderman, Challenger – Ward 4 - Lost 586 votes
Jeffrey Sullivan, School Board, Challenger – Ward 4 - Lost 457 votes
William Craig, Clerk – Ward 4
Pat Martin, Moderator – Ward 4
Lloyd Basinow, Selectman – Ward 4

Bob Tarr, Alderman, Challenger – Ward 5 - Lost 233 votes
Norma Champagne, Selectman – Ward 5
Sandra Proulx, Selectman – Ward 5

Real Pinard *, Alderman, Incumbent – Ward 6. * Independent. - Won 1,086 votes
Christine Infantine, School Board, Challenger – Ward 6 - Lost 887 votes

Claire Roy, Selectman – Ward 7

Kevin Verville, Alderman, Challenger – Ward 8 - Lost 803 votes
Doug Kruse, School Board, Incumbent – Ward 8 - Won 1,160 votes
D. Lynne Lavigne, Clerk – Ward 8

Mike Garrity, Alderman, Incumbent – Ward 9 - Won 1,078 votes
Art Beaudry, School Board, Incumbent – Ward 9 - Won 1,301 votes (unopposed)

Phil Greazzo, Alderman, Challenger – Ward 10 - Lost 758 votes
(Chiropractic) Dr. John Avard, School Board, Challenger – Ward 10 - Won 860 votes
Robert Dufresne, Selectman – Ward 10
Chris Messier, Selectman – Ward 10

Tom Robert, Alderman, Challenger – Ward 11 - Lost 397 votes

Keith Hirschmann, Alderman, Challenger – Ward 12 - Lost 638 votes
BJ Perry, School Board, Challenger – Ward 12 - Lost 537 votes
Dick Marston, Selectman – Ward 12
Keith Murphy, Selectman – Ward 12
David Hurst, Selectman – Ward 12

Carlos Gonzalez – Welfare Commissioner, Republican, Challenger - Lost 4,836 votes

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Negative Campaign Propaganda Against Mayor Frank Guinta:

It was the Board of Alderman/Democrat’s budget proposal that produced the $1.6 Million tax cut this year (2007). Last year’s (2006) city budget had a revaluation that caused average tax bills to rise by 8%.

Mayor Frank Guinta does not like being Mayor of Manchester, NH, and has only lived here for a few years. Mayor Frank Guinta is a career politician looking to run for higher political offices in the future. Rumor has it that he will be challenging John Lynch for Governor of NH next year.

“Frank Guinta Remains Mum on Lead Paint Controversy” – Mayor Frank Guinta faxed a letter to the State Senate withdrawing his previous support for the lead paint bill. According to financial disclosure statements, the move came one week after Mayor Frank Guinta received $4,500 in contributions from property managers who were fighting the bill tooth and nail. The bill was signed into law on July 12, 2007. Prior to 1978, lead was a common additive to paints. Lead paint is a toxic substance found in many older structures and if ingested can cause brain and organ damage and other debilitating physical ailments. The bill will protect many poor children residing in Manchester, NH, where 1/3 lead-paint poisoning cases take place according to NH’s annual reports on the matter. The bill lowers the blood lead level, which is now concurrent with CDC recommendations, physicians must report to the state so that testing can be conducted earlier to find the source of the danger.

Mayor Frank Guinta failed miserably on public education. As Mayor, Frank Guinta serves as chairman of the School Board and has great influence on the budgeting process. Problem areas in public education include test scores and the dropout rate. On August 13, 2007, during a mayoral debate, Mayor Frank Guinta confessed publicly that he regretted having had no time for education reform. Manchester’s schools need to develop and implement a plan to deliver the school district out of “in need of improvement” status, which is something Mayor Frank Guinta has obstructed. Now, the Manchester school district is entering into the “corrective action” phase under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Visual: “0” (or “ZERO”) – “Zero Promises Kept. Zero Results”. “Guinta: A Big Zero for Manchester”.
* Safer Neighborhoods: 0
* Better Schools: 0
* Taxes Cut: 0

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Related Republican Party Campaign Propaganda:

Team Sununu

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Letters to the Editor:

Manchester Daily Express, November 2, 2007, Page 11, LETTERS

“Guinta and negative campaigning”

It has been extremely surprising to read that Frank Guinta is upset that negative ads have been sent out against him. I am not a big fan of negative ads and I believe that candidates should focus more on selling themselves and their ideas to better the community. Unfortunately, I have come to the realization that negative ads do work, but Frank Guinta is the last person in this city that should be upset at another candidate’s use of them.

2 years ago, Frank Guinta ran the nastiest campaign this city had ever seen. Mailings were sent out blaming my father (Mayor Bob Baines) for a rape in a nearby park, a recent murder, and a variety of other crimes. The heading of the ad was “It is a crime what Bob Baines has done to our city.” On Election Day, hundreds of signs littered the city, uttering a similar tune. This was the first time that a candidate for mayor blamed an incumbent for “specific” crimes happening in the city.

This was a type of politics that had never shown its face in Manchester until Frank Guinta arrived. The tactic of linking a person in office to specific crimes is distasteful, wrong, and does not belong in politics. It was never here before, but is now, and Frank Guinta is the sole reason for it.

He should think twice next time he decides to voice his displeasure on negativity in politics.

-Timothy Baines
Manchester, NH

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“Don’t listen to Union Leader”

On Oct. 17, 2004, the NH Sunday News (Union Leader) printed an editorial headlined “Bush for President; His leadership is needed.” They hoped that Granite Staters would “display their famous independence by voting for President Bush.” (NH went with John Kerry.)

Let us move forward to November 1, 2004, Joe McQuaid, publisher of the NH Union Leader, wrote an editorial endorsing Gov. Craig Benson, saying “Benson has made some missteps, but is heading in the right directions.” He states that Benson’s opponent, John Lynch, has been a “major disappointment.” (NH voters did not listen to Joe McQuaid this time either. John Lynch won the election.)

Now, let us move forward to Oct. 25, 2007. The NH Union Leader prints an editorial entitled “Guinta for Mayor: The right leader for Manchester.” They call Guinta a tax-cutting crime fighter, as if he is some kind of Super Hero.

I have seen crime statistics that say drug crimes are up 22 percent and murder is up 25 percent. Frank Guinta’s 2007 budget (.5 percent tax cut) will save my family $20, or about 6-cents per day. Boy, he sure is a tax-cutting crime fighter—NOT!

The NH Sunday News (Union Leader) editorial from Oct. 28, 2007 states that Guinta is the “Clear Choice for Manchester.” They state that Guinta is “best for Manchester’s future progress.” They describe Frank Guinta as having tireless energy and a good record. Frank’s tireless energy is focused on doing whatever it takes to get your vote, which is often not the right thing for Manchester.

Frank disrupted the recycling center “Done Deal” with Corcoran Environmental Services for his own political ambitions. He could not risk losing votes in Ward 12 so this topic is being tabled until after the election.

As far as his record on education, how can the Union Leader endorse a mayor for re-election when he has not made an attempt to improve education? …

Well, I think you get my point. The NH Union Leader has endorsed Frank Guinta as a clear choice for Manchester… They endorsed George W. Bush for re-election and history can tell us all that he was the wrong choice. They endorsed Craig Benson for re-election…

Now, the Union Leader is endorsing Mayor Frank Guinta for re-election. Please! Well, I know that they are wrong—again!

Please vote for Tom Donovan for Mayor on Nov. 6, 2007.

-Lisa Frisselle
Manchester, NH

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Political Cartoon parodying the Union Leader’s endorsement of Mayor Frank Guinta:

A newspaper salesman is standing in front of a newsstand that reads, “Bleedin’ Obvious Newsstand Inc.”, and saying, “Extra! Extra! Read All About It! Union Leader endorses Frank Guinta!!”

The Union Leader’s Front Page Headlines Read: “Re-Elect FRANK GUINTA as Mayor!!!”; “Sky is Blue – Study Finds”; “Water is Wet!”; “Column: Joe McQuaid Writes About Golf…Again”; “Massachusetts Drivers Still Really Bad”; “Babies are tiny says Mom”; “Earth Revolves Around Sun, Scientists Say”; “Death & Taxes are certain!”; “Sun Rises in Morning…and Sets at Night”; “Christmas to fall on Dec. 25”.

Then, the far bottom right hand corner, one man says to another, “As Daniel Webster might have said: ‘There is nothing so obvious as predictability!’”

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Manchester Daily Express, November 5, 2007, Page 11, LETTERS

“Mayor Frank Guinta has delivered”

This November I will be supporting Mayor Frank Guinta for reelection and I urge you to do the same.

The Mayor has continued to deliver on his agenda, focusing on crime prevention and public safety, education for our children, and relieving the tax burden on Manchester residents. He successfully passed the first tax cut this decade, helping to reduce the financial burden on households. Mayor Frank Guinta’s budget also returned a $3.2 million surplus to the city of Manchester, NH.

His record on education is strong, supporting more money going directly to the classroom than to administrative costs and bureaucratic salary hikes. Mayor Frank Guinta’s willingness to work towards the wishes of the people, courageousness to take on the challenges of previous administrations have left for him, and steadfast approach to achieving the goal at hand make him the right man for City Hall.

Vote for Mayor Frank Guinta on November 6, 2007.

-Anne Hafeman
Manchester, NH

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Where do Manchester, NH citizens vote? November 6, 2007.
The city’s website is: www.ci.manchester.nh.us
The City Clerk’s Office: 603-624-6455.
Ward 1, Brookside Congregational Church, 2013 Elm Street
Ward 2, Hillside Middle School, 112 Reservoir Avenue
Ward 3, Carol M. Rines Center, 1528 Elm Street (rear entrance)
Ward 4, McDonough School, 550 Lowell Street
Ward 5, Beech Street School, 333 Beech Street
Ward 6, St. Pius CCD Center, Candia Road and Sarto Street
Ward 7, St. Anthony Community Center, 148 Belmont Street
Ward 8, Jewett Street School, 130 South Jewett Street
Ward 9, Bishop Leo E. O’Neil Youth Center, 30 South Elm Street
Ward 10, Parker-Varney School, 223 James Pollock Drive
Ward 11, Gossler School, 99 Sullivan Street
Ward 12, Northwest Elementary School, 300 Youville Street

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Election Day, November 6, 2007, has ballot questions:

Question One.

Requiring all motor vehicles in NH to carry insurance. Non-binding.
YES: 14,944. no: 2,993.

Question Two.

Amending the Manchester, NH, city charter to allow the city government to enter into an employment contract with the airport director. Binding.

YES: 9,089. no: 6,710.

Question Three. Are you opposed to a halfway house for federal prisoners in Manchester, NH? Non-binding.

YES: 11,939. no: 5,749.

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Guinta re-elected
By SCOTT BROOKS
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
November 7, 2007

Manchester – Voters yesterday picked Mayor Frank Guinta to lead the city for another two years, punching his ticket to a second term in the corner office.

Guinta topped the ballot with 54 percent of the vote, taking 11 of the city's 12 wards. His tally, 10,321 votes, put him well ahead of his Democratic opponent, attorney and former school board member Tom Donovan, who garnered 8,842 votes, or 46 percent.

With his latest victory, Guinta remains unbeaten through six New Hampshire elections, including races for state representative and alderman. His margin of victory last night was considerably wider than the narrow majority that propelled him to office in 2005. Guinta, the Republican challenger, won that election over three-term Mayor Bob Baines by 528 votes.

Turnout was slightly lower than it was two years ago, with just 19,370 ballots cast. Guinta was the winner in every ward except the fourth, which runs between Hanover and Bridge streets in the inner-city.

His success at the polls comes just one day after the state Department of Revenue Administration certified the city's first tax cut this decade. Guinta touted the 1.7 percent decrease as one of the most significant accomplishments of his two years in office.

Donovan got a late start in the race but made up ground with an aggressive fund-raising effort, pulling in $144,000 as of early last week. Of that, Tom Donovan himself contributed about $16,000.

-----

4 new aldermen elected
By MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader
November 7, 2007

MANCHESTER – Single-term Alderman Pat Long of Ward 3 was unseated in the city election last night, upended by a fellow Democrat who sided with Republican Mayor Frank Guinta.

Peter Sullivan, a Manchester lawyer and former state representative, defeated Long by a vote of 456 to 437. Long was the only incumbent alderman to lose re-election last night. ...Peter Sullivan celebrated alongside Guinta last night at the mayor's victory party.

Russ Ouellette in Ward 11 and Kelleigh Domaingue in Ward 12 also won seats on the Board of Alderman. ...Kelleigh Domaingue said she thought it would be impossible to get elected, but she worked as hard as possible. Starting in mid-June, she walked the ward every weekend. She telephoned at least 1,000 people personally. She sent out four mailings. Constituents she spoke to were most concerned about crime, Domaingue said. "They're scared. They're concerned. This is not the Manchester I knew as a kid," she said.

Democrats won all four open seats.

Although several faces will be different, the numbers will be the same for Guinta when he takes office next year. Democrats will hold 11 seats on the board, the same number as they do now. Guinta's two Republican allies - Ted Gatsas in Ward 2 and Mike Garrity in Ward 9 - were re-elected, as was independent Real Pinard.

-----

The NH Union Leader - Political Cartoon

Gloating for Guinta

-----

Union Leader - Editorial
Voter turnout: Doubting that elections matter

Friday, Nov. 9, 2007

TURNOUT IN Tuesday's city elections in Manchester was lower than expected, just 35 percent of registered voters. It wasn't just the morning rain, either.

Manchester routinely turns out fewer than half of its registered voters for city elections. The reason, we believe, is threefold.

One, residents don't perceive very strong differences among the candidates running. Two, they don't think the election results have significant impact on their lives. Three, they don't think their vote matters.

All three assumptions are wrong.

Even seemingly small differences between competing candidates can be large when it comes to setting city policy. Mayor Frank Guinta's passion for reforming government brought the city its first tax cut this decade. Both of his opponents in the past two elections talked about making city government more efficient, but Guinta provided the leadership to make things happen.

Local elections matter a great deal. The newly elected school board will hire a new superintendent next year and grapple with the tricky issues of improving test scores and trimming bureaucracy. Six new faces on the board mean that the board's old, failed way of addressing these issues might finally be a thing of the past.

And every vote counts. The Ward 3 and Ward 12 aldermanic races were decided by 19 and 29 votes, respectively.

Low voter turnout always spurs calls for Saturday elections or other gimmicks designed to lure more people to the polls. But gimmicks aren't the answer. We who are interested in politics have to convince the majority who are not that they are wrong. The best way to do that is to show them how much of a difference local elections make in their daily lives.

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The Manchester Daily Express – Page 8
November 19, 2007
LOCAL CITY POLITICS
By Dan Magazu – dmagazu@manchexpress.com

“Mayor Frank Guinta’s final total: nearly $300,000!”

Mayor Frank Guinta raised a whopping $285,000 for his successful reelection campaign, spending all but about $5,000 of it, according to his campaign manager Mike Biundo.

Nearly $125,000 of his massive total was raised since September’s municipal primary.

Frank Guinta broke the record he set in 2005 for money raised and spent during a single mayoral election in Manchester.

For each of the 10,381 votes Guinta received, the mayor spent about $27.

The $285,000 is about $50,000 more than Guinta raised when he unseated Robert Baines in 2005. That does not tell the whole story, however, as Guinta contributed more than $60,000 of his own money last time around. This time, the mayor did not contribute to his campaign.

“Mayor Guinta’s ability to raise this type of money is a testament to the consistency of his message and his proven record of results,” Biundo said yesterday.

Guinta enlisted the help of Riverbank Communications, a Manchester-based public relations firm, to lead his fundraising efforts during both campaigns.

Democrat Tom Donovan’s fundraising efforts fell off a bit in the final months, following an impressive quarter from June through August during which he raised more than $100,000.

In all, Donovan raised about $147,000, including several thousand dollars of his own money. By waiting until June to enter the race, Donovan made it extremely difficult to raise more than $200,000.

He spent nearly all of the money he raised, according to his campaign manager Mark Roper.

Combined, the two candidates raised about $432,000. That is roughly $5,000 less than the combined totals for the 2005 mayoral race, when Guinta raised $233,000 and Baines raised $205,000.

--

MDE – 11/19/2007 – Page 12 – Letters

“Voter apathy is alarming”

Once again the citizens of Manchester have allowed another opportunity to change the way our local government operates. Voter turnout in the past election (11/6/2007) was a DISGRACE! About one third of eligible voters made the effort to vote and those I applaud. But what is wrong with the rest of you?

Some of the excuses I read about in the newspaper were on the verge of laughable or just plain sad. The most powerful tool we possess as citizens is to hold our leaders accountable with the power of the ballot. It is why our country came to being. It is why our soldiers have fought and died. It is why we have our freedom today in the greatest country in the history of the world. So even on a small scale in our own city, why can’t we get out the vote?

Jerome Duval is right. We have to consider other ways of motivating the voters. Saturday elections, online voting, voting by proxy, are just a few ideas, so lets start getting creative and somehow, someway get that vote out so it is once again meaningful so our leader can feel rightfully empowered by an actual mandate given by the people, not some over the top ridiculous claim of support by a political spinmeister with a slight majority of about only a third of the total vote!

Do the math. We are electing our leaders by giving them about 17 percent of the total vote. This is a frightening statistic. It must be changed or we shall forever suffer the consequences—ineffective, inefficient and unresponsive government. That is not the type of governance I want spending my ever-increasing tax dollars. But until something is done, it is business as usual down at city hall owing it all to voter apathy, whatever the excuse!

-Kevin McCue
Manchester, NH

--

“10 top city officials leave administrative posts under Mayor Frank Guinta”

# 1 – City Clerk Leo Bernier (Retired).
#2 – Public Works Director Frank Thomas (pending).
#3 – Finance Officer Kevin Clougherty
#4 – Economic Development Director Paul Borek
#5 – Airport Director Kevin Dillon
#6 – Information Systems Director Diane Prew
#7 – Public Health Director Fred Rusczek
#8 – Parks, Recreation and Cemetary Director Ron Ludwig
#9 – Fire Chief Joseph Kane (Retirement, 12/1/2007).
#10 – Superintendent of Schoos Michael Ludwell (Resigning, 12/31/2007).

--

MDE, 11/20/2007, Page 1 – Page 2

Michael Ludwell leaving: School chief resigns, last day will be 12/31/2007.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Ludwell, the top administrator of Manchester’s public school system, resigned last night (11/19/2007). His last day on the job will be December 31, 2007.

Citing personal reasons, Michael Ludwell submitted a letter of resignation to the school board members at last night’s regularly scheduled school board meeting. Board members accepted the resignation, and authorized Mayor Frank Guinta to name a temporary replacement.

Mayor Frank Guinta said this morning he would name Assistant Superintendent of Schools Henry Aliberti as the city’s interim school superintendent.

Michael Ludwell, who led the city schools for the past 5 years, had already announced that he would leave the job at the end of the school year. A search process to find a new school superintendent is already underway.

Last night’s resignation, however, was not unexpected, said Frank Guinta, who acts as chairman of the school board.

“I don’t know if I would characterize it as a surprise,” said Frank Guinta, as school officials knew Mike Ludwell was seeking opportunities in other districts.

Mike Ludwell’s term saw Manchester complete a long-awaited $100 million school renovation project. However, city schools have had trouble meeting the demands of the federal “No Child Left Behind” mandate, with many ranking as “In Need of Improvement” for several years in a row.

Frank Guinta said last night that Mike Ludwell, whose annual salary is $127,000, will be paid only through December 31st, and not for the remainder of the school year. Mike Ludwell has offered to help during the transition.

Also, officials will meet this week to determine if more help is needed at the administrative level after Mike Ludwell’s departure to get through the transition period, Frank Guinta said.

Frank Guinta last night was not sure if Mike Ludwell’s departure would change the dynamics of the search for a new superintendent, which is already underway.

“Everything was going according to plan,” he said. “But this new development will certainly impact that.”

--

MDE, 11/20/2007, Page 1 – Page 2

“The status of city contracts with unions under Mayor Frank Guinta”

Passed: 11
School Principals
School District Coordinators
School Teachers
Library Employees
Police Supervisors
Police Officers
Firefighters
Fire Supervisors
Health Department Employees
Highway & Parks Employees
Facilities Employees

Pending: 6
City Welfare Department (unionized in 10/2007).
City Water Works Department
City Support Staff in the police department
(& 3 other groups).

Notes:
David Hodgen is the city’s chief negotiator.

-----

News Article:
"Two more union contracts approved: Non-affiliated employees also get wage hikes"
By Dan Magazu, The Manchester Daily Express, December 5, 2007, Page 8

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved 2 more employee contracts last night (12/4/2007) for the unions representing school & police support staffers.

The city has now settled with 14 of the city's 17 unions.

About 80 employees that make up Manchester Education Support Personnel Association will receive an immediate 2% pay raise. The employees will also get a 2% raise on July 1, 2008, and a 2.5% raise on July 1, 2009. The increases should cost the city about $525,094 over the life of the 3-year contract.

About 45 employees in the union representing police support staffers will receive an immediate 1% raise, followed by a 2% raise on July 1, 2008 and a 3% raise on July 1, 2009.

In addition, dispatchers and police service specialists within the union will receive a pay grade increase coupled with 2 pay step decreases. The move works out to an additional 1% increase in pay and allows employees who have maxed out their salary the ability to receive additional step increases.

The cost of the wage increases to the city should be about $225,000 over the life of the 3-year contract.

Also last night, the board approved giving non-affiliated employees an immediate 1% pay increase, followed by a 2% increase on July 1, 2008 and a 3% increase on July 1, 2009.

Employees in the 3 unions that have not settled continue to work under the terms of their previous agreements, which expired on July 1, 2007.

-----------------------------------------

News Article:
Manchester Daily Express – Page 1 (& continued on page 2) – Friday, November 30, 2007
“Time for a raise?: Proposed pay hike for mayor, city officials draws criticism, jeers”
By Dan Magazu – dmagazu@manchexpress.com

The salaries of every alderman and school board member would quadruple and Mayor Frank Guinta would receive a significant raise from City Clerk Leo Bernier.

During a meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday (12/04/2007), officials will consider Bernier’s proposal, which would boost the mayor’s salary from $68,000 annually to more than $95,000. [That would be a $27,000 per year increase in pay for Manchester, NH’s, Mayor. Mayor Frank Guinta’s annual salary would increase by approximately 40-percentage-points from his current salary].

The proposal would also raise each of the alderman’s salaries from $5,000 a year to nearly $19,000. [That would mean a $14,000 per year increase in pay. The 14 Aldermen’s annual salaries would increase by approximately 280-percentage-points from their current salary].

Finally, school board members would go from making $2,000 a year to about $12,500 under Bernier’s plan. [That would mean a $10,500 per year increase in pay. The many School Board members’ annual salaries would increase by approximately 525-percentage-points from their current salary].

In all, the salary increases add up to about $340,000 a year.

Bernier, who is set to retire at the end of the year, said that aldermen have not received a pay raise in 22 years. The last time the mayor’s salary was increased was a decade ago.

“I feel very strongly about these increases,” Bernier said yesterday (11/29/2007). Over a 22-year span, the out-of-pocket expenses related to these positions, not to mention the time spent away from family and other commitments by individuals holding these positions, warrants this increase.”

To diminish some of the impact of the pay raises, Bernier said his proposal would require aldermen and school board members to pay for 100 percent of their health insurance costs if they choose to be covered by the city. Currently, elected officials have to pay 12.5 percent of the cost.

That means an elected official paying the city for health insurance to cover a married couple would go from paying $1,418 to $11,348. [That would mean a $9,930 per year increase in healthcare costs. The many aldermen and school board members healthcare insurance liabilities would go up by 700-percentage-points from their current healthcare insurance liabilities. (a) For the aldermen, he or she respectively would receive $14,000 more in pay, but would be contributing $9,930 more in healthcare insurance costs, which means they would receive a net pay raise of $4,070.00 per year if they opt in for the city’s healthcare insurance policy. So instead of the aldermen’s nominal 280% pay raise, they will be actually be receiving a net 81.4% pay raise. (b) For the school board members, he or she respectively would receive $10,500 more in pay, but would be contributing $9,930 more in healthcare costs, which means they would receive a net pay raise of $570 per year if they opt in for the city’s healthcare insurance policy. So instead of the school board’s 700% pay raise, they will actually be receiving a net 28.5% pay raise.]

Bernier believes his proposal could actually save the city money in the long run as the cost of health insurance continues to rise.

Frank Guinta yesterday (11/29/2007) said he won’t support the proposal, in part because it is not appropriate for elected officials to consider a pay raise right after an election.

If pay for elected officials is to be reviewed, Frank Guinta said aldermen should initiate the process and also give voters a chance to weigh in.

“If aldermen feel it is important to raise their pay and that of others…then let them justify it to the electorate,” Frank Guinta said. “The idea of this occurring immediately after an election, it is not an appropriate time.”

Also, Frank Guinta said more money would not necessarily equate to better public service.

“In New Hampshire, what gets people involved is their interest and level of commitment in their community, he said. “There does not seem to be a need to entice people to run simply by raising pay. I certainly wouldn’t want people to run based on they’re receiving a pay check.”

Frank Guinta said he himself ran for Mayor knowing the job’s salary level.

“I do this job because I feel it is important to serve. I certainly don’t do it for the money.”

If the salary did get increased, however, Mayor Frank Guinta said he would accept it.

“If the mayor’s salary was raised, any mayor is going to accept whatever pay is duly authorized. But in this process, the timing is not appropriate. I think there are far better ways to go about it.”

Yesterday, former Mayor Ray Wieczorek called the proposal for the aldermen and school board members “outrageous.”

“I don’t think the proposal has been very well thought out,” Wieczorek said. “These people run for these positions because they want to perform a public service, not to make money.”

Wieczorek, now a member of the Governor’s Executive Council, thought the proposal for the mayor was more reasonable.

“They mayor’s pay is very low for the work that he does,” Wieczorek said.

Former Mayor Bob Baines called the timing of Bernier’s request “inappropriate” and said that he would oppose it if still mayor.

“It would not sit right with me to discuss these things with an outgoing board,” Baines said.

Bernier’s proposal likely won’t be popular with city voters either. In 2005, residents voted against a nonbonding referendum question asking if they supported raising the Mayor’s salary from $68,000 to $85,000. [That would have been a $17,000 per year increase in pay for Manchester, NH’s, Mayor. Mayor Frank Guinta’s annual salary would have increased by approximately 25-percentage-points from his current salary].

Ward 7 Alderman Bill Shea said yesterday that he will oppose the pay hikes.

“We’re elected to do a job for the city and this is not the time to raise salaries,” Shea said. “I am satisfied with how we’re currently paid.”

Bernier said that during his time as city clerk, he has gained a strong appreciation for the hard work elected officials perform each year.

“In these positions, your job is frequently thankless and demands your attention 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” Bernier said.

He also noted that he has nothing to gain from the proposal, which would go into effect on January 1, 2008, the same day he retires.

Bernier last year floated a proposal to raise his own salary, which is currently about $95,000 per year, but aldermen refused to approve it.

Tuesday’s meeting (12/4/2007) of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen will begin at 7:30 P.M. in the Aldermanic Chambers at City Hall [in Manchester, New Hampshire].

--

“By the Numbers” – By Jonathan Melle

-
Mayor Frank Guinta
Current Salary: $68,000 per year
Proposed Salary: $95,000 per year
Net gain: $27,000 per year
Net percentage point gain: 40%

-
Aldermen
Current Salary: $5,000 per year
Proposed Salary: $19,000 per year
Gross gain: $14,000 per year
Gross percentage point gain: 280%
Current city healthcare insurance contributions: $1,418 per year (12.5%)
Proposed city healthcare insurance contributions: $11,348 per year (100%)
Net loss to healthcare: $9,930 per year
Net gain is salary after healthcare: $4,070
Net percentage point gain after healthcare: 81.4%

-
School Board
Current Salary: $2,000 per year
Proposed Salary: $12,500 per year
Gross gain: $10,500 per year
Gross percentage point gain: 525%
Current city healthcare insurance contributions: $1,418 per year (12.5%)
Proposed city healthcare insurance contributions: $11,348 per year (100%)
Net loss to healthcare: $9,930 per year
Net gain is salary after healthcare: $570
Net percentage point gain after healthcare: 28.5%

-
Jonathan Melle’s thoughts:

The Mayor of Manchester, NH, makes out the best out of all parties involved in this pay raise and compensation scheme proposal. He not only receives $27,000 more in pay, or a 40% increase, but also, he is the only one who keeps the 12.5% contribution to the city’s healthcare insurance policy.

The Alderman and School Board members are being given an incentive to receive their healthcare insurance elsewhere. If they rely on the city’s healthcare insurance, they will get screwed in the long run as healthcare costs significantly rise more and more every forthcoming year.

I do not support this pay raise and compensation scheme proposal for the foregone reasons.

-----

News Article:
"City clerk suggests pay hikes for all"
By SCOTT BROOKS
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Friday, Nov. 30, 2007

MANCHESTER – City Clerk Leo Bernier is pushing for several hundred thousand dollars in salary increases for Manchester's elected officials, including a 40 percent raise for the mayor.

Bernier would increase the mayor's salary from $68,000 to $95,389. His proposal would nearly quadruple the salary earned by aldermen and would increase school board members' pay six-fold.

Bernier called the increases "fair and equitable." He is asking the board to approve the measure before the new year. New salaries could go into effect as early as July 1.

The proposal got a mixed response from aldermen reached for comment yesterday. Four aldermen said they and their counterparts on the school board are undercompensated and deserve raises of some amount. Five aldermen said they would not even consider the proposal.

One board member, Bill Shea, called it "ludicrous."

"With all the different problems people are facing and so forth, why would the aldermen want to raise their (own) salaries?" he said.

Mayor Frank Guinta said he opposes pay hikes for the aldermen and school board. He declined to take a position on his own pay, saying, "I think, in the interest of fairness, I should not be part of the debate, because it affects me."

The mayor's salary has not changed since 1996. A ballot question in 2005 that sought to raise the mayor's pay to $85,000 was killed by a vote of 11,241 to 7,118.

Guinta said he respects the voters' decision. He also said he does not think it would be appropriate to increase officials' salaries so soon after the November elections.

Bernier has repeatedly advocated for pay raises for both the mayor and aldermen. His latest attempt to jump-start a debate on the issue comes one month before his retirement. His last day as clerk is Dec. 31.

"He has nothing to lose or gain," said Deputy Clerk Carol Johnson, who will take over as clerk in the new year.

If approved, the draft ordinance would increase the aldermen's annual pay from $5,000, including travel expenses, to $18,806. It would increase pay for school board members from $2,000 to $12,531.

Members of both boards would still be able to buy into the city's health and dental plans. It was unclear, however, whether those who opt in could still pay the same low rate that city employees pay.

Bernier declined to be interviewed for this story.

Several aldermen said their service in city government is the equivalent of a full-time job. Alderman Mark Roy, who owns his own business, said he lost income while working 40 to 50 hours per week on the city budget last spring.

"I don't do it for the pay," he said, "but I will say being self-employed and being in my earning years, my family has made difficult choices in order for me to continue to be an alderman."

Alderman Ed Osborne said he believes the city will have difficulty attracting qualified candidates if it does not raise the aldermen's pay.

"You're getting people to run the city, and you want to pay them nothing? What the hell are you going to get?" he said.

Others who said they would consider the proposal include Aldermen Real Pinard and Hank Thibault. One board member, Jerome Duval, said he would favor studying the issue but is not inclined to support the proposal right now.

Aldermen's pay has not changed since 1985, according to Bernier. In a letter to the board, he said the aldermen deserve a raise to compensate for their out-of-pocket expenses, "not to mention the time spent away from family."

Ultimately, the letter says, the pay increases would save taxpayer money. No explanation is offered.

Guinta earns substantially less than the mayor of Nashua, the state's second-largest city. The Gate City's mayor stands to earn about $97,000 this year, up from $91,000 a year ago, a city clerk there said.

Concord employs a city manager and considers the job of mayor a part-time position. Its mayor's salary is $2,000. Aldermen earn $1,000.

Bernier's attempts to boost his own salary have consistently come up short. In February 2006, a committee of aldermen rejected his request for a $3,700 raise.

His salary at the time was $95,000.

--

News Article:
"Bernier's wife also retiring"
By SCOTT BROOKS
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Friday, Nov. 30, 2007

MANCHESTER – Human Resources Director Virginia Lamberton is retiring after 6 1/2 years in City Hall.

Her last day, she said, will be Jan. 31, just one month after her husband, Leo Bernier, steps down as city clerk. Bernier announced his own retirement plans this summer.

"We enjoy each other's company very much," Lamberton said yesterday, "and we plan on doing things and having fun."

Mayoral aide Sean Thomas said he expects Mayor Frank Guinta will name an interim director to take over Lamberton's responsibilities while a search is conducted.

"We have not put together a plan as of yet," he said.

Lamberton was nominated for human resources director by Mayor Bob Baines in 2001. She previously worked as assistant director at the state Division of Children, Youth and Families and as the state's director of personnel.

Her current salary is about $102,000.

Lamberton said she told Mayor Frank Guinta about her plans on Tuesday. She referred to her years in Manchester as "a great experience."

-----------------------------------------

Mayor Frank Guinta claims that "40 percent of the school budget is for administration". The following web-site gives and explains the following financial data Guinta talks about as inefficiency.

http://www4.measuredprogress.org/nhprofile/

http://www4.measuredprogress.org/nhprofile/DistFinance.cfm

http://www4.measuredprogress.org/nhprofile/DistFinance.cfm?MyYear=2005-2006&MyDist=335&MyDistName=Manchester&MySch=&MyTown=

Source: Ed Staub, 10/31/2007 guest column in The Manchester Daily Express.

-----------------------------------------

News Article:
"Not one, but two pay hikes"
By SCOTT BROOKS
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
04-December-2007

Manchester, NH – The 2 percent salary bump that prompted Superintendent Michael Ludwell's abrupt resignation last month was not the only questionable pay increase to bear his signature, according to information provided by the school district.

Ludwell was not yet eligible for a pay raise he and two other district officials approved in July 2006 because the Manchester school board had not submitted his performance evaluation, records show. The evaluation was completed two weeks later.

The timing of Ludwell's annual raise was a key factor in his recent decision to step down as superintendent. Ludwell gave the school board a letter of resignation Nov. 19 after allegations surfaced that he approved his own pay raise this summer before the board completed his latest evaluation.

Ultimately, Mayor Frank Guinta has said, the board deemed Ludwell's performance unsatisfactory and did not approve the 2 percent raise.

Yesterday, Guinta said he was unaware of any discrepancies involving the 2006 pay increase. He said he will launch an investigation today and will review the matter with legal counsel.

"If it turns out to be true, it would clearly demonstrate a pattern that is not acceptable in our city," Guinta said.

Ludwell is on administrative leave. He has declined repeated requests for an interview.

Information provided by the school district shows Ludwell was one of three officials who signed a personnel form approving his pay increase July 25, 2006. The other signatories were Karen DeFrancis, the district's business administrator, and Mary Donovan, then the human resources director.

A non-public school board meeting to hash out the superintendent's performance review was not held until two weeks later, on Aug. 8, according to the board's vice chair, Leslee Stewart. By contract, Ludwell must receive a "satisfactory" review to receive a raise.

Stewart, too, said she had been unaware of the two-week gap until a reporter requested the dates. She did not call for further review, saying, "The superintendent's resigned. We're moving on."

The 2006 review found Ludwell's performance met the "satisfactory" threshold. As in other years, his raise was retroactive to July 1.

There is no indication the July 25, 2006, authorization resulted in any improper payments.

Stewart conceded the school board was lax in upholding its own end of the contractual bargain. In each of the last two years, the mayor has said, the board did not complete Ludwell's performance review until August, at the earliest. Ludwell's contract requires the board to submit the review by June 30.

Guinta said Ludwell had not yet received his 2007 review when he resigned last month.

"Did we follow our part? Perhaps not," Stewart said of the board. "But it wasn't that we overlooked it; it was just that we couldn't schedule it."

Ludwell received raises in 2004 and 2005. Both raises were consistent with the terms of his contract, records show.

School board members said Ludwell waited this summer for negotiations on the teachers' union contract to wrap up before signing off on his latest raise. In 2003, during the last round of negotiations, he refused the 2 percent raise altogether, explaining he wanted to demonstrate his support for the teachers.

Board member Chris Herbert said he sympathizes with Ludwell, calling this summer's pay raise a "relatively minor thing." He said he believes Ludwell was forced out by city officials who lost confidence in his ability to lead the district.

"You make a little mistake like this," he said, "and it's, 'Ah, now we've got ya.' "

Ludwell had planned to step down as superintendent at the end of the 2007-2008 school year.

His departure was hastened when Guinta and Stewart confronted him about this year's 2 percent pay raise.

--

Reader's Online COMMENTS:

Chris Herbert's downplaying of this incident is an insult to all the citizens of Manchester. To say that this situation is a "relatively minor thing" is reprehensible and he owes the residents of Manchester an apology. Mr. Ludwell was not entitled to the pay raise he granted himself and for Christ Herbert to somehow call that a ..."little mistake" is just as arrogant as Mr. Ludwell granting his own pay increase.
- Mike, Manchester

"...a little mistake like this..." Like what Mr Hebert, getting raises without permission of your boss? Usurping the oversight of the school board? Are long time politicians like Mr. Hebert that far out of touch that he really does not see this as a big deal? This is so very sad.
- Roy, Manchester

-----------------------------------------

Michael Ludwell
-----------------------------------------

News Article:
"School district HR director signed off on Ludwell raise"
By SCOTT BROOKS
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2007

MANCHESTER – The school district's human resources director said he signed off on Superintendent Michael Ludwell's 2 percent pay raise this summer without confirming all contractual requirements were met.

"We assumed everything was in order," Jeff Kantorowski said in an interview yesterday.

Ludwell collected $1,056.33 in authorized pay before allegations of malfeasance prompted his abrupt resignation last week. The money is being deducted from his paychecks, which he will continue receiving until Dec. 31, Kantorowski said.

Kantorowski said he signed off on the pay hike Aug. 7, when Ludwell requested the personnel form authorizing it. The superintendent signed the form later that same day, he said.

Under contract, Ludwell must receive a "satisfactory" performance review from the school board before he can receive the annual 2 percent raise. A board vote approving the raise also is required.

Ludwell did not meet either requirement, Mayor Frank Guinta has said.

"Unfortunately, (the) safeguard was ignored," Guinta said last night. "I think that was the most disturbing issue, certainly for myself and for the majority of members of the school board."

Ludwell remains on administrative leave. Attempts to reach him for comment have been unsuccessful.

Guinta said he has spoken with Kantorowski and is confident procedures will be followed in the future. He said he understands Kantorowski was following orders.

"The HR director is certainly going to give the benefit of the doubt to his boss," the mayor said.

Both Guinta and Kantorowski said additional checks and balances would help prevent unauthorized pay hikes from going forward in the future. Guinta suggested the district could require another official, possibly the school board chairman or vice chairman, to sign the form authorizing the raise.

However, School Board member Dave Gelinas said he does not believe any more safeguards are necessary.

"I'm certain that in the future the HR director is going to ask to show proof," he said. "But I also don't think in the future we're going to have a superintendent that's going to try and pull that stunt."

The superintendent is the only school district employee whose annual performance evaluation is conducted by the school board, Kantorowski said. That evaluation is done in non-public session and is not accessible to the Human Resources department, he said.

All other employees, he said, are evaluated by officials in the district.

Ludwell announced this summer he would step down at the end of the 2007-2008 school year. Guinta has said he will remain on the district's payroll until Dec. 31, when his resignation becomes official.

His salary is approximately $125,000. The 2 percent was retroactive to July 1.

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Reader's Online COMMENTS:

Maybe it's time for someone outtisde to take a look at the Manch school board and administration. Does anyone else remember Pizza Gate?
- andy berman, bedford

With every "scandal", the truth lies somewhere in between the two "stories". To me a 2% raise is nothing compared to the one that's being "budgeted" for Guinta, Alderman and School Board members. I don't think he was being sneaky at all. He requested it and someone in HR signed off on it, it's all legal! SUCK it up! IF he wasn't doing his job as it says in the article, he should've had a corrective action in place, which should've negated any potential raises. It's the City of Manchester School Dept's responsibility to be aware of these things. I'm sure it wont happen again, but I think the City needs to take some responsbility instead of making the Supt look like the "bad guy".
- Lisa, Manchester, NH

When Dr. Ludwell tendered his resignation in August, he became a lame duck until next summer. That is a long time for our students. Mayor Guinta is now taking his rightful role as the leader of our school board. Many alumni of Manchester public schools remember their years here fondly, even after relocating to other parts of the country. The superintendent vacancy is a tremendous opportunity for our city. The Mayor should take sufficient time to find someone who shares his values, and those of the voters who elected him.
- Steve, Manch

Another mass slippage by the school Board. The downfall of our school system is not the Teachers but the school board which is run mainly by political hacks and not trained educators. Manchester needs a non-elected board of directors who will understand the needs of the school children and not the needs of the political system. I feel sorry for the citizen of Manchester once again. A guess the Mayor dropped the ball, AGAIN, and will blame everyone but himself for this mess. Again I feel sorry for the great citizens of Manchester.
- Norman R. Gill, Hooksett, NH

Come on folks read the article's facts - what little there are. Was it the Superintendent's responsibility to get the School Board's sign off? No it was the responsibility of the HR director. His boss or not. He should have done his job and performed the due diligence. Also, you wonder why our youth are growing up the way they are today. Don't look to the schools to solve all our problems. I'm tired of the continual growth of the nanny state, including looking at the education system to raise our children. It is the parent's responsibility, or guardian's, or who ever has legal responsibility for the children. By the way it is only a minority of our youth who are growing up in a way that you don't like. I think that the rest of us do a pretty darn good job and so do our children. Neither one of us get enough credit. One last thing. I doubt any one of us would be happy with half his salary. Not with the responsibility that the a Superintendent has or with the long hours that they put in. You would be crying for your union.
- Dave, Auburn

So, he gives himself a raise. Guinta finds out about it and clearly does the right thing here. People are up in arms. So, please, how and why is this guy on PAID administrative leave? Why is the city payign him one dime? It is so comical how people in government can do something wrong yet, be placed on administrative leave with pay...when the rest of us would have been fired and not received a nickel. I assume it is because he has a contract with the city but, I just can't believe there are no escape clauses built into the contract for oh, lets say, if you give yourself a raise when it wasn't merited, then your contact is void? Another politician who does something wrong and still gets paid for violating the publics trust. Not a bad way to make a living.
- Mike, Manchester

To think this is who is in charge of teaching our children. And people wonder why our youth is growing up the way it is today.
- April McKinney, Manchester

WHAT A JOKE!!!The teachers deserve a raise far more than this guy.How sad that he wasnt so willing to give teachers more money.It is an outrage that he makes over 100,000 dollars a year and still had to be sneaky and give himself a raise.Most of us would be happy with half his salary.This man should not be paid while out on leave.Why do we need to pay someone who did something underhanded to receive more tax payers money,that he doesnt desrve!!!
- KAREN SHUTT, MANCHESTER

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News Article:
"Superintendent's surprise resignation came after meeting with Guinta"
By SCOTT BROOKS
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2007

MANCHESTER – Superintendent Michael Ludwell said his abrupt decision to hasten his resignation Monday evening was the result of a late-afternoon meeting with Mayor Frank Guinta and the school board vice chairman.

Ludwell said he was not pressured to step down but said Guinta told him he wanted to "take the district in a different direction." He drafted a letter of resignation within an hour of submitting it to the school board.

"I notified the district as soon as I had made the decision because I realized the superintendent selection process takes a long time," Ludwell said. "I felt it was appropriate. I felt it was honorable."

Ludwell, the district's top administrator since 2002, was immediately placed on leave and will not return to work, he and the mayor confirmed. He will continue to be paid until Dec. 31.

Guinta said he called the meeting to discuss a "personnel matter" concerning Ludwell. He declined to say whether the conversation involved any allegations of wrongdoing, saying, "He is entitled to certain privacy rights. We'd like to honor that."

The mayor, however, noted he met earlier Monday with the city solicitor, Tom Clark, and school district lawyer Dean Eggert, also to discuss a personnel matter.

No investigations are pending, Guinta said.

Ludwell announced in August that he planned to step down at the end of the 2007-2008 school year, saying he wanted to "explore new opportunities in the field of education." A search for his successor has been under way since September.

On Monday, Guinta appointed Assistant Superintendent Henry Aliberti to fill in for Ludwell as acting superintendent.

Ludwell's annual salary is $127,344. His contract, according to Guinta, entitles him to 120 days of pay.

"We came to an agreement that (paying Ludwell) just through the end of the year would be appropriate," the mayor said.

Several school district officials said they were stunned by Monday's announcement. Memorial High School Principal Arthur Adamakos said he talked to Ludwell during the daytime Monday, "and he never indicated to me that something was up."

Guinta said he called the 4:30 p.m. meeting with Ludwell and School Board Vice Chair Leslee Stewart. The meeting lasted half an hour, he said.

Ludwell tendered his resignation during a special meeting of the school board that started at 6 p.m.

School Board member Seumas Regan said he got a phone call late that afternoon with the instruction, "You better be at the meeting."

"I can tell you the mayor and the vice chair split a phone list and said, You call these people and you call these,' because they were literally trying to make 15 phone calls in an hour."

Stewart deflected questions about the superintendent, saying, "I feel this is a matter of personnel." Other board members said the same.

New Hampshire Union Leader Staff Writer John Whitson contributed to this report.

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Reader's Online COMMENTS:

Hmmm....now why is it that Manchester School District is such a mess?? Come on, more secrets and "personal matters" with administrators? Manchester loses great teachers because of the rediculousness of the Adminstrations. I find it very sad, very sad indeed.
- J, Manchester

We already know that the rules don't apparently apply to elected officials in Manchester, but is there not suppose to be a Notice of Meeting so that the public is aware? Was this meeting taped by MCTV? I called the station and they stated they were never given notice of a meeting. What is Guinta up to now? I guess I can already start using the phrase "don't blame me, I didn't vote for him." It's going to be a long 2 years in Manchester!
- Rich, Manchester

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News Article:
"Aldermen turn down a dramatic pay hike"
By SCOTT BROOKS
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
December 4, 2007

MANCHESTER – A proposal to dramatically increase salaries for elected officials in Manchester died last night without debate.

Aldermen voted, 13-0, to shelve City Clerk Leo Bernier's proposal, including hefty raises for themselves and a 40 percent pay hike for the mayor. "It was very easy to look around the room and know the political will was not there," Alderman Mark Roy said.

Bernier's proposal would have raised the mayor's pay from $68,000 to $95,389. Aldermen's salaries would have nearly quadrupled. School board salaries would have swelled from $2,000 to $12,531.

The vote to shelve the proposal came mere minutes into last night's board meeting. There was no discussion. "Why should there be discussion?" Alderman Bill Shea said afterward. "Everyone agreed it was not an appropriate way to handle city finances right after an election."

Several aldermen last week voiced a willingness to consider the measure. Alderman Ed Osborne said he believed the city would have difficulty attracting qualified candidates for office unless it boosts its salaries.

Currently, many aldermen are retired or own their own business. In a recent interview, Bernier said he did not expect the measure to pass but wanted the board to revisit the issue before he retires on Dec. 31. Bernier proposed similar increases for elected officials in 1999.

Mayor Frank Guinta came down against the salary increases for aldermen and school board members. He declined to take a position on the mayor's pay but said he did not think it would be appropriate to give public servants a salary bump so soon after last month's elections.

"This raise, as proposed, was not supported by the people of Manchester," Guinta said last night.

Aldermen are currently paid $4,000 plus $1,000 for additional expenses. The clerk's proposal would have raised their pay to $18,806.

Roy had said the money aldermen make today is not commensurate with the number of hours many of them put in each week.

Nevertheless, he said, he was not surprised the proposal was killed so quickly. "I'll be shocked if it ever comes up again," Roy said.

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Reader's Online COMMENTS:

These people want to keep their political careers alive, nothing else. If they had voted in their own raises, it would have been political suicide.
- Marc, Derry

OUTSTANDING! Its nice to know that our elected officials are persons of integrity no matter which party they are from. If only Congress could follow your lead!
- brian, manchester

This is like an early Christmas present!Thank you to all who voted this pay raise down. It's just a good reinforcement to the citizens of Manchester that not all of you are looking to line your pockets with more of our hard earned money. Please concentrate on more pressing issues, like lowering our property taxes and lowering the crime.
- Tammy, Manchester

It's good that Leo Bernier is retiring, he is losing his mind!!!
- Jason, Manchester

Kudos to the Board! The unanimous vote tells me that the board and mayor, despite being split along nominal party lines, are united in responsibility to the taxpayers. Let's hope this theme of responsibility plays out throughout the coming term!
- Kevin, Lancaster

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"Readers say bah, humbug to city raises"
Monday, Dec. 3, 2007

MANCHESTER – A proposal to give big raises to the mayor, aldermen and school board may be winning some backers in City Hall, but - surprise! - it isn't very popular with the public, an online survey suggests.

An unscientific survey of UnionLeader.com readers finds overwhelming disapproval of City Clerk Leo Bernier's proposal, which would give the mayor a 40 percent pay hike and raise salaries for other elected officials several times over.

Three-quarters of respondents opposed raising the mayor's pay, as Bernier would, from $68,000 to $95,389. Nearly 90 percent rejected the proposed raises for the aldermen and school board.

The percentages are roughly the same when only Manchester residents are counted.

"Let's see," said one respondent, Tom Martin, who lives on Bridge Street. "My budget, heating oil, property tax, electric, gas, water, sewer, mortgage, car payment, health care insurance, the kids ... and ... and ... I know I'm forgetting something. Oh, that's right. A pay raise for my alderman."

A total of 532 readers filled out the survey, which was posted on the New Hampshire Union Leader's Web site late last week. Of those, 321 - or 61 percent - claimed to live in Manchester. Six percent identified themselves as an employee of the city or school district.

The results showed more sympathy for the mayor than for elected board members. A full 88 percent of respondents said yes when asked if the mayor ought to be paid at all. Just 61 percent said the same of the aldermen and school board.

Many readers who shared their comments with the newspaper said they are unsatisfied with the city's current officeholders. Some said a debate about salaries deflects attention from the problems city government should be tackling.

"This is unacceptable," said one reader who identified himself only as Tom. "Manchester is a mess now, and if there is extra money then it ought to be used to hire new police and cut down on the violence in the city."

Several readers agreed some city officials are underpaid but said Bernier's proposal goes too far. The city clerk says the aldermen's annual pay should grow from $5,000, including travel expenses, to $18,806. School board pay would grow from $2,000 to $12,531.

Members of both boards would still have access to the city's health and dental plans, but it was unclear whether they could continue paying the low rate available to them today.

"You need to tell me why the mayor needs to get a $27,389 raise," reader Lisa LaFleur of Manchester, wrote. "The average person only receives at most 3 percent a year for a raise. Why is he so much better than us?"

Another reader, C.T. Morin, said, "A reasonable raise is fine, but this is way beyond reason."

The city has not raised the mayor's salary since 1996. The aldermen's salary has been unchanged since 1985, according to the clerk.

In a recent letter, Bernier said the aldermen deserve a raise to compensate for their out-of-pocket expenses and "time spent away from family." He said the pay increases would ultimately save taxpayer money.

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Reader's Online COMMENTS:

Mr. Leo Bernier states in this article that the pay increases would ultimately save the tax payer's money. I would like to know how a 27,389 dollar raise would ultimately save the tax payer's money. It is easy for him to say it would save money. But it seems to me it is very hard for him to tell us how it really would save tax payer's money. So Mr. Bernier do you have any answers on how it really saves tax payer's money?
- Travis, Manchester, NH

I am definately enjoying reading people's comments, and know that I am not alone! Raises...I think these raises that Mr. Bernier is proposing are outrageous! And, an almost $30k raise is absurd! The mayor of the City hasn't done anything to deserve a $30k raise. My taxes have increased two fold, and the services the city provides hasn't changed, in fact it has probably declined. Dont even get me going on the condition of the city streets/sidewalks after this recent snowfall! I would hope that the Mayor would work on decreasing our taxes nevermind getting a raise! Or maybe, since the mayor is voted in, the citizens of Manchester should vote on whether or not he should get a raise at all, nevermind at $30k! I know for sure I'd participate in that vote!
- Lisa, Manchester, NH

State representatives are paid $100 per year. How's that sound for an acceptable salary for city officials?
- Jeremy J. Olson, Manchester

$68K a year is a joke for a big city mayor's salary. I know fork-truck drivers who make more than that, and they don't have to put up with getting called names in the paper every day. The mayor of Burlington VT make $90K a year. The mayor of Tukwila, Washington makes $80K a year.
- Fran Taylor, Concord, NH

Hey - there's another Tammy from Manchester commenting! I do not think it is appropriate for Bernier to be calling for pay increases for the Mayor, Alderman and School Board, especially right after an election. I am not convinced we would get "better" candidates or more results from anyone just because of the money. Plenty of good people ran for office knowing full well what the pay was - if they wanted more, they would not have run. I also could care less what people in other cities are making for similar positions - we're not other cities. It's not like we recruit people from other cities for our elected positions!
- Tammy Simmons, Manchester

I would'nt mind giving the mayor a raise, but no way would i ever give the alderman or school boards a raise. You still need someone qualified to run the city and god only knows sooner or later no one will want to run for the seat if the pay isn't there. Then we'll all be in trouble
- Kevin, Manchester

This is crazy- everyone in this city has their heat turned to a ridiculously low temp, our property taxes went up due to revaluation, gas costs more than ever--and this clown thinks that he deserves that type of a pay raise?! Maybe when the economy is buoyant, and we are all doing a little better. People take public office to serve us-NOT the other way around...
- Carrie P., Manchester

Frankly Joe, I really don't care what happens in other cities. Besides, we are one of the very few states that do not have sales tax, so I'm sure alot of the taxpayers in the cities that do are not feeling the pinch when their city officials want a raise especially a 40% hike!! I'm sure you will be one of the few who won't mind giving up more of your paycheck when your taxes go up so these people can be compensated for their time away from their family. Yeah, I just love working just to give my money away.
- Tammy, Manchester

I think I will run for office and get my 40% pay raise..... Never have I heard of such a proposition. Mr . Bernier needs to have his head examined. Like everyone has pointed out to the office holders, if you don't like the pay, don't run for office.
- Pat G, Manchester

I think if you look at comparable citys for the same elected officials pay scale you would find that the increases are appropriate. No, these people obviously didn't run for office for the money. Me? -I usually vote democrat.
- Joe, Manchester

Hypothetically speaking, let's just say that Mr Bernier is right and these positions are underpaid. How does one go about recommending this without getting slammed? Personally, I'd wait until I retire and then bring up the subject so I can't be charged of being brainless or a "low-life". Someone would have to bring up this topic and this is how Mr Bernier decided to approach this issue. Even if you don't agree with his stance, he doesn't deserve the amount of venom spewed his way. It's just disgusting.
- Breyer S., Manchester, NH

So the mayor of a major American city makes less than an entry-level software developer. Show me another business where the head of a multibillion-dollar operation makes $68K a year. And you people are surprised at the poor quality of your leadership.
- Fran Taylor, Concord, NH

I am totally disgusted w/Bernier. It's obvious that this man decieved alot of voters. It seems to me that his only intentions in winning was to increase his paycheck. This city is in trouble and the only thing he wants is more money for being away from his family? Well, what about the majority of the people who live in this city who work 40+ hours a week? Do we get compensated for our time away from loved ones??? Absolutely not. We work because we have to, the alderman, treasurer, & other city officials are elected positions, they had a choice to run so why should they be compensated if it was their choice to take time away from their family. There is nothing he can say that will convince me that they all need a 40% raise.
- Tammy, Manchester

Raises for Aldermen and the Mayor? Absolutely not! How about pay cuts or at least a ballot initiative to freeze the pay. Raises then must go through a ballot initiative (we will vote for your raise if you earned it). These are elected positions. If you do not think the position pay is adequate; don't run next time. Guess what? We will still have VERY qualified candidates to run for your seats! How many retirees are set finacially,and could become an alderman to improve thier neighborhoods and schools(many I am sure)? Stay at home mom or dad's with some time who might enjoy being part of the school board to actively confront the challenges of their childrens schooling (many of those too I'll bet)? Mr Bernier doesn't get it; The city needs to look at trimming the budget not adding to it.
- brian, manchester

As we all know, Mayor and Alderman posts are filled with elected officials. Those who are elected CHOSE to run for that position supposedly as an opportunity to serve the community they and their families live and work in. Nobody ever got rich working for any level of government. However, it seems that our Alderman may be trying to take the first steps toward being a millionaire at the taxpayer’s expense. Are they running for their office based on the amount of money they can make in their public service positions or are they truly running for their elected position to serve their community? I realize our elected officials miss out on time with their families and must travel a bit. But if you didn’t want to take on that sacrifice without settling for the publicly posted rates of compensation, then you shouldn’t have run for the office. As a taxpayer in Manchester, our city government MUST do a much better job of fighting crime, providing emergency services, fixing roads and bridges in this city, and making the public school system something for us to be proud of before I would even consider approving a raise of that magnitude. I wouldn’t have a problem with a 2 or 3 percent raise every couple of years. I think that would be fair given the nature of the job. But Leo Bernier seems to want officials to be elected into a career position instead of a public service position. Maybe Leo needs his head examined to find out of there is anything between his ears besides greed! You need to resign Leo and stop trying to fleece the taxpayers in Manchester out of their hard earned wages!!
- Collin, Manchester

Public service. It's beginning to sound like public "self" service in NH! More and more like MA every day.
- Bill, Salem

"Bernier said the aldermen deserve a raise to compensate for their out-of-pocket expenses and "time spent away from family." He said the pay increases would ultimately save taxpayer money." OK, please explain how increasing our taxes to fund these pay raises will SAVE us money. I wish these people would take a course in LOGIC and COMMON SENSE before taking their jobs!
- Mike, Manchester

Mayme, try putting your knee-jerk, anti-Republican bias aside and read the original article before you comment. The Mayor was AGAINST the raises.
- Manny, Manchester

I thought that the Republicans run on no taxes, how is it that a Republican Mayor thinks he can get a pay raise? He should be getting a pay cut. To many Republicans have what I call CEOitis. They want to make big bucks, but they never want to pay anyone else a decent living. Personally, I think everyone who works, should be paid a decent amount-even if it is picking up trash! I also think that if we ask people to work for us, we should be willing to pay them. I believe that our city employees need to be paid the best, so we can attract the best. The reason Manchester is a mess is because you get what you pay for! Raise taxes and pay people what they are worth for God's sake!!! If they don't work, replace them with someone who will.
- Mayme Trumble, Madbury

NOt only do I disagree totally about the adermen and school board raises, but I sure wish I had known before now about the salary and the alternate name given by the Human Resource retiree. Talk about lining your pocket Mr. Bernier, don't you think $102,000 dollars for your wife's salary was a bit extravagant? Talk about hypocrisy and cowardly behavior. HAVE A HAPPY RETIREMENT at my expense you low life.
- Arthur Des Meules, Manchester, NH

Compensated for "time spent away from family"? Since when do any of us get compensated from our employers for "spending time away from family"? If they want to spend more time with their family get a different job or quit!
- R, Manchester, NH

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Manchester Daily Express, Thursday, December 06, 2007

“Aldermen consider taking over school district: Gatsas proposal calls for City Hall control”

By Dan Magazu (dmagazu@manchexpress.com)

Recent news of superintendent Michael Ludwell’s controversial pay raise has prompted aldermen to renew efforts to take control of the school district’s finances.
Following a motion by Ward 2 Alderman Ted Gatsas, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday began the process of reclassifying the school district as a city department.
Ludwell, whose resignation takes effect at the end of this year (12/31/2007), allegedly gave himself a 2 percent pay raise this past summer without approval from the school board.
Gatsas said that it was clear the school district had no oversight when the incident occurred.
“The taxpayer’s money was not being protected,” Gatsas said.
Gatsas recommends that a standing committee work with the city solicitor to come up with the proper wording for a charter amendment that could be voted on by residents.
Aldermen unanimously approved his motion on Tuesday, (12/4/2007).
Currently, aldermen have final say over the school district’s budget, but cannot force the district to change individual budget items or educational policies.
In 2001, residents supported a charter amendment that gave aldermen the ability to set the school budget procedure by ordinance, but it was later struck down by the state Supreme Court, which advised that a legislative change was needed.
Gatsas and Ward 8 Alderman Betsi DeVries could potentially lead such a change. Both are state senators.
School board vice chairman Leslee Stewart said yesterday that she was completely surprised by Tuesday’s motion and called it “unwarranted.”
“We have enough challenges in attracting a superintendent to Manchester already,” Stewart said. “We are a District in Need of Improvement. We have challenges every year with the budget. Adding this to the mix is probably something that would be unattractive to most candidates.”
Stewart hopes that the committee charged with looking into the recommendation will dismiss it upon further review.
Some school board members, however, seemed open to the proposal.
“I think there needs to be more financial accountability from the school administrators,” at-large school board member Debra Gagnon Langton said. “Some how, some way, there needs to be some improvements.”
During past battles, opponents of folding the school district into City Hall have feared it could clear the way for the city to use some of the millions it receives in state school aid to balance the municipal budget.

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"Post office pilfering: Who's hiding campaign mailings?"
Editorial - The NH Union Leader
December 7, 2007

POLITICAL MAILINGS keep vanishing from Manchester's main post office, only to reappear after the elections they were intended to influence. One might suspect the legendary competence of the U.S. Postal Service. Funny thing is, the magical vanishing mailings all have one thing in common: they support candidates who oppose the Ray Buckley Democratic political machine in Manchester city elections.

In 2005, Republican Joe Kelly Levasseur ran against Democrat Pat Long, a union official supported by the Democratic machine. Mysteriously, some of Levasseur's mailings, dropped at the post office on Goffe's Falls Road, went missing. Levasseur sued, claiming that a part-time postal worker who was also the city Democratic committee secretary, hid his campaign mail. But the claim, coming from the litigious partisan gadfly, was met with skepticism. Long, by the way, won.

Fast forward to 2007, and Long found himself in a tight race against outsider Democrat Peter Sullivan. Sullivan beat Long without the help of the party, whose apparatus supported the incumbent. Lo and behold, Sullivan learned several weeks after the election that a bundle of his stamped campaign postcards somehow wound up undelivered though he dropped them at the Goffe's Falls Road post office well before the election.

Sullivan notes that the cards wound up on a post office manager's desk bound by a rubber band. But there was no rubber band when Sullivan left the cards. Someone at the post office collected and bound them -- and put them on a desk instead of in a truck.

It turns out that at least two other candidates for city office had mailers go missing from that post office. Ward 4 Republican John Castelot, who ran for alderman in 2005, said half of his campaign literature dropped at that post office did not reach voters before the election. And this year Ward 1 Republican Jean Esslinger discovered that some of her mailers did not reach their destination until well after the election.

If this was the result of poor service at the post office, then where are the complaints from businesses? Where are the complaints from establishment Democratic Party candidates?

"There is something about it that doesn't smell right," Sullivan said. It not only doesn't smell right, it stinks.

Sullivan is right to seek an investigation. Something fishy is going on at the Goffe's Falls Road post office, and there is enough evidence to suggest strongly that foul play is involved.

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Reader's COMMENTS:

I thought Peter Sullivan was a Democrat?
- Chris Demers, Weare

I didn't think anything of it until today, but I received a Phil Greazzo postcard in the mail just last week. I don't know if it was a lone stray or what, but now it gets me to thinking...
- William Smith, Manchester

We relate to this interesting story because our organization, the Citizens Alliance Against creepy Politics had hundreds of pieces of mail returned after six months of "being lost". The mail was sent from the Jaffrey and Dublin Post offices and its subject was local politics. Mail is routed through the Postal Center in Manchester. Dick Olson
- Dick Olson, Jaffrey

It would seem the gloves came off after the phone jamming incident.
- DM, Manchester

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"Election of bartender, 23, riles some readers"
By DAN TUOHY
Newq Hampshire Union Leader
Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007

MANCHESTER – A 23-year-old bartender and aspiring cosmetologist will be voting on multi-million-dollar budgets, contracts and legal issues as she looks out for students in New Hampshire's largest city.

And not everyone's happy about the newest school board member.

More than 50 readers responded to the New Hampshire Union Leader news story of Jennifer Peabody winning election Tuesday. Peabody defeated incumbent Seumas Regan to capture the Ward 3 seat on the board.

"Give me a chance," she said after her upset victory.

Several readers said they are willing to do just that. Some thanked her for volunteering for the civic duty. But Peabody, who works at Raxx Billiards, also received a harsh welcome to the life of an elected official. Some questioned her qualifications -- because she dropped out of Hesser College and had three different residences since she filed to run for the office.

"So, the new member of the school board is a college dropout slacker who is homeless and wants to vote for a socialist as president and has no experience," Josh Dupont wrote in the New Hampshire Union Leader comment board.

"What's next," another reader chimed in, "Ed Brown for treasurer?"

One reader offered her encouragement: "The fact she put her name out there and is willing to honor her commitment is refreshing these days. The fact that she is not part of the political machine is even more astounding."

Manchester's newest public figure evoked passions as "a disaster," "a blessing" and a "breath of fresh air," according to the online reader comments.

Ward 12 Alderman Kelleigh Domaingue encouraged Peabody to remain steadfast and to make a difference.

"It is important to hold off on judging this individual until she has served on the board," Domaingue wrote. "For those who have commented on Jen's profession, I would like to point out that there is no single profession that makes an individual uniquely qualified to hold public office -- only hard work, and a desire to make a difference. I wish Jen the best as she begins her term on the school board."

A day after the election, Peabody was still nursing a sinus infection or cold, said Peter M. Sullivan, one of her friends. "She's a little overwhelmed," Sullivan said last night. "But she's encouraged by the support."

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Reader's COMMENTS:

People need to stop being so petty. Does it matter what she does for living? No. Maybe she enjoys what she does! She's young and believe me, the school department needs some "down to earth" people. No offense to those currently on the board, but people get "set in their ways" and "poo-poo" anything new. New and fresh ideas are a great thing. Time to get with the 21st century Manchester! Good luck Jennifer...show them it doesn't matter what you do, where you live or how old you are! :)
- Lisa, Manchester, NH

I cannot believe that the UL would write an article like this using comments from people some of which are probably not even using their true identity while making the on line comments to the article. Maybe you should verify that the commenters are who they say they are and not just disatisfied politicos. If you do approximate percentages of good and bad comments it shows a completely different picture. roughly 21.8 percent of the comments were negative which leaves 78.2 percent positive. Not bad percentages in favor of Jen.
- Bob Bruce, Candia,NH

It's called democracy.
- Christopher Plummer, Manchester, NH

Jen you dont have to ask them to give you a chance because you've been elected, so it doesnt matter what they think. She has a big responsibility and I hope our other elected reps help her make her way. Everyone is entitled to run and Im glad we've got new blood in there. I hope this inspires more young people to fight for what they believe in and run for offices.
- wayne yescalis, manchester

--

Jennifer Peabody, elected Tuesday to the Ward 3 Manchester school board seat, works at Raxx Billiards as a bartender. (THOMAS ROY)
--

"Surprise school board winner: Give me a chance"
By MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader
Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007

MANCHESTER – When Jennifer Peabody woke up Tuesday morning, she had a bad sinus infection and another day of apartment hunting and work ahead of her. By the time she went to bed, she had a title -- school board committee member-elect.

The 23-year-old shocked the political establishment Tuesday by upending incumbent Seumas Regan in Ward 3 with a whisper of a campaign and a candidate who makes Mayor Frank Guinta, at 37, seem old.

Peabody has lived in Manchester for about four years. A graduate of Alvirne High School in Hudson, she moved here to attend Hesser College. She left college after a year because, she said, she didn't feel challenged. She works as a bartender at Raxx Billiards and is considering cosmetology school.

For the last few months, Peabody has been couch surfing, now at her third residence since filing for election.

Her profile, she acknowledges, may be off-putting to some.

"Give me a chance," said Peabody, who maintains eye contact and a disarming smile as she talks to people. "I think you'll be surprised. I think I can speak for the younger generation."

Peabody said she's concerned about nutrition and wants to see schools offer healthy food to combat student obesity. She wants to make sure students don't have to share books or desks, as she did when she attended Nashua schools.

And she laments that her mother -- Carol Wood, a former preschool teacher in Hudson -- left teaching to make more money as a secretary. "We need to get some good people in there and pay them more," she said.

Ward 3 is the same ward that sent the developmentally disabled Peter Leonard to the school board for two terms earlier this decade.

Peabody won 466 votes compared to 342 for Regan. She said she can't really explain her win. She said she mailed out two flyers, she helped on the campaign of Ward 3 alderman-elect Peter Sullivan, and she talked to people she met downtown.

An independent, she endorsed Guinta for mayor and wants to see Democrat Barack Obama win the presidency.

Peabody said she didn't knock on doors. She didn't answer a questionnaire from the New Hampshire Union Leader. She didn't raise any money.

Regan didn't campaign much either, or use the power of incumbency to his advantage, said Sullivan, who calls himself a friend of Peabody. He said Peabody was feeling overwhelmed yesterday.

"She's never been exposed to politics -- the dirt, the yelling, the swearing that goes on with political life," Sullivan said. "It's all new to her. Once the shock wears off, she'll be fine."

When Peabody filed for election early this summer, she gave an address of 26 Pine St. She said she was living with several friends, and they eventually parted ways. She moved into 4 Dow St., the residence of Michael DesRoches, a Democratic state representative and former employee of Roy Arsenault, the owner of Raxx.

Peabody said she lived there for two months but moved out because she didn't feel safe leaving work late at night and walking to Dow Street. Within the last week she has moved into a friend's apartment at Parkview Commons, the brick apartment building at the corner of Bridge and Union streets.

Her residence did cause concerns at City Hall, when paperwork sent to her Pine Street address was returned, said Deputy City Clerk Tricia Piecuch. The Clerk's Office tracked Peabody down through a post office box, and she filed an affidavit to change her domicile to Dow Street.

Piecuch said she was unaware of the latest residence.

"If she's moved again, she needs to come into the office and definitely change that," Piecuch said. But she said that Peabody has not violated any residency requirements for elected office. State state law allows elected officials to move out of their ward temporarily, she said.

Peabody stressed that all her addresses are in Ward 3. And she is staying with her friend only temporarily while she looks for an apartment -- in Ward 3, of course.

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Reader's COMMENTS

There are at least six state representatives under the age of 25 (three Republican and three Democrat that I know of), and they are some of the most energetic and informed members of the House. I probably don't agree with Miss Peabody's politics but she seems sincere and passionate about fixing a broken school system and I think we should at least give her a chance to demonstrate her abilities.
- Jason B., Windham

Shame on all of you who judge Jennifer! I know her personally, she is my sister and best friend. Before you decide to sit back and make false comments (couch surffer) please know that Ms. Peabody is the most caring, honest, and genuine person i have ever met. Ask yourself.....What will this position do for her? NOTHING! She ran because she cares and because she feels that she can make a difference. If only all of us felt we could make a difference rather than insulting others maybe this place would be a lot better. Maybe Ms. Peabody's knowledge about legal issues and finances are not as great as others, but i have faith that she will get the knowledge she needs to, to make a differnce. I also KNOW that she will be there for EVERY meeting there is, and in those meetings she will say what she feels will better the education of our children, from an honest, new, fresh point of view. Please people, dont knock her down, help her help the school district!!! Yea, JENNY!!! i love you, keep your head high and do what you do best......stand up for what you believe!
- Erica Ferro, nashua NH

I say good for her! To all the nay-sayers: Why do you think she's doing this? It's not for the money, or celebrity. There's only one reason: to make our schools better. My dad was chairman of my schoolboard and a member for years, and he is a plumber/hvac with a HS diploma. He was voted Board member of the decade! I'll take an honest, hard-working regular person over a seasoned politician any day. And for the rccord: Kelly D: You are not only smart, witty, and funny, but one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen! It's too bad I'm taken. I would vote for you for mayor if you ran!
- Tom, Manchester

Congratulations to Jennifer putting her name on the ballot and running for elected office. Far too often we hear that more young people should get involved. This is a situation where a young person has stepped up to the plate and won her election. Regardless of what people may think about her lack of a college degree, her employment record or her living situation, the fact remains that she put her name out there and she won. Many people have been successful without having a college degree. Common sense and the ability to work hard to not require a college degree. Jennifer's employment should also not be an issue. She is working and making a living. There are many people who hold various types of employment, none of which prohibit them from running for elected office. Work is work. WE all have to earn a living in order to pay the bills and meet our basic needs. As for her living situation, shame on those who have bashed this young woman for being honest. Imagine how hard it is to be in her situation, never mind having complete strangers knocking her for it. The mere fact that she is making the best of her situation should encourage others to applaud her efforts rather than make disparaging remarks about her. People should really think twice and look at themselves in the mirror before casting doubts on this persons ability to serve on the school board. Instead of bashing this yougn woman, how about some words of encouragement? How about saying wow, this young woman is overcoming some obstables in her life and really trying to make a difference. Instead, people are upset because their candidate lost. Congratulations to all the candidates that put their names on the ballot. That took a lot of courage and as citizens, we should be thankful that people are willing to sacrificce their time to make a difference in this city. Whether we agree with the candidate or not, we should applaud each and every one of them for stepping up to the plate and trying to make a difference.
- Mike Porter, Manchester

Jen is an optomistic and intelligent girl. How many people took the iniative to get invovled in something at her age?? I would like to know who on here that has had a negative comment ran for public office at her age? I suspect very very few if any. So let Jen get about the task of being a school board member- she will bring a new aspect to the discusssion and ask some questions that maybe ought to be revisisted. I am proud that a young person in Manchester stood up and gave it a go. Don't make her regret the decision to run, and don't scare others off. Everyone dislikes politicans - well most of them graduate from college!! Think outside the box people!!! Go get them Jen- never be afraid to ask a question, keep your mind open and listen to new ideas- congratulations!
- Steve, Manchester

As a ward 3 constituent and with 3 family members as Manchester teachers, I'm quite optimistic with my vote. We clearly need change; I think Ms. Peabody will better serve the teachers and the students...not kiss up to the school adminstration. The shake-up needs to happen at the top, plus Guinta isn't going anywhere for two more years. She might not have the ideal qualifications, but I hope she's just what the schools need. Go get 'em Jen!
- Breyer S., Manchester, NH

To Mr. William W. Boyd, III, and others that compare Ms. Peabody situation to Bill Gates. Yes, Bill Gates didn't finish Harvard. Ms. Peabody couldn't finisher Hesser College. Two opposites. College doesn't make you better, however many cases it should be required. Mr. Boyd I work in a gas station. Can I have your life savings to invest? Didn't think so.
- Lee, Manchester

Jen Peabody was elected to the School Board by the people of Ward 3, and I'm confident that she'll do a good job of representing their concerns and priorities. If she doesn't, the voters in Ward 3 will address it in their way. I put myself through grad school tending bar, and to all those who turn up their nose at her profession, I say "Shame on you." There's absolutely nothing wrong or lowly about being in the restaurant business. In fact, I wish more people in government had the customer service skills so obviously necessary in the hospitality field.
- Keith Murphy, Manchester

Jen, I wish you the best on the board. To those who have posted negative comments, please understand that running for public office is not easy. I often hear people lamenting the fact that younger individuals do not get involved in politics. In reading some of these comments, I can understand why. Running for office is not an easy road for any individual, especially a younger candidate running for the first time. However, the reward is in knowing that if you commit yourself to your constituency and a thorough understanding of the issues, you CAN make a difference. And there is no greater reward than working for positive change in this city. It is important to hold off on judging this individual until she has served on the board. For those who have commented on Jen's profession, I would like to point out that there is no single profession that makes an individual uniquely qualified to hold public office - only hard work, and a desire to make a difference. I wish Jen the best as she begins her term on the school board.
- Kelleigh Domaingue, Manchester

Have any of you, who criticize the hospitality business, ever worked in it? Bartenders are hired for their abilities to multi task, to handle a crowd, and to work with clients of various temperments, hopefully ensuring them a pleasant and memorable experience. As a 23 year old former bartender, and NYu graduate, I can tell you I honestly learned more about business, organization, and people working behind the bar than I ever did in the classrooms of NYU. I'm seen some fairly intelligent school board members and alderman over the years in Manchester and, FYI, many of them never even attended, never mind completed, college. And Joe from Hooksett: I sat through aldermanic and school board meetings watching my mother when I was 12 years old and trust me, the content is not difficult to comprehend...its the career politicians who care more about the extra money in their pockets than the direct needs of their constituents, who complicate things.
- Kate Domaingue, New York, NY

Wow I am floored how so many people can be so quick to judge the girl. Frankly I don't care if she's moved 3 times or 30 times. I don't care if she didn't feel Hesser was challenging...actually I graduated from Hesser and it was the easiest 2 years of my life and now I'm having trouble finding a secure job and making the money I deserve because my degree is laughed at in many regards. She could very well help with many things and has anyone looked around and really taken notice to how many kids or overweight, obese, and even morbidly obese for their age?! Meanwhile schools are cutting out recess more and gym classes are getting shorter. And to educator, she's on the school board to discuss things that will benefit the kids, not the teachers. The teachers are also there to help the kids so why are you asking who's "side she's really on"? She may work at Raxx and fine but that doesn't mean that she's not an intelligent person. Some people are so ignorant.
- Janice, Derry

Everyone deserves a chance. Congratulations to her for her Election Day victory.
- Gene J. Murray, Amherst, NY

The late Bob Shaw once said something along the lines of: "The role of the school board is to hire the Superintendent of Schools, and then go home.". The meaning behind that - is that it is the job of the Superintendent to run the school system. Here in Manchester the Superintendent is a puppet of the school board. The Manchester school board will eventually cause the demise of the school district. I'm sure that the Manchester board of alderman are waiting for that day so that they can revert the school district back to a department of the city. In my opinion, that day can't come soon enough.
- Dave, Manchester

Bill Gates never finished Harvard; does that make him anything less? It makes him more genuine. Good luck to Jen Peabody; she certainly will bring a unique and independent perspective to the process!
- William W. Boyd, III, Merrimack

Another thought ;:: since she serves drinks at a pool hall, she probably has met, and knows most of the teachers in Manchester. No one is going to be putting anything over of Ms Peabody.
- Thomas, Manchester, NH

What she brings to the board is something the naysayers should think well about: This young lady found college and school less than challenging, and dropped out. Manchester is plagued with failing schools, which will result in high drop out rates. Jen's ability to empathize with students in pursuit of academic challenge should be a welcome addition to School Board Decisions.
- Howie Howe, Manchester

Wow, Im suprised. Her qualifications not so good... But maybe this young 23yr. old can get some things done if shes a fiesty one... I just hope her voice will be held as a positive thing for students. Most of the runners for this job probably have kids, and are in Manchester schools. Just having kids to take care of everyday proves responsibility. I hope she can prove shes just as responsible and treating it not just as new job. We need alot of improvements. I would like to see someone with a track running make a difference rather than someone with no experience......... Lets hope the paper makes a colum of her good things done when shes made a difference. Id like to read that!!!!
- Christine, Manchester

As a previous resident of Manchester and had kids in the school system I think a fresh perspective would be appreciated. Again, she was elected by the ward!! Ward 3 chose her. Give her a chance. She is young and will have fresh ideas. No one has the right to judge someone just because they droppped out of college or moved a few times.
- Teri, Deltona,fl

Good luck Jen. Don't listen to all the negativity surrounding your election. Funny how people call the service workers slackers. Do you not ever go out to dinner or for drinks?
- Erika Kelly, Hudson NH

I wish she lived in Bedford.....she couldn't be any worse than the "educated" board members we have now. The school board just had the highest annual tax increase in the history of the town and now they are trying to pick our pockets again by asking the voters to pay to widen Rt 101, a state maintained road, and install a traffic light.
- Mike, Bedford

She was ELECTED. All of the people bashing her voted right? Are you sure that it is her that you should be upset with? Why didn't you run for this position? Oh wait, it is easier to point and blame, I forgot.
- Tyler, Farmington

I think we should worry more about voting than judging people we dont know. How many Manchester residents were just too lazy to vote?
- Lisa, Manchester, NH

23 year old who dropped out of college because it was not challanging enough, although she is aspiring to become a cosmotologist. This must be far more challanging than engineering, Business, Law etc... In the meantime she has chosen to serve drinks. Compile that with someone who does not stay at one residence for more than 3 months my gut tells me she might have some commitment problems perhaps. I have a bad feeling we will see her attendence slip off in a few months, as this will not be fun anymore and she finds out it will take real effort and dedication.
- G, Nashua

If I was interested in a beer maybe I would want Ms. Peabody's assistence. However, I am more concerned with my sons education. I don't think trying to justify feeling ok that a "Hesser" college drop out, homeless girl got on the school board, but it's an improvement. A little silly to me. If she had extra time to sit on the school board, how about getting a job so she can live on her own or go back to school so that so would be a little versed in politics.
- Nick, Manchester

Arrogance?? The only arrogance being displayed here is by the people commenting that this young woman is unqualified to hold this seat. She met the qualifications to get on the ballot and she won. So she's a bartender---big deal! I don't want another lawyer in government, thanks. She didn't finish college. Who cares? Millions of people haven't finished college. It's not a requirement for this office. Assuming she wouldn't know about legal or financial matters is nothing more than arrogant presumption. Perhaps those of you belittling Ms. Peabody for her lack of college education and life experience should have filed for office yourself. That way, we wouldn't have to hear you complain.
- William Smith, Manchester, NH

I wish this young woman the best of luck in her stint on the school board. A college education does not always equal intelligence or even ability. My suggestion to her is to get a PO Box as a stable mailing address and an email address. That way her constituents will be able to reach her no matter what.
- Bess, Concord

I'm actually amused that she dropped out of Hesser because she didn't feel challenged, and yet she works as a bartender and is considering cosmetology school. Where's the challenge in serving pints?
- Kelly, Manchester

I think you all should just get over the fact that she was elected. Give her a chance, you have no idea what Jennifer can do. Don't be so Negative! Trying showing some support instead of jumping to false conclusions. Get over it, move on, and hope that she does well.
- Adam, Manchester

Jen can identify the concerns and struggles with our students but what about identifing with the educators who teach them. Who is she really suppporting here?
- Educator, Manchester

My gosh people...At least she is working and has goals in life. I think she is a breath of fresh air and will do her best at the task given her. Have faith!
- Pat, Manchester

If you have the money to pay for classes you can graduate from college, doesn't take a genius, doesn't necessarily produce a genius either. Give this girl a chance, at least she won't fall into the status quo like so many others, and if she's vocal enough she might shake things up.
- Erick, Manchester

How many elected officials are 100% knowledgeable of every thing that they will have to encounter once elected. None!!!!!
- Bob Bruce, candia

Wow. So many people seem to know this young woman that they feel obligated to publicly humiliate her. Talk about people throwing stones. So what, she is not a college graduate...big deal. There are a lot of successful people who do not hold the coveted college degree. Often times real life / work experience far supercedes people with college degrees. The lack of a college degree does not mean she is not capable of making important decisions. Have any of you thought for a minute that maybe her experiences make her a stronger person? The fact she put her name out there and is willing to honor her commitment is refreshing these days. THe fact that she is not part of the political machine is even more astounding. The mere fact that she seems to have learned how to survive and not feel bad for herslef is something that is unheard of these days. I say give her a chance. She was elected by the people of Ward 3 to do a job. Let her do her job without such negativity.
- Mike, Manchester

Again she was elected, if people dont like who was elected, more people should have voted. Maybe a younger person is better suited for this position, she understands what is happening in the schools better then someone who hasnt been in the schools for over 15-20 years. I think its great! More younger people should as outgoing.
- Brian, Hooksett

Although she may not be college educated, she has stated that she would like to go back to school - possibly for Cosmotology. I think any schooling in a trade of your choice is better than none. Kudos to her for being brave enough to run for something as important as the School Board. I am no where near as young as Jen, however, I believe that her being elected will positively influence our youth. Maybe they will now feel compelled to vote and to try and make a change in society. Best of luck to Jen and all of the folks that were elected yesterday.
- Michelle, Derry

Sometimes it is good to get an inexperienced person in the mix to bring fresh ideas and question the norm. She threw her hat in the ring and is willing to try and help make a difference which is more than most can say.
- Don, Auburn, NH

I grew up in Manchester, left about 10 years ago. The more things change the more they go backward. What the City needs is truly new leadership and new thinking and I dont see that with this person or any of the other winners for that matter.
- John G, Norwood, MA

Wow- this is just another case of uniformed voters. I think Ms. Peabody needs to take a tour of the schools to see how bad the food isn't, and to see all the students not sharing text books. What's next, Ed Brown for teasurer?
- Pete, Manchester

She is 23 y/o, a drop-out from college and she feels she is qualified to determine how other people's children are educated? What incredible arrogance. This young lady should get her own life in order before she tries and tell other people how their children should be taught. Just another example of why the public school system is a joke.
- Derek, Merrimack

I do not know Ms. Peabody. I am very conservative in my beliefs and I have to be honest, when I first read t his article I thought, what a disaster. Now giving it a minute to sink in I'm thinking, what a blessing. I think it would actually be better if we had Ms. Peabody in a seat for the State Senate. We need more people who are from the average citizen and not people who come "golden spoon fed" to make decisions for us. Everyone talks about diversity in politics and everyday life. They usually attribute this to skin color or religion but truly what makes us diverse is any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another. Congrats to you Ms. Peabody. You'll do just fine in my book....(just think twice about your Presidential candidate!)
- Guy, Manchester NH

Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard. I'm assuming it is a little harder to get into there than Hesser College. Regardless, she can't do any worse than the people already running the schools.
- Trent Steele, Manchester

if she even shows up to a few school board meetings, she will be an improvement over a number of current school board members (and now aldermen-elect)
- Manny, Manchester

I'm all for giving her a chance, but what happens when the board discusses finances or legal issues? Not to insult her knowledge, but is she knowledgeable enough in these areas to be able to make the right decisions? It's great that she wants to give the students a voice, but that voice needs to have a better background on the subject matter. Also, how sad is it that only 800 people voted...
- Joe, Hooksett, NH

She wasn't hired, she was elected. Give the girl a chance ! Time will tell how she does. I know that I will be watching more meetings ! Will you ? .........
- Jim, Manchester

JD Williams makes a good point. The founders of CNN, Dell Computers, Apple, Microsoft, Geffen Records, and Virgin Atlantic Airlines all seemed to do allright, even without a piece of paper hanging on the wall. I'm really disturbed by the elitism I'm sensing from some of you. If Jen had a degree and was selling insurance instead of Sam Adams, you'd be singing a different tune. I'm more interested in someone's work ethic and dedication, and I think Jen will do just fine in those areas.
- Peter, Manchester

We have too many career politicians filling the seats to begin with. This country was not founded on the idea that only the college educated may hold office. I probably don't have the same political beliefs has her but I find it refreshing that we will have new ideas on the board.
- Todd, Manchester

Being a bartender is not such an easy job as you would think. Neither is being a waiter or waitress.
- Bob Bruce, candia

Jennifer got elected by a wide margin in this ward. I do not think that it is fair for anyone to judge somebody until they have a chance to prove themselves in the position that they got elected for. I was not aware that there were qualifications that had to be met when running for most public offices. I believe that the only offices that have qualifications are county atty. Josh if you would like to talk qualifications why not investigate all school board members and post them on line for all to see. Just because she did not feel challenged in college and dropped out does not mean she will not do a good job in this position. I personally know her and believe that she will be a very positive presence on the board and that is what Manchester needs. Give her a chance and I am sure that she will do a fine job.
- Bob Bruce, candia

I guess college wasn't challenging enough for her so she decided to be a bartender. Now that's challenging! Hey maybe she can serve up drinks at the next school board meeting!
- Sean, Milford

Josh Dupont of Manchester Bill Gate was a college drop out so was the founder of Facebook
- JD Williams, Manchester NH

The last I checked, it wasn't a requirement to be a college graduate to be a school board member. This is an elected office, and the majority obviously felt she's a better fit for the job. I agree with Steve, lets see what she has to offer. I look forward to having someone actually representing the younger generation here.
- Shawna Dembro, Manchester

Josh, You should fill in for the writer's strike in Hollywood. Great post!!!!
- Brian, Manchester

A homeless, college dropout, couch surfer who works as a bartender is now on the school board. I wonder if Manchester would accept Ms. Peabody as a teacher. Good luck to her and good luck to Manchester's kids!
- SD, Bedford, NH

Josh, Your bitter comments are not only way off base, they are a striking example of wyhy good people are reluctant to become involved in local civic life. Jen Peabody is a smart and caring young woman. You might want to blow her off as a slacker, but she works hard, for long hours, and deals with occasionally difficult customers with courtesy. She soesn't meet the profile of the pompous "young professional", but in my book, that's a positive. She's genuine, and will bring a welcome young person's perspective to the board.
- Peter, Manchester

I think Josh Dupont summed things up quite succinctly...Consequently, residence bouncing does not demostrate the strongest commitment to the ward.
- Rick Olson, Manchester

Rather than cast doubt on Ms. Peabody's qualifications, let's appreciate her willingness to participate in the process. Let's pray that she's a positive voice for the children of Manchester.
- Steve Sarette, Weare

So. The new member of the school board is a college dropout slacker who is homeless and wants to vote for a socialist as president and has no experience. Yeah, Manchester is doing REAL well, guys.
- Josh Dupont, Manchester

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"Manchester, NH: Why didn't YOU vote?"
By JOHN WHITSON
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007

MANCHESTER, NH – It was raining.

Child care makes it a hassle.

Local issues aren't compelling.

Politics, in general, is depressing.

City residents cite a variety of reasons for not voting in local elections.

Simply put, the majority of eligible people don't make going to the polls a priority in their lives.

Tuesday was typical.

In an unscientific sampling of people grocery shopping yesterday in various parts of the city, residents struggled to come up with compelling reasons to cast a ballot or listed obstacles that blocked them from doing so.

Matt Ducharme, loading party supplies in the Valley Street Stop & Shop parking lot before heading to Boston for a Celtics game, said he recently moved here from Goffstown.

He said it would have been helpful to get a city guide on when and where to vote.

"As new residents, they know we're here. We get useless information all the time," Ducharme said, referring to advertising fliers jamming his mailbox.

City Republicans and Democrats did send out several mass mailings, and election information would have been hard to avoid in recent weeks in newspapers and on television.

"I don't watch TV, except public TV, and I don't subscribe to the Union Leader," Sheila Wynkoop said outside Hannaford on John Devine Drive.

There is an issue she's followed -- the septic system situation in her Ward 6 -- but with young children to watch at home, Wynkoop decided the hassle of voting outweighed its importance.

City Clerk Leo Bernier said 35 percent of Manchester's registered voters cast ballots Tuesday -- 19,370 out of a pool of roughly 56,000.

That's down from 19,700 voters in 2005, but up from 16,800 in 2003.

"I assumed it was going to be a larger turnout," Bernier said. "I couldn't believe it, because there were a lot of active races. Combined, I think (the two political parties) spent a half a million dollars to get the vote out."

Bernier said he doesn't see a pattern to local turnout, save for pocketbook and high-profile issues.

"I think it's apathy, and it's not just Manchester," he said.

Debate over the merits of building the Verizon Wireless Arena proved a strong draw for voters in 1999, when more than 23,000 people cast ballots and five-term Mayor Ray Wieczorek was narrowly defeated by Bob Baines.

Jaime Echavarria said he votes for president without fail every four years. But lack of long-term ties to the city kept him from the polls Tuesday.

"I'm not involved in who's who in Manchester," Echavarria said outside Vista Foods on the West Side. "I'm new in the area. I came here from Texas."

Maryanne Riemer is a longtime resident but said she recently moved and didn't know how to find the right precinct.

"I lived in the same place for 25 years, and I knew where to vote then," Riemer said, waiting for her mother on a bench outside Stop & Shop.

Geography wasn't the sole issue, however, as she quickly ticked off a trifecta of reasons for staying home Tuesday.

"I had my grandson all day, and he's a handful," Riemer said. "And it was raining. And I don't drive."

Lisa Dale also mentioned Tuesday morning's heavy rainfall, but polls were open 13 hours -- and for many of them it was dry.

"For me, it was just a time crunch," Dale said. "I had an appointment, and by the time I remembered (Election Day), it was too late."

Shannon Welch, a mother of two who is studying to be a teacher, said she feels guilty about not voting.

"I knew who was running," she said. "I should get out and vote for school board issues."

Academics made it doubly hard for Welch to vote.

"I had tons of school work," she said, "and didn't have time to get out. And both kids were out of school, so that made it more difficult."

Sharon Pultar said she tries to vote in presidential elections, but admitted she pays little attention to local issues.

"I'm a renter and I don't have kids, so I'm not really invested," the graduate student at UNH-Manchester said.

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Reader's COMMENTS:

I've been saying this for years. All voting should take place on Saturday and Sunday. A 2 day voting timetable will double the amount of votes. Voting on a tuesday is not easy for working people. Having elections on a weekend is logical and wouldn't disrupt schools that double as a voting place.
- John, Pembroke

I ran a clean campaign and did no mud slinging. My platform was straight forward and I even shared my volunteerism with everyone. Maybe in 09' more people will come out to vote for someone who cares about the people of Manchester.
- Robert Tarr`, Manchester

What I find interesting is that everyone always thinks they know everything about someone elses life. If someone did not get out to vote then that is their choice. You can't bully people into voting. No person know what another's life is like. For one person it maybe a breeze to get out of the house, but for another it maybe be that their children were sick and it was a horrible day to take them out. So all of you self righteous people should think about that. Like no person out there ever had an excuse that someone else thought was pathetic.
- Anonymous, Manchester

I didn't vote! There I said it. I didn't feel like there was much of a choice in Ward 10. Maybe if politicians in general weren’t so crooked, maybe people would be more inclined to get involved. As it is, I believe most people feel that it doesn’t matter who ends up in office, the issues they feel are important won’t be addressed because the people who are running for office are out of touch with the people who are doing the voting. Add to that the fact that every election from our local Alderman to the upcoming Presidential election has become a function of who can sling the most mud against their opponent and NOT necessarily about the issues. In fact, the political issues seem to routinely take a back seat to the mud slinging. Tom Donavan and Frank Guinta both engaged in this type of political quackery and it’s disgusting. It’s no wonder people don’t want to vote in political elections. At least when voting for “Dancing with the Stars”, you don’t have to wade through all the crap to get to the reason your voting. Apathy is rampant because the candidates aren’t running of a platform of issues and where they stand. Instead we have to hear about how Joe Schmuck is such a dirtbag and hasn’t kept any of his promises or doesn’t know anything about politics. And when you DO happen to corner them on an issue, they will tell give you an answer they think you want to hear and then change that answer the following week for a different audience. I’d rather vote for somebody I disagree with but who sticks to his guns than to vote for a “yes man” who will fold at the slightest hint of resistance. I think that when politicians stop being so petty with each other and start running their platform on the issues, the voters will once again begin to feel like they have a choice. Of course, if there were a block on the ballot for “NONE OF THE ABOVE” I bet you’d start to see some surprising election results. But I doubt any of our local, state, or federal politicians have the testicular fortitude to even consider a ballot option like this…
- Collin, Manchester

I have voted in every election [state, local, federal] since the day I became of age to do so. In all those years, I've yet to vote for a winner. I am more predictable than the ground hog of February. As soon as I throw my support behind a candidate; he/she is doomed. But why stop now. In one year I can vote for the candidate who advocates legalizing hemp, a return to the gold standard, and taking away a women's right to vote. Ya think 08 might be my year?
- Thomas, Manchester, NH

I was disgusted by this article. The fact that almost all of these people who couldn't be bothered to vote don't feel any shame about it speaks volumes. It's not anyone else's responsibility to educate oneself about when and where to vote. Start acting like grownups should and take some responsibility for your own actions and failures to act. So many mand and women sacrificed their lives to keep this nation free and open to democratic principles and you couldn't find the time to vote, or it was raining, or there was a great tv show on...SHAME ON ALL OF YOU! If you seek redemption, then you will attend your city's Veteran's Day observances to recognize those who have served our nation so you could have the luxury of sitting on your rear-ends and not voting.
- Charles, Salem

I didn't vote. I am new to NH and I didn't feel I knew enough about the issues. Although I received in the mail info from each party, it was difficult to discern the facts from the party propaganda. I don't recall receiving anything in the mail that contained unbiased facts on the ballot questions and issues. i do read the union Leader, but find it to be somewhat biased.....I know, it's just excuses...but thats why I didn't vote.
- Susan, manchester

It is ashame more people don't find it important to vote. Our troops are in Iraq fighting for the Iraqi citizen's right to vote and maintain a government and people in this country take the RIGHT to vote for granted. I think the importance of voting should be taught in schools at all levels. Voting is not thought of as being as important as say sex education , even though both have a profound effect on your life. I vote in every election and I bring my children with me, I show them the process and we discuss political issues of the day. Things would be different if people had to actually hand money to politicians and say here go spend that for me. But paying taxes indirectly, payroll taxes removed from your check or property taxes rolled into a mortgage payment creates a buffer that causes apathy.
- Bob, Manchester, NH

This article was very interesting. Every person interviewed had some lame excuse for not voting. The one that got me was Matt Ducharme's lame excuse not to vote. Blaming the city for not sending him information. Well, it is his responsibility to do some leg work on his own and if doesn't it is not always up to the city to do it for him. All the excuses given were lame at best. The one who claimed too much school work was just as bad. The polls were open from 6 AM to 7 PM. The rain stopped sometime in the afternoon. Many people show up to the voting polls with kids in tow. The real reason is these people don't really care. They will be the first to complain if something goes wrong but they are too lazy to spend 5 minutes to cast a vote. It is insulting to all the people who work so hard at runnng for public office. Whether it is a democrat or republican they all deserve a huge pat on the back for putting their name out there to try to serve their community. You don't have to like the candidates but you should respect them for stepping forward and trying to make a difference.
- Mike, Manchester

Their were plenty of reminders and information where to vote. I voted at 11:30 am, when it was raining and it took all of 5 minutes of my time. The excuses are pretty weak. I have kids, I work and a schedule to juggle as much as the next person. Just remember, if you don't vote, don't complain about the issues with city politics, It's that simple.
- Matt, Manchester

What a shame,more people vote for dancing with stars or american idol then for our government officials.This is awful,we need to take more interest in our lives.These issues that they vote on need to become important to us.Please get informed and VOTE,we wanted the right to vote.Even if you dont have children many people are tax payers.Why dont we care about what goes on in our communities?
- karen shutt, manchester

What a shame,more people vote for dancing with stars or american idol then for our government officials.This is awful,we need to take more interest in our lives.These issues that they vote on need to become important to us.Please get informed and VOTE,we wanted the right to vote.Even if you dont have children many people are tax payers.Why dont we care about what goes on in our communities?
- karen shutt, manchester

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Manchester Daily Express, Wednesday, December 12, 2007
“Pulling strings to help fight poverty: Harpist Piper Runnion-Bareford hopes to empower city youth”
By Jennifer Nickulas

A harp may not be the first thing one considers when trying to help the poor. But a 23-year-old graduate student and music teacher thinks classical music may help the underprivileged residents of Manchester more than cash.

As part of her graduate school thesis, Piper Runnion-Bareford is studying the demographics of Manchester and trying to find ways to help the many cultural groups unite, while empowering them through classical music.

One way to do that is to organize an orchestra, which she believes has long-lasting positive benefits for children.

“Kids need that recognition of something about them that is special,” she said.

But it is difficult for many children to take up classical music, considering music lessons can cost between $30 and $50 for a one-hour session.

“I hope to start small and start a school that is funded by grants, but is free,” she said.

And her hope is that the positive benefits of learning to play classical music will lead to a sense of self that can’t carry a price tag.

“You cannot buy self discipline, you can’t buy motivation, and you can’t buy having your child involved in something that has a future,” she said.

Her studies so far have shown a very culturally diverse city in need of unity.

“In Manchester, I see a huge need right now for there to be a bridging of the gaps of cultural diversity,” she said.

Piper Runnion-Bareford is a graduate student at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston, where she is pursuing a master’s degree in urban ministry. She also teaches harp classes at the Manchester Community Music School.

She was first inspired to use music to help the poor during a high school trip to Venezuela, where she observed the positive effects that classical music had on students there.

A government-funded orchestra program in the South American country gained acclaim from the music world and helped give many of its members a sense of community.

“It lowered the crime rate in youth population,” she said. “It changed the lives of so many people.”

She is hoping to bring that same idea to Manchester, but knows it will take money and support from the community.

“So far in Manchester I have found there are pockets of people who support and really value classical music,” she said. “It’s surprised me in a good way.”

“Everybody says classical music is dying, and I think it is because we don’t pull younger kids in early enough,” she said. “It is only an option for the privileged.”

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Manchester Daily Express - Letters
(sent on): 12/12/2007
"How I would fight poverty" (Published on December 17, 2007, Page 12)

Re: “Pulling strings to help fight poverty: Harpist Piper Runnion-Bareford hopes to empower city youth” (Express, 12/12/07): While I agree with this young-woman musician’s message for multi-cultural unity for social justice, I don’t believe this is the best way to end poverty. While it wouldn’t really help me that much if all of Manchester’s cultural groups united in classical music to advocate for social justice, I certainly want to lend my voice to the chorus.

To me, the crux of this matter is more social than cultural. The reasons why I am poor are not due to my beliefs, my background, or even my community’s cultural divisions. The reasons why I am poor are due to society’s top-down institutions and how they see me and many other have-nots as a number to be cost-controlled, or as “just another brick in the wall.”

We live in an inequitable society where all employers outsource labor. To illustrate, when I apply for a job, institutions are looking to out-process me, not hire me. When I do acquire employment, institutions are looking to evaluate my performance for their own interests, not to train me to become better at my job. When I separate from employment, institutions then look to hire my replacement at a fraction of my salary.

For all of human history, the ways to wealth are only through top-down institutions. The two standard bearers to acquiring wealth are through elitist educations (i.e., Harvard University) and then marriage (i.e., into rich families such as the Rockefellers).

Moreover, institutional wealth has always been obtained through imperial nation-states and their respective religions of the day. Now, wealth is mostly controlled by the Corporate Elite who own and manage our fascist Corporate System, which has become a powerful geopolitical force via the global financial sectors on Wall Street and in London.

I feel that when I interact with institutional powerbrokers, I am just a pawn on a manipulatively designed chessboard. If I communicate my beliefs to the institution before me, I bet I am put on a list of other disillusioned have-nots.

I am a poor Manchester resident because of our society’s top-down institutions. To end poverty, we need to always illustrate institutional power and then nonviolently change that system to end homelessness, hunger and diseases for all peoples. We must transition from a top-down institutional system of wealth to one that protects Human Rights for All Peoples.

-Jonathan A. Melle
Manchester, NH

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Manchester Daily Express, Wednesday, December 12, 2007
“School reorganization plan moves forward: City officials seek increased oversight”
By Dan Magazu

A committee of aldermen moved forward with plans yesterday to fold the Manchester School District into City Hall in an effort to gain increased oversight and target cost savings.

The proposed charter amendment will go before the full Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday, December 18, 2007, at which point, it is expected that it will be referred to a public hearing.

Ward 2 Alderman Ted Gatsas, who is pushing the amendment, said it will allow the city to look for cost saving “synergies.” For example, the school district currently has its own finance and human resources administrators. Gatsas believes they would no longer be necessary if the district was folded into City Hall as a department.

The city could also include the school district when bidding for things such as employee health insurance.

Currently, aldermen have final say over the school district’s bottom line budget number, but cannot force the district to change individual budget items or educational policies. That would remain the same under the proposed charter amendment.

“There would be no change on how the school board would administer the district,” Gatsas said. “This is just a matter of oversight.”

Gatsas makes the recommendation in the wake of news that Superintendent of Schools Michael Ludwell allegedly gave himself an unauthorized pay raise.

Ludwell has agreed to resign on December 31, 2007, and is currently on paid leave until that time.

Had the school district already been a department of the city, Gatsas believe aldermen would have terminated Ludwell immediately.

“There is no reason taxpayer money should be paid until the end of December termination,” Gatsas said.

Mayor Frank Guinta has said he supports folding the school district into City Hall.

Deputy city solicitor Tom Arnold said yesterday that he believes the proposed charter amendment is legal under state law.

Following a public hearing, the proposed charter amendment would go back before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, which can then choose whether or not to place it on the fall 2008 election ballot.

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MANCHESTER DAILY EXPRESS, Friday, December 14, 2007, Page 2

“City prepared to hire a new VISTA coordinator: Job opening followed check forging arrest” By Dan Magazu

The city began the search for a new AmeriCorps VISTA coordinator this past Monday (12/10/2007), about two months after the former AmeriCorps VISTA coordinator was arrested for allegedly forging payroll checks.

…Following the arrest of the former AmeriCorps VISTA coordinator, Mayor Frank Guinta put public health director Tim Soucy in charge of the service program, which sends full-time volunteers to a community to create and expand programs that help bring low-income individuals out of poverty.

City officials quickly learned that the former AmeriCorps VISTA coordinator had been authorized to approve payroll expenses without any oversight. Since that time, Soucy has been reviewing the program and developing safeguards.

“Basically we added new layers of review,” Soucy said yesterday. “A payroll expense approved by the AmeriCorps VISTA coordinator will now have to go through me, the business services officer and finance.”

Guinta, who in October called the former AmeriCorps VISTA coordinator’s alleged actions a “gross violation of the trust of the people of Manchester,” could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The AmeriCorps VISTA coordinator job opening was posted on Monday, December 10, 2007, and closes on 12/19.

Soucy has the responsibility of selecting the next AmeriCorps VISTA coordinator, who will have a starting salary of $39,979.

On Tuesday, 12/11/2007, the aldermanic Committee on Community Improvement approved $290,000 in federal funding to run the program next year.

The city currently has 14 AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers and enough federal money to expand to 30.

“With this incident behind us, we can really regain some momentum and begin expanding the program,” Soucy said. “We want to get 30 volunteers on board.”

Soucy said that it’s important for residents not to look down on the program because of the situation with the former AmeriCorps VISTA coordinator.

“This was an isolated incident,” Soucy said. “It is time to rebuild and put this wonderful program in the light that it truly deserves.”

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MANCHESTER DAILY EXPRESS, Friday, December 14, 2007, Page 12

LETTERS: “New signs are waste of money” By Jeff Wright, Manchester, NH

Once again the Board of Mayor & Alderman has missed an opportunity to give some relief to the beleaguered taxpayers of Manchester, NH.

By approving installation of the new so-called “wayfinding signs,” your esteemed elected officials spent a minimum of $80,000 of your money on aesthetics.

Let’s see: if an average homeowner’s property tax bill is $4,000, then the amount spent on these fancy signs is the equivalent of the entire tax bills of 20 Manchester residents. Would not it have been much better for you to skip one year’s worth of taxes than to help line the pockets of some sign vendor? I dare say yes!

And since the signs are maintained by the city, there will be an ongoing cost of maintaining, painting, and replacing the signs ad infinitum—all by highly-compensated city employees, of course.

The weak logic that the aldermen used to promote this expenditure is that it helps out-of-town visitors find our museums and events arenas more easily and that it reduces the clutter of so many individual, non-standardized signs. So they are not even so much for you as for folks from Nashua and Massachusetts.

But you and I know that most people nowadays print out maps from their computers using Mapquest or Google and throw them in the car for directions. Or better yet, just plug the destination into the GPS/navigation system in your car. Technology is decreasing the need for such signs, yet your “public servants” saw fit to spend a bunch more money (your money!) on an outmoded system. What’s next, shiny new telephone booths on every corner?

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December 21, 2007

Dear Pat Long and Joe Kelly Levasseur:

Since moving to Manchester, NH, in late January of 2005, I have felt fortunate to be able to respectively talk to both of you about local and state government political issues. I have voted for both of you respectively over the past 3 years because both of you represent positive change despite your dichotomous ideologies.

Joe disappoints me because he advocates for change and then plays right into the hands of the establishment – i.e., challenging and then backing Mayor Frank Guinta this past year. Pat disappoints me because he is not vocal like Joe is. If Pat Long is going to represent me, I want to hear from him on the issues, but I seldom do. It seems, like Joe, that Pat has vested interests that come before his true convictions.

As a Ward 3 voter, I feel totally disenfranchised to have Mayor Frank Guinta, Alderman-elect Peter Sullivan, and the transient School Board-elect Jennifer Peabody representing me at City Hall. Because you two otherwise intelligent politicians choose to attack each other via your institutional affiliations, you both gave me the government I do NOT deserve!

In Dissent!

Jonathan Alan Melle
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Pat Long
555 Canal Street #1506
Manchester, NH 03101
603 668-1037 Home
e-mail: long55@comcast.net

December 8, 2007

Dear Ward 3 Voters:

This regards recent reports of mishandled campaign literature. I, too, support an investigation, as I did when investigated and sued in 2006. If someone at the Post Office feels s/he is helping me, or any other Democrat, that individual is highly mistaken. This matter has cost my family reputational damage; it cost thousands to defend myself in a baseless suit; and it continues to smear politics in a Ward that deserves better. Worse, it saps energy better expended in positive directions. That it has spread to other Wards provides indicia of a larger problem beyond me.

Unfortunately, I am powerless to act, except to express my continued anger, outrage, and disappointment at such intentional or negligent mishandling. Questions deserve immediate answers, and as in 2006, I intend to cooperate fully. This matter constitutes a sad, and for my family, a highly expensive, offensive, and unfortunate drain of energy.

Some, unfortunately, use this matter to seek advantage. For example, the Union Leader and a small number of influential radicals have seized an opportunity and spun the story toward engendering prejudice against unions and my public service. In politics, that remains fair game. Fortunately, most folks and public servants in Manchester do not support negative tactics, which includes mail mishandling. When one decides to serve in public office, one expects to be judged and pre-judged by the powerful media. In my case, pre-judging derives solely because of my history of helping our local construction workers earn fair pay, health insurance and pensions. Consequently, the paper reports the story in a manner that fuels bias against labor, i.e., it pedals prejudice. Selling prejudice ought not constitute a role for news writers, but it is legal. A free press society must endure those few writers whose pens drip venom.

But, such writers often ignore the facts. The facts show that I have had absolutely no knowledge of, or control over, who or what caused this mail malady. Also, federal authorities cleared me of any wrongdoing. In fact, the Post Office and a state court decided no evidence supported baseless accusations of my involvement or knowledge. Further, many outside the Ward have reported similar missing or late delivered mail. I cannot apologize for something I did not do, would never involve myself in, and find equally offensive and outrageous. All of us, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, deem mail manipulation most retrograde to our desires.

Further still, this malady, coupled with the newspaper’s venomous spin, has hurt both my family and the union movement. Their spin denigrated many honest, high quality union members who deliver mail to our doors each day, patrol our streets, teach our children, maintain our buildings, build our construction projects, pray at our churches, volunteer to help the disadvantaged, and act as consumers Downtown and in our malls. News media have the right to, but ought not, seek opportunity to diminish their value.

Moreover, our Post Office must quickly remedy this sad situation and return integrity to its operations. Unfortunately, the newspaper will not provide equal space and opportunity for the union movement or me, once cleared. Notably, they did not previously. Having the money, the newspaper enjoys the right and power to spew prejudice; though we don’t have to buy what they pedal. And, their power has limits. For example, the voters of Ward 3 can and have limited their power.

Moreover still, I remain proud of Ward 3’s voters and remain honored you have let me serve. Toward that end, I will continue to work in a positive manner for the Ward, particularly regarding the matters on which I first campaigned in 2005: Lower Taxes; Lower Crime Rates, and Better Education. I appreciate those of you who have taken the time to personally meet with me to discuss these issues, and I thank you for understanding my frustration with the Post Office. Consequently, though disappointed at these events and how they have been reported, I am not morally defeated. Accordingly, I will continue working for our good Community and appreciate the patience and understanding expressed to me by many of you who have refused to pre-judge matters. Prejudices spouted by the powerful plague us all. God bless those of you who can avoid it.

Enjoy the Holidays, expend some time in prayer giving thanks for the people who make our Community good, and be well.

Respectfully,
Pat Long
Ward 3 Alderman & State Representative

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"Mayor frustrated over school's future"
By SCOTT BROOKS
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
2-January-2008

Manchester – Mayor Frank Guinta kick-started his second-term yesterday with a demand to see a "definitive proposal" for the future of West High School within the next 60 days.

"I have been personally frustrated by the lack of progress in this area," the mayor said in his inauguration speech at the Palace Theatre yesterday morning. "We must put education on the West Side at the forefront of the educational debate in our city."

The line drew a sharp rebuke from one member of the committee charged with ironing out a plan to launch specialized academies at West High. Newly elected Alderman Russ Ouellette called the mayor's comment irresponsible, saying, "He hasn't gone to one meeting and doesn't understand what's going on with the process."

The West High deadline was perhaps the biggest surprise in a 20-minute speech outlining Guinta's agenda for the next two years. As expected, the mayor promised he would not raise taxes or fees and urged the aldermen to pass the city's first-ever two-year budget.

He also touted a proposal to renovate and expand the downtown police station, a project that would cost several million dollars. At least some of that money, he said, will be included in the budget proposal he plans to put forward this March.

That budget will be tight, Guinta cautioned. He said he will "look very carefully at privatizing some services" and will recommend the city leave some positions unfilled.

"Unless we realize considerable growth in the tax base," he said, "we will need to make significant spending cuts in the next budget if we are to avoid passing on a large tax increase to the people."

Guinta was reelected to a second term last November, taking 54 percent of the vote in a head-on race with Democratic attorney Tom Donovan. He was sworn in yesterday with his wife and two young children by his side.

Two members of the West High School "academy implementation" team said Guinta was wrong to suggest it has been wringing its hands. At-large school board member Kathleen Kelley said the team was prepared to go before the school board with a proposal in November, but said then-Superintendent Michael Ludwell warned it would be best to wait until after the city elections.

She said the team has identified up to five types of academies that could be launched at West High within the next two years. Officials hope the academies would draw students from across the district.

Guinta took some heat in the campaign over the uncertainty clouding West High's future. His opponent, Donovan, accused Guinta of failing to take an active role in the process.

In his speech yesterday, Guinta said his top priority on education is helping the school district shed its status as a "district in need of improvement." Toward that end, he said, the first step is to select a qualified and forward-thinking superintendent to succeed Ludwell, who stepped down in November.

Elsewhere in his speech, Guinta named several economic-development projects as "crucially important" - specifically, a $100 million-plus development on the former Jac Pac site, a proposed business park at Hackett Hill and long-discussed improvements to South Elm Street.

He also said the city "must look at rail and other transportation options" to increase business for Manchester's airport.

His talk about expanding the police station stood in contrast to his rhetoric about the need for fiscal discipline. He cast the police department over the past decade as both undermanned and underfunded, and said, with regard to public safety, "We have changed the debate at City Hall from asking how much money we can afford to asking what the department needs to make our neighborhoods safer."

Guinta has taken credit for increasing the city's police contingent from 203 officers to 225 in the past two years. Both he and the department's top brass say the Chestnut Street station is overcrowded.

The mayor's speech was titled, "Manchester: A City of Hope." He described Manchester as "one of the largest small towns in America," and said it should embrace the values of a small town, such as "independence and neighborliness."

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READER's Comments:

I am wishing the second term Mayor well in his next term, but the way things are starting off it doesn't look like he is going to have an easy time. His ally and freind Kruse was shunted for Kathy Labanaris and Guinta decided to take Ted Gatsas out of his poition as finance chair. Guinta has very few friends at Ciyt Hall and at the School District and it seems that whomever he is taking advice from has a penchant for ticking people off. Guinta made a lot of promises and how he keeps them will be interesting to watch. He will need a lot of good luck, but he does seem to have plenty of it.
- joekelly, manchester

Why is West High School the big concern? Memorial is horrible and Central isn't much better. We need to fix the education problem for the entire city not just West High. It's sad that that anyone who scape up the money sends there children to private schools to avoid the dumps we know as Manchester School District.
- Steve Martel, Manchester

I love the way Joe S. takes the old standby default of taxing a property owner. If you're a slumlord then you should get a stiff fine for being non-compliant to a building code; NOT set a tax precedent for good landlords who do provide housing to folks. Keep raising taxes on these properties owners then rent increases and soon we have inflation and which quickly trickles into the free market. When are people going to figure out that raising taxes is not a silver bullet.
- Mark Larochelle, Manchester

Unfortunatley the idea and implement of no tax increase will be a sure way for the Mayor to be blamed for all the problems the City will see in 2008. Why is it that we just can't see that a City to prosper and grow needs the help of all at City Hall and the good citizens of Manchester. Instead of throwing insults and blaming the people we have put into office, why don't we try and solve the ills of our City and look forward to growth that will show other smaller towns and citys that Manchester can be a good place to bring a family up in.
- Pat G, Manchester

Mr. Gunta,

You need to fix the drug cartels in Manchester. They are not only on the east side but on the west side. We need a police station on the west side. More crime is happening on the west side than you know. This needs to be addressed now.
- Rachel, Manchester

The city has grown tremendously over the past decade and it's time we realize this. It seems odd that a city such as Manchester is struggling with the idea of making the necessary changes to improve quality of life. Taxes are a necessary evil, which will keep us moving forward. Too many tax cuts will result in problems in the future. We experienced that with our school system. This was neglected for far too many years and look at what it cost us in the long-term. I'm happy to see that the school's have seen drastic improvements, but it came for too late, and unfortunately the wrong company was brought in to do the repairs. Let's learn a lesson and make the necessary improvements to the police station because if we try to wait it out, it will cost us much more in the future. It doesn't make any sense to oppose saving a few millions dollars today...just to spend twice that in 5-10 years. Maybe the Mayor could look into a proposal that forces these "slumlords" who don't manage their properties to pay more in taxes. One tax bill brings 3, 4, 5+ plus families to Manchester only to strain our services. Our city government needs to hold these landlords accountable. There are some good ones, but there are MANY bad ones.
- Joe S., Manchester

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"School board: Even the winner is surprised"
By SCOTT BROOKS
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
02-January-2008

MANCHESTER – Katherine Labanaris, the self-proclaimed dean of the Manchester school board, was the surprise winner yesterday of a three-way race for the board's vice chairmanship.

The former Spanish teacher and veteran committeeman was the beneficiary of a stalemate between the two leading contenders, Dave Gelinas and Doug Kruse. When neither man found enough votes to win through two rounds of voting, Gelinas bowed out and asked his supporters to back Labanaris.

The final tally was eight votes for Labanaris, seven for Kruse. There was some applause, and Labanaris mouthed the words, "Oh my God" to someone across the room.

"I don't know what happened, but whatever it was was good," she said afterward.

The vote was the final order of business during the newly elected board's first meeting of the year. Later, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen elected at-large member Mike Lopez to another term as chairman. He faced no opposition.

Gelinas, a Ward 7 Democrat, said he backed out of the race for vice chairman when it became clear neither Kruse nor Labanaris would do so. His thought, he said, was, "I guess it comes down to who wants to be more stubborn."

He said he swung his votes to Labanaris because he almost never agrees with Kruse on anything that comes before the board.

"I consider Doug to be very far to the right," Gelinas said. "His thinking on education and politically speaking is not mainstream."

Kruse, of Ward 8, has served on the board since 2004 and is chairman of the finance committee. He ran for vice chairman two years ago but lost, 10-5.

"You're always disappointed when you don't win something you run for," he said yesterday. "But if you're not prepared to lose a race, you shouldn't be in the race."

Kruse said he has confidence in Labanaris' ability to do the job, which comes with the power to appoint special committees and to fill in as the board's presiding officer in the mayor's absence. He succeeded in pushing through a motion changing the 8-7 vote to one showing unanimous support for Labanaris.

A Ward 5 Democrat, Labanaris was the underdog going into yesterday's meeting. She received just two votes in each of the first two rounds of voting yesterday: one from a close friend, newly elected committeeman Steve Dolman, and one from herself.

Early rounds showed Kruse edging Gelinas, 7-6. The votes were largely divided along partisan lines. Kruse had the backing of Mayor Frank Guinta and other conservatives, including Art Beaudry, John Avard and Bob O'Sullivan.

Gelinas' supporters included Democrats Kathleen Kelley, Joyce Craig, Donna Soucy and Jonathan Cote.

In stepping aside, Gelinas said he hoped to show that the members of the newly elected board are capable of working together. He said the last board suffered from too much infighting.

"I just thought it was more important we didn't get bogged down ... on our very first day and then have animosity about it that could go on for an entire two-year period," he said.

Labanaris pledged to be a "facilitator" for the board, saying, "I'm hoping we're going to be able to overcome this (image) we have as a divisive group of people. Every day I'm vice chair, I want to make sure that if we disagree, we're not disagreeable in the process."

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READER's COMMENTS

Labanaris pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Manchester politics. It was incredible to watch the events as they unfolded. The dems on the board pulled a fast one on Kruse, who many if not most, agree with Gelinas assertion that Kruse is too far to the right, and talks way to long on the Board. This was Manchester politics like no one has seen in a very long time.
- joe kelly, manchester

Can someone explain this sentence to me?

"He succeeded in pushing through a motion changing the 8-7 vote to one showing unanimous support for Labanaris."
- Dick, Goffstown

Are you kidding me? Labanaris has been the MOST disagreeable person the board since she was appointed. This is not good for the future of Manchester public schools!
- John, Manchester

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January 5, 2008

Manchester Daily Express
49 Hollis Street
Manchester, NH 03101

To the Editor of the Manchester Daily Express:

In response to your recent news article on city sewer rate hikes, this is yet further evidence that Mayor Frank Guinta is not lowering taxes and fees, but instead, he is increasing them. Since Frank Guinta took office in early-2006, municipal taxes have increased by a factor of 7-percent. Moreover, city sewer fees have now increased by a factor of 45% since last April, with forecasted increases of an added +62% over the next two years.

Just like Guinta’s record of tax and fee hikes, the truth also hurts, which leads me to my next entry on phony pols. Joe Kelly Levasseur’s recent letter against Mayor Guinta for his lackluster leadership on failing to implement a top-down, Republican-dominated new city government goes against two sensible political realities. My first point is that diversity of both viewpoints and influence is healthy for the people and their community, as well as for a pluralistic democracy. More clearly stated, neither Frank Guinta nor Joe Kelly Levasseur are the sole voices for Manchester, NH. My second point is that last year Joe Kelly Levasseur ran a positive mayoral campaign for change, but then he lost and chose to endorse his fellow Republican Party cohort over the Democratic Party’s aspirant for his own selfish political agenda of Republican Party hack politics.

Joe Kelly Levasseur is the kind of guy who likes to point his finger at other people’s flaws, but then he resents it when one holds up a mirror to his own contradictions. Instead of writing that he erred in backing Guinta only for him to stay in the good favor of Republican Party powerbrokers like Senator Ted Gatsas, Joe Kelly Levasseur chooses to launch recurring one-sided attacks against the very Mayor he endorsed last year in order to stop a Democrat from reforming a troubled system of public education that is now all but broken, lowering or containing Manchester’s ever increasing taxes and fees, and solving or curtailing the terrifying ongoing public safety issues of drugs, violence and gangland activities, along with a long list of other pressing public policy issues facing Manchester, NH.

In closing, Mayor Frank Guinta is dishonest to say he stands for lower taxes when the outcomes of his costly tenure is in fact and deed the exact opposite. Joe Kelly Levasseur is first selfish and second wrong on many points to attack only Guinta for failing to make the Republican Party’s political machine, powerbrokers and hacks like himself the controlling authority over Manchester’s city government. Both Frank Guinta and Joe Kelly Levasseur are missing the real target: Manchester’s neglected public schools, neighborhoods and fiscally-limited families are all more important than who is the superior politician in the eyes of Ted Gatsas and his NH Republican Party organization!

Sincerely,
Jonathan Alan Melle
Manchester, NH

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Manchester Daily Express, January 3, 2008, Page 6

“City sewer bills up 20 percent: More hikes to follow by 2010”
By Dan Magazu

Residents will see their sewer bills go up 20 percent in 2008 as the city’s Environmental Protection Division tries to offset increased expenses due primarily to a federally-mandated sewer project.

With the latest increase, sewer bills have gone up 45 percent since last April. By 2010, the average sewer bill in the city will have more than doubled, from $260 to $540.

The step increases were approved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen last February.

While soaring energy prices have contributed to the need for the increases, they are primarily due to the second phase of a citywide sewer/storm drain separation project.

The project was mandated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and is expected to cost around $125 million.

The city’s Environmental Protection Division also needs to upgrade Manchester’s 31-year-old wastewater treatment facility, a project expected to cost $45 million.

In all, the city is looking at $210 million in wastewater-related capital improvement projects over the next 10 years.

According to Fred McNeill, the city’s chief sanitary engineer, the EPD’s expenses have increased 120 percent over the past decade.

While more than doubling sewer rates in such a short span may seem drastic, it will actually put the city in line with the state’s average, according to Frank Thomas, until recently the city’s public works director. Thomas retired on December 31, 2007.

The current average annual sewer bill for a New Hampshire resident is $426. That number will be higher by 2010.

Only Ward 2 Alderman Ted Gatsas voted against the sewer hikes last February.

City officials are currently putting the finishing touches on a $57 million project to remove combined sewer overflows from the city’s West Side. Starting in 2010, similar work will begin in neighborhoods east of the Merrimack River.

A combined sewer overflow is a sewer that collects both rainwater from streets and sewage from homes and businesses. This can cause the line to get overwhelmed during periods of heavy rain, and often results in environmentally harmful overflows.

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Manchester Daily Express, January 4, 2008, Page 12

“A cold year for Guinta”

To the Editor:

It is a brand new year and for second term Guinta it is starting off icy cold. First and foremost, Manchester just broke the record for most snow in the month of December. The highway department is already halfway through its plowing budget. Guinta may have to dip into the rainy day fund to keep our streets free of ice and snow; and that is the good news.

The second sign that it could be a very rough two years came when Guinta ally and confidant Doug Kruse was handed a humiliating defeat in his attempt to become vice chairman of the Manchester School Board. Many Republicans wanted Kruse to run against Betsy Devries for alderman of Ward 8, but Kruse refused the request because he wanted the vice chairmanship very badly. Longtime school board member Dave Gelinas threw his hat into the ring and the race became something to watch, but in a surprise that caught most off guard, senior member of the school board Kathy Labanaris threw her ei-oo-nio (Greek word for hat) into the ice rink and the race became not only interesting but dramatic.

Guinta, already skating on thin ice with many school board members, decided to go sledding with Kruse. Labanaris, who only had one other voter, was clearly the underdog, or was she?

Kruse slipped out of first place and lost the seat when Dave Gelinas, in a classy move, threw a snowball that curved towards Guinta’s sleigh, knocking him into the wet snow when he threw his support and votes behind Labanaris. Guinta and Kruse’s face froze whiter than freshly fallen snow when the vote totals were presented. Kruse was buried under an avalanche of political moves that he obviously wasn’t prepared for since he refused to watch Weather Channel 23 MCAM for the impending storm heading his way (a.k.a. the Levasseur show).

The storm could have been averted if Guinta would have warmed up to a very frigid tempered Labanaris. All Guinta had to do was soothe worries of Labanaris about the way the school district has been heading under Guinta’s “not enough time” to fight for education miscue. Guinta who must be suffering from an ice pick headache caused by drinking a 7-Eleven Slush Puppie too fast, must have thought Labanaris and the Democrats on the board were foolish icicles that would melt into his arms when he threw his support behind the can’t-stop-talking Kruse machine. Wrong moves, poor planning, embarrassment for Guinta. Talk about a fast-moving snowball to the head from five feet. Ouch!

Inauguration day could have ended with only one poorly-thought-out political maneuver but Guinta, obviously believing in the rule of threes, made another costly gaff when he yanked Senator Gatsas out of his former position as vice chairman of finance. Guinta was very upset that Gatsas would not support him in his quest to put Manchester on a two-year budget cycle. The finance chair, at this particular time, is mostly a figurehead position since the Democrats, under the capable hands of Mike Lopez, actually bring in a yearly budget that the Democrats use for a framework to keep the city running.

Although it may be a figurehead position, don’t tell the proud alderman and senator that is what it is. Gatsas does not take public humiliation kindly and if Guinta thought Gatsas was icy to him in the past, he better book a vacation to Brazil real soon because it is going to be very cold at City Hall from here on in.

The move was not well thought out, to say the least. Going after Ted Gatsas in this manner was foolish and reeks of pettiness on the part of the young rudderless second-term mayor who is obviously listening to the wrong people.

Hopefully Guinta got some nice presents from Santa in 2007 because so far 2008, at least in the short term, looks like it is going to continue to be cold, icy and slippery.

Joseph Kelly Levasseur
Manchester, NH
The writer is a local attorney and recent candidate for mayor of Manchester, NH.

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Union Leader: Op-Ed: NH Presidential Primary
Frank Guinta: Rudy Giuliani is the proven leader America needs
By FRANK GUINTA
January 4, 2008

THE EYES of the nation are once again turning to New Hampshire. In accordance with political tradition, voters across America are looking to us for guidance as we select our next President.

As is customary, Granite State residents have taken time to carefully evaluate the various candidates who have visited our communities. We've listened to their speeches, asked challenging questions and talked about their positions over the kitchen table. Along the way, we've recognized the rare opportunity we have in this historic election to impact the future of our nation.

Some observers say New Hampshire has changed since we last elected a President. While I agree, some things haven't changed: We are still highly skeptical of big government and high taxes. We still continue to believe that decisions about our cities and towns should be made locally, not in Washington. And we still recognize that a dangerous world requires the leadership of a strong America.

While there are many good candidates running for President, in my opinion there is only one candidate who fervently shares all these priorities. He is Rudy Giuliani, and I am honored to support him.

Mayor Giuliani is well known to New Hampshire voters. While campaigning from Nashua to Manchester to Dixville -- and points in between -- he has articulated an optimistic vision for our country that is rooted firmly in the core principles that unite the Republican Party.

Using his "12 Commitments to the American People" as a guide, Rudy has stated plainly how he will keep the American dream alive for future generations. Among other priorities, he pledges to restore fiscal discipline in Washington, cut taxes, stop illegal immigration, preserve school choice for parents, lead our country toward energy independence and expand access to affordable health care.

When it comes to keeping America safe, Mayor Giuliani recognizes that the world continues to be a dangerous place. He has personally seen the devastating consequences of what happens when America fails to confront terrorism from a position of strength. As such, he will keep the United States -- its communities and our families -- safe by staying on offense in the terrorists' war on us.

He understands that then you challenge Americans, there's no country that stands up stronger and better than the United States of America. He knows that when you try and take something away from us like freedom, Americans are going to be one in resisting you.

It goes without saying that Rudy has ambitious plans for America. As the candidate in the race with the most public executive leadership, he also has something the other contenders don't -- a proven record of accomplishing what he says he will do.

During two terms as mayor of New York City, Rudy brought about a dramatic transformation of his native city. He said he would reduce crime, and he did -- by more than half. He promised to cut taxes, and he delivered -- 23 times. He set a goal of reducing the welfare rolls, and they fell by an astounding 640,000 (about half the population of New Hampshire). He set out to clean up Times Square, and the criminals and pornography shops were removed to make way for thriving businesses and tourists.

Anyone who visited New York City before Rudy became mayor and who has returned since can see the legacy of his leadership. It is not an exaggeration to say he rescued the city from itself -- retaining residents who were ready to leave and attracting investment that previously had been unthinkable.

His ability to deliver positive change in such a complicated place as New York speaks volumes about his rare ability to identify a problem, develop a solution and implement a successful plan of action. Imagine what he will do when he gets to Washington -- a place sorely in need of reform and modernization.

Like Ronald Reagan before him, Rudy is relentlessly optimistic about the future of our country. In these challenging times for America, we need a leader of uncommon ability. Without question, that leader is Rudy Giuliani.

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Frank Guinta is mayor of Manchester and co-chairman of the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee.
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State Republican party chairman Fergus Cullen stands in Concord, N.H., Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2007, by a map of New Hampshire he hand colored showing where Republican strongholds are. "There's all this mythology about campaigning in every hamlet in New Hampshire, but it comes down to hunting where the votes are, and 50 percent of the vote comes from something like 18 towns," said Cullen. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
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Roadmap for NH: Top Spots for Votes
By GLEN JOHNSON, 1/5/2008
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...The so-called Red Book, named for the color of its fabric cover, details voter registration patterns and election outcomes for all 234 cities and towns...

"There's all this mythology about campaigning in every hamlet in New Hampshire, but it comes down to hunting where the votes are, and 50 percent of the vote comes from something like 18 towns," said Fergus Cullen, chairman of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee.

Manchester, the state's largest city, retains its Democratic majority, making it a must-stop for all the party's candidates. On election maps, it shows up as an island of Democratic blue in a sea of Republican red. It's also a media and logistical hub, with both the state's largest newspaper and its only statewide television station. That partly explain why Republicans have not neglected it.

The city's mayor, Frank Guinta, also is a Republican, showing GOP inroads in a traditionally blue-collar area.

Statewide, 31 percent of those registered are Republicans, 26 percent Democrats. ...

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THE NH UNION LEADER (Online)
"Manchester school district debates paying rent for students"
By CAROL ROBIDOUX
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
1/10/2008

MANCHESTER – The district is still without a permanent home for 350 students who have been housed for the last decade in rental space at the Easter Seals building on Auburn Street.

After years of stalled attempts by the district to relocate, last night the Building and Sites Committee tabled a motion to continue renting after a lengthy debate over the best course of action.

"It's a lot of money. We're kind of being held hostage," said committee chair Arthur Beaudry.

Committee member Debra Gagnon Langton said she's frustrated that the district has let go of several school buildings lately, yet finds itself stuck with the prospect of renting prime real estate for the Selma Dietch Early Learning Center.

"I'm upset we've had three years to find a new location," Langton said. "My concern is that if we own a property, at least it's going to appreciate," she said.

Assistant Superintendent Karen Burkush said the district recently toured seven sites identified for possible purchase, but all of them had problems. In the meantime, Easter Seals reversed itself and offered to renew the lease instead of terminating its contract with the district in August.

In March of last year, the district was informed that Easter Seals was raising the rent from $234,000 to $303,000 due to expenses for flood damage and renovations, and was reducing the district's operating space by 350 square feet.

With no prospects for a permanent site, the board felt pressured to find a cheaper space to rent, but was unable to get the process going in time to move before the school year started.

"We're between a rock and a hard place. It's the 11th hour once again," Beaudry said.

Under the terms of a renewed lease with Easter Seals, rent would remain $303,000 the first year, then go up about 3 percent over the second and third years of the three-year agreement.

Beaudry warned against entering a long-term lease while the district has wheels in motion to build at least one new school building within the next two years.

However, Burkush pointed out that Easter Seals' offer to extend the lease was contingent on its acquisition of new property on Lincoln Street.

"They won't have an answer on that until later this week," Burkush said.

Committee members Joyce Craig and Doug Kruse suggested once the offer is firm, the district should negotiate a more flexible lease agreement with Easter Seals.

In other business, a meeting of the Coordination Committee took yet another look at its "no exceptions" bussing policy, crafted last year after months of debate.

In October, the board voted to grant an exception to a woman asking that her daughter be allowed to catch a bus from her grandmother's house, even though the child did not live within the district's requirement for bussing.

It was the second exception since the new policy went into effect.

At that point the board agreed to look at a revision of the policy, striking the words "no exceptions."

Last night Burkush defended the policy as written, outlining for the board the safety considerations that brought them to the "no exceptions" policy in the first place.

The committee will recommend the board retain its policy with no exceptions.

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Reader's COMMENTS:

My daughther currently goes to Kindgarten at the easter seals building that is in question. I am concerned because where are they going to put in the next class that are coming in In the bigger building or over at beech st school. I am glad that she is there now and not next year. It seems foolish that they have waited to the last minute. The inner city schools are already crowded and in need of attention. I hope this is resovled real quick.
- Tabatha Hebert, Manchester NH

Hmmm....doesn't West High School have some available space, now that the Bedford kids are gone? Maybe that could be considered as an option.
- JMR, Manchester NH

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John DiStaso's Granite Status: Guinta sizing up run for governor
By JOHN DISTASO, Senior Political Reporter
Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008

THE NEXT CHAPTER. Politics never rests in New Hampshire. After a few days of post-primary withdrawal, candidates, potential candidates political party organizations and grass roots activists are back at it, diving quickly into what promises to be another intense (but fun) general election campaign.

New Hampshire is expected to have the most-watched U.S. Senate race in the country, with Democrat Jeanne Shaheen challenging Republican John E. Sununu (while Democrat Jay Buckey tries to get his grass roots-based campaign on the radar screen).

A Republican primary in the 1st Congressional District pits John Stephen against Jeb Bradley for the right to challenge freshman Democratic incumbent Carol Shea-Porter.

In the 2nd Congressional District, just as Concord attorney Jim Steiner begins mounting a challenge to Paul Hodes, he finds himself with primary opposition in the person of Republican Nashua columnist and talk show Jennifer Horn, who made an official announcement yesterday.

Republicans and Democrats are already planning trench battles for seats in the Legislature and on the Executive Council.

And there just may be a competitive race for governor shaping up -- for a change.

Guinta gearing up?
Republican Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta is very interested in running for governor but is weighing the pro and cons. At the same time, serious steps are being taken to help him size up the outlook, needs and challenges of a statewide candidacy.

We've learned that Guinta's senior advisor, Mike Biundo of Meridian Communications, was in Washington this week speaking about Guinta with officials at the Republican Governors Association and other key party officials at the Republican National Committee's winter meeting. He'll be reporting back sometime soon.

Guinta was urged to run [for NH Governor] by many New Hampshire Republicans he met on the presidential primary campaign trail with his candidate, Rudy Giuliani. But many questions are to be answered, not the least of which undoubtedly involve Guinta's ability to raise enough money to mount a serious campaign.

If he does run, Guinta also would be questioned locally about his ability to devote enough time to his job while also focusing on a statewide campaign. Lots of private discussion will take place before a final decision is made.

"It's certainly very flattering" to be asked to run, Guinta said yesterday. "People look at the accomplishments we've had in Manchester and feel that the same could be achieved for the State of New Hampshire.

"But I love my job as mayor, and right now I'm focused on delivering on the agenda I've set for the city."

What will happen? Our guess -- and it's truly a guess at this point -- is that he'll run, he'll mount a strong campaign and even if he loses by a respectable margin, at 37, he likely remains the leading candidate for the 2010 cycle.

Bruce, Chuck and Joe
What of Bruce Keough? While chairing Mitt Romney's campaign in the state, he also was often encouraged to run, but when we asked him about his plans yesterday, he refused to comment. Republicans, both in the State House and outside, are under the impression he's leaning against it.

Keough, a careful man, may believe that 2008 will be another tough year for Republicans, especially after looking at the presidential primary vote totals. About 50,000 more people voted in the Democratic primary than the Republican contest.

Keough also has business and family considerations and has never considered himself a career politician. But if he does not run this time, then when?

Former state Sen. Chuck Morse of Salem is also mentioned in and around the State House as a potential candidate for governor. But he put a pin in that balloon yesterday.

"At this point, we've been heavily involved in our business and I haven't been thinking about it," he said. "It's just not on the agenda." He said he, too, received calls from people asking him to be a candidate.

"It's nice to still be wanted," he said. "We're not leaving politics, but we've got a lot to get accomplished (in the private sector) right now."

State Sen. Joe Kenney leaves no doubt about his intensions. He's in.

He said this week that with the holidays and primary over, he will be back on the campaign trail with several speaking engagements lined up.

Gov. John Lynch yesterday deflected a question raised at a news conference about his plans to run for a third term, but he already has a political team in place and began raising money with a fund-raiser last fall.

Kenney and other State House Republicans believe they have plenty of issues on which to base challenges to Lynch and the Democrats.

GOP chair Fergus Cullen is accusing Lynch of "creating" a fiscal crisis.

Kenney says the governor approved $12 million for the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) "to fix broken down old buildings," while a host of bridges across the state are red lined and while tolls have been raised.

He says Lynch raised the cigarette tax and signed a bloated budget into law but "lost a golden opportunity to eliminate" the developmentally disabled waiting list.

Then, there are the social issues. Parental notification is back, with bill sponsor Rep. Fran Wendelboe saying that her plan is constitutional and contains an emergency health exception and a clear judicial bypass.

And the GOP is convinced -- correctly or incorrectly -- that the civil unions law will be a problem for Lynch and Democratic lawmakers.

All of which makes for the potential of a real, live race for governor this year after a political legislative session.

Jeanne (and Jay) and John
A strong candidate for governor will be a necessity for Republican Sen. John Sununu as he tries to win re-election in what could be a tough year.

If you need further evidence this U.S. Senate race will be front and center nationally all year long, just click on the home pages of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee Web sites.

The NRSC has a link to TheShaheenRecord.com, which says she "flip-flopped on the traditional New Hampshire anti-tax pledge" and proposed a 2.5 percent sales tax, as well as a 4.5 percent capital gains tax.

The DSCC features Sununu on its home page with a press release saying that heavy Democratic voting in the primary "spells big trouble" for the incumbent.

Shaheen had her first news conference of the year on Tuesday, calling for an end to oil and gas industry subsidies and pointed out that the Senate "failed by one vote" last month to end them. The implication was that it was Sununu's fault.

Democrat Buckey held a news conference yesterday to propose a "National Security Levy" on all oil consumption in the United States.

Sununu has begun making the rounds on radio talk shows.

When they competed in 2002, Shaheen raised and spent nearly $6 million, while Sununu raised and spent nearly $4 million, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. Six years later, you can expect those amounts to double by November.

Organize, organize
Republicans and Democrats are laying the groundwork for the battles to come for House and Senate seats.

The New Hampshire Reagan Network plans a muti-day training session for candidates and campaign staffers by Morton Blackwell's Leadership Institute, according to Wendelboe, the group's founder.

She says she has "identified enough seats to take back" the House majority and intends to target 79 Democratic seats.

Wendelboe said the Reagan group will help candidates in primaries but only "if they come to us looking for assistance and are in districts represented by Republicans who do not act like Republicans. But we're not going out with a hit list."

The state Senate Democratic Caucus PAC plans to hire a campaign manager for every Senate incumbent and the challengers it endorses.

The state Democratic Party is developing an "incumbency retention program" to help Senate candidates lay the groundwork for field organizations. Democratic senators are being asked to organize campaign kickoff events in their districts on Feb. 16 and then to work with supporters in an initial door-do-door canvassing operation.

The delegates
With the primary results in the books, the Republicans and Democrats now know the makeup of their delegations to the national conventions.

State GOP Chair Cullen said that if his party ends up seating all 24 of its delegates in Minneapolis, 12 will be John McCain supporters, Mitt Romney will have seven delegates and Mike Huckabee will have two. There will be three uncommitted delegates -- Cullen and fellow RNC members Sean Mahoney and Phyllis Wood.

If the RNC prevails in its attempt to cut the New Hampshire delegation in half, McCain will have seven, Romney, four; and Huckabee, one.

Each campaign has chosen 21-member delegate slates but has not yet announced who will go to the convention now that the delegation has been apportioned.

The Democrats will send 22 delegates to Denver. And although Hillary Clinton won the primary, the delegation has nine Barack Obama supporters, eight Clinton delegates, two John Edwards delegates and three uncommitted members.

Since the election was so close, Clinton and Obama were each apportioned six delegates selected at congressional-district caucuses in December.

Clinton's delegates are Chris Pappas and Emily Walsh of Manchester, Russell Weatherspoon of Exeter, Rep. Bette Lasky of Nashua, Mike Atkins of Lyndeborough and state Senate President Sylvia Larsen of Concord.

Obama's district-level delegate are Paul O'Connor of Exeter, Joanne Dowdell of Portsmouth, Richard Komi of Manchester, Ann Kuster of Hopkinton and Ned Helms and Carol Moore of Concord.

The "super-delegates" are Obama backers U.S. Reps. Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter and Democratic National Committee member state Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, as well as DNC members and Clinton supporters Gaetan DiGangi of Merrimack and Anita Freedman of Portsmouth.

The uncommitted "super-delegates" are Lynch, state chair Ray Buckley and a member of the public yet to be appointed by Buckley.

Where are they now?
For some Granite Staters who didn't get enough, the primary continues.

Rep. Ricia MacMahon said she and several other Clinton supporters are heading soon to South Carolina to help out the campaign prior to the Jan. 26 primary.

Deb Vander Beek, Huckabee's state campaign manager, is home only long enough to recover from a nasty cold but says she and other "Hucksters," as she called them, will soon be "driving all over the place collecting signs which we will likely be bringing south."

Romney senior advisor Tom Rath returned from Michigan yesterday but expects to "go back out in the middle of next week, probably headed to Florida."

Staffers for Clinton and Obama were getting their marching orders this week on where they were headed for the next phase of the campaign.

And separately, state Democratic chair Ray Buckley is headed to Nevada to witness that state's caucus, while Cullen is attending the RNC's winter meeting this week in Washington, where early discussion of a primary/caucus calendar for 2012 was expected at a rules committee meeting.

'Racist' NH
File under "absurd" the allegation by some in the national media that race was an issue for some Granite State Democratic primary voters in Clinton's victory over Obama.

After all, the man received "only" 105,007 votes here -- just 7,000 fewer than Clinton. Asked during Tuesday night's debate in Nevada if he believed race had been a factor in his primary loss, Obama said, "No. I think what happened was that Senator Clinton ran a good campaign up in New Hampshire."

Which is not to say that he didn't. In fact, both did.

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John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader.

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Reader's COMMENTS:

People go around talking about what Mayor Guinta is doing.I dont think people know what he really does.The Mayor is only one person its gona take more than just him to fight crime it takes the whole city to do that.I think some pepole of Manchester just hate to see a guy like Mayor Guinta do a good job so they have the t.v. shows to talk about him and i think it is just a big joke what they think of the Mayor.GOOD JOB MAYOR
- John Anderson, Manchester,NH

Tim of Manchester, do you really live in Manchester or in a fairy tale land?
Lowering crime is not an agenda in the portfolio of Frank Guinta.
Drug dealers control our streets from West Manchester to East Manchester.
I have not seen any improvement in my neighborhood; there were more police proactive activities in our neighborhood one week before the election for Mayor and a couple of days after the election, things were back to the usually.
Drug dealers and crack houses are in full operation and the police are back to the same old routine of cruising around the neighborhood while chatting on their cell phones.
- Ann Smith, Manchester NH

Tim has a point. Jeanne Shaheen stepped down from her Harvard position to run for Senate, John Stephen stepped down from HHS to run for Congress and Jennifer Horn even gave up her newspaper column to run for Congress. Seems that others are making big sacrifices to run for office, why shouldn't Guinta?
- Glen, Manchester

He may not be interested in the job when he finds out it is FULL TIME! You have to show up more than 30hours perweek.
- lee, Manchester

Lets hope Guinta stays home.He can't even handle being Mayor of Manchester. The guy should apply at Walmart.
- mark, manchester

Frank Guinta would be a breath of fresh air in Concord. If he was able to make anywhere as much progress in Concord as he has here in Manchester in the two short years he has been mayor, then New Hampshire would be a better place. We need someone who understands that the sole answer to every problem is not hust to simply throw more money at it at the expense of the taxpayers of New Hampshire.

Governor Guinta....that has a nice ring to it.
- Tammy, Manchester

Cutting taxes, fighting wasteful spending and lowering crime. Sound like Governor material to me.
- Mike, Manchester

He was just reelcted mayor. He has an obligation to the people of Manchester. If he had planned on running for governor he should have not run for re election for mayor.
- Tim, Manchester

"It's certainly very flattering" to be asked to run, Guinta said yesterday. "People look at the accomplishments we've had in Manchester and feel that the same could be achieved for the State of New Hampshire.
Mayor Guinta has definitely achieved the bragging right of giving drug dealers, crack houses and Prostitutes the legitimacy to operate freely in Manchester.
It is absurd to see drug dealers and Prostitutes hanging around the streets corners while the police cruise around in their patrol cars.
Good job Mayor Guinta !!!!!!!!!!!!
- JD Williams, Manchester NH

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"Guinta wants to merge maintenance, parks units"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Friday, Jan. 18, 2008

MANCHESTER – Mayor Frank Guinta says he can save the city money and make government more efficient by creating a new department to oversee both the city's maintenance workers and its parks and recreation staffers.

His proposal would remove the facilities division from its current home in the Highway Department and merge it with the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cemeteries. The new department would be called Facilities, Grounds and Recreation.

"In the short term, there'd be a small amount of savings," Guinta said. "But the reason to do this, I think, is more long term. I think you'll find a great level of synergy between these two (offices)."

Assuming the aldermen approve his plan, Guinta said he intends to nominate facilities manager Tim Clougherty to head the new department.

Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez said he would be willing to consider the mayor's proposal. But he was quick to note that just this week the mayor rejected another proposed merger before a committee had a chance to examine it.

"It's double talk," said Lopez, who pitched the measure to fold some or all of the Human Resources Department into the Finance Department. "We're supposed to do everything he says to do, but nobody else has any good ideas."

The facilities division has 19 employees, according to the Human Resources Department, and is responsible for maintenance work on all municipal and school buildings in Manchester. The Parks, Recreation and Cemeteries Department has 62 full-time workers, plus seasonal staff.

Guinta said he is willing to consider alternatives to his own proposal, including a long-discussed plan to move Parks, Recreation and Cemeteries into the Highway Department. He made clear, however, that would not be his first choice.

Questions about the future of the Parks, Recreation and Cemeteries Department have been swirling since its director, Ron Ludwig, stepped down last April. The city posted the job last year, but Guinta said he did not interview any candidates.

Clougherty has worked for the city since December 1999. Guinta described him as a capable manager who "has clearly developed over the years as someone who can handle large projects" -- in particular, the $105 million school renovation project.

"I think he brings a depth of experience that we absolutely need," Guinta said.

Clougherty's position in the facilities division would be eliminated, creating a immediate savings of $99,395, the mayor said.

Interim Public Works Director also praised Clougherty's managerial skills. Asked whether Clougherty is qualified to oversee the city's parks and recreation sites, he said, "I guess I'm not necessarily familiar with Tim's qualifications in that area. But Tim is very quick to pick things up."

Clougherty declined to speak to a reporter for this story.

A key consideration in the mayor's plan is the large deficit in the so-called "enterprise funds" that pay for the city-owned McIntyre Ski Area, the West Side Ice Arena and other recreation sites. Those facilities are supposed to be self-funding but have accrued a deficit of more than $5 million, Guinta said.

He said an innovative leader is needed to bring those funds back into the black, or else the city's bond rating would likely take a hit.

"We've got to try thinking outside the box and get somebody running the enterprise fund where it can be made profitable," Alderman Mike Garrity said, adding that he supports the mayor's plan.

Garrity said he has "great respect" for Clougherty and described him as very capable of being a department head."

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Reader's COMMENTS:

Remember that government inefficiency is most often not like chicken fat -- at the edges and easily cut out. It's more like steak fat, marbelized through the body, seemingly pervasive but no one piece worth the trouble to excise. So let's embrace even the little reforms -- with enough vigilence, they'll add up.
- Travis, Windham

Tom you are right 99K not huge over the entire city budget. However buy consolidating the departments other positions that are duplicated by each other could be eliminated.

Norman you are right Mr. Clougherty would most likely receive a pay increase along with the additionally responsibility by filling both positions, Parks and Rec currently has no director. The city of Manchester could greatly benefit by having these two departments combined. If you remember only a few years ago the condition of many the parks buildings the department was unable to maintain the facilities properly and being an enterprise they could not afford to pay for the repairs since the profits have not been rolling in.

And Jeff I agree with you complete why is it good for one department and not another to consolidate and join forces. If you have two departments performing similar functions why not join the two.

This to me is a case of politics and the same old BS. Hey boys (Lopez and Guinta) quit playing the political tug o war of you both have a good ideas sit down and work it out and save us some tax dollars and provide us with the services my tax dollars pay for.
- Schwartz, Manchester

Why does this merger make sense but the Finance/HR merger doesn't? Everyone assumes that the department heads need to know the ins and outs of their departments, but that just isn't the case. A good department head doesn't need to know how to run a golf course or a ski area. They need to know how to budget and hire/manage people who know how to manage the golf course or ski area.

My boss knows exactly what I do, but could never do it. His boss knows even less about how to do my job. All they have to know is that I can do my job.
- Jeff Comeau, Manchester NH

Did I read this correctly. The mayor states that Mr. "Clougherty's
position in the facilities division would be eliminated, creating a immediate savings of $99,395" So will Mr. Clougherty volunteer as the new Department head? If not I bet he gets an increase. Oh my an increase.
- Norman R. Gill, Hooksett, NH

Im sure Clougherty is a very capable and probably outstanding facilities mgr, however what does he know about parks, running a ski area or whats needed at the golf course...
$99 K off the budget, wow what a savings on my tax bill that will be, does it even amount to a penny? P0UND WISE, PENNY FOOLISH Wait till you hear the uproar from citizens when the parks arnt kept up and the golf course suffers.. . This idea is as stupid as constructing a new building at the golf course,but not putting locker rooms there for the golfers....but you already did that....TIME TO MOVE I GUESS.. Guinta those that guide you havent got a clue on some things...
- Tom, Manchester

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"Guinta kills merger of departments"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008

MANCHESTER – Mayor Frank Guinta last night dealt his first veto of the new year to block a proposal that would merge the city's Human Resources and Finance departments.

"I haven't heard any compelling reason from either department that suggests we should engage in this kind of conversation," Guinta said.

A few aldermen who said a merger might save the city some money chided Guinta for squelching the discussion. An effort to override the mayor's veto, which needed the support of two-thirds of the board, came up one vote short.

The board wound up tabling the plan, leaving open some possibility of reviving it later.

The proposal was brought forward on the same night the Board of Mayor and Aldermen honored outgoing Human Resources Director Virginia Lamberton. She plans to retire at the end of this month.

Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez said he viewed Lamberton's departure as an opportunity to consider reorganizing that department and others in City Hall. He urged the board to hold off on hiring a new Human Resources director while a committee reviewed the possibility of a merger.

"That's all I hear, is efficiency, efficiency," Lopez said. "Well, how are we going to know if something is efficient if we don't look at it?"

Guinta resisted, noting a search for a new human resources director is already well under way. He said he plans to name a selection committee today. Interviews are scheduled for next week.

"I want to be very careful not to send a mixed message to the pool of applicants," Guinta said.

The mayor's veto reversed a 9-5 vote to send the proposal to a committee for review. Guinta said he already reviewed a similar proposal last year when he proposed creating a Department of Administration that would have absorbed as many as 11 city departments. He decided to nix the idea this year because he found it would not yield the cost-saving "synergies" he hoped it would, he said.

Alderman Bill Shea, who favored exploring a merger, warned that the board could reject Guinta's nominee, adding, "I think we have to be cautious, as a board, that we don't close the door on an idea simply because of the expediency of an appointment."

Lamberton has said moving payroll to the finance office would lead to more bureaucracy. Finance Officer Bill Sanders said he would need more time to study the proposal. However, he did express some skepticism about a full-out merger involving the two departments.

"I'm not a human resources expert by any stretch of the imagination," Sanders said. "And I don't imagine any finance director would be."

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Reader's COMMENTS:

Perhalps they can find another husband and wife, conflict of interest team to run HR and the Clerks office. How quick they all forget. Shame
- Pat, Manchester

It's always a mistake to combine HR and Finance. Finance people and accountants are horrible when dealing with HR issues. They're not bad people, they just don't understand HR. They hire poorly, fire poorly, and motivate poorly. Usually they enact draconian and unrealistic policies that end up getting "gamed" and circumvented by the worst people in the organization. Follow Jack Welch's advice. Keep finance out of HR. The success of an organization is all about people. To find the best people, and keep them motivated, hire a top-notch HR staff. Keep finance where it belongs: counting the money.
- Jamie, Franklin

I work for a company with 2500 employees and our HR department is under the Finance department. It seems like a natural merger to me. I thought Mayor Guinta wanted to save the city money? In business, it is cheaper to hire someone at a manager's level than at a VP level. So wouldn't it be cheaper to hire a supervisor rather than a department head? As for a finance department head not knowing anything about HR well that's ok, because the department head doesn't do the work! That's what his/her employees do. They need to know how to budget and manage people and be politicians. I'm sure the cities HR staff know what they are doing and can deal with the "complexities" of the issues.
- Jeff Comeau, Manchester NH

Excellent job Mayor... I always hear, run the city like a business. Well most major corporations have Human Resource/Benefit departments. The reason is the complexity of issues employers and employees have to deal with. Alderman Gatsas you are right on point. I dont always agree with your position, however you are in tune on this one. I also salute the other alderman including new comers Sullivan and Roy for your stance.
As for Alderman Lopez taking out an old proposal that merely was an effort of the City Finance Office to build a Taj Mahal, put the dust back on it and shelve it... Mike wake up, its the 21st Century....
Alderman "I never met a Union I didnt like" Oneil... perhaps an HR director holds the bargaining units accountable.. by following the rules.. what a Shame, stop listening to the disgruntled employees woes and look after the city.
- Tom, Manchester

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THE NH UNION LEADER
"City hall 'synergy': The fight to consolidate"
Monday, Jan. 21, 2008

THERE is a fight on at Manchester's city hall over whose consolidation plan can save taxpayers the most money. Who could have predicted that?

One of Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta's favorite words is "synergy." It means a combined action that produces results greater than could be achieved by each of the individual forces acting alone. He is producing "synergies" at city hall that might, finally, begin to save money by whittling down the bureaucracy.

Until now, plans to consolidate bureaucratic functions were a non-starter in Manchester because of union opposition. But Guinta has won two elections in large part by promising to cut taxes by getting spending under control. The board of aldermen, which has not been very friendly to consolidating city departments in the past, now is offering its own consolidation plans and saying that they would save more money than Guinta's would.

The board this month pushed a plan by Alderman at-Large Mike Lopez to roll the Human Resources Department into the Finance Department. Guinta vetoed it. He should have let it go to a study committee. But his objection was a sound one. The savings did not appear to be there, and finance is not a logical place to house human resources.

Guinta is pushing his own plan to take maintenance out of the Highway Department and move it to Parks, Recreation and Cemeteries. It appears to be a sensible move.

Whatever the mayor and aldermen ultimately decide, chances are they will agree this year to cut some of the waste in city government. That is a tremendous accomplishment for the mayor, even if he doesn't get all of what he wants. Just changing the mindset at city hall from "there's not enough revenue!" to "we have to cut expenses!" is a big feat.

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THE NH UNION LEADER
"John DiStaso's Granite Status: From mayor to governor?"
By JOHN DISTASO, Senior Political Reporter
January 24, 2008

MANCHESTER MAYOR Frank Guinta is moving very quickly toward a run for governor.

While we're told he has not made a final decision, the Republican on Monday will file "The Granite State Leadership PAC," a political action committee, with the secretary of state.

That means Guinta will begin raising and spending money to explore a run. Almost always, an exploratory committee is a formality, a precursor to an official campaign committee and a candidacy. There's no reason to believe that Guinta's PAC will be anything different.

After our report last week that Guinta was seriously considering a run and that top adviser Mike Biundo was getting Guinta's name known in Washington GOP circles, Guinta and his advisers held a closed-door meeting last Friday evening.

"We concluded that the proper next step is to open a PAC, begin raising money and start talking and listening to New Hampshire voters on issues that are important to them," Biundo said.

Biundo said that Guinta, "having worked on budgets and having listened to legislative leaders," is not surprised "that over-inflated revenue estimates and runaway spending has gotten us into a deficit situation."

He said Guinta has received "overwhelming support" since his interest in running for governor surfaced. He said that, after listening to Gov. John Lynch's "recent dialogue on our fiscal crisis, the mayor has decided to take the next step in taking a serious look at a run for governor. He believes our state currently lacks the leadership necessary to take that bold step toward fiscal responsibility. Whether he ultimately runs or not, he certainly plans on helping to lead the charge toward that goal."

Biundo said Guinta does not yet have a specific timetable for a decision.

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Help wanted

State GOP Chairman Fergus Cullen has put out a "help wanted" e-mail to political pros in New Hampshire and beyond seeking staffers for "one of the most exciting political states in the country."

"Dear Political Operative (and I mean that in the best sense of the phrase)," Cullen begins, "We at NH Republicans are now taking resumes for staff positions both at the party and for the Victory program." The Victory '08 program is the Republicans' coordinated campaign program funded largely by the Republican National Committee.

Cullen says the positions open range from management to entry-level field jobs.

"Pay varies. Health care benefits available. Some NH experience is preferred but certainly not required."

Cullen said the Republican State Committee now has four full-time staffers and one part-timer. He said he has "a number in my mind" of staffers he wants to add but, "It will depend on the talent of the individual job applicants."

He also writes that several candidates are also looking for staff.

Here's the money

The state Republican Party is more financially healthy than it used to be, but it still has a long way to go to catch the Democrats.

The GOP's latest filing with the Federal Election Commission shows the party began 2007 with just $37,839 on hand, raised $291,684 during the year and ended '07 with $90,573 on hand.

The state Democratic Party has not yet filed its report (it has until Jan. 31), but party spokesman Pia Carusone said it raised -- ready? -- $1.375 million during 2007 and ended the year with $229,000 on hand.

And that was before its massive Jan. 4 "100 Club" take, estimated by the party at $400,000.

Through Nov. 30, the state Democratic Party received $184,385 from the national Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to fund the state party's "StopSununu.com" program and more.

The DSCC "has been part of our efforts to do what we can to defeat John Sununu and that means strengthening our state party overall," said Carusone. DSCC contributions "have gone to all parts of the party, including the organizing and field aspect, which is of course important to being successful in the Senate campaign. New Hampshire is obviously very important to the national Democratic Party. "

Jeanne's numbers

Jeanne Shaheen will report having raised $1.2 million during the fourth quarter of 2007 and ended the year with $1.15 million on hand. She announced her candidacy on Sept. 16, 2007, and by Sept. 30 had raised $187,888.

Shaheen's campaign says it received 3,563 contributions, 2,491 of them from New Hampshire, and that $298,082 was raised in the state.

"It's evidence that people want a change and want a U.S. senator who will represent New Hampshire's interests in Washington," said campaign manager Bill Hyers.

The reports are not due until Jan. 31, and Sununu's campaign has not yet released its fourth quarter and year-end figures.

About that $25k

At the end of December, the state GOP forked over the first of five annual $25,000 payments to the state Democrats under the terms of a 2006 settlement of a civil suit related to the infamous phone-jamming scandal of Election Day 2002.

Cullen said the money was disbursed to the party's law firm, Devine Millimet and Branch, which then forwarded it to the Democrats on Dec. 31. The Democrats confirmed receiving it.

Problem is, the disbursement to the law firm does not appear on the state GOP's December report to the FEC. Cullen said yesterday it should have been reported and will be in an amended report.

Clegg closing in

State Sen. Bob Clegg, R-Hudson, has been considering running for the 2nd District U.S. House seat for the better part of a year. At this point, a Clegg candidacy is a near certainty.

"I'm making my phone calls and doing my due diligence," he said this week, "but my announcement is not for a couple of weeks." Clegg reported "getting a lot of encouragement. I want to continue making calls."

Although he says he has not made a final decision, we can tell you that a decision to run is far more likely than a decision not to.

If he does run for the seat held by Democrat Paul Hodes, four-term state Rep. Sharon Carson of Londonderry is strongly considering running for Clegg's District 14 seat.

Jeb and John

In the 1st U.S. House District, Republicans Jeb Bradley and John Stephen are already gearing up for a September primary showdown for the right to face Democratic incumbent Carol Shea-Porter.

Both quietly did the necessary groundwork during the presidential primary campaign.

Stephen will have a $250-a-person fundraiser on Feb. 6 at the Portsmouth home of Joseph and Jean Kane of The Kane Company, a major commercial and industrial real estate brokerage firm.

The co-hosts include former Executive Councilor Ruth Griffin, state Pari-Mutuel Commission chairman Ted Connors, former state Rep. Lou Garigiulo, former state Senate candidate Kathy Rush and Seacoast area businessmen Alfred Arcidi, Phil Baker, Brad Richards, Fred Attalla and Michael Kane and attorney Robert Field.

Executive Councilor Ray Burton is also backing Stephen.

His campaign staff consists of long-time assistant Greg Moore and Alyssa Pockell, who also worked with former commissioner Stephen at the state Department of Health and Human Services. According to Moore, Craig Smith of Riverbank Communications in Manchester has signed on as Stephen's fundraising consultant.

Stephen says his campaign will be based on a conservative fiscal theme and "bringing New Hampshire values to Washington."

Bradley, also pushing a conservative message and his experience in the House, says he is "continuing to go to every Republican group meeting that I can." He also expects to make an announcement soon.

A third candidate in the 1st District race is political unknown Peter Bearse of Fremont, who, like Stephen and Bradley, has a Web site up and running.

A Jack attack?

Will veteran state Sen. Jack Barnes, R-Raymond, face a tougher reelection battle this year? The state Democrats would like to think so now that they've taken two House seats formerly held by Republicans in special elections in his district.

Tuesday's win by Maureen Mann of Deerfield over Jim Sullivan, also of Deerfield, for the seat vacated by retiring House "Dean" Bob Johnson of Northwood came after Don Petterson of Brentwood defeated Richard Calantonio Jr., also of Brentwood, last fall. Petterson also replaced a Republican, former Rep. Don Buxton, who had died.

Democratic spokeman Carusone notes that 13 of the 22 House members that have all or a portion of their House districts in Senate District 17 are Democrats, as compared to just four in 2004. She noted that in the presidential primary, Democrats cast "only" 1,000 fewer ballots than Republicans in the district -- 10,581 to 11,567. "We feel good about that," she said.

Barnes responded as only he can.

"I thought that marijuana was illegal in the state of New Hampshire," he said. "It sounds to me like the Democratic Party is smoking pot. If they want to take me out, they'd better work a hell of a lot harder than they have in the past. But no doubt there will be stiff competition and I'll be ready for it."

GOP George?

Could it be? We did a double-take the other day looking at the state Republican Party's year-end FEC report.

There, among the list of donors to the state Republicans was a listing for $700 from one "George Bruno -- lawyer" from Manchester.

Had the former Democratic National Committeeman and former Democratic state chairman turned "Republican red?" What a story!

Well, not quite.

During the final weekend of the primary campaign, Bruno, a former Ambassador to Belize, escorted 11 foreign diplomats throughout the state to give them a first-hand look at the process. Bruno is managing director of USA Group International, which provides international consulting and communications services to individuals, governments, foreign embassies and private business.

Bruno said that since he had bought 15 tickets to the state Democrats' "100 Club" extravaganza on Jan. 4 for $100 each, he felt he should also take the group to the state Republican brunch on Jan. 6.

He said those tickets were going for $125, "and I told them I needed 14 tickets but wasn't going to pay that much." He bought them for $50 each, thus the $700 listing.

Too early, too quick

Bruno, a veteran of New Hampshire primaries dating back to 1972, says he does not mean to be critical of Bill Gardner, but he questioned the Secretary of State's decision to schedule the primary on Jan. 8.

Bruno said it was too close to the holidays and too close (five days) to the Iowa caucuses.

"By scheduling it on top of Iowa like that, I think he forgot that the value of the primary is not what comes after, but what comes before. I don't think, in retrospect, that the date put New Hampshire in the best position to maximize its impact," Bruno said.

"It barely gave us time to recover from Iowa, and I think it was a discourtesy to the candidates by, in effect, forcing them to begin in New Hampshire the very next morning, and some of them didn't sleep."

Bruno said he wishes Gardner had used his discretion to declare Michigan's primary a non-similar election and scheduled the New Hampshire primary on Thursday, Jan. 10, if not later. Bruno, by the way, backed Bill Richardson this time around.

Bruno's comments came as The Washington Post reported that a group of senators, including former presidential candidates Lamar Alexander and Joe Lieberman, have introduced a bill to move the primaries from January to March.

The Post says the measure would keep Iowa and New Hampshire in the lead but then would shift to four regional primaries, ending in early June.

'Impressive'

State Democratic Chairman Ray Buckley spent last weekend in the “real” Vegas — Las Vegas, as opposed to his beloved “Manch-Vegas.”

He helped Nevada’s Democratic Party run its first-ever presidential caucus and said the turnout of about 115,000 was “impressive.”

Buckley said he worked a voter registration table at a caucus site and called it “very moving” to register scores of first-timers, many of whom were “chamber maids in their 50s and 60s who had never voted before in their lives.”

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John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader.

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THE NH UNION LEADER: Op-Ed

"Frank Guinta: Returning 17-year-olds to the juvenile justice system is irresponsible"
By FRANK GUINTA, Another View, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2008

IF YOU ARE a law-abiding citizen of New Hampshire, the following news should send a shiver down your spine. In one of the first decisions that the New Hampshire House of Representatives made in 2008, it voted to repeal state law that charges, as adults, 17-year-olds who commit violent crimes. As mayor of the state's largest city, I can tell you that this is a dangerous and irresponsible step for the House, and one that flies counter to public safety efforts throughout New Hampshire.

Simply put, House Bill 584 would reverse a 1996 law that lowered the age at which a person who commits an alleged crime, would be charged as an adult. Currently, New Hampshire law treats 17-year-olds as adults for crimes; HB 584 would return the age back to 18. To truly show you the lunacy of this proposed law, a 17-year-old who is convicted of committing a felony or misdemeanor crime would not have an adult criminal record.

I fear that this law would have a detrimental effect on the efforts that our public safety officials have done to combat crime. During the past two years, we have worked with the U.S. Attorney's office, and the New Hampshire State Police as well our own police department to clear our streets of drug- and gun-related crime. These efforts included working with U.S. Sens. Judd Gregg and John Sununu to restore Operation Streetsweeper money that the U.S. House of Representatives stripped out early last year.

Manchester has also funded its own version of this program, called Drugs and Guns, and has started a gang unit to weed out those committing violent crimes. As a result of these efforts, both violent and property crime dropped in 2007 from previous years.

I mention these efforts because 17-year-olds have been known to commit these crimes and often have a lengthy juvenile rap sheet long before their 17th birthday. To continue to churn them through the juvenile system does a disservice to those residents that demand safety and security in their community.

Meanwhile, to reintroduce 900 additional people into the juvenile justice system, which this bill would do, would compromise the prevention and rehabilitation efforts already happening for those ages 16 and under.

In addition, this bill would create a bureaucratic nightmare for law-enforcement officials, who are often dealing with out-of-state residents that commit these crimes. Whitefield representative and Dalton Police Chief John Tholl said it best when he stated that "the change would create a major headache for police who would have to treat 17-year-olds as teens in New Hampshire though they are considered adults in their home states."

Liberal Massachusetts is one of those states. In fact, it was the criminal element coming up from Massachusetts' cities, committing crimes in New Hampshire, which was one of the motivations for changing the law in the first place. We cannot go back to a time where potential criminals can come to New Hampshire to commit crimes knowing they'll get a slap on to the wrist.

It is very telling that the law enforcement community, such as the state's police chiefs and the attorney general's office, have opposed this bill. They are on the front lines protecting us and they have a vested interest in seeing criminals both punished and rehabilitated, and they oppose this measure.

In Manchester, and in departments throughout New Hampshire, the police understand that the best way to protect people and to lower the crime rate is through deterrence and rehabilitation. They commit incredible amounts of resources to these endeavors. However, their primary responsibility is to protect the citizens of their respective communities. They cannot hope that a 17-year-old with a lengthy track record will "get it" with another go-round in the juvenile system. They must be taken off the streets.

For those that think that this "tough on crime" approach is partisan or ideological, one only need look at some of the states that treat 16- or 17-year-olds that commit violent crimes as adults: Connecticut, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Wisconsin. These are hardly bastions of conservatism, but they understand that keeping criminals off the streets is in the best interest of their citizens.

I fear this is a terrible bill that puts residents at risk -- not just in Manchester, but throughout the state. As mayor of Manchester, whose most important duty is to protect the residents of the city, I strongly oppose this bill and ask senators, when the bill reaches them, to vote against HB584.

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Frank Guinta is mayor of Manchester.

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Reader's COMMENTS:

What Mayor Guinta fails to mention is that 17 year-olds who commit violent crimes or are deemed really dangerous can still be certified as adults after a hearing and then tried in adult court. All this bill would do is restore a presumption that a 17 year-old will get a shot at rehab first instead of going directly to jail after conviction. When we don't even let 17 year-olds buy cigarettes or vote, can we really call them "adults" in court with a straight face?? That's ludacris, even if Massachusetts is doing it (and is he really arguing we should defer to Mass law?!).
Mayor Guinta should focus on what's generally underlying Manchester's crime problems - things like mediocre schools (to put it nicely), poverty and a middle/upper class exodus leaving behind slowly decaying neighborhoods on two (if not three) sides of downtown - instead of wasting time writing "looks at these crazy Democrats" puff pieces.
- John D., Manchester, Ward 4

HB584 is a terrible bit of legislation and one I hope the Senate can eliminate. On behalf of all law-abiding citizens in NH, we demand that our elected officials protect us from crime by sending a strong and clear message that we do not tolerate criminal activity. We vehemently oppose the message this sends that encourages seventeen year olds to commit violent crimes in our state.
- Joe Kenick III, Stratham, NH

While it is always nice hearing from Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta, Republican, I have to say, this apoplectic opinion piece about teenagers is the first real policy message I have ever heard from him, since I recommended the Republican Party check with my Ward 2 Alderman, Ted Gatsas, who recommended him to replace Bob Baines as our municipal Mayor a few years ago. Maybe I just do not read the Manchester / New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper enough.

I am in wholehearted disagreement with Mayor Frank Guinta on this issue, and for many excellent reasons. The simplest argument I can make, is that for a Politician or Party purported to favor limited government and limited public expenditures, they should not be finding it so easy to advocate for these officious, "big government" solutions to community problems, be they youthful criminal misconduct or otherwise. It costs a fortune to criminalize people willy nilly, and the Mayor advocates this solution far too readily. Further, a felony conviction or any criminal conviction record wilts the productive potential of any community citizen, not just young people or "out of staters". Also, I have noticed that people who advocate as Mayor Guinta does in today's opinion piece, always tend to think of Big Government as their Big Brother Big Buddy, and never tend to think of themselves or their loved ones, family or friends as subject to Governmental sanctions. As such, Guinta and others of similar mindset are not and cannot speak for the whole of this Community. I remind the Mayor, that his job as our City's leading poltician is to build bridges, not foster divisions. That Guinta chooses this issue to hold forth his opinion, tells me that his "law and order" stance is ill-conceived. The New Hampshire legislature's proposal to raise the age of juveniles to 18 is perfectly reasonable and good policy. I advise the Mayor and my Ward 2 Alderman to call me, if they need help in the future applying themselves to productive political pursuits.
- Michael B. Del Camp, Manchester

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The Washington Post, January 26, 2008
"Dan Balz's Take: Former Front-runner Giuliani, Now Hoping to be Comeback Kid"
By Dan Balz

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- "We have them lulled into a false sense of security," Rudy Giuliani joked about his rivals at Thursday's Republican debate here in south Florida. Was anyone really laughing?

The former New York mayor's rapid descent after leading national Republican polls for most of 2007 is one more remarkable chapter in the story of Campaign 2008. In the space of 12 months he has gone from improbable candidate to unlikely nominee to surprise front-runner to a man now left to joke about becoming the Comeback Kid of this campaign.

Giuliani long counted on Florida to begin his march to the nomination. Now Florida may give Republicans the race that many strategists predicted -- and that some were preparing for -- way back in 2006, a contest between a seasoned Washington politician with national security credentials in John McCain and a youthful outsider with a grounding in economic and domestic issues in Mitt Romney.

Only a major surprise by Giuliani on Tuesday would change that dynamic from emerging out of Florida. But nearly every indicator about his campaign is heading in the wrong direction. A victory in Florida on Tuesday would be as big a surprise as Hillary Clinton's victory in New Hampshire three weeks ago.

Giuliani has lost his lead in national polls. He had Florida to himself for two weeks before the other candidates -- preoccupied with contests Giuliani bailed out of -- and yet the most recent polls here show him falling here. He has lost his lead in New York, the key of his Feb. 5 strategy, and a poll released overnight from the Public Policy Institute of California shows him at just 10 percent in the state he boasted he could put into play in a general election.

More than just his support has eroded. The latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll shows that his public image has been battered by his long exposure to the voters. Last March, as he was rising atop the GOP field, 57 percent of Republicans gave him a positive rating. In the new poll, just 28 percent rated him positively.

Polls are particularly fickle this year and especially in the Republican race. With a divided electorate and a field of flawed candidates, success begets poll numbers. Giuliani's plunge in the polls reflects his anemic finishes in the early contests -- where he has trailed even Ron Paul in several.

Because the current polls of the Republican race seem to reward success rather than reflecting deeply felt commitments to one candidate or another, a stunning upset by Giuliani here on Tuesday would rejuvenate his candidacy and those numbers might quickly turn around. But that does not appear likely with four days of campaigning before Election Day.

Was all this inevitable? There are reasons it was -- but the campaign Giuliani has waged has made his situation worse, not better.

Giuliani's prospects were always clouded by his positions on issues like abortion, gay rights and guns, where as mayor he was out of step with the base of the Republican Party. His advisers did not discount that problem but believed two things could combine to create a path for Giuliani to win the nomination.

The first was their conclusion, based on early research, that only a minority of Republicans who held views on those issues that were at odds with Giuliani would not consider voting for him. They believed there were more enough voters willing to give him a look that, in a multi-candidate field, he could win primaries.

The second was their belief that social issues would play a less significant role in this nomination battle than in years past, and that Giuliani's 9/11-enhanced reputation would make him appealing to conservative Republicans, regardless of his views on social issues.

Both may have been correct. This has not been a race in which the social issues have dominated, and none of the leading candidates now in the race, with the exception of Mike Huckabee, has an affinity with religious and social conservatives. And it appeared for many months that Giuliani's reputation as the mayor who calmed a shaken city after the terrorist attacks could appeal to conservatives.

What has been more curious is that degree to which Giuliani has proved to be a campaigner who appeal to voters seemed to diminish the more they saw him.

New Hampshire is the best example. Of all the early states, Giuliani tried to run a serious campaign in the Granite State, where the moderate-leaning GOP electorate appeared potentially hospitable. In November, Giuliani began to run television ads in the state and on the weekend after Thanksgiving he barnstormed the state. Standing outside city hall in Manchester, with Mayor Frank Guinta at his side, he predicted he would win the primary.

Instead, his support went in the opposite direction. He had almost a quarter of the vote in a September poll by the University of New Hampshire for CNN and WMUR-TV; by late December he was at about half that level.

Giuliani tried multiple messages. He began the campaign as a 2008 version of President Bush's 2004 reelection posture: the man who would keep the country safe. He railed at Democrats warning that their views on terrorism would invite more attacks and more casualties.

He ran for a time as the presumptive nominee, traveling overseas to appear with leaders in Britain and claiming to be one of the most recognizable Americans in the world. He ignored his rivals to attack Hillary Clinton, hoping to signal to GOP voters that he would be their strongest nominee.

He ran as the mayor, promising to do for America what he did for New York. He offered up his record as proof of what he could do as president.

He ran as a Reagan conservative -- at least on economic issues, touting his commitment to tax cuts, welfare reform, school vouchers and other conservative ideas.

But often he ran half-heartedly. He ran instead as a celebrity -- coming into a café or diner or house party with a few short remarks, occasionally taking questions, signing autographs and then moving on. He enjoyed the adulation that he received virtually everywhere he went but, with only a few exceptions, did not do what almost all successful candidates do.

He was hit by scandal and that too came at just the wrong time. Bernie Kerik's indictment raised questions about judgment and cronyism. Reports about curious allocation of security costs raised the issue of his messy personal life.

His absence in Iowa and New Hampshire put him out of the story at a time many voters around the country were beginning to pay attention. And when he has needed it most, he seems to have lacked the fight necessary to win a competition that requires it of all successful candidates.

"This has become a very competitive race and I always expected it would be a very competitive race," Giuliani said Thursday night, "and I believe that I'm going to have the same fate that the New York Giants had last week, and we're going to come from behind and surprise everyone. I think we're going to do very well on February 5th, and I believe that I'll get the nomination."

In a way he never expected, Giuliani's candidacy now is in the hands of the voters of Florida. If he falls short, he will have to look to himself for the answers to why it happened.

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"Questions raised over school official's address"
By SCOTT BROOKS, The NH Union Leader
28-January-2008

MANCHESTER – When a 23-year-old bartender named Jennifer Peabody came out of nowhere to win the Ward 3 school board seat last fall, she was forced to admit she didn't have a permanent address in the ward.

But Peabody did have a permanent address, a landlord confirmed. For nearly a year now, her name has been on the lease at 121 English Village Road, Apt. 102 - across the river from the ward she represents.

"I'm going to say she's a tenant here, and I'm going to say that emphatically," said her landlord, Gregory Brown.

Peabody answered the door there yesterday afternoon. She acknowledged she has been staying in the West Side condo, which is located in Ward 12, but said it is just one of two places she currently calls home. The other is an apartment on River Road, near the northern edge of Ward 3.

"I guess right now I have two residences," she said.

The city charter requires public officials to "have and maintain" a home in the ward they represent. Peabody declined to say whether she has moved any belongings into the River Road apartment or how much time she spends there.

Mayor and school board chairman Frank Guinta asked Peabody about her address a few weeks ago after a reporter raised the issue, an aide said yesterday. Peabody told the mayor she had a "new residence" in Ward 3, the aide said.

"To best of our knowledge, she remains a legal resident of Ward 3 until otherwise proven," said the aide, Sean Thomas.

The apartment at 96 River Road is owned by Roy Arsenault, Peabody's boss at Raxx, an Elm Street billiard hall. Arsenault said he has been letting Peabody rent a room there since mid-December "because she hadn't found another place in Ward 3."

"She wanted ... her residency to be on the up and up," he said, "because she quite frankly thought she was being berated by the press."

As a candidate last year, Peabody provided several addresses to the City Clerk's office, all within the confines of Ward 3. In a New Hampshire Union Leader story published two days after the November election, Peabody explained she had moved twice in the past few months and was still looking for a permanent place to stay.

She made no mention of the condo on English Village Road.

Records provided by Greg Brown's company, B&K Property, show Peabody has been leasing the one-bedroom condo at 121 English Village Road since March 2007, several months before she declared her candidacy for the downtown school board seat.

Peabody defended her qualifications for office yesterday. At one point, she said, "I know plenty of people have multiple residences. All right? ... The President, for example. Does he live in Texas? I mean, he really lives in the White House. That's two residences."

In 1991, questions about an alderman's dual addresses were brought before the Board of Registrars. The board's decision allowed Ward 5 Alderman Stephen Dolman to keep his seat, even though he was living part-time in a house in Ward 11.

Dolman now represents Ward 11 on the school board.

John Price, who has rented a room in the River Road apartment for three years, vouched for Peabody in a phone interview yesterday, saying, "I'm telling you that she lives here and that's all you need to know." He said Peabody does have some belongings there but would not say how much, nor would he characterize the amount of time she spends there. He refused to let a reporter see the apartment.

"She lives here but doesn't stay here all the time," he said. He added, "Whether she stays here all the time or not is not relevant to anything."

Peabody was unknown in Manchester political circles when she bested incumbent Seumas Regan by 124 votes in the Ward 3 school board race last November. She hardly campaigned for the seat; Peabody did not raise any money and did not knock on any doors.

Reached yesterday, School Board Vice Chair Katherine Labanaris called the information about Peabody "shocking." She said she would expect the City Clerk's office to determine whether Peabody retains her seat.

--

Reader's COMMENTS:

All I know, is that when she is elected Mayor, she will be representing all the people. Best thing to happen to the school board since ??. She isn't an insider, does not belong to the teacher's union, and knows how to mix drinks! This woman is going places. Mayor? Naw.. Senator! We need her in Washington, DC. Peabody for Senate!
- Thomas, Manchester, NH

Not posting for or against just confused a bit by this statement:
"I know plenty of people have multiple residences. All right? ... The President, for example. Does he live in Texas? I mean, he really lives in the White House. That's two residences."
Ok that's an making an analogy but as the president of the united states the perk of residing at the white house comes with the job.
The city of Manchester does not include housing at city hall for school board members, if that was the case than that analogy would make perfect sense.
But it is not, so this analogy is so utterly DUMB it borders on being intellectually insulting.
We are talking about a member of the school board, correct?
And this is not Hilarious?
- JIM M, Manchester

Apparently Scott Brooks has decided that there is no corruption, waste, and mismanagement in Manchester city government, so he can now move on to important issues like jen Peabody's private life.

Why are you stalking a 23 year old girl, Scott? That's sick.
- Larry, Manchester, NH

It must be a very slow news day! Right in this article it states that the city requires public officials to 'have and maintain' a home in the ward in which they represent. The article goes on to state that she apparently has an apartment on River Road. Where's the beef?
- Rusty Shackleford, Manchester

Why not leave Jen alone, if any of the readers have followed the school board meetings she has attended (Which are all since she was elected) they will see that she is probably one of the few that actually reads all of the material before the meeting and can make informed comments and suggestions. Sure seems like someone doesnt want her on the board. Wonder why that is .
- Bob Bruce, Candia

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Manchester, NH, Daily Express, January 24, 2008, Page 12, Editorial, OPINION page

“Mr. Mayor, walk the walk”
By Mike Lopez, The writer is alderman at-large and chairman of the Manchester Board of Mayor & Alderman

During last year’s mayoral and aldermanic election campaign, the voters heard candidates like myself and Mayor Guinta make promise after promise that property taxes will be cut and efficiencies in city government will be found and implemented.

I, as one of your alderman at-large and chairman of Mayor and Aldermen, will do everything in my power to provide the residents, businesses and visitors to our city municipal services provided as economically and efficiently as possible. I am not only an elected city official, but I am a resident and property tax payer. I am aware what it costs to fill my car with gas, what it costs to heat my home and what it costs to feed my family.

City government is no different. The city is feeling the increasing costs to provide its services at a level expected and demanded by taxpayers. If service levels are to be maintained and the costs associated with maintaining those levels continue to rise, then we, as your elected officials, in conjunction with the city department heads, have no choice but to find ways to do things more efficiently. The mayor in his January 1, 2008 inauguration speech stressed government efficiency over and over and over.

On Tuesday, January 15, 2008, the board of mayor and aldermen held its first regular meeting. At that meeting I proposed changes to the organization of both the human resources and finance departments that I felt would result in operational efficiencies and reduce costs. I felt that moving the human resource functions under finance would eliminate the need to replace a retiring department head and move the payroll function where I feel it should be – under the finance director.

My proposal was passed by the aldermen with a 9 – 5 majority, but vetoed by Mayor Guinta. Keep in mind that during his first term in office, the mayor proposed the establishment of a department of administration. He talked about this idea for more than a year. But as Aldermen At-Large O’Neill pointed out at last Tuesday’s meeting, the details as to how it would be accomplished were never presented to the committee on administration or to the full Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

As chairman of the board, I want to work with Mayor Guinta to keep property taxes as low as possible. This means both of us and my fellow aldermen must keep our minds open to any reasonable idea that will improve the efficiency of city government.

Mr. Mayor, if you are going to talk the talk, then you have to walk the walk. You keep an open mind to ideas and suggestions beyond those coming out of your corner office. We must work together for our city and its residents. I am willing to do so. How about you?

--

Manchester, NH, Daily Express, January 24, 2008, Page 8
“Committee approves clerk’s office reorg: Plan would save city about $40K”
By Dan Magazu

Aldermen on Wednesday approved a proposal to reorganize the City Clerk’s Office by eliminating three deputy clerk positions.

Currently, the office has four deputy clerk positions: (1) deputy clerk, (2) deputy clerk of licensing and facilities, (3) deputy clerk of administrative services and (4) deputy clerk of financial administration.

Under a plan submitted by new city clerk Carol Johnson, two of the deputy positions would be reclassified to lower paying jobs and one, the deputy clerk of administrative services, would be eliminated altogether. Two new support jobs would be created under the plan as well.

During a meeting last night, the Committee on Human Resources and Insurance approved the proposal, which should save the city more than $40,000 next year.

Nobody will be laid off or demoted under the plan due to five current vacancies within the department.

“We are hurting,” deputy city clerk Carol Johnson told the committee last night. “We are going to be in training mode for some time because of all the people who will be coming on.”

Matt Normand, the former deputy director of licensing and facilities, has already been promoted to the only deputy director job that will remain after the reorganization.

The proposal has the endorsement of the city’s human resources director.

Johnson said that as soon as the full Board of Mayor and Aldermen approves the plan, she will be able to begin filling the vacancies.

Also on Wednesday, aldermen approved two part-time security guards for the Welfare Department. Welfare Commissioner Paul Martineau said that members of his staff are encountering more and more confrontational residents who come in to the office.

“Employees have been put in very uncomfortable positions,” Martineau told the committee. “The language some people use, they’d make truck drivers blush.”

The committee unanimously approved the new jobs.

“The safety of the city’s employees is of the utmost importance and that is why I am in favor of this proposal,” Ward 9 Alderman Mike Garrity said.

The guards still need to be approved by the full Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

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The Concord Monitor, Letters, By James Lynam, Manchester, January 30. 2008

"Guinta's no manager"

I am surprised to see that Frank Guinta is thinking about a run for governor.

Wasn't it just 2½ months ago he was elected for a second term to lead the city of Manchester? If he decides to run for governor, there will be little or no time for him to run the city he has been elected to lead.

I find it a bit ridiculous that Guinta would even consider running for governor. His management skills in Manchester are poor. I can't even imagine what a disaster he would be leading New Hampshire!

We have a fantastic governor in John Lynch. He has been an exceptional leader and has made New Hampshire a better place to live.

I ask people to join with me in supporting Gov. Lynch in 2008.

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John DiStaso's Granite Status: Primary Power
By JOHN DISTASO, Senior Political Reporter, The NH Union Leader
January 31, 2008

MORE THAN THREE weeks after the fact, the impact of the New Hampshire primary remains alive and well on the presidential campaign trail, as proven by the events of the past two days.

Rudy Giuliani's decision to have an "on-again, off-again" campaign in the first-in-the-nation state, run by outsiders who paid lip service at best to local advice, led to his undoing. And Rudy's disjointed "strategy" here proved the best thing that could have happened to John McCain as he now assumes the mantle of national Republican front-runner.

John Edwards, meanwhile, campaigned hard and often in New Hampshire, but in the end he placed his fortunes on first-caucus state Iowa. His New Hampshire campaign sputtered. He didn't win Iowa, finished a distant third here, and the rest, unfortunately for him, is history.

In the kitchen
McCain continues to carry a little bit of New Hampshire with him as he heads, it appears, toward the GOP nomination. So says former state GOP chairman Steve Duprey, a McCain New Hampshire co-chair who hasn't left the candidate's side since Jan. 8.

Via telephone while on his way from Florida to California, Duprey said he attended every McCain event in Michigan, South Carolina and Florida and intends to stay on now as a member, he said, of McCain's "kitchen cabinet." Duprey also reports:

-- McCain still keeps in his pocket a lucky "heads up" penny New Hampshire Union Leader Publisher Joe McQuaid found in the company parking lot the morning of the primary and gave to McCain. "He's a man of routine and superstition," said Duprey.

-- Tom Gibson of Merrimack, whose son, Marine Cpl. Timothy Gibson, was killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq three years ago, also followed McCain from New Hampshire and did volunteer advance work for the candidate in South Carolina and Florida.

-- McCain continues to conclude each town hall meeting by recalling that last summer, Lynn Savage, the mother of Army Cpl. Matthew Stanley of Wolfeboro, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq 13 months ago, asked him to promise that her son's death would not be in vain. McCain also continues to wear Stanley's memorial bracelet, given to him by Savage, Duprey said.

He said these are examples of "the profound impact that New Hampshire and its person-to-person campaign style, has on candidates long after they leave the state."

Rudy's failed strategy
"If Rudy Giuliani had worked harder in New Hampshire, he could have taken us out there," Duprey said. "He may have won, or if he had a stronger showing, it would have helped Mitt Romney, who may have won and taken us out.


GIULIANI
"Rudy's on again-off again campaign in New Hampshire helped do in Rudy but also kept John McCain alive and allowed him to keep going," he said. "New Hampshire's social moderates and independents were Rudy's best opportunity, and the fact that he never quite clicked in New Hampshire _ by looking like he was working hard, then not working hard, then working hard -- gave us the opening."

State GOP Chairman Fergus Cullen agreed that Giuliani "did not bypass New Hampshire but did vacillate in his focus on it. The difference was it was not a New Hampshire-directed campaign. "I think they had a real opportunity to do real well here in New Hampshire, but they never embraced it," he said.

Wayne heads home
Giuliani state campaign chairman Wayne Semprini also said Rudy's failure and McCain's success "truly reconfirms the strength of the New Hampshire primary."

Semprini was on stage with Giuliani as he conceded the Florida primary to McCain on Tuesday night. He did not accompany Giuliani to California, where Giuliani dropped out and backed McCain.

"I'm headed home," Semprini said. He said he also now backs McCain for president.

Semprini said Giuliani's attempt to run a national campaign cost him a strong showing in New Hampshire, and, he said, Giuliani's fourth-place finish in New Hampshire cost him dearly going forward.

Semprini said that when McCain ran out of money last summer, it was a blessing in disguise for him.

"That gave him a chance to focus on one place, New Hampshire, and he made the most of it," Semprini said. He said the New Hampshire Union Leader's endorsement of McCain "had a huge impact."

Semprini said Giuliani visited New Hampshire enough times, but he said his events were often at "inopportune times" due to the demands of his schedule in trying to run nationally.

"We had to schedule town hall meetings in the middle of the day when people were working," Semprini said. "He'd do a fundraiser in Philadelphia, come here and do a couple of town halls and then be off to Illinois or somewhere for another fundraiser."

But Semprini said he was proud to be a part of a Giuliani effort that was "an entirely positive campaign. You never saw him go negative or have negative ads."

Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta, who also backed Giuliani, said he was "proud of how positive Rudy was during this campaign." He said he respects McCain but is not jumping on his bandwagon at this point. That's probably because Guinta is organizing his own potential run for governor. More about that below.

Emotional calls
State senators Joe Foster and Peter Burling received personal calls from their candidate, John Edwards, just before he announced he was suspending his presidential effort.


EDWARDS
"He said he wasn't having the best day," Foster said. "I'm sure it wasn't an easy decision for him to pull out because he had worked at this for a very long time." He said Edwards would make a "fantastic" attorney general or labor secretary.

Burling said his conversation with Edwards was "incredibly emotional for me personally." He called Edwards "an exceptional American, married to an extraordinary American."

Foster said Edwards' Iowa caucus loss cost him the necessary media attention that could have propelled him to a win or second-place showing in the New Hampshire primary. Instead, Edwards finished second in Iowa, "and the story was Barack Obama was first and Hillary Clinton was third. From that point on, it was difficult to get the sort of free media that the top-tier candidates got. He could never break through that."

Burling said Edwards was at a disadvantage from the start running against well-known and well-funded front-runners who also happened to be a woman and an African-American.

And, he said, Edwards had to compete with "two electoral vacuum cleaners just sucking up all the money."

Hitting the road
As he explores running for governor with his new Granite State Leadership PAC, Guinta said he will soon be getting out on the road.

"My first priority is of course working on behalf of the people of Manchester," he said. "But I've received many invitations to come and speak at different organizations, and I will be accepting those invitations. I want to talk about the progress we've made in Manchester, and I want to hear from people what they are looking for in statewide leadership."

Signing on as co-chairs of Guinta's PAC this week were former Ambassador and long-time "Reagan Republican" Gerry Carmen and Susan Duprey, a veteran of many state Republican Party and GOP candidate efforts (including McCain's campaign) and the wife of the aforementioned Steve Duprey. A long-time Guinta friend and confidante, attorney Louis DeMato, is the PAC's treasurer.

Sununu's numbers
Sen. John Sununu was out-raised by former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen during the fourth quarter of 2007, but he entered this election year with three times the amount of money she has in the bank.

Sununu's year-end report shows he raised $921,626 from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 and $4.5 million since he was elected in 2002. In the quarter, he raised $631,430 from individuals and $280,147 from political action committees. His campaign spent $225,198 during the quarter and has $3.42 million on hand.

Shaheen, who became a candidate last September, announced last week she raised $1.2 million during the quarter and has $1.15 million on hand.

An opening at the top
Last week, state Republican chairman Fergus Cullen sent out a "help wanted" e-mail looking for political pros to staff up the Republican State Committee office and its federally coordinated "Victory '08" program for the upcoming election season.

Now, Cullen is looking for someone to top the organizational chart. Steve DeMaura, who has been the party's executive director since last spring, will leave shortly to take a position in the private sector.

GOP money update
After our report last week that the state Republican Party forgot to list its $25,000 phone jamming lawsuit settlement payment to the state Democrats in its year-end financial report, the GOP amended the report immediately.

But it turns out the party had more than $33,000 in initially unreported disbursements. Besides the settlement payment, made via its legal counsel, the Devine Millimet and Branch law firm, it also reported $5,000 in "legal expenses" to Devine Millimet and about $3,900 in miscellaneous expenses, including $3,700 in payroll tax-related disbursements to Bedford-based Paychex, a payroll, human resources and benefits outsourcing firm.

That left the party with $56,634 on hand as it entered 2008, as opposed to the $90,573 it initially reported.

Tobin's back
Speaking of phone jamming, the re-trial of former Republican National Committee official James Tobin is scheduled to begin next Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

Last year, an appeals court overturned Tobin's 2005 conviction on telephone harassment charges and sent the case back to the trial court. The appellate court said Judge Steven McAuliffe's jury instructions defining harassment did not necessarily fit the law under which he was charged, were too broad and prejudicial to Tobin.

Tobin is accused of helping to coordinate the hang-up calls that jammed five get-out-the-vote phones in New Hampshire Democratic Party offices and a firefighters union office on election day, 2002, when Sununu defeated Shaheen in a tough U.S. Senate race that is likely to be rematched this year.

Carrying on
Well-known Democrat Katrina Swett is carrying on for her father, U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Cal., a Holocaust survivor who was recently diagnosed with cancer. Her proud husband, Dick Swett, says that this week, she spoke on her father's behalf at a United Nations Commemoration of Holocaust Survivors event, outlining his life experiences escaping the Nazis, working for the release of Raul Wallenberg, establishing the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, "and his daily battles like stopping the genocide in Darfur, just to mention one."

Quick takes
-- Mica Stark confirms his departure from St. Anselm College and the New Hampshire Institute of Politics after five years there. He said he managed the four presidential debates held at the college and had previously been heavily involved in civic education program development. Stark says he has "several irons in the fire" as to his next move.

-- Veteran communications specialist Alicia Preston has signed on as a consultant with the campaign of Jim Ogonowski, a Massachusetts Republican hoping to unseat Sen. John Kerry later this year.

-
John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader.

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The NH Union Leader, Op-Ed, February 1, 2008
Mike Lopez: "We have to work together to cut costs at city hall"
By MIKE LOPEZ, Manchester, NH

DURING LAST year's mayoral and aldermanic election campaign, the voters heard candidates like myself and Mayor Frank Guinta make promise after promise that property taxes will be cut and efficiencies in city government will be found and implemented. I, as one of two aldermen-at-large and chairman of the board of mayor and aldermen, will do everything in my power to provide the residents, businesses and visitors to our city municipal services provided as economically and efficiently as possible.

I am not only an elected city official, but I am a resident and property taxpayer. I'm aware of what it costs to fill my car with gas, what it costs to heat my home and what it costs to feed my family. City government is no different.

The city is feeling the increasing costs of providing its services at a level expected and demanded by taxpayers. If service levels are to be maintained and the costs associated with maintaining those levels continue to rise, then we, as your elected officials, in conjunction with the city department heads, have no choice but to find ways to do things more efficiently.

The mayor in his Jan. 1 inauguration speech stressed government efficiency over and over and over. On Jan. 15, the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen held its first regular meeting. At that meeting, I proposed changes to the organization of both the human resources and finance departments that I felt would result in operational efficiencies and reduce costs. I felt that moving the human resources functions under finance would eliminate the need to replace a retiring department head and move the payroll function where I feel it should be, under the finance director.

My proposal was passed by the aldermen with a 9 to 5 majority, but vetoed by Mayor Guinta.

Keep in mind that during his first term in office, the mayor had proposed the establishment of a department of administration. He talked about this idea for over a year, but as Alderman-at-Large Dan O'Neil pointed out at the Jan. 15 meeting, the details as to how it would be accomplished were never presented to the committee on administration or to the full board of mayor and aldermen.

As chairman of the board, I want to work with Mayor Guinta to keep property taxes as low as possible. This means both of us and my fellow aldermen must keep our minds open to any reasonable idea that will improve the efficiency of city government.

If the mayor is going to talk the talk, then he has to walk the walk. He must have an open mind to ideas and suggestions beyond those coming out of his corner office. We must work together for our city and its residents.

-
Alderman-at-large Mike Lopez is chairman of the board of mayor and aldermen.
-

Reader's COMMENTS:

I find it nothing less than ironic that Alderman Lopez now champions reducing spending in the city's budget when, for years, all he did was help increase our property taxes so he and the Democrats could spend like drunken sailors. Lopez talks about how Mayor Guinta needs to "walk the walk," but perhaps he should consider his own wounds since the alderman is a considerable practitioner.

Mayor Guinta has operated on a platform of lower taxes and reduced spending since he took office. Lopez is trying to take credit when he's the last one to show up at the party.

Who was it that refused to reduce spending and taxes in 2006, Alderman. That's right: it was you and your fellow Democrats on the board.

Practice what you preach, Alderman. People might take you a little more seriously.
- William Smith, Manchester, NH

Nothing becomes law without the Mayor's signature. He has enough allies to quash any bill. Lopez is increasingly frustrated at his diminishing stature. The UL had coronated him as the 'mayor in waiting'.

The laptop debacle a while back sealed it for me. Age can work against a person, too. The tea leaves show his seat will be challenged. He is a good man who has the City's interest at heart, but a more conciliatory and constructive tone is necessary to move forward. Even Pelosi has done so. I hope it is forthcoming.
- Steve, Manch

Its nice to hear someone tell the truth at CityHall. Thank you Mike
- Janet, Mancheser

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Hooksett Banner: News and Information for the Town of Hooksett, NH
"West considers special academies"
BY JENN McDOWELL, January 30, 2008

Administrators at West High School have announced a plan they will bring before the city’s School Board to establish a series of academies at the high school.

About a third of Hooksett high school students currently attend West.

The preliminary plans, which will go before the School Board sometime in February, would start specialized academies of performing arts and computer technology first, eventually adding health and human services, business, and arts and humanities academies.

The general studies program would be expanded and developed into an academy as well, and the school’s Army ROTC program would also be built upon.

Freshman and sophomore academies would also be started. Students would pass through those before choosing the specialized academy they wish to enter in their junior year.

School administrators are not revealing costs or details of the programming associated with the plan at this time, as the School Board and Mayor Frank Guinta have not yet seen a proposal.

West Assistant Principal Gary Dempsey said the academy plan was developed in collaboration with about 30 people, including parents and school faculty.

Dempsey, formerly an assistant principal at Nashua North High School, said he saw the academy system working in Nashua. A similar program was implemented following the split of the old high school into Nashua North and Nashua South with the construction of a second high school starting in 2002.

“The academy approach is designed to have each kid map out a plan for what their 10-year plan is,” Dempsey said.

Since talks about Bedford opening its own high school in town began a few years ago, which meant West would lose about half its student population, the question of West’s future has been undetermined. Guinta has called for a long-term plan for the school.

Bedford High School opened with just grades 9 and 10 this year, with a total of about 550 students. According to enrollment projections, a few freshman and sophomore students living in Bedford remained at West. Bedford student enrollment was projected at about 440 students for the 2007-08 year.

In the 2008-09 year, the shift of students is projected to be more dramatic as the Bedford high school phases in the 11th grade, for a total of more than 950 students. In 2009-10, the 12th grade will switch to the new Bedford school, leaving West with a projected seven Bedford students still at the school.

All Bedford students are expected to be phased out of West by the 2010-11 school year.

As the plans are still very preliminary, there is no word on whether the West academies will serve as a magnet program for students from other areas of Manchester or other towns.

Dr. John Avard, Manchester School Board member, said an English Language Learners program was among curriculum changes to help bring in freshman students who currently attend Central for that special programming.

He added the exodus of Bedford’s students from West will not leave the school half empty, as West had some overcrowding issues in the past.

Ariel Wilson, 15, of Hooksett, is a freshman at West and wants to get into marine biology. None of the planned academies would likely fit her career interests, she said, but thinks other students would benefit.

“I think it would be a good idea. I guess it would depend if there was an interest in it,” she said.

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"Audit says city's blind-eye oversight resulted in fraud"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
04-February, 2008

MANCHESTER – Officials in the mayor's office and several departments missed key warning signs and overrode security measures that might have stopped a city employee from bilking the government of close to $23,000, a newly released audit found.

The report says a "severe breakdown" in oversight allowed the city's former grants administrator, Dennis Hebert, to cash thousands of dollars in forged paychecks and to bill for work that was never done. In some cases, officials who should have provided oversight failed to demand proof that the payments were legitimate. At other times, the report says, the Mayor's Office or the acting finance officer allowed payments to go through even after they were flagged by another official.

Mayor Frank Guinta denied his office had "either direct or indirect oversight" of Hebert or the federally-funded program he managed, known as AmeriCorps *VISTA. In a letter attached to the report, Guinta said he is "generally in agreement with the majority" of independent city auditor Kevin M. Buckley's conclusions and pledged to support the auditor's recommendations going forward.

Hebert was fired last October, when police charged him with two counts of forgery.

Buckley's report alleges Hebert may have orchestrated the fraud to fund a gambling problem. At work, the report notes, Hebert was "constantly printing out racing forms." It reportedly happened so often that the printer next to his office was removed.

The alleged frauds were both varied and elaborate. In addition to forging paychecks meant for his staff, Hebert allegedly billed the government more than $2,000 for workshops or conferences that turned out to be fake.

He also filed fraudulent mileage worth a total of $5,968, the report alleges. Hebert, however, did not have a valid driver's license or even a vehicle registered in his name, it says.

In all, the audit found $22,824 in fraudulent payments between October 2006 and October 2007. Buckley called the case a "text book study of how a complete breakdown in the internal control structure can lead to fraudulent activity."

His report includes a long list of recommendations, including new security policies and procedures for each city department. Buckley said the city should not allow one person to ask for, approve and receive payments. He also advised the Human Resources Department to require confirmation for certain payroll changes and said the city should set up a fraud, waste and abuse hotline.

Some changes have already been made to VISTA, a federal program with a broad mission of helping poor people become self-sufficient. In Manchester, the program now answers to the Health Department. A new program manager, Sarah Normand, was hired last month.

The auditor's report says Hebert was unsupervised "for all practical purposes" for the last year of his tenure. The program's budget had long been administered by the Planning Department, but the aldermen transferred the budget to the Mayor's Office in September 2006.

Guinta maintains Hebert was still working for the Planning Department until at least July 1, 2007.

Before the transfer, Hebert made little secret he was unhappy working for the Planning Department. The report says he sometimes complained he was not being paid enough and thought he deserved more benefits, such as a City Hall parking spot.

Robert MacKenzie, the city's planning director, said Hebert's performance was mostly positive. He called Hebert a good writer and said he was usually helpful and responsive.

Hebert allegedly forged 51 paychecks. In some cases, the report found, he set VISTA workers up in the payroll system a week before they actually started work, or had them deleted from the system a week after they stopped working.

The city's Human Resources Department caught Hebert several times, the report says. Hebert allegedly responded by saying "it was his mistake and he didn't catch the error" in time.

Buckley's report is subtitled, "Internal Control Structure Failure Leads to Fraud." In it, he says the city's top managers "occasionally" choose to ignore policies or procedures when they become inconvenient. "This sends a message to all employees that policies can be changed or ignored," the report says.

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Reader's COMMENTS:

Ditto. Mr. Gill, look no further than your own town hall. I do feel the Mayor or one of his staff should take the blame for not overseeing this individual more closely. Someone had to sign off on his expenses, who signed for his mileage?
- Paul, Manchester

Note to Mr Gill; you live in Hooksett. Rather than bother the smart citizens of Manchester with your dull-witted comments, you should go to "your" town hall and ask if there has been another scandal?
- Thomas, Manchester, NH

Yahoo, Hold on citizens of Manchester the Guinta regime is upon you. You will see him run for safety by blaming everyone for his lack of oversight or management skills. He just doesn't have his heart in the city, he looks at being mayor as just another job in place of seeing the city as his home. I feel sorry for the citizens of Manchester you're in for a long two years. Empty your pockets to bail him out once again.
- Norman R. Gill, Hooksett, NH

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"John DiStaso's Granite Status: Hodes defends use of mailers"
By JOHN DISTASO, Senior Political Reporter, NH Union Leader, 2/7/2008

U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes said yesterday his five 2007 taxpayer-funded constituent mass mailers did not self-promote and did not take liberties with a U.S. House regulation forbidding the use of such material to "solicit political support."

Hodes said he took the Bush administration to task and gave his views on issues because relating "my positions and my sense of the issues is an important part of the job."

Hodes responded to the New Hampshire Union Leader's report on Monday focusing on the "franked" mailings he and fellow New Hampshire freshman Rep. Carol Shea-Porter sent out during 2007. The glossy mailings resemble political mailings, but Hodes said his pieces are not "more or less slick than any other kind of political mailing" and were all approved by a "strict" House Franking Commission -- comprising three Democrats and three Republicans.

"I'm proud of the way I'm representing my constituents and proud of some of the things we've been able to accomplish and it's important to communicate with constituents in a way that's proper and approved," he said. "We follow the regulations strictly.

"To the extent somebody can say that anytime you mail something to somebody and say, 'Hi, I'm your congressman. Let me tell you what's going on in Congress and I want to hear from you and here's some information,' I suppose you could argue that it's promotional," he said. "But they elected me to do a job and I think it's important that they hear from me often about what I'm doing and that they are reminded I'm here to serve them."

He said that "talking about the issues and what I'm fighting for on behalf of the people I represent is simply part of my job."

What they cost
Hodes' chief of staff Matt Robison yesterday disclosed the public information he had refused to discuss when first interviewed by the New Hampshire Union Leader several weeks ago.

He said Hodes' office spent $182,782.50 on the five mailings in 2007, about half on production and half on postage. He said they went to a total of 418,006 mail boxes and that while some -- such as a veterans' piece -- were targeted to constituent groups, most were more broadly distributed.

Shea-Porter spent $143,000 on four "franked' mailers in 2007, an aide said.

Sales called legal
Not surprisingly, officials at the state Democratic Party were unhappy with our "franking" report, especially the story detailing Shea-Porter's purchase of the state Democratic Party's copy of the state-generated mailing list with public funds. Hodes did not directly purchase the list from the party, but instead had a private printing firm do so.

State law restricts Secretary of State Bill Gardner to provide the list only to political parties or candidates. The state Republican Party has maintained since it first raised the issue in December that the same law restricts the buyer to then sell the list only for political purposes.

But former state Democratic chair Kathy Sullivan, now her party's attorney, said the law allows the political parties to sell the list to anyone or any public or private entity, provided the buyer doesn't use the list to sell anything or advertise something for sale.

She said Hodes and Shea-Porter "used the list to send information to constituents," not to sell anything. "The statute prohibits the use of checklist information to 'sell or offer for sale any property or service that is unrelated to an election or political campaign,'" she noted. It only allows the buyer to sell something if the product is election -- or politics -- related.

She said the law allows the party to sell the list to a private company as long as the company uses it to send out Christmas cards, for instance, but not to sell its product. She said that since Shea-Porter's and Hodes' congressional offices used the list to send out information, and not to sell anything, the sales were legal.

Sullivan said the Republicans on the other hand, by simply giving the lists to candidates and not reporting it as in-kind donations, "are the ones with the problem, not us."

Gardner said he reads the law to say politicians simply "can't get a list unless they buy it from some other vendor."

The case continues
A legal fight continues between the Democratic and Republican parties over a portion of the aforementioned voter list law that was struck down as unconstitutional.

While the Democrats sold lists to Shea-Porter and Hodes' printer for $5,000, it sold lists enhanced with voters' years of birth for $65,000 each to five presidential campaigns. That was before a judge in November found unconstitutional the law's restriction that the state sell the list only to the two major political parties.

The Republicans and secretary Gardner want the Democrats to retrieve the information sold to the presidential candidates and other private firms under the flawed law and give its profits to the state.

The Democrats say they've done nothing illegal because the law was on the books at the time of the sales and had been temporarily upheld by a judge's order in August denying a request for a temporary restraining order.

With the two parties now litigating a "remedy," GOP attorney Chuck Douglas recently subpoenaed copies of "each and every contract" or agreement the Democrats made with candidates who purchased the list and all checks that changed hands. He also wants to inspect sample pages of the Democratic Party's voter list as it existed both before and after it received the Secretary of State's list.

Democratic attorneys Finis Williams and Sullivan want the subpoena quashed, arguing that the GOP "seeks trade secrets" and "documents which are outside the scope of this litigation." They say Douglas' subpoena was "initiated for an improper political purpose" and "borders on abuse of process."

Douglas responded in an objection that their contentions are baseless and he asks that a remedy hearing slated for Feb. 12 be postponed.

A Morse change of mind
Three short weeks ago, Republican former state Sen. Chuck Morse of Salem told us, unconditionally, that running for governor was "just not on the agenda" because he was heavily involved in his private business.

Then, last weekend, Morse was quoted as saying he would seriously consider running if Bruce Keough doesn't run -- and in the same report, Keough said it's unlikely he will mount a candidacy of his own.

What's up, Chuck? Why the big change?

"You're partly to blame for that," he told us. He said our Jan. 17 column sparked a flurry of calls by people urging him to run. The most important call, he said, came last Thursday from Keough, who, Morse said, "encouraged me to look into running, and I said I'd do that." Morse said he has since been on the phone with Republicans gauging potential support.

Keough has been lowering expectations about his own chances of running all along. He said that last Wednesday, he called Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta to tell him his decision, "and it was clear from my conversation with the mayor that he's all but decided he's going to run.

"I knew that Chuck was waiting for me and so I called him and encouraged him to get going," said Keough. "I didn't want anyone to put himself at a competitive disadvantage waiting for me."

Joining with Frank
Guinta's Granite State Leadership PAC has added significant names.

It has hired Riverbank Communications' Craig Smith to handle fund-raising, and developer Ben Gamache as finance chair.

Also joining the committee are Richard "Stretch" Kennedy of Contoocook, conservative organizer Chris Wood, Manchester Rep. Will Infantine, anti-tax activist Ed Naille and former Franklin Mayor Tony Giunta.

On the trail
After announcing his candidacy for Hodes' seat yesterday, Republican state Sen. Bob Clegg will hit the road tomorrow, hosting a "meet-and-greet" at the Northland Restaurant and Dairy Bar in Berlin.

'PAC-ing' it in
Our two Democratic House members and one GOP challenger weren't shy about taking what's commonly known as "special interest political action committee money" during 2007.

Here's a quick sampling of some year-end totals:

-- 2nd District incumbent Hodes received $504,576 from PACS during 2007. That included, but was not limited to $1,000 from the American Commercial Lines, $2,000 from the Advanced Acoustics Concepts, $4,500 from AFLAC insurance, $1,500 from the certified public accountant institute, $2,000 from community bankers, $8,000 from the American Bankers Association, $2,000 from the government employees union, $500 from a musicians' union, $5,000 from the American Federation of Teachers, $8,000 from the American Hospital Association, $1,000 from a veterinarians' association, $1,250 from the ASCAP songwriters' PAC, $1,000 from AT&T, $5,000 from Bank of America, $1,500 from Citigroup, $2,250 from the Citizens Bank PAC, $1,500 from the accountants Deloitte and Touche, $3,000 from Ernst and Young, $2,000 from Goldman Sachs, $10,000 from the International Association of Fire Fighters, $4,000 from the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, $2,500 from the KPMG auditing/tax advisory conglomerate, $3,500 from Liberty Mutual Insurance, $1,000 from Mass Mutual Insurance, $3,000 from the mortgage bankers, $12,000 from the air traffic controllers union, $1,000 from a national credit unions association, $1,000 from community pharmacists, $1,000 from the Property Casualty Insurers PAC, $3,000 from Raytheon, $5,000 from a Realtors group, $5,000 from the Real Estate Investment Trust PAC, $10,000 from the Service Employees International Union, $10,000 from the Sheet Metals Workers union, $1,000 from a financial services roundtable, $3,500 from the Treasury Employees PAC, $3,000 from the United Auto Workers, $2,000 from the Universal Music Group, and about $50,000 from various Democratic leadership PACs.

He also received more than $2,300 in donated, in-kind fund-raising services from the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

-- 1st District incumbent Carol Shea-Porter raised $188,300 from PACS during '07, including $10,000 from the sheet metal workers' union, $10,000 from the electrical workers' union, $5,000 from the American Federation of Teachers, $5,000 from the letter carriers' union, $2,500 from the transport workers' union, $5,000 from the machinists' union, $1,000 from the United Auto Workers, $1,500 from the government employees' union, $5,000 from the International Association of Fire Fighters and nearly $50,000 from various Democratic leadership PACs.

-- Republican 1st District House challenger and former incumbent Jeb Bradley last year received $166,103 from PACs, including $4,000 from the American Academy of Otolaryngology (doctors who deal with ear, nose, throat, head and neck disorders), $2,000 from the anesthesiologists society, $10,000 from Associated Builders and Contractors, $1,000 from Raytheon, $2,500 from the Northeast Utilities, and more than $50,000 from various Republican leadership PACs.

-- Republican 1st District challenger John Stephen received $1,000 from the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisers and $1,000 from the Next Century Fund.

On the road
Another Granite State politico got face-time on national television this week. That was indeed, state Board of Education member Fred Bramante standing with Mike Huckabee on Super Tuesday night.

Steve Duprey, meanwhile, continues to ride with Sen. John McCain. "I'm hanging in there," he said by telephone from Phoenix yesterday. "I may come home for a night and then go back out on the road."

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John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader.

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"Discrepancies in view values detailed"
NH Union Leader, 2/7/2008

CONCORD – Assessors apply inconsistent standards to views that are considered part of a property's value, Orford tree farmer Tom Thomson told a crowd of 20 at the State House yesterday.

Using photographs from his hometown, Thomson showed discrepancies in the way abutting properties with the same views are assessed.

Thomson said the state has no licensing board to oversees assessors and can penalize them when they violate assessing standards.

He said that appealing assessments locally at to the Board of Tax and Land Appeals is a time consuming and, especially for the elderly, intimidating process.

Thomson argued that a homeowner has no control over a view, yet pays tax on it. Some assessors are now appraising property for potential views blocked by trees, he said.

Fran Chapman, a veteran real estate appraiser from Peterborough, said an assessor relies on sales of similar properties when figuring out what a view is worth. The market delivers an occasional surprise when a buyer has paid top dollar for a property, he said, but the discrepancies Thomson cited are "the worst I've seen."

Thomson backs a bill by Sen. Joseph Kenney, R-Wakefield, which would eliminate the off-site views as a factor in real estate appraisal.

Kenney agreed with Thomson that the state's rural character is threatened if view assessments aren't brought under control. Higher tax bills will prompt landowners to subdivide their properties, leading to more development, he said.

Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta, a Republican who like Kenney is considering a run for governor, said Thomson convinced him that too many mistakes are made in view assessments. What was once a factor in setting a property's value is becoming a new tax on an intangible asset, he said.

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John DiStaso's Granite Status: Dems prepare to divvy up delegates
By JOHN DISTASO, Senior Political Reporter, NH Union Leader newspaper
Thursday, Feb. 14, 2008

DEMOCRATS STATEWIDE have begun filing candidacies for the nine open seats on the party's national convention delegation.

They'll be elected on April 26, and, according to spokesman Pia Caruson, their names won't be made public until the filing period closes on April 11.

Party leaders are currently working to figure out exactly how the 30-member delegation, plus four non-voting alternates, will be divided among backers of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. Edwards has retained his delegates while suspending his campaign.

Complicating the puzzle for the elections of occupants for the open delegation seats are the national Democratic requirement that the delegation be evenly split between men and women and the state New Hampshire Democratic Party's self-imposed affirmative action goal.

That goal, according to the party's convention delegate selection plan, is that 12, or 35 percent, of the 34 delegates and alternates represent one or more of what the party calls "HUGs," historically under-represented groups. These groups are African-American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian-Pacific American, multi-racial, seniors 65 and over, young people 18 to 24, disabled and gay/lesbian/transgender.

Of the 14 pledged delegates already selected at caucuses by each campaign in December, six are members of a "HUG." Six of the 14 are pledged to Clinton, six to Obama and two to Edwards.

There are two "HUGs" among the eight super-delegates, with three super-delegates pledged to Obama, two to Clinton, two neutral and one yet to be chosen.

Carusone said that when the 14 pledged delegates meet on April 26 to elect five pledged at-large delegates, three pledged party leader/elected official delegates and one unpledged super-delegate nominated by party chair Ray Buckley, four of the nine must be members of at least one of these groups.

The restriction could mean that some influential party members perhaps expecting a place on the delegation will be disappointed, but it also "leaves room for a newcomer," Carusone said. "We'd welcome new faces."

Carusone said that although the affirmative action goals are just that -- goals -- Buckley and party leaders are committed to them. She said the party is well aware of the criticism heaped on New Hampshire critics in the national party in recent years as being too white and not representative of the country.

With another fight for primary primacy most likely on tap for 2012, "We definitely look better if New Hampshire rolls into Denver with a diverse delegation," she said.

Clegg off and running
A week after he officially announced his candidacy for the 2nd District U.S. House seat, Republican state Sen. Bob Clegg today will unveil a 37-member campaign leadership team.

Members range from politicians to business people to an 11-year-old boy, Tyler Lavoie of Hudson, who will head Clegg's Youth Advisory Committee.

Clegg Senate allies Ted Gatsas, the Senate Republican Leader, and Bob Odell are also key players, along with lobbyist Bob Blaisdell of the Demers Group, 2006 congressional hopeful and former Berlin Mayor Bob Danderson, former Commissioner of Environmental Services Mike Nolin, Jack Tulley of Tulley Automotive in Nashua, Kevin Sullivan of the Hudson Police Department K-9 Unit and Cheryl Darisse of Hudson, president of Feel Safe Again Inc., a group offering help for victims of stalking.

Guinta's latest backers
Republican Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta continues to pick up support as he considers a run for governor.

Signing on this week as supporters of his Granite State Leadership PAC are former state Republican Chair Wayne Semprini, veteran campaign operative David Tille, who was most recently Rudy Giuliani's state political director, Neil Levesque, former staffer for U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass, and Manchester school board member Doug Kruse.

Guinta supporters are pleased with what they consider a cross-section of moderate and conservative Republicans. Chief advisor Mike Biundo says Guinta is a proven coalition-builder.

Coincidentally, a new political group
Biundo is also chairman of the anti-tax New Hampshire Advantage Coalition, which, perhaps coincidentally, is trying to strengthen its influence in state politics.

NHAC has sublet space from the Reagan Network in the former state GOP headquarters across the street from the State House. It's hired a political director, former Guinta campaign worker Nick Vantine.

And it has recently become a "501(c)4" group, which refers to its IRS status. This classification allows it to raise money through unlimited donations from donors it is not required to disclose, and to become involved in political activities. It can't, under IRS regulations, engage in express advocacy of particular candidates.

Still, group leaders say they plan to be active in the upcoming cycle "in exposing those who have worked against New Hampshire's unique low tax advantage."

Vantine said, "We need to stem the tide of out-of-control spending in Concord. The $500 million in additional state spending approved by this Legislature and approved by our governor has caused New Hampshire to fall into deficit."

The aftermath
A day after longtime rivals Republican Chuck Douglas and Democrat Kathy Sullivan sparred in court over voter lists, the two parties were still clarifying their positions and bickering.

Sullivan said yesterday her party did not simply pay the Secretary of State's Office $450 for the state's voter list and then turn around and sell it to presidential campaigns for $65,000 each and to other entities, making more than $300,000 in the process.

She said the party had long ago built and has continually updated its own voter list and then purchased the state's list simply to obtain extra information it contained -- the years of birth of state voters and information on who had voted in the 2006 state primary and the spring 2007 municipal elections.

"We took that information and added it to a very valuable asset that we sold for substantial money in the past," before the Secretary of State's list became available for the first time last year, Sullivan said.

She said that even if the party had not obtained the state list, it would have sold its own list for the same amount of money. And that, she said, refutes the Republican argument that the Democrats should repay all profit it made from the sales of the latest list.

"They're trying to bankrupt the Democratic Party and create a scandal where no scandal exists," she said.

But GOP chair Fergus Cullen, whose party also bought the list from the state but made no sales afterward, said the purchase of the state list allowed the parties to "shortcut the whole process" of going city to city and town to town to update voter information.

"The other value is the imprimatur of the Secretary of State, which says it is the most current information possible," he said. "That has huge value.

Cullen still believes it was an orchestrated fundraising scheme.

"The first check from a presidential campaign went to the New Hampshire Democratic Party in February of last year, followed in quick succession by other campaigns negotiating for purchases at the same time (state Sen.) Peter Burling was navigating the bill (restricting the sale of state voters lists to the Democrats and GOP) through the Legislature." Burling has denied that accusation.

The issue remains under advisement by Superior Court Judge Carol Ann Conboy.

Happy days
The Jeanne Shaheen for Senate campaign has had a spate of good news this week. First came a UNH poll showing her with a 54 to 37 percent lead over GOP incumbent John Sununu. Then, her Democratic primary opponent, Jay Buckey, dropped out of the race, leaving her as the only Democratic candidate.

Today, Shaheen will pick up the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters.

In a week or so, the campaign will add a press secretary, Kate Bedingfield, formerly of the John Edwards state campaign.

Buckey ignored
Buckey, by the way, walks away from his campaign pleased with the experience but a bit frustrated by the treatment -- or lack thereof -- he received from the national Democratic Party.

He said the state Democratic Party "definitely stayed neutral" in his short-lived primary race with Shaheen. "That was a commitment they had made and they abided by it."

But the national Democratic Party, through the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, virtually ignored Buckey in its press releases, emails and on its Web site, citing Shaheen as the Democratic candidate.

Buckey said that was not a factor in his decision to withdraw from the race, but "it's a major issue. It's something we all should be thinking about because the way they structure it, it's hard for new people to get in the race. The primary system is designed to allow new people to come forward. If we're getting ahead of ourselves by trying to pick the winner ahead of time, it's not really part of the democratic process.

"It's not what caused me to get out the race, but it's a concern," he said.

Clinton pays up
Dr. Terry Bennett told the Status yesterday that after stiffing him for about a month, Hillary Clinton's financially challenged presidential campaign finally paid him $500 in rent it owed him for space in a building he owns in Portsmouth.

Bennett said Clinton's campaign had rented 3,000 square feet at $100 a day for the five days leading to the Jan. 8 primary.

"There's a full kitchen and a full bath and a half bath. They were putting people up there overnight.

"They got a big bang for their buck and they didn't pay me the buck," he said.

But, Bennett said, Realtor Michael Whitney finally received a check on Wednesday.

Bennett said he intends to sign it over as a political contribution -- to Barack Obama's campaign.

Quick takes
-- Here's a shocker: Executive Councilor Ray Burton, R-Bath, told Union Leader reporter Garry Rayno yesterday that he will seek his 16th term on the council and 10th term as Grafton County Commissioner in November. He said he made the announcement in his newsletter and at a recent reception in his northern New Hampshire district.

--Attorney Jim Merrill, after managing Mitt Romney's New Hampshire presidential campaign, is the new managing director of Devine Strategies, a new arm of the Devine Millimet and Branch law firm that Merrill says provides "strategic public affairs and issues management services for corporations, municipalities, public figures and other organizations who may be faced with complex challenges that go beyond the legal arena."

-- The New Hampshire political community this week is grieving the deaths of Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, the father of Katrina Swett, and former congressional candidate and longtime GOP activist Tom Christo.

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John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader.
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"John DiStaso's Granite Status: Paul backer enters GOP 1st District race"
By JOHN DISTASO, Senior Political Reporter, NH Union Leader, 2/21/2008

Ron Paul received only 8 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary, but he may have spawned a new generation of Republican candidates.

The first to emerge is Jim Forsythe of Strafford. A relative unknown despite being the local town GOP committee chair, he is the third candidate in the Republican 1st District U.S. House primary race that also includes Jeb Bradley and John Stephen.

Forsythe, 39, is a businessman, former pilot who flew in Somalia, Bosnia and Iraq, a former associate professor at the Air Force Academy and the owner of a doctorate degree in aerospace engineering.

According to libertarian commentator and former Paul chief-of-staff Lew Rockwell's Web site, Forsythe is one of several "Ron Pauls" running for the House or Senate across the country this year.

Will the little-known Forsythe be just an after-thought in the Bradley-Stephen primary? Maybe.

But before you write him off, consider this:

Forsythe and his supporters have organized a Paul-style "money bomb" for him tonight with a goal of getting 400 people to contribute $1,000. That's $400,000, which would be quite a start. Forsythe and his money bomb have received lots of attention on Paul supporters' blogs. And you'll remember that Paul supporters banned together to raise $6 million in a one-day "bomb" in December.

So, we'll see.

Forsythe was away this week, but friend and adviser Andy Demers said Forsythe was inspired to run less by Paul than by "concern about where the country is going, the representation we have in Washington right now and the fact that he is more qualified than the other running."

Demers said that although Forsythe does not shy away from his support for, and by, Paul, "I think he will be endorsed by all different kinds of folks once they hear more about him."

'Sluggish' sales
It's Republican "Lincoln Day Dinner" season, but the organizers of the important fundraising events tomorrow and Saturday honoring Sen. John Sununu have been unhappy about the lack of enthusiastic response from the rank-and-file.

The Strafford County dinner tomorrow evening in Somersworth also will feature Massachusetts U.S. Senate candidate Jim Ogonowski. According to county GOP chair Phyllis Woods, also expected to attend are Bradley, Stephen, Forsythe, candidate for governor Joe Kenney and likely candidate for governor Frank Guinta.

Woods said Tuesday she was "still trying to pull in people," but had less than 100 committed. She said yesterday sales had picked up "a little."

The Carroll County dinner is on Saturday in West Ossippee, and chairman Henry Mock last weekend e-mailed county Republicans that "responses to our massive mailing and advertisements have been SLUGGISH (his capital letters) compared to previous years and events."

He offered to take "midnight calls for this VERY IMPORTANT function!!!!!!!!!!!! There are plenty of seats available."

Worst seats in the House?
It's bad enough that the Republican National Committee plans to sanction the state Republican Party for holding its primary earlier than RNC rules allow by stripping it of half of its 24 national convention delegates.

But state RNC member Sean Mahoney confirms that the RNC's rules committee recently voted "to penalize states that went before the (Feb. 5) window by putting them at the bottom of the seating priority list. So New Hampshire, Florida, Michigan and South Carolina get the lowest priority for seating" at the Excel Center arena in Minneapolis.

Woods, who is also a member of the RNC, added, "There are some strong sentiments on the rules committee to make sure the sanctions get imposed."

We just can't see John McCain letting these things stand. Not to the delegation from the state that launched him to the nomination.

This could be interesting come Sept. 1.

Adding salt to the wound, although the RNC wants to keep Woods and party chair Fergus Cullen from being delegates, they have still assigned them to the convention's Committee on Arrangements.

What does that mean? Help organize the convention, but then don't show up?

Where's the team?
What's going on with Sununu and his Team?

The senator is back in the state this off-week, busy with official visits stops, but what about the political side? We know he plans stops at important Lincoln Day dinners in the next two days, and we know he's raising big money.

But organizationally, things remain quiet. Higher-ups are mum and Team Sununu's Web site is absent of content other than e-mail sign-up and donation links.

Outwardly at least, it's a contrast to Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, who is assembling a staff, has an office in the former Hillary Clinton Manchester headquarters, a fully operational Web site and has been on the campaign trail.

Now the only Democratic candidate in the race, will Shaheen, with John Lynch, be able to mend the primary wounds between Clinton and Barack Obama supporters?

By the way, how uncomfortable will it be when Obama, if he ends up as the presidential nominee, visits New Hampshire later this year to campaign with Shaheen, given husband Bill Shaheen's infamous pre-primary remarks about Obama's admitted drug use as a youth?

Obama state co-chair Ned Helms, for one, says there's no hard feelings.

"Primaries come and go, and Jeanne is the candidate," he said. "I intend to reach out to the Obama people in the state for Jeannie. At the end of the day, I don't see a problem at all."

About Michigan and Florida
As Clinton's chances for the Democratic presidential nomination become dimmer with each passing primary, she's made it clear she intends to try to seat the delegates from the Michigan and Florida. Those states, won by Clinton in January, had been stripped of delegates by the Democratic National Committee after they held primaries in violation of a party rule intended to protect the "approved" early states -- New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina.

Clinton backed the DNC rule last year by joining Obama and others in signing a pledge sponsored by the party chairs in those four early states promising not to campaign or participate in Michigan or Florida.

State party chair Ray Buckley isn't saying how he feels about Clinton's intentions.

"The state chairs of the four states are not making public statements regarding the Michigan and Florida delegations," he told us in a written statement. "As far as I know, there is not a plan for either state before the DNC Rules and ByLaws Committee regarding the seating of those delegations. I am certainly aware of a number of scenarios that are being floated out there, but I have not seen any plan actually proposed by either state party or the DNC for consideration."

But one prominent state Clinton supporter, Rep. Jim Splaine, D-Portsmouth, who is also a chief defender of the primary, said, "I continue to support Hillary and think she would be a good President, but she did sign the pledge, so I don't think the Michigan and Florida delegates should be awarded to her."

Splaine also does not believe Florida and Michigan should be banned from the process. He proposes a lottery in each state to choose new delegates from among any interested Democrat who signs up. These new delegations, Splaine says, should not be allowed to vote on the first ballot, only on successive ballots.

Guinta, Kenney and Morse
Guinta has added new supporters of his Granite State Leadership PAC.

From the grass-roots are conservative attorney and Granite State Taxpayers chairman Ed Mosca, long-time party activist and campaign organizer Jay Flanders, former House Republican Whip Bill O'Brien, and columnist and radio talk show host Niel Young. From the business community are Jon Hall of Exeter and Andy Cruz of Bedford.

State Sen. Joe Kenney remains active on the campaign trail, visiting with the newly-formed Lyndeborough-Mont Vernon Republican Committee last weekend. Kenney, who was the first to get serious about running last summer, is now making second visits to many activist groups, according to spokesman Rep. Casey Crane. He is focusing on a state spending cap, criteria for hospitals on organ transplantation and his bills to expand the death penalty and to assert local control in education funding.

Kenney has a new e-mail address to take comments from anyone with ideas for education funding solutions.

Chuck Morse's political future remains uncertain. He's still making calls to Republicans gauging seeking their opinion on the viability of a run.

A Streeter return
Bernie Streeter, the former Nashua mayor and former longtime executive councilor, remains the front-runner to succeed Tony Maiola on the State Liquor Commission. Maiola retired last month.

It's Gov. John Lynch's nomination, and approval is required by the Executive Council. State law says no more than two of the three commissioners can be members of the same political party. New chairman Mark Bodi and commissioner Pat Russell are Democrats. Streeter is a Republican.

Other Republicans interested in the post are former liquor broker and former state Rep. Al Picconi, former U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass staffer Neil Levesque, former Executive Councilor Peter Spaulding and former state Senate President Tom Eaton.

Hodes in Iraq
Rep. Paul Hodes, a staunch supporter of a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, landed in Iraq on Tuesday with two other congressmen and will return tomorrow.

It's Hodes' first visit to the war-torn nation, and, "He wants to get an overall sense of the political and military efforts in Iraq and how we're progressing on the reconstruction effort and security operation," said spokesman Mark Bergman. .

Quick takes
--Bradley's campaign late yesterday released a leadership team stocked with a long list of prominent names, including former House Speaker Donna Sytek, former Sen. Warren Rudman and Bass.

-- Staffing changes at the Republican State Committee: Dartmouth graduate and former Mitt Romney Rockingham County organizer Mike Hamilton is the new executive director. Press secretary Barney Keller has left to take the same post with the Massachusetts GOP, and former Sununu staffer and Romney state political director Jamie Burnett is the new director of the state party's coordinated campaign, dubbed Victory 08.

-- Chair Fergus Cullen says more hires and staff changes are on the way.

--1st District House candidate Stephen spent three days in Washington last week meeting with conservative groups, including the Americans for Tax Reform and the American Conservative Union.

-- Former Sununu staffer Grant Bosse made his GOP candidacy for the 2nd District U.S. House seat official this week.

-- Conservative activists Karen and David Testerman will host a house party next Tuesday in Franklin for Republican 2nd District U.S. House candidate Jennifer Horn.

--Horn has also added a campaign manager: Zack Condry, who recently worked on county and state elections in northern Virginia.

--Look for the 24-member state Senate to pass the bipartisan education funding constitutional amendment today by the necessary three-fifths majority plus a few votes to spare.

--State Democratic Chair Buckley gave advice to rookie national convention delegates across the nation in the convention's "Mile High Monthly" newsletter. For those going to Denver, he said, "wear comfortable shoes."

-- The Democratic State Committee has named state Rep. Bette Lasky of Nashua and Jay Surdukowski of Concord co-chairs of the platform committee for its state convention in May. Party members can submit proposed planks at party headquarters or by mail.

--Woods has been named by the RNC to chair the party's New Hampshire Women's Coalition, also known as the "Pink Elephants."

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John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader.
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Reader's COMMENTS

Peter Bearse of Fremont is also running for CD-1. He's running as an independent so as not to compromise the chances of knocking Bradley out.
- Rowland, Fremont

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Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta speaks yesterday afternoon with Gerry Dupont, a volunteer for congressional candidate Jennifer Horn, at Plymouth State University. (SCOTT BROOKS) Late-February of 2008.
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Manchester Daily Express, Monday, February 25, 2008, Page 8

“City Politics” –By Dan Magazu, dmagazu@manchexpress.com–

“Guinta for governor update”

Mayor Frank Guinta continues to travel the state [of NH] on the weekends, making speeches and piling up supporters for a potential run at unseating [NH] Governor John Lynch.

He maintains that he still has not made up his mind for sure.

If he does decide to run, my guess is that he will make an announcement shortly after the city’s budget season is over in the spring [2008].

Given the housing market, it is expected to be an extremely difficult budget season for the city [of Manchester], and the mayor will have to get creative if he hopes to present a budget that doesn’t raise taxes.

Guinta’s initial proposal is due at the end of March [2008]. Aldermen typically approve a final budget toward the middle or end of May.

Once the budget process is out of the way, the mayor will be able to focus a lot more of his attention on a run for governor.

--

Manchester Daily Express, Monday, February 25, 2008, Page 12

Editorial – “Too much gray paint”

The hub of business and technology for New Hampshire! The state’s center of arts and culture!

No.

Manchester is none of these things. Lately, it seems, we’re bush league.

Case in point: the city’s ramrod approach to graffiti clean-up. Last week, some classless punks defaced the Merrimack Restaurant presidential primary mural with a swastika and anarchy symbol. That is bad enough, and such hate crime makes us all look like cow-town rednecks.

But it is the city’s knee-jerk response to crime that once again makes us think that we are just getting what we deserve.

Once notified, the city’s highway department dropped everything–presumably that everything included filling potholes that are destroying our cars–and proceeded to deface the mural a second time by painting over the offending symbols. With gray paint!

Officials explained this away in typical manner: those symbols had to be removed RIGHT AWAY!

No consideration was given to the fact that the local artist, Peter Noonan, actually covered the mural with a special sealant and could have removed the graffiti in seconds.

Got a red wall? Yellow? A mural? Too bad. Gray paint it is.

This tiny example is just a tip of a much larger iceberg of shoddy, ill-thought-out decisions that are eroding Manchester’s quality of life.

Budget shortfalls? No problem, just use parking as a revenue stream instead of an economic development tool.

Parking problems? Easy to fix, just push that snow emergency button every time a flake is predicted. That gets cars off the streets and we can make money off the rest that are towed.

Crumbling sidewalks and streets? Don’t plow, let the snow turn to rock hard ice. That way no one can see the cracks and besides, who walks now-a-days anyway.
What’s going on here? Our mayor is already running for governor. Department heads are jumping ship faster than we can replace them. And have you seen how many empty storefronts dot Elm Street lately?

We guess everyone is too busy with graffiti.

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Manchester Daily Express, Monday, February 25, 2008, Page 1 (-& continued on Page 2)

“City Politics” –By Dan Magazu, dmagazu@manchexpress.com–

“SHORTFALL!: Hey buddy, can you spare $1.6 Million?”

Finance Officer Bill Sanders told aldermen on Tuesday, February 19, 2008, that the city is spending too much and earning too little this fiscal year, which could result in a $1.6 million shortfall when everything is said and done.
If Sanders’ projections hold up, the city will be forced to draw the money out of the rainy day fund.

On the revenue side, three items are falling below projections for the 2008 fiscal year, which ends on June 30[, 2008]. The city is expected to earn about $1 million less than expected from automobile registrations. Building permit revenue is expected to come in anywhere from $300,000 to $350,000 short. Finally, due to an error by state officials, the city is receiving about $300,000 less than expected from a highway block grant.

In all, Sanders expects a $1.6 million shortfall in revenue.

As for expenditures, Sanders said all but four departments are right on track with projections. The City Clerk’s Office, Human Resources Department, Highway Department and Parks Department are all expected to spend more than allocated to the tune of about $1 million.

“The situation with the highway and parks departments is almost entirely attributable to the weather this winter,” Sanders said.

Overall, the city is about $2.6 million in the hole.

But there is some good news.

The mayor still has $700,000 in a salary-adjustment account that has not been touched. There is also $250,000 in contingency funds available and modest savings from health insurance.

When everything is factored in, Sanders predicts the city will wind up about $1.6 million short.

Mayor Frank Guinta told aldermen that a more complete report will be available by the next meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on March 4[, 2008]. The mayor said that he will likely make recommendations at that meeting to cut into the shortfall.

During the last fiscal year, [Mayor Frank] Guinta implemented a citywide spending freeze in order to meet budget projections. The freeze, which required department heads to get authorization from the finance officer before making any purchase over $2,500, was successful.

At the time, however, the city was trying to make up a projected $200,000 fund balance shortfall–an easier task to manage than trying to eliminate a $1.6 million deficit.

Any deficit at the end of the fiscal year will force the city to tap into the rainy day fund, which currently has about $10.9 million in it.

Doing so could have a negative effect on the city’s strong bond rating, which allows officials to borrow money at low rates of interest.

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Manchester Daily Express, Monday, February 26, 2008, Page 12

Letter to the Editor – “Time to lower property taxes”

To the Editor:

An open letter to the Board of Mayor & Alderman: It is time to save the city money by spending some political capital.

With a looming budget deficit at $1.6 million, the City of Manchester needs some fiscal belt-tightening. Mayor Guinta should use this opportunity to exert more of his oft-demonstrated leadership in making prudent budget reductions–and spreading them around as equitably as possible.

For example, there are currently 4 open positions in the City Clerk’s office. Here is a simple, novel idea: don’t fill them all. Just because there is a vacancy for a city job doesn’t mean that job is necessary.

Taxpayers in Manchester are burdened by record-high heating oil prices, gasoline prices, and food costs, and we deserve a break. That break should come through easing of property taxes, which comes through lowering overall city spending. And most thoughtful residents understand that renters pay property taxes too, though indirectly.

The solution is simple: Cut unnecessary programs and benefits. The difficult part is negotiating with city department heads and union representatives. But that is what we hired/elected you to do.

Most will agree that there are critical city services like police (the criminal-grabbing patrols, not the ticket-writing ones), firefighters, snow removal, and road maintenance. But in lean economic times (dare we say the “R” word?), city government needs to responsibly cut back on fluff such as the arts, some parks and recreation expenses, and low-impact social services. Many of these areas are better managed through private charities, anyway.

Republicans claim to be fiscally conservative and Democrats claim to be for the working people; both promises will be fulfilled by the Board of Alderman making the hard decisions, doing the right thing, and lowering our tax burden. We are counting on you.

Mark Warden
Manchester, NH

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Manchester Daily Express, Monday, February 26, 2008, Page 12

Letter to the Editor – “Re: Guinta’s campaign omission”

To the Editor:

As a resident of Ward 3, I agree with Joe Kelly Levasseur’s letter requesting an investigation of the Ward 3 race for School Committee. I believe Jennifer Peabody’s alleged Ward 12 primary residence may disqualify her from serving as a downtown elected official even if she pours drinks for a living in Ward 3.

However, he fell silent on the bigger issue concerning his fellow Republican Mayor’s upcoming run for Governor of New Hampshire. This frustrates me for several reasons. The first being whether or not our city government will be properly managed while our Mayor campaigns around the state; the second being whether or not Mayor Frank Guinta should have disclosed his ambitions during last year’s election cycle; and the third being whether or not Joe Kelly Levasseur would have endorsed Mayor Guinta for re-election if he knew Mayor Guinta was going to be using the post of Mayor as a stepping stone to higher elected office.

I feel like Joe Kelly Levasseur’s past support for Mayor Guinta and now his silence on Mayor Guinta’s campaign for Governor is due to his loyalty to the Republican Party instead of to the people and our community. Whereas Jennifer Peabody is a just little fish swimming in the wrong direction, Frank Guinta is a very big fish who may lead our entire city government downstream.

Jonathan A. Melle
Manchester, NH

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Manchester Daily Express, Monday, February 25, 2008, Page 9

“State News Briefs” –– “Democrats videotaping Guinta’s appearance”

Manchester, NH (AP) – Republican Mayor Frank Guinta has not officially decided to run for governor, but Democrats are keeping a close eye on him just in case.
A Democratic Party staffer has been videotaping Frank Guinta at public meetings for what the party calls research purposes. The mayor’s campaign adviser says it is a sign of the potential candidate’s strength.

State Republican Party Chairman Fergus Cullen likened the practice to STALKING and called it obnoxious, yet he would not rule it [/out] using the same tactic against Democrats.

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"City eyes measures to end homelessness"
By GARRY RAYNO, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 2/28/2008

MANCHESTER – Homelessness is not just a social and moral issue, but also an economic one city and federal officials said yesterday as they released "A Home for Everyone: A 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness in the City of Manchester."

By better coordinating existing housing, medical and social services, members of the city's homelessness task force believe Manchester can significantly reduce the homeless population on the city's streets.

At a press conference announcing the plan, Mayor Frank Guinta said "I have a personal investment in this: This is not a plan that will get shelved and dusted off a year from now."

He said studies demonstrate that it's more economical to provide permanent housing with support services than have people living on the street, using emergency rooms for health care, and intervention and social service programs during a crisis, while often getting mired in the criminal justice system.

Cities that involve business and use an effective business model have the most success, said Philip Mangano at the news conference.

Mangano is the Bush Administration's point man on homelessness and executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

"The mayor and the community stakeholders have done their homework in creating a plan that is realistic and will accomplish the mission of reducing and ending the homelessness of those who are the most vulnerable, most disabled and most expensive in the community," he said. "If good intentions, well-meaning programs and humanitarian gestures were all that's needed, we would have ended homelessness long ago, but they don't get the job done, they don't accomplish the mission."

The plan was developed by the task force under the leadership of Guinta and Patrick Tufts, president and CEO of Heritage United Way. The group includes representatives from a number of community organizations including Manchester Continuum of Care, Healthy Manchester Leadership Council, Greater Manchester Association of Social Agencies, Manchester police and the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. The major sponsors are Citizens Bank and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Manchester.

The plan includes eight primary goals:

-- Quickly finding housing for those who become homeless and providing support services;

-- Preventing people from becoming homeless whenever possible;

-- Providing a job and educational services to increase wages;

-- No one sleeps and lives on the streets;

-- Focusing on the specific needs of veterans;

-- Increasing access to supportive services;

-- Building public awareness and education about the causes and costs of homelessness;

-- And establishing a steering committee to champion the plan as well as provide oversight and evaluation, while generating additional funding.

The first step will be to hire a coordinator to oversee the plan and work with the service providers and business community for better collaboration.

The city spends about $800,000 a year from federal grants as well as tax dollars on homelessness programs, said Guinta.

The Heritage United Way provides about $600,000 for homeless programs and has requests for more than $1 million this year, said Tufts.

"The United Way will continue to be a partner with the city," Tufts said. "We should not have people sleeping on the streets."

Manchester has about 1,500 homeless people a year, with about 400 who are children. Veterans account for about 25 percent of the homeless, and 19 percent have jobs but cannot afford housing.

Guinta said the city can offer permanent housing to many by working with large apartment building owners who have a 6 percent vacancy rate.

Manchester joins about 320 cities and counties and 53 states and territories "" including New Hampshire "" in developing 10-year plans to end homelessness.

Cities as close as Nashua and Quincy, Mass., have made significant cuts in homelessness using plans involving all the stakeholders, including the business community, Mangano said. "These innovative ideas do work," he said.

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Reader's COMMENTS:

I am very fortunate and know that many of the homeless have fallen on hard times. I don't understand why so many volunteers are needed to "serve" them. If the shelter has all these bodies that are unemployed why is it they are not running the shelter? My opinion is, in general, they are unproductive layabouts and this need for so many volunteers supports that position.

Can someone enlighten me here?
- Tony, Goffstown

Arthur and Samuel, I cannot believe your views on homeless people. You need to volunteer at a couple of homeless shelters or food pantry's for a while and you will see that for the most part these are people that have fallen on hard times and need a boost.
- Bob Bruce, Candia,NH

thank you samuel..let me tell you something, i was one of those homeless families with children about 6 years ago and it was not by my doing, it was the landlord from massachusetts that lost his building. its not all homeless families faults. sometimes its the landlords. maybe you should talk about the owners of these buildings before you go and distribute large boxes. i am glad that i got the help and there is more coming. and i work full time
- sr, manchester

NH State law requires cities and towns to pay rents for those who cannot afford it. However, most of the cities and towns require anyone receiving rent assistance to look for work and to keep a job if they find one. Therein lies the problem. Many of these homeless individuals don't want to work and don't even bother applying for assistance once they learn that they'll have to look for work. They're homeless and penniless, but always seem to have money for beer, drugs, cigarettes and cell phones. Sure they want assistance, but they want it on their terms with no strings attached.
- Brian, Farmington

O...M...G....Samuel Katz of Manchester, please read the book The Working Poor. Homelessness can happen to all walks of life. You can be rich one day and poof - you're homeless. It is not of "their doing". I think you should be ashamed of yourself. I pray to God you did not procreate.
- Beth, Manchester

It saddens me to hear the opinions above. Taking action to solve the homeless will only better our community. People who are employed re-spend in the community. Some "working homeless" were put out by a simple illness. One paycheck missed and you're out! Give the children, veterens and those who can be helped a chance to stand on their own. NO ONE benefits from homelessness.
- StCyr, Bedford

Fact is, most of the homeless you seeon the streets refuse to go into shelters -and this includes vets. True, ther are some truly deserving individuals who are down on their luck and have wound up homeless. But for many of the others, if you look into their past history you'll find that they've floated from place to place seldom working more than a short time at any job and leaving atrail of unpaid bills. Those freeloaders do not deserve any handouts.
- Brian, Farmington

To Mr. Katz

I have known you for quite some time. I am very disappointed in your viewpoint on this matter. You have lived in Manchester for over 40 years. You have certainly seen a lot of changes. Most people do not elect to be homeless, they have just fallen on hard times. It is up to you and me to reach out and show them some support. I will be more than happy to take you around the city and introduce you to these wonderful people. Show some compassion, Samuel. You have been a great neighbor for the past 20 years. I will continue to shovel you out as I have in the past. As always, no charge to you. See, neighbors helping neighbors. Have a great Manchester day, Mr. Katz. Sincerely, your helpful neighbor.
- thomas bowers, manchester

Wow- I didn't think written words could actually make me physically ill. Congratulations, Arthur and Samuel (especially you, Samuel). You've done it. "They got themselves into this mess"?!?! How do you know that? How do you know they aren't suffering from addiction or mental illness? Perhaps it's a result of lack of funding for rehabilitation centers or mental health facilities. Perhaps it's this administration's complete lack of regard for the well-being of our veterens once they return from fighting for YOUR freedom. Perhaps it's the astronomical cost of heating and housing that have drvien the unemployed out into the streets. Take a look around, Samuel. Slapping a yellow ribbon on your SUV/Pickup does not an American make. Go back and read that pesky Constitution, and you will see that your attitude and those like it is what's contributing to the downfall of society, not the homeless. Your ignorance is truly astounding. I wonder what tune you'd be singing if it was you or a member of your family? Would you be able to "dig yourself out of it"? Disgusting.
- Amy-Lynn, Manchester

I agree with Arthur from Hudson. Why should we have to foot the bill for the homeless. It is their own doing. They got themselves into this mess, they can get themselves out of it. I don't mind supplying large boxes, but that is as far as I would go. They need to dig deep and develop some pride. Go out and get a job and they will feel good about themselves. That's all we need in Manchester, more homeless people coming which means more crime and more welfare recipients. I vote no!!!
- samuel katz, manchester

Kudos to the city for finally working on a plan for the homeless of Manchester. We are way to accomidating to the immigrants but the homeless are always pushed on the back burner. We are a very resourceful community and I'm glad to see it put to good use. As for Arthur and Alan- If you should ever be down & out I hope people like yourselves arent't he only one around, you'll never get any help. This plan will show what kind of community we really have. The American way should not be the selfish way.
- Karen, Manchester

Wow! According to this article, 2/3 of the homeless in Manchester are children, veterans, and the working poor. I'm glad to hear they may be getting some help.
- DM, Manchester

geez, can't wait to tell eveyone on the east coast thats homeless to move to manchester.
- Alan, portsmouth

So they're going to put the homeless in apartment buildings? And expect they'll maintain things, and not start fires because they can't afford heating?

Gee, I wonder if they'll ask the other residents what they think of that. Isn't there something in NH RSA about an obligation for a landlord to provide a "safe environment"? I think some other tenants can sue if this goes through!
- Arthur McKennis, Hudson
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"City taxpayers may foot the bill for condo development"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, Tuesday, Mar. 4, 2008

MANCHESTER – Difficulties in the housing market have spelled trouble for a still unfinished development near MerchantsAuto.com Stadium and could wind up hurting city taxpayers in the years to come, officials said yesterday.

A broker working for Chinburg Builders said the company has sold just 14 of the 24 luxury townhouses it has built just south of the stadium and has not made a sale since June 2007. Last Friday, she said, the company slashed starting prices on the remaining townhouses from $349,900 to $249,900.

"We are doing absolutely everything we can to sell these and market these, what with the challenges in the current market," said the broker, Maura McLaughlin.

The lag in sales has delayed the company's owner, Eric Chinburg, from continuing construction on a property that was supposed to hold 45 townhouses and a trio of mid-rise residential buildings. It has also put the city in a difficult spot. Tax revenues from Chinburg's development are needed to pay for the $27.5 million baseball stadium.

Looking ahead, Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez said, "It could be the taxpayers have to pick up the bill until the economy gets good."

Finance Officer Bill Sanders has said taxpayers have already paid nearly $1.3 million toward the stadium, despite promises made five years ago by then-Mayor Bob Baines and other city officials that the project would not require any taxpayer money.

Already, the city has used up about two-thirds of the money in Chinburg's letter of credit, dollars he paid up front to tide the city over until the project was complete. The letter now has $516,769 remaining, Sanders said.

That won't last through the end of the year, he told members of the Committee on Riverfront Activities and Baseball yesterday. Another bond payment due in May would leave just $225,000 in the letter -- less than the amount needed for the following payment due in December.

Chinburg is not required to continue making payments toward the stadium once the letter of credit is depleted, City Solicitor Tom Clark said. The letter was supposed to last just three years, he noted.

"That appears to be what it did," Clark said.

Alderman Ted Gatsas, an early opponent of the stadium deal, questioned whether city officials have kept close tabs on the project. He reminded his colleagues, "I warned everybody about this deal."

Lopez called the situation unfortunate.

"We went into the deal thinking it would be productive, and unfortunately the economy went south," he said. "I don't think anyone is to blame for it."

Economic Development Director Jay Minkarah said jobs created by a proposed development on the former Jac Pac site have the potential to draw more people to the downtown area, which could increase the demand for Chinburg's condos.

McLaughlin, the broker, said her office is working hard to sell the 10 unoccupied townhouses.

"Once those 10 units are gone," she said, "we'll reassess in going forward, as far as what we'll build and at what price."

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Reader's COMMENTS:

The voices of UnionLeader.com readers: To join UnionLeader.com's discussion of the news, use the form below.

Once again we are picking up the bill for a failed city project. Just another example of how the board and Mayor are not looking out for the tax payers. The city has set itself up for some real money problems, so many homes are selling for 50-100k less then their assessed for. These condos are just an example they are assessed at anywhere from 300k and up. Why would someone want to buy one and pay 5-6k in property taxes on a home that is not worth close to what the city assessed it for:(
- Jon Colantuoni, Manchester nh

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? The stadium, the whole thing; When this stadium was proposed I thought they'd never fill it for games, A Toronto farm team smack in the middle of Red Sox Nation, building condo's during a Real Estate down-turn. Who voted for these people? I always thought that the stadium was a bad idea, I always thought that the city residents would one day pick up the tab for the biggest gaff in state history. Lopez says the citizens will pick up the tab, how high can property taxes go...Welcome to Taxchester the largest city in the state...ugh!
- Steve H, Manchester

May I remind everyone that we just had a mayor/aldermen election 5 months ago. You voted in the same people who have been approving these types of irresponsible spending with our tax money for the past 10 years. See you in 17 months!
- Mark, Manchester

derek I ,have a right to my opinion.We have had major increases in our taxes since Guinta has been in office.The city re-evaluated twice with major impacts to alot of city taxpayers.The crime is out of control,we have had our home and vehicles broken into on more than one occasion,those of you that think I DONT HAVE A RIGHT TO COMPLAIN CAN PAY $350 A MONTH ,WHICH IS WHAT WE PAY FOR TAXES EACH MONTH!!!!!JASON,you dont need to be a math major to know what an increase we have had in recent years with Guinta.I have witnessed the city makiing taxpayers pay for verizon and now the fisher cats condos.Anyone wanting to buy a house in manchester can buy mine.The city has it valued at $220,000.How many of you own houses in the city?
- karen shutt, manchester

Greg from Manchester is right. The UL wrote another incorrect and sensational headline. The tax revenue from the condos, the hotel and other yet to be started developments are to be used to make the bond payments for the stadium. The a stadium is not nearly as nice as what was originally promised, but this resulted in some cost savings. Also they city is getting an outrageously high rent from the baseball team. Let's hope they can handle the bonds for a short time until the housing gets back on track and the nearby tax-base can start increasing again.

I've read and re-read the article and it does not say that Chinburg needs or is asking for a bailout from the city. He took a risk like any developer, and is being hit by the housing downturn. He had the extra exposure of the letter of credit, and it's starting to look like he will lose all that.

I think, however, it was a big mistake for Chinburg to build townhouses there. It's a very poor example of urban land use. It's surprising the city allowed it. He should have concentrated on the more important component of the housing proposal, the original plan to build 2 six-story "towers" -- if you can call 6 stories a tower! That would have offered the home owners a better value, security, views, etc. -- and most importantly would have made a positive impact on the city like the Hilton Garden did.

Also I am no fan of Mayor Guinta, but we cannot blame this situation on him. It will, however, be important how he handles it. He must avoid knee-jerk reactions and find a way to work through this.
- Bob S., Hooksett, NH

I begged Guinta not to vote for that project, I mean really begged, pleaded, did everything I could to get him not to vote for that project. Anyone who knows anything about real-estate knew that real-estate was going down, especially condo's but no, we needed a NEW stadium for Baines ego. Simply bad leadership and now look at what resulted. It never ends on that Board.
- joe kelly, manchester

I'm really not surprised by this. The comment by another reader that just because this builder is having a problem selling these units shouldn't be the taxpayers problem. No one is helping me pay my mortgage and taxes whilel my husband is out of work. Increase the cost of the tickets to these games to recoup some money. I just don't know why they didn't just use Gill Stadium, oh no, we have to be better than everyone else and have a minor league with a brand new stadium, please, now we are really paying for it, and I don't even like baseball. I think Mr. Chinburg has made enough money on people who he sold houses and other properties to that he should be held accountable and pay the city. The city cannot continue to increase the taxes because people will start to move out of town and what will we have left, a shanty town of low lifes. The city can't event get the roads plowed. We need new blood on the alderman board. I'm so disguested with this city. And to think we were once one of the greatest places to live. Right.
- Cindy L, Manchester, NH

For the life of me I can't understand why the taxpayers should have to foot the bill on this. The developer is the one who wanted to come in and build these condo's, so why isn't he responsible for the risk that was involved? Somebody pulled some strings and greased the palms of some politicians. Now we the tax payers are having to pony up to foot the bill for a develpoers venture! In case our city officials haven't noticed the cost of living is ever increasing and some of us are just barely surviving as it is. GIVE US A BREAK! PLEASE!
- Rob, Manchester

I read Greg Barretts posting and wondered, did Chinburg rely on local realtors to advise him or did he choose out of towners? I ask this because I always wondered how Chinburg realistically expected to sell his condos at the prices he was asking.
As to Mike in Bedford, if the surrounding towns are so willing chip in great. This great myth of people coming into the city and spending their money is nice but the reality is, most people come in, park, go to the game and then leave. I see your point Mike in Bedford but the reality is the baseball stadium was a bad investment to begin with. It is a venue that can only be used during specific months due to weather. Now, the Verison Wireless Arena was a great investment because it can be used year round. These are two different birds. The baseball stadium was a bad idea to begin with and now, the Aldermen of this city seem to think that the taxpayers can simply foot the bill.

One point Mike in Bedford is right on is when he talks about the minimal amount of money on the tax bills we receive. The problem is, with the cost of gas, heating oil, groceries, city salaries and all the other costs, it is hard to pay additional money to a sporting venue when we are struggling to pay for the necessary services in the city. So, even if my tax bill only goes up $10, that is $10 I could use toward my other costs.
- Mike, Manchester

JL - the HS isn't completely over budget, and our taxes would have gone up anyway because Manchester was jacking us for higher tuition costs each time a new contract was signed, and we were about to hit the 1000 student threshold where our students could be shipped to HS other than West without approval. More money, less input - no thanks. It was time. And no, I live in a very modest house, not a McMansion, before someone tosses that old saw my way.

Mike of Manchester, I have friends and family in Manchester so it still matters. And what's good for Manchester is good for the surrounding communities too. So listen or not, it doesn't really matter. You obviously read my comments anyway or you wouldn't have responded.

When people from other towns come to Manchester to see a game, they spend money in Manchester - that's our contribution to the city. We spend on parking; we spend on food; and we spend on the game itself as a bonus. If it wasn't for the arena and stadium, a lot of people without other ties to the city would limit their trips in to the airport and mall, while the rest of the city would be a wasteland (see Lawrence, Mass). As recently as 15 years ago I knew people from the surrounding towns who never went to Manchester because there was nothing to do and it was supposedly riddled with crime. What was Manchester like 15, 20 years ago? Do you remember? Do you prefer that to now? And haven't you noticed that anywhere you go - anywhere, any state - taxes have gone up over that time. Manchester is hardly alone. Some people just think it is.
- Mike, Bedford, NH

The headline is tainting everyones idea of what the problem is. The problem is not that we are bailing out the developer. We are NOT. The headline should read, City taxpayers to foot the bill for funding the ball park. The increase in tax revenue because of the condos was supposed to pay the bond that paid for the ball park. All these comments amaze me about all the whining and complaining people do when they don't understand the issues.
- Greg, Manchester

Steve from Raymond did indeed make the right comment. But, do not forget who the owner is. The owner is the same owner that owns Merchants Auto. This guy is constructing something, that only he gets returns on. Manchester residents only pay and pay. What are we getting in return for helping to pay for this construction. I think we should all get a cut of the rent and the park profits. If we can't have a profit, then the owner has lost. His mistake for going overboard to begin with............
- Kathy, Manchester

An effort was made prior to construction by my company to educate Chinberg Builders on how to properly and effectively market this property for quicker sale. They chose there own different path.

Greg Barrett
Kas-Bar Realty
65 W Merrimack St
- Greg Barrett, Manchester

Karen Shutt - The total cost of running the city doesn't go down because your property value goes down. We all still owe the same in taxes and in still the same proportion. Let me know if a math lesson will help. Perhaps, try moving to a town just outside of Manchester. I understand the grass is indeed greener.
- Jason, Manchester

Mike in Bedford, your words fall on deaf ears since you won't be the one footing the higher tax bill. Manchester residents will foot the bill so everybody else can come watch baseball 4 or 5 months out of the year. How about this, why don't we share the cost with Bedford and all the surrounding towns. I think you would be singing a very different tune. So, thanks for your input but considering you live in Bedford, you won't be affected.
- Mike, Manchester

Mike, Bedford. I hear what you are saying. the problem is, the taxes go up and they will never come back down. So long term is really more money for the City. In no way paying for someones bad investment benifit me or the citizens of Manchester. Were you not givin that same line of crap with the new highschool (resort) that is completely over budget. but hey long term I am sure it will all work out. (Please)
- jl, Manchester

This reminds me of the 'phantom parking lots' off of Hackett Hill Road. Will the city politicians ever wake up??????
- Rick, Hooksett

Some of you folks need to cool it - in a few years the Jac Pac site will be full of buildings that provide well-paying medical and technical jobs, security will be better, the economy will improve, and being able to walk from the townhouses to those jobs will drive up demand both for the unsold units and new ones. Short term, the taxpayers pick up the tab, true, but the impact to individual bills will be minimal. Long term, the city will have redeveloped an area of town that was crying out for it, and in a positive way.

Of course, the knee-jerk tax reaction will win out over long term planning and improvement every time. Just look at the accompanying article about Pandora. Next, they'll rename the city Brady Sullivan...
- Mike, Bedford, NH

Karen Shutt, seriously, do you just wait for oppertunities to slam Guinta every time an article pops up about Manchester. Do you even read the articles before you post. The reason the city is in a bind with these condos is thanks to your liberal spend happy previous Mayor Baines. Guinta is certainly not at fault for any of this. I didn't even see his name mentioned once in this article.

But if you love to blame someone, try blaming Baines or the wonderful aldermen who always voted with him.
- Derek Myers, Manchester, NH

Last year, we the tax payers footed the bill when the budget did not balance. ("Our rainy day fund".) Looks like the budget will again need "our help". The rainy day fund will again be used to balance the budget. Now our local politicians think "we" the tax payers should foot the bill for their latest mistakes. Alderman Lopez has made the point in the past that "this is the reason for our rainy day fund". Now he makes the point that "the taxpayers should pick up the bill until the economy gets good". WIth the current state of the economy,who knows when and if this will happen. We, the taxpayers, are paying over $3 a gallon for home fuel and gasoline; our homes are not worth the mortgages we have; and our children are struggling in our public schools. "But I don't think anyone is to blame for this", please!!
- Christine, Manchester

Don't forget Bob (feel my pain) Baines also built the new fire dept on East Industrial that sat empty without trucks or staffing for 1 year or so on the backs of the taxpayer, too.

Is it any wonder Bob's not in office any more?
- RG, Manch Vegas

One word, BAINES.
- Lyle, Manchester

Steve from Raymond nailed it. Why should we bail out this builder? It was a gamble. No different if I bought a home for extra income. If it fails, I don't expect the city to bail me out.
I hope he doesn't go to Foxwoods anytime soon. We're not going to be able to afford it.

Guinta, please tell me you are NOT going to run for governor.
- John, Manchester

Steve from
Raymond, You are 100% right.
- Debra, Manchester

Looking ahead, Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez said, "It could be the taxpayers have to pick up the bill until the economy gets good."

Hey Alderman Lopez, the economy has also effected the taxpayer. What a stupid statement to be made by an elected official. The economy is poor...how are the taxpayers supposed to pick up the bill when the taxpayers are also feeling the squeeze of the economy?

Chinburg is not required to continue making payments toward the stadium once the letter of credit is depleted, City Solicitor Tom Clark said. The letter was supposed to last just three years, he noted.

"That appears to be what it did," Clark said.

Now there is some great forward thinking by the crack legal team for the City of Manchester. Maybe the city should hire outside legal counsel, who have experience in long term bonding issues, to deal with major contracts. It seems the city's legal mind, Tom Clark, has yet again dropped the ball.

Lopez called the situation unfortunate
"We went into the deal thinking it would be productive, and unfortunately the economy went south," he said. "I don't think anyone is to blame for it."

Alderman Lopez, YOU and the elected officials from the city are to blame for putting the taxpayers in this mess.
The board of Aldermen was warned by many people that the tax revenue that was projected missed the mark. THe board did not heed the advice by the taxpayers and those who know realestate and instead did their own thing and now, Lopez has the spine to sit there and say that nobody is to blame? Lopez should simply not make statements because every time he opens his mouth, he has nothing productive to say. Way to go Lopez and chronies. You have stuck it to the taxpayer once again. Maybe Lopez and his fellow aldermen will pick up the tab for the taxpayer from their own pockets...
- Mike, Manchester

Typical Mike Lopez answer. This guy is the worst alderman on the board. Its time for all the old cronies to go. Next election vote them out. Ted Gatsas sees through all this bull that comes across his desk. Thanks Ted. Karen Schutt it was Baines and his cronies Lopez, O'neil, Shea and the lot that passed this crap, so don't blame Guinta for this one. Let Chinburg pay what he is suppose to pay, I'm sure if he got the reward he was seeking he wouldn't have given a rebate back to the City of Manchester. Its time this city elects officials that are fiscally responsible to all of its citizens.
- Bob, Manchester, NH

Mike Lopez is all to comfortable sticking it to the taxpayers. Another Bob Baines Boondoggle.
- Tom, Manchetser

The people who paid the full $349,000 must be really pleased that the price has now dropped, and they're $100,000 in the hole. Their mortgages are probably completely upside-down now. They should sue the developer and get out.
- Josh DuPont, Manchester

As hard as this dilemma is and as easy as it is to blame either the developer or the city, it seems to be one more example of all ships rise or fall with the economic tide. The risk the developer takes in these ventures is substantial and is meant to benefit the public and themself. When the economy shifts and the developer is stuck, the public loses too. We are all in this together and these will be a few difficult next years.
- Katherine, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Yet another reason Bob "feel the pain" Baines is no loner in office...another broken promise and more spending he could not and would not defend.
- RG, Manchester

I think the article makes one thing very clear: Manchester needs more business savy alderman like Ted Gatsas. With due respect for Alderman Lopez, his excuse about the economy is lame.
- Bob, Manchester

Wow, I can't believe that the city expects the taxpayers to bail out this project. We all have our own taxes and bills to pay and I don't think the city of Manchester will bail out anyone in this similiar situation. We are all struggling to pay our own mortgages and increases in everything we use, lets not add in the burden to the taxpayers.
- Lynda, Manchester

The Condo market is completely saturated in this city. How can you compete in this market with those high prices? People are unwilling to stretch there budgets for a condo that is not going to bring a return for many years to come. The location is good, and in a sense ‘recession proof’. Overall I think these condos are among the best in the city. However, the bottom line is the price. If we can’t afford them we’re not going to buy them, and if we can afford them we have a second and more sensible choice in this market, to buy a small piece of land with a good size house on it.
- Dan, Manchester

"I don't think anyone is to blame for it."

Spoken like a true politician.
- Rich, Derry

It's time for the city leaders to put a hold on condo and housing developement in the city. It is increasing traffic that roadways in the city can not handle, and the conditions of the roads are getting worse.
Not to long ago we were told school enrollment would slow or be stagnant, now we are told we need more schools, at the expense of the taxpayer. All this due to the increased building of condos! Let's concentrate on industrial and commercial real estate and build a tax base that will ease the burden on city residents. Call your aldermen and tell them to put a hold or slow down residential construction in Manchester.
- Pete, Manchester

This was a boneheaded project from the start. For one, it IS right next to active tracks that freight trains go by on every evening.

Secondly, instead of just building a tower with a guarded entrance (like the Manchester Place rentals), they built townhouses. Would you want to live with ground-floor windows and a kickable front door in an area of post-industrial downtown where you'd be unwise to go out unarmed? I wouldn't!

And, of course, now that the developer has realized this, they want taxpayers to pick up the bill for their failure.

Why? Why is it the taxpayer's responsibility?!
- Mike R., Bedford

Shame on those voters that thought Guinta still being in office would create more taxes.I for one cant afford more taxes.$350. A MONTH now goes to taxes,we have no one in school,cant even get city sewer and our house like many others isnt worth what were taxed for.THanks to Guinta and his re-evaluation(right before market crashes).How come they dont re-assess now?????Maybe some people like it in this hell hole of a city but I have had enough.I hope not to live in the city on the next election.
- karen shutt, manchester

What if the economy causes the taxpayer to be unable to pay their taxes? Where is their bailout? Their going to get a tax lien filed against their property and then have to pay high interest to redeem it. Why should a developer who took a chance and lost get bailed out when homeowners are going bankrupt and losing their homes?
Let Chinburg use his own personal funds or get the public officials, who supported this albatross, to personally cosign for another loan to solve this problem!
- Steve, Raymond

I have seen these condos and they are very nice inside and out. However at a price of $349,000 or even $249,000 they are going to be a tough sell. Why you ask? Who wants to live next to train tracks that has an active train that goes by in the late evening?? There are many a plus to owning these condos don't get me wrong, the view of the river is one. Having a walking bridge to a trail system is another. Yet in the forseeable future we need a more solid plan to what the development is going to be for that area? And lastly the biggest concern/issue is how to avoid having the taxpayers pay the bill on this. There is no excuse for that!. Hopefully things will turn around. Cross you fingers.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

Gee, no one could have seen this coming except the people who will foot the bill for City Hall's latest misadventure - the beleaguered Manchester taxpayer. We warned you, and we'll remember next election.
- George, Manchester
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"On the hook: Stadium debt no deal for taxpayers"
The NH Union Leader, (March)-3/6/2008

MANCHESTER taxpayers are on the hook for millions of dollars in debt payments on the downtown baseball stadium because the stadium deal approved five years ago put them on the hook -- despite plenty of warnings that it would do so.

The city's annual debt payment on the stadium is about $1.8 million. The New Hampshire Fisher Cats agreed to pay $750,000 a year to lease the stadium. So $1,050,000 a year was to be covered by the surrounding private development, almost all of which never happened.

Property tax revenues from luxury condominiums were supposed to supply a huge portion of the debt payments. But only 14 of 24 condos have been sold. Forty-five were to be built.

Condo developer Eric Chinburg originally proposed selling each condo for $400,000. We wrote in 2004, "There is no evidence that demand for $400,000 luxury condos is strong in Manchester." But that and other warnings from this newspaper and some aldermen, particularly Ted Gatsas, did not deter the mayor and the full board, who approved the deal even though there was not enough guaranteed funding to cover the city's debt payments.

Chinburg's letters of credit (to be tapped should his condos not materialize) totaled only $1.7 million -- less than one year's debt payment on the stadium. They were supposed to last for three years. They will be used up this year.

The development isn't finished, the letters of credit are almost tapped out, and therefore the taxpayers are obligated to pay off the debt. And there is nothing anyone can do about it because that is exactly how the deal was structured.

As we wrote four years ago, "Mayor Bob Baines and the aldermen failed to examine this deal closely before they giddily approved it. They took the developers' word that each project was viable and would generate the money needed to fund the stadium debt."

Almost all of the private development -- the power plant, movie theater, retail shops and condos -- was not viable. The city finance director says taxpayers have already paid $1.3 million toward the debt over the last three years. It will be a lot more than that before this is all over.

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"Aldermen approve spending curbs"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, Wednesday, Mar. 5, 2008

MANCHESTER – Mayor Frank Guinta yesterday proposed an immediate spending freeze to plug a projected $2.3 million deficit in this year's budget.

The proposal, which was quickly approved by the aldermen, instructs department heads to eliminate discretionary spending and to submit all overtime requests and purchases of at least $2,500 to the finance officer for approval. Guinta also said he will be "unlikely" to allow any new hires unless he finds them "absolutely essential." In addition, he said, certain capital projects could be cut from this year's budget or delayed.

"Obviously, this situation requires action," Guinta told the board.

A report from the city Finance Department reveals an even bleaker economic outlook than officials anticipated just two weeks ago. Finance Officer Bill Sanders told the aldermen last month he was expecting a total shortfall of $1.6 million.

As it stands, eight city departments are projected to end up with a revenue deficit. By far, the largest projected revenue deficits are in the Tax Collector's Office ($1 million) and the Highway Department ($811,176).

Nearly half of all departments are on track to spend more than they were budgeted, finance documents show.

"The great majority of this problem has been created by external factors beyond our control," Guinta wrote in a letter to the board, "most notably the ongoing economic downturn, a near record-breaking winter and significant payouts in numerous departments." Guinta said he considers it "premature" to discuss the possibility of using up money in the city's reserve accounts. The city currently has $10.9 million in its rainy-day fund.

"The best way to tackle the deficit at this time is to consider spending cuts," Guinta said.

At Guinta's urging, aldermen approved a temporary spending freeze last May. The freeze did result in some savings.

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READER's COMMENTS

The voices of UnionLeader.com readers: To join UnionLeader.com's discussion of the news, use the form below.

Alex, I agree with your comments 99%. Where I disagree, and it is only a matter of a philisophical point of view, is that the police should not need and incentive to make an arrest. If someone breaks the law then they get arrested. As we have all heard over and over from the police, they do this job for their community. Yeah, right. Many of them do it because they know that for every arrest, they go to court, sit around and get paid good money. Arrests should not be about money, it should be about doing their job.

You are right about cops and cell phones. Sometimes I think they have a phone permenantly attached to their ears when you see them driving around. They also don't obey traffic laws. Just Tuesday, I saw a cop stop at a red light and then take a right turn on red. Even though the sign clearly indicatd no right turn on red. Then, he proceeded to park a short distance away and....got on his cell phone. If that was your or I, we would have been pulled over for a ticket. Many of the cops here in Manchester think they are above everybody else and their ego is so overinflated. That is because everybody puts cops on Hero status and after a while, some...not all, but some of these guys start to actually believe they are heroes.
- Mike, Manchester

I see the talk about the police costs and I agree with it somewhat. They should be paid for only the time they are actually in the courthouse. They wouldn't have much incentive to make criminal arrests if they had to go to court on thier own time as part of thier job. That would cost us more in crime in the long run. How about the time they spend on cell phones displaying a prime example of unsafe driving. They would have more time to spend on fighting crime and related issues if they stayed focused on thier primary objective of being vigilant and making this city safer! I dont think there is a single person that can say they havnt seen an officer driving down the road talking on his phone. I almost got sideswiped on granite street the other day by an officer in a cruiser talking on a phone! He politely acknowledged his oops and nodded me on. My taxes at work! If he were an employee of mine I'd fire him on the spot! Our leaders need to learn how to treat this city like the business that it is!
- Alex, Manchester NH

@Sal, Manchester. You are welcome to your opinion however I feel the Fisher Cats Baseball Team is one of the best group of people I could have ever watched. My boys enjoy a good baseball game too and it's better than traveling to Boston to watch a game. Snack prices are high, no doubt. A bottle of 24oz of soda cost $2.00. But that doesn't mean you still can't enjoy a really good game.

Keep the Fisher Cats team, tell the developer who created the Manchester Place to finish the retail section before they try building condos in such a small place.

Better research would have helped made this a more successful development but we also can't control the housing markets either.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

Time to bail out of the Fisher Cats nightmare. Shut the whole thing down, sell it off and move on. Besides, they are not a very good baseball team and the food and beverages are a rip off.
- Sal, Manchester

Can Joe Kelly just sit down and shut up already? He talks about being on the "inside" of things when in reality no one with any "inside" information would ever share it with him. He has a beef with Guinta for personal reasons and will hound him no matter what Guinta does. Joe, just go away, please.
- Rob, Manchester, NH

If Lopez and company had not raided the economic development account for 3.6 million Manchester, along with this 2.4 million shortfall would have seen a 5% increase in taxes. Guinta is proud about his veto of the the budget last year, but what would his budget proposal have accomplished? Guinta runs around telling people he cut taxes when anyone inside the game knows this is not a true statement. Lopez and company did so, by raiding the fund. I watched the meeting closely Tuesday night and I saw a very young man who looked like a deer in the headlights. Guinta tried to ram his "proposal" down the alderman's throat but Kelly Domiagngue asked a great question and Ted Gatsas followed up on more tough questions that made Guinta look very small. Guinta just doesn't care about the every day management of this City. From the very beginning he has only focused on Washington, not Manchester, and the results are starting to show. He voted for the NEW baseball stadium that as former city chairman of the republican committee (along with alderman Mike Garrity) begged him not to vote for. This next budget (with all of our economic woes) will tell a lot about Guinta. He loves the idea of only having two republicans on the Board (which is why he doesn't help get other republicans elected) that way he can blame them for any budget that increases taxes. This is going to be very interesting to wtach over the next couple of months.
- Joe Kelly, manchester


Alderman Sullivan, with all due respect to the city's bond rating, we are in a situation today because of a lack of forward thinking by the board of Mayor and Alderman. Guinta slashed the budgets last year only to know that those departments would need to be funded this year. What Guinta did last year was smoke and mirrors.
Understandabley retirements definitely put a financial burden on the city but at the same time, there are other ways of reducing spending on the city side.
As for the blame game, there is enought blame to go around to each and every Alderman who was on the board last year. You were not on the board so you have an opportunity to start with a clean path. Why not take a look at the Police Budget and ask the question of the Chief as to why an officer gets paid 3 hour minimum to go to court. Why isn't it a part of the officers job that when he or she makes an arrest, they have to show up for court to testify without being paid a 3 hour minimum on their day off. The standard answer is that well, these men and women have to come in on a day off and testify...the problem with that answer is that they chose their profession and they have to deal with it. The first place the aldermen should look is at the police contract. I have no problem paying an officer a good salary but these guys are making their OT money on court appearances. Make testifying a mandatory part of their job instead of being subpoenaed to court. They make the arrest, they follow the case through the courts. I guarantee you that the city will save alot of OT money by addressing that one issue alone.
- Mike, Manchester

My 1st question would consist of not what we over spent on but who did not pay or is in default with the city? My understanding for an annual budget meeting is that the city's financial officer says here are our expenses (with built in oops) and here is why my property tax goes up. So unless someone did not pay then why would we be short? That is why you budget or projected a proforma (annual) you build in new hires, raises, oops (like heavy snow falls) etc. Was the budget done correctly? Do we need to look at the city’s financial department’s competence in doing their job? Apparently the Mayor and the Alderman were misinformed, and if you look at the city as if were a large company (would that have happened)? Interesting?
- Richard, Manchester

"John", the mayor does not want to tap the rainy day fund and has said as much on several occasions.

Several departments are running over budget. A major part of this is an unexpected flurry of retirements, which require the payment of severance packages. My colleague from Ward 4, Jim Roy, has wisely suggested that future severance payments be included in the annual budget as a way of avoiding these sorts of shocks.

There is also a revenue shortfall that is tied to the overall downturn in the economy. Projected revenues from vehicle registrations and from buiding permits are down dramatically.

Folks posting on the internet can go ahead and play the blame game, but those of us on the Board don't have that luxury. I hope that we can make the appropriate cuts in spending and not resort to tapping the rainy day fund, a moe which could endanger the city's bond rating.
- Alderman Peter Sullivan, Manchester


John, I think you need to take a look at the numbers in this fine city and compare them to the past three mayor's you may change your tune a bit. Not just the financial numbers but the unemployment and the crime rate and many other figures that have greatly improved! No a deficit is not a good thing but look around it is happening everywhere....not just government in most families personal finances the houseing market is showing us that we can not even afford our own houses anymore!
- K FISCHER, MACNHESTER

Hey Derek .. national issues have nothing to do with poor bookkeeping and basic accounting. Guinta can't deliver on his promises and he has no plan. City spending is already cut to the bone. Check out the Pew Center report that just came out that puts NH dead last in the nation. "D for managing and retaining qualified employees, and D-plus for both its long-range planning and infrastructure improvement."

Remember all the employees and directors with real experience that left under Guinta? And how do you make long range plans when all you do is sit around counting and accounting for the few remaining pennies that you have? That's not planning. That's sitting in a shelter hoping the storm passes so you can emerge hoping people believe you are good leadership material.
- Jim M, Hooksett, NH

the rainy day fund. Folks, not only is it raining...it is pooring. Yes, tap into the fund. This fund is specifically set up for situation like we are in today. No, Guinta can not be faulted for a lagging economy. That is absurd. What Guinta can be blamed for is his slashing of budgets in an election year to the point where he knew that these budgets would have to be properly funded...only after his election. No question spending should be scrutinized. Putting a freeze is not a bad thing...as it can certainly help offset any potential shorfalls. By placing a hiring and spending freeze, it only aleviates hwo much money has to be taken from the "rainy day" fund. All these people talk about how we should not raid the rainy day fund...well, when should it be tapped into? Never? If so, then why have it in the first place?

We are faced with increased police costs. While that is nice, we really should take a look at the union contract the police have with the city. Why are officers being paid 3 hours minimum to appear in court on their scheduled day off? How about simply paying them the actual time they are there. If they are in court for 1 hour, then pay them the 1 hour. If Guinta wants to look at ways to reduce spending, look no further than the police and how much they are paid to testify in court. How about not paying them any over time to testify in court and make it a part of their job requirement. That would aleviate the majority of the overtime budget.
- Mike, Manchester

Derek, do you live in a dream world or what? Guinta and his sly way of covering things up and hiding issues in the books is why we are in this situatioin. He wants to use our rainy day funds for his failures and the for the failure of Baines and his great ball park featuing condos on the side. There has just been one screw up after another. Hey Guinta, good luck running for Gov.
- John, Manchester

Tony, come on now, are you seriously trying to blame a nation failing economy on Frank Guinta, Mayor of Manchester? Grow up. With the economy how it is right now, it can be expected that there are going to be deficits this year. It is happening in towns and cities across the USA. However, like a great mayor, he is not dipping into the rainy day fun to deal with the issues like some other mayors might do, rather he is tackling the issue at hand and making tough decisions to pick and choose what is necessary to spend money on rather than just spending whatever he can. Stop blaming national issues on a regional leader.
- Derek Myers, Manchester, NH

Mayor Guinta tell the people the real problem for the budget shortfall, which was not funding the budget properly and trying to keep taxes low in an election year. Many depts. have been running short staffed, which meant a savings to the dept. for for each unfilled posion and saving money and are still short on money. Let's tell the taxpayer what really happened, you failed to put raises for city employees into your budget. Would the Union Leader please look into the numbers and tell us why departments are short on money.
- Tony, Manchester
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"Double-digit tax hike coming in Manchester?"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
March 13, 2008

MANCHESTER – City taxpayers could be slammed with a double-digit tax hike this fall to make up for a sharp drop in revenues, Mayor Frank Guinta warned yesterday.

The mayor said large-scale cuts may be necessary to make up for a projected $12.3 million revenue shortfall in the coming fiscal year, beginning July 1. He declined to offer a preview of the budget proposal he plans to deliver later this month, but conceded he could not rule out the possibility it would call for an increase in taxes.

"I'm an optimistic guy," Guinta said, "so I'm striving for the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to come to an agreement on a budget that lives within our means."

He promised, "I'm going to do everything I can and try to be as creative as possible to make sure we do not place an additional burden on the taxpayer."

Guinta is expected to present his proposal to the aldermen March 31. In an interview yesterday, he described the looming budget crunch as the worst by far in his three years as mayor.

Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez, chairman of the board, said, "I do not want a tax increase. But we'll have to wait and see."

The projected $12.3 shortfall represents about 5 percent of the city's total budget. Much of the shortfall, about $5 million, can be tied directly to Bedford's withdrawal from the Manchester school district.

Lopez noted the city has had several years to prepare for that loss.

"It was up to people to start working on it: the school board and the mayor," Lopez said.

Guinta, in turn, said the aldermen dug the city into a hole last year when they voted to spend $3.5 million in one-time funds to balance last year's budget.

Barring further cuts, that money will have to be made up this year.

Guinta has touted his record as a fiscal conservative while exploring a run for governor. In speeches, he has noted each of the budgets he proposed during his first term in office called for a slight tax cut.

Looking ahead, he said, he is especially mindful that the national economy has been hard on Manchester families. In a discussion on the situation yesterday, the mayor was armed with statistics, citing a 45 percent increase in the cost of food and 30 percent increase in the cost of gas.

"The reality is, going into this economy, it's not a time to be levying high taxes on property owners," Guinta said.

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Reader's COMMENTS:

I am sure there are plenty of departments that could cut a little to help keep the people in Manchester from having to dole out even more in taxes. How about the library? I seem to recall that the number in the last budget was really high and that there were an awful lot of employees working there. Just how many people does it take to put books on a shelf? And how many people actually still use the library anymore? Maybe we should privitize it so that it can run more efficiently.
- Sue, Manchester

Guinta is a hypocrite. This guy is demanding that the alderman tighten their belts yet he is the one who was a key vote for the baseball stadium deal and also was the key vote in the high school expansion deal that cost the taxpayers fifty million plus interest. He also funded other costly items like a bridge to no-where. Guinta has no credibility this time around. the Union leader should stop protecting this guy and see him for what he did as an alderman.
- joekelly, manchester


The REAL solution is for all of you to not whine and lobby your city officials when they propose cuts in service to reduce city expenditures.
- Leo, Derry

They had better find those cuts. A double digit tax increase now with heating costs, gas and food prices going through the roof is going to cause allot of people who are just barely holding on to lose their homes! Landlords of course will just pass those costs on to their tenants "to the detriment of the low income", but the elderly and many of those who are just barely holding onto their homes now will be in big trouble. The economy and the falling dollar value is causing cost of living in every conceivable area to skyrocket. When people can't afford to pay their already high taxes anymore you are going and even greater shortfalls in revenue! Of course our woe's are increasding as we can already thank our city leaders for the taxpayer being on the hook for the condominium debacle near the Fishercat Stadium. But I'm sure it won't end there just as I'm sure you will see an increase of people losing their homes!
- Rob, Manchester

As some of you have stated bills are going up all around us. My income is not going up accordingly unfortunately. If the taxes are going to be increased that much, where do they think people are going to get the money? There's enough foreclosures as it is, do they not think they might be throwing more people into that position by not being able to afford one more thing? Where does it end? Sooner or later the average income citizen is going to go bust. I only have a certain earning power even with a college degree and holding a professional position. Stop the pain, stop emptying our pockets and figure out another way to do things. I know this tax will increase no matter what we all say, I just ask that our properties be reassessed for todays market value to at least not kill us with an enormous bill.
- Annette, Manchester

What? I thought electing a Republican meant this wouldn't happen. So confused..
- Eric, Mancehster, NH

Devries and lopez are jokes! And all of you who voted for them and are now complaining deserve what you get. Those two ( and others) on the board only care about making guinta look bad and themselves look good. I am not crazy about guinta either but it is time to start looking for REAL solutions to this problem instead of thinking about the next election. With this economy if a large tax hike hits us then next election it will be time to run all of them out of office!!
- Rich, Manchester

Guinta is has proved that he is not invested in the City by talking about a bid for Concord. We need City leadership that is going to help transform Manchester into a City that People want to live not one that they can get cheap rent in. I fought my Tax assessment two years ago and I am being taxed on a home that has market value of $31,000 difference is todays market. How about a city run parking for all of our Civic Centers and Baseball parks, no lets let the businesses reap the benefits and tax the home owner. Thanks Mayor and Alderman
- Tax Payer, Manchester

Manch/Lawrence, the former Manch/Vegas is done, finished, put the fork in. Just look at what the city employees earn. Heck, the superintendent of schools was fired for giving "himself" a raise. Then the city hired a parking meter manager at over $100,000 dollars! Are you nuts! She is in CHARGE OF PARKING METERS! Then the firemen decided to have a St Pat's day lunch while they are ON DUTY! The police make more than the mayor, the recycle company says "forgettaboutit". Sewer bills go up and up and up. The parks department manager quits. The schools are marked as failing. The streets look like a dog poop dropoff zone. ... and the same incompetent aldermen who voted to have the city build a baseball park which is now a local joke, sit in their chairs each Tuesday night and lecture us about why the taxes need to go up. Folks; you can't make this up.
- Thomas, Manchester, NH

Another reaspn to hate Manchester. Why did I buy a condo here? What a mistake!
- JT, Manchester

Well, well, well. You can't be surprised by this article. We have seen the signs: an unbalanced budget last year; a deal for a baseball park that will not be fulfilled; and the election of the same "ol' boys". One week before the election last year, our alderman bragged about giving the taxpayers a tax break last year, but the real story didn't seem to matter and these politicians were voted back into office. As I stated last year "Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul" is not the way our government should run. I hope the taxpayers remember these days the next time we vote. Remember the fact, that our city has not been able to balance a budget in years. If the issue with the Bedford students was known for years, why aren't we prepared. Where is the forward thinking? Yes, this winter is awful and we all are understanding that the Highway Dept will not hit budget, and this would be the correct reason to use our rainy day fund. But the other issues are all ones that need fiscal and creative thinking. Please voters remember this!
- Christine, Manchester

Let us all not forget the bond payments for Fisher Cat Stadium that were supposed to be paid for by the revenue the condos near the park generated. Didn't you read the news a couple weeks ago, that's right Manchester taxpayers are picking up that tab too. If i could sell in this market I would and move out of this city that I've called home my entire life; just live in a neighboring town and enjoy all the good Manchester has to offer and not pay what's going to be the highest property taxes in the sate. When are we going to elect real leaders?
- Steve H, Manchester

Take a look at the this link and look at the promises made. I urge everyone to remind their elected officials what they pledged to us.

www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Manchester's+aldermanic+candidates+from+wards&articleId=8c335145-695d-4237-9be0-54a488724f48
- Bob, Manchester, NH

Looks like I got out of Manchester just in time. I might have more snow in concord, then my old Manchester home. But the snow will melt, but the tax hike will not.
- Ray, Concord, NH

Yup. Manchester is right on course to become the sister city of Lawrence, Mass.

Rising crime, check. Lowering property values, check. Roads that are like the surface of the moon (Elm Street, what's up with that?!), check.

Taxes going up and up and up and up...check.

Boneheaded idea to "get homeless off streets" at taxpayer expense, meaning expanded welfare, check.

All we need is methheads staggering down the street and all the shops closing, and we'll look just like Lawrence!

Manchester is failing. It's FAILING. Wake up!
- Josh DuPont, Manchester

This message is to Tammy. You obviously have something against Democrats. This is a CITY problem...not a Republican or Democrat problem. It is people like Tammy who come here and put all the blame on a party instead of looking at the big picture. To quote Tammy: "The problem is the Democratically controlled Board of Mayor & Aldermen refuse to tighten their belts and curb spending. In order to balance last year's budget, they raided a one time fund raided a one-time fund for $3.5 million and passed it off as a tax cut."

Where can the city cut. All we ever hear from people is cut, cut , cut. Well folks, what happens when there is nothing left to cut? The bigger problem is we haven't had a Mayor or one single alderman on that board who knows how to attract business to Manchester. The residential homeowners are once again getting porked because none of the aldermen have the business sense to attract additional business to the city. At some point, we need to see the commercial end of things pick up the tab. This isn't a Republican or Democrat issue, this is about electing people to office who understand how the economy works.

Lets face it, Mike Lopez, receives 2 retirement checks, Betsy Devires, Retired, George Smith, Retired, Real Pinard, Retired, Bill Shea, retired, Do these people really know what is good for the city anymore? Smith only talks about Baseball, Devries talks about firefighters, Shea talks about schools, Pinard simply doesn't talk he just sits there, Lopez tries to do good things but fumbles around his words. The reality here is, there is a new board with at least some young blood. Give them a chance. I seriously doubt Kelly Domainge or Russ Ouellette want to see a tax increase. I doubt Mike Garrity wants to see a tax increase. Really, stop putting the blame on a political party and lets simply start looking at the problem...lack of attracting business to Manchester.

There are departments like the police department which could take a cut but nobody wants to address it because if you do, the smear campaign will be unbelievable. If you dare look at the police budget, somehow you are against police officers. THe reality is, look at their overtime budget. One major place to cut is the OT. This won't be popular with the police or with those who rub elbows with the police but in the end, do they really need another $100,000 for overtime to track sex offenders? No. The current system is working. Do they need mandatory court overtime? No. they make an arrest, they should follow the case through, if they really are here for the community, then the police union would agree to it. Reality is, cops make a lot of money. They make more than the average working person here in Manchester. I'm not talking about cutting the number of officers, just the OT.
- Mike, Manchester

Now, if I were Guinta, I would tax up this big hole as if it would require a tax increase, and then find a way to cut spending in his budget to be the hero who stopped the tax hike. That would actually help him politically.
- Glen, Manchester

I suggest the Mayor and Alderman look at cutting the budget now is a terrible time for a tax increase. If necessary temporarily cut services if necessary. Focus on what is most important and work from there. Government must be run like a household. I have to agree with the comments of others we have been allowing the construction of apartments which contain a high percentage of children this puts a heavy burden on our schools. Why not put forth some effort in attracting business?
- Todd, Manchester

I agreed with Justin-Manchester,
there are single parent with kids
are getting more welfare benefits.
There are so many refugees most coming to NH from Sudan and others. They are getting free housing, and etc
that we have to pay for them. The problem is that we are facing in NH is
the welfare checks, food stamps , free education and free medical. The new coming of 10 years plan of accomodation for single parent with kid and low income that is main reason of increasing the coming Property and Sales Taxes.
- Carol Rosema, Manchester

I love the logic of politicians. When the city is booming, they need to raise taxes to pay for all the "services" they provide. When the city is in decline, they need to raise taxes to make up for the revenue shortfall. Taxpayers just can't win.
- Tomas, Manchester

WOW!!!Are all you Guinta fans happy now?I would like to see our proprties re-assessed at current market before they raise the tax rate,yet again!
- karen shutt, manchester

Wake up Manchester, the cost of heating oil, gasoline, and electricity have all gone up, along with asphalt for the roads, and we have had a near record snowfall. We need to run our plow and trash trucks( diesel fuel is approching $4.00/gal.), our fire trucks, and police cars. You have all seen what these increases have done with your house hold budget. Now multiply that impact by hundreds of vehicles, and all the city buildings. It's not costing the city any less than it is costing you. We could save by picking trash up every other week, start charging for all false alarms our fire trucks go to, stop having police respond to accidents, and keeping the heat set at 60 degrees in our schools. But I think we all agree these services are needed. There are some costs that we as taxpayers have no control over and until our lame duck president decides to do something about the sagging dollar and out of control oil prices, we will all pay with higher taxes!
- JM, Manchester

It is truly amusing to watch the politicians finger point at each other every time the issue of a tax increase comes up. These are the same politicans that fell over themselves to give the city employee's attractive pay and benefit increases just before the November 2007 elections. Nothing like a little union support to make sure that there's someone at the polls holding your sign. The Mayor constantly prattles on about running the City "like a business." In my business if I don't have the revenues to pay my employees I have to cut back and reduce my workforce until business improves. I can't unilaterally raise prices because pretty soon I would lose my competitive edge and be "out of business." I guess the City fathers don't ascribe to this particular "business principle." But what the heck, why make difficult business decisions when you can just jack up the taxes.
- Jake, Manchester

It seems the democrats in city hall carry on Baines' pain in his absence.

They are to represent us - the citizenry - and not their own agendas fighting Guinta in a Democrat vs. Repubulican bash battle.

They should remember they "work for us" and we do not "work for them".
They - in city hall - are the employees of the citizenry and not the other way around.

Surely even they must balance their budgets at home - as the general population must do. Don't they have to make choices and cuts as welll?

To not make cuts and raise taxes is a slap in the face to the citizens of the city and the roles they are sworn to uphold as well.

Let's open a Common Sense Dept.
oh,right, that'd make common sense.
- RG, Manchester

Why do people run to an income tax or sales tax for the answer. Some of the worst town in america have every tax in the book and they are still running short. If you are so concerned about everyone paying there share how about a NH residence tax where everyone including apartment dwellers get a tax bill. Then you would be assurred that everyone is getting taxed but remember wether they are in an apartment or condo they already pay taxes in their rent. Rent would have to come down accordingly. Good luck getting the slum lords to go along with that. I live in house in manchester that I own and I have no problem with the property tax. But if have to pay a tax to repair something in my home that is when i will be upset. Government needs less spending and more time working on people that take advantage of the system
- jl, Manchester

Take a look at surrounding tax rates, they are comparable to Manchester's or higher and we get alot more service. Let's put a stop to building more condos, which are flooding our schools with more kids. If the cost to educate a child in Manchester is $5000 and I think that is a very low estimate, and someone moves into a condo with 2 kids, and pay $3500 to the city in property taxes, you do the math and figure out why our taxes keep rising. That's a $6500 loss to the city that has to be made up some where. Let's stop putting money in Brady Sullivans or Dick Anagnost's pockets, while at the same time taking it out of the taxpayers. Call your alderman and tell them we have enough housing in the city!
- Pete, Manchester

Why don't they cut expenses, why do have to here about a broad based tax. We are lucky we feel the pain when they want to raise taxes. Cut expenses - do not make this a Northern MA - Go home if you do not like it
- Rich - Benthere, Concord NH

Taxes are going up everywhere folks, not just Manchester. It's a product of our sagging economy. Manchester doesn't exist in a vacuum. Some of these shortfalls might be attributable to bad decisions by city leaders, but the drop in revenue in large part is due to the effects of the economic slowdown. Cities everywhere - and states, for that matter - are grappling with the same problem (how about a $9 Billion budget gap in the State of NY? Suddenly makes our problems seem small).
- Mike, Bedford, NH

The salaries of the mayor and aldermen is not where the problem lies. Mayor Guinta only makes $68K, far less than most department chairs and school administrators. Alderman earn a base salary of $5000 per year.

The problem is the Democratically controlled Board of Mayor & Aldermen refuse to tighten their belts and curb spending. In order to balance last year's budget, they raided a one time fund raided a one-time fund for $3.5 million and passed it off as a tax cut. Guinta's budget last year would have given the taxpayers TRUE tax relief but instead Lopez and crew played a shell game and slipped one by the taxpayers yet again.

Every month, I have to look at my budget and adjust my spending according to my income. Taxpayers should expect nothing less from the government. There are things that I would like to have in my life, that when times are tough I must go without - at the very least, the aldermen should do the same thing and give the taxpayers of Manchester the relief they deserve.

I look forward to this year's budget debate - I hope people in Manchester pay as close attention and realize who it is that keeps them from getting tax relief or unfortunately this year may give us a tax increase....and it isn't Mayor Guinta.
- Tammy, Manchester

sorry Gary that comment was meant for Dick
- justin, manchester

Gary, if the property taxes go up again I'm going to have a real hard time paying my mortgage. As much as I hate to say it we need an income tax or a sales tax. There is no reason why property owners have to be the ones suffering to pay taxes all the time. Let's be fair about it and have everyone pay taxes, not just the property owner's. Why should we as a property owners be responsible for paying for that 20 year old girl with four kids welfare check?
- justin, manchester

Now reading that quote from Mike Lopez made me laugh. Lopez' comment comes across more like a line from a Grouch Marx flick than a city government official. Folks meed to remember that it was Frank Guinta who came to the table with a fiscally restrained budget. Mike Lopez then turned around, poposed an alternative budget with a tax increase, to which Mayor Guinta vetoed. The veto was overridden by the Board and the citizens received their tax increase. Guinta's reference to a tax increase merely reflects the back-handed way a number of these arrogant aldermen deal with its citizens. So when Mike Lopez says, "I do not want a tax increase....that translates to, 'your getting a tax increase, like it or not...' and when he follows up with, "But we'll have to wait and see..." that translates to, 'how much are we going to raise your taxes'. Lopez is correct! The city should have seen the Bedford withdrawal coming as causing a shortfall...but in true Lopezian fashion, he blames Guinta and the school board citing, "the city has had several years to prepare for that loss..."It was up to people to start working on it: the school board and the mayor..." That is a real knee-slapper when contrasted against history. The only thing missing in the Aldermanic Chamber is Bozo the Clown.
- Rick Olson, Manchester

One more thing, instead of rasing taxes for people in the city. Why don't they do something about speeders. The police are more then welcome to set up camp in my driveway to do Radar. My wife has called them multiple times throughout the years. She's even offered to feed the officers. They could probably issue $5000 a day worth of citations
- Adam, Manchester

Just what I need, another reason for someone to not buy my house in Manchester. Bad enough I have to deal with the amount of forclosures, allready sky high property tax, high crime, lack of police presence and plumiting house values. Just another reason for me to hate this city more than I already do.
- Adam, Manchester

I've never seen more potholes in Manchester's streets! I hope Guinta isn't planning on cutting the DPW budget. This city is falling apart under his so-called "leadership." I am reminded of those signs at election time: "Guinta: 0 Promises Kept." Now he's talking about hiking taxes. Who is this guy?
- Rich, Manchester

Dick, what's your problem with Guinta? At least he's got the right idea and is working on a budget that will work for the city. The aldermen are the problem, spending people's money like it were West Virginia ditch water.
- Gary, Lincoln

Good luck property owners of Manchester and this guy wants to be Govenor of our fair state? Good luck New Hampshire.
- dick johnson, warren

Well history will again repeat itself in 2008. Year after year (non-city election years) the property taxes goes up because that is what the 'some' aldermen want. If we as residents look back ten years from this point, we can clearly see there are aldermen who voted for tax increases. Might we be reminded of the 7% increase? What is really needed is those who really listen to the people of Manchester and do what is responsible and not overspend. Now I don't have all the answers, no one person does, however we can certainly find ways to increase our revenue while placing strong fiscal budgets that keep tax increases reduced if not refunded (maybe at least in times when our national economy maybe taking a dive) and show the people of Manchester those in City Hall are representing them honestly, not for their own interest or egos. Hopefully we won't be making the same mistake, taking from a one time account just to tell taxpayers, "Hey, that's the way it goes, now pay up." If I can support a family of six on only approx. $25,000 per year, our city can certainly find ways to be truely frugal.

Robert M Tarr
rmtarr07@yahoo.com
Former candidate for Ward 5 Alderman, Manchester, NH in 2007 elections.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

here's an idea: all the politicos from manchester... TAKE A PAY CUT!!!

WOW! What a concept!
- scott, concord
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"City in shortfall: Manchester sees a hole"
NH Union Leader
Friday, Mar. 14, 2008

THE CITY of Manchester has found itself $12.3 million short of what it needs to pay its bills through the fiscal year that ends in June.

Let the finger pointing begin!

While the board of aldermen, almost all Democrats, and Mayor Frank Guinta, a Republican, point at each other, and Guinta and the mostly Democratic school board do the same, a few points need illumination.

First, using one-time money to pay for recurring spending always comes back to haunt you. Aldermen and school board members did that last year, over the strong objections of Mayor Guinta.

As the mayor pointed out at the time, using one-time revenue to balance the city and school budgets would only delay tough decisions that would inevitably have to be made, and delay might make the budget holes even larger. He was right.

The other point to remember is that city elected leaders have been fully aware for years that the city's budgeting was unsustainable, yet they have resisted nearly every attempt to reform it.

From reducing school administrative costs and properly planning for the loss of the Bedford students to streamlining city administration and undoing the disastrous Yarger-Decker employee compensation formula, aldermen and school board members have strongly resisted changes that threatened to earn the ire of city employees.

Maybe this year our elected board members will consider the ire of the taxpayers a greater threat than the ire of city employees. If they don't, fixing the city budget without a major tax increase will be impossible.

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Reader's COMMENTS:

Ideas for REDUCING taxes without cutting services in Manchester:
1. Why does Manchester, but no local trash collection company use 3 people per truck? People are expensive: salaries, benefits, liabilities – like getting hurt on the job, etc.
2. Eliminate redundancy/consolidate. Baines and Guinta both tried to consolidate the several accounting and payroll systems thought the city government. Both times the aldermen prevented this savings. Companies with more employees than Manchester has residents operate with fewer payroll and accounting systems.
3. Automate. Why do city employees process auto re-registration in the city hall at a desk? Have everyone use the Internet and don’t charge a premium that deters people from using the more economical method. No Internet at home, use the library’s Internet. Use automatic payment methods for all bills including property taxes. The water company has done it, why not the sewer, property taxes, etc, etc. Enough with the excuses – do it.
4. Reduce expenses every year by incurring the one-time capital cost of fixing the heating systems in schools so we do not see open windows all winter long. Doesn’t anyone in city government know heat costs are soaring? ‘Schools with open windows in the winter’ has been the case for as long as I have lived in Manchester. The buildings full of city employees have heat that works, so should the buildings full of our children. Not only will the children be more comfortable, but it will save money.

I could go on, but am not sure enough people care to make anything happen. Enough is enough. If the city just stopped doing stupid things we could reduce taxes.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester, NH

What happened to centralized accounting and centralized purchasing? The last I heard, each department had at least one accountant and had control over their own spending. There had been a suggestion to centralize accounting and reduce the redundant positions but it was shot down over and over again. The same with centralized purchasing.

If it's cheaper for the average person to go to Sam's Club to buy toilet paper in bulk, why isn't it cheaper for the City to buy basic office supplies in bulk? Yes, there would be an issue with warehousing the supplies, but with every department buying from a different vendor at a different cost, and every delivery being assessed a fuel surcharge surely it must be cheaper to buy in bulk.

Again, this idea was shot down every time it was presented. Why? Because the department heads felt that they should be in control of their own budgets and the BMA agreed with them.

Who is in charge? The department heads or the BMA? What about the taxpayers?
- Sue, Manchester

Robert your thoughts are a breath of fresh air. It is what every household in America has to do and that is make hard choices. If my roof is leaking but the furnace dies in the winter I fix the furnace and put buckets out to catch the water and try to fix the roof when I have more money.
- Todd, Manchester

I think it's time the finger pointing stop, who cares if it was the Democrat controlled board of alderman or our Governor campaigning Mayor. The city leaders need to sit down and solve this mess without huge tax increases.

How come we are just hearing about this now? If there are 3 month's left to this years budget. Hasn't anyone been paying attention over the last 9 months? Every quarter, maybe even every month someone needs to look at the cities revenue and adjust the budget when nesseccary.
- Jeff Comeau, Manchester NH

Mayor Guinta and all Manchester aldermen,
YOU ARE NOT going to raise our taxes! You are going to have to do what a great number of us have had to do in the past 2 years. SPEND LESS!
What you have done to Manchester residents by Increasing property values 300% was outrageous enough and when we tried to get the city to put our evaluation at a realistic rate our treamnent was shabby to say the least! Basically we were told that the city has a percentage they can add even though the property is not worth that!
Reality and mortgage companies have told all of us we could never sell our homes at those evaluations! I live on south Beech st. Hill and we and our neighbors were dealt a hard financial burden when you evaluated our homes for far above their worth.
NO MORE!
It is your time to take responsibilty for your inept expenditures.
You can renagogtiate your health insurance plans with the insurance companies unless nepotism stands in the way. You can save money (yes it will hurt) in many other areas also. Just like we all had to do! You cannot spend money you do not have, Didn't your mother tell you that? .......and your not going to raise our taxes!........There is a strong sense of revolt by manchester taxpayers and their are several legal actions as a group they can take to keep your coffers dry until you begin to take real steps to work with what you have.
Will it come to that?
Fed up.................Jim Hawkes
- Jim Hawkes, manchester NH

Lately I feel like the priority is the city's employees rather than the city's residents. We are constantly told we cannot cut positions, we can't reduce benefits, we can't bot have pay increases, we can't consolidate positions or departments. It's ridiculous. A business could not run this way. My family can't run that way. The aldermen and the school board need to stop sucking the life out of the taxpayers for the benefit of city employees.
- Ryan, Manchester, NH

Why don't we postpone spending on utilities to the new north business park until next year, reduce CIP funded projects (excluding of course road patching and other infrastructure projects.) and maybe some road surfacing projects (IF it ain't that bad, wait to spend the money). Just then maybe we can shrink the hole created by monies taken from a one time account. Another thing is to stop fighting with the recycling company and let them build. It will help with the burden of taxes imposed on the taxpayer. Just some suggestions from a citizen of Manchester.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester
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"City Hall: Where's Oprah (and her cars) when needed?"
By SCOTT BROOKS
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Sunday, Mar. 16, 2008

OFFICIALS are considering whether the city should spend $20,000 to $25,000 to buy a new car for Mayor Frank Guinta. The mayor's old car, a late-'90s Buick LeSabre used strictly for city business, was all but condemned earlier this month by a police mechanic.

The timing of the request is more than a little unfortunate for Guinta. Just the other day, he revealed the city is facing a projected $12.3 million revenue shortfall in next year's budget, a hole that has the potential to whack taxpayers with a double-digit tax increase this fall. And that's wholly separate from this year's budget, which is running at a $1.6 million deficit.

The request puts the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in the awkward position of approving a new purchase at the same time they're eyeing cuts to several capital projects.

"Oh geez," Alderman Bill Shea said when he heard the estimated price tag. "Maybe they could get something donated."

The mayor's official car was purchased in the late-1990s under Ray Wieczorek's administration and has since logged a little less than 66,000 miles. It's already had thousands of dollars of work, and according to the mechanic who inspected the car, it will need a lot more to pass inspection this year.

Richard Ranfos, the fleet supervisor, says the brakes must be replaced. Same with the floorboard, where he found a "good size" rust hole near the exhaust.

"My recommendation is to get rid of this vehicle and not put any more money into it," Ranfos wrote in a letter to the public works director.

Guinta stopped driving the car three weeks ago. His current ride is an unmarked police car.

Understandably, the mayor is steering clear of discussions about the car. Aides note the request was made by the public works director, Kevin Sheppard.

"I just want to make it clear: I'm not asking for a car, nor do I want one," Guinta said.

Sheppard said the car could be bought with money from the city's so-called "motorized equipment replacement" account, which, conveniently enough, is running a surplus of $25,000.

Alderman Mike Garrity, who chairs the Community Improvement Committee, said the request is not unreasonable. The committee is slated to discuss the request Tuesday.

"He's not out looking for a Lexus or something like that," Garrity said. "He's just going through the process like every other department does."

ON THE ROAD AGAIN
The mayor, meanwhile, has been spending more and more time outside of Manchester.

Guinta spent last Wednesday night in Laconia with the Belknap County Republicans, where he talked up his prospective candidacy for governor. He delivered another speech the following night at the Strafford County Republicans' meeting in Rochester.

His campaign consultant, Mike Biundo, says Guinta is booked to give two more speeches in Concord later this month. One will come during a still unscheduled get-together arranged by the New Hampshire House Republican leadership. The other will be delivered at a New Hampshire Reagan Network meeting on March 27.

Several local Democrats, including former Mayor Bob Baines, have taken shots at Guinta for heading out on the campaign trail during a busy time in City Hall. Biundo said the mayor will be spreading out his speaking engagements as budget season gets under way.

"You know, it's going to continue to go at whatever pace it allows him to go at. It's a wait and see," Biundo said.

NEXT IN LINE
If history is any guide, the next chief of the Manchester Police Department will be one of the three men who currently serve as deputy chief.

Not everyone, however, thinks it ought to be that way.

In the days since Chief John A. Jaskolka announced his pending retirement, some people within the department have been floating another name: Capt. David J. Mara, the department's lead prosecutor.

Mara is going on his 22nd year on the force. He was promoted to captain in June 2003.

One alderman who asked to remain anonymous said he's been hearing Mara's name in conversations about the chief's job for the past two years.

Traditionally, the city has replaced an outgoing police chief with one of his deputies. Including Jaskolka, each of the last four men who held the department's top job was previously a deputy or assistant chief.

Mara has not been with the department as long as any of the three sitting deputies: Glenn Leidemer, Gary Simmons and Marc Lussier. All three would likely be given strong consideration for the job.

THE RISING COST OF EDUCATION
The school board showed a modicum of restraint when it passed a budget proposal last week, but some people say it didn't go far enough.

The board voted to raise its budget to $153 million, a 4 percent hike. That's significantly less than the 7.5 percent increase the board has recommended on average since 2003, and a hair less than the 4.75 percent increase usually approved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, according to the Finance Committee chairman, Doug Kruse.

Still, Kruse says he expects the aldermen will reject this year's proposal as too high.

"The taxpayers and the city are not going to be able to afford a 4 percent increase, given the bleak revenue picture," he said.

Numbers provided by the mayor's office show the proposed school budget, excluding federal and state aid, would cost city taxpayers a total of $64 million, up from $51 million this year. A portion of that increase is the result of sharp drops in school-related revenues, such as tuition payments from Bedford.

It's too early to say whether the increase would do much to bump up the tax rate. Certainly, though, that's something the aldermen will be looking at.

MORAL WATCHDOG
Mayoral aide Sean Thomas put on his overcoat Thursday and left City Hall to check on a downtown business that sounded vaguely suspicious.

The sign on the new storefront at 819 Elm St. says, "Gentlemen's Barber Shoppe: for Body and Soul." Thomas seemed concerned the "shoppe" might be selling more than just a haircut.

The confusion was a bit disconcerting to the barbershop's part-owner, Josh Smith. He said he was hoping to clear up misconceptions about the shop -- which specializes in haircuts, chest waxes and Reiki therapy -- when he and his business partner recently relocated the storefront, formerly known as the One Stop Gentlemen's Shop.

The shop used to be on Amherst Street, next to Forbidden Fruit -- a store well known for selling just the sort of objects that make mayors and their aides uncomfortable.
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Scott Brooks' e-mail is sbrooks@unionleader.com
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Reader's COMMENTS:

Captain Dave Mara would be an A+ choice to become Manchester's next Chief of Police. Dave has common sense and is a tough and caring person. He grew up a city kid and worked his way through college. He earned a law degree. Dave worked his way up the ranks from walking a beat, to being a member of the tactical team, to being an effective street sergeant. He was never a politician, just a straight talker who cares about the city. Dave's work ethic and reputation are second to none. As a former officer with MPD, and present federal law enforcement and resident of Manchester ,I can only hope that Mayor Guinta tabs Captain Mara to be the city's next chief.
- Tim Brown, Manchester

No one should be able to take a care out of town if they don't live in the city. Give me a break. What waste!
- Regina, Manchester

Talk about cars. Did any of you know that the chief of police and each of the three deputy chiefs have "take home" cars. One of the deputies commutes out of town too. These guys don't need cars. The chief, sure, but the others, what for? If they need a car, go to the station and get one. The mayor needs one more than those guys, so why not give him one of theirs. Oh yeah, the three deputies all have brand spanking new one too. It is unnecessary and cost a lot of money. $25,000.00 x 3 = $75,000.00. Not to mention the gas they use to commute to work. Give the Mayor a car!
- Richard, Manchester

In reerence to the Mayor's car, the reality is the Mayor can use his own personal car and receive a mileage check from the city. to spend any money on a vehicle at this stage of the game would be a waste in light of the projected budget shortfall. This isn't a Mayor Guinta issue as it is clear he is not the one asking for the car. This is a budget issue at this point. I am sure Mayor Guinta would gladly use his car and get a mileage check in lieu of driving a vehicle which seems to be a mess.
- Mike, Manchester

It is pretty clear that Captain Mara is the choice of the rank and file. I suspect he is the choice of the supervisors too and why wouuldn't he be. He is the best choice, both professionally and personally - he is the better man and the better police officer. Like JS (Jim) said in the second comment. Ask ANY officer and you will see for yourself.
- KF, Manchester

The comments that are being made about Captain Mara are great, but I am so confident that once the Mayor and Aldermen sit him down and compare him to the deputy chiefs, they we see that it is a no brainer. It is great that the deputies have given so many years of service to the city and that should not be dismissed out of hand, but Captain Mara is head and shoulders above them and it will be very obvious during the selection process. He is intelligent (law degree), a hard-nosed street cop (not a career desk officer) and of high moral fiber (no personal indiscretions). Each of the current deputies have one of the negative that I just listed. It is an easy choice. Captain Mara should be the next Chief of Police!
- JC, Manchester

Capt. David Mara is hands down, the most capable and qualified individual to take command of the Manchester Police Department. He was a well respected Patrol Officer on the street, who was not afraid to deal with the criminal element. Even as a Supervisor, he remains active on the streets when appropriate. The Police Department is a quasi-military operation and Captain Mara has earned the respect from employees within the department. This says a lot about him as a person. A caring, trustworthy supervisor who treats everyone with respect. He continued to further his education to become a lawyer to compliment his law enforcement efforts.
He possesses excellent decision making skills and he can make swift decisions and think on his feet. The operations of the deparment and the safety of
Manchesters citizens have always been his priority when making decisions. To say the only choice for Chief should be a Deputy Chief because of their rank would be a disservice to the citizens.
The Board of Mayor and Alderman really need to understand that Captain Mara is the only choice to bring the Manchester Police Department to the next level of better service to this community.
- RC, Manchester, NH

Dave Mara is an exceptional police officer and exceptional person in general. Anybody who has ever had to interact with Capt. Mara whether it be on a professional level or a personal level will tell you that he is the type of person who, regardless of any given situation, acts as a rational human being. When you look at a persons career, you don't simply look at the title the person wears but you look at what is underneath that title. In Dave Mara's case, you have a hard working, caring and intelligent individual who would lead MPD in the right direction while at the same help bring together a community that is in need of repair.
If the Aldermen have any questions about Dave Mara's abilites, look no further than the man you will see walking downtown. A man who can be found prosecuting cases in Manchester District Court, and a person who will always give you a straight answer, even if it isn't the answer you want....look no further than Dave Mara. the city would win and MPD would win but more important, the citizens of Manchester would be the beneficiaries of Capt. Mara becoming Chief Mara.
- Mike, Manchester

The reason Captain David Mara's name is being mentioned for Chief is because the deputy pool at the station just doen't have what it takes. Can someone tell me what each has done? All three Deputy Chiefs will be looked at, along with Mara. However, Mara is the only one with leadership qualities needed to fix the morale vacuum left by Chief Jaskolka's lack of leadership and inability to communicate. Talk to a cop and see what they think of their leadership.
- EK, Manchester

Maybe the car would have held up a little longer if Guinta didn't use it so often during his campaign. He constantly drove it to his campaign office during regular office hours. The city's taxpayers paid for his use of the city car for campaign purposes. What a disgrace.
- Rich, Manchester

My question is: why does this article need to make it sound like it is a vehicle for Guinta himself? It is a car for the mayor in general, so it will be used by the next mayor and the mayor after that. In addition, tons of city workers drive personal city cars, which require repairs and at times, actual replacement. Those don't make the newspaper, but of course this one does just to try and spark controversy. A very poor article in my opinion.
- Derek Myers, Manchester Nh

Mayor should buy his own CAR!
If he is trying to tighten the budget why can't he buy or lease his own vehicle. We all work and our employers do not provide us with a vehicle or transportation to work.
- Janet Doyon, Manchester, NH

How does a car with only 66,000 miles on it get beat up so badly that it cant pass an inspection without requiring extensive repairs?

Its budget time folks. Time to tighten the belts. Just like my family has to do.
- Dennis, Manchester

Mara’s name is mentioned because he is so respected. When he was a patrol officer is was one of the best street cops out there. He didn’t just sit back on his reputation though, he put himself through law school, passed the bar and became a lawyer even while he was leading the department in drugs arrests. He is more then the prosecutor. He runs the legal division and the public integrity division, which holds officers accountable for wrongdoing. He has done more in his 22 years then most, that is why he is being mentioned. His credentials are just too good to ignore. Just because someone sits back and waits 30 years to try to be chief, doesn’t make him qualified. Question should be, what have you done to better yourself for the job. Mara would be a great chief, just ask any officer you run into.
- JS, Manchester (Northend)

"One alderman who asked to remain anonymous..." Any alderman who wishes to remain hidden should not be elected to the position. As for the mayor's car, lets use one that is a retired police car or something of that nature. With a 12.5 million dollar shortfall, we should hold off on such things that cost alot and the government should work very hard to shrink that hole that has been created.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester
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"Marijuana vote draws fire"
By JOHN WHITSON AND SCOTT BROOKS
New Hampshire Union Leader
March 20, 2008

MANCHESTER – Mayor Frank Guinta has asked state Rep. David Scannell to resign as spokesman for the Manchester school district after Scannell voted Tuesday to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Scannell insisted he will not resign, saying his vote is a form of political speech protected by the U.S. Constitution. He also raised the possibility he would take legal action against the mayor or anyone who tries to strip away his job.

In a letter signed yesterday, Guinta said Scannell's vote on the bill, which passed the House but is unlikely to become law, "permanently and irrevocably harms" Scannell's ability to serve Manchester's schools. The mayor argued Scannell's resignation is necessary to "help restore the integrity" of district anti-drug policies.

"He's the face of the district," Guinta said yesterday. "He interacts with kids on a daily basis, and he is taking a position to decriminalize marijuana. That is counter to logic, in my view."

Scannell, 41, has been the district spokesman since March 2004. He also heads the district's safe schools program, an anti-violence initiative. A Democrat, he won the Ward 2 House seat in a special election last May.

In interviews, Acting Superintendent Henry Aliberti and several city school board members said they consider Scannell an upstanding employee. Guinta, too, said he had no qualms with Scannell's performance as the district's coordinator of community relations. The city charter does not authorize the mayor to fire school district employees. Only the school district holds that power, Aliberti said.

Scannell stood by his vote yesterday, saying he believes the bill would allow young people to "get into a rehabilitative system that enables them to become functioning adults."

"We're not condoning drug use in any way, shape or form," he said.

The bill would make possession of up to one-quarter ounce of marijuana a violation punishable by a $200 fine. Under current law, a person could face a $2,000 fine and jail time and may not be eligible for some forms of college aid.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 193 to 141. It has yet to go before the Senate, and Gov. John Lynch has said he would veto the bill if it reached his desk.

Three Manchester Fire Department employees who double as state representatives also voted in favor of the bill: Jeff Goley, Patrick Garrity and Daniel Sullivan. All three are Democrats.

Guinta has not asked for their resignation and declined to say whether he would.

"I'm focusing on the school district," said Guinta, a Republican considering a run for governor. "We have drug policies that the district is responsible for adhering to, and the person who is responsible for public relations is taking a completely counter view. I think that is going to impact (his) credibility with parents and students."

Guinta said he left a voice mail for Scannell but did not speak with him before he sent the letter asking for his resignation. The mayor sent a copy of the letter to Aliberti.

Aliberti declined to say whether he thinks Scannell should keep his job. He called Scannell a "fine employee" and said he has, in the past, kept his legislative responsibilities separate from his duties as a district employee.

Some members of the Manchester school board rose to Scannell's defense yesterday. Joyce Craig, the committeeman representing the North End, said Scannell's politics should not have any bearing on his job.

Chris Herbert, a Republican representing Ward 4, said he disagrees with Scannell's position on the bill but would not want him to lose his job because of it.

"I don't know what the mayor's deal is. A majority of the House voted for it," Herbert said.

Scannell is a Central High School graduate and has a law degree from the University Maine. Before taking the school district job, he spent several years working as an aide to Mayor Robert Baines.

He currently sits on the board of directors for Makin' It Happen, an organization that discourages children from using drugs, tobacco or alcohol. The group's executive director, Tym Rourke, said Scannell asked to be taken off the board at least a month ago because he took a position with the Bean Foundation, which provides funding for groups like Makin' It Happen. No action been taken yet.

The organization has not taken a position on the bill, but Rourke said he thinks it sends a "dangerous" message that marijuana use is "not a big deal."

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Reader's COMMENTS:

It's unthinkable that any school board member would want a child to pass over Marijuana and move onto harder, more available drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and ALCOHOL.

I know there are 0 deaths a year nationwide from Marijuana, but we should still stop this scourge. Death Penalty for all Marijuana users.

and they call NH the 'live free or die' state?? Personally, it should be called the "too stupid to read" state. . .because anyone that can read, knows that marijuana is a harmless drug in all senses of the word.

I'm sure some beaurocrat will fight me on this. . . thankfully I CAN read.
- Anton Lee, Seabrook

Kids make mistakes. Condemning them to a lifelong criminal record and all of the restrictions on our liberties that that implies and carries with it is ABSOLUTELY ABHORANT. I do not smoke pot, nor am I a criminal, but I was a wild kid and had a few close calls and things could have been drastically different for me had the law not gone easy on me. Kids are stupid, and good kids will occasionally make bad choices. Do not ruin our children's lives in the name of absolute government control.
- John Beauchemin, Burlington, MA

If any of the anti-pot people were really concerned with the “children" getting the wrong message about drugs, why have none of you commented on the article about the SLC spending millions to advertise the sale of alcohol? Why are you not on a soapbox trying to make alcohol illegal? Do you feel that it is not a drug? Do you drink but say someone else shouldn’t be allowed to do a less harmful and dangerous drug? What kind of message does that send to the "children"? The State of NH can push drugs that actually KILL INNOCENT PEOPLE and you are all OK with that? Talk about uninformed hypocrisy. The “children” see thru all of that just like most people with a brain. The more “taboo” you make something that isn’t as dangerous as the legal drug alcohol, the more a teenager will want to experiment with it.

Are there any anti pot posts that have facts to back up the lame attempts at humor and or uninformed opinions?
- Zizzy, Manchester

Cheers, how I can't believe this bill passed. Smoking marijuana is like playing a game of Russian roulette. If you smoke it and it's laced with angel crack dust, you could die.

Scannell should be put in jail for his vote. We should not allow or legislators to encourage child death. Please, Mr. Bush, come in and arrest all our legislators.
- Reggie, Nashua

It is very interesting that Doug from Alton and Seth from Westmoreland have the exact same post....

Come on NHDP, at least tell your interns to change things around a bit when they post the party talking points more than once on the same message board!
- Dennis, Manchester

I disagree with the vote and would have voted different myself.

With that said, no Representative should have to worry about his job because of a vote he makes in the legislature. If people do not like his votes, then there is a remdy, vote him out of office.

Slowly government officals are trying to link unpopular political stances to a person's private life. That way they feel they can have more control.

I applaud Rep. David Scannell stance for free speech.
- Doug Hogue, Merrimack

Hey Bill, what part of free speech don't you understand? If there is a cost to speaking, then it isn't free - is it?

Mr Scannell did exactly what he was elected to do. His vote represented the will of the majority of NH citizens. Mr Guinta has a right to his opinion, but calling for Scannel's resignation because he doesn't agree with his vote is clearly over the line.

At least Mr Scannell had the guts to vote instead of taking the 'political savvy' way out by not voting. The reason we have unqualified, and incompetent people in positions of power like Guinta is because they are only good at playing the system for their own gain instead of working to understand the issues and do what's best for their constituents.
- Ron, Portsmouth

Guinta apparently thinks he can legally ignore our constitutional rights.
Shame on you Mayor Guinta. You forget that parents and Manchester residents remember every single positive quality that Mr. Scannell has brought to our community - as a lifelong resident, unlike you.
- joco, manchester,nh

You may or may not like how the mayor of our wonderful crime ridden city of Manchester voted on this subject but he has a right to vote any way he chooses. So do each and every one of you. Let's see how he fairs come election time when you all go to vote.
- Stephanie, Manchester

Hey Guinta!!! ( you New Jersey transplant) this is America!! You power crazy creep! Asking for the resignation of an elected official for casting his vote the way he sees fit? Your crazy!!! Maybe all the people who voted for you should be stripped of their right to vote!
If I lived in Manchester, I would be circulating a petition for a recall on your position as Mayor. You need to be Gone!
Once again, this is America, where elected officials vote the way they see fit. Evidently its different in New Jersey
- Seth, Westmoreland

Mayor Guinta has every right to ask for his resignation. Coming from a school board official that is supposed to be boasting a 0 drug tolerance then hipcritically vote to decriminalize marinjuana!!!! No wonder why the manchester school district is suffering so badly....I wonder how many $200 fines this guy will end up with...........
- C Langlois, Manchester

Once again I am ashamed of my Mayor. I voted for him; the lesser of evils. Can't anyone run who supports limited govt., decreased spending, lower taxes, AND NH values of individual rights? Mayor Guinta, you are neither honorable, nor respectable; I will stay home before I cast a vote for you again.
- Brian G., Manchester

I am no fan of the mayor's approach here, but his critics need to gain some sense of proportion. Mr. Guinta is NOT suppressing anyone's free speech rights. Mr. Scannell indeed voted; had the mayor arrested Mr. Scannell to prevent him from voting, then we could talk about a speech rights violation.

What critics seem to be suggesting is that we all have a right to freely express ourselves -- without consequences! But that is NOT how speech works. Moreover, Mr. Guinta is ALSO freely expressing his opinion, an opinion that is protected from censorship but not consequence: Mr. Guinta freely speaks that Mr. Scannell should resign. Are his critics denying HIS speech rights?

Lastly, there are analogues to consider. What if Mr. Scannell was the police chief in Manchester and yet voted in the state house to reduce restrictions against cop-killing? What if he was fire chief and voted to lessen restrictions on arson? What if he was head of the mayor's task force on pedophilia and child abuse and yet voted to reduce fines and sentences for sexual predators? Surely there would be FALLOUT from these, no?

What Mr. Scannell failed to do was to use his political savvy. Realizing his potential conflict, he should have supported the bill among his peers but NOT voted at all. Smart politicians do that all the time.
- Bill Gnade, Hancock

In response to JT in Manchester, you are correct this is DAVE'S personal opinion and he has a right to have one. The problem is that as a State Representative he is not there to express his opinion, he is there to represent the opinions of the people who elected him. This is the basic premise of our government system. Elected officials are supposed to represent the will of the people, not their own self serving opinions. As soon as the general public understands this and holds elected officials accountable for not representing the will of the people the sooner our government will be more representative of the population.
- Scott, Manchester

There is an alternative to busybodies such as Lynch and Guinta. If you're like me and support freedom of choice, then look to the Libertarians. Sue Newell for Governor!
- Morey Straus, Manchester, NH

I think Mr. Guinta has more important things to be worrying about such as NOT raising our taxes 15%. I cannot believe that he had the audacity to ask for Mr. Scannell's resignation....it seems like he's always asking for someones resignation....maybe WE ought to ask for his. I went to high school with Mr. Scannell, and although I haven't seen him in many, many years, I trust his judgment and integrity. I have a child in the Manchester School System, and I believe that there is more than enough education to students on facts of drug use and abuse. If they're going to do it, they're going to do it, whether it's "decriminalized" or not. Mr. Guinta needs to do some research on the topic at hand. I think he'll find that it's safer than alcohol and other hardcore drugs, and reports indicate that emergency visits (i.e. police, fire and emergency room) are generally NOT related to someone under the influence of marijuana. I'd rather sit in a room with stoned people than drunks. Also, maybe look at the $$ that will be saved by not putting these people in prison for possession WITHOUT intent to distribute. It's a waste of everyone's time and money. And to the person who said that only pot smokers support this bill....you are wrong! Maybe it's a question that ought to go on our voting ballots instead of issues that we really don't care about! I believe that Mr. Guinta and Gov Lynch (I do respect Gov Lynch) would be very suprised by the outcome of such a vote.
I believe this whole issue is being blown out of proportion..it's not like people will be smoking a joint on Guinta's precious City Hall steps, or, pick up a pack at the corner store. This from a state that approved gay marriage?!?!
- Lisa, Manchester, NH

John from Warner,

Marijuana is not a physically addictive substance and causes less damage to your health than alcohol or cigarettes.

As for it being a "gateway drug," if a teen doesn't know the difference between the effects of cigarettes, alcohol, pot, cocaine, heroin, etc. then they are horribly mis/uninformed or lack some basic cognitive faculties. Either way, chances are that pot wouldn't lead them down that road any more than a large number of legally acquirable substances would.

With regard to your "slippery slope" argument...that's ridiculous. Of course they would discriminate between drugs based on danger! That is perfectly acceptable. Discrimination based on threat and/or danger of things like weapons, for instance, is done all the time. That's why I can carry a pocket knife around, but not a rocket launcher. Same deal for situational use of substances. I can have a beer at a bar, but I can't drink one while I'm driving, because it's far more dangerous to myself and those around me.
- DB, Manchester

I am so proud of David. Keep up the good work and stand up to Guinta. This is an important bill and I hope the Governor signs it.
- Nick, Manchester

I haven't seen anything that is going to "legalize" pot. It doesn't legalize pot; it makes it a less seriuos offense. Nobody's life, adult or child, should be ruined for a small quantity of pot. I don't smoke it but I honestly don't see it as any better or worse than alochol. It also isn't any more of a gateway frug than alcohol. I'm sure none of the naysayers drink; right?
- Steve, Londonderry, Nh

I am amazed at how many people have posted to this article! Thats lot of passion for this issue, on both sides. I just want to say that I disagree with Guinta. Now I don't know if he is a drinker of alcoholic beverages, but I am sure that a very large percentage of parents with children in school do drink. To me, that's where the bad example for your children lies, and if I were an extremist, I would say that anyone who drinks should not be allowed to make any decisions regarding our schools or our children. But alas, our values are a bit skewed and those that scream to keep the criminal penalties on small amounts of pot will go home and have a nice drink to calm their frazzled nerves.
- Molly, Manchester, NH

Well it seems that we are not allowed any more to have freedom of speech or vote without having someone judge you for your comments or decisions. I though this is a free state and country. Its good to know that there are people that see things a little different, and see that there could be a good outcome about ligalizing Marijuana.
- Dan, Manchester NH

Hey Manch folks! Since when is voting grounds for dismissal? Scanell should take legal action against Guinta for his comments. When are you people going to demand Frank Guinta's resignation? How far does Manchester need to fall before you get it?? Where is Guinta's criticism of Will Infantine (fellow Guinta Republican) who voted the same way as Scanell? Scanell's vote (which is part of our democratic process) doesn't make possession legal, his vote simply attempts to leave a path open for a young violator to redeem themselves. These young people deserve a second chance to take the right path for this level of crime. You've certainly given Mayor Failure many more chances than 2, and his major failures have had far greater impacts.
- Jim M, Hooksett, NH

Mr. Guinta needs to explain how giving a student a criminal record for life is in that students best interest. The current law is essentially a one strike; you’re out – for life. The purpose of this bill is to fix that flaw in the law.

The concern about relaxed penalties leading to a spike in usage is unfounded. It seems reasonable that tougher penalties will reduce use, but a recent federal study done by SAMHSA found otherwise. Penalties and usage rates were studied in all states, and although NH was in the top 10 states for severe penalties; it was also in the top 10 for usage rates!

Overall the study concluded there was no correlation between penalties and usage rates. Why? The report concluded that younger people are inherently risk takers who don’t believe they will get caught. Also, the study found while most people know that pot is illegal, they were not aware of the penalties and the long term ramifications of getting caught until it was too late – i.e., in front of a judge.

The point of this bill is to give a young person who made a mistake a chance to straighten up so they can pursue an education and a career and be a contributing tax payer. Repeat offenders will still be dealt with harshly. The current law penalizes a person for life which effectively increases their burden on the state by reducing their earnings potential and their ability to pay taxes.

Mr. Guinta needs to inform himself of the facts before spouting off. Otherwise he comes across as a self serving opportunist trying to advance his political career at the expense of others.
- Paul, Portsmouth

I do not care what anybody says! Yes, he is in a position of authority, Yes, he deals with children on a daily basis.
But do you expect me to belive that the "Mayor" can strong arm someone into changing their vote?!?! This is absurd! What happened to the "Land of the Free"? "Live Free or Die"? Did we not spend the last 200 years getting away from this type of leadership? I mean the man is not handing out joints at school? Is he? Is he directly promoting drug use? What child/teenager can afford a $200 fine? And is parental notification going to be included in this bill? The morons in this state got rid of it for teenage abortion! Stop and think about your actions before you make them concrete. Punishing someone for a vote, no matter what the vote, is throwing away everything this country has worked so hard for!
If it bothers you THAT much, take action by voting for someone else next time. The "Mayor" is the only one who should be considered for punishment.
- Randy L. Cobleigh (Ind), Manchester

That is Dave's PERSONAL opinion and the mayor has no right to tell him how to vote. Doing so in unconstitutional and David could sue the mayor for doing so. It is like asking someone to resign because they are gay--again unconstituional. Shame on you Mayor Guinta.
- JT, Manchester

The vote to decriminalize pot is entirely in keeping with so much else taking place by so-called "adults" in relation to children. According to Diana West's book _The Death of the Grown-Up_, Scannell has a truly frightening lot of company.
- Louise, Moultonboro

I'm a socially conservative Republican, but anyone with common sense would know that if someone gets caught with a small amount of marijuana, their life should not be destroyed, which is what having it be a misdemeanor would do. This gets back to the debate of whether we (the Republicans) will be a Bill Bennett/Rudy Giuliani law and order party or a William F. Buckley libertarian/conservative party. Guess we know which side Mr. Guinta is on. I also find it ironic, though not surprising, that Guinta ally Will Infantine voted the same way as Mr. Scannell, and you don't hear Guinta speaking about that. This is partisanship at its worst. As a disclaimer, I have never smoked pot in my life.
- Joe, Manchester, NH

What´s wrong with you Mr. Guinta? Are you going to doctrinate the Reps. from Manchester? Any representative form NH is and it will be free to vote any way they want no matter what. It seems that Bush is coming to NH to tell us what to do.
- Lori, Manchester

This mayor is a maniac. What is he thinking asking Mr.Scannell to resign? This is unethical in my opinion. Also Gov. Lynch's stand to veto the bill is pointless. I don't think he realizes that more than half his state indulges in the herb. I beleive our state motto is " Live FREE or die", is it not? There are too many close minded beings who need to consider the benefits of decriminalization. It is like the world is going to end if this bill is passed.
- Jon, N.woodstock

Seems like Mayor Guido is setting Manchester up for a nice little lawsuit. It's ok, taxpayers will pay. Also, to Mr. Lynch, isn't NH's motto, live free or die? It's not Legalizing it, it's only putting penalties in perspective.
- Peter, Manchester

To answer Mr Haggerty; no a "violation" is not considered a "crime" in NH...legally speaking
- dick bean, manch

I seriously can't beleive some of the people posting on this site. On one hand, the Democrats rant and rave about caring about children and accuse Guinta for not taking enough interest in schools (which is completly untrue), but then when he takes a stand against an individual who voted to make it easier for teens to get away with having pot, they slam him. Shame on all of you. Just because Scannell is a Democrat, you all flock to protect him.

It has nothing to do with free speach. Scannell should learn that if he is going to be in Concord saying one thing, it will and should affect his political position in Manchester. Cerainly it doesn't matter how some firefighters voted, but when an individual holding this much power votes the way he did, he should be held accountable. Bravo Guinta, sometimes its tough to go against whats popular when you know its right. Thats the man I want leading my city and hopefully my state.
- Derek Myers, Manchester, NH

How much longer until we vote Monster Guinta out? His days are numbered
- MIKE, manchester

It is insane that we have a law that locks up people for a year for possession of a small amount of a naturally occurring plant while alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs kill hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. Prohibition in the 1920s didn't work, it gave us organized crime- prohibition of drugs has given us cartels of very rich and very dangerous criminals as well. Call me skeptical, but I believe that if Anheuser Bush or Pfizer saw a way that they could make money from marijuana, it would be legal.
As for New Hampshire's vote- shame on John Lynch and shame on this mayor. "Live Free or Die" is only a slogan for them when politically advantageous to them apparently, and please spare me the argument that you're protecting children with your stance- if that is so then how on earth is it that tobacco is legal in this state? How about hard liquor? How about oxycontin? Those are FAR more dangerous than marijuana.
- Penny, Dover

Mayor Guinta is misled and mistaken. In fact he ought to apologize to Mr. Scannell for seeking to violate his right to free political speech as a state representative. What Guinta has done is chilling to any person who believes in the the US Constitution and the American way. Scannell did nothing unprofessional and nothing incongruent with the school district policies. Guinta is the one who ought to resign for his lack of respect for our constitution and the way government ought to work at the municipal level. The mayor asking for a school district employee to resign is completely out of bounds and seems quite frankly, despotic.
- Anthony, Concord

It's 10am and already 58 posts! I would of thought the stoners would still be sleeping, but they are out in full force this morning.

Its a shame that people don't get this excited for meetings on how the state, and local muni's waste our tax dollars. Maybe a pot vote should be put onto every municipal agenda to draw interest.
- DFM, Salem, NH

Maybe the Mayor should consider stepping down along with the Governor for being so far out of touch with reality?

I cannot believe that Marijuana is even a issue in today's society with the amount of abuse with prescription medications and other substances that have far less testing done and proven to be far more damaging to our children. Are there people in society that really have not been exposed to pot or are they just being in denial or maybe trying to do what they think is politically correct?

The penalties are far more damaging to our society then the sustained use of the substance.
- Dave, Bow, NH

Dean from Georgia, who said, "The guy genuinely wants to help kids," is dead wrong. Helping kids is telling them that getting stoned is profoundly immoral and as a practical matter, stupidity. But by saying "Small amounts are okay," the messge being sent is that it definitely IS okay, and us adults are going to wink at it and not complain. I'm amused at the fellow here who called Guinta a "transplant," considering the huge number of Free Stater transplants who have come here to make this a "Libertarian paradise" where pot use and other drug use is just another "right."
- Stephen, Manchester

Guinta Anti-First Ammendment (wants to restrict freedom of speech), Anti-Second (was against the machine gun shoot), and Tenth Ammendment (wants big brother to decide everything). Guinta is Anti-Freedom and Anti-NH. I am Anti-Guinta!
- Jeremy, Manchester

Mr. Mayor, THANK YOU for a corageous stance!

Ask a cop, or a parent who has a teen hooked on drugs. It IS a drug and it is a gateway drug.

Now that they have set a prescedent when will they decriminalize other drugs used only in small amounts.

To not do this would be discrimination against the other drugs.

The drugs will get depressed and start using humans.

You know who suports this. Drug users support it.

Now me must also look at alcohol in a motor vehicle. Open containers must be legalized, as long as there are less than four open at one time.
- John, Warner

We live in a state where the biggest drug dealer is the state government. We maintain a website listing every available bottle of liqour in the state and which store it can be found at. We then sell that liqour at a huge discount compared to other places in the US. You can not travel on our highway system without coming across one. What message does that send to our children Mr Guinta? How many children will be mistreated today or go without a decent meal because Mom and Dad bought some state sponsered liqour and are now to drunk to care.
- John, Greenland

Um I'm sorry, but the mayor needs to stop mixing the state with the school...this vote was a personal and political thing and doesn't necessarily reflect Mr. Scannell's involvement in a negative manner with the school district. If the rep's votes anger the citizens, then they will vote accordingly. I wonder how the mayor would feel if all the citizens who disagree with him finally stood up for some of the stupid things he's done and asked him to resign...
- Regina, Derry

Frank Guinta=John Lynch
- John, Manchester

Mr. Scannell is right for having an opinion for himself. Have any of you read the bill he proposed? It didn't make hemp legal. It just made so the kids don't lose their government funding and have a record. The guy genuinely wants to help kids, and I'm sure if he sees kids, he doesn't tell them "I vote YES for pot, cause' it's okay!". He probably expects parents at home to tell their kids "SAy no to drugs", and then worries about straight A Johnny who just gets off path for a little while, causing him to lose any hope of financial aid and a decent job. Think about it, there's still a penalty, just not a lifelong one, which they don't deserve. Way to go, Mr. Scannell.
- Dean, Athens, GA

Let's remember that this legislation reduces the penalty for having possession of small amounts or marijuana. It in no way legalizes it. To me this makes sense. Let's not put someone in jail for possession of 1 joint, lets save that jail space for someone who has committed a more violent crime.
And to Mayor Guinta, don't tell my Representative how to vote or threaten his job because of a vote, we the people vote them into office and they are there to represent us, not the city or school district.
- Pete, Manchester

Pro-pot people would learn the folly of this when their little darlings tried to stiff the dealer (where do you think it comes from?) and had a bunch of thugs bust into their home with shotguns at 3am to collect.

The only problem I have with that is when they get the wrong house.
- Mike R., Bedford

Sounds good to me, if you don't agree with a persons position try to fire them. Good to see not only Nashua has an overmatched individual running the city. "Live Free or Die" does anyone still remember this slogan ???
- Todd, Nashua, NH

I can't believe that so many people still support the current punishment for such a trivial crime. "Pot is an evil gateway drug that would cause the downfall of our society if decriminalized!" What a silly and outdated mentality.

I've never tried pot, and probably never will; I'm not a fan of volunteerily pumping any kind of smoke into my lungs. That doesn't stop me from recognizing how hypocritical and exorbitant the current laws/punisments concerning it are.

"Argh, look how relaxed and goofy he's acting! That's offensive! Quick, take his money, toss him in jail alongside convicted murders, and deprive him of any means of bettering himself (e.g. higher education). That'll fix things, for sure."
- DB, Manchester

I realize that this is because he is looking for cred among the statewide GOP, but the Mr. Mayor is wrong on this.

Mr. Scannell was voting as a member of the House, not as a representative of the Manchester School District. He should vote his conscience and how he feels best represents his district, not how his bosses want him to vote. If Mr. Guinta wants to control a vote in the legislature, let him run for a seat there.

Anyway, Mr. Scannell's vote was the correct one.
- Jason, Londonderry

I posted earlier, and I have to say that I'm dismayed by the posts so far. People seem to be missing the point. This is not about marijuana. This is about our constitutional rights. There cannot and should not be any sort of political litmus test for public employees. That's why public employees are not employees-at-will, but have the job protection of due process built into their employment relationship. If you're a public employee, you cannot be fired for the political views you express of the political votes you make.
- Dom, Weare

Hey Guinta!!! ( you New Jersey transplant) this is America!! You power crazy creep! Asking for the resignation of an elected official for casting his vote the way he sees fit? Your crazy!!! Maybe all the people who voted for you should be stripped of their right to vote!
If I lived in Manchester, I would be circulating a petition for a recall on your position as Mayor. You need to be Gone!
Once again, this is America, where elected officials vote the way they see fit. Evidently its different in New Jersey
- Doug, Alton

I thought our representatives were elected to represent the views of their constituents, rather than using their positions for "political speech protected by the U.S. Constitution." Let the voters of Manchester decide whether this guy truly represents them and deserves to stay.
- Ann, Derry, NH

Guinta is a fool. This man voted on a piece of legislation and his vote has nothing to do with his job. Just because guinta still lives in the dark ages and does not agree with Scannell does not mean he has the right to tell him to step down.
Stand your ground councilor and tell people like Guinta to mind their own business.
Once again it's about "look at me" and politics instead of what is right and what the constituion allows.
- Bill B., Pelham

Thank you Mr. Scannell - It's about time our leaders recognize that our drug war policy is a failure! It is people like you that we need for leadership right now. People that have the strength to make a decision based of facts and not fear! You will always have my vote.
- JR, Manchester

As a lifelomg republican and an early supporter of Frank Guinta for mayor, I'm ashamed of the purely political position he has taken. Mayor, you can't out-Lynch Lynch so think of some other way to convince the public that you should be governar.
- Bill, Manchester

Doesn't the mayor have anything better to do?
I applaud Scannell for making the right choice for the youth of NH, keep kids in school and out of jail. The mayor should focus on his job, not the jobs of others.
- Erick, Manchester

Manchester Voters You get What you vote for. The Rep is an elected official. Let the people decide to through him out next election. For another elected offical to request a resignation from another elected official because of disaggreements on political issues is Obsurd. The official requesting the resignation should resign. Guonta must of been the schoolyard Bully.
- Chuck, Derry NH

This is absolutely ridiculous. No public official should be punished for voting a certain way on a bill, especially having to serve a punishment by termination. The mayor is completely overstepping his boundaries and is out of line, bordering on unethical. The fact that this bill is causing this kind of backlash in the "live free or die" state and similar bills have been passed in other states is embarrassing and only furthers the national stereotype of New Hampshire being behind the times.
- Shane, Hooksett

The New Hampshire House is the most truly representative legislative body on earth. For those of you who want to keep locking up pot users, be aware you are firmly in the minority.
- Earl, Goffstown

Reefer Madness and political grandstanding! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!!!
- JB, New Boston, NH

I am not sure under what authority Mayor Guinta thinks he has the right to ask for the resignation of David Scannell for Mr. Scannells political vote on decriminilizing possession fo small amounts of marijuanna. First of all, anybody who knows David knows he is an honorable person who has worked very hard for the City of Manchester and who has worked hard for the school distrcit.
Second, Mayor Guinta has no right to interfere with the employment status of David Scannel simply because he does not agree with David's First Amendment rights. David's vote is a form of protected free speech and for Mayor Guinta to seek out the resignation of Mr. Scannel is political interference on behalf of the Mayor.
Even though some may not believe in our constitutional rights the fact is we live in a country which exists because of our constitutional rights. . Simply because a Mayor with an agenda doesn't like Mr. Scannell's protected free speech does not mean he has the right to interfere with Mr. Scannell's employment.
"He's the face of the district," Guinta said yesterday. "He interacts with kids on a daily basis, and he is taking a position to decriminalize marijuana. That is counter to logic, in my view."
Mayor Guinta makes David out to be some kind of a monster which is definitely not the case.

Shame on the Mayor and those who helped him draft the letter. Mayor Guinta should rescind his request for resignation and should publicly apologize to Mr. Scannel for crreating a false impression of Mr. Scannell.
- Mike Porter, Manchester

Do we need a bully in the Corner Office? Guinta's stand makes for good headlines but lousy governance.
- Putney, Plaistow

Ridiculous. Put the thought police on high alert. The guy voted to change a law, not break one. I hope Guinta never becomes governor.
- Mike, Allenstown

I agree with Mayor Guinta. Rep Scannell, despite claims to the contrary, is indeed encouraging the use of marijuana and that is not in the school district's interests. If you make the penalties lighter, more people will use marijuana because they know all they'll get is a slap on the wrist. It really is that simple. I do NOT want someone who supports use of marijuana in a position of influence over our children.

One other problem I have with Rep Scannell's position on this matter is his assertion that decriminalizing pot will help young people "get into a rehabilitative system that enables them to become functioning adults." Let me guess, decriminalizing pot will lower the amount of young people that need rehab? That is ridiculous! Come on people, pot is illegal, it's illegal for a very good reason, you don't need pot, and it is NOT in our best interests collectively to do anything that will result in more pot use. This is a no-brainer to me.
- Bryan L., Nashua, NH

Everyday, I ask my self what the heck is going on in Concord. Are they going to vote a name change on our state "New Vermontachusettes". The Mayor is absolutley right on this one. This guy can't talk out both sides of his mouth.
- Bill, Ashland

Statistics show 80% of 15 year-olds who smoke marijuana go on to try cocaine by the age of 18. Lessening the consequences of possessing marijuana is not the answer. Being an educated individual and more importantly, a role model who is directly involved with young people, Mr. Scannell should realize this. Should he lose his job, no. Should he reconsider his position, yes.
- Rick Labell, Newton NH

Scannell was perfectly within his rights to vote his conscience and Guinta's actions are reminiscent of a puritanical fear of reality. As a Centra High graduate, Scannell is an example of someone who made it through the system and if, hypothetically, such an exemplary student smoked a joint , should he have faced a $2,000 fine and jail time and may not be eligible for some forms of college aid? I think not. Wake up, Guinta, look inside your own conscience when trying to "help restore the integrity" and please do not impose hypocritical notions on your public.
- Roberta, Londonderry, NH

As President of the School Board, Mayor Guinta is exactly the person to challenge Scannell's policies and philosophy. Sitting on the Board of 'Makin it Happen' and voting to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana (in our State Legislature) are policies that are in direct conflict with each other.

Listen to what a man says, but watch more what he does. Scannell's vote shows he tolerates drug use, a policy inappropriate for public schools. For this reason, he must go.
- Steve, Manch

You cannot tell me that all of you that are against Mr. Scannell have never experimented with pot. I am sure that even Mayor Guinta has even tried it at some point in his life. I am not for legalizing the stuff, but I do agree that the punishment is too strong as it stands now and I agree with Mr. Scannell's vote. He is simply doing what is best for the kids in the long run. If a child wants to go to college and cant because they got caught with a litte pot in thier younger days, they should not be penalized the rest of their life for it. I think we alreay have enough people on "the system" and we should not be adding to it.
- Dave, Manch

It's one thing for the Mayor to be concerned, but to ask for the reps resignation crosses the line and seems to be political intimidation to me. Scannell needs to stand his ground and not let this amateurish intimidation succeed.
- Tim, Manchester

While Scannell has every right to "fre speech", his supporters forget that so doesn't the Mayor. The Mayor is simply highlighting the FACT that Scanell is a hypocrite, and unsuited for his current position. If you believe that he can vote for decriminalization of drugs while being the public face of the school district's anti-drug policies and messages, then you are probably the same fools that believe that Obama doesn't share in his church's racially-bigoted rhetoric or that Pam Smart wasn't involved in killing her husband. Buy a clue!
- Jim, Manchester

Whether Mayor Guinta or Gov. Lynch approves of it or not, this bill represents the view of of a majority of citizens. Our legislative representatives are suppose to vote in a manner consistant with those of their constituants, not with the personal views of the mayor. Mr. Guinta has no right to tell an elected official how he should vote.
- Cathie, Chester

I was arrsted and charged with a felony for possesion of marijuana. It has hurt my ability to get into school, hurt my ability to get a higher paying job and has done nothing good for anyone. I dont do drugs anymore, It was a youthfull mistake (17 yrs old)that I regretably made. At 25 I am mature, responsible,drug free and college educated but yet I still suffer in many ways for the conviction. I am not a violent person, and now I take prescription medication for what my Docter said I was potentially self medicating for with marijuana. I would just like to thank Mr.Scannell for doing what he believes to be politically correct even at the risk of public criticism. Thats what I call true leadership. Sincerly Wayne Yescalis
- wayne yescalis, manchester

Get Guinta out of here!

A vote to decriminalize is not the same as a vote to legalize.

Hardened criminals or pot smokers- who would have you rather have in jail?
- S., Manchester

Sounds like an attempt at government censor to me. The whole point of this man being in the House is to express the sentiments he was voted in for. The Mayor has no power for any of these actions and is doing it to bolster his own election chances with a pretend "I'm tough on drugs" stance. Please get off your high horse, Manchester has become a dump and Guinta is more worried about one man's vote on a House bill.

I firmly support the bill let NH be on the front edge instead of on the backburner.
- Bob, Sandown

I am proud of Rep. David Scannell having voted the way he did. The message he sends to kids is a good one, one that says our current zero tolerance policy is broken and it's time for a change. Way to go Rep Scannell. Don't let anyone bully you just because they don't agree with you.
- Dan, Manchester

What the hell is the Mayor smoking?
- DM, Manchester

To all the potheads, and others, against the mayor- I hope you have a drug addiction problem in your family as I have experienced so you might understand the magnitude of the illicit drug crisis. Maybe then, after staying up nights wondering if your brother is still alive, you might be a little less cavalier about this issue. I wholeheartedly back the mayor on this one. No one involved with schools should be supporting leaniency towards drugs. Whould it be OK for a teacher to have a quarter bag with her in the classroom? Why not? No big deal right? Give me a break...

Come on people! There is no "middle ground" regarding drug issues. Either we legalize everything or continue to outlaw illegal drugs. The thing is all to often the people that don't care about pot usually are nonchalant about crack, cocaine, heroin, and meth. I hope people notice that pot is a gateway drug. The great majority, if not all, of the people that do hardcore drugs started with pot.
- JSF, Manch

How dare the mayor ask for his resignation because of the way he voted. Stating that his vote is a form of political speech protected by the U.S. Constitution is absolutely correct. Stand you ground Mr.Scannell. You are RIGHT!
- bob ahern, derry

Voting to decriminalize is not the same as voting to legalize. Guinta doesn't make the distinction because he's running for governor and is more than happy to play topeople's fears by ruining Rep. Scannell's career.

Scannell is a Central High grad, Guinta is from New Jersey, but of course the Mayor knows what's best for NH.

This is what happens when you elect a PR flak to elctive office. Please go back to Hoboken and leave us all alone...
- Jack, Franconia

What is the issue? wake up people the guy didn't vote to legalize it he voted to get the penalties more in line with the crime.
- Scott, Manchester

This vote is not necessarily pro-marijuana; to me it's a vote to keep prisons more available for more serious criminals. A kid with a few joints doesn't need to clog up the system. I think the Mayor is more interested in grandstanding here.
- Richard, Hudson

Hey Guinta, why don't you release that letter to the public? I am curious to know why you are so sure that Scannell has irrevocably harmed his ability to lead. Nice move on letting us constituents decide what should happen next.
- Justin, Manchester

Defaulted budget, stressed school system in shambles, taxpayers footing the bills for failed private developments, little police presence, potholes everywhere.... when are Manchester residents going to demand for Mayor Guinta's resignation?
- Chris, allenstown

After reading this article and several others in the past regarding Mayor Guinta and the Manchester School District, I have one thought: What does he have against Manchester schools, school personnel, and education in general? Stick to budget issues and leave education to the professionals!
- CAH, Manchester

Let's face it, no matter how you feel about this issue Frank Guinta wants to run for Governor and wants his name in the paper. If he didn't bring this up how many people would even know how Mr Scannell voted on this matter. Personally I think the Mayor should stay and finish what he said he would do in Manchester before he even thinks of moving on. The whole idea just shows his arrogance, similar to the current President and the last Republican Governor. By the way I'm a rather disgusted registered Republican.
- John S., Manchester

Time for a new Mayor
- John, Manchester

As a public employee, he cannot be punished for his political expression, which amounts to free speech. If the school district fires him simply for his political vote, then the district will be violating his Constitutional rights, and that is not the kind of lesson the school district should be teaching its students.
- Dom, Weare

Is Freedom of speech no longer a constitutional right? What other state rep's will be asked to resign for voting for this bill? This is sick!
Representative Scannell, don't give in and don't give up. Too many people these day's just give up and do nothing. It's time to fight back and never give up on your belief's. Fight for your right's!
- Dot, Nashua

Isn't a violation a crime? Isn't reducing the outlandish penalty/consequences for trivial amounts of pot in fact protective of our children's future?

I graduated from an all male NH Catholic HS in 1975 and UNH in 79. In HS we kept our pot in our suit coat pocket and as youngsters mistakenly thought we were being very cool to do so. Over 90% of us went to college. Guess what? Good, smart productive kids experiment with pot!

The current penalties are like a reverse lottery, if you are unlucky enough to get caught you get your life ruined (unless your family has lots of $$ for lawyers.) Not a lot of sense in it, is there?
- William Haggerty, Nashua

Mayor Guinta, for goodness sakes stop the nonsense! Mr. Scannell's and the three firefighters position on a political matter and an important one to boot, deserve to be heard and brought to vote. Please don't paint these people with your judgement brush as condoning drug use. We're talking "rehabilitation" and helping those young people with intervention rather than labeling them criminals. Have we still not learned anything?
- Dina M. Carr, Manchester NH

A majority of Americans want marijuana decriminalized. This bill passed the House with 58% of those voting supporting it. That Governor Lynch threatens to stand in the way of it is no surprise, as a nanny-stater Democrat who believes he knows better than you do. But Republicans? I seem to remember incessant cries of "Let the people vote!" on the civil unions issue. The will of the people is how our State ought to be governed, right? So how about we let the will of the people shine through on this issue, too?
- Jeremy J. Olson, Manchester, NH

So Frank Guinta, for a couple of cheap political points, decides to go after a state representative, that happens to work for the Manchester School District, but not the other City employees who voted for the same law? Before this vote, Dave Scannell was an ordinary guy doing his job representing his liberal democratic leanings without much fanfare. Now, Mayor Guinta just made Dave Scannell, Manchester's local Jim Morisson. The law states that the possession of marijuana is a felony. Scannell, and others, decided that a small amount of this illegal substance should be dropped to a violation. As an attorney myself, I have seen what prosecutors have to deal with when very small amounts of marijuana are involved in criminal case before them. Almost always, prosecutors, who have much so many important crimes to deal with, lower the crime to a violation, especially for very young persons caught with the illegal substance, especially for a first time offender about to attend college. A felony or a misdemeanor usually means that the young person caught with the illegal substance cannot get a scholarship or financial support from the college they are about to attend. Many prosecutors drop the felony to a violation to make sure these young adults get into college and get the financial help they need to attend. I have personally thanked prosecutors for thier kindness and their obvious desire to make sure that first time offenders who are young adults are not forever burdened by a criminal record for this very young mistake; and for understanding that these young adults need to get into college to make a better life for themselves. (not to say the prosecutors, to teach these young adults a lesson, did not make these young adults perform many many hours of public service by the way) I applaud the vote by Dave Scannell but with a caveat. Dave Scannell should never have allowed himself to be placed in this position in the first place. Because of his position as a representative of the school district and his duty to his constituents and his obvious duty to himself, he should have known that he would have to make tough and somethimes controversial votes. Votes that could affect his position as a representative of children,and the posibility that his votes would have been the subject of much public fodder or politcal retribution. Mr. Scannell should never have allowed himself to become a lightening rod for pot and the obvious message this sends to the very same children he represents in the school district. Mr. Scannell voted his concious, and knowing Mr. Scannell the way I do, he often does. Mr. Scannell is a sincere and dedicated public official. He sincerely cares about his job and what he does as a public servant. He did, without question put his personal convictions above his job at the school district. Guinta saw a political reason to go after Scannell for nothing more or less than political reasons. Guinta, if he wants to be taken serious and thought of as a man of true conviction looks very bad when he attacks a member of the school district but not the firemen or republicans who voted the same way. Will Mayor Guinta ask for republicans and firemen to step down also? Such is the man who asks so much of one but so little of many.
- joe kelly, manchester

My wife and I are people who have worked as parent volunteers for 10 years in the MANSD and have known Mr. Scannell since 2004. As for his record with the District, we believe he is a great representitive in being the district spokesman. We are also involved with Makin It Happen Organization as resident representitives and for Mr. Scannell to vote the way he did, makes us as parents feel uncomfortable. Mr. Scannell has a right to vote as he chooses as Ward 2 Rep. Again though when you are working in two different roles, sometimes you must consider carefully your decision and how it will affect the outcome of each role. Just as it would be to have a police officer being in Mr. Scannell's position in Concord and voting for the bill. It does send a mixed message that can be construed by teens.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

Guinta should mind his own business. This has nothing to do with him. He's a political opportunist. There is nothing genuine sounding about this. If he were actually that concerned, it'd be one thing, but he's not.
- Tom S., Manchester

The legislature is out of control and the mayor is right to call Scannell on his support for more lenient drug laws. No one working with the school department should be promoting such a thing, and he should know better than to send the message that just a little more pot is "no big deal," as if making it easier for kids to possess it without consequence is the mindset we should be promoting in Manchester. House members of both parties who supported this ridiculous bill should be at least scolded. But those who claim to speak for kids, yet take these kinds of stands in the House, should be punished.
- Stephen, Manchester
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"Poll shows Shaheen, Lynch are favored among voters"
The NH Union Leader, March 21, 2008

MANCHESTER – A new poll released yesterday shows Democratic challenger Jeanne Shaheen with a substantial lead over Republican incumbent John E. Sununu in the early stage of a campaign for the U.S. Senate.

The same poll, taken March 14 to 17, shows that if an election for governor were held today, Democratic incumbent John Lynch would easily defeat potential GOP challenger Frank Guinta, Manchester mayor.

In the Senate race, the American Research Group of Manchester polled 541 registered voters and found 47 percent favoring Shaheen, a former governor, and 33 percent favoring Sununu, with 20 percent undecided. The margin of error was 4.2 percent.

An ARG poll in December found Sununu leading Shaheen, 52 to 41 percent, although other polls by ARG and other pollsters have consistently shown Shaheen leading Sununu.

ARG also polled 541 registered votes about the potential Lynch-Guinta gubernatorial match-up and found 62 percent favoring Lynch, 20 percent favoring Guinta with 18 percent undecided. The margin of error for this race was also 4.2 percent.

Guinta is not an announced candidate but has established a political committee to explore a run and raise money.

The poll also found 55 percent of voters approving of the way Lynch is handling his job as governor, with 21 percent disapproving and 21 percent undecided.

-

Reader's COMMENTS:

Don’t give up fellow conservatives, if we band together we can keep them at bay until others wake up and smell the socialism. Poll’s are a tool used buy a corrupt media to sway opinion for or against a given politician/legislation etc. I just hope that conservative politicians and would be candidates don’t become discouraged buy fantasy polls and not run because they don’t think they have a chance. Shaheen was useless as a governor does anyone think for a minute she will be better as a Senator.
- Anthony, Troy NH

The ARG polls have questionable credibility. Their sampling is too small and have reflected wide swings over time such as the Shaheen Sununu poles of December vs July of last year. The UNH poll tends to be more accurate considering the difficulty of getting an accurate poll in NH.

NH is difficult to accurately poll before an election because of the Large number of independent voters and high turnout.
- Chris, Merrimack

Taxachussetts#2 continues if these polls are correct. Maybe Massachusetts will just annex the state and get it over with. COnservatives that made this State great are seemingly and now hopelessly outnumbered by the Nanny-Democrats that have invaded our state. The Old Man didn't break off that hill, he just couldn't stand watching these folks destryo all that made this State great any longer!
- Marc, Raymond

I guess this State is done. We now have a majority that wants the governer and his nanny Democrats to tell them how to live because they obviously can't decide for themselves.
- Mark, Candia

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"Frank Guinta won't challenge John Lynch"
By JOHN DISTASO, Senior Political Reporter, NH Union Leader
March 26, 2008

MANCHESTER – After weighing the pros and cons for two months, Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta announced today he will not run for governor, choosing instead to focus full-time on his job as chief executive of the state’s largest city.

Guinta, a Republican who was elected to a second term as mayor last November, said in an interview that while he was receiving strong support for a run for governor in New Hampshire and from the Republican Governors Association and other potential financial sources in Washington, he realized his first responsibility was to the city.

“I’m going to stay here and do my job and I’m happy to do it,” he said today.

“I’m working on crafting a budget for the city, and I have to give a budget address on Monday,” Guinta said. “We have a serious situation, with $13 million or $14 million less in revenue that expected. That means a massive tax hike or massive reforms.” He said his budget address will be “very tough."

“I think people look at politicians and sometimes think they are only looking at the next step,” he said. “That may be true in some cases, but I’m in the position of being considered as a gubernatorial candidate because the people of Manchester gave me a chance to lead this city.“If the city were in a different financial position right now and if I were in a third term, it may be a different situation,” Guinta said.

He said he timed his announcement to preempt any speculation that politics may have a role in the decisions he will make during the budget process.

“It’s good for people to know sooner rather than later what my decision is,” he said. “That way there will be no misconceptions about the decisions being made. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m making decisions for political purposes.”

Guinta put out word through his advisers shortly after the presidential primary that he would take a close look at challenging two-term Democratic incumbent John Lynch. He probably would have first faced a primary against state Sen. Joseph Kenney, R-Wakefield, who has not officially announced but has said he intends to be a candidate.

In late January, Guinta, 37, formed the Granite State Leadership PAC, a political action committee aimed at raising money as he explored a possible run.

He said today he will continue the PAC, which, he said, has received financial pledges “in six figures.”

He said, “I want to continue to play a solutions-based role in the challenges New Hampshire is facing. I’m very much going to continue raising funds and promoting what I think are good policies for the state, and that starts with fiscal discipline.”

Asked if he is ruling out a run for governor in the future, Guinta said, “Absolutely not. This does not end my interest in what’s going on in Concord. When the time is right you will probably see my name on the ballot for something else.”

While weighing a run, Guinta also appeared at several speaking engagements outside the city, at which he spoke about fiscal responsibility at the state level and criticized Lynch.

All outward signs pointed toward a Guinta candidacy, but at mid-day today, UnionLeader.com received the surprising word from sources close to Guinta that he will not be a candidate.

Guinta said he feels “very strongly that I could have won this race, given the situation New Hampshire is in, but what’s more important is that Manchester have consistent, strong and steady leadership.”

He said he was “honored” by “the significant encouragement I received from people all across the state to do this. People in New Hampshire don’t commit for the sake of committing. They want to know what you’re about.”

Reacting to Guinta’s decision, state Democratic chair Raymond Buckley did not criticize Guinta but lauded Lynch, saying the governor “is focused on producing real results for the people of New Hampshire. From building the economy, expanding access to health care, improving our schools and protecting our environment, Governor Lynch has dedicated himself to improving the lives of Granite Staters.”

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Reader's COMMENTS:

Thumbs up to Guinta, for working hard everyday. It must be hard when you’re judged on shortcomings by a liberal media. It’s too bad there aren’t more people like you living in Southern NH, and in America. People willing to work hard to put food on the table and don’t expect others to bail them out of their own personal and financial problems. I fear for people living in this country like you and I, morals and ethics have been shattered by political correctness and a “gimme” attitude. I hope you do run for governor in the future, and win. But, I think your right, the timing is off. It’ll take a depression for these naive or immoral liberals to understand small government structure.
- DL, Manchester, NH

Just curious... what don't you guys like about him? Is it that he's a republican (and you're not, so you automatically disagree and pre-judge)... is it that he's a seemingly loyal employee, or that you're just burned because he disagrees with having school officials advocate illegal drug use?
- Elizabeth, Salem

Has anyone else noticed that most of the people that approve of Guinta do not live in Manchester?
- Randy Cobleigh, Manchester

Guinta would have no chance of beating Gov. Lynch. Not only has Gov. Lynch done an excellent job, he is well liked and very personable. On the other hand Mayor Guinta has spent all his time back Rudy and running the city into the ground. Maybe Mayor Guinta can move to Mass and help them out.
- Steven Fanjoy, Manchester

Thank you Mayor Guinta for sticking up for the Manchester taxpayers once again.
- Mike D, Manchester

We are doomed, two more years of John Lynch.
- Mark, Manchester

The ONLY reason he became mayor of Manchester is because of the large hispanic population of the city. There is no way he would win the rest of the state against Lynch... a Governor who has done a FANTASTIC JOB.
- John, Newmarket

The city's loss and the state's gain
- Leah, Manchester, NH

I like how it took Mr Guinta 2 months to realize he needs to fulfill his commitment to the city. Classy
- Mike L, manchester

Thank goodness,I would hate to leave NH beause I already want to move from Manchester already.I LOVE NH,THANK YOU GUINTA,your a terrible Mayor and my taxes already make our lives in the city even worse!!!!THE CRIME ALSO IS OUT OF CONTROL!!!!
- karen shutt, manchester

I am quite dissapointed in the Mayor's decision from a perspective of someone who lives in Laconia. However I think he is doing the right thing and I can't fault him for that.
- Steve, Laconia

Well, say hello to two more years of John Lynch if that's the case. Guinta was the best choice to go up against him.

With Lynch's out of control spending and his do-nothing administration he should be run out of Concord on a rail.
- William Smith, Manchester, NH

Very unselfish thing for him to do.
- Roger, Manchester

Smart move. Brilliant.

Lynch is a popular governor who will probably run against Judd Gregg for US Senate in 2010 creating an open seat for Governor in 2010. Lynch is too popular to be beat. The veto on the ganga bill makes him very independent from his party.

Meanwhile, back in Manchester, he makes the tough, unpopular decisions of cutting the budget as Mayor of New Hampshire's largest city, keeping the tax rate flat or throwing a nominal cut back to the taxpayers in a stagnate, recessionary economy. People in Manchester will respect that. (Aside, the decision not to run makes his request for Scannell's resignation more ingenuous and honest, quite frankly.) It will be a tough fight, though, with a heavily Democratic board.

He will successfully win a 3rd term because the Manchester Democrats are in such disarray that they have no farm team capable of challenging Guinta on the debate level, let alone raising enough bank to be competative in the mayoral election. Seriously, the question has always been a question of when for Alderman Mike Lopez and Alderman Dan O'Neil. They have had 2 bites of the apple and decided they liked being Alderman. Outside of them, who else do they have?

It's the smart move for the Mayor.
- Will, Merrimack

I'm actually disappointed that he won't be running, although I am prepared to vote for anyone but Lynch so I guess it doesn't matter much in the end.

As for those complaining about Guinta and the double digit tax increase, I certainly hope you're also prepared to vote out your incumbent Alderman who should shoulder as much of the blame if not more.
- Mike E, Manchester, NH

I wouldn't vote for him even if he did run. He's had far too many controversies that don't run in his favor - the latest one was asking a state rep to resign from his position with Manchester schools because the rep voted for the decriminalization of marijuana last week. Guinta would rather remove people that disagree with him than work with them and try to see their point of view. He's not someone I'd vote into any public office.
- C, Manchester

Interesting how folks are so quick to judge once taxes go up, but fail to commend the mayor for his work to keep them as low as possible, and passing the first tax cut in 10 years last year. Do not be quick to blame the mayor for the economic hardships driving up this years taxes, perhaps we should look towards Concord as a macrocosm of deficit spending. Not to mention a recessing national economy.

Joe, it's simply naive to suggest that Guinta's decision to not run is based off of his calling for Scannell's resignation, grow up Peter Pan.

Although Guinta would have done the Republicans in NH a service by contending against Lynch, we cannot fault him for fulfilling his duty to the people of Manchester.
- Leon P, Manchester

please, please, please, let him be gone already. And Governor?? I would definately move out of this state.
- CB, Manchester

He can't run the city of manchester, let alone a whole state.
- Bill, Manchester, NH

So Mayor Guinta finally realized that he would never get elected as Governor if he left the city with double digit tax increases.
- Jeff Comeau, Manchester

And I thought Frank Guinta wasn't going to run because he was to busy asking for peoples resignations who didn't agree with him or vote the way he wanted them to vote.
- Joe, Nashua

Apparently the Mayor realized that he is at the helm of the sinking ship. The mayor is the captain and would have to go down with the ship as he failed to steer clear of the huge economic iceberg that he was well aware of.
Stay tuned as we hear from the Mayor on how it wasn't his fault that he struck double digit tax increase icebergs.
- Norman R. Gill, Hooksett, NH

Great, if the mayor is not going to be running for governor, what are all the pothole people going to complain about?
- Dan, Nashua

Smart move but he won't be mayor in manchester much longer either.
- Mike, manchester
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"City faces cold budget truths"
By SCOTT BROOKS
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
April 01, 2008

Manchester – Mayor Frank Guinta yesterday rolled out a $276 million budget proposal that would not raise taxes but would slash spending on education and public transportation.

The proposal would force the Manchester school district to get by with $7.3 million less than it received this year, a 5 percent cut that immediately sent a ripple of fear through the education community.

Katherine Labanaris, the school board vice chairman, said the cuts could force the district to dole out large numbers of pink slips, both to teachers and administrators. She also raised the possibility that West High School would be shut down and that its students would be crammed into classrooms on the other side of the river.

"I consider this to be a very grim future for the Manchester school district, based on the mayor's budget number," Labanaris said.

Guinta said the proposed cuts are consistent with the school district's projected losses in revenue. He noted the district has continued to hire new teachers, despite the loss of 1,500 students over the past four years.

"Something is wrong with that math," he said.

The mayor characterized his proposal as a "kitchen table" budget, arguing the city has the same obligation to cut expenses as do families struggling to make ends meet in a slowing economy. He said the city must not burden those families with higher taxes at this time.

Most city departments would be level-funded under the mayor's budget. Police would receive a 4 percent increase. The fire department would receive an increase of 2 percent.

The Manchester Transit Authority would lose nearly a quarter of its local subsidy, which this year was $1.1 million. That, and the loss of federal dollars tied to that subsidy, could spell the end of Saturday bus service or force other, drastic cuts, MTA officials said.

"It's going to be devastating," said John Trisciani, the MTA chairman.

The mayor's proposal also calls for a nearly 20 percent cut in spending on capital projects. It includes money for new police radios, a rehabilitation of the Calef Road fire station and the mayor's own plan to expand the downtown police station. It does not include money for a new elementary school, a mayoral aide said.

A few departments, including finance and human resources, would lose money that previously went to pay for positions that are not being filled. The library would lose a fraction of its budget.

The proposal makes several assumptions. It assumes the mayor's ongoing efforts to limit new hires will keep health care and salary costs down, which Guinta called "very doable." It also assumes the aldermen will approve Guinta's plans to create a new Department of Community Development and to fold the Parks, Recreation and Cemeteries Department into the Highway Department.

Alderman At-Large Dan O'Neil said he is not convinced those plans will be approved by the time the new budget is in place. He and other aldermen also expressed some surprise at the proposed cut to the school district budget.

"I imagine at the public hearing this year, they're going to be lined up out the door," he said.

The mayor's proposal would cut the school district's budget to $140 million - 5 percent less than the district had this year and 9 percent less than the school board requested. The district has not had a budget that small in four years.

Guinta noted the district is projected to lose $7.3 million in revenue next year. Much of that drop is related to Bedford's withdrawal from the district.

Budget requests from Manchester's department heads would have hiked the local tax rate by 15 percent, the mayor has noted. That translates to a $630 hike on the average tax bill on a single-family home.

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Reader's COMMENTS:

Mr. Tarr:

I have an education, which I paid for, I make money and support my family. I pay more in taxes that the majority of people so why should I have higher insurance co pays cause I go to work every day. I donate to charity, I volunteered time when my kids were in public school, I shovel out the fire plug on my street and help both my parents with their medications. I pay income tax quarterly, what in hell more do you want from me???? I pay more than my fair share and do not feel I should have to support our government any more than I already do. Now you want me to pay more for insurance cause I work 50-60 hours a week. I don't think so! Individuals have to stop thinking about what government funds they are entitled to. I don't think going back 20 years in education would be a bad thing, atleast teachers had control and you had to learn or answer to your parents. Just as it should be.
- Pat, Manchester, NH

Attention taxpayers of Manchester. If you think that you got problems, then check out Dover. Better yet, read up on Dover and you won't feel that bad living in the Queen City. A good place to start is to check out Fosters.com and see what our City employees are earning.
- Mike, Dover

Manchester is a district in need of improvement correct? So yes........funding to the school district should be cut. Mayor Guinta I am dumbfounded, AGAIN!
- Deb, Merrimack

In the home, when times are tough as they are right now with how the economy is, we have to make some tough decisions and make cuts in our budget to get by. This is exactly what government needs to do as well and good thing Mayor Guinta realizes that as well. Times are tough right now for Manchester families as well as for families accross the US. I can't afford more in taxes when gas is as high as it is and even simple things such as milk costs so much. Cities everywhere are having to make tough decisions and cutting where possible. Our government needs to do that too and I am very happy our mayor is doing the same.
- Holly Bernier, Manchester, NH

H .. of Manchester. On behalf of the citizens of Manchester I want to extend a heart felt thank you as you go on to a new job, in another city 200 miles away. Good luck with whatever the future brings you. Have a good life, and remember to give back..
- tomtaxpayer, manchester, nh

Why not put the Manchester School District's offices at West High School instead of leasing the space in the millyard?
- PeterWhite, Manchester

Finally we have Government being treated like the private sector. It is about time. Thank you Mr. Mayor.
- Terri, Manchester

As a new teacher in Manchester talks like this and the instability of my job makes me consider the need to travel to another district. When the city makes decisions like this we'll continue on with our overpaid jaded high scale teachers & administrators and we'll never retain our fresh motivated youthful (and CHEAP) teachers. Just a thought from a potentially pink slipped educator in Manchester.
- H, Manchester

Thank you Mayor for not raising my property taxes.
- Ayden Frost, Manchester

I think everyone here that is trying to do the Mayor and Aldermen's job should remember one thing: you hired them to do a job, so let them do it!

If you dont like the job Guinta and the Aldermen are doing, then you have a great opportunity to fire them next November. Until then, let them do job their job.
- Dennis, Manchester

I think some cuts to the schools are necessary. But, you can’t just say don’t hire new teachers because maybe we need to new teachers to turn the district around. The Manchester school district as a whole is failing; why? Maybe new teachers are in order.

Instead of hiring a superintendent and such a high salary start them off at an avg. salary for the position and give them a hefty bonus if they can turn the district around in three years.

The school board has made some very costly mistakes. Why sell school property while renting office space? Why rent classrooms from Easter seals etc. while we have unused space at other schools?

Why not close some city offices so that they are operating 4 days a week instead of 5?

Why not put payments for taxes, dog licenses, car registrations etc. online?

Why not charge people to use our pools?

Why do so many of the city offices seem to be so top heavy? Seems like too many chiefs and not enough Indians.

Why would you cancel public transportation when, instead, you should be encouraging people to leave their cars at home and start using more public transportation?

I think the Mayors office should post the entire proposed budget line by line online or in the UL or better yet, both.
- Maria, Manchester

This is the exact same response we get every year there is a budget cut. Thank God Mayor Guinta is keeping the department heads and aldermen on a short leash. I am almost positive that this won't be the budget that eventually gets passed by the board of mayor and aldermen, but it is the only way to start things off when you need to make some cuts.

If Guinta started off with a budget that gave every department what they wanted, which resulted in a tax hike for the tax payer, that is what would get passed and what would end up in our tax bill. Now, since Guinta is starting things off with a "kitchen table budget," the aldermen and department heads can realize that once again, this budget cycle will be tightly moderated and everyone will get what they need in the end, but that they might not get everything they want.

Everyone remember two years ago when the school department and library claimed the west side branch was going to close and schools were going to fall apart with no teachers because of budget cuts? I actually just stopped by the west side library the other day, which seemed to be doing fine and last I checked, not a single teacher got laid off. I'm sick of these scare tactics by the schools and libraries whenever we the taxpayer don't have enought money in our already meager personal budget to try and soak more money out of us.
- Tim Gould, Manchester

It's nice to have a mayor who actually cares about the tax payer for once. Baines and those spend happy aldermen kept taking more and more money from my family in taxes and cared little about its affect as long as every department got every last dollar they needed. These department heads just don't know what to do when they don't have an endless cookie jar to keep taking money from. Good job Guinta and thank you for standing up for the tax payer.

I just can't wait to see the lines and lines of school kids that the school department busses into the aldermanic meetings for sympathy money from the city. It is insane. Frank Guinta has saved our city from taxing every less pennie from our pockets and we should be greatful for that!
- Kory Wood, Manchester, NH

This City has wasteful spending everywhere. There are numerous deputy chiefs at the Highway department that are not needed. That is a savings. Also the city is burning methane gas from the dunbarton road dump 24/7. Why not use this to produce electricity and sell it back to PSNH. When cutting a budget you start from the top and work your way down. Also how much sense does it make to hire a School superintendant at 185k. The Mayor and Alderman are all to blame for over spending. Try to tighten the buget without raising taxes and improve our pathetic school system.
- Dan, Manchester

I'm sorry to say that I am now in favor of a city charter amendment to make the Manchester School District a department of the city - just to reduce many of the administrative services that the city already performs... like finance, legal, human resources, benefits, etc.
- David, Manchester

To Jay, Manchester NH. Yes I do work. Part time to suppliment my SSI that comes in monthly. I also support 4 kids with my wife on less than 25k a year. There are cost that can be reduced, I do believe that, however the extreme cut given to the school district and cut to public transportation is not very wise. Make cuts but keep services that help people get to work and keep students educational needs funded.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

Very good point, Domenic. Let’s look at merit pay for teachers. If they do a good job they get a raise if they cannot perform they lose their job. This would improve overall performance. If you loose 1500 students why don’t your funding needs go down? I was a former teacher and I see both sides. I would like to see the breakdown of the money spent on a child and what it goes to (salary, books, materials, etc.). Just throwing money at a problem without having a plan does not make the problem go away.
- Mark, Manchester

I work full time in a high tech, low paying field. The commute and gas cost me more, health Ins. cost more, and have not seen a decent raise in years. I will not complain, because I have also had friends within my company laid off. We are all hurting in this economy and the Mayor is right. When the economy is bad, budgets get tightened and cut, not the other way around. Unfortunately, the scare tactics of the school board immediately focus on the newest higher $30k teachers rather than two many superintendents making hefty salaries. Start eliminating jobs at the top, and the leased office space to hold them. West now has the room, and less students should mean less mngt is necessary. Until the economy starts to improve, the city needs to implement hiring freezes and tax freezes as well. Let the dept. heads figure out where to cut expenditures, that is there job.
- Brian G, Manchester

This is the annual...."Mayor prepares budget...schools threaten to lay off workers..." game. This is the same scenario every single year. Here is a great idea. Mr. Mayor, meet with the school administration and come up with a budget both can agree on. That would stop the back and forth bickering we are about to encounter between the annual Mayor v. School District controversy that seems to never end.

Education is simply not an area to toy with. Manchester has a great education system and I will say that no matter what people may think, this school system has tremendously talented teachers who truly care about the education the children receive.

That said, the city is in a tough situation this year with revenues being down. Issues like the ballpark are now wreaking havoc on the taxpayer even though we were all told it would have no impact. Well, it has. So, as a result, the students will yet again suffer the consequences.

This isn't about the Mayor as an individual. This is about a School Committee, Board or Aldermen and Mayor who all need to sit down at the table, hammer out a solution and not play the typical political games that are sure to be played out over the next few months where one alderman will propose his or her budget; another will do the same and so forth. Many of our elected officials use the budget season as a platform to grandstand. Well, if aldermen has an idea that is worthy, hammer it out with the Mayor, behind closed doors and then prepare a joint budget and present is as such. No more grandstanding so an elected official can use it in their next political campaign. Get it done. People are tired of the pubic bickering so, lock yourselves into a room, hammer out the numbers that all parties can agree to and just move the budget process forward.

Take politics out of it and take the stubborn personalities out of it. Stop the "If I don't get my way, this or that will happen" Sit down, hammer it out and get it done. Stop using teachers as the pawn, stop using the students as pawns and most of all, stop using the taxpayers as pawns in this political game.

We are all being affected by this economy which people are afraid to call a recession. Tough decisions are made in every household every day, week and month. The same goes for the City. Difficult decisions will have to be made; some popular and some not so popular. Frankly, I can’t see increasing the Police or Fire budget while at the same time cutting the schools. We live in a time where the police and fire are treated as departments above every other in this city. While they clearly have difficult jobs, it should not be deemed to be a free pass that these two departments will get budget increases. Don’t be afraid to say no to the Fire and Police. Yes, they have strong unions but as taxpayers, we can not afford constant increases. Live within their budgets. I know it is not popular to talk against increases to the Police or Fire because god forbid anybody ever say no. The reality is, keep both departments on a trim budget, the same way it is deemed that the school department should be on a trim budget. I guess we have to ask, are Police and Fire more valuable than the teachers and a child’s education? Or are they all equally important?
- Mike Porter, Manchester

A layoff? Gee, that's a novel idea. You mean, like the private sector does? Like when a big company like Bear Steans goes out of business and everyone loses their job? Like that? Wow,, gee wiz,, treating municipal employees like the citizens they work for.. this is very original. I like it. Keep up the good work.. Who will we cut first? The school department spokesperson? Good idea, that's a good start.
- thomas, manchester, nh

According to the New Hampshire Department of Education, Manchester is one of the most cost efficient school districts in the state. During the 2005-2006 school year, the average cost per pupil in all schools (grades K-12) in New Hampshire was $9,710. Manchester’s cost per pupil was $7,854. Only five other municipalities -- Chester, Franklin, Hudson, Salem, and Weare -- spent less on a per pupil basis than Manchester. None of those municipalities confronts the costs associated with an urban setting that Manchester’s schools confront.

Nashua spends over $8,300 per pupil on its students. Concord spends over $9,500 per pupil on its students. Berlin spends almost $9,000 per pupil on its students, and Portsmouth spends over $13,000 per pupil on its students.

During the previous budget cycle (2006-2007), 17 positions at West High School were reduced in response to declining enrollments, and the district determined that allowing a smaller student population at West was advisable as the district considered an academy approach in response to the loss of Bedford students. This severe reduction impacted the district’s ability to support student math learning at West and an additional part-time position was added mid-year.
- Leah, Manch

Tony, why do you care what is in Manchester's budget? You dont even live here!

The Mayor is in a very difficult position. Last week, when it was reported that taxes could go up double digits, there were countless comments from people bashing the guy about being a fake fiscal conservative. Now, Guinta tries to spend within his means and he is bashed for being too cheap. I cant imagine why anyone would want that job!

My prediction is that this budget goes like it always does:

Guinta proposes a budget that may or may not be realistic knowing that it will never be passed; droves of "concerned citizens" come out and protest the budget into the wee hours at the public hearing; the Aldermen are moved by the sob stories they hear and bump up all the the department budgets and come up with a "comprimise" for the school budget; for about two months, Guinta (and the Manch GOP) run around blaming the Democrat Aldermen for raising taxes and being fiscally irresponsible; everyone forgets about it by summer and lives within whatever amount the Aldermen give them.

It isnt rocket science. This happens every year.

Hey Tarr: do you even pay taxes?
- Dennis, Manchester

Mayor Guinta recently released his 10 year plan to end homelessness in Manchester. Below, I've quoted "Premise D" of the plan (my emphasis added):

"D. Neither housing nor services alone will solve the problem of homelessness. Both housing and services are critical. Essential services include integrated case management, employment training and support, TRANSPORTATION, health and life skills training and EDUCATION, clinical care for primary health, mental health, substance abuse, dental and eye care, medication management, and social work."

Great way to kick off your new plan, Mayor Guinta! Cut the budget for what you've described as "essential services" for those struggling the most in our city. I won't suggest there's a simple solution, but cutting funding for services to our children and homeless (20% of whom work 40+ hours a week and probably use public transportation to get to their jobs) doesn't seem to lend credibility to your commitment of ending homelessness.
- Nate, Manchester

School Board - do your jobs and get creative! Simply layering more dollars on top of the current funding levels during each budget cycle is irresponsible. Work with Mayor Guinta to help look for potential savings and efficiencies so some of the budget savings can be realized.

I used to work on budgets in the private sector. Believe me, every year senior management would look for ways to reduce costs, increase revenues or both.

I like Mayor Guinta's idea of zero based budgeting. Have dept heads start from $0 and work their way up rather than sticking generous increases in top of what they have every year.
- Mike, Manchester, NH

So much of the budget problem comes from unfunded mandates from the federal government. We are required to do this, provide that for every group of students, immigrants, disabled, low income,but where does the money come from? The feds simply print more, but we all pay for it through inflation. The fact is that we have to live within our means. Good luck and thanks to the Mayor if he can do that. At least he is trying before raising taxes on working people. Education is a huge chunk of where tax money is spent but there are other things that are just as important to even more people... the roads, water, fire and police. All the infrastructure of this city that supports everyone no matter their age, ability or disability should be priority.
- Ann, Manchester, NH

Hey Teri, how about this.... Improve the district by increasing the proficiency of the students. Then when you accomplish that, we will pay you based on your performance. We are paying the teachers and admins backwards. We give them money and say 'go teach'. We should be saying, 'go teach and then we will pay you based on how well you do'. We will save a lot of money this way based on your assesment of the school district.
- Domenic, Manchester

Mr Mayor, your schools are one of only 2 districts in the state in corrective action under No Child Left Behind and you are slashing it's budget. Are you kidding me?
- Tim, Manchester

Any argument about school's failing so why give them more money is invalid. There was (is?) a crime nuisance in the city. So stop spending more money on the police because they can't stop the crime? See how illogical that argument is.
If the smaller school budget passes, none of this will matter anyway, because if the schools can't make AYP and get out of DINI, then it won't matter what the public will say. The state will take over the school district and TELL the city what to do.
- Bob, Hollis, NH (used to be Lake Ave 03104)

The 4%, 2% increase to the police and fire should be given to the schools. If we are going to have a kitchen table budget, then everyone in the family must sacrifice.
- Donald K, Manchester

In recent years I have attended budget meetings and have heard what the Mayor has to say on the school budget. It seems to me that what he has been saying is the School Administration is to TOP HEAVY. However, it is these administrators who decide how the money gets spent - you don't really think they are going to CUT their salaries or there jobs - NO! They rather use their scare tactics (no gym, no arts, no music)and their power to cut the necessities so parents and the like show up at meetings to voice their concerns.

Maybe it is time to go to school board meetings rather than City budget meetings and voice your concerns over the TOP HEAVY School Administration. Tell them to get rid of a postion so that your kids can get their books or your teachers (the workers) can get their funding.

I guess you can not really blame the Administrators - they are CEO's protecting their position and bank account while cutting the worker and supplies.
- Amy, Manchester

The budget proposal is devastating for the city departments. There will be hundreds of layoffs city wide. We still need services. The Mayor says he wants new police officers tells the chief to hire but he won't fund the positions. Layoffs and station closings at the Fire Department, what stations do you want to close Mr. Mayor. Mayor Guinta is only concerned with how he looks when he runs for future office, not how a budget like this affects the City of Manchester and the safety of the citizens.
- Don, Manchester

How can citizen's get visibility into the city's budget? It would be interesting to see how the money is allocated. I challenge the UL to print details of the city's budget.

Heres some items that should be cut:
1. Programs or policies that are based on race, ethnic background or gender.
2. Funding provided to the methadone clinics in the city.

Please UL, let us see details of the budget!
- Tony, Goffstown

With 1500 less students it only makes sense that we should have less teachers. Let's move all the Hooksett students to West and free up some space at Central. Let's make the tough decisions for the right reasons, not for reasons due to political pressure.

If the mayor continues to cut and not fill jobs in the city he is sending us back to the Weiczorek years, and we all remember what happened back then. It cost us twice as much to get out of the mess he created. Buildings were falling apart, streets were a mess, and lot's of empty buildings in the city. The cost of doing business goes up every year, those of you who own businesses know that, and it is no different for the city of Manchester, so I'm not sure how we go a year without a tax increase. If business owners froze their line items or decreased them for a year or 2, they would be out of business or running in the red. Mayor you played politics in an election year with the budget by trying to limit an increas and make yourself look good, now we are in a $13 million hole. Stop pandering and fully fund a reasonable budget, there isn't a taxpayer out there who should assume taxes will not go up. It's your job to keep that increase at a minimum, but you must take into consideration that energy costs have skyrocketed, and the taxpayer must understand that too.
- Pete, Manchester

Frank Guinta fails to recognize the basic needs of this city. While he flounces about in his tax-payer funded automobile, he decides to slash the funding to our schools. Instead of adding more cops, we should be adding more books. A healthy society is a result of an educated society and less crime will be a result. This city is falling apart under Guinta.
- Robert, Manchester

It's a sad state of affairs when budget cuts are threatened to be made against Education, which is poorly funded by our state to begin with, therefore burdening even the largest of our State cities.

Bottomline: How we fund education and where those dollars come from is at the root cause of every non wealthy town's budget crisis.
Whether we are talking school renovations, new schools and or contracts. We seem to be on a fatal collision in this state. A state that cannot face up to the fact that additional tax monies need to be generated.

Our state is a tax haven for wealthy people, who do not pay income tax.

Our Governor and our State Senate and House need to focus on new ways to generate revenue.
- Mike, Keene

Good for the mayor for stepping to the plate with a responsible budget proposal. With the economic uncertainty, high gas and food prices, and falling pensions and investments, the last thing anyone can afford in a tax hike. I'm glad to see that the mayor gets that, and hope that the Aldermen do as well.
- Glen, Manchester

I am deeply concerned about the budget proposal for the school district. We are a district in need of improvement. In order to move forward to increase the proficiency of our students, it is unacceptable to slash the school budget. We need to look toward our future. We need to remember that the children that we are teaching today will be caring for all of us "tomorrow."
- Teri, Manchester

With all due respect to Katherine, who I think is a decent school board member, I find the Manchester School system to be one big pig simply feeding at the trough. With Bedford opting to build their own high school, those students no longer attend Manchester West, and the appropriate funding to accomodate that should be reflected fiscally. But NO! the School Board's position is to try and keep those funds. There seem to be 500,000 excuses why the budget should NOT reflect the absence of Bedford students, most lately the lamest one of all, blaming the Department of Education. Coupled with the bad behavior or Michael Ludwell, along with watching in the news media how childish the Nashua teachers have acted, I have developed a very glib view of our contemporary education infrastructure. The mayor steps up to do the correct thing, so let the bashing begin...disgusting.
- Rick Olson, Manchester

Mr. Tarr - there are 1500 less students because of Bedford. You can't honestly think we should spend as much as when those students were a part of the school district, do you? Improving our DOE numbers has nothing to do with dollars. If it does, then start cutting at the top - cut some of the top administration.
- Sue, Manchester

I am sure the endless line of teachers and the students they prompt to come with them will be at the budget hearing again this year. The union does a very good job organizing them every year. The average taxpayer has no union to organize them together to get them all there to speak to the fact that they just cannot afford any more taxes. I urge taxpayers in Manchester who support the mayor and his budget to attend the budget hearing and tell the alderman how they feel.
- Andy, Manchester

To our mayor, could you imagine how many people will be effected if saturday service, on the already under managed MTA is cut. To many people have to strugle fing transportation as it is because of not enough routes because of money, the drivers are always bickering because of what is going on. If anything more money oughtto be put in to ourpublic transit system. And as for the school system it does need a major overhaul in its MGT as well as the curriculum, that is behind the time, when compared to other districts and other states. As a life long resident of this city, the changes that are happening are not for the better, it appears that the services in the city Exception PD,and fire are getting worse. Its time as citizens and residents of this city take our city back.
- Robert White, Manchester

I ask you Robert Tarr.....do you work? I didn't think so.
- Jay, Manchester, NH

Why don't they put the Administrative Offices at West? Good idea, Mr. Tarr.

That budget is problematic for the schools . It was also included that retirees no longer get COLA increases, if there was a legal way to do so.

Cutting those on a fixed income and children is not how we operate at my kitchen table.
- Leah, Manchester, NH

I love how Labanaris can automatically deduce that the city would have to dole out pink slips or threaten the entire West Side of closing West High School. That is absolutely insane and her comments proves how inflated the school budget it. The school system in Manchester thinks that they can keep asking for millions and millions more each year and that the tax payer should keep digging deeper. West won't shut down and teachers won't get fired. The dozens of administrators and their three and four secretaries each are over abundant and the city needs to get them and their inflated salaries under control.

I am sick of every time Mayor Guinta tried to moderate the budget that the school system and those not getting the money they want crying that the sky is going to come crashing down if they don't get the money they want. How about they start focusing on what they need instead! Thats what the Manchester tax payer has to do with his/her family budget, but these department heads seem to think they can keep getting everything they want no matter the cost to the tax payer and when they don't get it, they try and scare the people of Manchester with false lies of programs that will get cut ect.

We need fiscal control in Manchester. The majority of the aldermen are spend happy as well as most department heads. Mayor Guinta is the only one who stops and thinks of the tax payer for once. Thank you Mr. Mayor for caring about us and I wish the department heads and aldermen would do the same for once rather than trying to scare more money out of us!!
- Derek Myers, Manchester, NH

We as a school district are in corrective action from the DOE. Doesn't that mean something to our government! Yes our police department needs more space and yes West has less students. However put off expanding the police department for now, place the Administration offices into West or reduce the space required for the offices there at the mill yard. Do not reduce the budget to below 150 million or otherwise we will have stepped back 20 years in our education. That is not fair to the students and their future. Let us not forget the 700+ turnout that happened the last time at Memorial! Anyone making over 75k per year should pay higher insurance co-pays to reduce government spending and benefits to employees.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"Manchester mistake has Hooksett seeking more tuition money"
By GRETA CUYLER, Union Leader Correspondent, 4/2/2008

HOOKSETT – A major enrollment miscalculation on the part of Manchester schools means the city is asking Hooksett for nearly $250,000 more in high school tuition costs for the 2007-2008 school year.

And that means most of the projects Hooksett planned for improving local schools will be put on the back burner.

"We sort of got hit with this by surprise," Dr. Charles Littlefield, superintendant of SAU 15, told the Hooksett School Board last night.

Hooksett sends its students to Manchester high schools -- this year, that number is 512 students. Contractually, Hooksett pays a tuition fee per student, a figure that gets reconciled each year. For the past three years, Manchester has divvied out an annual credit to Hooksett, anywhere from $147 to $278 per student.

Now the tables have turned dramatically.

The initial estimate for Hooksett this year was a per pupil cost of $7,100, a $200 increase over the last year. But Manchester told Hooksett lower-than-expected enrollment -- with no decline in costs -- has upped that figure to $7,584.32 per pupil, an increase of $484.32 per student.

Littlefield attributes the miscalculation to a number of factors, mostly the new high school in Bedford. He also cited general enrollment declines across the state and Hooksett students who attend high school outside of Manchester.

"The Bedford pullout, honestly, was probably the most difficult to predict," Littlefield said.

This year, Bedford High School has 588 students in 9th and 10th grades. Next year, the enrollment is expected to jump to 959 students with the addition of 11th grade.

Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta this week said the city has lost 1,500 students over the past four years. His $276 million budget proposal slashes education spending in the city by $7.3 million.

Instead of waiting until October, when Manchester and Hooksett typically reconcile their high school enrollment figures, Manchester is asking if Hooksett can pay the shortfall now -- a total of $247,971.84.

"We think we can pay a healthy part of this," Littlefield said last night. "Our hope is to pay all of it and start the school year on solid ground."

But that means four local projects won't get done in Hooksett because the board hoped to pay for them with leftover budget funds. Postponed projects include a traffic study at Underhill School, additional lighting at Cawley Middle School, installing cameras on school buses and putting in two means of egress at the elementary schools.

The district promises to complete the projects approved by the voters on this year's warrant, including a technology upgrade and a new maintenance van.

Littlefield said he also plans to turn over $130,000 to the town as promised for health-care costs saved under the new teacher's contract.

The increases for Hooksett aren't over, as Manchester has also revised tuition estimates for 2009. In 2009, the estimated per pupil student cost is $7,990.22.

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"Guinta says school chief playing politics"
By SCOTT BROOKS
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Wednesday, Apr. 2, 2008

Mayor proposing $140m budget:

MANCHESTER – At least 77 school district employees would be laid off. Class sizes would increase dramatically. Sports teams and other extracurricular programs would be cut.

School administrators in Manchester say all of these scenarios would become reality if the aldermen lop 5 percent off the district's budget, as Mayor Frank Guinta proposed Monday. In an e-mail to employees yesterday, Acting Superintendent Henry Aliberti wrote, "All district programs, services and positions will be on the table for discussion."

Guinta decried Aliberti's e-mail as an act of "political gamesmanship." He repeated his assertion that the district must cut expenses to make up for sharp losses in school revenues and the declining enrollment that has accompanied Bedford's withdrawal from the district.

"They waited until my budget was released, and one day later sent out a politically inflammatory letter that doesn't solve the problem," Guinta said yesterday. "In my experience in life, problem solvers don't act this way."

In his e-mail, Aliberti said it is inevitable some teaching jobs would be lost if aldermen approve Guinta's proposal of a $140 million school budget. Officials in the Manchester Education Association were meeting yesterday to review the numbers.

"I would think any teacher, especially young teachers in the school district, need to be very concerned," said Scott McGilvray, the union president.

A handout attached to Aliberti's e-mail outlines the potential consequences of a shrunken school budget. A budget of less than $144 million, it says, would mean "significant reductions in faculty and staff at all levels" and "severe reductions in or elimination of all non-required course offerings." Other repercussions include:

"¢ fewer bus routes, potentially denying service to students who live as far as two miles away from school.

"¢ a district-wide return to half-day kindergarten.

"¢ the elimination of "partnership programs" that serve at-risk students.

"¢ the elimination of alternative programs.

Final decisions have not yet been made, Aliberti noted in his e-mail. However, he said he was certain the revisions necessary to meet the mayor's recommendation would "significantly impact every sector of the district's operations, including classroom instruction," and would "severely" hamper the district's chances of improving its standing on federal assessments. Manchester has come up short on standards set by No Child Left Behind each of the past four years.

As chairman of the school board, Guinta said he will recommend a reduction in "administrative overhead" before other cuts. He said he would then recommend "reducing the number of teachers and support staff through attrition."

Aliberti noted the salaries of all central office personnel amount to just 2.8 percent of the budget. Even with some cuts in administration, he said, "a cut as significant as the one the mayor suggests must inevitably include a recommendation to reduce instructional positions."

Administrators have a history of sending layoff notices to teachers in response to threats of budget reductions. Rarely are most of those teachers let go.

The school board last month asked the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to approve a budget of $153 million, a 4 percent increase over this year's appropriation. Guinta has said the board's request was unrealistic, arguing it would have forced an increase in the city's tax rate.

The mayor's budget proposal would not increase local property taxes.

Doug Kruse, chairman of the school board's finance committee, said he believes the mayor's proposal will spur the board to make the kinds of tough decisions that need to be made. "We have to reflect the reality we face as a city," he said.

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Reader's COMMENTS:

Looks like last years tax cut was a big joke! Guinta knewit back then, he was just trying to make himself look good when he wanted to run for gov. Guinta is totally unqualifed. He should resign.
- Pete, Manchester

There aren't available teachers at West really. They just transfer teachers to other schools so West classes now have classes of 35+!
We are in a district that needs improvement so how to make it better? Of course larger class sizes! That makes perfect sense(at least it does to our great mayor)
- Nate, Manchester

Mr. Cobleigh you are correct to a degree. In my Ward 5 (inner city) we had only 800+ people come out to vote in 2007. I have seen a registered 3000+ people list and can't understand why the apathy is so high? Maybe people feel disconnected with the city. Maybe they feel that their voice doesn't matter. Well it does matter to many people and many people do listen. We as a city need to stop ignoring the problems we face and look to elect state reps and aldermen who will work for us and with us, not the other way around.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

I think Manchester should hire Aliberti as the Superintendant. He asked for 153 million and then stated in this story he can live with 144 million. What is up with that? Guinta proposed 140 million, Aliberti says 144 million, now instead of being shorted 13 million they are now only 4 million apart. The aldermen can easily find 4 million for the school disitirct. Way to go Mr. Aliberti, finally a truthful man. I just can't figure out why the school district asked for 153 million when they can live with 144 million. There needs to be an investigation..lol.
- joekelly, manchester

Please, for the city's sake, DON'T re-elect Guinta, and DON'T even think of voting for him as govenor!
Guinta closed the clubs in the city, not to make the city more safe, but as a way to gain a favorable image! Thats the only way things get done under his watch, if it puts him in a favorable light! Lok at what he TRIED to do to the school board member(?) or was it Alderman(?) , on the "vote" reguarding decrimanalizing marijuana. What he TRIED to do goes AGAINST the constitution! All individuals have the right to vote! If he, or you, do not like the way that person voted, then you know how you must vote when the time comes. I moved to this city after Guinta was elected, so I could not vote for or against him before he got elected, but howmany of you complainig about everything "wrong" with this city actually did vote last election? The one before? Because if you did not vote you really have no right to complain, but do so here to make yourselves feel better!
In other words stop "whinning", and do something about it! Call you Aldermen, City Councilmen, State Rep, call an elected official who can DO SOMETHING!
- Randy Cobleigh, Manchester

These draconian cut threats appear every time a school district sees the gravy train under fire. Cut cut cut! Start with the staff and send a message that avaricious contracts command a price.

If you continue to give the schools the money they ask for, they have no incentive to control spending.
- Jim Peschke, Croydon, NH

Mayor Guinta is over his head and I feel sorry for the great citizens of Manchester. He had no experience and yet was voted into office and now we see what his lack of experience is bringing to the city. He attacks all the fine citizens for their opnion and offers nothing to fix issues. He just shoots from the hip with no facts to support his recommendations.
Citizens of Manchester don't let him get away with it, hold your ground, don't let the mayor ruin your schools for his political gain, your children don't have the luxury of waiting ten years to have the schools reputation rebuilt.
- Norman R.Gill, Hooksett, NH

The Mayor did speak against the pay range for the superintendent when the issue originally came up in the full board. To have voted no on March 15 would not have affected the pay range, just the person receiving it. The board decided on that pay range based on information provided by the consultant group they hired in an effort to attract the most qualified candidate.

The Mayor abstained from voting on the school budget, since he is the one who presents the city-wide budget and to do otherwise could be seen as a conflict of interest. He did, however caution the full school board of the effect such a budget would have on taxes and on the likelihood of such a request being denied. I believe that it was obvious from his comments that he was not in favor of the budget recommendations that passed the school board.
- John Avard, Manchester

Bob, I agree with you! There seems to be some fishy politics going on! The students of Manchester deserve better. Cutting central office won't solve the money issue. Our children will be the ones that end up suffering in larger class sizes and having limited materials. This entire situation is beyond reason! Better education equals a better city which in turn will result in more people wanting to live and open businesses here. Cutting this budget is absolutely ridiculous!
- Jen, Manchester

Sure, the teachers, and most importantly, the students are being used as pawns. Its sad. But whether or not the salaries of all central office personnel amount to 2.8% of the budget or not, if the Mayor really wants to eliminate some money there, he'll have to be more politically savvy than he has been on the School Board. I mean, the Mayor did not try to fight the new, larger salary of the new superintendent, otherwise he would have voted "No." And he didn't even vote "No" on the larger budget the BOSC passed last week. He didn't even try to stop it! Unless . . . he really is politically savvy and wants us to think its NOT HIS fault, its the scool district's fault. Hmm . . .
- Bob, Lake Ave 03104

If the mayor wants the balance his budget on the backs of the school district (which is evident), then Aliberti is left with no choice. He has to think of cuts. How dare the mayor say the letter was politically inflammatory. It was the superintendent doing his job, proposing the necessary cuts. If that hurts Guinta, then the truth hurts. If he's such a 'problem solver' I'd like to see him at ALL the school board meetings, with the superintendent, administrators, teachers, parents, etc. working 24/7 making this budget work. But instead, Guinta just gave a ludicrously low budget number and expects them to deal with it.
- Ed Doyle, Manchester

Mayor Guinta: The schools are your best investment! I'd rather pay now for excellent education programs (including & especially sports and partnership programs like T.A.P. to keep marginal students in school) than pay you later for jails, shelters, and rehab programs to deal with those lost marginal students as they become adults. Fund the schools. Fund the police & fire departments. If you refuse to raise taxes to do so, you do that to protect your political hind-end not to protect the citizens of Manchester. Raise taxes if you must, or find the revenue elsewhere if you can, but don't skimp on the budgets of the schools, police, or fire departments.
- Kathy, Manchester

I for one can't understand that we would hire a Asst. Superintendent at the recommended 150k and a Superintendent at 155K? Where's the logic in that. Another cost on the budget was a business teacher at 40k, if we have available teachers from West High, offer a transfer over to Central. This cost cutting is too sharp for the MANSD. What's next, the DOE coming in and cleaning house? Work the numbers to better reflect cost saving but don't short change the students. We need fiscal responsibility but don't cut up the whole checkbook. Lastly remember the alderman can override the Mayor's veto by two-thirds vote and usher in their own budget. There goes the taxes.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"School budgets: Sometimes they get cut"
The NH Union Leader, April 6, 2008

Are public school budgets sacred? Manchester's public school administration acts as if they are. And that presents serious problems for taxpayers.

Mayor Frank Guinta says the city is facing a roughly $13 million hole in next year's budget. To make ends meet, he has proposed a $7.3 million reduction in the school budget. That's a cut of 5 percent.

In response, Superintendent Henry Aliberti immediately put the school bureaucracy into opposition mode. Instead of announcing that he would work with the mayor to try to find savings and efficiencies, he released a list of services that might be cut and presented the cuts as devastating to the children.

That's not helpful. It's also offensive.

Taxpayers are hurting. They have to cut their own budgets to deal with the rising cost of food and fuel, and many are experiencing reductions in their income. Aliberti's position is: Tough. You have to pay more because I refuse to cut spending.

School budgets cannot be immune from downturns in the economy. They have to face economic reality just as the rest of us do. And the reality is, the city doesn't have the money to provide the same level of funding it has in the past. So the schools have to make do.

Aliberti and other school administrators need to remember that they serve the taxpayers, not the other way around.

Reader's COMMENTS

Releasing "a list of services that might be cut and present[ing] the cuts as devastating to the children" is offensive? No. It's realistic. Just as if the police budget was being cut and the chief explained how it would mean fewer patrols in certain sections of the city. What is actually offensive is that the Union Leader thinks that we shouldn't find out how these cuts will affect us.
- Don, Manchester

Somebody said "tough times require tough decisions".
If Nashua had in their charter a REAL tax/spending cap the negotiations with ALL departments including teacher contracts would go smoothly.
IF Manchester had a Tax/Spending Cap as Laconia and Franklin have these tough decisions may have been made at the beginning of budget discussions.
Thank goodness you have Mayor Guinta - unfortunately the voters elected too many Democrats as Aldermen!
Niel Young
Laconia
- Niel Young, Laconia

We (Manchester) elected Mayor Guinta to watch out for our pocketbooks; he has done just that. Mr. Doyle, if you consider your own home budgeting as an example you will find that everything costs more, we have to deal with less and tax dollars are less as well. With that said, boo-hoo you dont get everything you want - deal with it.

THANK YOU MAYOR! YOU'RE AN INSPIRATION TO EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP!!
- Glen, Manchester

Rather than the school superintendent looking to cut teachers first, why not start with some of the deputy superintendents or other administration? Why, because they know that parents will argue to keep teacher and they will not be outraged if administrative cuts are made. If the true priority was more on the kids' educations and less on the union contracts and administrative office space, we'd find a way to make this budget work.
- Ryan, Manchester

When exactly did the mayor announce he would to work with school administrators to find savings? If anything, his position has been "tough, deal with my figure". Aliberti did just that. I don't think anyone believes that the economy is going well, but Aliberti did his job and listed the ways he might have to deal with these cuts. If the cuts are presented as devastating to children, then I'd say the truth hurts.
I disagree with the last statement. School administrators are charged with creating a vision for their schools. If anything, the community needs to assist that vision in order to publicly educate its children.
- Ed Doyle, Manchester

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"City Hall: Mayor taking some heat over proposed budget"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
April 06, 2008

IT SAYS a lot about Mayor Frank Guinta's new budget proposal that even the departments who would benefit most are not exactly thrilled about it.

Fire Chief James Burkush, who oversees one of the few departments that stand to take in more money than they did this past year, says the mayor's budget would not allow him to fill the seven vacant positions he has now. On top of that, he said, "We anticipate having to reduce staff even further."

Meanwhile, the police department, the biggest beneficiary under the mayor's proposal, is looking at an increase of $864,000, instead of the $1.8 million it requested. One alderman at-large, Dan O'Neil, said he worries that, like fire, the police won't have enough money to fill its vacancies, either.

"I'm very troubled by the police and fire budgets. I don't know how they're going to operate," O'Neil said immediately after the mayor's budget presentation last week.

Guinta sounded confident last week that his budget would preserve the police and fire complements. He further noted his budget sets aside $275,000 to replace old police radios, $300,000 for a plan to expand the downtown police station and $1.4 million for the rehabilitation of the Calef Road fire house.

"I've always talked about public safety, the importance of public safety," Guinta said. "That, in my view, remains a priority for the city."

Police would see a 4 percent increase under Guinta's budget. The fire department would see an increase of 2 percent.

Many departments are not treated so kindly. The school district, most notably, would lose a whopping $7.3 million. Highway, the library, human resources, planning -- all of those departments would see their budgets cut, too.

It will be some time before we know which jobs or services are most at risk. Many department heads say they're still trying to figure that out.

Burkush would not say how many jobs the fire department stands to lose. "I don't want to overreact. I don't want to scare anybody," he said.

What he would say is this: 96 percent of the department's budget is tied up in salaries and benefits. The department asked the mayor for $22.8 million. Guinta came back to them with $1.8 million less than that.

"That's a significant difference," Burkush said.

The Manchester Fire Department has 258 employees, with 234 firefighters on the line. O'Neil, who did some rough math, said he believes the department could lose 15 or more firefighters.

"There's not a lot of wiggle room in that budget to find cuts," said Alderman Betsi DeVries, a former firefighter. She, too, said she worries about a reduction in personnel.

Deputy Police Chief Gary Simmons declined to talk about his department's budget last week. Officer Dave Connare, president of the Manchester patrolman's union, said he just plans to wait and see what happens.

"There's a lot of posturing going on right now," he said. "Who knows what it's going to be when it's said and done."

LOOSE WITH THE FACTS: In an online posting last week, first-term school board member John Avard slammed Guinta for "using faulty data to create and support budget numbers that will be devistating (sic) to the education system here in Manchester."

Avard backed away from the "faulty data" claim when a reporter called the next day. But he maintained the mayor has "misrepresented" the truth about the school district's declining enrollment.

Yes, Avard said, the district has lost about 1,500 students over the past four years. "But they're not all from West High School. There is not a half-empty school, just sitting there," he said.

Avard points to Department of Education figures that show Manchester elementary schools have lost a total of 390 students since 2004. The middle schools have lost 307 students in that time. The high schools, meanwhile, are down 818 students.

"It's so spread out," Avard said. "Where are we going to reduce the teachers from?"

District administrators have said Manchester would have to pink-slip dozens of employees, including teachers, if the aldermen approve Guinta's proposal. Avard put it this way: "I think this goes beyond cut. I think this is more of an amputation."

KEEP 'EM SEPARATED: There are probably many reasons why Grace Sullivan, the executive director of Manchester Community Television, opposes the mayor's plan to merge her station with the city's other station, Manchester Community Access Media. This is the one she started with when a reporter asked her about it last week:

"Students should not be in the same environment as convicted felons," Sullivan said. "And there are public-access producers who are convicted felons."

To clarify, the students to whom she is referring work for MCTV, the publicly funded station that airs local government meetings. Public-access TV shows air on MCAM.

"The other thing," Sullivan said, "(is) there are people on the public-access channel who drink alcohol during their programs. Wine or something. I don't think it's a good idea for students to be around that."

Joe Lahr, MCAM's station director, said he does not know of any producers who have criminal records. "But again, I really don't ask," he said.

As a policy, he said, MCAM doesn't "preview or review" the shows it airs. "If you have the ambition, we have the opportunity," he said.

CAN'T BACK IT UP: A sure sign that the economy is in trouble: More Manchester residents are bouncing checks.

Finance Department records show the city's Ordinance Violations Bureau, which handles parking tickets, received 30 bad checks during the first three months of this year. During the same period last year, it took in just 10 of them.

There was an uptick in the number of people who cut bad checks to pay their water bill, too.

"The economy is definitely starting to show," said Sharon Wickens, the assistant treasury director.

TWO-WEEK DELAY: The aldermen made it clear last week that they expect to approve Mike DeBlasi's nomination to the open school board seat in Ward 3. Several members, however, said they wanted more time to review his qualifications.

DeBlasi is a Central High School graduate and a former sports anchor on WNDS-TV in Derry.

He is currently director of communications for Hillcrest Management LLC, a private equity firm in Milford.

A vote is expected at the next Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting April 15.

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Read Scott Brooks' coverage of City Hall in the New Hampshire Union Leader during the week. His e-mail address is sbrooks@unionleader.com
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Reader's COMMENTS"

No, departments shouldn't just blindly be given what they request.
However, I am troubled when I hear elected officials advocate for cuts without hearing WHERE those cuts should be.

If the Mayor's budget showed by line item where the thinks these cuts could be made without hurting the city, then I could get behind it. But at this point it's difficult to know who to believe.

And as always, I'd like to see people working together as opposed to bickering. Maybe there are more savings to be had, but we won't know that either because of the way Manchester does their budgeting.. without providing a line item budget to the taxpayers.
- Leah, Manchester, NH

Here are some not so common knowledge issues:
a. The mayor knew about losing students from Bedford.
b. The money from the tuition from Bedford went into the general fund -as does all tuition money from outside communities.
c. No planning ahead.
If city administrators put their heads together and looked at everything they could figure out ways to manage funds better.
Mayor Guinta needs to step back and have these discussions before his reactionary moves. It makes him appear like Manchester is only a stepping stone for him as a politician - and I think it is. Unfortunately, Mayor Guinta, has not yet learned the characteristics that make New Hampshire unique. We have the uncanny ability to disagree on some issues but there are some things that are always standard. Our community needs to come together and figure these money problems out before degradation of character and job threats cause friction in the community. Long term planning and communication is the only way to make that happen.
- joco, manchester,NH

I find it interesting that the mayor is willing to make the “tough” decision to gut the education budget in this city as a knee jerk reaction to the loss of the Bedford students, but he isn’t willing to make the “tough” decision to make the those student from Hooksett go to West to better balance the student load in this city. Though Hooksett parents pay for the PRIVILAGE to attend schools in Manchester, does that give them the right to dictate what school they’ll attend? As somebody else stated earlier, the reduction in students isn’t all about the loss of students from Bedford. The children of the baby boom generation are having fewer children themselves. The overall number of students is declining across the district as well as across the state and the country. But the overall cost of education continues to rise. If our mayor had a basic grasp of economics, he’d realize that the cost of oil and this country’s creeping inflation rate, coupled with the creeping job loss rate and the shrinking dollar all have a direct effect on the cost of all of this city’s infrastructure and services. For example, it cost a lot more to have an officer patrol the city at $3.25 a gallon for gas than it did at $2.50. And it cost more for books for the schools because it cost more to print them and ship them now. Come on Frank, use your head for something other than a hat rack! Any first year accounting student can see the major flaws in your budget, but then again if I’m not mistaken, you have a law degree which makes you highly qualified to talk out of both sides of your mouth!

Given the current economic condition in this country, just keeping the school district budget the same as it was last year will put a financial strain on the district this year, let alone cutting the budget to the bone. Why can’t the mayor be a bit more creative with his budget instead of looking within the city infrastructure for a cash cow that will put a false “fiscal conservative” spin on his gubernatorial campaign? For example, if West is that open (and I know that it really isn’t) then why not take one of the floors or wings and put the admin offices there and the budget savings would then be realized by not needing the mill yard offices. Of course, that would mean the administrators might have to be “down in the trenches” to witness first hand the results of all their uninformed decisions for the district. We couldn’t have that now could we?

I think what I find most amazing is the fact that according to our mayor, we can’t afford to pay for a quality education for our kids, but we can put up wrought iron archways on places like Kelly Street. Admittedly, the cost of the archway is a pittance compared to the proposed budget cuts. But then again, if you’re really trying to save money, why pay $100,000 to put lipstick on a pig? Does the mayor really believe that the West side drug dealers and the “D” block gang will take more pride in their neighborhood because of that archway? All he did was to provide a target for the vandals to “tag”. I give it a month into warmer weather and you’ll start seeing spray paint “tags” all over that archway. Now THAT archway was a waste of money! Using my tax dollars on my children’s education isn’t! Instead of putting up an archway leading into some of the worst parts of the city, why not try spending that money on fixing the potholes on and around Kelly Street instead!
- Collin, Manchester

Scott Brooks check your numbers the Mayor needs to bring in a zero increase so the Board of Alderman can make the hard decisions. He needs to look good for his next run for whatever office. Departments have been unreasonably and without responsibility, cut again. Guinta is for Guinta and not for the city. We need to send this Carpetbagger packing.
- David, Manchester

Ryan, right now 1 Chief, 1 Deputy Chief, 1 Acting Deputy, 1 Training, 3 Fire Prevention, 5 Communication (take care of all communication in city), 9 Dispatchers, 1 IT, 6 Administrative Secretaries, including Business Manager. I would say this is a pretty lean administrative staff for an organization the size of the Fire Department with all the responsibilities.
- Don, Manchester

The problem you have is revenue vs expense. For every dollar you take in you spend a dollar, you can't spend $ 1.25. That is what caused the credit crunch today. Unless people are willing to pay more in taxes (I am not), then this city needs to learn to live within it's means. Basic economics.
- Jim, Manchester

Ryan, I am not an expert into the workings of the MFD, but my guess is those 24 members are made up of the command structure.. (chief, deputy chiefs) as well as the support staff at the central station (the people who answer calls and dispatch the proper stations to calls.
- Travis, Manchester, NH

The problem that Mayor Guinta is going to have with his budget, is that, the cuts the Department Heads will need to make are in Administration. The fact is, Administrators don't want to cut their Administration. If the Mayor can force Department Heads to cut from the top, hardly any change in services would be seen. If, however, the cuts are from the rank and file, the changes could be crippling. Good luck Mayor.
- Tim, Manchester

It is goodi to see the Guinta is Mayor, running our City, rather than the School Dept Puppet John Avard.

Hey Avard I had your sign and Ron Paul sign along with Guinta for re-election; Dont look my way again for an Avard Sign Location if you continue to stooge for those teachers' increases and tax increase requests.

And here I thought you were Republican?
- Glen, Mancheste

So if you throw more money at something the quality will increase. We should spend billions and all of the Manchester students willbe rocket scientists. The amount of money spent does not have a direct reflection on the quality of education. As usual, when someone wants responsible spending, people trash it but without alternative ideas. What a shame.
- Mike, Bedford NH

What do the 24 fire department employees that are not on the line do?
- Ryan, Manchester

I had to reduce my budget this year as my employer didn't give me the funds I requested. These departments will have to do the same.
It's also worth underlining the fact that they are still getting increases; just not as much as they would like.
I'm behind Mayor Guinta and wish those in office in Bedford would follow his example of fiscal conservatism.
- michelle, Bedford

Gus - you and Mayor Guinta have to wake up and smell the coffee. The price of everything is going up - transportation, food - there is a front page article about the rising cost of pizza ingredients, for heaven's sake! Why would you or Mayor Guinta expect the cost of governing, protecting, and educating the citizens of Manchester to go down? And yes, we, the citizens of Manchester, might need to dig a little deeper to cover the costs. If you don't like it, try living somewhere else. Think you'll like your tax rates better in Boston, or maybe Providence? Then go! I have said it before in response to an article about Mayor Guinta's ridiculous school budget: raise taxes if you must, or find the revenues elsewhere if you can, but DO NOT skimp on the budgets of the school, police, and fire departments. If the mayor shortchanges any of those 3 departments in order to avoid raising taxes, he does so only to look pretty to you, Gus, and other short-sighted tax penny-pinchers and certainly not to protect the citizens of Manchester!
- Kathy, Manchester

Hello ??? Should all departments automatically get all the money they requested?? Am i the only one who realizes the monies these departments request come from the TAXPAYERS ?? Do our wallets have no bottom? Is there any reason departments can't reduce their budgets?
- Gus, Manchester

Budget: Cutting the school district's budget that much will hurt and reduce the amout of quality education that is requried by the state and federal government. Stop spending 75k on black arches over streets until we have the revenue to spend on them.
MCTV-MCAM: If the Mayor would just look back in history he would see why they split up in the first place. Secondly I have met the crew and staff from both places and they are wonderful people. Mr. Lahr and his staff are like a second family to many people. When you visit MCAM you get the sense that you belong there. Many producers I know and find them entertaining with great personalities, hardly 'convicted felons' in my book?? Some maybe not all though.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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Henry Aliberti: "Manchester schools cannot simply fire teachers to balance the budget"
By HENRY ALIBERTI, NH Union Leader, Op-Ed, April 09, 2008

I AM WRITING in response to the April 4 and April 6 editorials that casually dismissed the potential loss of teaching positions in the Manchester School District as a result of Mayor Frank Guinta's proposed $7.25 million reduction in the district's current operating budget.

Teachers are the key element in the district's effort to create educated and productive citizens. They play an integral role in the development of this community's most precious resource -- its children. Christa McAuliffe said it best in describing her profession: "I touch the future. I teach." The implication of the loss of a single teacher is significant.

I join Scott McGilvary, the president of the teachers' union who was quoted in the April 4 editorial as being "very concerned" about the loss of teachers, in expressing this concern.

What the author of the April 4 editorial either did not realize or did not acknowledge is that school administrators faced with budget cuts and declining enrollments cannot simply cut the teaching corps in direct proportion to the number of students leaving the system.

The author of the editorial asked, "By what logic does spending continue to rise when the number of people served by that spending shrinks?" The explanation is as follows: In the past year, the school district's elementary enrollment was 69 students fewer than that of the previous school year. The reduction took place not at a single school or in a single grade or in a single class; rather, it was spread across the city's 14 elementary schools and across grades K through five. Those 69 students were extricated from a total of 373 classrooms spread across the district.

If all had left one school en masse, the logic proposed by the editorial writer might apply. But when students leave in increments of three and four, it is impossible to shutter entire classrooms and terminate the teachers who taught in them because there are still lots of students left to teach.

Similar stories can be told in the upper grades, but it is worth noting that West High School lost 17 teachers last year because of the departure of Bedford students.

The author of the editorial also overestimated the number of students the district has lost in the last four years. According to official enrollment figures posted on the Web site of the New Hampshire Department of Education, Manchester enrolled 17,655 students in 2003 and 16,476 students in 2007. That's a difference of 1,179 students -- not the 1,500 that was cited.

In addition, the editorial writer failed to acknowledge that a significant number of faculty hires are required by federal mandates that govern special education, support the district's efforts to shed the "district in need of improvement" label imposed by No Child Left Behind, and address high school accreditation requirements and the district's contractual obligations to sending towns.

Finally, the April 4 editorial asserted that, by keeping its teachers and community members informed of the implications of the mayor's budget figure, the district was being oppositional. This is just not the case.

The district met every request made by the mayor throughout the budget development process. He requested the school district prepare budget proposals representing a 2 percent decrease, no increase, and a 3 percent increase in its current operating budget of $147.25 million. This request was honored and a budget presentation was made to the finance committee of the Board of School Committee on Feb. 20. This budget presentation noted that the district would require just under the 3 percent figure -- or $151 million -- to continue its current operations.

Possible program and staffing reductions were also noted in the budget proposal if funding fell below the $151 million operational level.

Two weeks ago, a public hearing was held to explain the district's budgetary request. At no time before or during the hearing did the mayor indicate that he was considering such a substantial budget cut.

Information about the implications of the mayor's cut will continue to be generated from the school administration office throughout this process -- not to be inflammatory, but to be informative. What kind of leader would communicate to faculty members about the possibility of the loss of a job only on the day notification letters were handed out? What kind of leader would not inform the community that its school system is being severely impacted?

As the budget process continues, it will be incumbent upon me as acting superintendent to make sure the debate over school funding is informed by the facts. I have every intention of keeping district employees and the public informed in the days and weeks to come. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to offer information that relates accurate data regarding the district's situation than the one conveyed in the April 4 and April 6 editorials. I invite the mayor, aldermen and any community member to meet with me to review the district's needs for the 2008-2009 school year.

-
Henry Aliberti is acting superintendent of the Manchester School District.
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Reader's COMMENTS:

So, let me see if I get this straight, Acting Superintendent Aliberti:

The number of enrollments has gone down and the budget is being cut so that means we CAN'T decrease the number of teachers the city employs?

I'd like to know if we're teaching the kids enrolled in Manchester schools the same kind of math you're using because, if we are, we're all in big trouble.

I'm sorry, but if 1,179 students have left the school system in the last four years, then there should have been a corresponding staffing decrease to offset that attrition. That's how it works in the real world, Acting Superintendent Aliberti.

Every year, our schools get more and more money and it's NEVER enough. If $151 MILLION isn't enough, then perhaps it's time for a stem-to-stern citizen review of the education budget.

After all the issues with pagers, SUVs and pizza delivery, I'm *sure* there's plenty of things we can get rid of to account for that $7.25 million you're complaining about.
- William Smith, Manchester, NH

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The Hippo, www.hippopress.com, Manchester, NH
Publisher's Note: "Education? Back of the bus"
By Jody Reese

Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta knows that his prospects for higher office are greatly diminished if he favors a tax increase, so he has — he hopes shrewdly — proposed a budget that effectively cuts education spending by 8.5 percent and increases fire and police spending by less than inflation, but doesn’t increase taxes.

While it’s not a good budget for Manchester taxpayers or their children, it’s an excellent political move.

Sure, when Guinta decides to run for higher office some might accuse him of presiding over failing schools, but he can claim — with some truth — that they were failing before he came to office. All one can really accuse him of doing is making a bad situation worse, and anyway governors don’t preside over schools.

In last week’s Manchester Express, guest columnist Kathy Staub explored some of the reasons Manchester schools continue to fare poorly (found on the Web at www.manchexpress.com). Chief among them is funding. While average spending on schools in New Hampshire breaks down to about $9,007 per pupil, in Manchester it’s $7,864. Staub says only five school districts fund at lower levels. In other words, Manchester spends less than almost every school district in the state.

While it’s true that the Manchester School District lost its Bedford students, those losses are being offset in part by other students entering the system. More than that, even if 50 teachers — those teaching the 1,200 Bedford students exiting Manchester schools — were fired the district would save only $3.2 million or so. That’s still $9 million less than Guinta wants to cut.

Manchester is one of the only communities in the state that spends more on running the city government than on school district. That should be a huge red flag.

When Manchester started to get large amounts of state education aid, a good portion of that money went to the general fund and not to education. What does it say about Manchester that even money sent here from the state for education isn’t used solely for education?

Many will say that a quality education doesn’t take money. Look at the Greatest Generation from World War II; educating them didn’t cost nearly as much. While I actually don’t know if that is true, it is true that the economy of Manchester (and of the country) has changed dramatically. No longer can you get a decent manufacturing job that pays middle-class wages — most manufacturing jobs have gone to other countries. Now those middle-class jobs require college, and sending our kids to colleges requires good schools.

Staub’s guest column hits on another key point that should concern people who don’t have kids in the school system. Poorly performing schools mean people will move elsewhere when they have school-age kids. That in turn will reduce property values.

In the final analysis, does Manchester want good schools and a strong long-term tax base or does it want to be a stepping stone along Guinta’ political career?

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"Cook On Concord: Revenue woes hit N.H. and its biggest city"
By Brad Cook, Article published Apr 11, 2008, www.nhbr.com

As the Legislature labors on, a cloud hangs over the State House, with almost daily changes in the estimates of revenue shortfalls for this year and next.

Gov. John Lynch estimated recently that there would be a $50 million problem in revenue this year and instructed department heads to do something about it to stave off an expected budget deficit. However, other analysts and later revenue projections make Lynch’s estimate of revenue seem optimistic.

Charles Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, issued a report estimating the problem to be $100 million in the current year and another $100 million in the next.

Meanwhile, in the city of Manchester, Mayor Frank Guinta presented his budget proposal for the fiscal year starting July 1. In a startling address, he proposed no tax increase and significant budget cuts, most notably to the school district, which he cut by over $7 million, claiming he was cutting expenditures by the amount of reduced revenue estimated to be coming in.

This “meat-ax” approach startled many and resulted in predictions of layoffs, overcrowding and even the closing of West High School.

Both of these events remind observers of a number of basic truths that may be missed by politicians but should not be when you do not have enough money coming in.

First, you can cut programs and spending. Across-the-board cuts of a certain percentage of spending work only so far. Sometimes, government has to be re-thought, and entire activities eliminated.

Second, you can raise more money. On the one hand, revenue sources can be increased or new revenue sources can be found. Those are generally called “taxes” and “fees.” On the other hand, existing revenue sources can be made to produce more revenue. This is done by increasing economic activity in the areas that produce funds from existing taxes.

What politicians seem to forget, and what everybody else ought to get them to remember, is that the ultimate answer to the issues at hand is increased economic activity, attracting business, making profits — and doing so helps everyone, since when there are more taxpayers, more revenue and the individual contribution by any one business or taxpayer is reduced.

It will be interesting to see how often increased economic activity, development and long-term solutions are discussed during the shortfall discussions in Concord and the budget process in Manchester.


*****
Meanwhile now that crossover day has passed, the number of bills still alive in the Legislature is decreasing in number.

Some economic development bills are still alive, including House Bill 1282, which amends the pre-engineering technology curriculum in schools, HB 1404, relative to liability insurance for passenger rail service which, if passed, would give a shot in the arm to efforts to bring rail service to New Hampshire, Senate Bill 412, relative to establishing the office of technology development and telecommunications planning and SB 452, relative to transportation planning.

A number of bills on workforce housing are still alive that are similar to each other, and it seems likely that there will be some legislation on that issue coming out of the Legislature this year.

In energy and regulated utilities, there are a number of bills, including the regional greenhouse gas initiative bill, which has passed the House and is in the Senate, HB 1561, establishing an energy conservation and efficiency board, HB 1628, relative to renewable energy generation incentive programs, HB 1631, relative to state purchase of biodiesel fuel, and SB 383, establishing a commission to develop a plan to expand transmission capacity in the North Country.

A number of environmental bills are still alive including setback requirements from wetlands, HB 1594, relative to hazardous material reporting requirements, SB 352, relative to shoreland protection, and SB 403, relative to the commission to study issues relative to groundwater withdrawals.

In the area of fiscal policy, there are a number of bills, including HB 1220, which establishes a commission to study the taxation of alternate fuel and electric power motor vehicles — an interesting bill, since environmental legislation is aimed at reducing pollution, and this appears to inquire about the need to tax the vehicles that use less gas, since they will pay less in gas tax – and HB 1308, relative to the business profits tax deduction for reasonable compensation. nhbr

Brad Cook is a partner in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green and heads its government relations and estate planning groups.

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NH Union Leader – Manchester Edition – Vol. 146, No. 17 – Greater Manchester

“`Bleak picture’ seen in Guinta budget”
By John Whitson

MANCHESTER—Faces were matched to hard numbers yesterday, as more than 30 school leaders met at district offices to protest Mayor Frank Guinta’s budget.

Principals and assistant principals painted a scorched earth picture of life in the district if the mayor’s budget becomes reality.

No sports art & music programs gutted, no gifted & talented program, classroom sizes of “at least 35-40,” hallways running wild with kids.

“Our middle schools will become warehouses for students, breeding grounds for dropouts,” said Hillside Middle School Principal Stephen Donohue.

Several people in the crowd were given layoff notices Tuesday-[-, April 15, 2008].

Those pink slips were the first step in what would ultimately total more than 100 jobs lost among teachers, administrators and staff under spending cuts Superintendent Henry Aliberti has outlined.

Aliberti said he will prioritize his $13.1 [million] list of budget cuts and review them at the May 6 school board meeting.

Personnel cuts, he said, will be at the bottom. The first thing to go will be building maintenance work.

The school district proposed spending $153.1 million in 2008-09, up 4% from this year.

Aliberti’s list of cuts total the $13.1 million difference between the district’s spending plan and the mayor’s $140 million budget.

Guinta, who was not invited, said district officials have been on notice for two months about Manchester’s dire financial situation.

They should have spent that time more constructively, he said, looking for ways to save money other than cutting teachers and programs.

“They did not, in my opinion, take seriously the realities of the situation they are in and now they’re expressing shock,” said Guinta. “I think they are being disingenuous.”

Meanwhile, the Manchester Republican Committee backed the mayor, calling on school district officials to “live within your means.”

“We are urging the aldermen and the school department officials to support Mayor Guinta’s reasonable budget reductions,” said Manchester Republican Committee Chairman John Castleot.

“This whole process is disheartening to me because it is bad for kids,” said West High Assistant Prinicipal Gary Dempsey, one of eight educators pink-slipped this week. “We are all going to land on our feet, but the kids do not have an option.”

Memorial High Principal Arthur Adamakos predicted all 3 high schools would lose accreditation within 3 years.

The city would rob its brightest kids of the chance to attend top colleges, while young teachers will look elsewhere for work, Adamakos said. “On all fronts, it is a pretty bleak picture.”

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Letters – NH Union Leader – Page A9 – April 18, 2008

“Rally behind Manchester schools, students”

To the Editors:

As a first-year elementary school administrator in Manchester, my position was identified as one of the first to potentially be cut to reach the mayor’s budget. I fear that many other hard-working educators in our building will be told that their positions may be in jeopardy as well.

Understanding the needs of our students and their families, I have difficulty grasping how Henry Wilson School, or any Manchester school, will function without a full staff and administration in place. Our location in the city inherits many challenges, which include behavior issues, attendance, transiency and safety. Eliminating staff or resources from our school would negatively impact a population of students already facing adversity. This school has always been a haven for our inner-city population. Taking educational resources away from this neighborhood is like stealing from the poor and is a travesty.

This budget crisis puts up barriers that impede the progress we are making for our students. The city needs to rally behind its children and express their dismay at the direction Manchester is going. The future of Manchester lies with the families it provides for, and the growth of our city stops when our schools’ needs are abandoned.

RON KEW
Henry Wilson School
Manchester

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"Budget beef finds way into student backpacks"
By JOHN WHITSON, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, April 19, 2008

MANCHESTER – A letter written by Weston Elementary School's PTO president urging parents to lobby aldermen on school spending was given to Weston students to take home this week.

That violates school board policy.

The board adopted a policy in the 1990s banning the use of school children as couriers to distribute material of a political nature.

Jennifer Lenox, vice president of Weston's parent-teacher organization, said the letter was written by the group's president, Kathleen Epperson.

Attempts to reach Epperson and Weston Principal Lizabeth MacDonald yesterday were unsuccessful.

Superintendent of Schools Henry Aliberti said both women became aware of the violation after the fact and regret the mailing.

"Liz was not aware of (the policy)," said Aliberti. "She's fairly new to the position. I know that both she and the head of the PTO feel very bad about it."

Aliberti said he learned of the letter yesterday and immediately called Mayor Frank Guinta.

"I wanted his office to know this wasn't a practice of the district," said Aliberti.

The administration also took steps to avoid a similar misstep this political season.

"We notified all principals, all assistant principals and school secretaries that any material containing political, budgetary information is not to go home through students," said Aliberti.

Though written by Epperson, the letter was approved by MacDonald for distribution to every child in the school.

The one-page, unsigned letter is addressed to "Weston Parents" with the headline: "EXTREMELY IMPORTANT ~ PLEASE READ."

The letter lists the city's 14 aldermen and their contact information.

"I urge every parent, guardian, aunt, uncle, grandmother and grandfather to place a call to their Alderman or send an email voicing their concerns as soon as possible," read the letter, in part.

"Please let the decision makers know that we cannot tolerate such a drastic decrease in the funding for our children's education."

The letter also urged people to attend an April 28 public forum on the school district budget at Memorial High School.

Guinta said that sending such information home with students puts the children in an awkward position.

"It troubles me that an organization that has good intentions would make an error in judgment and utilize kids in that fashion," Guinta said. "When I heard about it, I was surprised that it occurred."

Guinta said it is important to move beyond the incident and continue productive talks on the city's financial challenges and ways to improve education.

Lenox said the letter was not meant to be political.

"We all feel strongly about the class sizes increasing, especially in the Weston School district," she said, "because we have new houses and condominiums being built and we already have a portable (classroom)."

Alderman Real Pinard, whose Ward 6 includes Weston School, said he expected to be inundated with constituent calls after a neighbor showed him the letter.

As of yesterday, however, Pinard said he'd received just two calls, one from a person concerned about funding sports and another who was worried about music.

"I called the school yesterday and asked them who sent this letter and they couldn't tell me," said Pinard.

"As far as I'm concerned, this letter is worthless because it doesn't have a signature."

The letter actually understates the gap between the school board's and the mayor's proposed budgets for the district, citing a $7 million difference when it is $13.1 million.

Guinta's spending plan is approximately $7 million less than this year's district budget. The school board has proposed a $6 million spending increase.
-
Staff Writer Dan Tuohy contributed to this story.
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"City Hall: Proposed budget as lean as shelter's food pantry"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Sunday, Apr. 20, 2008

WELFARE COMMISSIONER Paul Martineau says there's not enough money in Mayor Frank Guinta's proposed budget to help the homeless people his department routinely refers to the New Horizons soup kitchen and shelter.

The Welfare Department currently pays New Horizons a $3,000-a-month stipend to take in, clothe and feed the homeless. In a recent letter to Fred Robinson, the shelter's executive director, Martineau warned he'd have to cut the shelter off next year if the aldermen level-fund his department's budget, as Guinta proposed.

"Regrettably," Martineau wrote, "the budget constraints placed on our department leaves me with no alternative."

Guinta said the decision to halt those payments is Martineau's alone. He recognized his budget would force Martineau to make some difficult choices but said eliminating the stipend should be a "last resort."

"He does have other options on the table," the mayor said.

Guinta has identified the city's homelessness problem as a key concern in his second term. In February, he held a press conference to announce the release of a 10-year plan to end homelessness in Manchester, proclaiming, "I have a personal investment in this."

Robinson said losing the monthly stipend would "certainly have an impact." He and Tim Soucy, the city's public health director and president of the New Horizons board, said they're hoping to find money from other sources.

"We will have to work hard to try and make up the loss," Robinson said, "as we are seeing more people in the food pantry lines and more in the dining room, too."

Guinta is hoping the new 10-year plan will make the city and the many non-profits that aid the homeless more efficient. He also said he hopes it will encourage the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to funnel more dollars to Manchester.

If that happens, he said, he would "most likely" steer some of that money to the Welfare Department.

With a budget of nearly $1.2 million, the Welfare Department is one of several city departments that would be level-funded under Guinta's budget. Guinta has said he wanted to keep expenses down so he would not have to increase the burden on local taxpayers.

"UNBELIEVABLE BREACH"
Guinta and several school board members were fuming last week after learning administrators promised to pay the district's incoming director of food and nutrition services about $4,000 more than called for by a board-approved contract.

The contract says the job should pay no more than $64,266, according to board member Art Beaudry. When confronted at a board meeting last week, administration officials admitted they boosted the salary to roughly $68,000 during negotiations with the as-yet-unidentified nominee.

Beaudry was outraged, calling the episode "an unbelievable breach of authority." Guinta said he was frustrated and questioned the district's "financial integrity."

The board decided not to hire anyone for the position until more details come to light.

District Business Administrator Karen DeFrancis said the salary range in the contract approved by the board was incorrect. Under questioning, former Human Resources Director Jeff Kantarowski said he was the one who identified the "error."

The confrontation was one of Kantarowski's last experiences as an employee of the Manchester school district; he stepped down last week to take a job with the New Hampshire Education Association.

Acting Superintendent Henry Aliberti offered to take responsibility for what happened. "I am the acting superintendent," he said. "It's my responsibility to review these things."

The food services job was held for many years by Mark Burkush. Since February, Burkush has been working for the district as a consultant. He told us in March he was thinking about applying to get the job back.

OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO
Coming soon (hopefully) to Manchester-Boston Regional Airport: direct flights to Los Angeles, Denver and Raleigh-Durham.

Those are the three locations at the top of the airport's recently revised "hit list," according to Deputy Director Brian O'Neill. Airport executives have been trying to persuade the airlines to fly out of Manchester to all those spots, and at this point, O'Neill said, "It's a matter of time."

A non-stop flight to L.A., in particular, would be a notable first for Manchester's mid-size hub. The prospect of coast-to-coast service drove the decision to extend the airport's runway in 2003.

There is reason to be optimistic, O'Neill said. For years, he said, the top three destinations on the airport's wish list were Las Vegas, Phoenix and Fort Lauderdale. Southwest Airlines now flies daily to Vegas and Phoenix. Daily flights to Fort Lauderdale begin May 10.

FACT CHECK
When Alderman Ted Gatsas made the mistake of putting words in Aliberti's mouth, he did what so many politicians do when caught in a jam. He blamed the media.

Speaking at last week's Finance Committee meeting, Gatsas told Aliberti, "You were quoted in the paper as saying you could live with a $144 million budget." That would be news, certainly, since the administration has been asking for $153.1 million.

"I wasn't aware of that quote," Aliberti responded, "and I did not make that quote."

That's true. In fact, the newspaper -- this one, at least -- never quoted Aliberti as saying anything of the sort.

So what did Gatsas do? He said something snarky about newspapers and how they're always misquoting him.

We'd repeat his comments here, but lord knows we'd probably bungle the wording.

THREE FINGERS GETS A THUMBS UP
Jimmy "Three Fingers" Triantafillou has been nominated to serve on the Manchester Fire Commission.

Triantafillou, also known as "Jimmy T," is a beloved figure on the Queen City sports scene. In January, he began his 25th season as a volunteer assistant coach with the Southern New Hampshire University baseball team. The New Hampshire Union Leader honored him last year by giving him the Carl Lundholm Award for service to youth in athletics.

GONE TO THE DOGS
Alderman Russ Ouellette says dog-walking should be banned in city cemeteries.

"Families believe we should not be walking dogs on the grave sites of their loved ones," Ouellette said at last Tuesday's board meeting. He added, "Your honor, there is no bigger dog-lover in this building than I am."

That got the other aldermen muttering, and Ouellette was forced to amend his comment. "Alderman (Mike) Garrity, as well," he said.

-

Read Scott Brooks' coverage of City Hall in the New Hampshire Union Leader. His e-mail is sbrooks@unionleader.com

-

Readers' COMMENTS:

Paul Martineau says there's not enough money in Mayor Frank Guinta's proposed budget to help the homeless people and last year during a 'Meet The Candidates' he was quoted in saying; "Don't elect Republicans because they will cut your jobs!" Seems it might be time for someone else to run the city's welfare department with a better understanding of what it means to live with little or no money. As for my family and myself, we know what it's like being homeless, thats how our journey started in Manchester with us living at New Horizons and getting married there then getting our lives back on track thanks to the kindness of those who lived in Manchester. Manchester is a great city full of history and opportunities, lets join together and start working on solutions for those who are less fortunate.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

I find it rather intriguing that Mr. Martineua has repeatedly stated (proudly I might add) that he has returned money from his annual budget back to City Hall every year he has been in office. So it makes sense that Guinta would level fund the welfare Department since Martineau is so "frugal" with our money. Interestingly, it seems that since Martineau has taken over the Welfare Department, there appears to be more homeless people living under bridges than being taken care of by his department.
- joekelly, manchester

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"Supreme Court clears way for halfway house in city"
By PAT GROSSMITH, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Saturday, Apr. 19, 2008

MANCHESTER – Federal prisoners preparing to reenter society will find a home on Elm Street in the near future after the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of a private group that wants to operate a downtown halfway house.

The court ruled yesterday that the city violated the constitutional rights of Community Resources For Justice Inc. (CRJ) of Boston with its zoning ordinance banning correctional facilities in the city.

CRJ operates halfway houses under contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. For the past four years, it has battled the city over its proposal to place a halfway house at 1490-1492 Elm St.

The city contended the ordinance did not violate CRJ's equal protection rights because there is "no doubt" halfway houses are an "undesirable" land use and preventing a "concentration of undesirable users including correctional institutions" within the city is "an important governmental objective."

Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge James Barry found the city's actual purpose in banning federal halfway houses was its concern that prisoners posed a threat to the surrounding community, that they would commit crimes and the halfway house would depress property values.

The Supreme Court said the city presented "no evidence" those concerns were founded.

In contrast, the court said, the trial record contains substantial evidence that the halfway house would provide an important social benefit and not pose any risks to the safety of the neighborhood. The record indicates "overwhelming support" for the halfway house including letters from police, community and religious leaders, and law enforcement experts including a U.S. attorney, a U.S. marshal and the U.S. Probation Office, the court said.

The trial court cited a need for the halfway house because Manchester has a large number of individuals who are required to return after the end of their federal sentences and because of a lack of services to help them reenter society. The property in question is suitable, the court wrote, because of its proximity to public transportation and job opportunities.

The city fought the halfway house effort since 2004, arguing it already houses more than its fair share of prisoners with the Hillsborough County jail, Calumet House, a state-operated halfway house, and the state Youth Detention Center.

David Vicinanzo, CJR's attorney, in a telephone call from Memphis, Tenn., said he had not seen the court's ruling.

"We welcome the ruling because we think this is a significant law enforcement benefit to the city," he said. "We will be an excellent neighbor and addition to the community and look forward to working with the city for the benefit of the community."

Last year, when the Superior Court ruled against the city, Mayor Frank Guinta said it was his duty to appeal the decision. Last night, Guinta said the high court's decision was flawed.

"This terrible decision shows that the rights of criminals and of parolees supersede those of the law-abiding citizens of Manchester," Guinta said in a statement. "The proposed site is within one-tenth of a mile from 100 children, as well as the Health and Welfare departments; I certainly foresee this halfway house having a chilling effect on our most vulnerable residents that need these services the most."

"Manchester has done much more than its share in helping parolees return to a normal life," Guinta continued. "Unfortunately, the court does not, or refuses to, see this issue. As mayor, I remain committed to fighting this injustice."

-

Reader's COMMENT:

One can assume that what ever mental giant came up with the decision to allow a half way house in Manchester does not live in the area. Now the good people of Manchester have but another problem to deal with as if they do not have enough trouble with all of the crimes that have been going on as of late.
- dick johnson, warren

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"City police warn of manpower shortages"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
April 22, 2008

MANCHESTER – City police officials say Mayor Frank Guinta's budget proposal would leave the department 11 officers short of a full complement in the coming fiscal year.

"We can't see any other way around it," Deputy Chief Gary Simmons told the aldermen last night. He estimated the department needs another $607,000 to reach a full complement of 225 sworn officers.

Guinta said the department wasn't trying hard enough to trim its costs. He urged police brass to comb the budget for other expenses that could be cut, such as overtime, severance payouts or court costs.

"Don't come here and tell me the only way to do it is to take people off the street," he told Simmons.

The aldermen are just now beginning to hear from various city department heads, many of whom say Guinta's budget proposal would translate into job losses or reduced services. Yesterday, the board heard pleas from Public Health Director Tim Soucy, who said his department would be forced to lay off six employees and eliminate several programs, including dental services for school children and the city's winter flu clinics, without another $296,000.

"In my opinion," Soucy said, "if these cuts are made, there will be a threat to the public health of the citizens of the city." Soucy said the extra funding for the Health Department would cost the average taxpayer $7.20 next year, assuming a home valuation of $240,000. Alderman Ted Gatsas tried to put that number in a broader context, reminding Soucy there are 31 departments in the city, and most of them are pleading for more money, as well.

Guinta has said the tax rate would increase 16 percent if all of the departments' budget requests were approved. His own proposal would not raise taxes.

Several aldermen called the police complement a priority for the city. The department expects to have 214 sworn officers as of July 1. Missing will be eight officers, two sergeants and - as of this Friday - Chief John Jaskolka, who recently announced his retirement.

Simmons said there are 11 prospective officers who could be hired as soon as this July. It was unclear whether the department would be able to bring those recruits aboard if the aldermen refuse to increase the department's budget.

Alderman Jim Roy said he worries the department could wind up with fewer than 214 officers next year as aging officers retire. Officials said they expect about 11 officers will retire in the coming fiscal year.

"So we're going to go another year without having a full complement again?" Roy asked Simmons at one point.

"Yes," Simmons said. "Not necessarily a whole year, but close to it."

Guinta said he expects the chief who succeeds Jaskolka could save money by reorganizing the entire department "in terms of rank." In the meantime, he advised the administration to consider cutting civilian jobs and to review other expenses.

"Look at it again and see if you can find some savings," Guinta told Simmons.

Guinta's proposal would give the police $22.5 million next year. The department notes 94 percent of its budget is tied up in salaries, which are higher than they were a year ago because of recent contract negotiations.

Both Simmons and Jaskolka said they understood the mayor's call for a lean budget in a time of economic uncertainty. Their own department, they conceded, is one of few in the city that stands to receive more money than was given in the last round of budget talks.

Soucy said the cuts in Guinta's budget proposal could force the Health Department to cancel flu shots this winter. The department immunized 643 people against the flu in fiscal 2007, he said.

He also said he would not have the staff needed to monitor the city's mosquito population for West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis.

Pressed by Alderman Betsi DeVries, Soucy said he does not know whether the state's contractor could test Manchester's mosquitoes, just as it tests mosquitoes in other communities.

Other city departments have complained about Guinta's budget recommendations. Officials with the Fire Department and the Highway Department are slated to go before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen today.

Fire Chief James Burkush has previously suggested he could have to let some firefighters go. A letter signed by Highway Department chief Kevin Sheppard says he would have to eliminate 45 employees, nearly a quarter of the department's workforce.

-

Readers' COMMENTS:

Karen, no other mayor has been or will be more financially concervative than Guinta. Would you like a 16% increase in your taxes? No, I doubt it because none of us do. We can't afford it. However, it couldn't be more apparent that the department heads are only concerned with themselves and their departments; not the tax payer. Everyone bashing Guinta seriously needs to realize that if he didn't cut the budget so slim, the majority of Manchester residents would be run out of their homes because of how high taxes would be next year. Do you honestly think he likes budget cuts? It only makes his job harder and results in more negative publicity from the media, department heads, interest groups, ect.

However, when he took the oath of office, he promised that he would do everything in his power to keep Manchester's taxes as low as possible and be a voice for the tax payer against the department heads who's sole job is to argue and fight for every dime that their department can get from the city's budget. No one wants budget cuts, but with the national economy we have right now, its the only way. The department heads seriously need to step back and realize this and stop thinking only abut their own department. Cut back on things/people that might be nice to have, but that you can do without at the moment. As a taxpayer, I am begging the department heads to start realizing that the citizens of Manchester are stretched far to thin this year and that we have to make cuts, so why can't you find ways to do that too?

Thank you Guinta for standing up for us against department heads who would rather take every last penny from us rather than make some hard decisions and important cuts to their budgets like every family has to do from time to time.
- Derek Myers, Manchester, NH

Perhaps it is time for some FRESH blood with some FRESH ideas at the administrative level?? These guys(the chief and his deputies) have been at it for 5 years now and cannot seem to get the job done. Mayor Guinta and Board of alderman:pay attention to this when you choose the city's next chief!
- Julio, Hudson

Great deal! 11 less cruisers parked on elm idleing wasting gas while the boys watch the girls walk around.. Manchester PD is the biggest waste of tax payers dollars there is in this state. How about if we put hte cops on a commission plan, then maybe we would get some true work out of them..
- Kirk mainley, manc

Seems to me the only answers from this police administration is to put the public at risk. Not a surprise from an administration who has done little for public safety over the past five years. Do I need to remind everyone about the nightly shots fired calls and no inovative plan to battle crime. Why don't we have them write more tickets and bring up revenue. Soccer moms and business employees going to and from work speeding, a great use of manpower. Just "pork the public" as they say in the corner office of the MPD
- A.T., Manchester

Maybe Guinta should cut his staff,it seems their less needed than police or fire.Also how about salary cuts to his staff?Why is it the school or police and fireman?This city is already short police.I hope all of you who voted for Guinta are the ones that dont receive help when needed,because I already pay more in taxes then I can afford.The police have been not available when needed in our neighborhood.
- karen, manchester

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"Earth Day Rally in Manchester, NH"
Associated Press - April 22, 2008

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - The New Hampshire Sierra Club is holding an Earth Day rally tonight at Manchester City Hall Plaza.

Featured speakers are Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta and state AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie.

The rally is part of the Sierra Club's Power-to-Change Campaign, which aims to educate the public and candidates about what is at stake in the 2008 elections, and moving the country toward a clean energy economy.

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"Bookbag bullying: Weston PTO turns up the heat"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, April 22, 2008

USING ELEMENTARY school students as couriers to deliver an inflammatory political letter about the city budget is not only against city school policy, but common decency as well.

Last week, Weston Elementary School PTO President Kathleen Epperson wrote a letter (with an all-caps headline and full of underlined phrases) calling Mayor Frank Guinta's budget "completely unacceptable," proclaiming that it would raise class sizes by five students per class, and urging parents to contact their aldermen and oppose the mayor's budget.

Oh, and the letter was unsigned, giving the impression that it was an official document from the school administration.

Although Acting Superintendent Henry Aliberti contacted the mayor to assure him that this was not an official school act, Weston principal Lizabeth MacDonald did approve the letter for distribution to the students -- again, in violation of district policy.

This is all a piece with the district's policy of opposing tooth-and-nail any reduction in school spending by claiming that budget cuts will destroy the schools' ability to teach your children.

Just once, we'd like to see a principal, PTO president or the superintendent put the green eyeshades on and work to find savings instead of scream that the sky is falling every time a mayor proposes trimming the school budget.

We'd like to see someone -- anyone -- in the city school system acknowledge that the public schools are not models of bureaucratic efficiency and that maybe, just maybe, a better way to manage the school budget could be found if only the people in charge looked hard enough.

Alas, all taxpayers and parents hear is incessant squawking by a flock of Chicken Littles running around with their eyes shut and mouths wide open.

--

Readers' COMMENTS:

I would be the first to state that public school teachers pay should be highe based on the importance of the job. The administrative costs should be slashed to the last penny. Supplies should be purchased by bid on a monthly basis. With no less than 5 potential suppliers in the bidding.

Now for the other side of that statement. Anyone who goes into publc shool teaching as a career and thinks they will make money, even enough to live on, is not that bright and I would ask that they not be teaching my children anything.
- Mike, Manchester

How are we supposed to educate our students without paying for it? You wouldn't blame military personnel training our soldiers for incompetence if they asked for a little more (which they do) and didn't look for ways to cut spending (which they don't). C'mon, Union Leader - get with the picture. Nothing is free.
- Isak, Chicago

I'd like to see an actual outline of the budget to see exactly where the money is being distributed... Does something like this exist?
- Sheana, Manchester

Joe,
We work in the summer, too. We have to attend workshops and prepare for the following year. I work three jobs most of the time. I owe over $100,000 in student loans because I wanted to teach and improve myself.
- JT, Manchester

Use fear to sway public opinion? ... check
The sky is falling? ... check
ITS ALL FOR THE CHILDREN? ... check
I don't trust you and I don't think you
educate well so I don't think I want to
give you any more money untill you can prove you can do your job.
Dump the teachers unions. Dump the pensions. Dump the teachers who can't teach well. Stop graduating people who can't read and write well.Then maybe try acting like an adult if you need more money to do your jobs.
- Mike, Londonderry

We should understand the alderman will not accept the Mayor's budget. History has proven this. What taxpayers need to focus on is a budget (including school) that will not raise taxes and let our alderman know that we request better for our money. Taking money from a one-time account is not acceptable either.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

This is what you get when you have unaccountable/untouchable bureaucrats in charge of your tax dollars. Another good reason for school choice which is way over due....
- mt, Hooksett

This is in response to JT. Perhaps if the administration actually budgeted correctly class supplies wouldn't be a problem. The example that they cited is not the only one that I have seen and the school board is quick to "say" they will cut music, art, sports and transportation. There are other areas to cut including salaries of administrators. I won't get into the teachers salaries as I am very fed up with paying full yearly salaries for a half years work.
- Joe, Manchester

No sympathy from me, JT. Why aren't you at work? Oh, I forgot...you have umpteen weeks of VACATION and don't have to work this week! Maybe the school would have money for paper and supplies if some of the school's administrators took a break on their HUGE paychecks! Why don't you askthem? No whining accepted from this Manchester taxpaper!
- VJ, Manchester

Um, you are welcome to come to my school where I teach. By the way whoever wrote this little op piece is not identified. Talk about coloring the kettle black. I have been in the Manchester School District for three years and just wonder why we are hated so much by the city and people like you. I buy all of my own supplies and we have no money for paper for the rest of the year. That is the reality. I invite you to come and visit my school and THEN you can give your little op ed whoever you are.
- JT, Manchester

I wonder if some sort of dicipline towards Ms MacDonald will be metted out? If she broke the rules I hope so. We shouldn't have rogue elementary school principles. An example should be set here, especially for her students.

Someone needs to explain to me why school administration deems it necessary, when revenues and enrollment are down considerably, to jack their budget up significantly over last year? Less students to educate + less $$$ to educate with should equal a smaller budget correct? Why isn't that so? I've been watching the school board meetings on public access and have yet to hear any tangible explanation for the administration's budget. I only get the feeling that dollars are more important than anything else.

In my opinion we should be looking at the cost per student this year and add a reasonable cost of living type adjustment to that number. This should be the cost per student for next year. Why isn't this reasonable?
- JSF, Manch

Reminds me of something Castro had the teachers do when i was a student in Cuba.
- Carmen, Manchester NH

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"City police warn of manpower shortages"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
April 22, 2008

MANCHESTER – City police officials say Mayor Frank Guinta's budget proposal would leave the department 11 officers short of a full complement in the coming fiscal year.

"We can't see any other way around it," Deputy Chief Gary Simmons told the aldermen last night. He estimated the department needs another $607,000 to reach a full complement of 225 sworn officers.

Guinta said the department wasn't trying hard enough to trim its costs. He urged police brass to comb the budget for other expenses that could be cut, such as overtime, severance payouts or court costs.

"Don't come here and tell me the only way to do it is to take people off the street," he told Simmons.

The aldermen are just now beginning to hear from various city department heads, many of whom say Guinta's budget proposal would translate into job losses or reduced services. Yesterday, the board heard pleas from Public Health Director Tim Soucy, who said his department would be forced to lay off six employees and eliminate several programs, including dental services for school children and the city's winter flu clinics, without another $296,000.

"In my opinion," Soucy said, "if these cuts are made, there will be a threat to the public health of the citizens of the city." Soucy said the extra funding for the Health Department would cost the average taxpayer $7.20 next year, assuming a home valuation of $240,000. Alderman Ted Gatsas tried to put that number in a broader context, reminding Soucy there are 31 departments in the city, and most of them are pleading for more money, as well.

Guinta has said the tax rate would increase 16 percent if all of the departments' budget requests were approved. His own proposal would not raise taxes.

Several aldermen called the police complement a priority for the city. The department expects to have 214 sworn officers as of July 1. Missing will be eight officers, two sergeants and - as of this Friday - Chief John Jaskolka, who recently announced his retirement.

Simmons said there are 11 prospective officers who could be hired as soon as this July. It was unclear whether the department would be able to bring those recruits aboard if the aldermen refuse to increase the department's budget.

Alderman Jim Roy said he worries the department could wind up with fewer than 214 officers next year as aging officers retire. Officials said they expect about 11 officers will retire in the coming fiscal year.

"So we're going to go another year without having a full complement again?" Roy asked Simmons at one point.

"Yes," Simmons said. "Not necessarily a whole year, but close to it."

Guinta said he expects the chief who succeeds Jaskolka could save money by reorganizing the entire department "in terms of rank." In the meantime, he advised the administration to consider cutting civilian jobs and to review other expenses.

"Look at it again and see if you can find some savings," Guinta told Simmons.

Guinta's proposal would give the police $22.5 million next year. The department notes 94 percent of its budget is tied up in salaries, which are higher than they were a year ago because of recent contract negotiations.

Both Simmons and Jaskolka said they understood the mayor's call for a lean budget in a time of economic uncertainty. Their own department, they conceded, is one of few in the city that stands to receive more money than was given in the last round of budget talks.

Soucy said the cuts in Guinta's budget proposal could force the Health Department to cancel flu shots this winter. The department immunized 643 people against the flu in fiscal 2007, he said.

He also said he would not have the staff needed to monitor the city's mosquito population for West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis.

Pressed by Alderman Betsi DeVries, Soucy said he does not know whether the state's contractor could test Manchester's mosquitoes, just as it tests mosquitoes in other communities.

Other city departments have complained about Guinta's budget recommendations. Officials with the Fire Department and the Highway Department are slated to go before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen today.

Fire Chief James Burkush has previously suggested he could have to let some firefighters go. A letter signed by Highway Department chief Kevin Sheppard says he would have to eliminate 45 employees, nearly a quarter of the department's workforce.

-

Readers' COMMENTS:

To W.N.

Those police officers at the construction sites are working a extra duty detail, meaning that they are being paid by the private company.

Get your facts straight!!
- CJ, Manchester,NH

Give me a break... Guinta comes forward for two years professing a needed increase in manpower for police... He has yet to fully fund them.. The man's only ambition is higher office.. No tax increase? Who doesnt expect their taxes to go up slightly... things cost money people! Perhaps if we loose some police service, or garbage pick up is changed to bi-weekly people will yell to get their services back and pay the $258.00 a yr increase that Gatsas commented on last night
- Frank, Manchester

Lets face it folks, history has proven to us that Mayor Guinta's budget will not be passed by the alderman. They will come up with their own budget costing the tax payers more money than they can afford. Just look at the sewer tax that is still in it's five year plan. This year alone was a 20% increase and another 20% increase in sewer tax next year. Every non-election year aldermen will raise taxes because they know they are voted in til 2009, 2011, and so on. They will probably also take money again from the one time account because one alderman said; "I will do it again". Time now to stand up and really be counted. Show up at the public hearing on Monday at Memorial and demand that department heads be frugal with tax dollars and the alderman support a budget worth our hard earned money.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

You want more police officers, take them off of construction flag duty!
- W.N., Manchester

Karen, no other mayor has been or will be more financially concervative than Guinta. Would you like a 16% increase in your taxes? No, I doubt it because none of us do. We can't afford it. However, it couldn't be more apparent that the department heads are only concerned with themselves and their departments; not the tax payer. Everyone bashing Guinta seriously needs to realize that if he didn't cut the budget so slim, the majority of Manchester residents would be run out of their homes because of how high taxes would be next year. Do you honestly think he likes budget cuts? It only makes his job harder and results in more negative publicity from the media, department heads, interest groups, ect.

However, when he took the oath of office, he promised that he would do everything in his power to keep Manchester's taxes as low as possible and be a voice for the tax payer against the department heads who's sole job is to argue and fight for every dime that their department can get from the city's budget. No one wants budget cuts, but with the national economy we have right now, its the only way. The department heads seriously need to step back and realize this and stop thinking only abut their own department. Cut back on things/people that might be nice to have, but that you can do without at the moment. As a taxpayer, I am begging the department heads to start realizing that the citizens of Manchester are stretched far to thin this year and that we have to make cuts, so why can't you find ways to do that too?

Thank you Guinta for standing up for us against department heads who would rather take every last penny from us rather than make some hard decisions and important cuts to their budgets like every family has to do from time to time.
- Derek Myers, Manchester, NH

Perhaps it is time for some FRESH blood with some FRESH ideas at the administrative level?? These guys(the chief and his deputies) have been at it for 5 years now and cannot seem to get the job done. Mayor Guinta and Board of alderman:pay attention to this when you choose the city's next chief!
- Julio, Hudson

Great deal! 11 less cruisers parked on elm idleing wasting gas while the boys watch the girls walk around.. Manchester PD is the biggest waste of tax payers dollars there is in this state. How about if we put hte cops on a commission plan, then maybe we would get some true work out of them..
- Kirk mainley, manc

Seems to me the only answers from this police administration is to put the public at risk. Not a surprise from an administration who has done little for public safety over the past five years. Do I need to remind everyone about the nightly shots fired calls and no inovative plan to battle crime. Why don't we have them write more tickets and bring up revenue. Soccer moms and business employees going to and from work speeding, a great use of manpower. Just "pork the public" as they say in the corner office of the MPD
- A.T., Manchester

Maybe Guinta should cut his staff,it seems their less needed than police or fire.Also how about salary cuts to his staff?Why is it the school or police and fireman?This city is already short police.I hope all of you who voted for Guinta are the ones that dont receive help when needed,because I already pay more in taxes then I can afford.The police have been not available when needed in our neighborhood.
- karen, manchester

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"New Manchester police chief"
The Boston Globe Online, April 22, 2008

MANCHESTER, N.H.—Captain David Mara has been selected and voted in as Manchester's new police chief.

Mayor Frank Guinta nominated Mara on Tuesday. He was unanimously approved by the Board of Alderman shortly after.

Mara has been with the police department since 1986. He most recently served as the department's professional standards captain. Previously, he served as the administrative captain and as the prosecutor for the Manchester Police Department.

Mara will begin as chief April 25.

--------------------

"Mayor picks David Mara as new police chief"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2008

Manchester – In a break with tradition, Manchester officials yesterday promoted a captain to the city's top law-enforcement post.

Capt. David J. Mara, 47, was the surprise pick to succeed John A. Jaskolka as chief of the Manchester police force. His promotion, urged by Mayor Frank Guinta and quickly confirmed by the aldermen, was celebrated by the rank and file as a bold move for a department that has been known to resist change.

"We're getting probably the most aggressive, the most educated chief we've ever had in the city of Manchester, and I mean that," said Officer Dave Connare, president of the Manchester Police Patrolman's Association.

Mara has more than two decades of experience in crime-fighting and prosecuting. He holds a law degree from New England School of Law, which he has used as a prosecutor in the City Solicitor's Office and in his current job as head of the police department's legal and records divisions.

Guinta called Mara a "reformer" who can move the city police force in a new direction. He said he believes Mara will be willing to embark on a wide-scale reorganization of the department, which counts roughly 214 sworn officers, 67 civilian employees and a budget of $21.6 million.

"We need a department that is far more willing to accept changes in tactics and strategies, and I believe Capt. Mara is the person most capable of effecting those changes," Guinta said.

Mara said he wants to provide officers on the street with more direct supervision. He is also committed to reimagining the department's command structure, which, he said, has not changed in decades.

"Society's changed," Mara said. "Crime has changed. The problems that face our city have changed. And I think it's time we do (too)."

Officials believe Mara may be the first police chief in Manchester history to bypass the rank of deputy or assistant chief. A pool of 14 applicants for the job included two of Manchester's three deputy chiefs: Glenn Leidemer and Marc Lussier.

Both have been with the department for longer than Mara has -- Leidemer for 33 years and Lussier for 27. Neither deputy chief was among the dozens of police officers who cheered the announcement of Mara's nomination in City Hall yesterday afternoon.

Jaskolka said Leidemer and Lussier are professionals, "and I would hope they'll continue to be professionals." He said he chose not to back any one candidate for the job.

"David is a talented individual," he said last night. "And I'm sure the remaining deputies will assist him to the best of their abilities."

Jaskolka retires Friday after five years as chief. Officially, he said, Mara will become acting chief at midnight Saturday. A swearing-in ceremony will follow, most likely early next week.

Colleagues who praised the mayor's choice called Mara a "cop's cop." As a patrolman, they said, he developed a reputation as an aggressive officer who racked up a large number of arrests. Connare, who walked a beat with Mara in the early 1990s, said some officers still refer to the intersection of Spruce and Union streets, where many of those arrests were made, as "Mara Square."

"This is the God's honest truth. Mara? He's legit," Connare said.

Lt. Peter Bartlett, president of the Manchester Association of Police Supervisors, said Mara has the full support of his union.

"Dave Mara is the only choice that's right for this agency," Bartlett said.

Mara was born in Chelsea, Mass. He earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Northeastern University in 1984. Before he was a police officer, he said, he worked at various hospitals in Cambridge and Boston.

He joined the Manchester Police Department in September 1986. In the early '90s, he said, he balanced his duties as an officer and a student by going to law school in the evenings and working the midnight patrolman's shift.

With a law degree in hand, he took a year off from the department to prosecute cases for the City Solicitor's Office. When he returned, he was promoted to sergeant, and later to prosecutor.

Mara has held the title of professional standards captain since December 2003. He has continued to work gang details.

The salary range for the chief's job is $84,150 to $119,977, plus an "extensive benefits package." Mara said yesterday he and Guinta have yet to settle on a dollar figure for his new position. Jaskolka, who is leaving after 31 years with the department, earns a base salary of $113,091.

Mara and his wife, Jackie, have a 17-year-old son, a 15-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter. The family has lived in Bedford since 1991.

►Manchester police chief to retire April 25 (19)

Readers' COMMENTS:

Dave from Manchester sounds like a very angry cop. Not every person MPD arrests is scum. "We believe they haven't taken on the likes of the scum that perpetrated the murder of one of our own." David, Manchhester
the reality is, people like David in Manchester, if he is a police officer, show the indifference they have toward those they arrest. You may be angry and rightfully so but there are a lot of Officers in Manchester who treat the public like scum. Somehow the reputation of MPD needs to blend with the needs of the city. Simply going out and making arrests is not the solution. Getting cops to understand how the city has changed and how officers treat the public will go a long way in repairing the image MPD has.

So, to restate, not every person arrested is bad or is scum. Just like not every police officer is bad.
- Mike, Manchester

This couldn't be a more exiciting time for the Manchester Police Department. As a member of such a fine organization for over 10 years, I have seen this department go from structured (under Driscoll) to an embarassing mess. Not for one second does any member of the PD think that having David Mara as Chief constitutes a free ride, it's actually quite the opposite. People here are craving structure, direction and discipline. The current administration has no idea what is going on in this place - it's all about them and what they can do to make themselves look good. Mara represents hope, plain and simple. We are cautiously optimistic, but very excited. It's going to be nice to have a Chief that actually speaks to his employees.
- PJ, Manchester, NH

Dave Mara may prove to be an exceptional chief of police but only time will tell. Perhaps I am cynical but the "overwhelming" support of the rank and file officers, supervisors, and the mayor and board of aldermen has me a bit suspicious. Policemen are not above being self-serving...neither is our politically ambitious mayor. Our city finances are a mess and painful budget cuts seem to be the only proposed solution. Despite Chief Mara's impressive resume, he has had little administrative experience. Let's hope that he has not already made promises behind closed doors at the expense of our city's citizens and officers. Let's also hope that the support and the alliances the new chief now covets do not take precedent over all of this talk of change, vision and direction. Good Luck.
- rsa, Manchester

Chief Mara does not have to beware of the unions, he has to beware of Deputy Lussier, Leidemer and Simmons, none of which showed up to support him, if for nothing else to show they can work as one administration. Chief Mara needs to rid himself of these three men or run the risk of being undermind. I'm sure Lussier and Leidemer would love nothing more to see Mara fail, just to prove a point to the Mayor and Aldermen, they may even do what they can to make it happen. They need to go!!
- Dick T., Manchester

THANK GOD..as it was written on the board in roll call. He is the most honest, upstanding indivual I have met since I started at the MPD. Do you know what it is like for your Chief to walk by you and turn his head after you say, "Hello, Chief" I finally feal someone knows my name and won't ignore me. He is outstanding in every way...police empoyee and human being. This is the best thing to happen...oh by the way Chief..not paying the money for your retirement party. I have been ignored way too long.
- ch, goffstown, nh

My sister works at MPD and as Dave from Manchester wrote the administration slept thru a horrible wake up call. I pray like everyone else that this never hapens again. she too has commented that they seem more interested in catering to revenue generaing efforts ( i.e. parking tickets and the like) then pursuing real criminals who terrorize this city and letting the fine offices of the MPD do real police work. She and the other employess of the MPD have faith and hope that the future of the department is now headed on the right path. I think that it's a discrace that the Deptuys and the soon to be former chief were not there to show their support for the department and the new chief. They must all stand as one to make a difference in this city that so many of us love.
- Jennifer C, Hooksett NH

Hey Bill, From Manchester. You don't know Jack...and you certainly don't know Dave Mara There is a huge difference between working your way through the ranks and moving through the ranks. For twenty years. promotions have been doled out for favors owed or time served. It is more than refreshing to know that merit , education and a dedicated work ethic can mean something in Manchester. Maybe we have come full circle. A department earns respect from the community when everyone works together for a common goal, (Public Safety). The MPD has earned the right to be joyful and the Manchester community will be proud of the job David Mara and the MPD will do.
- LG, Goffstown,NH

Congrat's to incoming Chief Mara. I support Mayor Guinta's decision to bypass the regular route of politics. Mayor Guinta decided on the best person for the job. I'm proud to be a resident of the city of Manchester. I wish Chief Mara nothing but the best in his future role as the Chief of the Manchester Police Department. Chief Mara please keep our head high and our hearts proud! God bless!
- Jamie, Manchester

Congratulations to the MPD, the City of Manchester, and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen! The rank and file are excited to work for one of the most intense and dedicated cops there is.

Yes Bill, the men of the current administration were promoted through the ranks, but none were known as accomplished street cops. Yes they are good men. But none have the fire of a Dave Mara. We believe they haven't taken on the likes of the scum that perpetrated the murder of one of our own. Instead they have continued to focus on minutia like traffic tickets and parking tickets.

Let it be known that Mara has taken this job for one reason. He is not looking to ride out a lengthy career. Not looking for personal gratification. Not looking to put his picture in the lobby.

Mara is dedicated to the Department and the city. He could make substantial more money by retiring, but is staying for all the right reasons. As far as the memberships' reaction to future Mara discipline. Understand that he is currently in charge of discipline and is respected. Cops aren't excited about Mara because they were being over managed under the current administration, nor are we expecting a free ride under Chief Mara. WE are excited because we believe in the motivation, leadership and authenticity of Chief Mara.
- David, Manchhester

To Bill in Manchester, you obviously don't know much about Chief Mara. He has repeatedly run up against the unions as the public integrity commander. He was he who metted out punishment, some of it pretty harsh too. Yet, here he is being applauded by 75 other members of his department. You may not know this, but cops actually love direction, leadership and discipline. Lastly, all who work in the department know what career paths the chief and deputies took and trust me when I say this, it wasn't locking up bad guys. Besides, the administration showed nothing but contempt for officers in the MPD - just ask anyone of them when you see then on the streets. I beg you too, you will see for yourself. Mara is an oustanding selection.
- Alex Bagley, Manchester

David Mara was the ONLY choice to lead the MPD forward in the fight against crime. Bill, you are right, the leadership of the current administration are good guys. Most who attain rank are hardworking individuals. What sets Mara apart is that he was a hard working cop. A street cop. Not a paperpusher, policeman's ball organizer, or errand boy. Those of us that have worked at the MPD know that that committees and pandering have often been the road to success. Not police work. Hey Bill, imagine having one of your brother officers gunned down and never being addressed collectively by your leadership. How would you feel if your bosses continued to focus on traffic tickets that target working people, instead of the mutts that roam our streets. There was a wakeup call dialed into the MPD on that awful morning. Our leadership slept through it.
The whiney Union is confident that Dave Mara will focus on the right things. We all became cops to arrest bad guys, not harrass the working public.
- Dave, Manchester

The rank and file supporting Chief Mara is great but, wait until he has to insert discipline or reorgnize. I wonder how many will be supportive then?
Dave is a great guy and perfect for the job as Chief. He brings with him integrity and a non-nonsense way about him. Never mind the criminals running scared, the rank and file officers who like to walk that fine line should also be leary because Mara won't put up with that stuff. It is time to,as a lot of people are saying this budget season, clean out MPD and get rid of those who are not worthy and hire those that are.
- Mike, Manchjester

To Paul who commented on Mara not living in the city I have this to say... What If you were a cop and you had kids - would you up the risk of doing something as simple as going to the grocery store with thoes kids and running into someone that you've arrsted with a chip on their shoulder? if you live in Manchester you know that it's really a "small world" and bump into people all the time . I can see where he's probably comming from .
- kristen, Manchester

Im tired of all this criticism about the former administration Wake up people they didnt get hired and turn into the administration, they too worked their way through the ranks.
Of course you know the old saying, Its lonely at the top. Imagine an administration having to hold people accountable. Chief Mara may have been a good beat cop, but thats done, he needs to be an administrator just like this current administration had to do. Wait till he has to cross the whiney union for the firs time. As a retired officer/supervisor I know what Im talking about
- Bill, Manchester

Wow, what a pleasant surprise to wake up to this morning. A Chief of Police with integrity, education and most importantly, job knowledge. It must feel like a breath of fresh air to police employees and residents alike.

Like Forest Gump said, "Life is like a box of chocolates" You never really know what you are gonna get until you bite into it. With a man with Chief Mara's history in the running, there was no better choice. He worked his way to the top from walking a beat in the center city. Nothing garners more respect than that!

Chief Mara has broken the mold of the good ol' boy practice of promoting people who sit around for 30-35 years hoping to get a promotion by default rather than earning it. Lets hope Mara does what the board of Mayor and Alderman did when the promoted him. Make promotions based on what matters, not one's "serving since" pin.

"RUN,FOREST RUN!!!"
- Enrique, Chester

Chief Jaskolka and his three deputies didn't attend?....Odd. They must have gone fishing I guess. Congrats to Chief Mara.
- R. Kowack, Derry

Listen regardless of anything this mayor has been mayor for a long time now. Therefor why could he make choices this whole time to get things done correctly to clean up this city. This new cheif has been a cop just like the rest of these men & woman who are cops in this city. They all have a voice and should speak up as to what needs to be done to clean the streets and make the city safer. Just because a new cheif comes in does not mean things will change. Its politics like always...its still the same old things. As voters we should watch and take note and see where things are in 6 months to a year and remember what to do next time we vote. Demand the best for our tax dollars.
- John, Manchester

Dave Mara is smart, has the respect of his force, and is open to new ideas and approaches. He is an outstanding choice to head the department.
- Peter Sullivan, Manchester

I kept thinking "sounds great" until I got to the last sentence of this article. I'm all about a "cop's cop" - my dad was one for 25 years. BUT ... It strikes me as odd that the Chief of MPD lives in Bedford. Wouldn't a true commitment to the city by reflected by actually living in it?? Anyone else bothered by this?
- Paul, Manchester

Judging from the vast majority of comments it appears the City of Manchester has made a wise choice in the selection of a new police chief. It was disappointing to read certain high ranking officers elected not to attend the official announcement ceremony. While their possible disappointment in not being named head of department is understandable, their absence seemingly denoted a lack of goodwill. Their presence would have demonstrated a total commitment of all sworn officers in recognizing the new chief. And, as JCM of Manchester pointed out in his comments, the entire citizenry of Manchester has to pull behind the new chief and his fellow officers if they expect to have a viable and forceful police department. Like firefighters they put their lives on the line for us on a daily basis and deserve nothing but the utmost support from all. While I live in another city my roots to Manchester are too strong to ignore and I do wish you continued success in the quest to make the city one of the finest in the country. Good luck to all.
- Bob Sullivan, Raleigh, NC

Thank you Chief Jaskolka for your had work and dedication! Congrats to the new Chief Mara as well. To all of those who believe a new chief will suddenly rid this city of all its crime I have news for you... the problem is the lack of law abiding "citizens" and people with any respect for their life as well as the lives of others, not the past or present chief.
- Roger H., Manchester

when the staff gives their boss a standing ovation, you know the right decision has been made. but the citizens of manchester need to also get behind this and step up to the plate. if we want this city to be a place people want to move TO and not FROM, it has to be a team effort with the MPD and us.
congratulations Mr. Mara!
- rcn, manchester

A great choice to lead the department. He will make all of us proud!
- Bob Baines, Manchester, NH

Drug dealers, robbers, theives and thugs - gang bangers and wanna be gang bangers ,hookers ,pimps and child molesters you better gett out of dodge quickly cause from the sounds of it this Chief wont sit aside and watch this city go under like the last administration.
- jb, manchester

Congrats to Dave Mara,Manchester has chosen a great person/leader.Dave has a great personality and will be good for the city,GO MARA....
- Paul Roy, Manchester N.H.

Mara as Chief is a bold move consistent with the City's direction. There is an electricity in the air. I applaud the Aldermen for supporting the Mayor's choice.

Hopefully they will give him the same respect in running the Schools, the Citizens will tolerate no less.
- Steve, Manch

Looks as though Police Commissioner Tenn was wrong, a captian was promoted to chief, even after his attempts to prevent. Congrats to Captain - Chief Mara.
- Richard Harrington, Manchester

Jim - police officers take risks that most people in our society will not, and they are willing to do so. So when an officer answers a shots-fired call and puts his/her life at risk, and the brass so that very officer little to no respect or appriciation, well that officer may have a tendancy to whine. However, they all want leadership and respect while they do their jobs, they crave direction, so I am sure they will ignite under his leadership and work their tails off. Like Paul R. said, wait and see.
- Shawn F., Hooksett

I agree with Tamera from Manchester . I have family and close friends that work for the MPD and when I asked them all who they would like to see as chief - they all said the same thing. Dave Mara. It has been told to me that he is honest , fair and the best man for the job . It's about time that the powers that be listen to the people who work there to find out what it is that they need to better serve the communiy that we live in . And what class this man has - addressing the officers directly and commiting to them just as they have committed to him. that is the sign of a good leader.Congrats to Chief Mara and good bye to the dead weight that has been holding the finest police department in the state back. May god keep them all safe.
- SB, Manchester

Hopefully it is farewell time to all the cracked houses in Manchester
- JD Williams, Manchester

Thank God that someone finally listened to what the police officers themselves wanted and needed. They are in good hands and if anyone can spear head the efforts needed to make Manchester a safer nicer place to live it will be Chief Mara. Thank you Chief for all the hard work that you have already done and good luck with the road ahead. I know that it wont be easy but the city and more importantly your officers are behind you.
- Tamera, Manchester

Congratulations to the new Chief Mara. It was an awesome sight to see all the supporters from the department. He needs that moral support. Too bad the new Fire Chief Burkush did not recieve the same because Mayor Guinta did not want the firefighters in the Boardroom that night. Good luck to Chief Mara.
- Ron, Manchester

It's great to see that the best candidate was chosen for the job, and not just the next person in line. I have high hopes for Mara, bravo!
- DL, Manchester, NH

Rick O, I dont always agree with you, but youre right. Glad the rank is happy with Guinta's selection, but to discredit the others is rude and unprofessional. But whining has been happening at the MPD for years and believe me, they will find other ways to complain... Ive known many officers over the years, some are hard workers. They often talked about all the complainers Wait till Mara makes them work.........
- Jim, Manchester

I am proud that we have a great man as Chief Mara.He is going to take our police department into the 21st century.Not only do the fine men and women of MPD respect him.But he is liked by the communittee.I can't wait to see all the great changes he will bring to our city.
- Tracy Degges, Manchester,Nh

A well deserved promotion. I graduated the NH Police Academy with Dave. I had the feeling the former Autolite would do great things. Long live the 78th!
- Jon, Rollinsford, NH

To Rick Olson, in case you haven't checked it is uncommon for a chief of police in Manchester to have a college degree - that was the point of Reggie's comment - go have another coffee and wake up, then read the comments again.
- Tommy Rogers, Hoksett

Leadership is more than just holding a title and displaying a cluster of stars on the collar of your police uniform. True leadership is a dedication to doing the right things, the right way for the right reasons. Dave Mara is that true leader. He is respected and followed by the men and women of this department not because we have to follow him, but instead because we want to follow him. That is the difference. Congratulations Chief Mara!
- RC, Hooksett,NH

Chief Mara is a great addition to this department. Honesty and integrity willbe restored, and for once the membership of the Manchester Police Department can come to work and concentrate on being police officers rather than glorified paper pushers. Real solutions are coming from real problems !
- Chris B, Manchester

I went straight to this piece because I needed a good laugh. Sure enough, as true as death and taxes, there is no shortage of doofusses lining up stupid comments on Mayor Guinta's selection. Fred, a "good ol boy" network is often defined by people who don't like the associations in front of them and for personal reasons. Calling Glenn Leidemer "GED Leidemer?" that is just plain rude and bad form...attacking him personally? wrong. And Reggie, in case you haven't checked the national statistics, it is no longer uncommon for a beat patrolman to have a college degree.
- Rick Olson, Manchester

Congrats to Dave Mara! As a fellow police officer and one that is friends with many of the fine men and women of the Manchester Police it is comforting to know that Mayor Guinta took the time to nominate who he felt was good for the job. Dave Mara is one of the most ethical, honest, and sincere men I have ever met. When someone is promoted to the rank of Chief, it is not that often that you find an overwhelming support by a majority of the agency for one particular person. I think that all the officers that should up to show support should say something about the quality of person that Dave Mara is. I know he will serve the City of Manchester tremendously and he will have the support of the Officers, which in today's society he needs. Dave, congrats and I know you will do great!!! To the criminals in Manchester, it is now time for you to move on, there is a new boss in town! One that is not afraid to step up to the plate and be proactive!
- Greg HPD, Manchester

Wow, a break from the "Good ole boy" tradition to appoint a new Police Chief, this is refreshing.
Dave Mara is one of the finest Police Officers to serve the citizens of NH. He is from the breed of Officers who put integrity, credibility, dedication and committment in front of butt kissing to get ahead. There was only one other Police Chief that truly led by example and led by displaying the highest levels of integrity but he was from the small Town in the Concord area that I live in and retired a few years ago.
Good luck Chief mara and congrats to the Manchester PD and the residents of the City.
- Trevor W., Hopkinton, NH

Thank you Mayor and Alderman! You have made the right choice in bringing the Police Department in a forward thinking direction. David Mara truly cares about the people of our agency and the citizens of Manchester. He is sincere and genuine when dealing with anyone he comes in contact with. Watch and see as the MPD transforms into a caring and community oriented police agency. This Chief will turn this agency into the best police force this city has every seen. He recognizes good police work and he is a positive role model for all employees within this department. When city officials have problems, David Mara will be there to work with the Mayor and Alderamen to solve any of the problems at hand. The officers of the MPD now feel there is a breath of fresh air within the agency. Positive, proactive leadership is what our employees are looking for. And they will get that with Chief David Mara!
- RC, Manchester

Great job Guinta!! Awesome choice.
- Derek Myers, Manchester, NH

Nancy - all do respect, you don't work there, therefore you know not what you are talking about in the context of thier abilities. Ask yourself this - where was Chief Jaskolka tonight? Where were Deputies Simmons, Lediemer and Lussier? No shows - the officers are used to that and tired of it. Change is what the place needed. Sorry you had to hear negative comments about your friends, but ask any officer wearing a uniform today, they were bad magagers and non-existant leaders.
- Paul R., Manchester

A new day has dawned at the PD. For once favoritism will not be the prevailing attitude. Chief Mara will reward honesty and hard work. Dep. Leidemer didn't know what hard work was and cannot recognize it. The other deputies are barely qualified for the positions that they hold. Chief Mara will run the dept. with honesty, courage, and morals. Congrats to the Chief and the Board of Mayor and Alderman for their decision.
- Tom, Manchester

Congratulations to Dave Mara, an extremely hard working police officer who has gained a tremendous amount of respect by all those who have worked with him and who have known him professionally. This appointment and confirmation is the best move the City of Manchester has made in a long time. Dave Mara is a hard working, dedicated police officer but most important, he loves this city. Congratulations to Dave Mara and his family!
- Mike Porter, Manchester

Congrats to David Mara, an alumni from Massachusetts School of Law, a terrific guy and a great pick by Mayor Guinta who I personally called on to make a very careful choice, whic he did. This was going to be Manchester's most important pick that Guinta will ever make, today and for Manchester's future. Manchester is in very good hands with David Mara. Very good hands. Good job Mayor.
- joekelly, manchester

Congrats to the new chief Mara,seems like a great appointment..also nice to see the police officers at city hall tonight in support of their new chief, a true brotherhood! Just wondering though..when the fire dept. got their new chief Burkush who the men seem to respect with the upmost did the mayor close the meeting to 99% of the firefighters who wanted to attend? Anyway congats again!
- Chad R, manchester

Being fortunate to know a few Manchester' Police Officers who speak highly of Chief Mara, I don't think that this is a politically motivated appointment, rather one that is warranted and based on experience, qualifications.. I'm glad to see someone who has always been highly regarded by his peers and the public be put into this position.
- Matthew Kidd, Bedford, NH

Dont know Mara much, but I do know many members of the department including the deputies. In fact I have known one of them for 25 plus years and they were excellent policeman who care for the community.
Ok, Mara was picked but dont disrespect those who served the city for many years. Ive seen those Deputies volunteer their time at functions and youth sports... Grow up and dont disprespect those that served and served better than many on the department now.
- Nancy, Manchester

Fred would rather the GED Leidemer than the Law Degree Mara. I think Fred does not know what he is talking about and HE should get the heck out of Manchester if he thinks it is not up to HIS standards.
- JL, Manchester

Hold on to your wad of money Mr. Drug Dealer, here come the real cops! The department is no longer being run by an empty suit and three pockets full of lint. A real cop is in charge.
- Ricco, Manchester

Fred - we hear what you are saying, but stay tuned my friend. Mara is about to transform the department into a group that will beat down the criminal element. Wait and see, he was that way as a beat cop and he was that way working gang details as a captain and he will now pass that mindset on to the rank and file. So sit tight, Fred, and watch just watch a real cop, who is respected by the officer at all levels can accomplish. Manchester will clearly be a better city. Just watch!
- Robbie V., Manchester

Wow, a chief of police with a college degree, what a novel idea. It is nice to see that the Manchester is finally moving into step with the rest of the Law Enforcement community. Congrats to Chief Mara.
- Reggie Alexander, Concord

Good ole boy network gone? Ha! Guinta has his choice now, a pick that will coddle the irresponsible budget Guinta sent to the police department.
Cut cut cut... whats next.... nothing against Mara, but Im sure Guinta fell to the demands of the unions once again, No guts Guinta making behind the scene promises...how much are the police and fire unions paying to the Elect Guinta to something campaign. Yes, elect him get him the heck out of Manchester.
- Fred, Manchester

Captain, Lieutenants, Sergeants and Patrolman stood shoulder to shoulder, in solidarity when the Mayor announced his nomination of Captain (Chief) Mara. All of the 75 or so supervisors and officers in attendance broke out in applause - standing ovation! Why, because he connects with the street officers who risk their lives night in and night out. Chief Mara even turned and addressed those officers in attendance and announced his commitment TO THEM. Unprecedented. Absent from the moment, the current Chief of Police and all three Deputy Chiefs. Why, because they have not connect with these officers at anytime during their tenure(s). Frankly, the current administration has been an abysmal failure, but a new and bright future is in store. The criminal element had better beware, Chief Mara is as tough as they come. Finally, leadership bourne of respect for the cops that do the job. The Mayor and Alderman have shown a commitment to public safety that will be felt throughout the police department from years to come. Congratulations to Chief Mara, you deserve the promotion.
- JS, Manchester

Sounds like the mayor did the right thing, good job on his part!! Looks like the good ol boy system is fading at Manchester PD...maybe the Commisioner of the Department of Safety should follow this example and weed out the good ol boy system within the State Police Command Staff and their cronies!!
- Stephen, Exeter

I do not anything about the New Police Chief but I trust former Alderman Jerome Duval to do what is right for Manchester.
- JD Williams, Manchester

At least these three Captains didn't convince the current Chief to create an Assistant Chief position like Mark Driscoll did back in the 90's so he could be a shoe-in when Chief Craig retired. Congrats to David Mara.
- Harry M., Manchester

This is an excellent choice. He is very bright and will do an great job. A very well qualified person.
- Don Kennedy, Manchester

This is an awesome move on the Mayor's behalf. He did exactly what needed to be done and that's promote a guy who wasn't a "shoe in" but more of someone who will fit the postion better and serve the community better than someone who thinks they deserve it because they are a deputy chief. I see 3 retirements coming very soon.
- Sean, Milford

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"Mayor, AD at odds over sports in schools"
By MARC THALER, New Hampshire Union Leader Sports
Sunday, Apr. 27, 2008

Manchester's mayor and the city's director of interscholastic athletics are at odds over the mayor's proposed school-district budget.

Athletics director Dave Gosselin says the city will have to suspend school interscholastic sports programs, as well as other extracurricular activities, if money isn't added to the proposed $140 million budget. Mayor Frank Guinta says the AD is resorting to scare tactics.

And one of Guinta's predecessors, himself a veteran of budget battles during an economic downturn, supports the current mayor's contention.

In interviews last week, Gosselin said all sports and clubs are in jeopardy. Guinta disputed the dire nature of Gosselin's scenario, saying school officials had early enough notification of proposed cuts to plan accordingly.

The contrasting positions will get a public airing tomorrow night.

Gosselin, who said about 3,500 students participate in interscholastic athletics at Manchester public schools, is urging athletes and their parents to attend a 6 p.m. public hearing on the city's overall budget at Manchester Memorial High School. The hope, Gosselin said, is the Board of Mayor and Aldermen will be persuaded by pleas to increase the school-district budget Guinta presented.

"Right now, under the mayor's budget, if it goes through, all extracurricular activities are over," Gosselin said. "There's no more (high school) sports in Manchester . . . Anything extracurricular is gone.

"This is the worst I've seen it in 31 years," Gosselin added of the district's financial situation. "I've never seen it like this. I'm very concerned."

The mayor's position
Guinta disagreed that his proposed budget will force programs to fold.

"This is something, in terms of the dollars, (the AD and school board) knew was coming," Guinta said of the proposed budget cuts. "I think they need to do a better job of short- and long-term planning rather than what I think they're trying to do, which is scare people."

The acting superintendent of schools, Henry Aliberti, offered a guarded outlook, though his sentiments were similar to those Gosselin expressed.

All athletics and extracurricular activities -- defined as clubs or organizations that meet outside the classroom and involve an advisor who receives a stipend -- "would be on the line," Aliberti said.

Guinta said the acting superintendent's analysis of the proposed budget didn't include such a scenario.

Still, Guinta said, the school district has 7.3 percent less in revenue, partly the result of declining student enrollment. The city as a whole, he added, has $13 million less in revenue for 2009 than it had in'08.

Guinta also said school officials have been "well aware" of the district's reduction in revenues. He said solutions that take those reductions into account are necessary. Raising taxes, he added, is not among those solutions.

Costs and possible cuts
Stephen Dolman, chairman of the school board's athletics committee, said that whatever moves the board makes will have to include cuts if the mayor's budget is passes as is.

"I always believe things can be done better," Dolman said, "but I believe (Guinta) is incorrect to say we can do with what he gave us."

Dolman, basing his estimates on unofficial figures, said the school district needs a minimum budget of $150 million to simply meet the cost of rising expenses in academics and athletics.

The existing school district budget is approximately $147 million, $6 million less than what the school board requested for the 2008-09 school year. Of that $147 million, $2.1 million goes to athletics, according to Gosselin.

Meeting the mayor's proposed budget, Aliberti detailed in a recent e-mail, would call for the elimination of athletics, except for debt service, which would free $1.8 million.

Gosselin said even working with a budget comparable to this year's would require the elimination of some sports.

Should partial cuts take place, he said, boys' and girls' lacrosse, the most recent additions to the city's athletics program, would likely be the first to go. He said middle school and freshmen sports may also be cut, and added that the use of rented facilities -- Gill Stadium for football and JFK Coliseum for hockey, for example -- would end.

Enlisting support
According to Memorial High softball coach Dave Hedge, one of his players started a petition to keep high school athletics at Central, Memorial and West. Hedge said she had received more than 100 signatures.

R. Patrick Corbin, executive director of the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association, said no one from Manchester has notified him that the city's school sports teams may be in jeopardy, adding that many schools throughout the state appear to be expanding their athletics programs.

Gosselin, however, said that without funding well in excess of what the mayor's proposed education budget would afford, Manchester teams won't be on other schools' schedules. That, he said, is why he is encouraging students and parents to share their opinions with the aldermen tomorrow at Memorial.

"It's going to depend on the aldermen to put money back in," he said. "From there, the school board will decide what the actual (athletics) budget will be and what's going to happen."

Asked if such encouragement was in violation of school board policy, Aliberti said no, contrasting Gosselin's actions with those of the PTO official who earlier this month had letters sent home in the backpacks of students at Weston Elementary School.

In the latter instance, the superintendent said, students were being used as couriers to disseminate political material; Gosselin, he said, is simply asking students and parents to participate in a public meeting.

Voice of experience
Former Mayor Raymond Wieczorek said the threat to eliminate school sports is nothing new. "This is an exercise designed to whip the parents into a frenzy," he said yesterday.

"It wouldn't occur to them to ever take a good look to see if there's another way to do things that might cost a little less," said Wieczorek, now a Republican Executive Councilor.

Wieczorek, who served as Manchester's mayor from 1990 to 2000, said the problem is that city government does not operate like a business, even in tough economic times.

"It never makes the adjustments that a private business has to make to survive," he said. "In government, how do I survive? I send people a larger tax bill. I don't ever have to worry about changing anything."

He recalled that in his first year as mayor, 400 of the district's 900 teachers got pink slips after the budget request was cut. Three thousand people turned out for a public hearing at Manchester Memorial High School that year, he said. "Over 100 people got up pretty much telling me what a jerk I was. I'd only been in office probably two-and-a-half months."

By the time the wrangling was done, Wieczorek recalled, "very few" teachers were laid off.

He suggested that parents who plan to attend tomorrow's hearing come armed with ideas.

"Try to come up with a suggestion that will provide a better service for less money," he said. "Everybody wants your kids to get the best education they can get, but you still have to do it at a price you can afford."

-

Readers' COMMENTS:

Wow...Alderman Peter Sullivan, how ignorant. Clearly you have no clue what type of responsibilities high school guidance counselors have. It disgusts me to know that we have a member of the board be so clueless. The current ratio of guidance counselors to kids in our high schools is already unacceptable so to speak of cutting these positions is absurd. Judging by your comments I'm guessing you didn't take advantage of your guidance counselor to assist you in going to college (among other things). Get a clue Sullivan. I'm sure you and Guinta get along great. I am embarrassed by you both!!
- Roger H., Manchester

Alderman Peter Sullivan. I am very disheartened to hear you speak about guidance counselors in such a derogatory manner. Fact is, it is these guidance counselors who work with each and every student in the schools. They deal with every issue that comes up. First of all there is not a battalion of Guidance Counselors. They are extremely overworked and deal with many issues.
As an alderman, I would certainly hope you would do your research on the topic rather than run off at the mouth about a topic you know nothing about. Know your schools Mr. Alderman or get out of elected office.
- Mike Porter, Manchester

This is funny -- the budget was cut 1.5% and the thing they are going to cut is all Sports.

If they didn't hire gym teachers to be ADs then this could be figured out.

Everyone I don't know this AD -- but he's lazy and not very smart if he can't figure out how to make up a decrease of 1.5%.
- Tixo, Manchester, NH

What does a high school need a fine arts director for?
- sandy, thornton

When I read comments like Pete Sullivan's ignorant attack on the district it makes me realize just how out of touch and selfish these 'good ole boys' really are. I am just truly grateful I did not elect him. I am an employee of the school district, the district that seeks to lose the 7 million from last year, and additional money we desperately need to educate my son and all our Manchester students this year.
Mayor Guinta and any other fool who supports this sham of a budget really needs to step up to the plate and take responsibility. Responsibility for a budget that may anger some, but will benefit the students. By playing this political 'shuffle' game with the BMA, Guinta just proves time and time again that he really doesnt know what he is doing, just following the selfish party line.
I know that anyone who has a brain and is breathing will be at that hearing Monday night, to protest this ridiculous attempt to shift blame. Our kids deserve politicians, officials and yes adequate staffing to meet their needs.
By the way, shame on the UL writer who was dim enough to compare Manchester to Londonderry's school district. Not even close... in every way imaginable. Their level of caring for their students goes beyond rhetoric, to solid actions, and their test scores prove this. Check your facts, before you lose more readership.
- SThomas, Manchester

To play the devils' advocate. Charge the students a fee for playing sports or, keep the sports free and give a tax break to everyone that don't play sports. Ice time is expensive, Lights at the High School and Gill fields are expensive. The cost for a poor education is far too expensive. Let's try to keep our priorities straight. Make education the issue.
- Tim, Manchester

Although many have computers, there are still many families without them therefore not everything can be online. Also, at this point I was told grades cannot be online due to the computer system not having that capability. (I inquired about that as well)

Alderman Sullivan, it would be interesting to hear "how" to do this. So far, neither you or our Mayor has pointed out how and where these cuts can be made.

Also, I just checked out state standards and I do not think cutting administrators in the school or guidance professionals will help us. Instead, we could lose state standings as well as our current DINI. I hope any solutions that you propose take that into account!
- Leah, Manchester

Hey Rich, do you have any idea what the Fine Arts Director does for that $66,000? There are no summers off or vacation weeks. Working a full year and with a Master's Degree, that salary is a pittance. There have to be administrators. There's no way music and art teachers will be able to do what the director now does for them. I wish you would look into what you're talking about before making a judgment.
And Alderman Sullivan, the district is finding ways to streamline. By making the cuts they're suggesting. They can get rid of every administrator on Commercial St. and every asst. prin. in every school, that still doesn't equal 13 mill.
- Kathy, Manchester

"Alderman Peter Sullivan", do you even have a clue what High School guidance counselors do all day? Do you even have a clue what the state requirement for student-to-counselor ratio is?
- David, Manchester

Tom, I teach in Manchester. I spend, on average, about $1000 out of pocket each year for your kids. I also pay a heck of a lot more in taxes than Manchester folks do.
- Fred, Amherst

I am quite displaced by the budget issues and irresponsible comments from people of the likes of Mark from Manchester and Tom from Northwood. Having a daughter in her junior year of high school we have been researching colleges and how and where she can receive the best education. We have spoken with schools from Division 1 to Ivy League and they are so much more imprssed and willing to work with our daughter for she not only is a high honor roll student but she has lettered in multiple sports for the past three years. Participating in sports or other extra carricular activities add value and credability to the student making them a more desired college prospect presenting them oppurtunities that would not exist otherwise.

I have sent my children for 8 years through private grammar schools. They attend public high school for the large variety of courses that are offered to assist the child to grow and be prepared for the next level.

After school activities such as sports, music and art will suffer if not be eliminated if the proper funding and managing of funds does not take place. Manchester has already cut many programs over the last 10 to 15 years?

If Manchester was to grow and develop then we must attract business and industry. What company would want to open it's doors in this city with it's present situation on the condition of our schools and their programs. It is only getting worse. Without good schools this city will not flourish as it has the potential!

Athletes are not stupid uneducated people, only people who judge by the group are truly short of real intelligence!
- Angry, Manchester, NH

Lets see......If anyone cares to check the SALARY levels of some of the school professionals, you will see right there where the problem lies. I am all for a fair wage BUT when you have people like the fine arts and music director making 66,000 plus per year with an additional 25k in benefits that right there is the real problem. If the administration really cares about the kids and the taxpayers during this tough economic climate how about a small giveback of there salaries???
- Rich, Manchester

Lets get back to basics and eliminate things that we do not NEED.
- tom, newport

This routine is getting tiresome. Rather than find ways to streamline the department and make operations more efficient, cost-effective, and responsive, the school administration raises the specter of hot-button cuts.

This has to stop. A school district that has a press flack, multiple assistant principals at numerous schools, and a batallion of guidance counselors at each high school has no business instigating hyteria.
- Alderman Peter Sullivan, Manchester

Robert Tarr, can you please tell me where you got a copy of the school budget?

I think the schools should take better advantage of technology and start putting more stuff online (handbooks grades etc.).

Did the other departments release their budgets?
- Maria, Manchester

What? "Manchester residents and slumlords are undertaxed." from a guy named Fred who lives in Amherst? Amherst? Your kidding, right? Tell ya what Fred, we send some of the welfare case load out your way. Along with the low income housing, crime, homeless, prison pre-release houses, noise, etc. Must be wonderful to sit in Amherst, NH and have the gall to tell the hard working citizens of Manchester that they are undertaxed.
- tom, manchester, nh

To understand a town, look at their schools. You will learn more about what the people value, what their elected officials really care about and the potential for their children than any other place. Are we raising children who can live their dreams, or just filling the lines of factories? Manchester Schools are already in need of improvement - I think the original budget requested was already stripped down.
What do we really care about?
- Jean, Auburn

If I mismanaged funds in this way where I work, I would be fired and the cuts would happen anyway. These school officials know they can do and say what they will for money and hide behind children to get their needs met without attempting to make changes. I have 2 children in Manchester Schools, have looked at the budget, and can easily see waste on many levels. Treat the money as if your job depended on it and you'll find ways to save without throwing the whole program away.
- Jill, Manchester

Lets see...
Underfund the school budget--stay on DINI list
Underfund the school budget--lose accreditation--
Underfund the school budget--get legal action taken by Auburn, Candia, Hooksett and Bedford for not funding to current programming levels--lose money to pay legal expenses for contract renegging.

Oh hell... just let the state come in and take over now. We cant seem to run a district right anyway.
- Jim, Manchester

The last person Mayor Guinta should take advice from is former Mayor Ray Wieczorek. Wieczorek did nothing for the schools but allow them to basically crumble in on themselves. Ray Wieczorek has nothing to be proud of when it comes to schools. He forgets how kids in some schools were left with less than adequate heating. He forgets all the hard working janitors he laid off from the schools. Don't ever be fooled by Ray Wieczorek. What he did to the janitors in the schools was outright mean. Some of the hardest working city employees were let go under Wieczoreks watch.
As for sports in schools being cut, what else does Guinta think is going to happen? When you cut 13 million dollars from the budget, you are taking away the lifeline of the schools. Sports are important as are band and art. These three areas are what help develop students into adults. When you cut you take away from the kids. For Mayor Guinta to stand up there and say that the AD is overstating the situation is ridiculous.
- Mike Porter, Manchester

Mark, sports do not create neanderthals. They do, however, give incentive to dozens of kids who might otherwise not be invested enough in school to make the grade, several of whom would flunk and/or drop out without their team (or committee, club, band, etc) to belong to. Sports also provide opportunity for some elite athletes to go on to college, when they might otherwise have missed that chance. Once those marginal ex-students are hanging on your street corner, you & Mayor Guinta will cry that the schools didn't do enough to keep them motivated and in class.
- Kathy, Manchester, NH

Tom from Northwood is dead wrong to say to cut sports and shift it to the community level, sorry Tom but there are many students and families that care more about athletics than you. Many students and families take great pride in representing their school and community, maybe you should support them instead of giving them the boot. Your opinion that schools need more arts and music and no sports is a movement that is oozing from people who don't care about athletics. How about if we cut all art and drama and music and see how you would feel.
For someone to proritize for everyone is selfish. No program is more or less important than others, they all reach out to students. Balance is the key. If cuts are indeed made, please cut fairly and equally across ALL areas.
- chris, claremont

Manchester is already the leanest school district in the state. Guinta is wrong. Manchester residents and slumlords are undertaxed. Guinta shouldn't have made campaign promises he couldn't keep. The schools in Manchester are already starving for funds. Nobody is going to want to raise children in Manchester if money isn't spent to improve the schools.
- Fred, Amherst

We hear this same thing every time somebody wants to control spending on schools.

Amazing that so many still fall for it.
- reuben, manchester

Education or sports?? Lets raise a generation of neandrathals instead of educated people. If you dont like it send your kid to a private school. Stop living your sports dream thru your children and reward them with an edcuation.
- mark, Manchester

Schools don't need sports. Schools need art and music. There's plenty of peewee and little leagues outside of the school system.
- Tom, Northwood

I'll be at Memorial on Monday night, but not armed "with a suggestion that will provide better service for less money" as Wieczorek wants. I leave those decisions to the professionals whose job it is to plan and provide the service, and I wholeheartedly support the acting superintendent's proposed budget without the cuts. If Mayor Guinta does not support it, then it is HE who has to provide his alternative suggestions to US. Where does he propose to cut millions of dollars from a district with several schools in need of improvement without cutting services? That is what I hope to hear at the meeting. If he can provide us with a plan that improves our schools per all the state and federal mandates, provides alternative education programs, sports, music, arts, etc. to reach not only natural scholars but also marginal students, and still cuts millions from the budget, I will gladly switch my alliance. Until then, our children and their schools come first, even if we need to raise taxes which might put a smudge on Mayor Guinta's conservative record.
- Kathy, Manchester

why cut sports, Dave Hedge your doing a great job you always told me when i was playing basketball with you in our younger days be strong. your that person to keep the schools in sports dont give up ,i know Dave you tought me well jim from MHA basketball
- jim, manchester nh

Solutions are great if only they have merit behind them. History has proven to us that the alderman will raise the entire city budget (including schools) and cry that they had to because the Mayor made too deep a cut. Then they will argue for reasons of a tax increase that IF we want better then a tax increase is the answer. It's not. Let us all look over the budget the school department gave us (126 pages worth) and really look at cost. $38,000 for detention slips, hall passes, library permits and middle school handbooks can done cheaper. So can other things in the MANSD as well as in other city departments. The alderman have to swallow their egos for just a moment and become creative. Thus saving the taxpayers money in the future.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"Brendan McCafferty: Under mayor's budget, Manchester would lose hope"
By BRENDAN MCCAFFERTY, NH Union Leader, Op-Ed, April 25, 2008

"WHAT IS a City of Hope, you may ask?" Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta posed this question in his inaugural speech in January. As a native of Manchester, a product of the Manchester School District, a resident of Manchester and now an assistant principal at Beech Street School, I was shocked to get his answer in the form of a recently submitted budget.

At Beech Street School, I started city-wide programs that serve students and parents, both city natives and newcomers to the country. These programs and the 85 hours a week that I spend at Beech Street School are representative of the extra lengths to which so many teachers and administrators go to serve kids. Last week I received notification that my job is being cut due to Mayor Guinta's proposed budget. Please understand that I am not writing to save my job. I will be fine. But ask yourself this: In what direction is this city heading?

The citizens of Manchester must see through the rhetoric and buzzwords that constitute Mayor Guinta's policies on education here in the city. As a school administrator, I can attest that his only contribution to the Manchester School District has been an occasional verbal salvo. But make no mistake, though he cries for innovation, creativity and leadership, he has not begun to work with the school district to develop any innovative and thoughtful plans for our future.

It is very discouraging that he seems to spend more time as school board chairman sending and receiving text messages during board meetings than he does seeking common ground and common sense solutions with school leaders.

Extreme poverty exists in Manchester and is only increasing. As of January, 38 percent of students in Manchester were receiving free and reduced-price lunches. At Beech Street School, the number is 92 percent. Nine of Manchester's 22 schools are at 49 percent or higher. The mayor seems proud to stick in the school district's face the fact that we are a District in Need of Improvement. However, as chairman of the school board, he should also be educating the public about the thoroughly researched correlation between poverty and school achievement.

The mayor was once asked about why he is proud to be a Republican. He spoke with pride about self-reliance and rugged individualism. I, too, believe strongly in these. However, these do not excuse the political and professional indifference and irresponsibility that dismissively ignore those in need. It is the charge of those in power to guide those in need towards self-reliance and rugged individualism. The mayor lives in a beautiful and expensive house in the North End. He has never visited Beech Street School during my two years there.

The mayor wants to cut $7.25 million from the current school budget for next year. However, he is the one who endorsed the new teacher, fire and police contracts. Schools will lose more than 110 employees, including many teachers. The fire department will lose 30 to 40. Police will be down 10. And highway will cut 45. Mayor Guinta said, "I will not balance the budget on the back of public safety." No, he will include cleanliness and education as well.

Cities simply do not recover from a budget like this in a few years. People should also realize that some pure and bitter politics might be the basis for these decisions. Some strong supporters of the mayor's budget are still upset about things from the Mayor Bob Baines era. Many of these folks might be supporting Mayor Guinta's budget because they want to see the district fall flat on its face. This, in their opinion, would force the state and feds to come in and address adequate school funding. Bring in John Lynch, Judd Gregg, John Sununu, Lou D'Allesandro, Carol Shea-Porter, Paul Hodes and Guinta. But what happens to Manchester in the interim? And how long is the interim?

In his bid for re-election, Mayor Guinta expressed regret that he did not have time to focus on education during his first term. How, then, does he have the time or understanding to craft and demand such a thoughtless and irresponsible budget? Many people have expressed concerns that if this budget passes it will cement Mayor Guinta's "3-D" legacy for Manchester: Dirty, Dumb and Dangerous. The mayor has engineered a political pyramid scheme that we, the public, will be left holding when he is long gone. The mayor asked, "What is a City of Hope, you may ask?" Not this one.
-
Brendan McCafferty is a Manchester native and the assistant principal at Beech Street School.
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Readers' COMMENTS:

Now Mr. McCafferty can go out and find a real job like the rest of us. Oh I forgot...."Those can, do; those who can't, teach."
- Mark, Manchester

There is only one thing to note from Mr. McCafferty's editorial, and that is he offers no solutions to the problems, or acknowledges any failure on the part of the School System, only that the city should spend all the School Dept wants and then some, and this is all Mayor Guinta's fault they can't.

This is pure partisan scare tactics, threatening the loss of services and good employees unless the taxpayers are further burdened. Mr. McCafferty talks and points out poverty in the city is record, but his solution is to raise taxes and hurt those people even more. When taxes go up, so do rents Mr. McCafferty.

Provide some solutions other than tossing all the money your system wants into it. Make your system achieve the goal of a good education while efficiently run, then ask for the rewards.
- Howie Howe, Manchester

I am deeply saddened that Mr. McCafferty has lost his job due to this budget cut. I met Brendan this past year as part of a program for inner city youth that brought me and other students from local Universities to Beech Street School on a weekly basis to help kids and their parents with learning English, and helping to keep them off the streets.
Steve, your previous comment tries to take away from Brendan's extreme dedication by stating it would be impossible to work 85 hours a week. Maybe Brendan embellished a bit but he is their until atleast 9 pm because I have seen it myself first hand. He works in one of the most depressing schools in New Hampshire, and does what he can to make it a positive place he diserves the utmost credit for this.
Lastly, the Mayor as well as the local government needs to realize that this budget cut not only affects the teachers losing their jobs, but it now affects the 30-50 immigrant children whom benefited from Brendan's programs to keep them off the streets. People comment and complain about the criminal act's of immigrants in this city, and without programs like Brendan's future immigrant children will grow up and turn to the same types of behavior that we read about in this paper everyday.
- Shaun, Manchester

To Rich: You are completely out of touch. Most of these teachers help these kids in ways you cannot begin to comprehend. Hungry kids can't learn. The more obstacles a child has, the harder it is to help them achieve, but i guess that's not your problem.

How lucky you are to think that it's someone else's problem.
- B, Manchester

I, like Mr cafferty am a life long Manchester native who graduated from our school system. I cannot disagree more about his pessimistic view though. Manchester is a great city, and I am hopeful for the future. Passing an extremely tight budget is the ONLY way to force bureaucrats to use common sense. If money is in thier coffers, it will be spent. There is not an incentive to save it. When money isn't there, hard but necessary decisions are made on what is "needed" vs. "wanted". Teachers, needed. More principals, Admn. assistants, extra curricular activities, etc. are great to have, but in a tight economy for all of us; just not affordable. The city dept. heads (all of them; Water, highway, Schools, Police, Fire etc.) must work with a budget just as a household would. Sometimes, we just cannot have what we want. Mr. Cafferty sounds like a complaining child that cannot have a new toy when you tell him you can't afford it.
- Brian G, Manchester

Now that Charles Dickens, Bob Crachit, and Tiny Tim have been shuffled out, let's have some reality.

An 85 hour week implies a 17 hour day, leaving 7 hours to sleep. Just roll your bed into your office. And if you are working more than 5 days, you need a personal coach to help you better manage your time.

The City spends more than it takes in. There are only two choices, and taxes are NOT going up. The schools exceed 50% of City expenditures and is the obvious place to downsize. People that were hired during the Baines era have no right to expect continued employment in this climate.

The Mayor was elected citywide, unlike most Aldermen. He was elected on a platform of fiscal restraint. He has the right and obligation to put his imprint on the schools. The status quo is no longer acceptable. We can and must do better, and the issue is management. Baines/Ludwell is history, and Brennan deserves a fresh start. I urge them to do the right thing, and trust a little.
- Steve, Manch

Mr. McCafferty's letter is remarkably well-written, coherent, and knowlegable We may have a budget problem now, but Manchester will have long-term problems if we lose such dedicated and obviously talented educators as Mr.McCafferty,especially in critical areas as the Beech Street School, which we have visited. Noreen and Bill McCarthy Ward 5 Manchester
- William J. McCathy, Manchester NH

Having been a citizen of Manchester for 50 years I am shocked by what is happening in your great city.
It truly comes down to education not only of the children but of the adults empowered to force change in the voting booth.
This Mayor is only selfserving. He does not understand people and the need of education in our society. He does not understand Manchester and the great institution that he is suppose to serve. The downfall of Manchester is not his concern as long as he can use it as a stepping stone for political gain. The Mayor hasn't been here long enough to know how cherished the Manchester institution is.
I believe Mr. MCCafferty when he states that the Mayor has not gone to the Beech street sschool since he has been Mayor and I would bet that the Mayor hasn't shopped at the Lincoln street shop and save either. The Mayor is afraid of "Those People" the very people he is sworn to represent and help in need.
His budget only proves that he lacks managerial experience for the job at hand.
Good luck to the citizen of Manchester the sky isn't falling just just your trust in the mayor to lead. Call your Alderman they are your voice they live amongst you and they do care after all they will be around far longer then your mayor.
- Norman R.Gill, Hooksett, NH

So you are blaming Frank Guinta alone for not finding ways to make the schools work better? Shouldn't the blame lie at the Administration?

You don't think that the Superintendent @155,000/yr, or one of the 2 Assistant Superintendents @$105,000 & $108,000/yr, or maybe some of the rest of the administrative staff that earn a combined 1.5 million dollars should be held accountable to actually ADMINISTER our schools? Am I mistaken - isn't that what we pay them to do?

Guinta makes $68,000/yr (less than half of what the superintendent makes and $40,000+/yr less than each of the 2 assistant superintendents) to oversee our entire city, yet somehow you think it is him, and him alone, who is responsible for the schools.

Note: every principal and assistant principal in the district makes more per year than the mayor does.
- Sue, Manchester

Typical chicken kittle BS from our school teachers. 85 hours a week, Puhleeze. Nice try Brendan, but many of the tax paying citizens of this city are aware of the tremendous waste of money that happens daily in our school system. That is one reason why Frank Guinta was elected. There are too many problems with our schools to list here without writing a book. I'll suggest getting back to basics; reading, writing, arithmetic. competancy before moving on to the next level not being optional, not "coding" children who are not learning challenged but discipline challenged. Eliminate almost all of the administrative staff at the SAU's and put this money into teachers. This list could go on for ever. In closing Brendan, my taxes have gone up more than 50% in the last 5 years, and the schools in this city have become a huge drain on our resources. If the yearly increases in the school budget yielded positive results, it would be much easier to swallow. As for extreme poverty, I suggest you talk to some of our older residents about the depression, they lived without $100.00 sneakers, gameboys, TV's, cars and many did well for themselves dispite quitting school in the 6th or 8th grade to work to support the family.
- Ron, Manchester

Leah,, I found $7,000,000.00 dollars last night, but when I got up this morning it was gone... So, I asked myself "where's all the cash"? Even GUINTA hasn't said that he knows where to find MY SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS! ... But,, no problem. I have my health.
- tom, manchester, nh

Funny, mr. mccafferty does not mention if HE is one of the administrators that received a pink slip! Time to come clean sir.....are you one???
- Rich, Manchester

It's funny that the only specific Mr. Cafferty mentions is the number of children who get free or reduced lunches, and mentions academics not at all. Maybe if the schools concentrated on TEACHING they wouldn't be having so many budget issues. Let the welfare offices do their own jobs.
- Rich, Manchester

Do you really think there's 7,000,000.00 still left to be found? You've seen the budget where's all the cash you think is still there? Even GUINTA hasn't said that he knows where to find SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS!
- leah, Manchester

I for one have had a hard time at first understanding the Mayor's purposed budget but then as history has told us, the alderman will pass a budget with a tax increase because it is a non-election year. I think I understand the Mayor's position on this and why he came to such a harsh number. Looking at the FY09BudgetBook in pdf format on page 100 is an item that calls for "Printing for schools (MST & Ben Franklin) $38,000
Detention slips, middle school handbooks
library permits, hall passes". ARE YOU KIDDING ME! Why spend that kind of money on detention slips, library permits and hall passes? There is a savings right there of $38,000 dollars in administration cost and I am sure there are more savings to be found in other line items. The sky isn't falling, and the MANSD was just following contracts by doing what is required and sending out those nasty pink slips. Now that the tax payers of Manchester can see a full line by line budget presented by the School Administration maybe now we can find ways to spend less and keep taxes low. Maybe the City Government will follow the example set by the MANSD and produce the same kind of budget review for us to look over.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"City spirit: Tap it for more improvements"
The NH Union Leader - Editorial
Friday, Apr. 25, 2008

LAST MONTH, Manchester held its annual "Adopt a Block" day, in which volunteers clean up neighborhoods around the city. This week, Nashua citizens organized a volunteer effort to clean up Southwest Park, which had become littered with trash, including an old golf cart and other large items.

These outings reveal a few important facts about New Hampshire's largest cities.

First, despite all the stories about crime and graffiti and the like, community spirit remains alive even in these city environments.

Second, people will come out to make their city a better place. Manchester's program includes corporate sponsors and has become a pretty big event.

Third, If people will give of their time, and corporations will give of their money, to clean trash from city blocks and public parks, then there is more energy and initiative to be tapped.

With Manchester short of cash and looking for anything that will help balance the books, Mayor Frank Guinta and the aldermen should look for new ways to reduce costs and raise revenue by recruiting more citizen volunteers and corporate sponsors for public improvement efforts.

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Readers' COMMENTS:

What a way to ruin a positive article with such negative comments. No Robert, you should go and try to do the mayor's job for a day and see if you could manage to keep everything the city requires up and running. The mayor works days, nights, and weekends, so to allude that he isn't a hard worker is absolutely rude and not true. I respect teachers and the work they do, but come on, every teachers does not work ten hour days nor do they work summers, so lets not exaggerate the facts too much just to make a political statement.

The funny thing is Robert, maybe you should look at how little that the mayor, and even the aldermen, get paid but how many hours they actually have to put into their jobs. Guinta himself is paid far less than department heads and many of the administrators in the school department. Maybe you should actually go out yourself and volunteer your time to benefit Manchester rather than using it to make unfounded comments about the amount of work that the mayor and aldermen do for our city. They put in WAY more time than they are paid for, so in my opinion, they basically are volunteers.
- Derek Myers, Manchester, NH

No, Mayor Guinta and the aldermen should show up with rakes and shovels and do the work that they seem to want others to do. Now, mayor, I am not talking about a photo op, I am talking about a 10 hour day like teachers put in to improve the city. There are two ways to do this. You can do it, or you can collect enough taxes to hire the people who are willing to get down in the dirt an do it. Joe McQuaid and Drew Cline and Andreskevich will be right with you (well, in spirit).
- Robert, Deerfield

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"Public hearing tonight on $276m Manchester budget"
NH Union Leader, April 28, 2008

MANCHESTER – The talking heads have had their say. Tonight, the people of Manchester will have theirs.

The topic is the proposed $276 million city budget, a dense, portentous document whose latest incarnation is proving as fraught as any the city has seen in more than a decade. It's a subject that's pitted Mayor Frank Guinta, who refuses to raise taxes, against his own department heads, who argue the alternative is widespread job losses and cuts in city services.

Those department heads are counting on a big turnout at Memorial High School tonight. Many have been lobbying their employees and the residents who depend on the services they provide, urging them to speak out against the mayor's proposals.

Union heads and local activists are rallying their troops as well.

"There's a lot more energy around this than I've ever seen for a budget hearing," said Kathy Staub, president of the Manchester Coalition for Quality Education. She passed around a flyer late last week, telling parents concerned about the school district's budget, "Get there early to sign up to speak."

At least a few Republicans and concerned taxpayers are expected to defend the cuts that Guinta has proposed. There has, however, been little effort to mobilize them.

Tammy Simmons, treasurer of the city Republican committee, said she fully expects her side's arguments will be drowned by the teachers and other groups fighting for larger appropriations. She's OK with that.

"It really is just a feel-good hearing," Simmons said. "Seriously, out of the 14 aldermen, do I really, honestly believe their minds are going to be changed by what happens (tonight)? No."

The public hearing starts at 6 p.m. Speakers will have up to three minutes each to share their thoughts and concerns with the mayor and aldermen, who will, as the agenda says, take those comments under advisement. They won't be answering questions.

Many expect an impressive showing by the teachers, who have been warned by the acting superintendent to expect pink slips if Guinta succeeds in slashing the district's budget by $7.3 million. Scott McGilvray, president of the teachers' union, said he has been told as many as 148 district employees could get the ax. More than 100 of those employees could be teachers, he said.

"We need to let (the aldermen) know that we're valuable, that we're essential to getting kids educated," McGilvray said.

Others who oppose Guinta's efforts to drive down the city's education budget have done their part to boost the turnout. Last Thursday, school board member Arthur Beaudry said he saw four women leaving budget-related pamphlets on car windshields in the T.J. Maxx parking lot.

Department heads, meanwhile, have launched their own public-outreach campaigns. Library trustees have asked people to attend tonight's meeting, warning Guinta's cuts could mean layoffs for three full-time and three part-time staffers and might even force the city to shut down the West Side library.

Likewise, the Manchester Transit Authority has stocked its buses with flyers informing passengers that Guinta's plan to cut its budget by nearly a quarter could prompt a fare increase or the elimination of some routes.

In an e-mail last week, employees at the Veterans Administration Medical Center warned the bus route to the center would be canceled if Guinta's proposal is approved.

"We have a lot of homeless veterans that take the bus. They wouldn't be able to get there otherwise," said Maureen Barrett, who works at the VA center.

Guinta has said city residents cannot afford a budget that would raise their local property taxes. The tax rate would go up 15 percent if all of the departments' requests were approved, he has said.

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Readers' COMMENTS:

If Mayor Guinta and the aldrmen put the money that was needed to pay for raises they approved for city workers with the contracts they approvedin the 2008 budget we wouldn't be looking at a 16% increase! But they played election year politics and tried keeping taxes low by not funding the raises. Now the raises for 2008 and 2009 have to be put into this budget. Nice work!
For those of you complaining about taxes, take a look at surrounding towns and what they pay, you will find there is not much difference, and we get alot more services.
Remember city workers are taxpayers too! They eat out locally and shop locally, contributing to the economy. And I don't believe they are over paid for the work they do. I don't see all of you complaining about their pay leaving your job for a city job.
- Pete, Manchester

Correct me if I'm wrong but shouldn't we be cutting staffing numbers if student enrollment is down? If enrollment is down 1500 students I would expect a commensurate reduction in both teachers and administration regardless of how much I like them. No brainer- Less students = Less teachers and less admin.
- JSF, Manch

In tough economic times family's and individuals must make cuts and sacrifices to make ends meet, and the city is no different. Perhaps its time to educate the teachers and school adminstrators in average citizen economics. They take a cut in pay to help make up the amount they say they need. So that they can understand the position they are putting tax payers who CANNOT afford to pay more are in! Haven't they heard about all the foreclosures happening everywhere? Haven't they seen the rising fuel and food prices? When many people can just barely afford to pay their mortgages and buy groceries where do they think the money for a tax increase is going to come from? They talk about it's for the children, but how well can children learn if they can't concentrate because the have empty bellies!
- Rob, Manchester

The budget Mayor Guinta proposed is reasonable. What is not reasonable are the comments of the Admn. talking about cuts in teachers. If these proffessionals worked in the private sector like the rest of us, and were told to cut thier budgets by upper mngt.--yet blindly talked about layoffs and the affect it would have on the customers...they would not have a job for long. Trim fat first. Find solutions cutting material expenses and duplicate processes first, then when the next expense is people, start trimming at the top salaries (doubtfall that would be a teacher). I am sure the school system will have some teachers retiring this year; do not replace them. Why must the unions, principles, et all constantly use scare tactics? We all have watched our home budgets go dow, down, down, as expenses have gone up, up, up. When we say "we cannot afford it", then do without it!

(The first job to go should be Henry Aliberti for using these scare tactics instead of working to decrease spending! He should do his job and stop the politics!!!)
- Brian G., Manchester

As a parent and a taxpayer, I can appreciate the fact that some things have to go...but when public schools are in danger of losing their accreditation, thus making it harder for my kids to be accepted to a good college, that is a huge problem. It's not like these kids have the choice to go to another school. Families shouldn't have to move or pay for their kids to go to a decent school that reaches the minimum requirements for an accredited school. That's what is going to happen.

I've seen the proposed cuts to the school services and while I agree that some of them should be cut, I don't agree that it should be as drastic as it was proposed.

Whether you have kids in the school or not shouldn't matter whether you pay taxes towards schooling like some people here are saying. I don't use a lot of the services that the city provides, but it doesn't mean that as a city resident, I shouldn't have to help pay for them.
- Greg R, Manchester, NH

I don't agree with a blank check for school sports. Residents who don't have kids in the system shouldn't have to pay tax increases for other peoples kids. If parents are that concerned with their kids taking part in sports, spend your own money at a sports complex.

Seriously, we're in a recession here and we'll see $4 a gallon gas soon. Spending has to stop.
- J, Manchester

Hold the line Frank.
The teacher's can not educate as it is. 3 months off and sixty thousand a year. The teachers are scared that they will lose these great jobs.
Hang in there frank, we will work to vote out who ever votes for spending increases.
Stan Howser
- stan howser, Manchester, NH

How quickly everyone forgets what the taxes were at the height of the Bains error, almost 33.00 per thousand. We are now just over 17.00 per thousand. I doubt that everone in support of the full budget would be ok with the rates returning to what they were.

Bravo for the mayou to find ways to cut the budget, we don't need to spend the money just because we have to. Families have to find ways to adjust their budget, so can the city. And as to the folks speaking of overpaid and underworked teachers, why is it that nobody ever accepts the offer to go and teach in a classroom offered by teachers in the past if the job is so easy!!!!!
- Brian, Manchester

I am a mother who's primary concern is my children, however, I can't agree that the only way to keep Manchester's schools doing well is through a massive tax increase. The mayor is in charge of presenting a budget, and I couldn't agree more with him in the fact that I, and many other residents, can't afford a tax increase! There are ways to work within a budget during tough times as people who have posted have said thus far. As a single mom, that's what I have to do every month.

The school department and the rest of the departments as well, need to recognize that if they care about the kids as much as they are saying, then realize that the massive tax increase in which they are asking for will have a more drastic affect on children when we can't afford to buy food/clothes/necessities because of how high our taxes are this year in comparison to the school department finding a way to live within a meager budget. If a hugh tax increase is allowed, YOU the department heads (especially the school board) are going to be responsible for hundreds of parents, elderly people, and families, losing their homes. I hope you can live with yourselves.
- Trish Campbell, Manchester, New Hampshire

The words "Public Hearing" .. what a joke. This will be the "You are killing our kids show" .. starring the hacks, has beens, connected, do nothings, cousins, paid off, never laid off, overpaid, under worked, benefit happy, teachers, administrators, police, fire, highway, parks, water, sewer, health, ... on and on. One or two taxpayers will get up and say "I can't afford to pay my taxes" and he/she will be treated like a cold sore. Manchester is For Sale... much like Lawrence, MASS ... its sister city.
- tom, manchester, nh

Let's be realistic, can any of us afford a 15% tax increase if the City budgets are blindly accepted? I will have to make difficult choices for my family if these budgets go through as is. I applaud Mayor Guinta for pushing all City Departments, including the School Department, to look for ways to cut and/or hold the line on spending. What's happening at your house? With regard to the school budget, are you getting a 6% or 7% increase to your household budget to cover rising costs of fuel,
food and other expenses? I'm not.
Where do I find monies to cover the increases? I have to make choices and sacrifices (eliminate spending on line items) within my budget ...a blank check at someone else's expense is not an option.
- Dawn, Manchester

As a concerned city resident who has recently watched my neighbors lose their home in foreclosure, I ask that we listen to the voices that are quietly in the background protesting any additional increases in taxes. We can not handle any more increases. Everyday we open our mail to increases in our fuel, utilities, credit card interest, mortgage interest etc. When we shop prices have skyrocketed. How is the average family going to keep up?
We need strong voices to attend tonights meeting and oppose any additional increases in the tax payers burden. If education is one of the items that needs to be evaluated then so be it. I am sure, as in any business budget, there is fat in the budget that can be cut out.
I hope our city officials do the right thing and stop spending beyond our means!
- Susan, Manchester

My wife and I have been parent volunteers for 10+ years at many levels of our children's education. Let us make it perfectly clear that the Mayor's budget is showing us that with cuts it can provide no tax increase to the people of Manchester. However with revenues down, cost must go up to cover what the revenues don't, otherwise a business would have to close down. So lets not kid ourselves to think the aldermen will approve the mayor's budget as is. They will in truth, create their own budget, raise taxes as much as 6% if not more and blame the mayor and the national economy. Taxpayers must not be fooled by this game. History keeps repeating itself in non-election years of this city. Lets advocate for better reduction in spending while keeping services up. It can be done.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

I can't wait to see the school board parade the kids in for pity money tonight. Once again, like two years ago, all they are going to do it use scare tactics to force the aldermen to tax the heck out of us.

My family has to find ways to make cuts during tough times, why can't these departments do the same? Oh wait, its because they are so used to Baine's blank check that he basically gave to department heads every year.

GO GUINTA! stand up for the taxpayer when no one else will!
- Kory Wood, Manchester, NH

I am unable to attend the meeting tonight, however I, like everyone, expect that the school administration has done an amazing job of using their scare tactics to drive fear into the citizens of Manchester with threats of cuts to service. THey will drum of support through false lies of cuts and detriments to service and get tons of people to speak their cases to the aldermen and mayor. Some of these individuals will have legitimate concerns, while the majority will be those whom are crying scare tactics and the rest will be those whom have been brainwashed.

Rather than accepting that WE the residents of Manchester do not have the ability to pay a double digit tax increase, these department heads and school administrators would rather take every last penny from Manchester families whom are already struggling due to a troubled national economy. Thank you Guinta for being a voice of reason for the tax payer against Alberti and his cronies who will cry that the sky is falling over and over and over again tonight at Memorial High.
- Derek Myers, Manchester, NH

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"City Hall: New police chief's Bedford address not an issue"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Sunday, Apr. 27, 2008

BACK IN the early 1990s, when he was a hard-nosed patrolman with a late-night walking beat, David Mara arrested a lot of bad guys.

There were guys he came to know, and who came to know him. Some would approach him at the mall, while he shopped with his wife, Jackie, and their newborn son. Some, he said, would drive past his home, a two-bedroom condo off Wellington Road, and shout at him as he washed his truck.

"People started knowing where I was living. I got very nervous about that," Mara said.

Mara and his family moved to Bedford in 1991 and continue to live there today. That he no longer lives in Manchester was a subject of some discussion this month, when the aldermen met with Mara to chat about his interest in the chief's post. Some of those aldermen have previously backed a measure requiring department heads to live in the city.

Mara got their votes, regardless. The aldermen's support for him was unanimous.

"In an ideal world, yes, I'd like to see someone who's a department head live in the city," Alderman Peter Sullivan said. "But if the trade-off is not getting the best person for the position, I'm willing to give up some ground."

Colleagues have described Mara as one of the most aggressive officers on the force. Even as a captain, they noted, he continued to take overtime shifts for "gang" details, shifts that kept him out on the street instead of behind a desk.

"Somebody said to me, it's not going to be unusual to see the chief making (traffic) stops," Alderman Dan O'Neil said after Mara's confirmation.

Mara was hired in 1986 and lived in Manchester for close to five years. It was near the end of that stretch that he started taking evening classes at the New England School of Law in Boston, from which he would earn a juris doctor in 1994. Later in the night, when his classes let out, he headed back up to Manchester to work the midnight patrolman's shift.

"My wife was alone quite a bit," Mara said. "I wanted to at least go to work and not have to worry about my family."

Aldermen have tried several times over the years to pass measures that would require department heads to live in Manchester, or failing that, to recommend Manchester residents get "first consideration" for city jobs. The argument, generally speaking, is those who live in the city care about its welfare and understand what makes it tick.

The City Solicitor's Office has said a residency requirement would run afoul of the New Hampshire Constitution.

O'Neil said he still believes the city should give preference to job candidates who live in Manchester, so long as they're qualified. Alderman Ted Gatsas has taken a similar stance. Both, however, said they are convinced Mara can be an effective chief regardless of his address.

Mara notes his 13 years on the department's Special Reaction Team (the city's version of a SWAT team), whose members are always on call. "I never, ever had a problem responding," he said.

"I can see the point of view of the aldermen that want the department heads to live in the city," he said. "However, I still think you have to take the most qualified person who is going to do the best job."

Cheers
With little lead time, dozens of Manchester policemen raced to City Hall on Tuesday to show their support for Mara. When he got the job, they gave him a standing ovation.

Then, it was on to the Strange Brew for some celebratory beverages.

"The place was just filled with cops," said Mitch Sawaya, who owns the Market Street watering hole. Sawaya wasn't there, but according to his bartender, "That was pretty much the customer base."

The nomination couldn't have come at a better time, either. Tuesday nights are when the Strange Brew trots out its best deal: drafts and bottles for only $2.50.

Coulda been a contender
Few people in line for the chief's job could have boasted a better claim to the inside track than Deputy Chief of Administration Gary Simmons. He's been with the department for about three decades and has held the rank of deputy chief since 2003.

When the time came, though, Simmons stayed on the sideline.

"I considered applying for the Chief's position, and it would have been an honor to serve in such a capacity," Simmons wrote in an e-mail last week. "However, I start 31 years in June and decided to consider other opportunities that may arise in the future, rather than committing myself to at least 3 more years.

"I have had a very successful and rewarding career," he continued, "and in the meantime, I will continue working in my capacity with the new Chief, current Deputies and the rank and file of the department to keep Manchester safe and the department one of the finest in the nation."

More job losses
Yet another department is looking at the possibility of widescale layoffs.

Public Works Director Kevin Sheppard warned aldermen last week he would have to lay off 47 highway workers under Mayor Frank Guinta's budget proposal, which cuts his allocation by 6 percent. The loss, he said, represents about a quarter of the Highway Division's workforce.

Residents would notice the difference next winter. Without those workers, Sheppard said, it would take more time to plow and salt the streets. "Our refuse collectors will be plowing," he said. "Therefore, they may not have an opportunity to pick up trash the next day."

For those keeping score at home, that makes three city agencies that have invoked the possibility of major layoffs this budget season. The other three are the school district and the Fire Department. The Manchester Transit Authority has also indicated it might have to reduce staff, though it has not offered any specific numbers.

The best-laid plans. . .
Work on a new Master Plan has fallen behind schedule since the city's long-serving planning director, Bob MacKenzie, announced his retirement. Now, it's expected the plan won't be complete until the end of the summer.

"We've had staff limitations," said Pamela Goucher, who is serving as planning director in MacKenzie's absence.

The Master Plan has been described as a "vision document," a blueprint for the city as it grows over the coming decade. The plan was half-finished when its authors released an early draft in February. At the time, they said they expected to have the second half done by mid-April.

Goucher now says she would consider bringing in a consultant to finish the project.

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Contact staff reporter Scott Brooks by e-mail at sbrooks@unionleader.com
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Readers' COMMENTS:

Everyone listen up..the key word is he is the most qualified. If Tenn had his way, an Auburn resident would have had the job. Right now the MPD is walking on air..we don't expect favors from Chief Mara. We expect hard work (we want to work hard for him) and changes that were long ago needed. I know for a fact many detectives were ready to retire if a certain individual got the job. Now they are saying that they will stay to see (and participate) in the changes. Chief Mara living in Bedford means nothing. If you love Manchester and want to see it change, you will realize this was the best choice.
- DK, manchester,nh

Before all of the cop bashers come out of the woodwork on this one lets hope they think before they type. Why would you want to work as a police officer and live in the same city? If you have a family would you want to be constantly worrying about running into someone you locked up while you are out with your family? Would you want your kids to face retaliation from other kids at school because you locked up their friend or relative? Of course not

It is different if you are a teacher, firefighter, highway department, etc etc. They dont make enemies by locking people up. Cops do. If they choose to live outside of the city to protect thier family I have no problem with that at all.
- KB, Merrimack,NH

I'm with Steve! The rest of you yahoo's who have nothing better to do than gripe and moan, go get a life!
- sandy, thornton

Hey Bill from Exeter, it is those "Out-a-towners" who are willing to risk there lives (and one out of towner from Concord, NH has) to make Manchester a better place to live. Last I knew, this is still America, where we have the right to live freely, that means Bedford NH. Like Ben said, being a parent trumps being a cop. I will add that individula rights trump your prevish little postion on the matter.
- Tad, Hooksett

Well said Steve from Manch... It doesn't matter at all as long as he's there at 0800 for work. I've been a cop for 14 years and recently I moved to the community where i work but I'm fortunate to live way out in the sticks. There aren't many sticks in Manchester. I would also venture to say that more than 1/2 of all police officers in the State of NH are from somewhere else other than NH so who cares.
- Sean, Milford

Once again, the department heads look past their top heavy ways and threaten to cut the employees who do the actual work, Police Officers, Firefighters, Teachers, Highway workers. How many jobs are there in the city have the word "Assistant" in it? Get rid of the assistants and make the bosses do their own work. Union Leader, care to check into this?
- Tim, Manchester

Although I do not oppose Chief Mara living in Bedford I do believe that people who work and live within their community tend to care about the overall well being. Perhaps Chief Mara will relocate into Manchester as many other city workers have done in the past. He would certainly be welcome.
- joco, manchester,NH

Every chief in the history of Manchester P.D. has lived in the city. It's the right thing for a chief to do. On the other hand, if the residents of Manchester don't mind being protected by a bunch of Outa-Towners, thats okay too.
- Bill, Exeter

To hear Police Commissioner Tenn tell it (and he did to every cop he could find), Deputy Simmons never had a chance. Perhaps, Simmons didn’t bother to apply, not because he was looking to the other opportunities, but because People like Tenn spread wild rumors about him. Simmons just didn’t want to have to answer to those rumors, which is too bad, he’s a good guy. Then again, he is also like the other two, a career desk officer with little actual arresting criminal experience. In the end, Mara was still the best choice
- Paula G., Manchester

Could a NYC cop afford to live in NYC on their salary? Probably not which is why so many live in NJ. Do most owners of companies live in the same town that the company operates in? Does that mean they are less invested? No one needs to live in the town they serve just to care more. If they are smart, work hard and take pride in their work that is all that matters. Expecting them to live where they work is not only unfair financially but also extremely narrowminded.
- Sue, Bedford

Tom, you obviously do not know much about the men and women at the MPD. If you did, you would quickly realize that their best employees don’t live in the city. For nothing else, many simply choose to raise their children away from the glare of their parents being a cop in the town the grow up in, go to school in and make friends in. It is just a better situation for the children. Being a police officer does not trump being a solid parent. Sorry your so upset by it, but too bad
- Ben S., Weare, NH

More job losses; it's about time we go after city workers. Every buget process the city employee cry's wolf, the teachers say the kids are the ones who are going to suffer. I believe this is wrong because its only if you let them by losing vision due to budget cuts. You also have the highway saying the trush or the plowing is going to suffer. In my opinion you need to run the city like a buisness and treat it as one. Other buissnesses around the city and state have had to layoff due to economic reasons and they still manage servive
- Dave, manchester

I don't care if he lives in Alaska and parachutes from a helicopter to get to work. I believe in merit.
- Steve, Manch

Jeff of Manchester .. we are not talking about the local garbageman,, we are talking the chief of police. If the chief of police does not live in Manchester because he says it isn't safe ... ??? There goes another thousand or two or three in property value..
- tom, manchester, nh

Tom your comment is pathetic.

Mr. Mara was a resident of the city but decided it was in the best interest of his families safety to move.

Mr. Mara worked many nights leaving his family home alone. He reguarly worked overtime on gang details which means he interacted with the worst of the worst and as pointed out in the article, people began to realize where he and his family resided.

Sure that doesn't mean anyone would have done something to his family, but its a chance he wasn't willing to take and I don't think many would.

He moved his family to a nearby town where there was less chance of interaction at home with the criminals he arrested on the job.

As for Mr. Mara not caring about Manchester? The man has put his life on the line for the past 22 years for the city of Manchester.

One last thing, before you go accusing Manchester police officers of not caring about the city of Manchester, please remember that two years ago a police officer who lived in the Concord area gave his life in service to Manchester.
- Travis, Manchester

Tom - That's ridiculous. If he's the most qualified person for the job it shouldn't matter if he lives one town over. Do you sleep at your job? I don't live in the same town as my employer, but it doesn't make me work any less.
- Jeff, Manchester

I know a lot of police officers who do not live in the towns or cities they protect. Let's look at the flip side of this. Police officers generally don't make a lot of money. Do you hear Bedford residents crying like Tom/Manchester that many of their officers don't live in Bedford? I grew up in Bedford and never heard that.

What is with all of the Bedford-bashing I see going on in these forums? It always seems to come from Manchester residents and it's usually just jealousy-based drivel. Enough already. If you hate Manchester enough so as to write negative things about Bedford, how about you get off your butt and move to Bedford??

As far as safety of the new Chief's family, well now everyone knows he lives in Bedford. I realize it's the UL's job to report the news, but I don't see this little insignificant fact being newsworthy. There is nothing wrong with Chief Mara living in Bedford. Many police agencies simply require that their officers live within a 15 to 20 mile radius of the PD Headquarters and Bedford certainly falls into this criteria.
- Bryan L, Nashua

Tom -- Can you read? Aggresive cop arrests bad guys, they drive by his house IN MANCHESTER. He moved to assure his family's privacy and protection. Additionally, the City Solicitor believes the residency requirement is likely unconstitutional. By all accounts Mara is highly qualified, very capable, and supported throughout the department.
- richard, Manchester

This sends a great message... if the chief of police won't live in Manchester, then why should any of his patrolmen? Or the firemen? Garbageman? Teacher? Do you think our new police chief cares about the Manchester schools? Naw.. his kids go to the new school in Bedford, if he has kids. Ya think our new chief worries about traffic on Bridge street? Naw .. as long as Meeting House road is doing ok. Not requiring the chief of police to live in Manchester is a slap across the face of every taxpayer in this city. Remember, it starts at the top. Next time you feel disrespected by a cop in Manchester, think for a moment; he does not live in Manchester. In fact, he probably thinks you are scum if you live in Manchester. Thanks aldermen and women. Another wonderfull job; not.
- tom, manchester, nh

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"2,000 protest city budget"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
April 29, 2008

MANCHESTER – Fears of teachers layoffs, larger class sizes and the elimination of all after-school activities drove roughly 2,000 educators, parents and students to unite last night in protest of Mayor Frank Guinta's proposed budget.

Opponents of the mayor's $276 million proposal filled nearly every seat in both the auditorium and cafeteria at Memorial High School, the scene of the first public hearing of the new budget season. Dozens more packed the gymnasium.

Their audience was the mayor and Manchester's 14 aldermen, who sat in silence on the auditorium stage as one speaker after another pleaded for the money that school administrators say is needed to preserve jobs and maintain services throughout the district.

"There is this myth going on that these are just scare tactics," said Edward Doyle, a music teacher at Hillside Middle School. "I'm sorry. This is reality. And this is not a good thing that we had to come here today."

Of the nearly 130 people who signed up to speak at the hearing, a handful rose to the mayor's defense. They argued, as he has, that many city residents are unable to afford a tax hike as the economy continues its slide. Some, too, said the district has not spent its dollars wisely in the past.

"I've lived in Manchester for 49 years," said Robert Barry, of West Elmwood Avenue. "During that period, the school budget has increased exponentially, and the schools have fallen to below par, to schools in need of improvement.

"More money does not equal better education, no matter what they say. Stick with the mayors budget."

Guinta has taken flak for a vast number of the cuts he recommended in his budget proposal. Both the Fire and Highway departments have warned the cuts would force them to lay off workers.

The Manchester Transit Authority has floated the possibility that rates would be hiked and services cut. Library trustees, meanwhile, say they might have to shut down the West Side library. Guinta has told department heads to scour their budgets for fat to trim.

The format of last night's hearing did not allow him to respond to the residents' complaints.

Backstage, though, the mayor was confronted by two mothers who said they were worried about the quality of education their children would receive next year. One mom, Denise Ciccolo, told Guinta, "I can honestly say I voted for you twice. But seeing this budget, I don't want to vote for you."

Guinta assured the women he is not deaf to their concerns.

"Of course we all care about a strong and vibrant community," he said. "But the reality of the situation is, we have a loss of dollars to spend, and I cannot in good conscience ask the taxpayers to pay 16 percent more in taxes."

In a shot at the acting superintendent, Henry Aliberti, Guinta told the women, "In my view, what you're hearing is a very one-sided argument from the superintendent that I think is intended to raise concerns among parents."

The turnout at Memorial was by far the biggest for a budget hearing in Manchester this decade. It was significantly bigger than the turnout for a hearing on Guinta's first budget proposal in 2006, when 700 people showed up, and even bigger than many of the hearings during Mayor Ray Wieczorek's administration, when large crowds turned out to protest threats of teacher layoffs.

"This is the 1990s all over again," former Mayor Bob Baines said.

Sitting side by side with the parents and teachers last night were hundreds of high-schoolers, many dressed in their school colors or varsity sports uniforms. Students at West High School said their principal promoted the hearing every morning on the school intercom. Teachers also urged the students to come out in force, they said.

"A bunch of my teachers were like, If you want to play sports next year, you better think about transferring to another school district,'" said Natasha Brown, a West High junior.

Several students approached the microphone last night, putting real faces to school programs and extracurricular activities that are said to be on the chopping block. Rachel Hedge, a Memorial High School junior who juggles three sports and several leadership groups, told the aldermen she worries the program cuts would hurt students' chances of getting accepted to good colleges.

"The admissions officers won't know all these opportunities were taken away by the city," she said. "All they'll know is we stopped being involved."

Zac Carr, a Memorial senior, said he has come to value the time he's spent working for Manchester Community Television. He said he learned to use a camera and met many political luminaries during the New Hampshire Primary, including Sen. John McCain and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

"That's an opportunity not a lot of people are going to get," Carr said. "And if we cut the budget, that's an opportunity you guys are going to be depriving students." Audience members jeered several of the speakers who urged the aldermen to approve Guinta's proposals.

City Republican Committee Treasurer Tammy Simmons was booed when she noted many school administrators in Manchester make more money than the mayor does.

"And they should!" someone shouted back at her.

Simmons continued. "I have nothing bad to say about any single teacher in the school district, because I know you do a very difficult job under very difficult circumstances," she said. However, "We the taxpayers are being asked to just give more money and more money and more money, seemingly with no regard for how we're supposed to manage things."

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Readers' COMMENTS:

I do not want to see the property taxes go up. I firmly believe that there are departments and expenses that can be cut. I do not agree that sports are the backbone of the school, nor the most important aspect of an education. Academic learning is what is most important for students. I do not see the students in this year being any smarter or quicker than when I was in school. In fact, in looking at children today at malls, friends children, and my own nieces and nephews, they can not even do arithmetic in their heads. Until I see improvements in areas such as those, I do not believe that sports and extra curricular are important. As far as working extra jobs, I have done that since I was 22 and I am not a teacher. I see police parking in parks and baseball fields talking to other; I see 5 or 6 highway personnel working on a job with only 2 or 3 actually doing physical labor; I believe that there needs to be imorovement in management in different departments and in prioritizing assignments. Also, do not use children as props for sympathy or for scare tactics. The real taxpayers should have been the ones there, signing up to speak. Thank you Mayor Guinta for standing up to overspending!!
- melanie, manchester, nh

"2000 Protest City Budget"

Sounds like 1,900 kids scared by 200 teachers.
- Ed Naile, Deering NH

As I said last night, the alderman approved a school budget in 2007 and offered a very small but needed tax relief. In my opinion I stated they can offer a fully funded school budget and again offer a tax relief to the people of Manchester. Does that mean 153 million for the Manchester School District? Maybe. Does that mean layoffs to city employees, teachers and such? No. I challenged the alderman to put aside partisan politics and their egos and come up with a real responsible financial budget for all citizens in Manchester and those who send their students to our schools. I also agree that those towns that send their students to Manchester should have more of a say as to a school budget. We as citizens finally have the MANSD giving us a budget that is line by line (126 pages). It still has some cloudy areas as to where money is spent but we all can work on that. In closing the Mayor showed everyone that you can be responsible, have a zero tax increase and it does come with hardships. So now the alderman must work to show they are just as responsible for the people who live, work and raise a family in Manchester.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester (Ward 5)

To the people who didn't appreciate the students being there: many are of voting age, the rest will be soon. Kudos to the kids for taking time from their busy schedules to get involved in their city! I wish my 2 kids -one a Memorial grad and one a Memorial student- had been there. And kudos to the teachers who encouraged their participation. It's a great civics and economy lesson for them. Besides that, it is important to the mayor & alderman to see the people their decisions will directly affect. They have faces, and names, and voices. They are not just numbers, statistics, or political pawns. Your actions have consequences! Positive actions have positive consequences, and negative actions have negative consequences. Choose wisely.
- Kathy, Manchester, NH

Tammy, with all due respect to you, you somehow cast a cloud over teachers showing up and speaking at a public hearing. Did you not listen? The teachers that spoke also live and pay taxes in Manchester. They have just as much right to stand up and speak as anybody else. The mere fact that they are a teacher does not disqualify them from having a thought or opinion on the budget. Don’t forget, the teachers and school employees have 2 dogs in this fight, their jobs and their property taxes.
People often forget that laying off the teachers and other city employees will mean less tax revenue coming in because many of them, a majority of them, are property owners and pay taxes as well.
As for anything being orchestrated, that is absurd. People coming out to save their jobs. Is that really such a bad thing?

As for the person that was outraged that the students took away seats from tax payers, I think it was great to see so many students standing up for what they believe in. They are the future of Manchester and they really showed how they care about their schools, teachers and their city. From the students that spoke, I found it hard to believe anybody put them up to it. What hey said was from the heart, not forced.
Without education we have nothing.
- Mike Porter, Manchester

See how well organized and effective the teachers and school adminstrators are at getting together and motivating students and parents to cry like chicken little about the budget. Now if they could only educate our children with the same zeal and effectivness as they demonstrated at their protest! Strange how these people whom we entrust to educate our children cannot they themselves come up with any ideas on how to save money instead for the tax payer. The ONLY thing we ever hear out of them is more money, more money. I'd sure like to know where I am supposed to come up with more money for the tax increase they are pushing for. Last time I checked my company couldn't afford to give any raises and good jobs elsewhere are getting very hard to find, unless you can get a job working for the city. I understand that they get raises regularly.
- Rob, Manchester

I can't believe Deb from Manchester. You, like the rest of the school department, care little about the kids and solely about your jobs and getting the funding you WANT. I guess I should be happy because atleast she has the guts to say thats the real reason why she and the rest of the school department are drumming up so much resentment over the budget.

Deb from Manchester actually made a comment saying that: and I quote "I just hope Dr. Aliberti makes the cuts in the budget that will hurt the most, sports, elimination of extra curricular activities, reduction of supplies and textbooks, transportation to 2 miles, and of course, teachers." Your response obviously shows that you don't care about the kids at all if out of spite, you hope that the kids suffer in the long run rather than finding cuts elsewhere that would result in minimal affects on kids.

I am truely ashamed of Alberti and the rest of the school department after this situation.
- Derek Myers, Manchester, Nh

Walter, I am a first yr teacher. I can respect the fact that you do not want your taxes raised. I would hope that you would in turn, show some respect for teachers.

I come to school early most days and stay after for an hour most days so that my students will receive the extra help that they need. I do this without extra pay. I do not have 2 hrs during my day to eat, socialize and goof off. I spend a portion of my weekend writing lesson plans for the following week. In addition to that, I also spend time on a daily basis correcting papers. I have spent aproximately $600 of my own money on supplies for my classroom. I earn aproximately $20,000 less than your quote of $50,000/yr. Like you, I am paying more for gas, food, rent, heat, repairs on an aging car, etc. I am also paying off my college loans. Like you, I am having a hard time making ends meet. I will be working this summer "vacation" to supplement my teacher's salary.

Walter, my guess is that it has been a very long time since you have stepped into a school and viewed first hand what teachers do on a daily basis.

Walter, do not use your negative, out of touch views of the teaching profession to justify the fact that you do not want to pay more for taxes.
- Megan, Manchester

We all want good schools, and none of us want another tax increase. I also know that teachers are (mostly) a dedicated lot who are doing their best. It is now time for the Admn's, and principals to do thier job and work with the money we choose to give them. It is a budget so is their job to work within it; not bitch about it not being enough.

For all of us on either side there IS a fair solution. Let's bring it back to PURE democracy (and take the political hacks including the Mayor out of it). A simple ballot question of "Are you willing to pay 5%, 10%, or 16% more in taxes, or should it be kept even for the next yr?" Majority wins-end of discussion!

If the majority is in favor of a tax hike, I will find a way to pay it and still proudly live in Manchester; if there is not a tax increase, I will expect the Admn to work with what we give them and everyone will have to deal with whatever hard choices are made.
- Brian G, Manchester ward 9

So long all you over paid underperforming teachers who just push the student through.
Let us see how you perform now, how about a system where you are held accountable and paid by how well the student tests out at the end of the year. I think the majority of teacher's would owe money in the end. Bo ho woes me said the overpaid teacher.
Go Frank Go. I and all my friends and family support you.
Stan Howser
- Stan Howser, Manchester, NH

According to several speakers last night, some of the towns that have contracts with Manchester have had their lawyers review the budget and found it to be a breach of their contract. This leads me to believe that the city could be forced to defend against several lawsuits as a result of its actions. It was one of the more interesting things to come out of the meeting, I'm surprised that there was not one word about it in the UL or on WMUR.
- Rob, Manchester

i for one am glad i moved from manchester, however i agree with the mayor, these schools have to much money already and if run more efficiently could have a bigger cut and still provide a quality education for the students that want to learn. and why not let the schools earn their own money from advertisers(the verizon wireless central high school) has a nice ring to it
- billy, raymond

I too watched it on TV and was ashamed of how rude it was to boo someone who had the guts to get up and exclaim their beliefs.

I for one can't afford a tax increase and wish we didn't have to deal with cuts, as I am sure everyone does. However, when times get tough like they are this year because of dozens of economic problems beyond the city's control, it needs to happen. If it wern't for fiscal responsibility by the mayor, hundreds of elderly people and young familes would be pushed out of their home from a 16% tax increase.

Bravo Guinta for holding the line for those who do not have the time nor the ability to attend a meeting such as the one last night. The Manchester tax payer stands behind you!
- Holly Bernier, Manchester, New Hampshire

Dear Walter of Manchester-
You are delusional in your thinking. Lunch-20mins each day. Time between classes- I am lucky if I get 5 mins between my classes to use the bathroom! Socializing- before and after school. There is NO time for that especially with the new No Child Left Behind handcuffs we all wear now. Sick time- don’t you get sick time to use when you are sick? Yes, we have school vacations, holidays and the summer. However, we do have workshops that need to be attend or we don’t get rectified to teach. Also, how many jobs do you work? You do realize that most teachers work at least 2 job to make ends meet. We use our “extra time” and hours after school to work those extra jobs.
I am sorry that some of you know teachers that give you the wrong idea about how teachers use there “down time”. I am sorry that you did not have a teacher that touched your life and made a difference. I am sorry that you did not have positive experiences in school that has possibly made you and others bitter.
I would just like to remind you that without quality education the community of Manchester would suffer. You think the crime is bad now……… you have not seem anything yet!
So go head let’s pass the Mayor’s budget. I just hope Dr. Aliberti makes the cuts in the budget that will hurt the most, sports, elimination of extra curricular activities, reduction of supplies and textbooks, transportation to 2 miles, and of course, teachers
- Deb, Merrimack, NH

I was very disappointed to see the way the audience booed those who did not agree with them. I watched from home as all of those teachers, administrators and parents, the people who are supposed to be setting an example to our children, acted so poorly while someone else was speaking. What kind of positive role models were they last night? It was down right shameful.
- Sue, Manchester

I applaud Guinta for his standing firm on not raising taxes and giving the schools a blank check. The school board needs to take an economics class and actually manage money, instead of just asking for more, more, more.

I also agree the school kids should not have been taking seats like that, they are not paying the taxes.
- J, Manchester

There may have indeed been 2000 people in attendance, but I would guess that less than 200 actually spoke - most were teachers or other city employees. The budget hearing 2 years ago went much later into the night. What I found was that many people didn't even bother to attend because by the time they got home form work, they knew it would be too late when they would have a chance to speak because the MEA told the teachers & students to get there at 5:00 to sign in to speak. Many people just think it is too choreographed for it to really be worth their time to attend.
- Tammy Simmons, Manchester

My daughter was told by one of her teachers that her music class could be cut. I had to talk to her and inform her that it was not for certain just to calm her down.

How dare this school department manipulate my children and others for their political stances! Its wrong and I cannot believe how low they have stooped for media attention!
- Tonya Ryan, Manch NH

How immature to boo someone (Tammy) because she has a differing opinion than you. Maybe there were 2000 people there last night at Memorial High with the vast majority being against the budget, but the tens of thousands of tax payers were at work, taking care of their kids, being parents, ect, so we didn't have the luxury nor the time to sit for hours to speak out at the event. However, rest assured that there are far more of us whom are are against a 16% tax hike and we certainly support the mayor.

Just because you can fill an auditorium with teachers whom are obviously scared of losing their jobs and kids whom you've scared into attending, shouldn't make you think so highly of your 2000 supporters last night.
- Greg Ballard, Manchester

I have to agree with Ed. If the teachers spent as much time and effort finding solutions as they do harping on the kids about doom and gloom scenarios, they might actually come up with a few solutions.
- Ron, Manchester

Question...

Do we see any future candidates for school board or alderman here? The 2009 election-cycle will be upon us soon. Time to start thinking about it.

(We need SOLUTIONS)
- Brian Chicoine, Manchester (Ward 11)

Tom,
I live in Manchester and teach here. I am very aware of the tax situation because I too pay taxes--just like you do. However, I also believe that what comes around goes around. If raising taxes will equate providing teachers with the resources they need to adequately teach students, then I am in favor. If we do not educate our children now, tomorrow's society will see MORE crime. Obviously, if you do not have children you probabaly feel like you should not have to pay for education. However, these children are the people who will be offering you services in the future. Without an adequate education, they will not be able to. I do not want to pay to have your road plowed, but have no choice since it is part of the taxes. I do not want to pay for the police and fire to come to your house if you should need them, but I have to. It is all related.
- JT, Manchester

I wonder…

1. Why doesn’t the school district conduct a real needs analysis to figure out where cuts can be made? I am sure that cuts can come from other places and do not have to involve teacher lay-offs.
2. Why doesn’t the school district move their offices out of the mill yard and into vacant space at West High? The decision to move from the old Ash Street School to the mill yard was a mistake and is forcing the city to spend money that it doesn’t need to! Other communities in NH have their SAU offices in local schools, why not Manchester?
3. Why doesn’t the school district think about new ways to save money and become more efficient? One idea is full electronic record-keeping, (if not already implemented). How about incentive pay for the upper leadership, (such as the superintendent), that gives more pay as the schools become more successful at doing the job of educating our children? (I saw this idea presented in the comments section several weeks ago so cannot take credit but I like it). How about more competitive bidding for outsourced services?
4. Why doesn’t the school district stop using scare tactics and young people to sway public opinion when the fact is that everything can be funded? These are the same methods used every time the school district doesn’t get what it wants!

Don’t like these ideas? That’s okay. The point is that there are ideas out there and the school district and the (elected) school board should do some brainstorming to find a better way to do things. There IS a better way! Raw ideas develop into real solutions. Let’s stop trying to Band-Aid the problem and come up with SOLUTIONS!

And by the way, the “per-pupil spending” charts that we all see around budget time include the total cost of education. How much is actually spent on education and not on building leases, etc. Knowing that information, (which the school district and school board does), is a beginning step in finding ways to save. And what about the surplus that the district always seems to have? If it’s not needed why budget it?

The schools will be fine. The sports and activities will be fine. West will remain open. It’s all part of the play book that the school district uses when they do not get what they want. There is a better way to administer education. The school district and the school board needsto find that way!

Thank you Mayor Guinta for continuing to make the hard choices!
- Brian Chicoine, Manchester (Ward 11)

Scott,
Most of the parents are not "lazy" as you indicate, but are working sometimes three jobs to make ends meet. They do not have TIME to go to school. The Office of Civil Rights requires that we educate these children and if we do not that would be considered discrimination. Take it up with OCR if you have a problem. As Lincoln said, every child is guaranteed a FREE and EQUAL education.
- JT, Manchester

I wish I could vote Alberti out of his job. His lies and manipulation of school aged kids should be criminal!
- Kory Wood, Manchester, NH

Melinda,
Why do you keep posting the same thing word for for here?

Do you have this saved & You copy and paste it?

Other people spoke up in defense of the man's assertion & quite frankly, you haven't offered any proof to the contrary.

Your money sucking human statement is appalling. It's negativity like this that pits community members against one another. We need to come together to find solutions that put our dollars where they are most needed.
- Leah, Manchester, NH

What a difference a year makes!! Last year the techers union and administrators were applauding Mayor Guinta for the hefty pay raises that they received. Now they turn their backs to him. Can you say Judas? The teachers have it made. I have calculated the amount of money they receive versus the amount of time they actually work. First of all, they make an average of 50k per year. They work an average of 6 hrs. per day, take away about 2 hrs. (lunch, time between classes, socialializing with other teachers, etc. Then subtract their sick time that they all seem to use up. Lets not forget those "mandatory" work shops that they supposedly attend. Then we have to include the school vacation weeks that they have, holidays, etc. And of course they also have a very long summer (paid) for sitting around and enjoying the weather while we, the working people, have to go to work. I figured out all of these and came up with the following: the teachers and administration work approximatlely 1.2 days per week (6 hrs. per day) this comes out to about 60 days per year!! Stop whining and march down to city hall and apologize to the mayor for using him last year!!! Yours truly, Walter
- walter, manchester

I find it very disturbing that the MAJORITY of those who turned out for the Budget Hearing were students - who denied adult taxpayers a seat. These kids were probably coaxed by teachers to attend. They are NOT taxpayers and don't understand that any increase in the tax rate would impact families who are struggling with expenses and possible foreclosure.
LISTEN UP KIDS...YOU CAN'T SPEND WHAT YOU DON'T HAVE!!!
I'm not opposed to a school budget for classroom instruction but feel that there are unnecessary management positions-
Extra-curricular activities (including sports) should be funded by participants through fund-raising.
In addition, it would be interesting to review the city payroll to find how many city employees are non-residents - I'm sure that they wouldn't VOTE for a tax increase in their towns.
- DR, Manchester

It is time to start insisting that the Federal Government pay its legal amount to help educate foreign born children or those that cannot speak English. Our children are suffering immensely because valuable resources are dedicated to ESL (English as a Second Language). I am tired of listening to my children describe to me the antics of emotionally disabled children disrupting their class daily and watch as several teachers and aides spent their days and weeks catering to children who cant speak English simply because their lazy parents refuse to learn the language.
- Scott, Manchester

I'm outraged that teachers and the Teacher's Union are using kids as puppets and pawns in this debate. The fact that they use scare tactics - telling them that their classes or sports will be eliminated, and that they will have a hard time getting into college if the budget doesn't rise 16 percent - is OUTRAGEOUS. They won't get into college, perhaps, because the schools are all failing because they focus on "socializing" the kids rather than educating them vigorously in math, science, history and things like computers and geography.
- Stephen, Manchester

I own a home in Manchester and have been an active member of the community all of my life. As a third generation Irish American I can tell you that it was education that gave my family stability and the options for progress.
As citizens of Manchester, NH, in a country where oppurtunity abounds it is our duty to make sure that our children have better options. Isn't that what the greatest generation provided for the baby boomers?
- joco, manchester, nh

First of all I want to thank the Mayor and Aldermen for sitting there and listening to everybody last night. I went into the meeting with a prepared speech, some of which was negative. Before I spoke, I decided to stay positive. Here are the facts. Frank Guinta is a Mayor in one of the worst economic downtrends we have seen in a long time.
I do not agree with the Mayor on a lot of issues and have been critical of him. That said, he is the sitting Mayor in very difficult times. He has proposed what I believe to be an unrealistic budget however, he is faced with the numbers that we are all faced with in our own households.
The Aldermen: THe budget is now in their hands. They have a very daunting task ahead of them. I do not envy any of them. I am hopeful that the one thing the Aldermen will do is sit down with the school board and come up with numbers that will GUARANTEE that no teachers will be let go and that the extracaricular activities will still be in place. Sports, Band, Art and other clubs within the schools are a vital part of the learning experience. I don't want a tax increase but, as one speaker noted, we have to look at it as value vs. savings. What will the value of education be if the students lose teachers, guidance counselors, asst. Principals, sports, band, art, social clubs?
- Mike Porter, Manchester

If those opposed to the Mayor's budget are so confident in it failing the community then why don't they give it the chance to do so? Surely one year to see what happens wouldn't be too much of a burden? If it does fail then they would be able to say "I told you so" for the next decade-and-a-half, jack taxes at will, and Guinta would be out of politics forever. I would be surprised if the liberal Aldermen aren't jumping at the opportunity to give it the chance to fail in a non election year....

If Guinta's budget succeeds then we are all better off for it financially (lower taxes) and, just maybe, some humility would come to the boards. What an opportunity for some of our new younger department heads to go outside the box and perform under a constrained budget. What a feather in the cap for their resumes. Oh, wait, that's right. They have jobs for life so it seems and no motivation to perform above and beyond, especially the tenured folks at the school department.

Well I need to go to work now and develop some new product, service, or procedure to stay competitive. If I don't I'll surely be gone like yesterday's news and no one will cry for me at a public hearing....
- JSF, Manch

I'm not sure what the answer is, but as a parent, teacher and taxpayer in the city of Manchester, OUR COMMUNITY needs to work together to fund education properly. In order to engage students and keep them interested and vested in their education, it needs to be properly funded. Has anyone thought of getting businesses more involved in educating our society. I would imagine they can get some sort of tax deduction for funding--look how many billions oil companies are currently profiting and I'm sure there are others. It's time to find alternate sources of funding instead of ONLY local property taxes.
- Debbie, Manchester, NH

I can't believe that Mr. Mcafferty really wants us to believe that he "works" 85 hrs. per week. Are you kidding? Teachers have it made. They work almost 180 days per year. Their hrs. are 8:00am to 2:00pm. They have holidays, weekends and school vacations off. And, oh ya, they get to enjoy their summer while we, the taxpayer pay them for their golf, swimming, etc. I do not have any sympathy for these money sucking humans. Most of them do not care in the least for the children they "teach". They look at it as a 7hr. per day job and get out of there as quick as possible. I know a few teachers who told me that the school system is a joke and would never even consider taking a real job.
- melinda, manchester

I am both a Manchester teacher and a Manchester tax payer. I understand the increase in taxes, which will raise my mortgage payment, but my other option is to lose my job. I would rather figure out a way to pay the higher taxes than not be able to at all without my job. I l feel like I made a horrible mistake moving to Manchester!
- M. Smith, Manchester

Kathy, of Manchester .. what about the folks who can't pay the taxes? Where do they go once their homes are foreclosed? What about the renters? What about the inner city where many of the buildings are in disrepair? Have you no compassion for those less fortunate than yourself? Are you a teacher? Admisistrator? City employee? .... A huge increase in property taxes at this time would be almost criminal. Read the business page, gasoline may reach $4 dollars a gallon this summer. Where is a senior on a fixed income going to go when heating oil is $5 dollars per gallon and the property tax has increased by 16%? At some point, someone must stand up and deliver the bad news; the schools need to do a better job of managing their money, the city needs to cut back on employee benefits, pensions, waste, and get back to basics. If not, the last thing you will be worried about will be taxes; it will be crime, decay, homelessness, drug abuse, slum type neighborhoods, boarded up houses, ... is this what you want?
- tom, manchester,nh

I still don't understand the City's math: Vision Appraisal comes around, doubles the the assessed value, which in turn doubles my aggreagate tax bill. But according to Alderman Gatsas and Mayor Guinta, the tax "rate" went down. Bottom line, the city gets $5,000 instead of $2,500. If the city can't manage our school system with all the money that they have, in the next election, voter's should re-consider all of them: Mayor, Alderman and School Board.
- Mark, Manchester

Edward Dyole; these certainly are scare tactics. I mean come on, the teachers are actually telling kids that if they want to play sports, that they should transfer to another school. THAT is a scare tactic and it is wrong. You are taking a scare tactic, used by Alberti to drum up support for his budget, and manipulating kids by striking the fear of God into them that the things they love the most in school will be taken away in order to drive them into attending a public meeting to further make USE them to make you point.

To Mayor Baines; Do you need a wake up call? You were the worst mayor in the city's history with regards to fiscal discipline, so to hear anything coming out of your mouth at a budget hearing is basically a joke in itself. Maybe if it were a hearing on how to raise city taxes every term in office or how to build a baseball stadium and condos that will later come back and bite the taxpayers of Manchester in the rear end. Some one needs to tell Baines to get out of his fairy tale of being mayor and recognize that WE the tax payers voted you out for a reason; your fiscal irresponsibility, so the last thing we want to hear is your opinion on economic policy.

Mayor Guinta, stick to your guns. We voted you in for a reason. We can't afford a massive tax increase in this city. Families can't afford it and it is immoral and horrible that Alberti and the school department would rather bleed us dry of every last penny in taxes rather than work with Guinta on a meager budget to save families from having to lose their homes because of a massive tax increase.
- Derek Myers, Manchester, NH

The real taxpayers (property owners) of Manchester weren't represented because the teachers brainwashed their students into attending the meeting and tried to overwelm the Major and Aldermen with numbers and speeches of gloom and doom. The School Dept. and School Board had ample time to get their budget correct and failed to get it done. In the private sector layoffs and cuts would happen and the budget would be balanced. I applaud the Mayor for his convictions to stop needless spending and get this budget to a point where all Manchester citizens can live with it.
- Ed, Manchester

I'm wondering why it was so important to spend $288,000 on 3 rod iron displays on the West side. The West side could have used paving and the sidewalks to be fixed up. Once again Manchester isn't spending their money wisely.
- Stacie, Manchester

These parents lament the potential loss of learning experiences. And yet they fail to recognize the most important lesson of all: Economics. These kids should not be raised in a vaccuum in which they are ignorant to the socio-economic machine that is the USA. I'm not saying they should be punished, but they sure heck need to know that you can't spend money you don't have.
- JB, New Boston, NH

The question that should be asked is "WHY IS THERE NOT ENOUGH MONEY?" We are digging out from decisions from privious administrations, who had NO vision for the future or NO long term plans. We will be digging out from this mess in years to come. I have payed taxes in this city for 18 years, I am tired of the rollar coster ride we go on each year. I would move tommorow if it were possible. It just isn't worth it anymore.
- Mary, Manchester nh

Baines still has not realized he lost. Perhaps the school district would have more money to spend if taxpayers were not subsidizing the baseball stadium, a project he promised would not burden City finances. Finally, I would argue that the 1990s were better to Manchester taxpayers than Baines' tax and way over spend regime of the early 2000s.
- Rick, Manchester

My question, Ms Simmons, and I do not entirely agree or disagree with you on this subject... is that the Mayor has repeatedly said he's willing to make suggestions as to how this can be achieved, but he hasn't said how. Now is the time. I could support him, if he would be specific.. he has not offered specifics and to me that is a concern.

In my opinion, if he were to clarify and explain, he would have more support!
- Krista, Manchester

I don't get a say but my very high taxes pay for our students to go to Manchester for high school... until you pay $6,000 for property taxes for no services other then a school, no vote in the high school education, then you have a compliant. We don't get a say on what you decide for out kids high school education so I say let the Major make the decision that is why you voted him in.
- Sue, Auburn

Yes, Tom, even though the UL's article didn't make it clear, the teachers, administrators, parents, and concerned citizens talking last night do live in Manchester. And except for the "handful" (I counted 5) that "rose to the mayors defense," they and the other 2000 people there oppose the mayor's budget cuts and urge the alderman to vote it down, even if it means raising their taxes. Aldermen, it should be very clear to you what the people of Manchester value. Now do your job and vote down Mayor Guinta's politically motivated, unrealistic budget.
- Kathy, Manchester

So these are the options... A) Cut the school budget and compromise the education of the younger generation. B) Raise the taxes again and put the parents of the children out of their homes. Hmmm what to do, what to do!
- KD, Manchester

Whatever happened to moving on? Mayor Baines hit this one right on the nose, it is the 90's all over again. And I thought those days were over... I agree, we cannot afford another tax hike, but they need to find a middle ground somewhere. Our kids are going to have a much harder time getting in to colleges if this budget passes and all the proposed cuts are being made, want to see a spike in the drop out rate? Because that is what we're going to get!
- E, Manchester

Do any of these teachers and administrators live in Manchester? Are they blind to the tax problems the average home owner is dealing with? Each day, fuel prices go up, jobs are lost, homes in forclosure, ... and these folks want more? It is unbelievable. Never mind worrying about your kids sport team, you won't want to walk throughout the city once it becomes a boarded up, run down, slum. And that is what happens when government keeps driving the property owners into foreclosure. Go for a walk in Lawrence, MASS.. I dare you. Take a look around .. it wasn't always like this... Is this what we want for Manchester?
- tom, manchester, nh

The city needs to rid itself of the albatross around its neck, ie. the school board, and hire a board of directors to manager the schools. The schools are presently managed by a school board and alderamnic board who have no clue on how to manage a school district. Sure they may say I run a business, I'm in business, I'm a lawyer, or something else but has anyone run a 230 milllion dollar program. Until the city gets politics out of the mix the good citizens of the city will suffer yearly increases in the tax rate and sub-par education. For 50 years that I was a citizen of Manchester nothing has changed in educational reform. Politics always had the upper hand. I suspect the caring citizen are getting tired of the weight of taxes taking their hard earned dollars. It is time for a complete takeover by the people. The city has many talented and very bright individuals who have a vision of the future. It is time to take over it is warranted. The politicians have had their chance and it proved to be too selfserving. Keep at the politicians citizens it is your money and future they are playing with.
- Norm Gill, Hooksett,NH

Just to clarify - I said that the superintendent, the assistant superintendents, and every principal and vice principal in the district make more than the mayor makes.

As far as the mayor getting raises, his salary is set by the City Charter at $68,000. He does not get a raise. He also only has 3 people working in the mayor's office.

Why blame Guinta if we have a tax increase when his proposed budget has a 0% increase? Take a look at the aldermen who ran on being fiscally responsible and not raising taxes - they're the ones who will have given you the tax increase if we get one.
- Tammy Simmons, Manchester

I for one cannot afford another tax increase!!!That may put alot of us homeowners over the edge.We unlike the mayor dont keep getting raises.Why doesnt mayor guinta cut his employees pay and see how they like it.My house will go up for sale.Not that anyone would pay the asscessed value(what a joke)the city should,since they feel its worth what they claimed.What about the seniors?????This from a man who claimed no tax increase ,what a liar!!!!He never should have been re-elected!!!HOPE ALL YOU GUINTA FANS ARE HAPPY NOW!!!!!
- karen shutt, manchester

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Beech Street School Vice Principal Brendan McCafferty addresses the Board of Mayor and Alderman at last night's budget hearing at Memorial High School. (JAMES COOK)
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“Jonathan Melle’s speech at the Manchester, NH, budget hearing before the Mayor & Aldermen at Memorial High School on the evening of April 28, 2008”.

In the USA, inflation averages over 5% per year over the long-term since World War II. The 5% long-term average is nominally compounded on a yearly basis. Some years, inflation is below 5%, other years, it is above that mark.

A responsible budget increases with yearly inflation. To cut costs, management takes fixed costs and especially variable costs and finds rational, equitable and efficient ways to reduce them.

I find Mayor Frank Guinta’s proposed budget to be “NONE of the Above”. The mayor’s proposed budget is only POLITICAL.

Frank Guinta’s long-term outlook is not for the people of Manchester, NH, but rather, it is for him to be a big government elected official, such as a future Governor or Congressman.

Sadly, powerbroker politicians like Frank Guinta serve elitist special interests by marginalizing average citizens. In return, “Congressmen” receive millions in campaign contributions to be re-elected in mostly non-competitive elections. We don’t need another elitist politician to do another disservice to the common person, family, & community.

Mayor Frank Guinta is figuratively “waving a magic wand” by cutting spending much lower than the rate of inflation without a comprehensive plan to rationally, equitably and efficiently provide municipal services. The only bottom-line that matters to Guinta is his misguided sights on higher political office.

Mayor Guinta should “ask not what Manchester can do for his political ambitions, but what he can do for the people he swore to represent.”

Please support public education and other critical municipal services, not Frank Guinta’s political ambitions.

-Jonathan Melle

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"Town school officials: We’ll sue city"
By JOHN WHITSON, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
April 30, 2008

MANCHESTER – The city would have to defend itself in court if Mayor Frank Guinta’s proposed budget for school spending is approved.

“If they do what they’re going to do, we’re gonna sue ‘em,” said Bedford School Board Chairman David Sacks.

Speaking at Monday night’s public hearing on Guinta’s $276 million city budget, Sacks said the mayor’s plan to trim $7.25 million from this year’s school budget cuts too deeply.

“If the proposed budget cut is realized,” said Sacks, “it will be virtually impossible for West High to comply with terms of the agreement.”Bedford has two years left on its tuition agreement with Manchester.

School officials from Auburn, Candia and Hooksett are also telling the city not to be too frugal during the budget process.

“I don’t think it’s a warning shot,” said Elaine Hobbs, Auburn School Board chairman. “I think it’s serious business.”

The three towns that comprise School Administrative Unit 15 send their high school students to Manchester under an agreement that obligates the city to maintain minimum state and federal standards for accreditation.

The standards deal with student-teacher ratios, course offerings, the number of administrators and more.

Attorney Gordon Graham, in an April 23 letter to Guinta and Aldermanic Chairman Mike Lopez, cites the rights of sending towns to withhold certain payments if those standards aren’t met.

Sending towns make payments based on student tuition and capital costs for buildings and grounds.

“We would be required to pay tuition but not capital costs, and that’s huge,” said Maura Ouellette, Hooksett School Board chairman. “That’s millions.”

Guinta said he will contact the lawyers for the school districts and suggest they meet, so he can discuss the budget with them. He said his proposed budget would provide enough resources for the city to adhere to the terms of the tuition agreements.

“In fairness, they should want to sit down with me and talk about the budget process and the proposal,” Guinta said. It appears as if the school districts are relying on the media and what they have heard from acting Superintendent Henry Aliberti, he said.

Lopez cautioned that budget talks are far from over.

“It is a warning and it is a legal process,” he said of Graham’s letter. “The question becomes whether we violated the agreement, but of course we haven’t done anything yet.”

Charles Littlefield, SAU 15 superintendent, said Graham’s letter was written at his request.

Littlefield said it should be viewed as a forceful reminder, not a threat.

“My sense is that if you remind the decision-makers of a contractual obligation, one expects they will meet that obligation,” he said.Aliberti has warned Guinta’s $140 million budget for schools would eliminate or gut sports, art and music programs, and cost more than 100 teaching jobs.

Under that scenario, Hobbs said Auburn would stop making capital payments to the city.

Brad Cook, the lawyer who negotiated the tuition agreement, said he read Graham’s letter as an honest reminder to Guinta and others of their legal obligations.

“I don’t think it was a threat,” said Cook. “I think it probably was intended to point out that there is a contract that has these provisions, because a lot of these folks who are new to office might not know that.”

-
New Hampshire Union Leader reporter Mark Hayward contributed to this article.
-

Readers' COMMENTS:

I'm not sure I agree with the tactics, but these towns have a documented agreement with Manchester that they will pay a certain fee and receive a certain level of service. If you signed a contract with the cable company that you could not back out of (say because you don't have an alternate high school for these kids to attend), and the cable company informed you that they were cutting your channels back by a certain percentage without lowering the rate? Would you be upset? I know I would be.

These towns are paying the city to provide an education at a certain level, and if they don't get it, they have a right to be upset. Maybe a better solution than a lawsuit would be to lower the amount of money they're paying.
- Mike, Derry

What exactly is the difference between a "forceful reminder" and a threat? Nice wordsmithing, Superintendent. Is that why you get the big bucks?

These are clearly threats. The budget proposal is just that, a budget proposal. Its the people around Guinta that convolute this into armageddon-style program cuts and other nonsense.

If Guinta claims he can honor the agreement under his proposed budget, he should be given the chance to show it. There has been no evidence presented whatsoever to refute his claim.

Aliberti's innuendo and teacher-stacked budget hearings to not constitute evidence of any breach of contract.
- Jim Peschke, Croydon, NH

If the districts don't want to pay, then they don't need to send their students...pretty simple solution. Manchester should not be held hostage by these threats -- an all too common theme in politics today.
- John Smith, Conway, NH

I'm sorry - Manchester will be SUED by towns that use Manchester's schools if they don't meet certain standards??? And this will prove what???? Maybe those towns should just build their own schools, then Manchester could just worry about our students. Everyone is just "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme" and it's becoming pretty disgusting. I'm not a fan of Guinta, but I can understand that if you don't have the money for extra expenses, you've got to cut back. Manchester's citizens have to cut back to keep up with rising costs, so should government!
- Molly W, Manchester, nh

The refusal by school systems to display accountability disgusts me. Clean house and start fresh. I don't have to live in Manchester to appreciate the stand that the Mayor is taking on behalf of taxpayers. Too long has the educational industry run amok on taxpayers' dime.
- JB, New Boston, NH

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"Guinta considers moving school offices to West High"
By JOHN WHITSON, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
May 3, 2008

MANCHESTER – Mayor Frank Guinta says moving school district administrative offices out of leased space in the Millyard and into West High School would save teaching jobs next fall without sacrificing services.

"At some point, yes, it certainly can happen," said the mayor.

The district leases 21,300 square feet on the second floor of a mill building on Commercial Street owned by a Dean Kamen partnership.

A five-year, $1.2 million lease was approved by the school board three years ago this month, and administrators moved there from the former Ash Street School in October 2005.

On Thursday night, Ward 9 school board member Arthur Beaudry suggested the move into empty space at West High as a cost-saving measure, and yesterday the mayor said it should be seriously considered.

The final class of students from Bedford will attend West in 2008-09. School officials project 1,650 students next fall, down from 2,289 in the hallways in 2006-07.

West Principal MaryEllen McGorry said Beaudry's idea has a fatal flaw: It's based on fiction.

Even with the exodus of Bedford kids, she said, the school has almost no empty space. Two years ago, she said, West was badly overcrowded.

Now, every classroom is used at some point during the day, said McGorry, and only "three to five" rooms ever sit empty.

"I don't have room for 55 full-time employees, nine itinerant teachers and meeting space for the board of school committee," she said. "I do not have the physical plant to accommodate that."

West was built to handle 1,500 students. It was expanded a few years ago, but was far over capacity at nearly 2,300 kids, said district spokesman David Scannell.

"West High is at capacity now," he said.

Tough economic times may force difficult choices, said Ward 8 school board member Doug Kruse.

"Generally speaking, it's not ideal to have administrative offices in one of our school buildings," he said, "but it's not ideal to lose teachers either.

"It's going to be a matter of choosing those things that are going to have the least negative impact on classrooms," said Kruse.

Katherine Labanaris, the board's vice chairman, said even if space were found at West for the nearly 70 people now working in the Millyard, there would be a cost to such a move.

"(West) would certainly have to be retrofitted to accommodate those offices," she said. And the district would have to pay a penalty of about $60,000 for breaking its lease.

Guinta said the move alone could cost another $20,000. But those are one-time costs, he said, that would still net the district money -- money that could go toward retaining teachers.

Simply exploring the concept is a healthy sign, said Kruse.

"It's good that there are more ideas being floated now," he said, "and less resistance to ideas that may be a different way of thinking."

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Reader's COMMENT:

Lets not forget that the lease at Easter Seals for Pre-K and Kindergarten is costing the district $300,000+ for this year, next year it goes up 3% or $9,000+ more dollars and again 3% in the third year. It is time now to look at the field next to Beech Street School and see if they can build a school there (same footprint more or less as Beech Street) and have room for the corporate offices. Building the new school would also eliminate the portables at Hallsville (1), Wilson (1) and Beech Street (4). Thus giving a cost savings there because you are not paying for gas/electric utilities. Hopefully the school board and administration gives it some real thought.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"Tax hike inevitable, most aldermen say"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
May 6, 2008

MANCHESTER – Two-thirds of Manchester's aldermen say they are willing to consider a modest tax increase to protect city jobs and maintain services that would be cut under Mayor Frank Guinta's $276 million budget proposal.

Board members who oppose the mayor's offering said they could vote for a budget that would raise city property taxes by a few percentage points. Three aldermen -- Mark Roy, Peter Sullivan and George Smith -- suggested an acceptable tax increase would be one that jibes with the rate of inflation, estimated at 4 percent. Others said they could stomach a hike of 2 or 3 percent.

"We're going to have some kind of an increase. That's for sure," said Alderman Ed Osborne, a Ward 5 Democrat. He said he would be willing to support an 4 to 5 percent tax increase.

Both of the board's at-large members, Dan O'Neil and Mike Lopez, agreed a tax increase of some sort is inevitable.

The board has until June 10 to hash out a budget that will keep the city running through the summer of 2009. Much of the heavy lifting will be done in the next two weeks, as aldermen weigh the departments' requests against the mayor's call for a budget that will not burden local taxpayers.

Guinta has said his budget proposal would keep the tax rate where it is, at $16.57 per $1,000 of assessed property value. He declined to say yesterday whether aldermen should expect a veto if they pass a budget that bumps that rate up.

"I'm certainly not afraid to use a veto," Guinta said. "And if it's appropriate, I'll use it."

Some of the most pressing questions of the current budget season could be answered tomorrow evening, when the aldermen and school board hold a joint meeting to review the school district's budget. The school board is expected to decide that night whether to send layoff notices to teachers.

The joint meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in the aldermanic chambers.

In interviews yesterday, several aldermen said the prospect of teacher layoffs and after-school program cuts is a major reason they cannot support Guinta's proposal, which cuts $7.3 million from the city schools. Other aldermen said they worry the proposal would force the city to close one or more fire stations and lay off dozens of highway workers.

Lopez called the mayor's budget "devastating." Smith, a West Side aldermen, said it "borders on the somewhat ridiculous."

Of a dozen aldermen interviewed yesterday, 10 said they would not be willing to vote for the mayor's proposal as it is written. The list of opponents includes nine Democrats and one Republican, Ted Gatsas.

Alderman Real Pinard, an independent, said it's "very, very possible" he would vote to approve Guinta's budget, but added, "I'm going to wait and see what happens." Only Guinta's close friend and Republican ally, Mike Garrity, said he believes the proposal should pass as is.

"I don't believe, in these economic times, that a tax increase on the citizens of Manchester is proper," Garrity said.

Two aldermen, Jim Roy and Kelleigh Domaingue, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Alderman Betsi DeVries, who represents the south end, said she is aiming for a tax increase of no more than 2 1/2 percent. Bill Shea, the Ward 7 alderman, said he might support a tax increase of 1 or 2 percent.

The average single-family home in Manchester is worth $254,000 and pays about $4,200 a year in city property taxes, officials estimate.

Board members have been looking for bits of fat that might be trimmed from Guinta's budget. Yesterday, Lopez argued the board should hold off on plans to renovate the Calef Road fire station and to continue building a bike trail along an old rail yard.

The board might also dip into a one-time "special revenue" account to cover expenses in the coming budget. The account has $1.5 million but is expected to grow to $6.6 million as the city collects from the sales of the former Jac Pac property and the Seal Tanning lot, according to Finance Officer Bill Sanders.

Guinta said he would oppose any effort to raid the special revenue account. He has previously criticized aldermen for spending $3.5 million in one-time funds to settle last year's budget. Lopez has said the money paid for necessary improvements in public safety.

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Readers' COMMENTS:

There is no 'acceptable' tax increase amount. My taxes increased over 10% last year with the re-valuation. AND my home value has decreased below that valuation amount! Now the city wants another 5%? No. The city needs to decrease the budget one way or another. Either way, I'll be watching very closely and voting accordingly.
- Jim, Manchester

We should take this opportunity to analyze our city. It might be a good time to focus on attracting new business to the city which provides a larger tax base and provides new jobs while not pressuring the school system. It might also be a great time to consider a moratorium on any new apartment buildings or multifamily homes as these tend to be a drain on city resources. When you look at the older multifamily buildings in general they really tend to be a drain as they more often require fire and police and often contain several children for which the property tax collected comes no where close to covering the cost of educating them.
- Todd, Manchester

It would be nice to take a department and do a study, What I would like to see is, if you offered the whole department a % of the savings as a bonus check at the end of the year How much would be cut?????

I bet if you offered a 10% saving incentive you would see them coming back with pockets full instead of trying to spend it all so they get more next year

if the department save $700,000 and you offer a 10% incentive and each person no matter what status they were, took a peice of that, everyone would be happy.

But city politics would never allow for this. So the same ol' same ol' will continue.

Please think outside of the box, a monkey can figure out how to raise taxes but it takes thinking not raise them.
- jl, manchester

A MODEST 2-3%? Amazing. Ho wis it possible to complain about the increses in prices for everything but taxes?
- JohnII, Manchester

Cap the property tax at its current level, or less, and spread the tax burden around with a sales and/or income tax. Stop subsidizing border retailers and the wealthy! We don't have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem. I am surprised at how people who are being crushed by property taxes keep supporting politicians who keep hammering property taxes. This city, and this state are both known for frugality. Spending is not the issue. Stop being led around by the nose and think for yourself.
Chris
- Chris Herbert, Manchester

Some facts and a comparison of Manchester tax rates per $1000 (from the state’s website):
Manchester: town gov 7.84 schools 5.29 state ed 2.42 county 1.02 total: 16.57
Nashua: 6.73, 7.39, 2.27, 1.01 total: 17.4
Salem: 4.48, 5.56, 2.30, 0.87 total: 13.21
Concord: 6.55, 8.75, 2.13, 2.20 total: 19.63
Portsmouth: 7.55, 5.50, 2.34, 0.95, total: 16.34
Towns can control only the first and second tax rates: town gov (municipal) and schools. So Manchester’s mayor and board of aldermen are responsible for only for 7.84 and 5.29. That’s 60% of our tax money the city controls going to municipal government and 40% going toward schools. Nashua taxes 52% for schools, Salem 55%, Concord 57% and Portsmouth 42%. No other city in the state taxes as much as Manchester for municipal government and no other city taxes less for schools. Manchester spends less per student than all but 4 of over 165 school districts in the state.

So long as the focus on spending remains on the schools, Manchester taxes will continue to spiral out of control. The facts, when compared to other cities’ facts, show the schools are very low cost, while the municipal government is very high cost. The schools are very low cost and low performing; the city is very high cost. Are we getting much value for the premium cost?

I think a lot of savings can be had without any cuts in service.

The city has multiple accounting groups, runs multiple payrolls (both Guinta and Baines tried to consolidate these two things, aldermen prevented the savings), a mounted (horses) police patrol, three guys per trash truck (it’s not 1950, the guys cost much more than the truck, profitable companies do not use 3 guys per truck), many paper based, labor intensive processes exist – like processing our payments for property taxes, auto registration, permits, compliance certificates. Inefficiencies are everywhere in Manchester City government. This is my view from outside of government. A much better analysis could be done looking inside. Let’s do it.

I am sure others who know the internal operations of Manchester's government have more ideas. This is what we need to get the politicians doing.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester, NH

I suppose if you live in a suburban town such as Bedford, Candia, Auburn .. as do most of the department heads, police chief, etc,, a tax increase in "Manchester" is no big deal. But for the single mother living in the inner city, working two jobs, trying to pay for heat, gas for her ten year old car, the kids, and now knowing the rent will increase as the landlord passes on the tax increase... or say you live up in the north end of Manchester and after working for thirty years you are retiring, and have decided to sell your home and no one comes to see it because the taxes in Manchester are too high, there are too many folks living on welfare and that has increased the crime rate, and then the potential buyer says "I heard Manchester is corrupt and turning into Lawrence, Mass". ... there are consequences to irresponsible decisions, but it seems the Manchester aldermen only care about the municipal employees
and many of them "don't live in Manchester"!
- tom, manchester,nh

you can always move to derry great tax rate
- chaswick, derry

No one wants a tax increase but a small one is realistic.

I NEED to get to my job next winter and can't afford to be impacted by fewer highway department workers.

And, my family lived in Claremont when their schools lost their acreditation and their property values plummeted.
- Ronnie, Manchester

I am strongly opposed to any additional tax. Our homes are over evaluated, the cost of living has skyrocketed, our neighbors are losing their homes and our local govt can't figure out a way to look for fat in their own budget. We are all having to make tough decisions. How about taking a look at each city employee, look at their attendance and work ethics and closely take a look at the ones with city vehicles taking lunch from 11-1 each day and then clocking out by 4. We are paying their salaries and for the fuel in those vehicles. They should not be allowed to drive them home (hense how I know about the long lunches). There is fat and the people managing the city need to look to their own employees before pushing the additional costs onto the people.
- Susan, Manchester

Kathy, you are out of your mind. Please give one example since Ray Wieczorek left office that the city budget has NOT imposed a Tax Hike. Just one!

Neither Lopez nor O'Neil or their ilk on the Board has addressed, on any meaningful level, the way this city does business. They refuse to address the city spending by various departments. They are haughty, arrogant jerks.

Will there ever be a time or budget cycle when city taxpayers will not have it tucked to them? Nope... Batman is losing and Joker is winning....The city bureaucracy nickles and dimes people to death with a fee for this or a fee for that, getting very little in return. To add insult to injury we get hit with a 1-2% tax hike per year on average.

"ENEMA" is the word of the day. This city needs a good political enema. Its time to go to the Ballot Box and get rid of O'Neil, Lopez, DeVries, Smith, and any other Alderman who likes to raise taxes. Thereafter, identify those department heads of city departments who spend time and city resources on "whipping up" the masses, acting like jerks and FIRE THEM. Their job is to manage a functioning city department, not engaging in ancillary budget pugilism, biting the constituent hand that feeds. They are acting outside of their job description.

Finally, vote out every every hell-raiser on the School Board who plays politics and does not know what fiscal restraint is....FIRE every administrator at the district who plays politics and sends letters home in Book bags.

At the end of the day, the legal fights with the Union hacks will have been worth having and perhaps there can be just one year without a tax increase.
- Rick Olson, Manchester

I don't know call me stupid, but if you spend more then you make you will always go broke. Keep raising taxes you keep forcing people out which lowers revenue more. Vicious cycle! How about lower taxes and entice more business and potential taxpayers to move here. Lets think outside the box government types!!
- Eric,, Manchester, NH

Thank goodness that most of the aldermen recognize the irrationality of the mayor's proposed budget. The inflation rate is unfortunate and uncomfortable, but there is a basic lack of logic in the mayor's insistance that the city can somehow continue to run safely and prosper without increasing revenue to keep up with inflation. We do not have such an overabundance of services that we can afford to cut from education, highways, or the fire department. I will not enjoy a cost of living tax increase, but I can see that it is the only reasonable way to keep our city safe and secure its future. The mayor is not a stupid man; he knows this, too but had to put forth a no-tax-increase proposal to secure his political future, knowing that the aldermen could never approve it and will create a more reasonable plan. That way the aldermen, and not Mr. Guinta, get blamed for the tax increase. The people of Manchester see through his sham, and will laud, not blame, the aldermen.
- Kathy, Manchester

Why doesn't the Gov't just take our entire paycheck and have us stand in line for rice and broth twice a day because a good majority of people are already taxed to the max and if that wasn't hard enough, just the thought of another tax increase with the rising of food, fuel and everything else (except our paychecks) is going to put a lot of hard working middle (if you want to call us middle) class tax payers over the edge. I know alot of people who already don't sleep at night because they're worried about filling there gas tank, now we have to worry about our tax bill too? Sure pile it on!!!
- KD, Manchester

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"Board: No pink slips for teachers"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
May 8, 2008

MANCHESTER – Eighty Queen City teachers who have been warned they could be pink-slipped this spring won yet another reprieve last night after hours of tense negotiations between school and city officials.

For the second time in a week, members of the city school board balked at suggestions that they would have to send out layoff notices in expectation of a drastic cut to the district's budget. The deadline under the teachers' contract to pink-slip teachers in Manchester is Saturday.

The board's stance frustrated Mayor Frank Guinta, who accused the committee members of ignoring their financial responsibilities. Guinta said he plans to call an emergency meeting within the next two days.

"I think the hope of every school board member is that no teachers are eliminated, and I think the aldermen are saying the same thing," Guinta said. "But everyone has to be realistic."

Teacher layoffs were at the very bottom of a list of cuts proposed by Acting Superintendent Henry Aliberti, a list the school board endorsed last night.

Aliberti has said all of the cuts would have to be made if the aldermen approve Guinta's proposal to cut $7.3 million out of the district's budget.

The list includes all sports and after-school activities, school resource officers and all-day kindergarten.

In a joint meeting yesterday afternoon, aldermen warned the school board the district's budget will surely be reduced.

Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez, the board chairman, said the district's budget will be no higher than $145 million -- about $8.1 million less than the school board requested and $2.3 million less than was granted last year.

Still, school board members said they were prepared to make do with any dollar amount the aldermen approve. What they will not do, they said, is lay off teachers.

"The fact of the matter is, teachers are a priority in this city," board member Donna Soucy said.

Scott McGilvray, president of the Manchester teachers' union, said he was certain the teachers' jobs are safe.

"This is final," he said. "I don't see how they could do it any different."

Many teachers wearing red Manchester Education Association T-shirts clogged the aldermanic chambers for the dual meetings. The crowd included several teachers whose own jobs were on the line.

Jan Moore-Simmons, whose just now is wrapping up her first year at both the Beech Street and Gossler Park elementary schools, said the past few months have been difficult emotionally. Just last weekend, she said, she and many other city teachers went to a job fair in Concord.

They went with heavy hearts, she said.

"You've got a district that's really struggling," Moore-Simmons said, "but you've got teachers who love it, who don't want to leave."

McGilvray said five teachers have already accepted jobs outside of the district because of the layoff threat.

Aldermen have until the middle of June to approve a city budget.

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Readers' COMMENTS:

Nice move Guinta. Talking out of both sides of your mouth. First Guinta says that the budget can be reduced without pink slipping teachers. Now Guinta is running scared because the teachers are not being pink slipped. What will the politician pull out of his hat next?
- Robert L, Manchester

Brennan will be running the schools in July. He has the right to run the district as he sees fit. Soucy's 'no layoffs' declaration is micromanaging personnel decisions rightly left to him. This didn't happen at Kearsarge. Everyone should tender their resignation and reapply for their jobs.
- Steve, Manch

Funny thing about revenue. Guinta ran a ten million dollar project out of town last Spring whne he was running for mayor(next to the baseball stadium) so he could help out the baseball team owner who did not lie the idea of condo owners being aboe to see baseball games for free from thier decks. (and then they (Solomon) had a wonderful fundraiser for him) I'll bet that he wishes he had that project going on right now. Manchester could really use the revenue, jobs and tax money. Nice move carpetbagger.
- joekelly, manchester

did Guinta ever even attend a public school growing up?

does he intend to send his kids to public schools?

I think we all have a good idea as to what the answers to these questions are.
- Jane, Manchester

Dear Mike from Concord, I believe Breyer said, "metaphorically speaking." Which means, he is making a metaphor. Get it? If not, check out Dictionary.com to look it up. Teachers are obviously not driving Datsuns.
But of course you knew that, since you figure teaching is "Part time" work. Teacher don't teach 50-60 hours a week and then go home and do hours more of correcting. psh... doesn't happen. They may get long breaks off, that is undeniable, but to claim they are "part-time" is just silly and ridiculous. Though, i guess, if you view their job as part time, you would say they are paid "pretty darn well."

Maria- the students aren't leaving one school, it's one student from this classroom in this school, to another few student's from another classroom in another school and so on. Schools are overcrowded as is, this mini-exodus might bring our school back down to only 28 students per-class-room. I was a teacher and lost ONE student from each of my classes, and every other teacher in the school did, does that mean we should all be let go?

In the end though, i think we should sell Memorial High School to Ikea and then we could have hundreds of decent jobs, bring some added income to the city (and tourist!) and, plus, wouldn't we all be stylish? Send all Memorial students back to the Junior Highs, 'cause they aren't smart enough yet (along with the other high school kids) or if they are smart, send them to one of the other high schools so we can have 50-60 students a class and only one teacher and then tell them that IF they want an education they should buy all their own supplies (SAVE! SAVE! SAVE!). It's a sound idea.


POP QUIZ( for Mike):
The above paragraph was written in what literary style?
- Hogan, Manchester

OK, I now understand Guinta's position on firing teachers:

He was against firing teachers before he was for it, before he was against it.

Way to ride the fence Frank!
- Jack, Manchester

What I find so upsetting in all of this is that the acting superintendent is putting teacher’s jobs on the line before less needed admn. Our former mayor Baines increased the amount of principles and asst. principles exponentially and now rather than cut it back to a reasonable level; they are mostly untouched. Why aren't more people up in arms over so many levels of admn.? These positions pay far more than teacher’s salaries and cannot be justified during a budget crisis ($70-90k a yr for principles and over $100k for superintendents!!!). I would have some respect for Henry Aliberti if he placed these positions on his priority chopping block ahead of teachers, sports, and band. Cutting a level of administration would have little or no affect on students and he knows it; but then, we the public would not be upset would we? However, by placing items on the priority list that will have the most impact to students gets every one looking at ways to spend more money than we have. This is management at its worst; he is using teachers and students to justify Baines inflated school bureaucracy.

Mr. Aliberti, do your job and cut the jobs and resources that have the least impact on students and education! If you are still short of revenue after that, we can agree you need more. As long as you choose to upset the public by threatening balancing the budget through the lowest paid teachers you have zero credibility and I do not want you to get another dime. Obviously you have no sense of priorities on where to spend hard earned resources.

It would also be nice to see the teachers union stand up and hold its members accountable. A tenured teacher (we may not have tenure here in NH like other states—but try to fire a lousy teacher who has been in the union for over 10 yrs and see how successful you’d be) that is not doing a good job is safe. Maybe the teachers union would earn our respect if they did not “protect” poor performing teachers. Can’t the union police itself and agree to let those sub par teachers receive the pink slips? After all, a poor teacher isn’t doing anything for Manchester’s children. Before this statement is attacked...understand that I believe MOST long time teachers are excellent; but unfortunately like anywhere else(private sector included) there are bad employees, who often make higher salaries due to seniority. Only during layoffs, the private sector cuts out the dead wood, they do not retain it.

The Mayors budget could be realized, but it cannot be done if Manchester continues to do business the way it always has. I for one may not argue about a tax increase if I know we are not just throwing money onto an unquenchable fire.
- Brian G., Manchester

I am a substitute teacher in Manchester and let me tell you about the level of emotional stress that this whole school budget debaucle has put on the teachers of Manchester. Not only do most teachers put their heart, soul, and free time into planning educational and innovative lessons for their students each day in already oversized classes for sub-par pay, but they are burdened with the daunting fact that they may lose their jobs in the coming weeks. I have seen excellent teachers reduced to tears afterschool (away from students) while talking about the prospect of being let go from a job at which they have worked so hard and love so much. Not only is it unfair, but it is disheartening.

I am in the process of pursuing a full-time teaching job myself, and although I love the school in which I work, I am forced to look elsewhere for positions because Manchester can't get their act together. They are going to lose extrememly valueable members of their community, people that care about their very complicated population of students, all as a result of perverse political agendas. What a shame.

And to those of you who think that teaching is a "part-time" job, I challenge you to substitute teach for just 1 day, without most of the responsibilities of regular classroom teachers, such as: developing lesson plans, providing accomodations for Special Needs students, developing individual behavior plans or handling parent correspondence. I would love to hear your thoughts afterward. Your ignorance is transparent.
- JP, Hudson, NH

Just because they didn't eliminate people doesn't mean they haven't eliminated postions.

They are not filling vacancies due to retirements which MORE than addresses any fewer students. They did this as well last year.

Not pinkslipping does not mean the numbers of teachers remains the same.
- Sharon, Manchester

Jim, why must you continue to force me to correct your factual errors? The U.S. is nowhere near the bottom in standardized testing. In elementary we are near the top, we drop down to the mid twenties for high school. This is mostly because other countries only give the secondary tests to their better students.

Regarding how much we spend, you're wrong there too. We spend a lower percentage of our GDP on education than most other industrialized countries. Not looking at the dollar amount in terms of GDP percentage is useless.
- Fred, Amherst

Scott, you're right about one thing. The U.S. is near the bottom of the industrialized world regarding education quality.

What you failed to mention is that we also spend more than almost any other nation on earth for K-12 education.

High spending, mediocre results. We have fewer students, so why shouldn't we be letting teachers go?
- Jim Peschke, Croydon, NH

Breyer, take a drive through the teachers lot at any of the high schools in Manchester. Let me know how many Datsuns you find. They are paid pretty darn well for what is part time work.
- Mike, Concord

Ed from Warner,
The problem, metaphorically speaking, is that the teachers are driving Datsuns.
- Breyer S., Manchester, NH

Thank your previous mayor for boosting Asst. Principals, Principals.... double digit pay raises, have you received double value in service? Stop whining and demand more accountability from these people to get the job done and stop using "the children" as an emotional cheap excuse to throw more wasted dollars to salaries....cut needless positions.
- mike, hooksett

If we have fewer students, why wouldn't teachers expect to get let go?
- Maria, Manchester

Come on guys and girls, half of this is political, it is something that politicians have been doing in this state and the country for years. Cut the most blatant things from a budget so that citizens get upset and demand they be reinstated, which leads to an easy way to increase taxes. If the politicians and unions really cared about this-they could cut small pieces from all budgets and work with the local PTA and the citizens who felt hurt by those cuts-by having those groups chip in, instead of passing it on to all tax payers. In your personal life you have choices, I would love to drive a Porsche, but financially I have Honda, I dont expect the tax payer to cover the difference and it is time we get back to what makes this country great-which is not cradle to grave government programs-it is small government and individualisms goals.
- ed, Warner

The teachers of this city deserve to be treated better than they have been throughout this entire process. While there is no question the school budget has a large impact on our taxes in the city, we also have to understand that without the schools and teachers functioning at a top level, the students will be the ones who suffer the most.
To think that the possibility still remains that sports in this city will be cut is something that should not even be considered. There are many life lessons that student athletes learn on their respective playing fields that can never be taught in a classroom. By cutting sports in the high schools, the city will be putting many kids in jeopardy of not being able to achieve their ultimate goal; a college education. Many student athletes rely on high school sports as a gateway to college and cutting high school sports is just another way of holding these kids back. Take a look at all the honor roll students in each high school and you will find many kids who participate in sports, band, art or any other school activity. It has been my experience that kids who participate in school activities take ownership of not only their schools but their grades as well.
So, a simple message to those who are in a position to fund the schools; whatever your political beliefs are and whatever your political allegiance is, don’t forget about the students. As to the school board, if the aldermen fund your budget adequately, you need to make sure that the teachers are not laid off and that the students still have opportunities to advance their education beyond high school.
- Mike Porter, Manchester

The fact that education is a #1 priority but not enough to fund it is ridiculous! My daughter is special needs and discovering that she will not be getting the attention she needs from now on is disgusting... What is more important? Schools or roads? An alderman's Salary or EDUCATION? I'll take a tax hike to make sure my kids get a proper education!
- Padraic O'Leary, Manchester, NH

I have a question for people who have been following this issue…

Mayor Guinta has said time and time again that the school district should reduce administration, heating bills, etc, but not classroom resources. Last week the school administration asked the board for permission to lay off teachers. Guinta voted no, just as everyone else on the board did. I was surprised, but figured he thought of teachers as classroom resources. Now we read that last night the same request by the administration was made of the board – give permission to lay off teachers. Although the article does not say how Guinta voted, it does say he expressed his opinion that everyone (aldermen and school board members) needed to be realistic about teacher layoffs.

What changed? (Other than, evidently, Guinta’s vote)

I have in the past defended Guinta’s cost savings actions, but at this point he has made it impossible. In the past, I was wrong.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

i ALWAYS love this topic.

teachers are a necessity, so let's axe them. that's a great idea. it's not like the u.s. is number one regarding education, i think we're pretty far down the list for industrialized nations. let's keep sending money to fight a war that we'll never win, but let's axe teachers so our kids will receive a sub par education.

no child left behind, unless we have to fund a war.
- scott, concord

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"Next school chief watching budget fight from afar"
By JOHN WHITSON, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Wednesday, May. 7, 2008

MANCHESTER – As the city budget debate rages, with school board members and the mayor staring at each other across a $13.1 million chasm, there's someone looking on with interest from 50 miles away.

Thomas Brennan becomes Manchester's next superintendent of schools July 1.

Even as he crafts a 2009-10 spending plan for Kearsarge Regional School District in New London, Brennan is keeping up with Manchester's finances for 2008-09.

"I attended the mayor's meeting when he announced his budget, and I've been following it in the newspaper and online and in conversations with Henry," said Brennan yesterday.

Acting Superintendent Henry Aliberti said he kept Brennan apprised as the district responded to Mayor Frank Guinta's spending plan of $140 million.

This year's school budget is $147.3 million, and the school board requested $153.1 million for 2008-09.

Aliberti recently crafted a list of spending cuts to close the $13.1 million gap and reach Guinta's number. That list includes laying off about 80 teachers and eliminating all sports programs.

Guinta and the school board last week held off issuing layoff notices to teachers -- by contract they must be notified by Saturday -- in hopes of finding different ways to trim spending.

The mayor has emphasized bills for heat and electric can be trimmed as much as 20 percent, and he's focused on the school district's administrative costs.

In taking the top job in Manchester, Brennan said filling an assistant superintendent's post left vacant throughout 2007-08 was a priority.

"Tom and I agreed that the position of assistant superintendent for secondary education would be on the reduction list," said Aliberti.

The school board's budget included $108,000 to fill that job.

Brennan said yesterday he would give that position up with reluctance.

"Very reluctantly, because I consider that an important piece to getting the district back on line and going forward," he said.

Aliberti has said he hopes to return to his old job as assistant superintendent for elementary education.

"Whether that position exists (now) in that exact format, I don't know," said Aliberti.

If the third assistant superintendent job remains unfilled, Brennan said he, Aliberti and Karen Burkush, assistant superintendent for student services, will have to divide the work three ways.

"We would be understaffed," said Brennan. "No question in my mind."

Unless Guinta asks for his input, Brennan said he plans to remain an interested observer until starting work July 1.

While he and Aliberti have been in "regular" contact, Brennan said he hasn't gotten involved in budgetary specifics.

"Everything's been initiated with Henry," said Brennan. "I have no business giving my approval. Henry's doing an outstanding job. He's keeping me in the loop, and that's all I can ask for at this point."

From the relative calm of New London, Brennan said friends have questioned him about moving back to Manchester and its high-profile, sometimes emotional budget battles.

He said there are no second thoughts.

"I'm not wavering one bit," said Brennan. "It's just a greater challenge, and something I'm looking forward to. We'll make it work."

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Readers' COMMENTS:

To Fred in Amhesrt, Please accept my apolosies if I don't believe all that you have stated in your comments. You are after all a teacher working within the system and not even a resident of Manchester. I have lived here all my life. I had bought a home aproximately 4 1/2 years ago right here in Manchester after having saved a very long time for that. My mortgage is a 30 year fixed with a 5.85 fixed rate and I have seen my mortgage go from $1,050.46 to $1,336.33 because of tax increases. I could easily make my bills each month with money to spare. However between a combination of some unexpected medical costs, prescriptions, tax increases, rising premium rates for insurances "car, home & health", rising fuel and food prices, increases in water, sewer and electricity I am struggling. My wife and I both work full time and we are having a very difficult time trying to make ends meet! I can assure you that my situation is not unique as I know my neighbors and family are in the same situation, and lest we forget elderly and the poor are in a bad way too. So forgive us if we say no to a tax increase!.
- Rob, Manchester

*sigh*
It is however his resposibility
To give direction and leadership toward the achievement of the organization's philosophy, mission, strategy, and its annual goals and objectives

How about some direction?????
- Stephanie, Manchester

How many times must this be pointed out -- THE MANCHESTER SCHOOL DISTRICT IS ALREADY JUST ABOUT THE MOST EFFICIENT IN THE ENTIRE STATE. Why can't so many of you get this through your heads?

What that means is, there isn't any fat to cut. As a teacher in Manchester I can tell all of you this: most of the schools in town are desperately overcrowded and are pitifully lacking in technology. Many are in a disgraceful state of disrepair.

Why do you think Manchester is a district in need of improvement? Oh, I forgot, all the teachers and administrators are incompetent. All 1200 of us just plain stink. I'm sure the role the parents play in this is negligible.

Rob, do you actually think $108,000 is too much for someone with a PhD and massive responsibilities? Do you know what getting a PhD entails? How many years have you spent in college? DOCTOR Aliberti went for at least 8, probably more. You should thank your lucky stars there are people like him in your school system who care so much about children that they are willing to put up with a population that doesn't seem to value education.

Public education is not a business. Children are not widgets, they are flesh and blood, they are the future, and they didn't choose their lot, nor do they have the power to change it. Here is a quote from Thomas Jefferson regarding taxation to support education:

"I think by far the most important bill in our whole code, is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised for the preservation of freedom and happiness... The tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance." --Thomas Jefferson to George Wythe, 1786."

But hey, what did Thomas Jefferson know?
- Fred, Amherst

I work with budgets that run over every day. We come together and find ways to complete projects within budgets. We should be looking at other things in the city that are costing us more money then they should.
- scott, manchester

Can anyone point out a time where any adminstrator, department head, supervisor or teacher have placed forward any idea's on how to reduce the budget and save the city money? Have any of them had any meetings or open discussions that we can look to? All we ever hear is more money, more money. Currently a assistant superintendant position is listed as $108,000.00 per year! Thats got to be at least a minimum of two times the average pay the majority of average citizens in Manchester make per year! Leave those positions unfilled and make due with what we have. I'm here to tell you that is exactly what anyone who has to run a household budget is having to do these days. In business if you cannot afford to hire more employees, you make due with the ones you have and make darned sure that they are as efficient in their performance of their jobs. Give us a break!
- Rob, Manchester

*sigh* It is not the mayor's job to find the spending cuts - for any department. That's why there are department heads. The mayor looks at the big picture.

Compare him with a company. He's the "CEO" of the "company" that is Manchester. The CEO does not make the individual cuts in a department - there are VPs and lower level staff to do that. The CEO looks at the bottom line.

When UNH's budget gets reduced, no one expects the Governor to make spending cut recommendations. Same goes here.

Those who want the mayor to make suggestions will mostly be the ones to scream first that they are the "wrong ones" if he even is foolhardy enough to do that.
- Bess, Southern NH

Make a deal with the new Superintendent. For every dollar he cuts from the school budget (without punitive Aliberti-style cuts), he gets to keep one penny.

Suddenly we'll all be amazed at the opportunity for spending cuts.
- Jim Peschke, Croydon, NH

If the school system is efficient like Peter M. says and the city government is not, why are the schools facing cuts? I understand cuts over raising taxes but the cuts may be taking place in the wrong place. Sounds like an easy way out to me.
- J, Manchester

Mr. Brennan,
Thank you for coming on board. I am hopeful you will be able to work out a responsible solution. It's good that you seem to grasp economics enough to realize we cannot afford extra layers of admn. at $108k a pop vs. teachers who make $30k. In tough times, the private sector must cut back; so must our city gov't. How about looking at other admn. post as well, and then principles? The HS's should have 3 AT MOST--(why not 2?) and elementary schools could get by with one ea. Before drastically cutting teachers with small salaries (due to the union it will probably be those who make the least go 1st) cut out positions that are expensive and redundant. The rest of the salary monies saved could be from not filling positions of retiring teachers. The next heavy line for businesses after salaries is usually thier lease. Find ways to close leased office space for admn. and move the personnel to a section of West High. Please work WITH the budget, before automatically saying "it's not enough" I have a feeling if the Mayor proposed $150k we would have gotten the same "sky is falling" speech from Mr. Aliberti. I am happy he is leaving the position, we do not need Admn. who cannot live within our means.

Brian
- Brian G, Manchester

But what if the mayor is wrong. What if that isn't enough money for the schools? What if it's too much?

He should have some suggestions
- Stephanie, Manchester

I know they don’t believe it, but educators have it pretty good. Personally, I think they don’t realize this because working in schools is like working in different world. A world where you’re tied up so tight, no one grows, they only learn.

There are a million ways to make multiple minuscule cuts that will add up to a lump sum of money. For example, you could hold graduations at school, instead of paying for a venue. You could hire executive assistants, in place of assistant superintendents. You can cut clubs and sports that have low demand. You can print the yearbooks in black and white. You can have experienced teachers with established curriculums take on more responsibilities in their paid spare time. You could bring in food venders that pay the school for space, and eliminated the under-funded and undercooked food, currently in the schools. You could bring back vending machines, no one ever died from a soda! You could hire new teachers at a lower rate; my first job out of college didn’t start at $27/hr. You could eliminate guidance counselors that advise students that they barley know, and let parents give advise to their children. You could invest in more grant writers. You could start running a school like business and less like an imaginary place in the sky, with a bottomless pit of money, provided by ‘those people down below.’ No matter how old we get we still learn about life through our experience in it, so why are we removing children from the real world?
- DL, Manchester, NH

It's not the mayor's job to find school spending cuts - that's the job of the superintendent and other school officials.

If the mayor came up with a detailed line item by line item budget proposal for the school district, everyone would be yelling that Guinta is micro-managing (and he would be), and that he's overstepping his bounds, etc.

Those who get paid to manage the school should be working on the budget and thinking of creative ways to stay within budget. If they can't or won't, perhaps it's time to replace them with folks who will and can.
- Bess, Southern NH

Mr. Brennan is coming from a district, (Kearsarge) that in the 2006-2007 school year spent $11,292 per student. Manchester spent $8,289. The state average is $10,304. In the face of this he is entering an economical district trying to cut spending. The next few years should be interesting.

Its also interesting that people continue to press to find savings in the Manchester School District. I am sure some savings maybe found, but the numbers show that we are trying to find savings in a district that is the 5th most economical of the over 160 in NH. This makes for a very difficult challenge, the results of which are likely to cut muscle rather than fat.

I live in Manchester and would like to see my property taxes reduced. Although we have one of the most efficient school districts (cost per student), we have one of least efficient municipal governments (% of tax $ spent on government versus schools). If you don’t think so, look at the numbers: The city government spends 60% of the money Manchester raises from its residents’ tax bills. Nashua is 48%, Salem 45%, Concord 43%. Although I list only a few comparable towns here, check the state website, no comparable towns spend what Manchester does.

If we want lower taxes we have to cut where money is spent in excess above other cities. We spend less on schools than elsewhere, but we spend more on city government than elsewhere. Our schools do not perform particularly well, but we pay a low amount. We pay a premium for our city services. Do we get a premium service?

If the tax reduction efforts, and apparently people’s perceptions, do not change Manchester is doomed to trying to save in efficient areas and not in areas of inefficiency. This can lead only to higher taxes and/or poorer services.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

Exactly when were Dr. Aliberti's cuts put in the paper? Dr. Aliberti has been more than forthright in this whole process. Remember that he is acting in his position, never applied for the job in Manchester, and has had to deal with a major financial blow in a district in need of improvement. Quite frankly, he has exhibited more leadership in the school district then in years past.
I am happy to see that people commenting are in agreement that the Mayor has failed to plan ahead and problem solve this huge dilemma. He fails to recognize that good schools mean good community. He has also failed our community in general with his inability to plan ahead. Could this be the consequence of someone who thought they were going into the governor's office? Perhaps. Now he must deal with some serious consequences.
Working with businesses in the community, the Chamber of Commerce and the surrounding cities who have chosen to continue educating their children in this district are avenues that the mayor needs to explore for the good of this old city. He is forever demonstrating that he is clearly not a Manchester boy.
- joco, manchester,nh

Heat and electric can be cut up to 20%. Does that mean turn the heat on from 7:30 to 8:30 instead of keeping it on from 7:30 to 9 as it was this winter? Any other ideas Mr. Mayor? I've always been told, you don't like something, come up with an alternative. So, Mr. Mayor, what would you cut?
- Bob, Lake Ave 03104

Brennan would be nuts to show up on July 1. Any professional educator with common sense is going to avoid the mess in Manchester.
- Frank, Manchester

And yet we still haven't heard many ways to do this from the mayor.. which is what frosts me
- Stephanie, Manchester

It doesnt surprise me that the first things Aliberti cut is sports and teachers. Those are the easy things to cut and get the most response about. I agree with the mayor, open your minds and be creative and find a way to make cuts without a big impact on students. Don't take the easy road and cut sports and teachers, use your imagination.
- Domenic, Manchester

Guinta is showing his lack of education in this one........he is about as smart as bait.
- Bob, Manchester

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David Preece: "Manchester's public transit is essential to economy"
By DAVID PREECE, NH Union Leader, Op-Ed, May 13, 2008

MANCHESTER MAYOR Frank Guinta's proposed budget cuts to the Manchester Transit Authority would be devastating to Manchester and the region. Investments, not cuts, in public transportation are needed to keep downtown Manchester thriving as the region's center of finance, commerce, retail and culture.

The economic benefits of transit are manifold for transit riders and the business community. MTA provides transportation choices necessary to access the city's jewels, including the Verizon Wireless Area, Fisher Cats games and downtown restaurants. Severely reducing service -- as the mayor's plan would do -- would cripple the region's economy because people would have limited opportunities to access Manchester's best events and venues.

The Manchester Boston Regional Airport is the economic engine of the state's economy. The MTA's public buses are an essential transportation option that connect the airport with employment centers, cutting through congestion to provide access to job markets and removing auto trips from the highway system. This, in turn, will keep our highways clear to quickly ship goods and materials across the state and region.

MTA bus service is equally critical to residents for whom public transit is their only real option for moving around the city. Service is crucial for our residents who want to maintain jobs, to attend school and to get to medical appointments. These are people who, like us all, want to achieve the mobility necessary to maintain an independent lifestyle and desired qualify of life, but cannot because they have no options to get to where they need to go.

The Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission is currently completing a transit feasibility study in hopes of providing workers residing in the communities outside of Manchester with the option of public transportation to get to their jobs in Manchester. For service and entry-level employees with limited income and mobility options, bus transit is a key link to their jobs.

For many years, MTA was not running to its full potential and the public lost confidence in it. With the change of management and attitude, MTA and the SNHPC made it a priority to improve the transit service in the Manchester region.

A recent strategic analysis by MTA and the SNHPC reviewed the existing MTA routes and identified additional areas where transit services could be added and improved.

A series of recommendations was made to improve the service and the operating characteristics of the existing MTA routes, including: adjusting service hours to better match current market conditions, making existing services more direct and simpler to use, developing a single downtown transit hub and gathering ridership statistics.

Since incorporating the recommendations last year, ridership has increased more than 16 percent.

Key findings in the strategic analysis also show that:

-- Nearly half of MTA riders use the bus to get to work, contributing to the tax base;

-- One in 10 MTA riders is a young person who uses the bus to get to school to improve himself or herself and contribute to the betterment of the community;

-- One in four MTA riders uses the bus service to get to shopping to purchase the goods and services that keep others employed and the economy of the region growing.

In 2005, two researchers from the University of New Hampshire showed that when people are not able to keep their jobs, become more educated or get to the doctor's office, our local and state economy suffers and our taxes are increased to cover more services. Is that really what the New Hampshire Advantage is all about?
-
David Preece is executive director and CEO of the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission.
-
Readerss COMMENTS:

Funny, in a time where the mayor should be encouraging the use of the bus, he cuts it. BRAVO!
- Maria, Manchester NH

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Jonathan Melle, Manchester, NH
May 14, 2008
Re: Mayor Guinta proposes to cut the oral-health program for school children, again!
To the Editor:
Like many politicians, Frank Guinta¡¦s initial messages for reforming government through budgetary efficiencies, economic growth and improved public safety at first persuaded me to believe that he would improve the quality of life in Manchester, NH, especially after taxes had skyrocketed, crime proliferated, and the public education system declined into substandard quality via poor performance results. However, his initial promises have been mostly broken by his inequitable, myopic and reckless proposals to cut social programs that only serve to hurt the poor in the false name of ¡§efficiencies¡¨.
What made me first question Mayor Guinta¡¦s integrity was when he first proposed to cut the oral-health program for school children in previous budget years. I had never known until now the outcome of his aforementioned inequitable budget proposal. I now see that the mayor is making the same unfair proposed request this year, on top of his newly proposed reckless 5% reduction in public education funding, while at the same time ALL of the city¡¦s schools are now failing federal and state governmental standards.
Mayor Guinta¡¦s public actions are NOT improving the quality of life for the people of Manchester, NH. Instead, he is (a) negatively contributing to the long-term financial instability of the city government by deferring tax rate increases until later-in/after his tenure as mayor, (b) not matching his signed-off-on fiscal obligations to the police department¡¦s union contracts with this year¡¦s mayoral budget proposal, and (c) inequitably cutting down and out social programs that serve the needs of many children and other disadvantaged, struggling and distressed city residents.
Moreover, the mayor¡¦s current budget proposal would eliminate 110 employees, including 47 in the Highway Department and 21 in the Fire Department. During Guinta¡¦s mayoral tenure, overtime spending has already cost local taxpayers millions of tax dollars with no relief in sight. Now with the mayor¡¦s plan to cut the city¡¦s workforce, overtime spending will dramatically increase. Moreover, the quality of work and services will diminish because the skeleton-crew staffs will be overworked and fatigued. Furthermore, insurance premiums and other liabilities may increase due to the increased risk of injuries and disabilities.
I believe Mayor Frank Guinta¡¦s actions and broken promises speak louder than his words. Many of his budget proposals have been and continue to be inequitable, myopic and reckless. I feel that Guinta¡¦s real goal is not to serve the people, but instead it is his political ambitions to be elected to higher office. His budget proposals look good on the surface, which will be his campaign theme for his future run for Governor of Congress, but they are downright terrible in substance.
Sincerely,
Jonathan Melle
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The NH Union Leader, Manchester Edition, Vol. 146, No. 39, 50 Cents, Wednesday, May 14, 2008, Page B1, ¡§Greater Manchester¡¨& ¡Kcontinued on Page B2, ¡§New Hampshire¡¨¡X
¡§Budget alternative offered to protect jobs, hold taxes¡¨
„h Taps rainy day fund: Plan would take $300,000 from police & does not address school district budget.
By SCOTT BROOKS, NH Union Leader
MANCHESTER¡XAn unlikely duo came forward last night with an alternative proposal that aims to hold down taxes and still protect more than 100 city workers whose jobs were said to be in jeopardy next year.
The proposal¡Xauthored by Alderman Ted Gatsas, a Republican, and Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez, a Democrat¡Xgives a majority of city departments more money than they would receive under the $276 million proposal Mayor Frank Guinta offered in March. Officials suggested the plan would devote more money to street repairs, preserve an oral-health program for school children and keep open the West Side library.
Detractors, however, note the proposal takes $300,000 from the police department. It also leaves a question mark in place of the school district¡¦s budget.
That omission, which the authors said they hope to wrestle with in a separate resolution, leaves open the possibility that taxes could rise next year.
¡§We want a zero tax increase, and we¡¦re doing our best,¡¨ Lopez said after last night¡¦s meeting.
Guinta said he cannot support the proposal as it is written, citing two ¡§glaring issues.¡¨
First, he said, the proposal would not allow the police department to hire the 11 new officers it needs to reach full complement.
Second, he said it would force the city to tap the so-called ¡§rainy day¡¨ fund to plug a shortfall in the current fiscal year.
¡§That is just bad fiscal policy,¡¨ Guinta said.
The mayor did, however, join several other alderman in commending Lopez and Gatsas for working together in spite of their political differences.
¡§Talk about non-partisanship,¡¨ Alderman Bill Shea said. ¡§This is really excellent.¡¨
Lopez said the proposal would protect roughly 110 employees who would lose their jobs under Guinta¡¦s budget recommendation. That includes 47 workers in the Highway Department and 21 employees in the Fire Department.
Public Health Director Tim Soucy called the alternative budget, which gives his department an extra $145,000, ¡§very gracious.¡¨ Denise Van Zanten, the library director, said the additional $82,000 in the aldermen¡¦s budget would probably be enough to keep the West Side library open, though possibly at reduced hours.
Other department heads were still reviewing the proposal last night. A full board meeting, the third this week, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today (Wednesday, May 14, 2008).
The aldermen¡¦s budget assumes the city will take in $1.6 million in revenue that was not recognized in the mayor¡¦s proposal, announced March 31, 2008. Of that, $1 million is projected to come from permits associated with the planned redevelopment of the former Jac Pac property. The rest would be made up by the City Clerk¡¦s Office, the Solicitor¡¦s Office and the tax collector.
City Clerk Carol Johnson said the assumption that her department can come up with $200,000, mostly from bills on security systems and false alarms, is a realistic one. The building commissioner, Leon LeFreniere, was somewhat less assured about the Jac Pac revenues, noting he cannot guarantee the full $1 million will come in within the next fiscal year.
¡§We don¡¦t know that kind of info yet,¡¨ he said.
Alderman Peter Sullivan questioned why the extra revenue was not included in the mayor¡¦s budget. He confronted Gatsas, saying, ¡§It looks like there is a lot of fuzzy math going on here.¡¨
Gatsas said the aldermen identified the extra dollars during discussions with city department heads.
Finance Officer Bill Sanders told the board he has reviewed the proposal and said, ¡§I understand how the numbers have been pulled together.¡¨
The bipartisan proposal would divide the city and school budgets into separate resolutions. As written, the proposal would keep local property taxes at their current rate of $16.57 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, but only if the aldermen approve Guinta¡¦s plan to cut $7.3 million from the school district.
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"Aldermen abandon mayor's budget"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Thursday, May. 15, 2008

MANCHESTER – Aldermen brushed aside the mayor's budget proposal last night, expressing their preference for an alternative proposed by Aldermen Mike Lopez and Ted Gatsas.

Board members voted 11 to 2 to put the alternative budget onto the table. Several aldermen said they may be ready to vote for the proposal, with some amendments, when the board meets again Monday at 5:30 p.m.

"This has been a true bipartisan event," said Alderman Mark Roy, one of 11 Democrats on the board. "But there are still gaps and there are still problems, and I think we have the time to work on these."

The alternative proposal gives close to $120 million to city departments. It does not include any money for the schools, which would have to be funded in a separate resolution.

The proposal would give many departments more money than they would have received under the budget proposed by Mayor Frank Guinta. Police, however, would receive $300,000 less.

Guinta indicated he might veto the proposal. He said he is troubled because the alternative budget leaves the city with a deficit in the current fiscal year and would force the city to drain millions of dollars from the "rainy day" fund. The fund contains $10.9 million.

"This budget increases spending, and it spends 19 percent of our rainy day funds in one year," said Alderman Mike Garrity, a Guinta ally. "At this rate, it would only take us five years to empty our rainy day fund. I think that's irresponsible."

The aldermen's proposal would have cut $50,000 from the Mayor's Office. With their vote last night, the board agreed to reinstate that money after Guinta said the cut would have forced him to lay off his top aide, Sean Thomas.

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►Aldermen dig for budget dollars (16)
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Readers' COMMENTS:

Peter the know-it-all new alderman on the Board is quick to criticize Gatsas, Lopez and the other nine alderman who voted for this budget, but does not offer any alternatives of his own. Sullivan, unfortunatley, for ward three voters is nothing more than a windbag for a representative. This is the same guy who stated he could approve a 5% increase in the tax rate, while living in a cheap apartment and living of his five thousand dollar a year alderman salary. He does not ride the bus, but wants more money for the MTA. He does not live in the real world where real people have to work and pay real bills. He has been too quick to criticize alderman who make proposals but never says anything positive or constructive. His personal, public attacks on both Lopez and Gatsas are unnecessary and irrelevant and makes him sound like a typical school board member. Hey Pete, how about coming up with ideas to solve problems, and by the way, instead of going after experienced alderman for political cheap shot points, how about fixing the pot-holes in ward three, getting the graffiti off the buildings, and finding solutions to everyday problems? Oh ya, that's right your too busy watching the internet (at the meetings) on your taxpayer paid for computer while Gatsas and Lopez try to solve the mysterious Guinta budget.
- joekelly, manchester

Lets be realistic, for one this isnt Lopez budget, this has Gatsas written all over it. The mayor kicked his antagonistic butt off the Finance committee this year, yet he prevails. Now lets be realistic, zero percent increase?.. nice thought, but how do you fund all of our services?.. everything cost more.. and budgets need to be modified to keep those services alive.
Mike Lopez is a nice guy, but like many they are all intimidated by that pompous ass Gatsis, and I hope this budget slams him back...
- Frank, Manchester

This is a badly flawed budget. It makes far too many leaps of faith when it comes to revenue projections, assumes that the salary adjustment account and contingency fund will be a cure-all for all potential problems, and underfunds the transit authority. The MTA will receive the same amount as proposed in the Guinta budget, but the Lopez-Gatsas plan anticipates draining the MTA's cash reserves. Such a move is a dangerous one-time move that will create an even bigger headache for the transit system and its customers next year.
- Alderman Peter M. Sullivan, Manchester

It is great to see calmer heads prevail at City Hall.

It is pouring out there and the rainy day fund should be used to offset the higher costs of continuing vital services.

Shame on Alderman Garrity for grandstanding for political reasons. How smart is any man who expects a small ski hill to turn a profit when people can drive 30 mins and do some real skiing at a real mountain? JoJo the dog faced boy has to start thinking for himself instead of being the Mayor's lapdog!
- Jules, Manchester

Aldermen Gatsas and Lopez should be ashamed of their berhavior . As a taxpayer I feel that they have a responsibility to show respect for city employees as well as the citizens of Manchester - after all people dont we vote them in to office??Dont they really work for us?? Bet if the tables were turned and the fine aldermen had to come to the police for something the attitudes displayed would be different. I say to the aldermen.. Stop acting like 5 year olds throwing temper tantrums and grandstanding for the TV . Do your jobs with out the attitude- show some respect to thoes who stand before you just as they show respect for you. Personally i think some of the aldermen have gotten to big for their britches and need a reminder of where they come from and who is really in charge - the citizens of this great city. Yes no matter what the budget is tight and it's gonna hurt but to make the city all it can be we have to do this together not tear each other apart on or off camera.
- Beth, manchester

Appears to me that the heat is being felt by the alderman. Ted may have had a hair across his @#$ last night when asking the cheif about his budget. At least Ted looks at the budget and asks good questions. I disagree with Mike that he plays with the numbers trying to confuse people. If the Chief doesn't know his budget inside and out and be able to explain it there is a problem.

Don't forget if it wasn't for Ted complaining a few weeks back the parking lot in the Pandora blding. deal would have been sold for 1/3 its value.
- Bob, Manchester

How about cutting the pay and beneifits for the alderman? No one seems to be willing to throw that onto the table. I have supported Ted and Mike for years.
No more all the alderman have failed the city depts and the voters and taxpayers.
Mismanagement starts with the alderman. Frank had a good budget painful but good. These other people spend and tax Ted and Mike Vote them out!
Stan Howser
- Stan Howser, Manchester, NH

From what I have seen on Manchester public television, Gatsas is an argumentative, difficult, and generally bitter individual. Accordingly, I have little faith that anything he does is genuinely motivated for the public good.

It is not raining. It will be raining when we need a major piece of civil engineering performed because our public safety depends on it. It will be raining when we have an emergency or a disaster and we are left with no choice. That's my perspective as taxpayer. Departments are still unwilling to give up an inch, and that is always going to be the problem here. They need to be hit where it hurts and made to understand that the decades of waste in this city are over. There is waste out there. We are now in an economy that can no longer afford to cater to it.
- Floyd, Manchester

"This budget increases spending, and it spends 19 percent of our rainy day funds in one year," said Alderman Mike Garrity, a Guinta ally. "
With all due respect to Alderman Garrity, the so called "Rainy Day Fund" is taxpayer money, funded on the backs of the taxpayers. It is raining. It is raining really hard right now. So, please Alderman Garrity, stop playing with taxpayer money and give the taxpayer some of the money back because we all need it. It is not the Aldermens' personal play money. This is hard earned tax payer money. So, while Alderman garrity sounds good and makes it seem as though this would be bad, giving money back to the tax payers by tapping into some of this money is a very good idea.
- Mike, Manchester

While watching the aldermanic meeting last night I was frankly disturbed by the antics of Ted Gatsas and his demeaning attitude toward Deputy Simmons and Chief Mara. There is a way of asking questions of city department heads without being antagonistic and demeaning however it appears that Ted Gatsas doesn't know how to maintain proper decorum in the aldermanic chambers. Employees of the city deserve to be treated with more dignity and respect than Ted Gatsas gives them. Watching Chief Mara and Deputy Simmons trying to explain their budget was easy to follow however, Gatsas likes to play with the numbers and try to confuse people in an effort to try to humiliate them. Chief Mara and Deputy Simmons are owed a public apology by Ted Gatsas for his demeaning behavior. His antics are disgusting. I know Gatsas is trying to make a point but there are ways of making a point without immature and childish antics.
- Mike, Manchester

This proposal uses fabricated numbers to inflate the revenues that potentially will come from the JacPac project. It is irresponsible at best. Raiding the rainy day fund is for emergencies as they arise not for filling holes in a budget that increases spending. And tapping the rainy day fund will hurt our bond rating. Shame on Aldermen Gatsas and Lopez and all that voted for this.
- Sue, Manchester

Again with the favoritism for some city departments. Funny though, when the MTA held a public meeting on it's city funding (Wednesday) it was a standing room only with more than six physically challenged people (wheelchaired) attending. However the only two alderman to even show up were Alderman Smith and Alderman At Large Mike Lopez. We were told that every alderman and even the mayor was invited, yet again only two showed up for their constituents. Guess we know now who the aldermen favor and who they don't. It was a very positive turnout, shame really the aldermen didn't have the nerve to be seen in large gatherings such as this.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"Mayor of Manchester issues proclamation recognizing Armenian Genocide"

/PanARMENIAN.Net/

On May 20, 2008, at a New Hampshire Alderman meeting and the Manchester City Hall, Manchester Mayor Frank C. Guinta presented a proclamation commemorating the Armenian Genocide to the local Armenian activists at the event, reported the Armenian National Committee of Merrimack Valley (ANC of MV).

Present at the event were several members from the Armenian National Committee of Merrimack Valley, who helped to organize the event, the Armenian Assembly of America, the Knights of Vartan, the American-Armenian Veterans, along with numerous community members.

When presented with the proclamation, ANC of MV representative, Aram Jeknavorian thanked the City and the Mayor, pointing out, "that the Armenian –American Manchester community is moved and pleased that, that this City of Manchester, NH, which was a great save haven for the Armenian Genocide victims of 1915, has taken action to proclaim its recognition of the Armenian Genocide and will continue to renew its proclamation annually."

Mayor Frank Guinta was elected mayor in 2005. Prior to that, in 2000, he was elected to the first of two terms in the New Hampshire Legislature. The following year, Guinta was elected Ward 3 Alderman, representing Manchester’s downtown. In January 2006, Business NH Magazine cited Guinta as an "intriguing leader" in its "Powerful People" issue and, in January 2007, named him one of the 10 most powerful people in New Hampshire.

Manchester, NH is located in the first Congressional District, overseen by first term Democrat Congresswoman Shea Porter. Ms. Porter, who is not a cosponsor of the Armenian Genocide resolution, was sent an ANCA Congressional questionnaire asking her to respond to Armenian American issues. The ANC of MV has received favorable questionnaires from other Congressional Candidates which will be published in an upcoming press release.

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MAYOR OF MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE, ISSUED PROCLAMATION RECOGNIZING ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

YEREVAN, 23.05.08. DE FACTO. On May 20, 2008, at a New Hampshire Alderman meeting and the Manchester City Hall, Manchester Mayor Frank C. Guinta presented a proclamation commemorating the Armenian Genocide to the local Armenian activists at the event, reported the Armenian National Committee of Merrimack Valley (ANC of MV).
Present at the event were several members from the Armenian National Committee of Merrimack Valley, who helped to organize the event, the Armenian Assembly of America, the Knights of Vartan, the American-Armenian Veterans, along with numerous community members.

When presented with the proclamation, ANC of MV representative, Aram Jeknavorian thanked the City and the Mayor, pointing out, "that the Armenian –American Manchester community is moved and pleased that, that this City of Manchester, NH, which was a great save haven for the Armenian Genocide victims of 1915, has taken action to proclaim its recognition of the Armenian Genocide and will continue to renew its proclamation annually."

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"Manchester mayor pays $3,000 in back taxes"
Associated Press - May 21, 2008 3:05 PM ET

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - Manchester, New Hampshire, Mayor Frank Guinta has paid more than $3,000 in overdue property taxes on investment property he owns in the city, after saying he didn't realize the money was owed.

The mayor said he was unaware of a real estate tax lien and a wastewater lien the city filed against his three-family residential investment property until informed by the New Hampshire Union Leader on Tuesday. He then promptly paid the bill.

The city's tax year runs from April 1 to March 31 and liens are placed in April on overdue taxes. Property owners are notified of impending liens in certified letters a month in advance, in March.

Guinta said he did not recall receiving the letter and wasn't aware the bills were owed.

Information from: New Hampshire Union Leader, www.unionleader.com

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"Guinta pays past due taxes, bill"
By JOHN DISTASO, Senior Political Reporter, NH Union Leader
Wednesday, May. 21, 2008

MANCHESTER – Mayor Frank Guinta yesterday paid more than $3,000 in past due 2007 real estate taxes and nearly $300 in an outstanding 2006 wastewater bill on property he owns on Youville Street.

The mayor said he was unaware of a real estate tax lien and a wastewater lien filed against his three-family residential investment property by the city tax collector's office until informed by the New Hampshire Union Leader.

An hour later, he told the newspaper, "Thank you for bringing this to my attention. It's been paid."

Liens on file against Guinta at the Hillsborough County Registry of Deeds and on the registry's Web site were verified by city tax collector Joan Porter.

They came to the Union Leader's attention as the mayor was in Concord speaking on behalf of the conservative New Hampshire Advantage Coalition for a state and local spending cap pledge for officeholders and candidates. Guinta said at the news conference that state officials are "fleecing" taxpayers.

A wastewater lien listed in the Hillsborough County Registry of Deeds for $129.94 for Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta's primary home at 221 Crestview Road was filed Aug. 31, 2007 and was paid in October 2007.

Guinta saw no irony there, saying, "I don't see a connection between the two. I believe in spending caps. This is a completely different issue."

The city tax collector's office on April 25 filed a real estate tax lien against Guinta's property at 172 Youville St., according to a Report of Collector's Execution of Real Estate Tax Lien, executed at the tax collector's office.

The lien was for $2,798.54 in taxes, $122.83 in interest and $36.50 in costs, for a total owed of $2,957.87.

Tax collector Porter said that when Guinta paid them yesterday, the total due was $3,021.60. The bill was for the balance of Guinta's 2007 tax bill, which was payable on Dec. 9.

According to the tax collector's office, the city's tax year runs from April 1 to March 31 and liens are placed in April. Property owners are notified of impending liens in certified letters a month in advance, in March.

Guinta did not recall receiving the letter, although he did not dispute that he received one.

"I wasn't aware that the bills were owed, and I verified it and paid them, and appreciate it being brought to my attention," he said.

Wastewater bills are due quarterly, and Guinta had two wastewater liens filed against him on Aug. 31, 2007, for 2006 bills, according to a similar tax collector's office report on file with the county deed registry.

A wastewater lien for 172 Youville St. was for $236.97, including interest and costs on a 2006 bill. When Guinta paid it yesterday, the bill was $295.01.

Another wastewater lien listed in the registry for a total of $129.94, for Guinta's primary home at 221 Crestview Road, was also filed on Aug. 31, 2007. But that bill was paid in October 2007, according to Porter and a redemption notice filed in the registry.

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Readers' COMMENTS:

Examples of politicians' hypocrisy are always entertaining.

To those who criticize the UL for printing this story: Would you object if a very well-known and vocal environmentalist was caught throwing trash out of his/her car window, and it made the paper? I think many of you would change your tune then. Personally, I don't care about party affiliations, I just love it when any politicians are "caught with their pants down."

I'm sorry, but when a mayor preaches fiscal responsibility, and then falls considerably behind on his/her taxes, the irony is definitely worthy of print.
- DB, Manchester

Joe Kelly-Why do you constantly find the need to call me out? The Union Leader refuses to block your comments where you accuse me of being other people ect to try and make my comments less valid and I'm sick of it. I haven't commented in a while because I'm tired of dealing with people like you and the editor of this blog allowing your comments, while blocking mine. So grow up Joe. If your going to comment on an article, fine, but how juvenile do you have to be to constantly pick at people on the blogs.

If the Union Leader is going to sensor blogs, then they should do so equally or not at all. They make these blogs seem like a fair outpost for opinions, while they realistically are much more biased in their choosing of who's blogs get posted. So Joe, THATS why I haven't blogged lately.
- Derek Myers, Manchester, NH

Let's all just wait a minute... The Mayor of Manchester has a tax lien placed on one of his properties. He is late on paying his sewer bill. He uses the old excuse.. " I wasn't aware "... you bet this is newsworthy. He is a career politcican who is held to a higher standard than your normal citizen. He is constantly harping on cutting taxes...yet until he is " made aware" that his taxes have in fact NOT been paid, does he pay his taxes.

Bill Loeb would have hung him out to dry!
- Mark, Manchester NH

This man is the most opportunistic unapologetic politician I have ever seen. There is nobody he won’t step on to claw his way to the top. He is very quick to point out everyone else's flaws and hypocrisies and is extremely unforgiving in the process. He deserves the embarrassment that this brings him. We should be equally unforgiving.
- Sal, Goffstown

Its a rental unit who really cares what he does with it. I think everyone just likes to gossip and poke fun at everyone, this is ridiculous.. Many more important things to read and comment on!
- michelle, manchester

I absolutely love how everyone thinks they can do a better job at running the UL and thinks that he or she should be in charge of deciding what gets printed. He is the highest public official in the city of Manchester and he was delinquent in paying his taxes. That is news-worthy. Joe Schmo being late on his taxes is not. It is the burden of being a person in an elevated position, especially being a person who champions fiscal responsibility, like Guinta does. He should have paid them on time and set an example to the rest of the city. Apologizing for being late and then paying is not setting an example. Sure we all have missed a payment here or there but persons in positions of prominence should strive to be better than the average Joe.
- Bill, Manchester

I am NOT a Guinta fan, but give me a break. If the mayor wants to pay the city late charges and interest then let him. The idea of publishing a list in the paper of who is late is ridiculous. With the high rate of interest that the city charges for past due bills, it is worth it for the city to have late payers. Think about this, everyone pays on time and the extra revenue from late fees and interest goes away. Now our taxes will go up. Brilliant idea isn't it, NOT.
- Brian, Manchester

Ed in Manchester is incorrect that certified letters are sent for delinquent sewer bills. I have had this happen in the past and once they move it to the tax collectors office it no longer appears on your sewer bill. If you pay the total amount due on the next sewer bill you think you are paid up but you still have another bill at the tax collectors office.
- Marianne, Manchester

I’m often overdue on bills by a few weeks or even a month, but this is a whole different order of magnitude.
Three separate bills, one outstanding for over 18 months, all at least 5 months overdue. Certified letters were sent for all of them prior to a lien being filed. One was on his personal residence, so you can’t blame a property manager. I don’t know about you – but even if I’m behind on other things, when I get a certified letter – I OPEN IT! “People with busy lives forget to pay things.” doesn’t begin to cut the mustard. The fact that he paid his taxes when he learned the Union Leader was going to run a story doesn’t get him off the hook one bit.
We have a deadbeat mayor.
- Ed, Manchester

My bad. I did overlook the December 9th due date, but that doesn't change anything else. He still paid it once he realized that it was due.
- Aaron, Manchester NH

No one here was every lat paying a bill, filed it in a stack and forgot it? Give me a break. He paid it when it was brought to his attention. Why is this news? It is just picking on a public figure. the UL should have also found the number of other people who are late. That woudl be at least fair.
- Chris, Bedford

Watch out UL, I'm starting to like reading the comments more than the story. Rick Olsen / Olson - too funny. On the story, I think not paying your taxes looks pretty bad for the mayor of a city with serious budget and property tax debates going on, especially when his position is to hold the line or cut spending in the name of property tax relief. On the other hand, its really not a big deal.
- Thomas, Concord

To the person who wrote this malarky:
"Spare me please........if Guinta was a Democrat the story never would have been published."
- Mark, Manchester

Obviously, sir, you are not so familiar with the Union Leader and the history it has as a conservative paper. William Loeb ring a bell?
At least know what you are talking about when you write a comment. Perhaps you are from Mars.
I disagree with you about your statement about the late tax bill not being published if the mayor were a democrat. Contrare, the letters would have been much larger. Of course, that's just the babbling of a Manchester resident who belongs to the democratic party. What would I know?
- joco, Manchester, NH

But he is the MAYOR! They do send statements out for this sort of thing. Maybe he should get an escrow. I am really afraid of what he will do with the school budget now!
- Jt, Manchester

Come on. I am absolutely sick of journalists in this city trying to take something that isn't a big deal by any means and blowing it up SO huge just to make a story. Okay, if you find it necessary, report on it, but this ABSOLUTELY was not a front page story.

Guinta has been through so much junk over the past month: the horrible school administration who once again manipulated money that they don't need out of the Manchester taxpayers, the aldermen who are irresponsible and propose/pass a budget that takes money away from police and fire and relies on over a half million in "projected" income from the Jac Pac redevelopment that most likely will not come in, and NOW this article.

In my opinion, after all that Guinta has done for this city, I'd pack up and leave if I were him. I'd say the same thing if this article were written about a Democrat in the mayors office, so I don't want to hear complaints from bloggers accusing me of being angry about this article solely because I support Mayor Guinta. Nice job Union Leader. Lets just hammer a man further into the ground after two months that would drain the heck out of anybody with an article that was only put on the front page in order to slander his name.
- Ryan Feltner, Manchester, NH

Yep...the real me again...I would bet a week's paycheck that if it were Baines, or Buckley, Chris Pappas, Cathy Sullivan, or Jim Craig that had failed to pay appropriate taxes that are Real Estate related, the comments would be dramatically less judgmental and hostile.

I thin it is a fair idea to post the names of people who are delinquent in tax payments...It appears to me that the Mayor has paid them, along with interest and penalties. So, what do all the armchair warriors want now? A Resignation? As for Marc's comment, I am not seeing where Mayor Guinta caught a break or a pass...unlike a whole other delinquent people, he ended up in the Union Leader...Nobody stepped up and waived his interest and penalties.

The fact of the matter is, is that this is pure partisan politics...Nobody would have known about it unless one were looking for it specifically. I think it was somebody from Joan Porter's office who dropped the dime. But, that is the price one pays for being Mayor in a city the touts its "non-partisan" elections.
- Rick Olson, Manchester

"Oh .. it was probably his property management company's fault for missing that tax bill." You Guinta supporters are really hilarious! Um, the sewer bill was against his primary residence, but he probably has a mail service too right? And the UL a liberal media outlet? HAHAHAHA! PLEASE!
- Jim M, Hooksett, NH

From this republican I know first hand that no one in public office gets a free ride from the UL. It doesn't matter if your republican or democrat, juicy news makes for bigger sales and more blogging. Who says the Union leader does not have a sense of humor? Front page story about late water bills and tax payments, why not...it has the whole City talking. Wonder why no one gave Guinta a heads up at City Hall though? I mean he is the Mayor. Oh, I know, we all figured out that he is using Manchester to get to Washington by pretending to be a republican, no one at City Hall likes the carpet bagger from Jersey, and they shouldn't. P.S. where is that fake best buddy Derek Myers (Biundo) kissing Guinta's butt on this blog all the time? Oh, that's right he was called out and has since dissapeared. Bunch of phonies in the Guinta camp, no wonder people can't stand politcians.
- joekelly, manchester

OH PEOPLE PLEASE!
Give us all a break. It's not like he owed a huge sum of money.
Who's to say he even takes care of his own bills? Maybe his wife or accountant does it?
Are you people that ignorant to think HE actually "pays" the bills for Manchester and does the accounting?
If you list him, list everybody.
Sounds like a witch hunt to me.
If you all hate this guy that much- go to the polls next election and vote him out of office.
- Pauline, Franklin

here we go with if he was a democrat, if he was a republican..hes a human being, late on a payment like everyone else. leave the political junk out of it.
- Jen, manchester

Aaron from Manchester...PAY ATTENTION SON---the bill was due in December (just like mine)...He was @ 5 months late!!

WHATS THE EXCUSE???
- Jim, Manchester

For starters, I don't like Guinta. However, he owned up that he didn't pay on those bills, which were only overdue by just over a month, and rectified the situation instead of avoiding it. And also note that the bill wasn't for his primary residence and it's not specified that he did actually receive a letter. The article just states that letters are sent. How many of you people have never submitted a bill late?
- Aaron, Manchester NH

Guinta's battles with compromised aldermen and teat-seeking citizens make him a large target. And this is the best they got? At least he is running a business and not using government force. Consider the Mayor fully vetted! If they only spent as much time and energy scrutinizing the spending as they do his business! In an ideal world, he could afford to HIRE an employee to pay those bills for him. Anyone interested in the job? Oh yeah, the teat tastes better. But we must supply the milk. He surely isn't getting rich off his salary, the ultimate in public service.

This incident only highlights the difficulty in owning private property. How many complainers are renters? Consider Mr. Elkins, who bought his first property at age 56 only to be harassed by Concord on his dwelling choice. http://www.cmonitor.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080520/FRONTPAGE/805200383
- Steve, Manch

Uh, "Real Rick", why don't you calm down. There is a Richard Olsen in the Manchester phone book as well as 4 other Richard Olsons. Maybe you are not as unique as you thought you were. Aside from that, the original comments were in fact reasonable. Where his taxes on this property held in escrow by the mortgager? Maybe they made an error. Was the property recently refinanced? This has been known to cause issues on the first tax transaction. Does he use a property management company that wasn't doing a thorough job? Why didn't some one in the solicitors office just go down to his office and tell him instead of call ing the UL. Some of you Guinta bashers really need to get a life. He paid the taxes in full, penalties included as soon as he realized what had happened. What else do you want from him.
- Remi, Manchester

I'm just amazed at the people who want to give him a break. He's not "just somebody who got behind" he's the stinkin' mayor. Sorry, he chose to be held to a different standard.

I'm a republican and I think its obnoxious that people want to let him slide and say this is a liberal media witch hunt and if he were democrat it wouldn't be in the paper. That's crazy.

And the comment about the long hours or public office? Again, give me a break. I'm a single mother who travels 4 days a week and works weekends. Somehow I manage to pay my bills on time. What a double standard.

If 1000 people didn't pay their $3,000...I wonder what that would do to the city budget...
- Elizabeth, Manchester

"Geeez .. I forgot" is another great excuse. "My dog ate the bill" and "the check is in the mail" are two other great ones in case you need them Mr. Guinta. I could see 1 falling through the cracks but 2 city bills blamed on "I didn't know"? At least use another excuse for the second oops.
- Jim M, Hooksett, NH

And this guy is in charge of the city budget ? Just another reason to say 'bologna' when he says the city needs more money - how the heck would he know, he can't even keep watch over his own expences. Every time I've read something about this guy, I can only say DUH!
- Mike, Derry

If anyone has anything negative to say about this then ask yourself if youve ever been late on any kind of utility, phone, creditcard, auto, home, insurance, school loans, dentists, doctors, etc. the list goes on, who really gives a notice! Hyprocrits on this log!
- Thomas, Manchester

lenny b, big deal, he was late and he paid his fees. are you saying you've never been late on any payment??
mark is right, if he were a democrat, we'd never know about this. also, just because he has rental property means nothing. most LL's are inching by just like everyone else.
- rcn, manchester

Poor excuse Frank.
I agree with you oon holding the line on taxes, but this time you deserved the article and criticism. I agree with many others on here though who would like a full UL article on the "deadbeats" who are in elected positions (or dept. heads) and recieve thier salaries via us taxpayers.

Oh, and Mark, how long have you lived in Manchester...what a dumb comment! FYI, the UL always has been and still is a conservative republican newspaper...this article would have been longer if Frank was a dem
- Brian G, Manchester

Hey, isn't his rental property close to where the overpriced, federally subsidized, signage is?
- Maria, Manchester

Spare me please........if Guinta was a Democrat the story never would have been published.
- Mark, Manchester

Our leader of this great city of Manchester didn't pay his taxes on his rental property! My gosh! What else is he behind on? And he had the nerve to try and cut teachers and buses in Manchester. Hey Mayor Guinta Wake Up and Pay Up! The rest of Manchester has to pay taxes, so should you! And if you've got rental property....you should have enough money to pay taxes!
- Lenny B., Manchester

Im sure hes a guy with prob. more bills than I and its a pain in the butt how many have to go out.
I dont think its a big deal at all, who cares is right!!
If hes anything like my house the man of the house doesnt even know how much is owed or when its due and the woman pay it!

If I were him Im sure Id have a stack of papers and it would get lost. I just hope hes not late on any creditcards or IRS!!!
- christine, manchester

You have got to be kidding me? Fire the person who has the audacity to publish this article. $3300???? I pay twice that for gas just to get to work every year...
- Rick, Nashua

Who cares! So the guy got behind. I can't believe that someone couldn't just drop the guy a call in city hall but he's a human being like the rest of us. We all have forgotten payments in the past. I would say that if he can't manage his properties because he's too busy than he should either sell them or have someone look after them on his behalf. Otherwise who cares!
- Sean, Milford

Just on his water bill it cost Frank 24.49% interest and cost. Helping the down trodden. How many citizens are truly in need of help and this is what local government does to help give me a brake.
- Libertarian Ken Blevens, Bow

Well, I guess the mayor knew he had to pay his tax bill. He bought his property. He knows when you buy property that you have to pay taxes. He collects rent from his tenants. So, at what point did he forget he owned a 3 family and the taxes hadn't been paid? Oversight? Maybe. Could it happen to anybody? Probably. But, when you are the mayor of the city and you know the city is losing revenue, a little bell might just go off in your head and say geez, I wonder if I paid my taxes.
The reality is, in the end, it was probably a mistake and I am sure he is embarrassed by it so, I say let it go, it is in the past and move on.
- Mike, Manchester

If Guinta can't even pay his bills on time, why should he be trusted to handle the city's affairs?
- Matt, Concord

Duh? So what. The man paid the bills. He got behind. Welcome to the real world. At least he lives, and invests in Manchester! Why not take a look at where some of our aldermen have second homes. Tisk tisk,, Gatsis? For one. If the UL is going to report on unpaid bills of city leaders, lets' not stop with just the mayor. Come on UL,, you can do better.
- tom, manchester,nh

An embarrassing, but understandable oversight? You cannot be serious. A lot of people both in the private and public sectors work long, long hours and are involved in a lot of activities yet manage to pay their bills on time. I think the word is hypocrite for those who preach fiscal responsibility and accountability yet cannot practice it in their own personal lives. Believe me, I am all for the Mayor holding the line on property taxes and year to year increases. He has my full support on this issue. But he loses any and all credibility when he does not pay his taxes on time.
- Michael, Manchester

Hey Rick Olsen, "understandable oversight given the long hours and high pressure of public office," was you line. When Mayor Guinta was informed of his delinquency in paying his taxes, he was giving a speach for the issue group his campaign manager Biundo runs. He wasn't in Manchester, he was off running his own agenda and the agenda of a paid consultant - a lobbyist if you will. Ooooh, that must really burn your hide.

The meeting, by the way, wasn't even listed on Mayor Guinta's public schedule he releases every week.
- Rich Robinson, Manchester

I have learned over the past decade that Manchester is particularly poor at holding some accountable for paying their bills: property taxes, water and sewer. While owning my house in Manchester, I once was living in London and came home to find that my property tax bill had not been forwarded to a bill payment service I was using. I went to city hall to pay the bill and late fee. As I wrote the check I asked what the penalty would be and was told not to worry about it, “we’re just glad you’re paying. We have a lot of unpaid taxes”. This was during the last dip in the economy. I appreciated avoiding the fee, but it got me thinking.

I asked around as to how in arrears people and businesses around town were. I learned many businesses were many months in arrears on their water and sewer bills and to a lesser extent, property taxes. Many people were too, but the rate was not nearly as high. Some of those businesses I knew of and knew were in good financial condition. The city does keep up on this and eventually gets their fees, but only if the business does not fold - which as we all know happens, and all too often to restaurants. Quite a lot of money is lost and the others using the service end up paying for it.

I think the list of late payers should be printed in the newspaper and on the town website. This would encourage prompt payment, by keeping them out of the public eye. Given the current economic climate, the city should be instituting this public announcement. I bet the Mayor would be been on time.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester, NH

The truth is the city make more money from the twelve percent interest they charge. It is common knowledge that cities and towns make more money from late tax payers by selling bond for a lower percentage and charging the home owner the twelve percent. Yes and that does not even take into account what the average home owner has to make up for current use taxes. The battle is just beginning between the large land owner in the north and the home owner in the southern part of the state with the state wide education tax.
The fed gives back and the locals take the money, the stimulus package, government at it’s finest. Libertarian KenBlevens Is the Libertarian Candidate for U.S. Senate
- Ken Blevens, Bow

NOT AWARE!! Give me a break. The town sends letters about unpaid taxes WAY before your house has a lein on it. When the lein happens you get a certified letter. Get yourslef a letter opener! Way to go Manchester you elected a real winner!
- Deb, Merrimack

The truth is the city make more money from the twelve percent interest they charge. It is common knowledge that cities and towns make more money from late tax payers by selling bond for a lower percentage and charging the home owner the twelve percent. Yes and that does not even take into account what the average home owner has to make up for current use taxes. The battle is just beginning between the large land owner in the north and the home owner in the southern part of the state with the state wide education tax.
The fed gives back and the locals take the money, the stimulus package, government at it’s finest. Ken Blevens is the Libertarian Candidate for U.S. Senate
- Libertarian Ken Blevens, Bow

Mr. Rick Olsen, you do sound like you are a good ol-boy. Embarrassing? Yes. But you do have to see that the good ol-Mayor is a businessman first. The property is an investment. And, that is how it was treated. The money, better in his pocket then Manchesters. The embarrassing part is that he is so unloved that the he has no control over his own people, all Porter had to do was go down the hall and say, " Frank, do ya think I can get a little money out of ya so I do not have to lien your property"?
- John, Candia

I've had my wastewater bill go to the tax department before. I thought I had paid it when I had actually paid my water bill which is generally the same amount and I get the two confused. I don't understand why we 2 different bills anyways.

People with busy lives forget to pay things.
- Becky, Manchester

It's hard to fund schools in New Hampshire with unpaid taxes! Imagine this chap as Governor or Congressman!
- Morgan Vendetti, Dover

Come on Rick.
You can't say that his long hours and high pressure job are an acceptable excuse for this. How about the overworked people I work with everyday? Same excuse OK for them? He never thought; 'Hmmmmmm, I don't recall paying my taxes on the rental property?' He may not have been negligent, but that is sure is sloppy.
- Marc, Manchester

Wow....I have my very own imposter! I guess it can be assumed that, "I have arrived" when people start to post comments and attribute them to me. While the comment seems reasonable, I DID NOT POST IT. Imagine my surprise to find a comment from me, not having posted it. (and my name spelled wrong). If I find out who you are, you won't be a happy camper.
- The "Real" Rick Olson, Manchester

UnionLeader should post all who are behind on their taxes in Manchester. Bet you'd be surprised who else is behind. Great example for our city, Mayor Guinta! Be sure you open your mail next time and save the embarrassment.
- Mrs.Cartwright, Manchester

Give me a break!
"I Wasn't aware"... Maybe I'll try that line!
This guy is a joke. Maybe he should run for Congress--he'll fit right in.
- Jim, Manchester

An embarrassing, but understandable oversight given the long hours and high pressure of public office. I'm sure it won't be long before his detractors arrive to attribute this to some deep-seated character flaw.
- Rick Olsen, Manchester

Attaboy Frank! Way to set an example for the rest of Manchester! Master of your domain!
- Frank, Manchester

--
►The location of Giunta's investment property
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"Tax-watchdog group pushing pledge to control state spending"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, Wednesday, May. 21, 2008

CONCORD – A tax-fighting group will ask candidates for state office this fall to pledge that they'll keep state spending hikes within the rate of inflation.

Michael Biundo, chairman of the New Hampshire Advantage Coalition, said the group will solicit signatures this campaign season and will make sure voters know who has signed up. He and others blamed Democrats in the Legislature for raising state spending and making the pledge necessary.

Democrats painted the move as "a cheap political gimmick" by a Republican group that has no solutions to budget problems.

So far, more than 40 candidates have signed the pledge. It is a promise not to vote for any budget that raises government spending more than the rate of inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, plus population growth. It also states "government can only be fair to its taxpayers when it is actively looking for ways to run more efficiently" and that "low taxes are the result of low spending."

State Sen. Joseph Kenney, R-Wakefield, the lone announced Republican candidate for governor, said the Democratic Legislature created a budget mess to increase pressure for a sales or income tax.

"They want an income tax, no doubt about it," Kenney said. "This pledge is an idea whose time has come."

He said a Democratic state convention vote last weekend to study tax revenue options is the next step toward an income tax.

State Democratic Party Executive Director David Scannell said NHAC is wrong on that issue.

"They are reading into the resolution something that isn't there," he said. "What is specifically talked about is relief to people who are burdened by the property tax and the desire to explore ways to relieve that burden."

Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta, whose city has cut the police budget and has bigger school budget cuts in the offing, signed the pledge. He said Democratic control of state government has hurt taxpayers.

"What we've seen in the last year and half is nothing less than the fleecing of New Hampshire taxpayers," Guinta said. He said the state's retirement system is one example of bloated spending that favors special interests -- public workers -- over the interests of the average person.

"The special-interest group that I represent is the taxpayers," Guinta said.

A retirement reform bill in the Legislature would reduce an estimated 50 percent increase in retirement costs for all public employers to about 15 percent. Kenney was part of a unanimous Senate vote to pass the reform package.

Biundo also used the state retirement plan as an example of an expensive entitlement program.

Jim Forsythe, finance chairman of the NHAC, said the state's budget increased spending by 17.5 percent, far beyond the regional 3.9 percent inflation rate.

Democrats and Gov. John Lynch's office have defended the budget, saying about 14 percent of the increase was for non-discretionary spending, such as employee benefits, wages and other expenses.

Lynch spokesman Colin Manning said, "Gov. Lynch is committed to ensuring we are being fiscally responsible, and he'll continue to work to ensure we have a balanced budget."

Democratic Chairman Raymond Buckley criticized Guinta's appearance at the Concord event.

"The people of Manchester continue to be fleeced by Frank Guinta, who has spent more time traveling the state to make cheap political points rather than work to address the budgetary challenges at City Hall," Buckley said.

Three years ago, a Republican-led Legislature overwhelmingly rejected, 298-53, a proposal to require a two-thirds vote of approval to raise taxes higher than inflation.

"Either this group has forgotten that members of their own party rejected this cheap political gimmick, or they have no real solutions to offer," Buckley said.

The spending cap pledge is a parallel effort to NHAC's drive to put local tax caps in place in cities and towns across the state.

"We plan to be very active," Biundo said.

--

Readers' COMMENTS:

Here is an old article (2004) from Fortune magazine concerning public sector retirement plans, that all taxpayers should be aware of. It talks about the amazing retirement packages that many public sector employees receive. I don't think its as bad as what the article describes here in NH, but this is what is at stake:

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2004/05/31/370713/index.htm
- Ditmar, Hollis

Rick Newman, Nottingham your comments refer to the past. "Where was the Mayor of manchester?" He was in NJ at the time...so you can't put this on him. There is/are new Republicans who are now forming a better slate. We are confident, responsible, devoted, and driven to see that the mistakes of the past made by RINO's and DINO's are corrected and we invite all people to the table to help NH grow and prosper. Without the support of the people of NH (those who can vote and don't), we will never get past those mistakes. Take your anger and use it positively by voting for someone who has worked in the trenches with people, who understands the hardships we face as a state and in the city/towns we reside, not a person who has a well rehearshed speach like a car salesman. By signing this, you are simply stating that you would like to see it on the ballot in November. Thats all. Then let the all the people decide if they want the spending cap after Novemeber elections by the votes it recieves.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

An excellent idea! I'm all for it.
- Bob Hoskins, Derry

To Rick from Nottingham: you can talk about events from years and years ago, while this group seems to be looking at protecting the tax payers for the future. I agree that it doesn't seem like anything is being done about how much is being spent.
- Rick, Concord

Lets us not forget that when the Republican party imposed the income tax on small business known as the Business Enterprise Tax, the original law had a provision that required a 2/3 vote to increase the income tax rate. Of course a few years later when the Republican party decided to increase that rate they repealed by a majority vote the 2/3 requirement.

Since being enacted by the Republicans and former Governor Steve Merrill, the BET or small business income tax has been increased 300% by Republican Legislatures. Where was the outrage when that happened? Where were these political consultant wannabees? Where was the Mayor of manchester? Not one one word in protest from them.
- Rick Newman, Nottingham

Democrats painted the move as "a cheap political gimmick" And what is it called when the Democrat's hide behind phrases like "It's for the children" when they tax us back into the stone age? So ask yourselves what would you rather have a "Cheap Political Gimmick" that helps ensure a balanced budget or out of control Democratic spending that busts the budget leaving us with millions of dollers in debt "For the children" to pay in the future?
- Joe, Nashua

I am disheartened that democrats are painting this as "a cheap political gimmick". Why can't we have some honest, fiscally responsible democrats stand up and say, "yes, living within our means is difficult, but the correct thing to do"? This pledge should cross party lines and get rid of the spendthrift politicians from either side. It's time to clean house NH. The only way to control spending is to draw a line in the sand--this pledge does just that.
- Brian G, Manchester

Yeah, when you grant large salary increases to government employees, its contractual and nondiscretionary.

The level of disingenuousness is appalling. Of course the ground work is being laid for a broad based tax.

These code words ("relief" for example) are so transparent to anyone who pays attention and follows budget matters.

The proposed cap is an inelegant solution that will have unintended consequences. And, we need it, because our elected leaders are not doing anything to control spending.
- Ditmar, Hollis

Well Gov. Lynch, I guess that 10% raise to the state employees was part of the overall 17% and now they refuse to reform the retirement system to make it a little more fair to the taxpayers. I am holding the Republicans feet to the fire as well, talk is cheap these days.
- mike, Hooksett

Hey Ray, I hope your Senate Democratic Caucus isnt still taking money from guys like Norman Hsu. Talk about outsider and corrupt influence.

At least this NHAC is a grassroots org, unlike GSFTC which Sue clearly points out.

Good job NHAC, i will be sure to add my signature.
- DFM, Salem, NH

Ha, you'd think if anyone should know what cheap political gimmicks are it would be Ray Buckley.. Sorry Raybo, this isn't one....

So we have a pledge to curtail spending and one to reject broadbased taxes.

And 40 people will sign both so far?
So much for the GSFTC (aka, UN World Council of Churches) They can take their dirty outsider money ($90K) and get lost...
- Sue, Manchester

---------------------

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About Me

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Amherst, NH, United States
I am a citizen defending the people against corrupt Pols who only serve their Corporate Elite masters, not the people! / My 2 political enemies are Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., nicknamed "Luciforo" and former Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. / I have also pasted many of my political essays on "The Berkshire Blog": berkshireeagle.blogspot.com / I AM THE ANTI-FRANK GUINTA! / Please contact me at jonathan_a_melle@yahoo.com

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