Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I turned 39

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

We need better than Frank Guinta, Volume 3. Manchester, New Hampshire.

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"Wal-Mart wants city to buy rezoning plan"
By DENIS PAISTE, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, The NH Union Leader, 4/1/2009

MANCHESTER – Wal-Mart is planning a 170,000-square-foot Supercenter that will employ 270 at 725 Gold St., a company spokesman said yesterday.

The retailer filed a petition at City Hall yesterday to rezone the property from industrial to commercial, spokesman Alexandra Serra said

Wal-Mart has a purchase-and-sale agreement with current owner Brian J. Thibeault, but Serra could not say whether the sale was contingent on city approvals.

Thibeault also owns neighboring Manchester Building Wrecking at 835 Gold St. He was unavailable for comment yesterday.

The new store would be substantially larger than the existing Wal-Mart at 300 Keller St., less than a mile away.

"It's all geared toward best serving the needs of the community," Serra said.

Keller Street doesn't offer groceries and has a footprint of 115,000 square feet with 120 employees.

Serra said most of the 150 new jobs would be full-time.

Wal-Mart and city officials held a meeting with neighbors last Saturday.

It's too early to project an opening date, but Wal-Mart is planning on another meeting with neighbors.

Ward 9 Alderman Michael Garrity said Monday Wal-Mart would demolish the vacant Associated Grocers warehouse at 725 Gold St. and build a Supercenter there.

Current owner 725 Gold Street LLC acquired the property June 24, 2008, for $8,750,000, according to city assessment records on Vision Appraisal's Web site.

State corporation records list Thibeault as agent for 725 Gold Street LLC.

READERS' COMMENTS:

I love the idea of a bigger Walmart. Not sure if I like the "New Location". Where they are at is very accessable for most people..wish they could build onto that one. As for the additional jobs - I think that is what we need right now. Finding jobs are very difficult right now. And you can't be all the picky when looking. Some money coming in is so much more than none.
- Kim, Manchester

Matt – As a homeowner near where Gold St intersects with South Beech, I take offence to your implying that the residents of the area are “sucking up welfare and housing services.” That’s a ridiculous statement. If you were speaking of the lower-income area of Beech north of South Willow Street, that’s not exactly close to Gold Street.

To the “Wal-Mart kills the little guy” crowd, I say this: as someone who was laid off in January, I very quickly learned how to cut back and save money, and Wal-Mart had become a big part of that. It’s great that you can afford to support local businesses buy paying a higher price for the same items, but what about those of us who can’t? I, and many people like me, have to worry about paying bills and even losing our homes – do you really think that it makes sense for me to pay, for example, $2.00 for a loaf of bread at a “local” store that I can buy at Wal-Mart for $0.99? The bottom line is that shopping at Wal-Mart saves money. In this economy, how does spending more than I need to make sense? Wal-Mart didn’t destroy the economy, and buying overpriced products at local retailers isn’t going to save it.

Thank you, thank you, Wal-Mart. Thank you for providing me with a place to shop for my family that saves me enough money that I can still make my mortgage payment, pay my bills, and put gas in my car.
- Shayne, Manchester

I do think the location would be horrible as far as traffic is concerned. Is there any infrastructure planned to improve access to the location?
I am also tired of the old "Mom & Pop" stores going out of business because of Walmart.
Tell me, Stacy of Manchester, which Mom & Pop stores in particular are you referring to.
Doubtful you could name any.
- Mike, Litchfield

we do not need another Wal-Mart in this city. I never go to the store, the service is horrible and to bring employment in, well minimum wage employment isn't exactly what most people are looking for. There are already 3 grocery stores within a 1 mile radius and there is no need to add any more traffic to an already congested area.
Whomever said people should have thought about buying homes on Gold St, well most of those people have been there well BEFORE any of this crap and they are taxpayers. I also live in the southend of Manchester and this is a horrible idea...
- Jen g, MANCHESTER

I agree in support an improved Wal-MArt with Jobs but the solution to this site is a poor choice by Wal-Mart. There is plenty of land along S. Willow south of the Airport capable of placing a facility of this size on it and the access roadway is even better from the north and south....Think again Wal-Mart. Since Lowe's used their head I don't even go down S. Willow to the north because of the access headaches. This is a no-brainer.
- Mike II, Auburn

Brian J. Thibeault sounds like this guy can get it done. Where are all the mayor and alderman to help this guy add to the tax base? How about a key to the city for this guy?
- stan howser, manchester, NH

This is a horrible idea. Sure it is going to create new jobs, however there are already three grocery stores within what a mile or two of there. All this is going to do is force those other grocery stores to layoff employees due to slacking sales from those customers that do their grocery shopping at the super walmart vs the stores they currently go to. I understand the city needs more jobs however there has to be another way.
- Josh, Litchfield

Matt -
Might want to read the article "The retailer filed a petition at City Hall yesterday to rezone the property from industrial to commercial" - Being Industrial - People who live in the area are used to traffic being busy at normal work hours. Think its the more constant traffic that people are worried about.
- Patrick, Manchester, NH

Stacy, in Manchester, read the article.

120 currently employed + 150 new jobs = 270 jobs.
- Dennis, Manchester

support more local business rather than china
- chris, manchester

Aaron,
Sorry I thought people would understand that I meant replacing the existing Wal-Mart with a Super Center.

Dan,
As far as what is located on Gold Street in comparison they don't generate that much traffic. How many vehicles go to those businesses a day? A couple hundred tops. How many cars are going to a Wal-Mart Super Center a day? Perhaps a thousand or more (can't even imagine what it would be like during the holiday seasons)
Again I just think we could find a better place. Perhaps with some creative planning they could actually fit a Super Center in the existing Wal-Mart location.
- TMAN, Manchester

I like the idea of a Super Walmart. Not sure if I like the new location. I find the current location easily accessable. I like the idea of bringing more jobs to the area and getting some of those people off welfare. With the economy the way it is.....keeping rent high, utilities high, cost of food high....just makes it all around harder for everyone. Welfare is suppose to be a "Temporary" help - not a way of life.
- Kim, Manchester

The Super Center will have 270 employees, 150 of which will be new jobs. What's so hard to understand about that??
- William Smith, Manchester, NH

If they put the Super Wal-Mart in at that location, how are people going to get to it? Look at the congestion on S.Willow st already. The light at Friendlys is already backed up after work and is a nightmare during the holidays. You cannot turn directly onto gold St heading north on S. Willow, you have to use that specific turn. What if you are coming from the Calef Rd. side? You would certainly have to use S. Beech which is already horrible for traffic or use Calef Rd. You cannot dead end Gold St because that would send all of the traffic through the Beech hill area. I don't mind the idea of having one it's just that the infrastructure is not there to make it an effective location without causing major disruption to the neighbors which by the way, are also taxpayers.
- Lyle, Manchester

Too close to a neighborhood.

"..Supercenter that will employ 270..."

"...most of the 150 new jobs
UL, is it 270 new jobs or 150 new jobs?

I wonder how many current jobs will be lost. Wal-Mart is killing the mom-and-pop
stores. Just look at downtown Manch. Wal-Mart has their share of responsibility for the poor economy. They boast patriotism while having their products made in China. I am within walking distance of the new store location but you couldn't pay me to shop there.
- Stacey, Manchester

270 New Jobs, 150 of those 270 are full time positions going straight to the surrounding area. I think this is a good idea..
- Ted, Manchester

For all the residents complaining that they don't want to see a Super Wal-Mart built in a commercial area, you should not have bought a house on gold street. For the people in the beech st project off of gold street, they will have more opportunities to find a job and not suck up on welfare services and housing services. Deal with it.
- Matt, Manchester

I thing a super Wal-mart on Gold st is a stupid idea! We already have 3 grocery stores within 1 mile of each other. We also have a Sams club. The Traffic around this area is bad enough already, Unless the block off Gold St near the bike path this should not happen!!!
- John Juza, Manchester

I think bringing a Supercenter to Manchester would be great, but the location is not good, that section on S. Willow St. will be majorly congested w/traffic, and I'm sure the residents living on gold st and surrounding streets are not going to be happy w/the added traffic the store will bring.
- Tammy, Manchester

TMAN it's 120 feet from Hannaford! There's an auto body repair business across the street and a dry cleaning operation between the homes and this site. So tell us again how you are "for a Super Wal-Mart in Manchester".
- Dan, Nashua

TMAN, I was unaware that there was a Super Wally World in Manchester. It looks like a regular Walmart. Meaning it's run down and trashy. Walmart is never a good thing.
- Aaron, Manchester NH

WOW! 150 jobs this new Super Center would bring to Manchester. Just think those folks living on Gold Street could walk to work!
- Wendy T.R., Manchester

Again, I am for a Super Wal-Mart in Manchester (replacing the existing one). I am however am against the location. This is far to close to real neighborhoods.

I wish they could find a better location in the city.
- TMAN, Manchester

Bring it on! I love to shop at Amherst's SuperWalMart. Now I'll have one right here in Manchester!
Wonder what will happen to the other grocery stores in the area.
- Annie B., Manchester

Good for Wal-Mart, I hope this happens. AG has become an eyesore. I believe there is only 1 business in that bldg. Make it happen Manchester city hall.
- Mike, Auburn

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"Budget realities: Aldermen must face them"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, 4/2/2009

Do the people in charge of Manchester's city employee unions live in the same world the rest of us live in? For that matter, do some of the city's aldermen?

The economy is in recession. That means that instead of growing, it is contracting. And that means there is less money to go around. But down at city hall, there remains an attitude of entitlement. Union heads and some aldermen seem to have the position that city employees should be held harmless from the effects of the recession.

Mayor Frank Guinta on Tuesday night proposed a city budget that cuts or level-funds spending on most departments (fire and police would get increases). To save $3.6 million, Guinta wants every city employee, including himself, to take a mandatory unpaid furlough of one week.

"You can't ask police, fire and teachers to take a week off," Ward 1 Alderman Mark Roy said in response.

Really? Why not? That's a better deal than many private-sector employees are getting this year. Some have to take furloughs twice as long as that. Others are losing their jobs. Those still employed are seeing no raises or are having their pay cut.

Some aldermen have the gall to propose raising taxes on those people so municipal employees can avoid furloughs or layoffs AND have a pay raise. That's outrageous.

Some aldermen are calling Mayor Guinta "unrealistic" for proposing a budget that cuts taxes by cutting spending. But the taxpayers cannot afford to pay more this year for the same level of services they got last year. Those continuing to pretend that the taxpayers are a never-ending source of free money are the ones indulging in fantasies.

READERS' COMMENTS:

What you all fail to see is that if you make me take a week off with out pay you will have to pay overtime for someone to cover my position.
- Tom, Manchester

Jill,
What, exactly, are the "great" things Guinta has done for our fine city of Manchester????
- John, Manchester

I AM a teacher- I am pretty high up on the "chopping block". My salary is towards the top of the scale. And.. I'm worth every penny.

If you lay off in Manchester, you can cut 2 new teachers to make up my salary. But guess what? Cutting starts at the bottom of the scale. If you cut, you are cutting to get to a salary line total--not a finite number of teachers. What you will have left are smaller number of higher priced staff to teach 17,000 students.

You will lose creative young teachers who WILL NOT want to go through the stress year after year worrying if they will have a job. Those creative young teachers will go where they can focus on teaching and educating rather than stressing over job security.

PS. Manchester is Not one of the higher paying districts.

Come on Mr. Mayor-- stop the grandstanding, come up with creative ways to deal with the situation.

Heres one:

How about buying back sick days from staff?
Lets say you offer $75 for every sick day. Let the staff sell you their sick days. If the sick days are used by the staff now you pay a sub $75 PLUS the teacher salary (lets just say $200.) The gain on the city side is you don't have to pay the teacher salary.

If I can come up with this idea surely 14+ minds can come up with something more.
- Jorge, Bedford,NH

Jon, Manchester...

Gee, a CONTRACT was negotiated (individually) between AIG and their top execs for those large bonuses, but now the government (i.e., the total embodiment of law) wants to renege on them! Please explain to me the difference in the principle. (And refrain from the fluff about the relative size of the money involved, i.e., those rich SOB’s can afford to lose their negotiated compensation, but the poor little guy can’t.) LMAO.

Peace
- Thom, Hummelstown, PA

Why is it that rather than answering questions or debating the issues, Democrats in Manchester always go after Guinta because their assumption that he will eventually run for higher office. SO WHAT IF HE DOES! He has served his time in Manchester for almost a decade as a state rep, alderman, and mayor. If he thinks that he can serve the city in a better capacity with a position in a higher office, then go for it-- I couldnt agree more that his abilities and views on fiscal discipline far out weigh those of the majority who are already in higher office in NH (Hodes, Shaheen, and Shea-Porter specifically)...

Guinta has done great things for Manchester over his tenure, however the Democrat party hacks continuously pound him at every decision not by arguing the point, but rather by always saying "he's just doing this because he wants to run for higher office." Seriously, did I hear you attacking Shaheen when she was governor even though it was very evident she always wanted to run for senator? Do I hear you attacking Hodes who should have stepped down this congressional term in order to run for senate rather than just use his house seat as a platform to run?

It is pretty apparent that the Democrats have no argument against Guinta when that is the sole argument they always try and use against him time and time again....I for one hope he DOES run in 2010 and it is BECAUSE of what he has done as mayor that will cause me to support him. I just think the Democrats need to stop beating their war drum and try working WITH Guinta on the city budget rather than trying to weaken him because of their fear that he will run for an office in 2010.
- Jill Kady, Manchester

If mandatory furloughs are illegal then just skip that step and go right to layoffs. I am so tired of hearing city employees talk as if they work harder than everybody else. The taxpayers are being hit with job loss, increase gas prices, increase grocery prices, increased heating bills, electricity...and so are the city workers who live in Manchester. The difference is, if all our taxes go up then we are paying for the city employee pay raises at a time when very few in the private sector are getting raises.
City employees have a tough job no doubt but many people have tough jobs. It is time for the city to take a stand. Do we want to raise taxes or not. I understand the need to raise taxes in order to pay for additional services or sustain services but at this time, we cannot afford a tax increase. I think the aldermen should adopt the Mayors plan and let the republicans all take the hit if it fails.
- Mike, Manchester

Perhaps the unions should look more closely at furloughs. My sense is that they will.

However, the position of Mayor Guinta is so blatantly obvious..unrealistic proposals that he knows well will not hold in a vote, thus making the alderman look bad. A year ago this mayor stated he would not run for governor because he had a job to do in Manchester. This, after numerous polls had him being hammered by Gov. Lynch. Mayor Guinta has his sights on higher office. Fine. What scares is he will leave this city similar to a certain MA border town that was once a thriving small city.
- Jack, Manchester

Full disclosure- I voted for Frank Guinta twice for Mayor. However, the idea that the city can just ignore a contract because it is convenient for one side is unacceptable. If inflation took off and the negotiated pay raises became insignificant, would it be OK for the city workers "hold out" like sports athletes until the city gave them more money? Of course not. The idea of a contract is to bind both sides to allow for certainty. Guinta is totally wrong for looking to violate that very "conservative" principle of the sanctity of contracts.

If the Mayor were politically astute, he would have called for major layoffs, then negotiated with the unions to have the furloughs as a "compromise" position. That would have been impressive. This act by Guinta is merely political grandstanding.
- Glen, Manchester

Regarding mandatory furlough's your editor asked...Really? Why not? Duh - it's illegal! Doesn't the UL have legal staff to check these things? How is it that the UL is not respecting the rule of law and the meaning of a binding contract? You can't have it both ways UL - championing less government then turn around and ask such a goofy question as you did in this editorial. Wake up and try to be consistant in your arguments, you cheapen you position when your not.
- Max Grey, Manchester

To the good and fair citizens of Manchester:

If you want to control your tax increase, then you need something like proposition 2 1/2 in Massachusetts. It will need to be setup that only a citizen vote can override it.

Until some tax increase check is put in place, you will be powerless to control your tax increases. Only you, good and fair citizens can change the system.
- Paul, Bedford

Please read article on today's front page entitled Rochester hospital lays off 24. All city employees read twice. Ask the 24 people who got laid off whether they would have taken a furlough instead of layoff.
- Russell, Manchester

Read carefully the words of those attacking Guinta or defending the Unions....Union Hacks...Its okay folks we know...even though you haven't the guts to profess the said loyalties.

As for the rest of us who work inthe private sector without the so-called protective umbrella of the almighty Union...I guess we all just have to suck it up.
- Rick Olson, Manchvegas

Of course city workers will oppose the sound budget which the mayor has proposed. City workers believe "I am entitled to my entitlements." Any municipal worker or office holder with a sense of entitlement has got to go.
- Nicholl, Manchester

"Attitude of entitlement"...there is no better way to describe the knee-jerk reactions from some of the Union Bosses. Hopefully, the city workers that recognize the fiscal realities of our economy inform these Bosses that furloughs are better than layoffs and that selfish posturing wins them no support from the public.
- Ryan, Hooksett

Alderman must hold department heads accountable for saving money by innovating and automating. Businesses cut costs by doing things smarter and applying innovation and automation to what they need to get done – these two things employ more technology (cheap) and fewer people (expensive). It’s time Manchester does the same thing. What Guinta presents is a short term, preserve the employee approach to trying to save money. That will never save much money; notice the $13.50 per year reduction is taxes on a $225,000 household. People’s emphasis on labor costs and unions completely misses the big picture, and true savings.


On another topic: It’s interesting that teacher furloughs are supposed to take place during vacations and that the district will not be able to replace 42 retiring employees, but no such thing has been said about departments in the city. Why shouldn’t their employees also take their furloughs during vacation? Why don’t they have a hiring freeze? Not only does this cost cutting approach have no change at any significant cost cutting, but it is not at all even handed.

This looks like another case of cutting deeper into one of the most economical school districts in the state, while not cutting as deep into one of the least efficient municipal governments in the state. I have previously posted the data that backs up that claim. Sorry for those readers that missed it, but in a nutshell: our town spending is very lopsided toward the municipal government and proportionately looks much like Portsmouth, Hampton and Seabrook. Salem, Nashua, Concord and most others spend much less on municipal government. Who do you think Manchester should most resemble?
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester, NH

Look at the NH state budget and then you will know why this is happening to every town and city, Lynch has an 11% increse hidden in the smoke and mirrors the leberal democrates are out of control and thier fippin minds with spending.
- AMC, Troy NH

The fact is that Mayor Guinta has proposed an unrealistic budget, that leaves the aldermen and the unions looking like the bad guys. This is just another stunt by Guinta to run for Governor in two years. Why is it that the city doesn't find real cuts in spending. I'm sure that there is wasteful spending somewhere in the city. I have seen how government works.

A CONTRACT was negotiated with the employees and agreed upon by the CITY and the unions. Now Manchester wants to go back on that contract. Why don't they just tell PSNH that they are going to pay less of their electric bill. I'm sure that PSNH wouldn't mind and wouldn't use legal action to get what they are owed. It is no different with public employees. When times are good, no one wants their job and the city doesn't renegotiate the contract in favor of the employee. When times are bad, people think public employees have the best job ever and want public employees to be just as miserable as they are.
- Jon, Manchester

All I have to say is that city employees pay taxes like most people do. Do you really think they get their paychecks for free? Your out of your mind. They earn their salaries to pay their bills like most. They make purchases like most. So don't place the blame on the backs of city workers, they work and take care of the services that the public demands. I'm anxious to see what the responses will be when the services are not immediately available. If you think working for the city is so easy, try working for one.
- d. gamel, nashua

Great editorial...honestly, it perfectly describes exactly how I feel about the reaction that the Democrat Aldermen and Union Heads had to the mayor's budget. Hopefully the aldermen return from the clouds sometime before they have to vote on this budget, but I'm not holding my breath!
- Ryan Feltner, Manchester

Awe, hush up, and let the wealth redistribution continue... In this instance from the pocketbooks of home owners to the city coffers. It is your patriotic duty to pay more taxes, so suck it up and stop the whining. LMAO!

Peace.
- Thom, Hummelstown, PA

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Post Office Fruit owner Kay Dovas in her Manchester landmark eatery at the corner of Amherst and Chestnut Streets. (BOB LAPREE)
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"Landmark eatery, Post Office Fruit, closes"
By DENIS PAISTE, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 4/2/2009

MANCHESTER – Downtown landmark Post Office Fruit, a luncheonette whose heyday was in an earlier era when the Manchester Union Leader was the dominant presence on Amherst Street, has closed and its owners have put the building up for sale.

"After 46 years of service to Manchester, it's time to retire. I'm happy that I made so many friends over the years," Catherine "Kay" Dovas said in a statement released through her Realtor. "Thank you Manchester, for a really great run!"

Sisters Kay and Effie Dovas ran the business together for more than four decades.

"Kay and Effie Dovas were two of the sweetest ladies I've ever met," New Hampshire Union Leader Publisher Joe McQuaid said.

The property is listed for $379,900 with Prudential Verani Realty in Londonderry and consists of 87 Amherst St., 426 Chestnut St. and 428 Chestnut St. There is an apartment above the luncheonette.

The building dates from 1890 and sits on 0.04 acres; it is a two-story wood frame with about 2,200 square feet of space, according to city records.

Listing agent Tom Duffy, who said the property was put up for sale last Friday, said Kay Dovas owned the luncheonette since 1962 and purchased the building in 1972. Duffy is the managing broker of the commercial division at Prudential Verani.

Inside there are autographed pictures of presidents who have visited, and there is a wall of photos of customers' kids and grandkids, Duffy said.

There has been a restaurant in the historic building, one of the oldest in downtown, since 1932, he said.

The luncheonette, with its traditional lunch counter and stools, took its name from the former U.S. Post Office, which occupied the block of Hanover Street between Chestnut and Pine streets. That building is now home to Devine, Millimet law firm.

The former Union Leader building is now the Manchester District Court.

Retired Union Leader reporter Al Nettel recalled, "I used to go there as office boy every day. They used to get quite a bit of food out there, sandwiches. They made good frappes."

He said "Kay's," as it was affectionately known, was a gathering place for reporters and editors as well as postal workers.

"They always greeted their customers and treated them well," he said.

The idea for the Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army was conceived at Post Office Fruit, according to a previous New Hampshire Union Leader report.

Kay Dovas was a young girl working at the store when three customers, Salvation Army Majors Clair and Ella Lowman and newspaper editor Hugh O'Neill, came up with the idea of the Santa Fund to help families struggling with expenses during the holiday season.

With the blessing of late Publisher William Loeb, the Santa Fund began in 1960. It raised a modest $1,000 that year. Last year, the fund raised $323,220, bringing the total since it began to $6,009,631.

A historic photo from 1914 used in the Keystone Press calendar for 2009 showed the building at the southwest corner of Amherst and Chestnut streets then identified as Joseph Barile Fruit Store. It is believed to be the oldest commercial wooden structure in the city and originally was the home of Judge Samuel Bell.

Post Office Fruit was closed for a time in 2007 while Kay Dovas recovered from hip surgery, reopening in December 2007.

When it closed again in October 2008, it was for the last time.
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Staff reporter Benjamin Kepple contributed to this report.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Kay and Effie

Congrats to both of you on your retirements. You can now enjoy the beach more. Since moving to Florida there is no place down here that can match your egg cooking. Oh how do I miss those egg sandwiches you made me Kay. Retirement is not that bad. (It's great down here in Florida). Good luck and stay healthy and may the good lords light alway shine on both of you.

Ret PO: Richard Gilman (Gilly)
- richard gilman, brooksville Fl

Happy retirement to Effie and Kay. As a young student at Shirley's School of Hair Design I spent alot of good times at PO Fruit! I loved their cream cheese and olive sandwich. They were the only sandwich counter that served them! As an adult, I moved out of Manchester but returned and was happy to see they were still in business. It will be sad to see them go! Best wishes!!!
- Pat, Manchester

My Mom used to take me in there back in the 70's. Kay and Effie always remembered me as I got older. A crown jewel in Manchester history. We will miss you!
- Peter White, Manchester

Many wishes for a good retirement. The Post Office Fruit Luncheonette was one of Manchester's more unique institutions. Hot dogs, milkshakes, and helium tanks!
- Rich, Grantham

The story brought back many fond memories of eating there with my dad. He worked for the Post Office and I remember him taking me there. I would wait on the stool for him to go punch out and we would then share a snack at the counter. Thanks for the great memories.
- John, Manchester

As a little girl, trips to downtown Manchester were an adventure! Part of the adventure was going to the Post Office and then dropping by the Luncheonette for a FABULOUS sandwich with my mom and my brother. Later in my early twenties, I worked as a legal secretary for two major law firms in downtown Manchester, and it was at least a weekly thing for me to grab a sandwich at the luncheonette. Thank you for being such a wonderful part of not only the history of Manchester, but of some of my most wonderful childhood memories.
- Lori, Manchester

Best of luck to the sisters in their retirement.
Hope someone buys this place and reopens it just as it was.
- Jessie W., Manchester

Best of luck Kay and Effie. You both deserve the rest. As I get older you two dont seem to age!

During the days at the old P.O., I spent a lot of time eating hot dogs at P.O. Fruit

Bob
- Bob Kendrigan, Charlotte, NC

To owner Kay, Thank you for the wonderful service you gave my wife (11 years ago, my girlfriend) and I. I will never forget that friendly smile and the two chocolate shakes you made us. That was a time when we were still homeless and trying to get back on our feet here in Manchester. Your positive outlook on life and joy of just being helpful ment alot to us. Thank you for the wonderful memories, we will surely miss the Post Office Fruit, you and your sister. Hopefully the new owners will keep it going for many years to come and it will be put on the preservation list as a historic landmark of Manchester. God bless you both, enjoy your retirement.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

Mat retirement bring you the pleasure that the both of you have brought alot of us over the years.
- Tim, Manchester

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"NH unions say they'll sue over proposed furloughs"
April 3, 2009, 11:46 A.M. EDT

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) -- Public employee unions say they will sue the city of Manchester, N.H., if workers are forced to take a seven-day furlough, as proposed by Mayor Frank Guinta.

Bill Clayton, president of the city firefighters' union, believes it's against the law, but Guinta said is to legal to have furloughs.

Guinta told the New Hampshire Union Leader that the city solicitor said there are a few unions that may have contractural protection and would have to consent to furloughs before they could be imposed.

Guinta has proposed one-week furloughs for all city employees in his budget proposal, saying the move would save the city $3.6 million and save 90 jobs.

Since then, leaders of all but a few of the city's 17 unions have decided to boycott an April 8 meeting with Guinta.
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Information from: New Hampshire Union Leader, www.unionleader.com
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"Manchester city unions say they'll sue over furloughs"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, Friday, Apr. 3, 2009

MANCHESTER – Public-employee unions say they will sue the city if it slaps workers with a mandatory seven-day furlough.

"We believe it's against the law, and it's been proven in court," said Bill Clayton, president of the city firefighters' union.

Mayor Frank Guinta said the unions are mistaken.

"We obviously checked in advance with the solicitor, and the fact of the matter is it is legal to have furloughs," he said.

The solicitor, however, did say there are a few unions -- "two or three," Guinta said -- that may have contractual protection and would have to consent to furloughs before they could be imposed. Guinta said the solicitor is still reviewing the contracts.

Guinta proposed a seven-day furlough for all city employees in his budget presentation Tuesday. He said the move would save the city $3.6 million and preserve 90 jobs.

Since then, leaders of all but a few of the city's 17 unions have decided to boycott an April 8 meeting with the mayor.

This is the second time the unions have refused to meet with Guinta, who has sought concessions to ease the strain on the city budget.

Yesterday, Guinta said it is "extremely disappointing that, given the economic conditions we're in, they're actually refusing to now even meet with me, two days into the budget process."

Water Works union President Mike Roche said it would be a "waste of time" to meet with the mayor now that his budget proposal has been released. However, he said, the unions do plan to meet with the aldermen, who are now reviewing Guinta's proposal.

"The budget baton has been passed," Roche said, "so we feel it is out of (Guinta's) court at this time."

Roche, who is acting as a spokesman for many of the city's unions during the budget-writing process, said the unions "absolutely" would sue the city if aldermen approve the furlough plan.

"Unequivocally yes," he said. "It's been discussed, and it will be challenged."

Already, the Manchester firefighters' union has had "preliminary" conversations with its attorneys at the Concord firm, Molan Milner and Krupski, PLLC, which also represents the State Employees' Association. Attorney Glenn Milner said the firm "will litigate" in the event of forced furloughs.

Milner cites a June 1992 ruling by the state Supreme Court that found mandatory furloughs for state workers violated both the U.S. and New Hampshire constitutions. In a unanimous opinion, the justices said the proposal "impairs the very heart of an employment contract: the promise of certain work for certain income," and said the state "cannot resort to contract violations to solve its financial problems."

Milner, whose law partner, Richard Molan, was involved in that case, said the court's decision "translates 100 percent to the situation in Manchester."

Guinta said it is wrong "for the unions to threaten lawsuits based on their opinion of one court case."

Several Manchester aldermen have questioned both the legality and the feasibility of Guinta's proposal. Alderman At-Large Dan O'Neil said he does not know whether it's possible for police officers, firefighters and highway workers to take unpaid days off work, noting, "We've still got to pick up garbage. We've still got to plow the streets."

Scott McGilvray, president of the Manchester teachers' union, has said he, too, considers furloughs illegal. He added it would not be possible for teachers to take time off without missing class because they're only paid for days they work.

Guinta has said the unions should offer alternative proposals if they don't want to take furloughs. However, he said, "The fact that they're boycotting these meetings suggests ... they're going to dig their heels in and they're not going to come up with alternatives."

Roche said the unions should not have to concede any pay or benefits because their contracts were negotiated "in good faith."

"Both sides entered into the agreement," he said.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

I support the mayor, if the unions don't want to agree take a pidly little 7 days off without pay, then they can explain to their newest members why they are getting laid off. Everyday the economy gets worst, 600 million out of work. GM on the brink of bankruptcy, hundreds of thousands of jobs at stake. Good luck, hang on, it's going to be a wild ride.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

What greed. Why would the unions risk going to court, striking, and forcing the lay off of 90 city workers instead of 1 week less pay. I was laid off a few weeks ago. I would have much rather been shown the possibility of receiving 1 week less pay instead of getting the axe altogether. To quote a famous song "You can't always get what you want."
- Matt, Manchester

to ridley and clan, un-needed comment!
it tells me more about you than whom you speak!
- paul gagnon, manchester nh

Ridley and clan,

Having gun-toting, pot smoking, non law-abiding citizens patrolling our streets is not what NH needs.
- judy, Concord

I just hope they all these city employees live in this city. I"m hoping if they don't want to play ball with reducing city costs they they will be impacted with the explosion of our property tax like the rest of us.

Open your eyes, every company everywhere is having layoffs, 401k company matches frozen, forced days off, cutting of training expenses, travel expenses and on and on. Goverment has to be run as a business, not as an entitlement as some of these employees think it is.
- Jim, Manchester

I guess Mayor Guinta got his answer...city workers are not willing to do the right things during tough times.

Layoff 100 of these bums...the taxpayers won't care.
- Seth Connors, Manchester, NH

To Sandy in Thornton -- newspapers have been laying off for years because there has been a huge shift in readership from actual paper newspapers to online news. Last I checked nobody was using computers to pick up their trash, put out fires, patrol our streets, or enlighten our children.

There are three options for solving the budget shortfall: raise taxes, lay off city workers at the bottom of the seniority list, or ASK the unions if they will consider cost saving measures to save jobs.

Mayor Guinta chose instead to toss a molotov cocktail into the city in a cynical and disgraceful attempt to pit city workers against taxpayers. Divide and conquer in the name of $13.00. Good work, Frank.
- Fred, Amherst

To any/every one who has ever thought that government jobs are easy work for over-pay. Follow this link for a list of state-level jobs vacancies and apply at-will. Come, join our ranks and see what it is really like to work for government. Good luck with the hiring process though, it can be difficult even during the best of economic times.

A special invite goes out to all the cop-haters; State Police is testing for new Troopers. Come sign up and you can work all those highway details and see how much fun they really are.

http://admin.state.nh.us/hr/employmentlisting.html
- John, Plaistow

This from today's Boston Globe.

"The New York Times Co. has threatened to shut the Boston Globe unless the newspaper's unions swiftly agree to $20 million in concessions, union leaders said." The long and short of it is the NY Times has been subsidizing the Globe's losses and has said enough is enough.

City of Manchester union folks better get their heads of out the sand and pay attention to what is going on in the outside world. These types of situations in the business world are being published every day now. Most employees are seeing the wisdom behind giving up some pay or work time in return for retaining their jobs.
The arrogant, entitlement attitude being displayed is not amusing or helpful. The only ones who will lose are the unions.
- sandy, thornton

Cindy from Laconia......I think you need to "look up" what the city union heads receive for compensation. These are not high paid positions with first class travel and the perks of the rich and famous. Here in Manchester, the officers of the city unions receive a SMALL weekly stipend and still work at their regular positions. Compare the modest pay and the number of hours worked for the union membership and you'll find that they are working for less than minimum wage! Educate yourself and get the facts before you discredit the hard work of the union officials here in Manchester. I think you'd be surprised at the truth if you care to find it.
- John, Manchester

These comments are hilarious! The sad thing is that if you go back to articles about the city budget and the pay of city workers when times were financially good, the comments of the pathetic, vocal minority were spewing out the same party line. When times were good, the city workers were stil allegedly lazy and overpaid. While private sector jobs made astronomical gains, the union jobs made modest gains and the lunatic fringe ranted about the unions and their so-called, undeserved raises. Instead of the shouting and illogical diatribes, it's time to see that the unions are taking their current position because the talk and tactics from the mayor's office have resulted in nothing but distrust and distortion. I have read about how unions are no longer needed in this country, but the current climate is a perfect example of why unions are necessary. The Mayor and other misinformed zealots think that furloughs are a perfectly acceptable and legal budgeting method. If the unions were not there to stop this irresponsible action, City Hall would be allowed to ride roughshod over the middle class workers.

As I've seen written, this city has been rated the 2nd best, yes, SECOND BEST city in this nation for responsible taxes and spending.....this is not an easily achieved status and proves that the alderman are doing a fair and reasonable job in looking after the city's pursestrings. It's time to grow up and realize what we have and what we might lose if we are penny wise and pound foolish. I, as a taxpayer, do not want to overspend for anything, but we do not overspend and I do not mind one bit paying the reasonable current rate and a modest increase for the current level of services that are provided. Keep up the good work aldermen, don't be swayed by those who shout without substance!
- John, Manchester

http://www.guintaforcongress.com/

Ya think Franky is running for sumthin?
Why would Ron Vars (big supporter of Giuliani --who Guinta also endorsed..) Own the domain name http://www.guintaforcongress.com as of March 7 2009????
- Jim, Manchester

Come on union folks be happy you have a job take a week off and enjoy your families and think about all that you have to be thankful for! Give a little and try to help out the economy rather than just your own wallets. hard to feel sorry for them
- kim bennett, colebrook

Ryan, Hooksett..

I am a teacher. I am paid from September X to June 30. PERIOD..... The teachers conceded to let the city pay us through the summer to save the CITY monies. We are technically being paid during the summer for work that happened the previous FISCAL year. In most school districts the staff are paid in 21 week pay checks. The pay stops JUNE 30. They are not given a check over the summer (so they must budget wisely). This is because they DO NOT work during the summer. Before you spout your "HOOKSETTness", get your facts straight!!!
- JIM C., Manchester

in response to Richard in Manchester. You say "then go ahead and lay me off. I'll find a better job somewhere else?" WOW. Do you even keep up with the news. People are lining up to apply for jobs. You need a reality check. The odds are stacked against you. If you have a job, be grateful. There are many people who don't who would gladly take yours and not whine. UNIONS DO NOT WORK FOR THE WORKER! Fire the Union instead and you'll find life a lot better. By the way, have you ever researched the salary of these union employees or asked about their "conferences". Try that next. Good luck to you in your job search. You'll need it.
- Cindy, Laconia

Does anyone actually believe the unions will agree? The only thing unions ever seem to want to do is to assert their power ("We'll show them!") and to hell with those they are supposed to be representing, the "little guys".

It's happened too often in the past that unions have said "To hell with the demands of the employers! Let them shut the place. We'll just picket!" and when the employer decides to close the doors, or move the company overseas and people lose their jobs, is it the union bosses who wind up paying? No, it's always "the little guy"!
- Guy Plante, Manchester

Mayor Guinta,
I respect and admire your actions to keep the city going and attempt to save the TAXPAYERS some money.

My brother was a Teamster (ever heard of them?) for St. Johnsbury Trucking. Ever wonder what happened to that company? The Teamsters ruined them. They wouldn't concede to some concessions to save the company during tough times, so it went under. Hundreds lost their jobs and careers. So much for the union.

The city unions know that they will not go out of business. They should all take the furlough, except for essential emergency services.

They would rather see the new guys get laid off than spare them their jobs by losing one week of pay. So much for loyalty to their fellow workers.

God save the City!
- Bill, Manchester

Excellent idea! Let's have the free stators enforce the laws. Nothing like a bunch of nothing better to do contrarians on patrol. These chumps strap on iron and scare the robert tarr out of normal people in order to prove a point. They are so disillusioned that they think that they serve a purpose!....Get them out there quick!
- Brad, Manchester

I do not support this mayor, evidenced by my words below. However, did vote for (and I am a union member and active Democrat who leans middle-to-conservative) but will not again for whatever office he aspires.

What rattles most is the way he tossess things out, then points his finger. This is leadership? Then heads off out of state to consult with others about what office to run for next. Huh?

One thing I will state... I am not sure about the legality of furloughs. My sense is that they "Are" legal. Something these union bossess should consider is that LAYOFFS ARE LEGAL!
- Jack, Manchester

Yeah, sure, Ridley, I'm sure the mayor will get right on your offer.
- Clyde, Manchester

It's hilarious to listen to people refer to City Union employees as greedy!These greedy employees are doing nothing but holding on to what they have earned. While everybody enjoyed the boom of the late 90's and most of 2000. City employees never received more than a 2% raise. While they watched friends and family virtually print money, they remained dedicated loyal underpaid city workers. Now, in an economic downturn, they are asked to forfeit 140% of a weeks pay in order to spare everybody else five hundred bucks in the form of a tax increase! Yeah they are greedy! You can probably discern that I am one of those selfish greedy City Union workers. Just so I have it straight, I contribute $1500 to spare my neighbor a third of that. Give me a break! Just govern responsibly, honor your commitments, and make some tough decisions. As opposed to taking the easy way out by balancing the budget on the backs of the always unpopular city employees.
- Dave, Manchester

If it's illegal to make workers take the furlough then I guess it won't be illegal to lay off workers if you can't pay them. Lay off the city workers if the money isn't there. Welcome to the new suck economy city workers. You're just starting to inhale the fumes. Wait until the crap hits the city fan !!
- Johnny, Manchester

My offer still stands - As a member of the Free Staters, we will patrol the streets of Manchester while the police take furloughs. No problem! We are all armed and capable. I hope the mayor will give this serious consideration.
- David Ridley, Manchester

To the teachers on the board that are upset at this proposal, choose one:

- Stop telling me I only work 183 days! This is an all-year profession and I am offended that you don't see this.
- Don't you know I only work 183 days? You can't furlough me because I don't work a full year. I can't believe you don't see this!

You cannot have it both ways.
- Ryan, Hooksett

The UNIONS are the problem - Government workers, Teachers, Detroit, all of them. They have gone past there day. City and Government employees have contracts - not one of them is paid for performance - just step increases. Most people in Unions, other then the Bosses have no say and must follow the party line or else. Unions - Congress, they are all in bed together and the rest of us better wake up. It is not the $13.00 as much as the principal of the thing. Our house has one unemployed, one no raises and two kids no camp this year - while to try to pay the bills. I have no doubt that this City could do just as well and be no worse off with 90-190 less employees. I have no issue with Police and Fire - they put their life on the line, but, give me a break those plow drivers that barrel through the City are doing it for overtime not for the love of the rest of us
- Bill, Manchester

Riiight...so its legal for UNH to consider furloughs, but the city Democrat Unions are going to attack Guinta and accuse his budget as illegal because it is illegal in their opinion. So is what UNH doing illegal too??? I doubt it....I think this is just a political stunt full of threats coming from the union bosses...
- Casey Johnes, Manchvegas

Are you union bashers kidding me? You would be willing to lay people off because they would not volunteer to give up seven days of pay, so you can save $13? Has this city ever opened up a union contract when times are good, and there is a surplus of money, and given them an extra weeks pay? Of course not. Don't balance the budget on employees backs!
- Michael, Manchester

The mayor is not going to lay anyone off. It is a game and the unions aren't biting. I will defend the city workers in that when times are good, they have decent jobs and benefits and when times are bad they have decent jobs and benefits. People in the private sector can do really well in the good times and can do far worse in the bad times. There is no corruption, the union workers just have an entity to protect them and the private sector people don't therefor they are envious.
- Frank, Manchester

If they don't want to be part of the solution then LAY THEM OFF!
- Fred Leonard, Rochester, NH

The unions helped build this country and they're going to bring this country down. Unions started out helping the working man. Now they only protect the sick, lame, and lazy.
- Michelle, bristol

It is against the law and the mayor knows it - and if he doesn't, then I question his ability to be mayor. There are certain things a mayor should know. Of course, this is all propaganda on his part anyway.
What a wonderful leader - get the city workers to take all of the blame for mismanagement of funds.
Again, why hasn't the mayor come out with a second or third alternative? He should be meeting with his aldermen and women rather than playing games.
- corey d., manchester, nh

Having been a member of 2 unions over the years and observing the attitudes and actions of union members, I've come to the conclusion that it is imperative that the breakup of unions is imperative to the survival of America.
You will never see a bigger group of self-serving backstabbers. They will eat their own.
Big Dig Big Dig Big Dig. Hahaha.
Avoid the union label.
Can't wait for you card check guys to come around my shop.
- Michael, Manchester

Everyone should get ALL the facts before they spew...... Teachers already have 78 UNPAID days you want us to take 7 more???? I thought we were a District In Need of Improvement, how are we to improve if we keep interrupting the students learning, with all the disruptions at present, discipline issues it is a wonder there is any learning at all.
- RG, NH

There was a time when Labor Unions served a useful purpose to protect employees but that time is long gone.

We have a myriad of overly cumbersome labor laws that provide fair protections against abuse in all 50 States.

Why shouldn't Labor Unions share in the ups and downs of the economy?

Instead they are a boat anchor on Communities and our Economy with nonsense laws like the Greenday provision that Concord passed last year.

I'm in no way Anti-Union but the pendulum has swung too far in one direction and these unions need to be reigned in. If they are not each of us Taxpayers are the ones that will be unfairly punished for Union abuses of the Economy.
- JP, Warner

Shame on the mayor for not looking into every unions specific situation before announcing his intentions. He's now playing poker with his cards face up on the table.
- Jim Wilson, Manchester

I thinks some of these "public"sector union employees fail to remember: You work for us. I'm willing to bet if you took a secret vote, most would take the 7 days off instead of a trip to the unemployment line. This sense of entitlement that some of these public employees demonstrate needs to be corrected one way or another. If it wasn't for us, John Q. Public, you wouldn't have a job.
- Dale, Manchester

Oh dear lord. We're all in deep trouble. Look at everyone fighting with each other. Nobody willing to work together. Every man for himself. It's the end of America and what it stood for so long ago.
- John, Manchester

Time for the Mayor to go!!! I didn't vote for him last time and I won't vote for him this time. I feel for those who have lost there job but your career choices have put you in a job that would not make it through this difficult time. The economic crisis has been building for some time and if you didn't see it coming and accomodate than I am sorry, why do we now need to take that out on the teachers and firefighters of our city. Believe me the Mayor and ideas like this are the reason I would like to move out of Manchester and to a town that has some leadership. I call for a vote of no confidance in the Mayor.
- Dan, Manchester

"Simone brings up a great point, everyone is so quick to want the city workers to give up a weeks pay. Why not ask all the residents to give up a weeks pay, or even a portion of their weeks pay" JD Manchester

Hey JD in Manchester, many of the taxpayers have had to take pay cuts and other cutbacks already in the private sector. The difference here is people think the city will crumble if city workers have to take 7 days off with no pay. Well, many corporations are doing the same thing and the corporations are not crumbling. The city will not fall if workers take 7 days off without pay. The sky will not fall and the world will not end.
- Mike, Manchester

Why such hatred against the unions? Maybe if the "dreaded" private sector had more unions to actually look out for the private sector employee, not so many of you would be on here complaining about lost wages, benefits, and layoffs.

Unions protect workers. Why should the boss be able to arbitrarily reduce your pay or benefits just to see their bottom line grow. Unions are the only way for the worker to get a fair shake against the almighty boss. Unions work and if you're honest with yourself, you will see that is the truth. Get in touch with a union organizer and get signed up before your boss takes away more of your pay or benefits.
- John, Plaistow

The fire department first at the dais and cannot understand why. Most have lucrative side-jobs. Would it affect that much? Heck, a firefighter can take a two month vacation, as long as his shift is covered. Where it costs is when that coverage cannot make...then another is brought in. With me? Overtime.

I suspect the union heads will come round. A furlough or layoffs. What is there to think about here?

More than the perceived arrogance of the union heads is this mayor, who I voted for. Not again, whether it be for his present office, congress, or senate. His lack of leadership is blinding. No, he'll leave for a higher elected office and leave this community in his wake in shambles. He was tempted to run for governor a year ago, then saw the poll results in a match with Gov Lynch. But, confident he be, evidenced by his recent visits to DC. Wonderful, eh?
- Jack, Manchester

So, if the union bosses refuse to listen to both the majority of the taxpayers & to their own members...go ahead with layoffs, but start with the UNION BOSSES!

Those guys at the top don't care if folks get laid off, because it won't be THEM, and they know it. They don't give a rat's behind about the low folks on the totem pole and we ALL know it.

Just about everyone I know is pinching pennies and cutting back. One of my friends was just told by his employer that they must all take TWO WEEKS unpaid furlough between now and June, or the company may not survive. They're also looking at the possibility that they may need to do it again after June. I don't see why public employees should be any different than the rest of us.
- Donna S, Manchester

Go union! You tell them! Treat the city the same way your brother union did to Pan Am and teach them a lesson... Oh wait! Didn't Pan Am go out of business and all these union people lose their jobs because of it? Sorry, wrong example.
- Jim D, Hillsboro

We hear stories of teachers forgoing scheduled raises to save positions at their schools. Everyday workers are not getting raises or bonuses they were counting on. Perks and benefits are going by the wayside. We are all making sacrifices.

What the mayor is proposing is more than reasonable as a stop gap measure. And nowhere does it say you have to take a week off consecutively. Spread it out to lessen the hit. Beats no pay.

As for the Union bosses, their brethren did a great job in Detroit for our auto industry! Let's hope they don't lead us down the same hole here.

Unions today?
They're so 60's....
- Angelo, Manchester, NH

The next time you hear the unions saying they are here "for the children" of "performing a public service." Remember what is happening now. Unions are out for themselves first. They don't care a lick about your family, your kids, or your situation. With raises frozen and layoffs abounding in the dreaded private sector, the only safe place right now seems to be suckling at the public teat.
- WS, Manchester

let's lay off any union worker who doesn't agree to the furlough.
- Tim, Manchester

I could care less if it's Unions or anyone else refusing to at least negotiate on this...I had to take a pay cut too, mine equals out to just over a weeks pay - did I have a choice, did my taxes go down? nope....am I happy about it? No way, but in these times we all have to make sacrifices, why should a few think they are far more privileged than the rest of us - too bad we really are a selfish nation and in this case...city that we can't think beyond our own nose to help another....instead of digging in your heels, why not dig in and help find a compromise....this isn't the ONLY solution, but it's a start on working through what is a tough situation for all.
- Kim, Manchester

I think it's ridiculous that as smart as Guinta is supposed to be, this was the only idea he could come up with to balance the budget. Doesn't seem to me that he worked real hard at it. I guess the furlough just happened to fit his political agenda better. Sad, very sad.
- Frank, Manchester

In response to Deb from Manchester: So it's "my union, right or wrong"? I belong to one of the construction unions in Boston, which I will not name here for fear of retribution from some of the more fervent rank and file. I support unions and am very thankful for the working conditions and benefits unions have achieved for all but we need to see us, the unions, from the point of view of others who are employees at will and business owners. In regards to city services residents are confounded by trash barrels left in the street and as to what time and day the trash will actually be picked up, snow plows with blades down on barely wet pavement coming by every ten minutes and not a truck to be seen for hours when there are inches of snow on the street and why good young teachers are let go in the favor of poor teachers with tenure. These are just a few example of union inefficiency on display in Manchester regularly. It is rather crass to ask people to spend any more money when it would appear to be throwing good money after bad. In my own personal union experience it floors me that laziest and stupidest guy in my gang is getting the same rate as I am, while I'm doing his work as well as my own. If the union didn't act as a shield for those whose goal in life is to get paid to do as little as possible, we wouldn't hear union bashing.
- Union Member, Manchester

In my household, we have 2 city workers (teachers). Why should MY household be punished over $2000 so the taxpayers (my household included) can save $200. Thats BS!

Mr Mayor that IS a tremendous TAX increase for MY household! -How about lowering MY property tax bill in accordance with the dollars you are "trying" to rape from me?
- JIM, Manchester

Hey Matt and and Rick, how about you get your facts before commenting. The day that Guinta released his budget was when he said that he of course would be included in taking the week furlough and would happily go without pay for that week in order to save city jobs.

You guys really need to try getting your facts straight before commenting.
- Ryan Feltner, Manchester

I guess I need to side with Mayor Guinta. While you are allowed to bicker about wages and job losses, and refusal to negotiate on the like, be mindful that there are folks that do not have your luxury. I am not trying to say you have it easier or harder than I. But, I wish I could have told my company officials I refused my paycut, or my unpaid time off. I wish I could have denied them the right to eliminate the match to my 401K. Also, to Richard L. Before you say, "Lay me off, I will find another job." With unemployment rising above 8%, my question to you is where?
- Adam, Manchester

Jack, your calculations forget benefits. If someone goes on a 1 week unpaid furlough they still get benefits. You lay them off, you save that money as well as salary.
- Dan, Manchester

The Mayor has a lot of stones saying that the Unions aren't willing to come up with alternatives when he is the one who drew the line in the public sand. He could've met with the Unions before he went public and tied their hands. For those Unions that have contractual provisions that cover hours worked and compensation, good luck Mr. Mayor. I hope that the Mayor would be the first one in line to take his week off without pay. For those of you that are willing to take a furlough, the moment that you start giving in to the employer they will keep on taking until they decide to send you packing anyway. For those of you thinking that you will ever get any of those benefits you give up back, keep dreaming! Those Unions all sat at the table and made their contracts in good faith, the City should do the same and not ask the Unions to violate those agreements.
- Rick, Manchester

Can't afford to lose a week's pay? Then try 52 weeks.

Take the furlough, and work a week at Labor Ready if need be.
- BW, Concord

I certainly hope none of the union-people here who don't want to break the contract and give back even a penny or an hour, were not the same ones last week screaming about getting the AIG bonuses back. They had a contract too. I remember only a very few that wanted them to keep it....
One thing most are forgetting is that these contracts were done prior to the economic turndown. Yes negotiated in good faith by "both sides" but things are different now for all. I do not see any posts about people getting more benefits in the private sector. There all losing more.
A lot out there are asking the town for lower taxes period. Could be the mayor could just cut everyone's property taxes in Manchester by 15% and then layoff 300 workers to achieve that. I would say stop calling it a furlough. Let these people work the days and make it a temporary pay cut, call it what it is. Just like the private sector people are getting.
- Jim, Loudon

Then lay them all off. Perhaps a 52 week vacation may make them a bit more grateful.
- BW, Concord

Too bad none of you union bashers really know a thing about what you are talking about. My family has had a union worker in it for decades.
Unions are there for the "common man". To represent them against big bad politicians/business execs, who dictate how they are going to take food and benefits away from the common workers.
To keep tyrannical bosses from harrassing employees.
The fact of the matter is if you don't force government/and big business, to do things legally they probably will walk all over you.
Just look at the banks and their big bonuses!
Look at all the politicians who stepped down from being named to presidential cabinet positions. Why? Because they didn't pay their taxes like you and I do!
Do you really believe they didn't know about the money they owed?
So why would I balk at paying a lousy
$13.00 dollars a year on my tax bill to keep the same level of services in this city?

Before you react to what is being written in the "Union" Leader, take a moment and research some of the facts.

By the way, is this a "Union" paper? If not, then what a shame you kept the name.
- Deb, Manchester

Why doesn't the look at force retirements first. The police department has top level brass who are making huge salaries and should have retired years ago. They have at least ten employees making six figure salaries and are well past their retirement eligibilty. Why not force them to retire before lay-offs and furloughs. Who is worse than someone like that who sticks around because they have it easy, while others face lay-offs or are forced to give a weeks pay. It won't be the high-levels who will b e laid off.

The fire department and the highway department are no different. These higher level employees stick around, making $100,000.00 a year because they have it made. They should be forced to retire if they are past their retirement eligibility.
- Roger Gingras, Manchester

Just lay off the useless, overpaid layabouts.. why try to work with morons.
- tom, manchester,nh

It is ashame City workers have to give up a week of pay so the residents can save a couple hundred dollars on their taxes over the next year. In exchange the city worker will have to struggle to pay his monthly bills.

I am a city employee and have been for a few years. When the economy was booming no one offered to give the city employees large raises to make their pay equal to those in the civilian world. We continue to take from city workers such as the Police, Firefighters, Highway, and the Teachers, just to mention a few, but never give back to them when the residents of Manchester are making $90,000 a year. Many of these employees do the jobs that those who complain about us don't want to do.

The UL prints the salaries of many employees but do not explain these people work 60 or more hours a week to make enough money to pay our bills. We then miss many important holidays, weekends, and other events many of you take for granted. The residents of Manchester should be asking for a small tax increase to give back to the city employees to pay those who are teaching the future of our country what they are worth, to pay those who protect us what they deserve, to pay those who come day or night to treat us when we are injured or to put the fire out when our home is buring, and to pay those who do their best to make Manchester a clean city to live in. These people have a difficult job that those making cooperate salaries don't want to do for $40,000.00 a year.

The next time you see one of these people on the side of the road in the rain, snow, or in the middle of the summer as you drive by with your family toyour vacation home, or a family outing, stop and say thank you. And if you still think City employees have an easy job and are over paid, apply for some of these jobs and join the wonderful life of being a city employee.
- DS, Manchester, NH

I am a city worker who is not a union member and I will refuse to take the furlough! The mayor wants to lay me off? Have a ball! To think that my fellow citizens would rather punish a small group of people to save themselves $200.00 on their tax bill says it all. I am forced to make a sacrifice for who? Ungrateful residents. Lay me off - I'll find work somewhere else - somewhere better.
- Richard L., Manchester

Taking a week off without pay is not the answer. I can't afford to take a week off w/o pay so I don't know how a city worker can. We all have rent/mortgages and other bills to pay. Taking a week's pay is not the answer.

Has the bully, mayor Guinta, offered to go a week w/o pay too? I doubt it.

These workers sat at the table expecting the city to sit there in good faith. If this is what Bully Guinta thinks is good faith, then the city has many things to be concerned about.

Fortunately, the budget is out of Bully Guinta's hands at this point. Now it is the Aldermen's turn to take a crack at it.
- Matt, Lee

Is anyone really surprised that these selfish unions believe laws and business practices do not apply to them?
- Nick, Manchester

i said it before and i'll say it again...i hope all the people here calling for the unions to take the furlough didn't vote for the messiah obama!! because if you did, YOU voted for more unions and socialism.

as far as lay offs, ask the 90 who are lowest in senority how they feel about that?
- fpc, manchester

Simone brings up a great point, everyone is so quick to want the city workers to give up a weeks pay. Why not ask all the residents to give up a weeks pay, or even a portion of their weeks pay. I know your going to say you pay taxes, but so do the majority of city workers. I am a city worker and I know where I work we give up things on a daily basis. I can’t tell you how many times we change our schedule, work a day off in exchange just to save the city money and to get the job done. This doesn’t even bring up all the extra hours that are put in on a weekly basis that the employees don’t even put in for. We make more sacrifices then you can imagine that save the city money. I live in the city and pay my taxes and I too want the best service possible, but what everyone fails to see here is this isn’t reasonable to ask our city employees. I know the non-city workers have pointed out that they have taken a hit where they work, what about the city workers spouses that have taken a hit where they work or even lost their jobs. So if my calculations are right, the city workers give up a weeks pay, the spouse has lost something at their job and then we have to look at the inevitable of paying higher taxes. Nobody wants to see anyone lose their job, but in times of crisis we can’t put the burden on 3300 city workers. The city worker that lives in the city will be taking more then a reasonable sacrifice.
- JD, Manchester

How about cutting some of the FREE social services, money and handouts that this city gives out on a regualar basis to all of those who find some excuse to never work a day in their life or are here illegally, but yet we still have to provide for them.
- Pete, Manchester

Reading through the many comments is quite interesting. How can someone stand back and say yes they need to give up a weeks pay for the city. No one wants to give up a weeks pay. The mayor and aldermen should have been going a better job of balancing the budget and cutting wasteful spending rather than rely on employees to all take 7-days unpaid vacation. It is time for the city to do a manpower analysis and cut jobs that are no longer needed. As mentioned earlier why do four guys go out to fill a pot hole? I'm sure there are many jobs within the city that can be cut permenantly. This will save the city money in immediately and in the long run (i.e. retirement pension).
- Mike, Litchfield

I love how the city employees come on this board and try to scare the public with their rhetoric about if they have to take off 7 days then the city will have to pay someone overtime to fill their spot. Here is a novel concept: If you take off 1 day per month for 7 months there is no need to fill the shift or person. The scare tactics of the unions and the city employees is getting old. Time for the aldermen to get serious. Of course we will see the usual gaggle of aldermen who can't vote against the unions because they are so indebted to the unions they know if they vote against the unions, they will not get re-relected. How about this Aldermen: There are more taxpayers than union members.
- Mike, Manchester

Mike Roche should be the first one laid off. These union heads are absolutely out of touch with reality and if they can't give up a little bit then let the layoffs begin. Then we'll see just how much the Union does to help them out. So, the message is clear. The challenge has been laid down. The Unions v. the taxpayers. The Unions will lose this one big time. Let the layoffs begin...first with police, then fire, then highway and then all the others who think they are above the taxpayers.
- Mike, Manchester

Why can't the unions supplement the one week furlough to the people they represent (and collect from)?
- Joe, Chester

Times are tough all over, the company I work for has made cuts, 5% pay cut for everyone, no more paid sick leave, cutting back paid holiday's. As much as I dislike this, I have a job. The company is trying to cut back to ride this out without lay offs. If given the choice between cut back and layoffs I would have taken cut backs. The unions had a purpose 30 to 40 years ago, it's some of the reasons Detroit is in the problem there in. If the Unions do not want to help, lay off 90 people, do not spend the money to go to court. Going to court is a no win situation for everyone but the lawyers and judge. P.S. My company promises everything taken away will be given back in time.
- Craig McIntosh, Allenstown

Let 'em sue. Once these unions are proven WRONG... the City should SUE THEM to recoup the City's legal fees.

Let the unions raise their dues to then cover their own defense costs for pursuing a baseless lawsuit.Let 'em sue. Once these unions are proven WRONG... the City should SUE THEM to recoup the City's legal fees.

Let the unions raise dues to their member to cover their own defense costs for pursuing a baseless lawsuit in the first place.

For far too long unions have extorted American companies into moving jobs overseas and in some cases, into bankruptcy.

Now w/ the "union dues market" having died in the private sector, Unions have focused their attack on a much susceptible victim: Taxpayers.


For far too long unions have extorted American companies into moving jobs overseas and in some cases, into bankruptcy.

Now w/ the "uinion dues market" having died in the private sector, Unions have focussed their attack on a much much suscepable victim: Taxpayers.
- Chris, Bow

If the Union Heads refuse to discuss the proposal,.....just go ahead and lay off as many as need be to keep the tax rate as close to it is now. End of story. We all need to tighten our belts.
- Ray, Manchester

Mr. Tarr, as a resident of Ward 5 and a city employee who works well over 40 hours per week with no overtime, you certainly don't have my vote for Alderman. Remember, your ward is not on the north end of Manchester and many of the residents in this lower socioeconomic ward are actually city employees. Way to court your constituents! Let's see, 3300 employees pay an average of 1,000 dollars each, or all property tax payers in the city pay 13.50. As a tax payer, I'll take the latter as it is more equitable. For all of the fine Manchester citizens who are or are not taxpayers and call me often to let me know that they pay my salary, guess what, I pay my own salary....
- JF, Manchester

So the unions would prefer that the city fires people? Taxpayers in cities & towns throughout NH are stretched to the limit. Unions don't serve a purpose anymore, other than strangling competitive advantage. The new "union label" is sign that says "FACTORY CLOSED".
- James, Wilton

Pitting tax payers against City Workers

Nice leadership skills, Mayor! I thought a good leader worked towards bringing people together.

Maybe next term? I mean you, yourself said at the end of the first term you "didn't have time to get to the schools in your first term". You got to them now though.
- Kim, Manchester

Wow. Don't waste the money on a legal battle. JUST LAY THEM OFF. I work int he private sector. I didn't get a raise this year and I'll be lucky to have a job in 6 weeks. Why are the unions special? I pay taxes in Manch. I vote to lay of as many as necessary to avoid another tax increase.
- Jim, Manchester

Simone, you are an instigator, nothing more. Do I see your name here as providing your week of pay to solve this? Of course not! What you failed to notice is that many of the posters here have ALREADY lost a week of pay in their private sector employment. These people simply feel that when times are tough, the well-taken care of union worker should be willing to bite the bullet and give up something too. These people work FOR US. We are their BOSS. In the private sector when your boss tells you you are cut back to 4 days a week, then that's what happens, period.
- Molly W, Manchester, NH

For those that say the residents should step up (Simone) and contribute, I say that's Bull. I personally pay more than double what my Neighbor pays for property tax and his house is 20 feet away from mine. I think I'm over $4500 a year right now, I pay over $1000 a year for city car registration on 2 cars, Dog registration, Home Alarm Registration permit. My water bill just increased, my Sewer bill just doubled this past month. What hasn't increased....oh yeah, my actual paycheck.

Crime on my street has increased 10 fold, Traffic is out of controll, Property Taxes are no where near the current values, What has Manchester done for me other than make me feel unsafe, frustrated and broke? Take the Furlow and be happy you even have a job.
- Adam, Manchester

Start the lay offs then. I am sick and tired of my taxes going UP.
- Roger, Manchester

Whenever you blame a union for what they have in their contract, remember managemnet (in this case the city) had to agree with it at some point or the union would not have it in their contract. Negotiations are agreed to by BOTH sides - so blame the city as well as the big, bad) unions when discussing all the so-called perks that unions have negotiated for their members over the years, including seniority, lay-offs, furlough security, etc. Both sides need to sit down and talk not bark at each other . Good Luck, Manchester.
- Bee, Bristol

I find it truely amazing that the city has 17 unions! 17 organizations to interfere with productivity.
- Mark L, Manchester

It makes me wonder if the sharp decline in union membership over the past several decades has less to do with workers not wanting to join, but more to do workers not being able to afford to lose their jobs when the union takes a hard-line position that results in layoffs.

It's one thing when the employer is out to screw with the union. It is something else when the employer is in obvious financial distress and the union would rather suffer layoffs instead of re-opening its contract.

...and the unions don't understand why membership is on the decline.
- David R, Manchester

Someone explain WHY a city worker who is a resident should take a week off without pay totaling anywhere from $800 - $1500 dollars just to get the Mayor's promised $13.50 tax decrease, While each of a city employees/residents neighbors dont contribute anything to solving the situation.

The mayor is irresponsible for trying to balance the budget on the backs of city employees and pitting the community against city employees.

A responsible Mayor would propose a combination of tax increase, cuts to service, and layoffs/smaller furloughs but we dont have a responsible mayor.
- Joseph, Manchester

I have a great idea. Why don't we all come together as a community and help the city out. Why don't all of the people living in Manchester all donate a weeks pay to the city and we can save even more jobs. It is so easy for everyone to get all over the unions for not giving up a weeks pay. I would love to see all of theses union bashers step up to the plate. Have you ever heard of "leading by example"? Come on Richard Fortin, Chris, Ryan Feltner, Craig...
It is so easy to tell someone else to give up a weeks pay. By the way, I am not a city employee. Please post your name after you have sent your weeks pay check to help this city out. Come on people don't be cowards "show me the money".
- simone, manchester

What some of you fail to see is this. If they force me to take a 7 day furlough they will have to hire someone at the overtime rate to cover me - the furlough will then be costing the tax-payer more money to pay that over time shift. You guys are so big on bashing the unions but fail to see their logic. There is something called essential personel - and when you have to wait for the firemen to get there when your building is burning down because the fire house closest to you has most of its guys on furlough your gonna complain then too are you not? Or if the crime rate goes up cause there are not enough officers to cover the city you will complain then too right? Be very careful what you ask for cause you just might get it.
- Tracie, Manchester

There appear to be a consensus here that unions have essentially outlived their usefulness. While, in early 20th century industry which were predominantly owned by wealthy families, workers were subjugated and needed the collective power of unions to obtain what should have been offered by the factory owners. Undeniably, unions were instrumental in changing the workplace and giving employees a greater stake in the company they worked for. Now, they are generally counter-productive, add an extra layer of cost to the financial framework (which we consumers pay for), and as indicated by many here they no longer truly represent their membership or do so t a fault, which would exclude any notion of offering non-traditional solutions (i.e. furloughs) to a very real fiscal problem. They hide behind their contracts, but contracts are binding by law and the will of both parties to uphold them. If conditions change, and the willingness of both parties to concede certain parts to obtain a larger benefit, contracts can always be renegotiated. Detroit auto workers did it - why not here. The inflexibility of union bosses here will only work against them as their stalwart defense of their position will show how little they care about the broader notion of keeping more people employed and sensitivity to the fiscal crisis many municipalities and companies will face over the next year or so. If you want them to care, you have to join the union and pay for them to care about you. This is simply a fiscal hostage situation pitting union against the City of Manchester. Any guess as to who will win? I can tell you who will lose if they don't negotiate - the entire city....
- Dave K., Fitzwilliam

Very interesting! An unpaid seven day furlough for all or 90+ city workers laid off for upwards of 6 months. Would you want to gamble that you might be one of the 90+ laid off? I applaud the mayor for trying to keep all services running and to protect the employer (the taxpayers). With all the flack he is taking on this from the unions, he should just give what we can afford to the unions and let them decide which members get to stay or be laid off. If the lowest members are the ones let go, then it would leave only the chiefs who don't know how to do the work anyways and would therefore determin which services would have to be eliminated. Great job unions!
- Vince, Hooksett

Give the hackerama a taste of the dreaded private sector!
- Tom, Manchester

Time off for Police and Fire, Makes sense not. Many are complaining how the taxes of many are effected. Well has anyone brought up the fact that many of the police and fire are also tax payers in the city. So we give them unpaid time off and still tax them, WOW that does not seem right. What I see is wrong is when the road poatching crew has four people on the truck. How many people does it take to patch a pothole? Teacher are underpaid and we want more from them in the sense of unpaid days off. what is wrong with us people when we are trying to hurt those that serve us and give us the quality of life we all want. It seems to me we are soon becoming a socialist city. What if we pool all of our monies and divide it equally amonst all. Lets give everyone the same way of life. Lets penalize those of us who have been successful and strive to live a higher life standard. Mayor you need to be the first to give up your salary and do your job for free. Let the working class, keep the paychecks they earn and let us the people of the city of Manchester, reach a little bit deeper and pay foe the services we need to make this once again a great city.
- Robert, Manchester

again you think the unions are at fault for the budget crisis. lets take a look at wastefull spending that the tax payers dont see but the union member do.
oh ya richard. f i watched the hoffa movie to good movie

al.c derry
- al Costigan, derry nh

If it were a choice between losing my job and benefits or having to take seven days off in the course of a year, I would have to go with the days off - even if they were consecutive. If the budget can not sustain the level of salaries that it is presently paying then it can't and it will mean job loss. This is a choice of one hardship over another and seven days lost wage is far less of a hardship than a total loss of wage and health benefits - especially with the unemployment level and competition what jobs do presently exist. It's a sad state of affairs but it is reality and you have to make the best choices that you can within your reality.
- Sandra W, Bradford

It all starts at the top and the Mayor has not even tried to get control of the unions so that when something like this happens there would be no issue. Guinta gas ignored the union from the time he got elected. If he was a smart politician he would of got them on his side like any other mayor would have . That makes this situation his fault. The other problem is that the tax base is too dependant on home owners. Business development has been ignored for years and it too hard to deal with the City if you are a business owner [zoning, planning, building deptments]. If Bobb Tarr wants to get elected he needs some new ideas.
- Armand, Manchester

Wow, one week off without pay to save 90 jobs. One of those jobs could be your own. While I agree that unions in certain situations are good, this is a different time and age folks, I think I'm seeing more harm than help (Auto Industry). Would you rather have 1 week less pay or what could turn out to be years? Skimp on a few things over the year so you don't feel it in the check book.
Don't go to D&D all year, make your coffee at home, theres your weeks worth of pay right there. $20 a week on Coffee / Doughnut, $80 a month equals about $960 a year...theres your week of pay. I've resorted to eating Rammen noodle for lunch to save money $24 from BJ's for a case gets me lunch for a month.
- Adam, Manchester

What a joke! They should lay off as many of these idiot as they need to balance the budget. This is so typical of the unions and their "me first" attitudes. Exactly what we need in this country is more unions, NOT!
- Jesse, Orford

I can see Union Head Roche doesn't care about the tax paying citizens of Manchester. Heck he doesn't live in Manchester. What's he got to loose?
The idea of a furlough is great!
- Doris Pond, Manchester

I applaud the Mayor for his creative thinking but I am still confused by his math. 3300 employees taking a week off save 3.6 million. 3.6 million divided by 3300 equals 1091.00 average in salaries per employee. 90 jobs saved, 1090.00 times 52 weeks equals 56,680 per saved employee 90. So 90 times 56,680 equals 5,101,200.00. So where does the other 1,500,200 come from to keep the 90 people employed? Now I see why Manchester is so screwed up, the people charged creating the budget can't even do simple math.
- Jack S, Manchester

The outright arrogant union bosses challenging public elected officials trying to balance our budget is obscene. I'm glad they don't represent me. If this is the type of representation the city workers want, start sending out the layoff notices. The idea of not meeting with the highest ranking elected official in the city to discuss and try to work out a compromise and meet with the left leaning, budget busting, Alderman, is both demeaning to the tax payer and disrespectful of the voter. Mr. Mayor, keep trying to do the thing for the taxpayers of our city. I applaud you.
- Ed, Manchester

Anyone ever notice its always whiny fireman first to the podium to complain about everything? They have to much time. Oh yea, a furlough would be tough for them, less time to sit around (on work time) and figure out how the public is "screwing them over". I say lay some of them off.
- Tom, Lebanon

send out the pink slips then!
- Jennifer, Manchester NH

Those who are contractors for the city of Manchester must be celebrating right now. They're getting paid more than the employees. But, hey, at least the taxpayers don't mind paying more.
- judy, Concord

The unions should understand what is at stake here, Take some time off or you might be laid off. Which is better? Knowing you might have some days off without pay to knowing that you might be in the unemployment line for months with very little unemployment benefits to support your family and yourself? This reader is sure that employess don't have to take all seven days off in a row. Is it possible that it could be one day here, one day there until all seven days are met? City services will still go forward without delays or be off set. So the bottom line comes down to this; 300+ union employees taking seven days off without pay vs 90,000+ taxpayers taking a tax increase that is already too much to add to their budget in such economic times. Aldermen, you decide who you represent? Then lets see how voting goes in November 09'

Robert M Tarr
Candidate for Alderman - Ward 5 09'
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

Too bad unions continue to make stinks over even the slightest cuts to their benefits. If you're self-employed, you deal with the realization that a vacation for you is an unpaid furlough.

Too bad unions only look out for themselves without understanding how good they really have it (i.e. health/dental/401Ks/disability/etc) compared with the many non-union people they live and work with.
- Bill, Milford

So this is what the mayor gets for trying to do something rather than laying off city workers- a knife in the back from those who's jobs he is trying to save? Wow.....I really don't kno what to say to people like this. I just hope that city employees who actually care about saving their jobs as well as those of their fellow coworkers begin to speak out and make their voices known outside of the talking head union heads.

I do work in the private sector, but if I were able to save a friends job, let alone my own, but taking a week without pay, I absolutely would do it in a second. I have a lot of respect for city employees, but if I don't start to hear a large outcry from them against what their union heads are doing, I truly won't feel bad when they get their jobs cut at the end of this budget cycle because they didn't take a stand for what is right when they had the chance to do so.
- Casey Johnes, Manchvegas

LOL....its so nice to see that these Unions really don't care at all about the taxpayer in this city. Furthermore, I really don't think they care about their union members because on lunch today, I actually talked to some highway workers who were in full support of furloughs in order to protect theirs and their co-worker's jobs from the chopping block and they are actually pretty upset at the direction their union heads are taking on this matter.

Its beginning to look more and more like the unions heads in this city not only don't care about the taxpayer, but they actually don't even care about their union members. All they care about is politics and their loyalty to the Democrat Party.
- Ryan Feltner, Manchester

It sad that city employees feel that they and their unions are superior to the common working folk who's taxes pay their salary. This is a common practice in business to save money. It is time city workers got nothing better than the rest of us. God forbid there are only 2 guys picking up trash instead of 3 for a couple weeks.
- Chris, Manchester

The Unions are going to sue over forced furloughs what a bunch of cry babies we all have to make sacrifices but they seem to think they are exempt. My father was a member of a Labor Union a registered Democrat all his life and he spent more time on the picket lines and the Union halls waiting for available work than earning a living. In all the years he paid Union membership he got very little support. If you want examples of Union Corruption one need only look at the Teamsters, the AFL/CIO, the UAW and here in NH the Firefighters Union. I am proud to say that I have never belonged to a union. Just a look at the most poweful unions in this country and they reek with corruption even today, while the average member is collecting unemployment, the big wigs are boozing and schmoozing at play conventions at expensive hotels in Florida and Las Vegas. If we are going to survive this economic crisis we are in we will all have to make sacrifices and that includes the Unions.
- Richard L. Fortin, Manchester

----------

"City Hall: Guinta to unions: Only so much money to go around"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 4/5/2009

Mayor Frank Guinta is giving the unions a choice: Accept the furlough, or come up with a better idea.

Failing either of those, he said, there's just one other option: Submit a "list of people they would like laid off."

"I can't impress upon this enough," Guinta said. "No mayor wants to lay people off. But there is a financial reality that mayors have to deal with, and that is there's only so much money to go around."

Furloughs, as several aldermen have noted, are the key to Guinta's budget. Without them, the budget isn't balanced. That, of course, would prove problematic if the unions are right and the proposal is illegal.

In that case, the aldermen would have to make a decision: Make more cuts, lay people off, or raise taxes.

Here's the math: A seven-day furlough, times 3,300 employees, equals $3.6 million in savings to the city. It also equals 90 employees, which, according to Guinta, is how many people would find themselves out of work if the plan isn't approved.

Of course, the aldermen wouldn't have to resort to layoffs. They could just raise taxes. In that case, Guinta said, the furlough plan equals a (?)2 1�„4(?) percent tax hike.

Already, at least one alderman appears to be ready to vote "no" on furloughs. Alderman Mark Roy said, "I think it would be a bad precedent to set. I think we should honor our commitments and find other efficiencies."

Other aldermen have doubts, too. But the math, according to one Republican board member, may favor Guinta. Alderman Mike Garrity said all the mayor needs to sustain a veto is the support of five board members.

Garrity is one. We'll have to wait and see if he's got company.

- - - - -

OUT WITH THE OLD?: Talk of a buyout hasn't gone away.

Guinta didn't mention it in his speech, but he told reporters he still hopes to offer one this summer. If it's successful, he said, "That would virtually guarantee there would be no layoffs."

Guinta suggested the city could offer a $12,000 sweetener to make the early-retirement package sufficiently attractive. Aldermen had previously talked about a $10,000 incentive, but Guinta said that "wasn't generating a lot of interest from employees."

Other money-saving ideas that didn't come up Tuesday are still on the table, as well, Guinta said. One of those ideas is a four-day work week at City Hall. Expect to hear more about that later.

Also on Guinta's list: a "comprehensive" severance proposal and reforms to workers' compensation.

- - - - -

BUELLER?: Doesn't anyone want to run for mayor?

We know it doesn't pay as much as, say, mayor of Nashua. (For that matter, according to the latest "What People Earn" feature in Parade, you're better off becoming a bounty hunter or, our personal recommendation, rodeo steer wrestler.)

Still, you figure someone must want the job. And yet, as Alderman At-Large Dan O'Neil said the other day, "There doesn't seem to be people knocking down the doors."

O'Neil himself had thought about running, as he had in previous election cycles, but now says he's "very much leaning" against it.

"It's just my work situation is pretty good right now," said O'Neil, a Democrat who runs his own business, "and it just may not be the right time for me personally."

Tom Donovan, the last Democrat to run for mayor, backed out a few weeks ago. At this point, the only Democrats who have publicly declared an interest are Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez and Roy, though Roy has said he won't run if either Lopez or O'Neil does.

Meanwhile, there's growing speculation that Guinta won't seek reelection. The theory is he'd be a stronger candidate for Congress if he sits this one out.

It's not illogical. Ray Wieczorek tried to run for Congress while he was mayor in 1996 but was hampered by his day job. His successor, Bob Baines, was once said to be interested in a congressional seat, but to some, it seemed any ambition he might have had was derailed when he lost his reelection bid to Guinta.

Just last week, a reporter asked Guinta if he had plans for his future. His response was brief: "No."

At least one Republican, Garrity, has been talking with friends and family about taking Guinta's spot if it should happen to open up. But Garrity, a close friend of Guinta's, said, "As far as I'm concerned, he's still running. He hasn't told me differently."

- - - - -

BAM!: Roy was certainly quick to jab Guinta after the mayor's budget presentation last Tuesday.

Roy's rebuff: "The budget was presented by a mayor who is looking for a better job in government."

- - - - -

TOUCHY: It was pretty obvious Guinta touched a nerve when he said the public-access TV stations are "not essential to the function of good government."

The proof was in the way MCTV Executive Director Grace Sullivan made her exit after the mayor's speech.

"Excuse me," she said, marching down the stairs, "I'm taking my non-essential self home."

- - - - -

POCKET MONEY: Not that anyone is complaining about it, but the tax cut in Guinta's budget proposal is, to speak technically for a moment, teeny weeny. To be precise, it's .35 percent.

As we've said before, that means the owner of a $225,000 home would save $13.50 on his tax bill this fall.

Take that to Papa John's and you'll have just enough for a large cheese pizza and a 20-ounce Coke.

- - - - -

BETTER THAN NOTHING: The proposed tax cut came as a surprise to a lot of people, including, apparently, Guinta himself.

The mayor said that as the budget was starting to take shape, "I was going to figure out a way to not raise taxes. I did not expect I was going to be able to do better than that."

Surely, Guinta could have proposed a budget that kept the tax rate exactly as is. That way, there's still no impact on taxpayers, but there'd be more money for jobs and services.

But Guinta said most department heads had already told him they could live with his proposal. And in any case, he said, "That's not who I am. I'm about making sure every dollar that's spent is spent wisely."

- - - - -

DON'T BE LATE: Scofflaws may soon have a really good incentive to pay their parking tickets.

On the aldermen's agenda this week is a proposal to increase the fines on people who don't pay up. Parking manager Brandy Stanley's plan, which is supposed to keep money from being swallowed up by the city's new collection agency, would add a second late fee after 60 days, at which point a $10 parking ticket would become a $24 ticket, and a $50 ticket would become a $90 ticket.

There is, however, some relief. The first late fee, which now kicks in at seven days, would not take effect until 30 days after a ticket is issued. So that's nice.

- - - - -

TAXI!: As promised, the city's taxi drivers are requesting a permanent rate increase.

Fifty-eight drivers have signed a petition saying they want to keep the rate at $2.40 per mile, where it's been since a temporary increase took effect last summer.

An aldermanic committee has recommended dropping the rate back to its old level of $1.50 per mile.

Aldermen will be asked to make a decision Tuesday.
-
Read Scott Brooks' coverage of Manchester City Hall during the week in the New Hampshire Union Leader. E-mail him at sbrooks@unionleader.com.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Mike from Manchester. I think you need to point out where in the Mayor's proposal does it say that he is closing down a fire stations or police stations for a week? All he says is everyone will only get paid for 51 weeks. I am pretty sure closing down wholedepartments of first responders at a time will not be on the table. Call me crazy but I have a hunch here.
- Jeff Chester, Manchester

2.25 % tax increase will mean around $100 for the average Manchester resident. What's the problem? I really can't believe so many people are in favor of docking the pay of city workers by an average of $1000 over a measly $100 per year tax increase. And many of you have the audacity to call the city workers selfish?!

Frank signed off on all the union contracts, now he's trying to cancel the raises instead of raising taxes by less than $10 a month? Typical republican anti-logic. Gee, I wonder why John McCain only carried one county in all of New England.
- Fred, Amherst

Well. The Mayor is not realistic. He wants to run for the Governor so it is a political decision. I agree with John, we need to get rid of the parking czar along with all the meters from fancy gizmo. Also paying on Saturday and pay for the event parking !!! . What happen Monday to Friday ???? What happen to Free parking ?? Now the Tickets from 10 dollar to 24 Dollar. It is ridiculous. They try to raise the ticket in recession and make people pay more money to the city
- John, Nashua

John from Manchester : "furlough idea is assanine, in some cases illegal and immoral" This comment is not realistic. While some of the Union contracts may contain articles that would prevent furloughs ( which would mean layoffs instead ) hundreds, if not thousands of companies, towns, cities and even States around the USoA are doing exactly that very thing NOW. It keeps people employed, it keeps business and government running and it keeps life on a better keel than layoffs, shutdowns and, very worst of all, tax dollar bailouts do. A little forced time / pay off for non-critical departments like City Hall, garbage collection, Parks & Rec, even schools is not bad when compared to the other choices -- still higher and higher taxes and / or straight layoffs where the jobs won't get done anymore anyways. Trying thinking the process through before making such statements.
- Ray Pendergast, Newport News VA

If furloughs aren't the answer then just give people an extra day off. That will save money. How hard is it to just have someone work five days instead of six? Come on, they are only looking for seven days for each employee, thats like an extra day off for seven weeks. The aldermen and our city government can save money in many ways, they just refuse to do so. Guess that says alot about how they feel towards the taxpayers of the city. Hmm favoritism to 3,300 employees over 60,000+ taxpayers in this city. Time for a new board of aldermen who can work with our Mayor and turn the tide on such things. Time for the taxpayers to come first.

Robert M Tarr
Candidate for Alderman -Ward 5 09'
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

It's time to start RIF-ing people. The city has too many employees, it's sort of like a cruise ship floating in the Merrimack River. There are far too many employees in every department and since most of the employees aren't willing to come to terms of the lousy economy out there then we should handle things in the manner prescribed through layoffs. Thats the trouble with the good times, we forget that we need to deal with the bad times as well. City taxpayers can't keep taking increase after increase. As far as services, I'm willing to take weekly pilgramages to Dunbarton road to drop off my garbage, I'm willing to drive my recycle to Cochrane wherever they set up shop.
We won't have to buy so many garbage trucks and won't have to staff them 3 men at a time. Seems like Chochrane is doing a marvelous job with 1 person why can't we get by with 1. Oh I forgot it's public governement hard at work.

I don't use the library but yet I have to subsidise those that want to use the internet and check out books. Sorry the price of computers is less that $500, buy your own internet connection. Want to read a book, go to Barnes and Nobles on South Willow Street. We could cut the time the library is open to 1 or 2 days a week and we wouldn't be hurting anyone as the schools all have their own library.

We could cut the size of the finance deparment in half and cut the admin jobs in each city department by not chasing after "chargebacks".

Why do we need two city silicitors? Neither one can give you a question when one is asked we are better off getting rid of 1 at least.

Lets get rid of the parking czar along with all the meters from the fancy gizmo shop since for 4 months of the year they are buried under snow and ice and if they are not you have to crawl over a snowbank to reach it.

I've got nothing to pick on at the MPD but why do we have so many police sergants, lieutentants, and captains? Every couple of months they are promoting a new batch. Heck they're giving out gold badges like barbers hand out lollipops. The only time I used to see a cop get a gold badge was when they retired and now it seems like the only time I see a cop with a gold badge is at a traffic detail.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

I for one do not want to have our police and fire depts, shut down for ANY period of time!
- Joe, Manchester

John,

I am sure the city will accept any extra taxes that you wish to pay. Unfortunately, many people are losing their jobs and, even worse, losing their homes. They do not have the luxury that you do of being able to pay higher taxes.

Again, if you are so concerned, what's stopping you from paying extra to the city? If you talk the talk, then walk the walk.
- Ryan, Hooksett

So Ward 1 Alderman Mark Roy is interested in running for mayor, but denounces Mayor Guinta's proposed budget by stating:

"The budget was presented by a mayor who is looking for a better job in government"

Do I have this correct Alderman?
- Richard, Manchester

Give me the 2 1/4 % increase! I will take a modest, managable increase over a cut in services and layoffs any day! The furlough idea is assanine, in some cases illegal and immoral. It's time to manage the city openlly and honestly. Stop proposing unrealistic budgets as resume padding for your next poltitical stint Mayor G. Maybe that works in New Jersey, but it doesn't work here.
- John, Manchester

So Mayor.....what are you going to do, close down the fire & police departments for a week? There are certin services you can close down here and there, but emergence services are not them. Wake up man!!!
- Mike, Manchester, NH

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"Dumb defiance: City unions draw line"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, April 6, 2009

In Manchester, the "public" in "public employee" sure doesn't stand for "public spirited."

In an effort to avoid more layoffs than might otherwise be necessary in this extremely tight year, Mayor Frank Guinta has asked city employees to take a week of unpaid leave. He's offering to do it himself to show how necessary it is. Last week, the unions told him to buzz off.

The union heads say the mayor can't legally force them to take a week's furlough, and if he tries, they'll sue. Of course, the mayor can fire employees to meet budget needs. Apparently the union heads, who are supposed to look out for the best interests of their members, would rather see 90 or so people fired (the mayor's estimate) than see everyone lose a week's pay.

For months, the mayor has been asking union heads to sit down and discuss furloughs. Last week, they said they would not attend the long-delayed meeting. Not only will they sue if the mayor tries the furloughs on his own, they won't agree to even discuss the option. Clearly, this isn't about the employees' legal rights under current contracts. It's about childishly refusing to compromise.

Contrast that behavior with the high-mindedness of teachers in Brookline. Last week, the teachers union there agreed to a pay freeze that will cost each teacher $2,000 this year, but save the district more than $100,000. The teachers said they would rather keep all programs and services than lose some to cover the cost of a pay increase. So they agreed to give up the raise to which they were entitled by contract.

The U.S. economy has lost more than 600,000 jobs a month for the last four months. Yet the people who run the city employee unions act as if mentions of layoffs are just empty threats made for bargaining purposes. If they keep up this obstinance, they're likely to learn otherwise pretty soon.

READERS' COMMENTS:

Did we forget that Alderman Frank Guinta made a promise to improve the Manchester School system when he ran for mayor. Where is his plan to improve the schools? Remember, there were 3 failing schools when he became mayor. Now every school in the district is labeled "In need of improvement". It will not help the future of the Manchester school system by laying off teachers or requiring furloughs. Teacher salary increases were included in Bedford's budget. Bedford's tax rate increased. I did not see any editorials concerning how dumb it was to give the Bedford teachers salary increases which contributed to the Bedford tax rate increase. Mayor Guinta resides in Manchester but I'd like to know if he plans on sending his children to private school. I can't afford private school for my child. I'd gladly pay my increase in taxes to pay for a properly funded school district.
- Lisa Frisselle, Manchester

Don't worry the law makers in this state will take away everything from the State workers also. And we wonder why people don't care anymore. We wonder why people don't want to get involved. Theres no support for those who do.
- Jim, Manchester

Now more that ever it is becoming apparent to me that we need to rethink the "At Large" positions on our government boards. It just seems so easy for a special interest group, especially unions, to own these seats as they have. It's not even a secret in this town that O'Neill and Lopez are owned by the unions. This can't be good for all of us "At Large". Likewise I don't believe the opposite would be good either. This is why I believe that the at large positions should be eliminated.

If not getting rid of the at large postions outright maybe term limits?
- JSF, Manch

Deb in Hooksett, your post is common amongst union supporters. Why do people insist on acting like if Union workers take a 7 day furlough that the skies will open the streets will flood, our kids will become instantly stupid, crime will sky rocket and basically Manchester as we know it will end forever. You (and other union supporters) do realize we are talking about one week off, trust me your not that important!!!!

Considering the alternative of 90 employees getting laid off (that is 90x52 weeks if we assume that for the next year the position isn't filled). In your scenario of rolling 7 day furlough (obvioulsy no one is suggesting that all union employees take the same 7 days off) Manchester is going to be swallowed by God's wrath, what do you think will happen when 90 positions aren't filled for 52 weeks, I mean Noah's Ark isn't even gonna save us!!!
- Rick, Manchester

Guinta's plan reduces a typical property tax by $12.50 per year. WOW! Sorry gang, that's not saving.

You want to save money? Consider:
Use modern garbage trucks that require one operator not a crew of three.
Consolidate redundant functions in the city, one payroll group, one account group, etc.
Automate more functions so computers can do more paper pushing work and fewer people are required.
In a nutshell, require managers employed by the city to manage costs: apply innovation solutions, consolidate, automate, etc. Hold them accountable.

Automation and consolidation save money. By cutting employees pay by a week per year, and doing other less controversial things, Mayor Guinta saves a typical house hold $12.50 cents per year. Please. This editorial is focuses on the same wrong things Guinta is focused on, which is why he saves next to no money and stirs much controversy.

The way saving money in this city is addressed is a classic case of rearranging of deck chairs on the Titanic. Sadly, the Union Leader editors write an editorial about the pattern of the chairs. Where is the thinking in this city? Not in the newspapers, and apparently not in the city managers offices.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

Looks like those union bosses have turned out their sheep on this board.

It's my hope that the unions do stick to their guns, so the mayor puts 90 afffiliated workers out on the street. Tough love.
- Stuart Dunmeyer, Manchester

Listen here, When your oil bill went up did you say that's too much and stop paying it? Everything in the world went up in price! The city is now paying more for every utility and scrap of paper they buy.
But wait! We (Manchester)can save money if we don't pay the people working for us! We'll just make it sound like they are all a bunch of union jerks for wanting to work and be paid for every week of the year. (Except teachers who only get to work 183 days a year) Do you think I can tell my electric company to skip 7 days of my bill?
Give me a break people!
What are you going to do when it pours and your cellars and streets start flooding?
You might not be able to reach anyone from that department because you wanted to save $13.00 on your tax bill and those people had to take 7 days off w/o pay or they got laid off.
Yeah, this city really sounds like they have their heads in the sand.
Well Mayor, we appreciate your loyalty and willingness to throw us to the wolves to further your own ends!
Thank you for showing you really only care about making it in Washington!
- Deb, Hooksett

Yea, you're right Tom, and from what I've heard on the street, most city workers are in support of the furlough idea-- its the Union bosses (of whom many don't even live in Manchester) that are trying to make this budget into a political issue as they walk arm-in-arm with the New Hampshire Democrat Party in an attempt to tear down Guinta out of fear that he will run for higher office.

These Unions don't care about the taxpayer or the city worker. All they care about is attacking Mayor Guinta regardless of the budget he proposed.
- Chris King, Manchester, New Hampshire

Joe T. from Derry, seriously do a little research before you comment. Guinta has said time and time again that he and his office would be involved in the furlough and that he was happy to go a week without pay in order to save city worker jobs.

And seriously, are you REALLY standing up for teacher's unions? They are the biggest cause of problems in our school systems throughout the US. Their political meandering have completely politicized the education system in this country.
- Barbara, Manchester

How come no mention of the Aldermen cutting their health benefits? it is wrong to ask so much of full-time employees, while part-time employees, such as the Aldermen cost the tax-payer $1,000,000.00 per year on medical benefits. There is something seiously wrong with that.
- Robert Langlois, Manchester

It would be cheaper for a city employee who is a resident to refuse the furlough and accept the increase in his taxes. Why don't we ALL lend a hand to help. I am willing to see a small increas ein my tax rate to help by fellow citizen. it is amazing to me that so many people want to see the city employee hurt because everybody is hurting. That is not very American if you ask me.
- Dan Walker, Manchester

So, Max Grey reports that city employees went 7 years without a raise in the 1990's. While that is sad we are no longer in the 1990's. We are in the year 2009 and have a massive recession. I guess under Max's theory, it doesn't matter if we are in a recession, city employees should get their pay raises regardless of the economy. Give me a break Mr. Grey. People are suffering out there and can not afford more taxes right now. I feel bad the employees didn't get a raise for 7 years in the 1990's but we are not in the 1990's. Don't punish todays taxpayers for the misgivings of a former mayor or aldermen.
- Mike, Manchester

Maybe there's another solution:

Unions stick to their guns: no furlough week.

Residents get to pay taxes on what their property values are actually: 10-25% less from the appraised value.

Union employees - don't give in and smile that they stuck to their guns and held to the contract as they get in the back of the unemployment line.

After all it's a matter of prinicipal(s) right?
- RG, Manch Vegas

Interesting that the UL fails to mention that many of these same employees willingly went SEVEN YEARS in the '90's with ZERO pay increases because of tough times. Funny how that is forgotten and we are the scourge of the earth.

Give me a break! See Guinta for what he is - a polictician!
- Max Grey, Manchester

So every time the City determines it wants to save some money they expect employees to take a week off without pay?
The first time any union gives in to this type of threat, the City will just keep asking over and over again.
Honestly, how much of an increase would the average homeowner see to maintain current services, maybe $20? give me a break!
If they're looking to make cuts, they should charge the actual cost for recreation programs to the participants, not every other taxpayer.
- Jonathan, Manchester

Isn't it fun to trash the unions that have made possible the middle class, social security, job security, worker's rights? Having accepted lower pay, declining number of jobs, general disdain of the conservative public, is it at all odd that union members stand up for themselves and the agreements made with bosses in open negotiations? Was someone holding a gun to the heads of the bosses when those agreements were made? Is it now okay to renege on contractual agreements? What a bunch of whiners. Can't you even keep the agreements that you made? In the past, your word was your bond. Now, your word seems to be for sale.
- Robert, Deerfield

The hackerama is showing its true entitlement colors! They don't understand how grossly overcompensated they are. $55,000 a year with a pension to drive a street sweeper. Maybe instead of having six guys staring in an excavation perhaps you could have three or four. Maybe the cop with a cell phone in one hand and a coffee in the other could actually be concerned about traffic for the $47 plus an hour he recieves. (4 hour minimum)Please don't misunderstand my comments for jealously......its pure contempt!
- Tom, Manchester

It took me about two minutes of research to determine that the last thing Manchester should do to reduce costs in the school district is model ourselves after Brookline. Their starting teacher’s salary is $34,656 versus Manchester’s $31,793. Take $2,000 dollars off of Brookline’s and we still pay our teachers less. The top of Manchester’s pay scale is $65,335. Brookline’s is $67,847 and their's does not require the PhD that Manchester’s does.

The Union Leader editors really ought to do a just little research. The data is for all to see on the state’s website at: http://www.ed.state.nh.us/education/data/staffing.htm
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester, NH

you know. I have heard nothing about how the mayor will plan to cut HIS salary or HIS staff. Nor have I heard of laying off much of any other city service. Why is it that teachers are the first to get picked on? Why are teacher's unions the first to get attacked? And can somebody please remind me why in the heck Manchester even needs to be paying for a SWAT team?
- joe t, derry, nh

What is to prevent the City of Manchester from filing Chapter 11 reorganization in Bankruptcy Court. Then have the union contracts thrown out by the judge? Get rid of the blook sucking union bosses and start fresh! A win / win for everyone, especially the workers.
- Old Man, Franklin

Send out the pink slips. It is about time the unions realized that in this economy, everyone has to give a little. If the union leadership cares more about a weeks pay instead of keeping jobs, then time to find new leadership.
- Ruthie, Fremont

To Chris King,

Most of the union employees ARE residents and taxpayers.
- Tom, Manchester

This is par for course from the union playbook. Don't meet the management half-way then when the layoffs happen cry "look look the big bad management just fired poor Bob who has three kids one in college and one who is special needs and another who is sick and a mortgage and a dog" They don't care about their employees until the next election when they will parade Bob around like a show horse at every Democratic rally and show him in every Democrat's TV ads.
- Brian, Wakefield

It is clear that the Unions are not looking out for the best thing for all of their members. No furlough will result in 90 of their members losing their job.

What is sad is people are forced to join in the union f they want a city job - forced to join a union who refuses to even talk about how to realistically save 90 people's job. They refuse to even meet about it? Is that what those Union dues pay for? No thanks.
- Sue, Manchester

If the city can't find 90 pieces of "deadwood" to get rid of out of 3,300 city employees, their is a serious problem.
- Brian, Manchester

It'd be a cold day in "you know where" when the unions would ever do anything other than play partisan politics. Everyone knows they are the limbs of the Democratic Party.
- Casey Johnes, Manchvegas

Manchester's union heads have made their point -- They don't care about the taxpayer nor the average city employee. They just care about political maneuvers and lies. I can just see Ray Buckley and the NH Democrat Party standing in the background telling these Union Bosses and Democrat Aldermen what to do. God forbid either had the courage to have a mind of their own!

To union bosses and Democrat aldermen- Stop being puppets for Buckley and take a stand for Manchester's taxpayers and city workers for once!!!!!
- Chris King, Manchester, New Hampshire

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"Aging vehicles costing Manchester millions"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, Monday, April 6, 2009

MANCHESTER – It's a lucky day for a Manchester garbage man when his truck doesn't malfunction.

"If you can go a whole day without a breakdown, that's pretty good," said Greg Bond, who drives the downtown pickup route.

Bond has been driving a garbage truck in Manchester for 22 years, and just as he has gotten older, so have the many vehicles on the Highway Department lot. More than half of those vehicles are at least a decade old, records show. Fourteen of them were already on the lot when Bond took the job, in 1987.

Maintaining all those trucks, plows and other pieces of machinery has cost the city millions of dollars over the years, and the cost has only grown over time. In the past four years, according to Deputy Public Works Director Tim Clougherty, the department's annual maintenance bill has increased by half, from $390,000 to $590,000.

"That would cause me to be alarmed, if I didn't know anything else," Clougherty said.

The Fire Department, too, has seen its repair costs mount, from $84,300 to $150,000 in a five-year stretch, according to Chief James Burkush.

Department heads have repeatedly lobbied the aldermen for money to replace their aging fleets. A few months ago, they got their way. A vehicle-replacement plan, approved by the aldermen, promised $3 million apiece to the Highway and Fire departments next year, with millions more in years to come.

Whether all those dollars will come through, however, is now up for debate. In his budget proposal, released last Tuesday, Mayor Frank Guinta promised to deliver most of the money, but not all of it, and he pressured department heads to seek out $1.3 million in grants.

One alderman, Mark Roy, accused Guinta of "butchering" the plan, saying it relies on grants "that may not ever come" and does not provide enough money to keep fixing older vehicles.

Aldermen, who will have the final say this spring, say they are determined to replace at least some of the most troublesome vehicles this year. They acknowledge, however, that won't be easy at a time when city leaders are mulling furloughs and layoffs.

Trash heap on wheels
A number of current and former city officials have described the Highway Department's fleet as "deplorable." To Garage Superintendent Kevin Padden, it's "a rolling Lambert's junkyard."

Padden oversees a crew of 10 mechanics, who are together responsible for the upkeep of 161 vehicles, an assortment of loaders, snowplows, dump trucks, sweepers and pavers. The crew tries to get to problems before they cause a breakdown, but in recent years, he said, most of that preventive work has fallen by the wayside.

"It's all been on repairs," Padden said. "We're basically losing all the PM (preventative maintenance) work we used to do because everything is always breaking down."

Highest bills
The Highway Department: These are the vehicles that have rung up the highest maintenance bills, according to department records:

1993 Garbage Packer: $147,077

1993 Garbage Packer: $145,721

1992 Sewer Truck: $141,814

1997 Sewer Truck: $137,391

2001 Garbage Packer: $130,779

1995 Sweeper: $125,566

1999 Aspalt Paver: $123,597

1994 Loader: $109,231

2001 Sweeper: $100,798

2001 Garbage Packer: $97,002

In fact, breakdowns happen almost every day, several Highway workers said. Bond, one of the department's longest-serving employees, said it isn't uncommon for a driver to take out a truck and be back in the garage 20 minutes later.

"Something will happen to a truck every day. That's guaranteed," Bond said.

One vehicle, a 12-year-old Bobcat Skid-Steer loader, has on average broken down at least once a month for the past three years, records show. In February, a foreman took it outside to clear snow but had to return when the arm snapped.

"That's a safety issue," the foreman, Bob Brule, said, pointing to a long, rust-lined crack at the base of the front loader bucket. "If that snaps, we're in the air. It would take us right over."

In the shop
A review of departmental records shows the average vehicle on the Highway Department lot today has had more than $27,000 worth of work done to it. Nine vehicles have had more than $100,000 in repairs.

In many cases, the maintenance bills have far exceeded the cost to buy the vehicle. A 1996 Ford pickup truck, for example, cost $27,500. Records show the city has spent $49,000 to maintain it.

The two costliest vehicles in the Highway Department garage are a pair of garbage trucks. Purchased for a combined $159,000, they have since cost the city $293,000.

Each of those trucks is 16 years old. The department had pegged their life span at 10 years.

Both trucks are notorious for breaking down, which can happen for many reasons, such as flat tires, oil leaks or control problems. Department officials can't say for sure how many times the trucks have been taken off the road, but maintenance records show one of them has averaged 59 repair jobs per year over the past decade.

Ideally, Clougherty said, the garage crews wouldn't spend so much time on vehicles that are nearing the end of their "useful life." Until now, though, they've just kept working on them because, he said, "we know we're not getting a new one any time soon."

'We hit the wall'
Several Manchester aldermen conceded the board, or more generally, the city, has traditionally done a poor job of replacing old vehicles. One member, Peter Sullivan, said the lack of planning was representative of an "ad hoc method of running city government that had gone on for decades."

Essentially, board members wanted to supply departments with new vehicles, but there were always other priorities, like employee salaries and public safety. Often, they found they could push the vehicles off another year.

It was clear that something had changed when the aldermen voted unanimously for a vehicle-replacement plan last December. To Public Works Director Kevin Sheppard, the explanation was that the department had finally "hit the wall."

"I think the alderman have seen the sidewalks not being cleared, streets not being swept, plow trucks breaking down," Sheppard said.

The vehicle-replacement plan, hatched by Finance Officer Bill Sanders, Sheppard, Fire Chief Burkush and Police Chief David Mara, would more than double the amount of money spent each year on new vehicles, from $1.2 million to $2.75 million. To pay for the vehicles, the city would sell $3 million in bonds every year.

Guinta's budget proposal makes some tweaks to the aldermen's plan. Instead of bonding $6 million in the plan's first year, the city would bond just $3 million and would siphon another $1.7 million out of a "one-time" revenue account.

It would be up to the departments to come up with the remaining $1.3 million; Guinta has said they should apply for grants. Sheppard said the Highway Department has already applied for some, but it would need more to fill the hole completely.

The department has already secured bids for 27 new vehicles, Sheppard said. "As soon as we get the go-ahead, we're ready to order," he said.

The aldermen, by and large, say they want to give it to him.

"We've got to do it," Alderman Ed Osborne said late last month. "No doubt about it. How much? Well, that's another story there."

READERS' COMMENTS:

"Aging vehicles costing Manchester millions" How about aging alderman costing Manchester millions.
- Mateo, Manchester

When it comes to purchasing any capital equipment. Higher ups often dont look at the larger picture. Band aids do work, but as the saying goes "pay now or pay later!
- Ryan, Manchester

Nobody's fooling anyone....If it's anything like Bow, the admins will get their cushy 6 percent while the ones who actually WORK will have to "make do". It's always been like that and always will be. I remember a school custodian telling me (not too long ago, either) that there was a shortfall in the budget and their was actually discussion to cut necessities such as toilet paper. But when I asked him where the pastries came from that they served at a recent "meeting of the minds", he mentioned a very expensive downtown cake and pastry shop. And more than half of the pastries were tossed.....This is why people don't have what they need to effectively execute their jobs. We should take lessons from other countries who waste nothing and actually can get by on less....BECAUSE nothing is wasted!
- John, Bow

If Manchester is like Rochester they have mechanics right? Highly paid ones? Who has been working on the trucks? Reporting abuses? Nobody, because the union employees know they will get what they want, just like they do in Rochester. High pay, low performance. Look for the union label. I call it B.O.H.I.C.A. ALL municipal unions Local, state and national, need to be nullified before the taxpayer will get their moneys worth.
- Allan, Rochester

Why don't we use some of the money that was promised to us by the developers of the Fisher Cats stadium to fix the trucks? Oh yeah, that was just another lie for them to get what they wanted. Why don't we hold some of these people accountable for the promises they make to increase the tax base?
- Lyle, Manchester

I love this city, my grandfather and grandmother came here from ireland back in the early 1900's. He worked down at the city cemetary after he came home from WW 1.

My dad came here and married my mom. Manchester is the best darn city hands down. We have the best police and fire department in the state if not in the country. What makes manchester work is it's workers from highways to all the others.

What we need is a purchasing department to go out and negotiate the best prices possible.

We need to look at starting a planned purchase system from everything apparatus to uniforms and everything in between. I've had 12 and 15 year old jalopys and if I could I would have gotten rid of them by year 7. It's going to take a big commitment, but if I knew where the money was going I'd come up with the few extra dollars.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

I'm a native of Manchester and used to work for a subcontractor (ATOM) in the '70,s & 80,s plowing/paving. We were hired for x-amount $ per/hr. truck and driver.
It's time to bring back in the subcontractors...Hello.......!
- Bill, Deerfield

I can't even count the number of times i see a city truck roll a stop sign on my corner and take off like a bat out of hell. I see city pick ups and cars being mistreated every day-- After every stop sign or red light they think they are on the starting line of a quarter mile drag strip.
- Matt, Manchester

A perfect example of how government wastes money and expects its employees to take a cut.
- MS, Concord

Ryan F: Obama Stimulus money equates to 25% of the total cost of the vehicle unless you are looking at alternatiove fuel vehicles - which you might get a better percentage - such as CNG vehicles would get 100% I Believe - but at this point we would have to drive to Portsmouth to fuel up. So under the basic plan the City still has to come up with 75% of the vehicle cost.

Someone mentioned outsourcing the maintenance costs due to the fact that labor is included in the repair cost. Labor is included due to the fact that if the maintenance was "outsourced" it would be the total cost of the repair - so it is figured in to give you a true repair cost. I also believe if you take what the City mechanics are getting paid compared to what mechanics get paid in the private sector (if it were outsourced) - the City is probably getting a "bargain". Compare the UL annual posted employee salaries to that of your local mechanic alone. Lets not mentioned that these are diesel engines and specialized equipment that would probably drive the cost of that mechanic as well.
- Amy, Manchester

This issue is more mismanagement by the Highway Department to let it get this bad, than the fault of the Mayor & Aldermen. They can’t expect the Aldermen to look at the maintenance records of every vehicle and decide to junk it and buy a new one on credit. If they don’t have the authority to do that – well there’s your real problem right there. The aldermen should also have been more proactive to enact a vehicle replacement program during the dot com boom years and not wait for the Department heads to put it together 5+ year too late.

I will forego my portion of Guinta’s proposed 1% tax decrease to fully fund the current vehicle replacement program but be damned if I let O’Neil, Lopez and their pocket unions raise my taxes to pay for their screw-up’s!

Sorrentino,
Where have you been? A few downtown neighborhoods of the city have been using the 'automated' garbage trucks for years now. But I guess a fat cat like you wouldn’t be caught dead on Spruce Street to notice the big trash bins associated with the new side dumper trucks.
- Jim, Manchester

Jim in Manch:

Did you ever think that the DPW has repeatedly asked to replace these vehicles and establish a cycle only to be turned down by the mayor and alderman year after year?
- Jonathan, Manchester

I'm aghast that these departments do not set aside a little money every year toward the eventual replacement of aging vehicles. When repair costs on one of my cars exceed 50% of the cost of replacement it, I STOP FIXING IT and get a new one. If I can't afford to, I don't drive until I have the money saved up. Where's anyone with any business sense here? - even basic common sense would tell you these things don't last forever. Simply maddening. So not only has the department wasted all this money repairing decrepit equipment, they have had no plan to replace the equipment and instead expect taxpayers to bail them out again in a down economy.
- Jim, Manchester

What would it cost to replace the old refuse trucks with same type of modern trucks Nashua uses? The modern trucks require only one operator, not a crew of three per truck. I would expect the single person truck to cost more, and maybe be a little slower than a truck with a crew of three, but I bet those costs are less than two people's pay, benefits and workers compensation.

Does anyone in Manchester know the answer to this question? Some city employee should, maybe the head of the Highway Department? Maybe someone working for him?

Why have many municipalities across the country converted to single operator trucks? I suspect those trucks are more cost effective.

Remember, employees are expensive, innovation and technology is cheaper.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester, NH

I am under the impression that the majority of people haven't taken into consideration what a hard life these vehicles go through on a daily bases ! For those of you who are under the impression that the highway department doesn't really NEED these trucks replaced, and that they only WANT new "shiny" trucks... Go down to the shed on maple street and crawl around under the trucks and see for yourself what a 20 year old truck looks like ! I am sure that your opinion will change! Unfortunately, it is politics as usual.... It reminds me of when Benson was our Governor, he put a hold on all Commercial truck purchases for two years. He was a hero at the time, as will be Guinta for not increasing the taxes. But eventually, the fleets need to be updated. Unfortunately someone has to be the bad guy, and catch up for previous selfishness ! Guinta, do the right thing..... Manchester's fleet of trucks need to be updated... and yes at the taxpayers expense
- Jim, Manchester

Whenevery I see these vehicles speeding through the city they look fine to me! That's why we employ mechanics! I agree with maintenance schedules, and some replacement. Replacing fleets is ridiculous!
- Mark L, Manchester

I'm sure that some vehicles need to be purchased, however seriously, is a year with a really bad economy the year to be going on a vehicle shopping spree??? I'm sure that SOME of these "needs" for new vehicles can be classified more as "wants" that can wait for a better day financially speaking.

Also, wasn't some of messiah Obama's stimulus money supposed to make it to cities like this to replace outdated vehicles and the like?
- Ryan Feltner, Manchester

James – I agree. This article says more about the work quality of the maintenance people and the abuse of the drivers than anything else. Yes, things do break, but if they are fixed correctly we should expect to have the repair last as long as the same part on a new vehicle.

Kathy – maybe you should stop blaming the mayor for everything. I don’t think he has anything to do with this. You seem like he offended you – or your union – and you are intent on bashing him for everything now.

Rick – good point. The numbers should include just parts since the maintenance people would have worked anyway. Maybe they would be doing PM instead, but they would still be employed.
- John A., Manchester, NH

Job Security at Its Finest. Fix it just enough so it Breaks Again and Again.???? Only Safe Job left in Manchester!!! lol
- E J, Manchester

OK - there is a slight flaw in the logic of this article - one you could drive one of these trucks through!
How about posting the amount it costs LAST YEAR in repairs versus the cost to buy a new vehicle TODAY. It doesn't matter what it costs 16 years ago to buy a vehicle because you won't get it for that price today. You could have even included how much the city would have to pay in routine maintenance on a new vehicle too because even new vehicles need some upkeep - if you don't maintain a vehicle it WILL break down more often and be more costly to repair.
Save us taxpayers some money - Stop being reactive and start being proactive!
- Catherine, Manchester, NH

Wow, what a spin the UL has on these numbers. From the way they make it sound it's like the poor drivers are risking life and limb. What a joke. How about some real reporting with factual numbers that are not slanted to some sob story.
- mark, mancheseter

A flat tire equates to a "break down" as much as a cracked engine block would? A flat tire, unless it's a result of worn out tires, is more of a standard replacement item for commercial vehicles, like oil changes.

That being said, these vehicles should be replaced ASAP unless the city is comfortable with an enormous lawsuit (probably covered by insurance) when someone is injured or killed.
- Brian, Litchfield, NH

If it really cost $49,000 to maintain a 1996 ford pick up truck that was purchased for $27,500 then there is some serious mismanagement going on and that could be the first place to look for a cut. I mean lets faceit, if anybody had a truck and it was $27,500 to purchase do you really think anybody would spend $49,000 to make repairs? LEt the numbers game begin. The sky is falling folks. The sky is now falling.
- Mike, Manchester

You've got to be kidding me. Privitize???? The private sector is doing so great we should outsource things. Wasn't it the PRIVATE sector that got us into this mess?
Go on a cruise? As a public employee, with over 30 years, I can't afford to go on a cruise.
- John, Manchester

Those are creative numbers...
Citing original purchase costs and then comparing them to a decade of maint. costs.
First of all, the current repalcement cost is much more than the original purchase price. Second...what are they including in "maintenance" costs. Every oil change and tune up? THose are costs of ownership, not somehting to sound off about. Excessive costs of broken and worn out major components are one thing. But really, who believes anything the spinsters at the highway dept. say. THey just want shiny new toys is all.
- John, Manchester

All I can Say is Manchester must have some GREAT mechanics on its payroll to keep these machines running. However, they can only work their magic for so long.
- Lisa`, Manchester

This department could be hired out to a private company via an annual or two year contract. Let the private sector, with proven efficiencies and capabilities, manage the maintenance expenses, personnel costs, etc. I bet this will save the city money and allow the Mayor to reduce our taxes.

Also, why is the city responsible to plow sidewalks? Individuals and neighborhoods should take care of their own sidewalk shoveling. That is what we did where I grew up. If there as an older neighbor who needed help, neighbors pitched in to make sure that their sidewalk was cleared. This would reduce the cost of the private contract mentioned above and from my experience, get the sidewalks cleared so pedestrians can use them routinely in the winter. The way Manchester citizens sit back waiting for the city to clear their sidewalks each snowy day is insane.
- Jean, Manchester

This city never had a in foresight to plan for anything. Back in the 80's Mayor Shaw went around bonding everything in sight as a way of managing the tax rate. When Mayor Beaulieau took over after a split term he had a financial mess on his hands.

The only reason the city budget has to go up is because the cost of labor. And the more we spend in labor costs the less money we have to buy hard goods.
We don't have to increase taxes if we cut head count. That will free up money to purchase equipment. When I get my automobile taxes I will mail them in dittor my property taxes without having to go down the counter at city hall. They could close city hall 1 day a week, only open 4, just keep it open from 8 to 6 for two days and 10 to 8 for two days, that would give everyone a chance to do their business.

Why aren't the other departments down to a 4 day work week ie finance, hr, mayors office, planning, solicitor? They could be saving the money on keeping the heat low and the lights off.

This city will never learn new tricks because the only thing thats draconian is the labor unions that do nothing but fight over everything. I hope they have a nice job telling their new membership why they got laid off. And its not like they have to do it all in one week, 7 days can be spread out over a year. Thats an extra day you can take and go to hampton beach, or go to the white moutains, or maybe even tack on an extra few and go on a 14 day cruise instead of a 7. You won't even know it because all your food is paid for once you book it.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

Why hasn't Manchester contracted with a private company such as waste management? You would think there could be savings in outsourcing.......
- gr chase, Exeter

Well, isn't this a nice Kettle of Fish we find ourselves in. Lets talk about how the Taxpayer is going to take a major haircut!

Across these United States, there are municipalities that incorporate a fleet vehicle replacement plan, not because they like to have shiny new vehicles, but to keep operational expenses and costs efficient. To just go year after year without replacing a vehicle over six years old is simply idiotic.

A replacement plan means that vehicles and equipment whose costs to maintain increase with age are automatically replaced without hurting the taxpayers. (I would point to Multinomah County in Oregon as an example)

And I don't think you political hacks can blame this on Mayor Frank Guinta, Too many vehicles are 7-10 years or older for that to stick. This lies squarely on the shoulders of the Aldermen. And to those who have held their seats year after year after year, pat yourselves for sitting on you fat arses and doing nothing. You always have an alternate budget with a tax increase, yet services like snow removal are affected because of vehicle breakdowns...You bunch of bloated bureaucratic Pigs!
- Rick Olson, Manchester

A 1996 Ford pickup truck, for example, cost $27,500. Records show the city has spent $49,000 to maintain it.


Does anyone really want me to believe that the maintenance department has spent $49,000 in repairs on one truck?

Think about it - even if every single thing has broke twice, it wouldn't cost $49,000.
Sounds like they are calculating in the salaries and benefits of the mechanics. Sorry, they'll get paid whether the vehicles need repair or not. The costs should be reported only be the actual parts cost.

These numbers sound fishy to me.
- Rick, Manchester

The equipment should take a furlough too along with the city employees!
- Irving B., Manchester

What did that old car repair commercial say..."You can pay me now, or you can pay me later."

How will the Mayor blame the unions for this mess? Things need to be bought. People need to provide services. Both statements are true, independent of eachother, and the Mayor is underfunding both. It is not an either/or situation - both machinery and manpower are needed to run a city, and it is beyond time for the Mayor and the alderman to find the money. I don't want to pay higher taxes, either, but I am sane enough to see that just not paying for something does not make the need go away.

So, Mr. Mayor, time to find those funds: either man-up and make the politically unpopular decision to raise taxes, or else find some alternative resources QUICKLY. Stop blaming the unions, or the alderman, or the BoogieMan and just face facts. The city needs more money than your budget provides in order to run safely and efficiently.
- Kathy, Manchester

Again we see the mistakes of the aldermen rear it's ugly head. They (aldermen) will tell you in order to have the replacements of these vehicles, taxes have to go up not down to cover the cost. Well if a plan as Alderman Sullivan said was in place years ago, they wouldn't be facing it today. Just as we have seen the failed planning on the Fisher Cats Stadium and other projects. Alderman Osborne once worked for the highway department, so sure, he's going to favor them over keeping taxes low. How much did it cost to put in a speed hump on Massabesic street only to take it out again a couple of weeks later. That money could have been spent on other things such as a suppliment to replacing a vehicle. Better management of taxpayer dollars and better planning for the future of the City of Manchester needs to happen now, not later or otherwise, the city will be hitting the wall harder next time.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

It does not make a big difference if they are newer, look at the chart the newer ones look like they cost more to repair. The state needs to take better care of equipment. They want to feed us this garbage about spending more on repairs when the fact is it is cause by lack of care to prevent damage to the equipment. In some case it may be caused by over use but it will still cost money to repair it if it is new.
- James, Manchester

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"Fleets and streets: City maintenance woes"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, April 7, 2009

In the past four years, the maintenance budget at Manchester's highway department has risen by a little more than 50 percent, from $390,000 to $590,000. As Union Leader reporter Scott Brooks reported on Monday, the city's vehicle fleet is a rambling wreck of trucks, plows and cars many of which cost more to keep up than they would to replace. Vehicles are falling apart because the city habitually puts off replacing them.

The city's roads and sidewalks aren't faring much better. During winter storms, streets go unplowed longer than they did even a few years ago. Cracks and potholes are not being filled as rapidly as they once were.

One of the newer aldermen, Ward 3's Peter Sullivan, observed correctly that the city has historically filled maintenance budgets in an ad-hoc manner rather than systematically planning to replace vehicles.

Last year aldermen alarmed by the state of the fleet authorized $3 million for replacements. But with the budget in the red this year, some of that money probably won't be spent. What is the city to do?

In the long run, it needs a better system for financing new vehicles. In the short run, the city obviously could benefit from turning to private-sector partnerships.

In Louisville, Ky., and Chicago, KFC (yes, Col. Sanders & Co.) is paying to fill potholes. In exchange for white stenciling on the new asphalt that reads "refreshed by KFC," the restaurant chain is financing road repairs.

The city already sells ads on its transit buses to underwrite their costs. There is no reason that program cannot be extended to other city vehicles.

And if the city got corporate partners for other programs and services, it could free money to be spent on roads and vehicles. The town of Haverhill, for example, has local corporate sponsors for the town Web site, helping lower its cost to the taxpayers.

Even in this economy, there are companies that would happily give the city money in exchange for publicity. Aldermen need to explore such contracts immediately. Without them, city residents can expect roads, parks and important city vehicles to get even worse.

READERS' COMMENTS:

Howie....the garbage trucks at the city's disposal ( no pun intended ) are at an available quantity to cover only 1/5 of the city for their garbage routes. Couple this with the fact that the dump trucks are mutlitasking by sanding and salting at the same time as well as being used during the summer and fall months to do projects covered by the highway department and your argument just doen't hold water.. or snow. Now, about corporations that will "volunteer" to plow the streets....how many have really stepped forward and how many of them can truly be counted on to provide this service whenever they are needed, day or night? Logic dictates that most entities that have purchased an industrial sized plow capable of handling snow on a wide city street are using it to make money when the white gold is falling. Please don't suggest that free plowing is available to the city and officials are ignoring it......it's baseball season, so let me just say, "Strike Three....You're Out!"
- John, Manchester

Howie Howe , when I was a kid , Manchester garbage trucks had plows put on them to clear the snow . Hey , what can I tell ya , I'm old .
- Lew, Manchester

Robert makes a good point that maybe its time for some new blood at city hall. Just remeber though from past postings that Robert (candidate for ward 5 alderman) is ANTI-BUSINESS. The city needs private business to help with the tax base.
- Brian, Manchester

Mr Tarr, this situation is the result of the current mayor being penny wise and pound foolish. By constantly deferring the replacement of worn out vehiicles and underfunding budgets, the city finds itself with a fleet of jalopies and an even higher replacement cost. He has been warned of this in the past and has made the choice to ignore the warnings and now the worst has come to fruition. By the time the voters realize how his irresponsible budget proposals have left this city with a worn out infrastructure, he will be running for a higher office and bragging about his fight for lower taxes. It's Emperor guinta and his new clothes that need to be discarded....the city can't afford his style of deceptive budgeting!
- John, Manchester

Great logic James. It will cost less to repave an entire strech of road than to patch it. Really? Have you priced it out. I think you should run the highway Dept. as you just solved the entire budget problem in on posting. Amazing.
Maybe we can have Police cruiser with ads from Mark's Showplace and the Black Brimmer on them.
- Mike, Bedford

Sound like very little preventable maintenance to me , time for new bosses.
- joseph f lamarre, weare nh

Let us not forget, to protect union jobs, state laws and local ordinances prohibit local citizens and companies from providing even free services such as plowing unplowed streets on the way to private accounts.

On top of this, equipment is often duplicated becasue rather than allowing a piece of equipment to be used for multi-tasking, it is allowed to perform only one mission. Good example, in NYC they use the garbage trucks to plow the streets, in Manchester they must have dump trucks do this before the trash trucks even go out to pick up the trash.

Eliminate the waste, become more efficient in use of city vehicles, allow citizens to provide services without making it a fine, and the budget problems will vanish.
- Howie Howe, Manchester

Private-sector partnerships are a good idea. Advertising in exchange for financing of various city costs should help everyone involved. Now if only the city had expertise in soliciting for ads…. Oh wait, maybe the city can use a private-sector partnership for that too. Hmmm, who in the city has that expertise? Oh wait, how about the Union Leader? In fact they could be a model private-sector partnership. For their advertising procurement services they get several things: I prominent space on the city’s website, driving traffic to their website, and the opportunity to bundle their own advertising with city advertising.

What do you say Joe? Do you guys really think private-sector partnerships are a good thing? Of this is just another haphazard, unrealistic editorial?

How about a public proposal to the city?
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

I was tempted to go out and buy pavement patch and start patching my road. But with the way people drive around this city it would probably be torn up with in a month. The city still has not learned it would cost less to repave then to pay five guys to patch on hole. The guys that patch that stuff makes almost $13/hr. It is costing the state $75 hour to patch three or four holes in a hour which will probably require re-patching in a month.
- James, Manchester

Let us not forget the city taxes it's citizens with tax hikes upto 4.7% and then when those residents want a sidewalk repaired near their home, they are told to pony-up 50% of the cost in what aldermen call the 50-50 program. Streets like Hosley where there are less than 10 families living there, some are on disability, all are told if they want a new sidewalk pay for it or no sidewalk. This happened to just one person there, a disabled person in a motorized wheelchair who had to pay part of the cost for the sidewalk. Guess what, the rest of the sidewalk in the area is still in such bad shape it can't be plowed well enough during the winter months. Our aldermen should start looking at ways of reducing their spending habits and create ways to save money so such things as vehicles can be replaced. Remember the stimulus wish list by Alderman Lopez and others? Aldeman Lopez wanted a $85,000 replacement bus washer and some other item called a Economizer? What is an economizer anyway? Not once did they place on the wish list items to cover replacing city vehicles that would be considered on a 'red' list. It's time to answer City of Manchester's call and vote out the old and bring in the new.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"Average age of fire trucks: 14 years"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, Monday, Apr. 6, 2009

MANCHESTER – Tom Perrault isn't kidding when he says the Highway Department fleet is in rough shape.

"Right now," he said, "there's one truck sitting outside that's got a big hole in the floor. In order to start it, you've got to put it in neutral."

It gets worse. Because the inside handle is broken, he said, "you have to roll the window down and push the button from the outside to get out."

Perrault is the equipment operator who tends to Manchester's plow trucks each winter. The city has 27 large plows, each weighing five tons. Throughout the season, he said, it's not unusual for three or more to be out of service at any given time.

Breakdowns and other mechanical troubles have been an increasingly irksome and expensive problem for several city departments, officials say. Chuck DePrima, the interim director of parks, recreation and cemeteries, said his department's maintenance costs have been rising for years. James Burkush, the fire chief, said it's the same in his department.

According to Burkush, the average age of a Manchester fire truck is 14 years old. Last year, he said, he had to retire one truck, a 1989 fire engine, because the department's maintenance budget dried up.

Now, he said, "they're running an older vehicle up there," a spare from 1987.

Burkush is already taking advantage of the vehicle-replacement plan the aldermen approved in December. The department is now waiting to receive two new pumpers, both of which, he said, were ordered before Mayor Frank Guinta suspended the plan in February.

The Highway Department has also ordered new vehicles, but Deputy Public Works Director Tim Clougherty said officials are waiting for the mayor's OK before they sign the paperwork.

Currently, the Highway Department has 20 vehicles that are at least 20 years old. The oldest, a crane that Garage Superintendent Kevin Padden calls "our most important tool in the wintertime," was purchased 39 years ago, during the Nixon administration.

Some of the city's vehicles are so old that the company that made them is no longer in business. To get spare parts, officials said, Highway staffers will often place a call to the local junkyards. Other times, they'll scour the Web, or else just try to replicate the part themselves.

"It's part of how we operate here," Clougherty said. "We do the best we can with the resources we have."

Greg Bond, who drives a garbage truck, said employees don't stress out when problems arise. "It's part of your everyday work. You've got to have rubber skin. You deal with what you have," he said. "It's just something, I guess, we're accustomed to."

READERS' COMMENTS:

a plow truck w/ a hole ? a welder + metal = hole fixed wow !!!! -mech1 manchester
- mech1, manchester

hmmm, vehicles needing work....welcome to the real world, they can have my old chevy with nearly 250k on it...
- tree, bedford

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"Guinta city budget would ax 6 firefighters"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, April 7, 2009

MANCHESTER – The Manchester Fire Department would have fewer firefighters and probably would be forced to take some trucks out of service if the mayor's budget proposal is approved as is, Fire Chief James Burkush said.

Six city firefighters would be laid off under Mayor Frank Guinta's proposal, Burkush said. Another seven positions, now vacant, would go unfilled.

Burkush characterized the loss in manpower as "significant" and said it would affect service levels. Station closings would be a possibility, he said.

He added that the impact would be even worse if, as he expects, the firefighters' union bucks Guinta's call for all city workers to take seven days off work without pay. In that case, Burkush said, the department could be looking at 25 layoffs, roughly one-tenth of its workforce.

"That number is devastating," Burkush said.

Guinta said he spoke repeatedly with Burkush and other Fire Department officials before he unveiled his budget and "at no time have they ever stated to me that public safety would be compromised or adversely affected by my proposed budget appropriation."

The mayor said he would meet again with Burkush to "address his concerns."

Alderman Jim Roy, a retired Manchester fire captain, said the mayor's proposal presents a "huge problem" to the Fire Department. Roy agrees with union officials who say the proposed furloughs are illegal under the firefighters' contract, which says firefighters are to work an average of 42 hours per week. (Guinta says the furloughs are legal but conceded some unions may have to consent to them.)

Moreover, Roy said the loss of 13 positions would force the department to take one piece of equipment off the road.

"The mayor stands up each year and says his number-one concern is public safety," Roy said. "Well, here's a hint. The Fire Department is public safety."

The Fire Department is one of several city departments that would see its budget increased, though only slightly, under the proposal Guinta rolled out last week. The proposal, which is now being reviewed by aldermen, adds $70,000 to the Fire Department's bottom line, an increase of less than half a percent.

Manchester firefighters are in line for a 3 percent pay increase this July.

In his budget presentation last Tuesday, Guinta said the proposal "keeps services intact but would reduce the complement by about six positions."

At $18.5 million, Burkush said, the proposed Fire Department budget is $1.1 million short of what is needed to maintain a full complement of 234 firefighters. He said the mayor's proposal would wipe out his roster of "floaters," who fill in for firefighters who are injured, sick or on vacation. Six of them would be laid off, he said; the remaining seven would be reassigned to fill existing vacancies.

As a result, Burkush said he would be forced to pay more money for overtime. He noted the mayor's proposal would give the department an additional $143,000 for overtime, but said that amount would be insufficient if there are furloughs.

Guinta said he proposed a budget increase for the Fire Department "for the sole reason to protect public safety."

"As everyone knows, public safety is my top priority," he said.

Burkush said he never had the opportunity to tell the mayor whether the proposed budget would affect public safety. "I couldn't give him a comment," he said, "because at no time were the furloughs mentioned. At no time was the (budget) number mentioned."

READERS' COMMENTS:

Chief Burkush: Just remember, Guinta is a short term-er and won't have to live with the repercussions...so stand up for what you believe is right. Also, good thing you got those fire trucks purchased before he could take them away. It's a shame that you have to beg to get equipment that should be available as part of a planned obsolecense program == something that most progressive cities have in place. Ditto for the highway department.
- Norm G, Manchester

Will someone PLEASE explain to me why, in times of declining tax revenue and economic distress - city services are a sacred cow that MUST NOT BE TOUCHED? It's no different than my personal budget - you make less, you adjust your spending accordingly. If these piggy politicians hadn't grabbed and committed every dollar they could get their hands on when the economy was good we wouldn't be in this mess.
- Frank, Manchester

Funny how Guinta plays ball isn't it? He spends all of his time dictating to the media what his plans are, but does not talk to his department heads or the city workers. But, when election time comes around he will be courting those very people for endorsements. Good luck to him. Just look at the contrast between Guinta and Lynch as the deal with these difficult times - Lynch is cleaning Guinta's clock and is proving he is a much better manager and leader that old Frank. Pehaps that is why Guinta shied away from running against him.

Chief Burkish - good luck to you and your fine men having to deal with such ineptness!
- Max Grey, Manchester

Ald. Roy needs to stop protecting the firefighters. He is a representative of Ward 4, not the entire Manchester Fire Department. All this garbage of how Mayor Guinta is anti safety is ridiculous. Right now there are tough decisions to be made. Cities and towns are coping with layoffs all over the country. This is a fact of the recession we are in. Nobody wants to see layoffs but if there is no money what is the city supposed to do?

the aldermen will cave to the unions and not lilsten to the majority on this one. They will then be arrogant and basically tell the taxpayers we don't know what we are talking about. This is the same song and dance every single year. Time to clean house and get aldermen who will work for the constituents and not protect all the unions. Enough already.
- Jeff, Manchester

I would have expected the mayor to have a little more respect for his department heads. The city's department heads are smart competent people who have been around for years. We now have a mayor who lies to his department heads when presenting his budgets. Do we really want someone leading our city who doesn't have the common courtesy of explaining in full detail what the actual budgetary numbers are with his department heads. Say want you want about our unions, but at least they have been honest and upfront with nothing to hide. Maybe the mayor could take a page out of their book. Just be honest please.
- Dave, Manchester

Mayor Guinta how does cutting 13 positions from the fire dept. not affect public safety? I watched you budget presentation and thought I heard you say the fire dept would be funded with a 3% increase. Did I hear you wrong? A true politician, tells the citizens safety will not be compromised and then cuts jobs.
- Dave, Manchester

So, now the truth comes our and Mayor G's plan would have meant layoffs even with the furloughs. It's funny how he never made a public statement about this fact. How moronic does he think the public is? To say that he wanted to do away with 13 positions in the Fire Department and had no idea that safety would be compromised is either a sign that he is grossly incompetant or a bold faced liar....either one is is a disgrace. Fully fund our necessary services with adequate staffing....manage the city....don't put the public or the city's safety personnel at risk. A dollar wisely spent is not a dollar wasted. I do not envy the city's next mayor who will be forced to deal with the neglect and irresponsibility of New jersey's favorite son.....
- John, Manchester

Raise your hand if you like the new and improved Mark Roy? He says last week the Mayor should have cut spending more and now he says he cut spending too much. Well, Alderman, which is it?

Sounds like he is running for something. Well at least if he does run, it might get him some badly needed exercise.
- Seth Connors, Manchester, NH

Just remember Alderman Jim Roy, you were elected to represent the voters of Ward 4, not the Firefighters. If you can't represent the taxpayers then please step down and we'll get someone who can.
- Ed, Manchester

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"Manchester Fire Chief Says Cuts Could Affect Service: Mayor Proposes Cutting About $500,000 From Department"
POSTED: April 7, 2009 on WMUR.com News Online

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Manchester Fire Chief James Burkush said the cuts proposed to his department by the mayor's budget could mean roaming station closures and possibly slower response times.

Mayor Frank Guinta has proposed cutting about $500,000 from the city's fire department. One option to save the money would be furloughs, but a spokesman for the city's firefighter's union said he doesn't believe that's a good idea.

If furloughs are not enacted, Burkush said the current budget proposal would result in the layoffs of 20 to 25 uniformed firefighters. That translates into a decrease of about five firefighters and one or two pieces of apparatus out of service per shift.

The chief cautioned that it is early in the budget process and nothing is set in stone, but he said hard choices may have to be made if some sort of compromise isn't met.

Guinta said he disagrees with the chief's numbers and is hoping he can reach a compromise with the union.

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"School progress reports show who's up, down"
By DAN TUOHY, New Hampshire Union Leader, 4/7/2009

Besides No. 2 pencils, schools striving to meet state test standards may want to give students something else: A chance to win an iPod.

Manchester's Memorial High School met "adequate yearly progress" for the first time this year. Principal Arthur Adamakos said students seen diligently taking the exams were entered into a lottery to win one of six iPods donated by the booster club.

"Different things motivate different kids," he said. "The bottom line is the kids took it seriously."

The state Department of Education's progress reports released yesterday dish out highlights and lowlights, usually plenty of each for school districts.

While Memorial High School celebrated its success, Manchester district administrators learned that Beech Street and Wilson School join Northwest Elementary on the state's list for "corrective action."

Other schools targeted for restructuring help include Chester Academy in Chester, Exeter Cooperative Middle School, and Londonderry Middle School.

The reports are based on statewide tests in reading and mathematics conducted last fall by students in grades three through eight and grade 11.

Better test scores for the second consecutive year helped 12 schools exit "in need of improvement" status. They include Conway Elementary, Newport High School, Rochester Middle School, Thornton's Ferry in Merrimack, Weare Middle School, and Woodbury Middle School in Salem.

Schools not making the progress standard for two consecutive years in the same area are designated a "school in need of improvement. There are 72 new schools on that list this year, including Derry Village School, Londonderry Senior High School, Oyster River Middle School, Portsmouth Middle School, and Windham Center School.

There are 24 new districts designated as in need of improvement. They include Goffstown, Hooksett, Keene, Lebanon, Londonderry, Rye, Somersworth and Winnacunnet Cooperative.

The districts of Hudson, Merrimack, Newport, Northwood, and Stark are no longer flagged as "in need of improvement."

Schools not making AYP have 30 days to file an appeal with the State Department of Education.

To make AYP, a school or district must meet performance targets established for students in reading and mathematics. There are targets for student participation, attendance, and graduation. The state also measures specific student subgroups, which are broken down by ethnicity, socioeconomic status, educational disability, and English proficiency.

The subgroups challenge schools across the state, but are notably difficult for demographically diverse cities like Manchester, said Katherine Labanaris, vice chair of the Manchester Board of School Committee.

The tests in the New England Common Assessment Program, the foundation for the AYP reports, show incremental growth across the district, said Manchester Superintendent Thomas Brennan.

"We have to remember that this is a one-shot assessment," Brennan said.

Elaine Cutler, superintendent of the Litchfield School District, said she was pleased with this year's testing results.

Campbell High School made AYP in both reading and math, as did Litchfield Middle School. However, Griffin Memorial School did not make AYP in either math or reading. The middle school and Griffin Memorial remain on the schools in need of improvement list.

Griffin Memorial's students achieved AYP as a whole, but its special education population did not achieve the required benchmarks. At least 86 percent of students in the special education subgroup must be proficient in order for an entire school to achieve AYP.

"We will renew our efforts with the special education students," said Cutler. "What we really need to do is understand that we need to teach every single student. We need to put processes in place to meet their maximum capabilities."

Merrimack School District is no longer a district in need of improvement for reading after it made AYP as a district this year. It also made AYP in math. Assistant Superintendent Debbie Woelflein said the district is pleased.

"I think it just shows that the approach we've taken works -- take your time, figure out what you have to do, then make the changes," she said.

All Bedford schools made AYP except one: Lurgio Middle School. And Lurgio had trouble in just one category: special education students in math.

"We're on a good track," Assistant Superintendent Chip McGee said. "We just need to keep raising the bar with students with learning disabilities."

The district as a whole also did not make AYP either in the category of students with educational disabilities in math.

Goffstown Superintendent Stacy Buckley said the schools and the district were coming up short in only one group of students: those with educational disabilities. "It's a small portion of our student body," Buckley said. "We're continually looking at our programs and services and trying to meet all these students' needs."

The Henry Moore School in Candia will lose its "in need of improvement" status after making progress in math this year.

"There is certainly a pattern here that we've noticed that continues," SAU 15 Superintendent Phil Littlefield said. "I think in all three communities the schools as a whole showed some improvement. Even if that improvement is incremental, they are progressing in the right direction."

SAU 15 serves Auburn, Candia and Hooksett.

The Hooksett School District became a district in need of improvement in reading for the first year. Cawley Middle School met the benchmark for reading, but not for math. Both Hooksett Memorial School and Underhill Elementary met the benchmark for math, but not for reading.

Littlefield said the performance of educationally disabled students at Underhill kept the district from making adequate yearly progress.

"The way the federal law is, even if you do OK as a district, if even one of eight subcategories doesn't meet their target, you don't make it," Littlefield said.
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New Hampshire Union Leader Correspondents Suzanne Bates, Stephen Beale, Gretyl Macalaster, and Lauren Sausser contributed to this report.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Another fact to remember. When you make AYP, the following year you must do 10% better. Another thing to remember is this is only ONE test to show progress or lack of it. The students are tested on things they learned 4 months previous. Try learning a language, not using it for four months, then having to pass a test.
- John, Manchester

I heard that Memorial also promised Final Exam Exemptions to those students who scored proficient or better on the exam. To me, that is more of a motivator than an iPod.
Though, anyone else think that these tests can be a bit ridiculous? The last line in the article says it all, "The way the federal law is, even if you do OK as a district, if even one of eight subcategories doesn't meet their target, you don't make it," Littlefield said... that means if your Special Needs students who are also ELL and Hispanic don't make "progress" you don't completely meet AYP. Odd.
- Hogan, Manchester

BW,
Recheck your facts. Gossler and Memorial both made AYP. Congratulations to both schools.
- John, Manchester

As I read the spreadsheet - Gossler Park missed AYP in math, and is still a School in need of improvement for reading. Perhaps that teacher who posted here ought to take another look at the information.
- BW, Concord

I know when I was in school we never took those test seriously. It seems like the most inaccurate way to judge a school, most kids know that their grade is not going to be affected so why would they bother trying? They should create a way to judge the schools based on the students grades, level of difficulty of the class, they could determine what classes or demographics are struggling and really focus their attention to who needs it the most. I’m it’s easier said than done but just something to think about.

Give the credit to the kids for the hard work they put in everyday, they deserve it!!!
- Leah, Manchester

I'd rather have my kids learning their subjects in school, rather than being trained how to take standardized tests. It seems the better they get at these tests, the dumber they get in their learning.
- Jonathan, Bedford

We, Gossler Park School, made AYP this year too! Please don't forget us. The students, staff, and parents have worked hard to show growth.
- Mr. Record, 2nd Grade Teacher, Manchester

As a parents, volunteers and advocates for Wilson School here in Manchester for 11 years, we can attest that Wilson's students are some of the nicest, brightest kids you can ever meet. Our daughter back in February brought home an award for recieving high scores in the Everyday Math Fractions Test. She also had proficient scores in math that was higher than the school, district and the state. Everyday Math has only been in place for only one year and as time goes by, more and more students will do better in the higher grades because of it. Our teachers give 120% effort and it shows everyday in the smiling faces of the children. This testing just shows that demographically diverse areas like Ward five here in Manchester will score lower than other places. Corrective action is just a label, support your school and PTA, PTO or PTG and things will improve over time. It has been proven so.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester
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RELATED LINK:
www.ed.state.nh.us/education/doe/organization/curriculum/Assessment/AYP/2008/AdequateYearlyProgressResultsfor2009.htm
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"Manchester Unions Boycott Budget Meeting With Mayor"
POSTED: April 9, 2009 on WMUR.com News Online

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- The simmering budget battle in Manchester takes a turn, as the city's unions stand up to Mayor Frank Guinta at a scheduled meeting Wednesday.

Guinta said the unions asked for a meeting and then didn't show. But a union representative said it's not that simple.

Michael Roche, speaking for 13 of the city's 17 unions, said the Mayor's proposal to furlough all city workers for a week is simply unacceptable. Roche said the unions had second thoughts about Wednesday's meeting after Mayor Guinta gave his budget proposal on March 31.

Last week, Mayor Guinta unveiled his plan to fill budget holes by making city workers take a one week furlough. The unions see it as a 2.7 percent pay cut, but the mayor said it will largely eliminate the need for layoffs.

Mayor Guinta said he'll reach out to the unions to schedule another meeting. But for now the unions say they're looking forward to meeting with Manchester Aldermen later this month.

Union officials said they have some cost-saving ideas, but they're not sharing those publicly. They want to wait for negotiations with aldermen.
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www.wmur.com/news/19133388/detail.html
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"Manchester assistant principals to get pink slips"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 4/14/2009

Ten assistant principals will receive pink slips this week, some perhaps for the second time in consecutive years.

A measure giving Superintendent Tom Brennan the authority to dole out the slips passed by a single vote at last night's school board meeting. Assistant Superintendent Karen Burkush said the layoff notices will go out before the end of the day tomorrow.

Board members declined to send notifications to teachers. They are expected to revisit that debate within the next three to four weeks.

The vote was personal for Lori Upham, an assistant principal at Gossler Park Elementary. Now finishing up her first year in that job, she said she is "right at the bottom" of the seniority list, "so I would be affected."

"People make a difference, and that doesn't seem to matter," she said after last night's vote. "Money is the bottom line here, not the job you do, and that's unfortunate."

The superintendent told board members the notifications were necessary while a cloud of uncertainty hovers over the district's budget. Administrators are preparing for the possibility that hundreds of jobs will have to be cut.

The pressure to pink-slip the assistant principals was high because of a looming contractual deadline. For those employees, notifications must go out by tomorrow. For teachers, the deadline is May 10.

Brennan had requested the power to pink-slip teachers last night. When board members hesitated, he said he will ask them to vote in a special meeting later this month.

"I just need the authority," Brennan said. "Not that I would exercise it without coming back and discussing it with you, but the time lines are crucial at this point."

The school board is asking for a budget of $152 million. Even if they get that much -- a wholly unlikely scenario, according to board member Doug Kruse -- the district would have to send out 107 pink slips, Brennan said last night.

At $146.1 million, the amount proposed by Mayor Frank Guinta, as many as 223 positions could be eliminated, the superintendent said.

Kruse said he suspects the board will refuse to pink-slip teachers, much as it did last year.

The board took flak from Mayor Frank Guinta and some aldermen for that decision, noted Ben Dick, vice president of the city teachers' union, but he said it was the right call.

"You showed them how bloody important the teachers are," Dick said.

The vote to send layoff notices to the assistant principals passed, 8 to 7. Guinta cast the final, tie-breaking vote.

Others who voted for the notifications were Joyce Craig, Bob O'Sullivan, Chris Herbert, Kruse, Art Beaudry, John Avard and Eric Fischer.

"I've voted against them every year because it's always been a political game," Kruse said. "This year, it's not a political game. It's real."

Eight assistant principals received pink slips last year. None were laid off.

The school board has authorized layoff notices on several occasions over the past two decades. Traditionally, employees who received the notices have kept their jobs.

READERS' COMMENTS:

The school district has reduced its staff by over 200 full time employees in the past 5 years. I would like to know how many fewer employees there are on the city side(police, fire, highway, parks etc...).
It seems that every year the city balances their budget on the backs of the School District. Instead of controling costs on the city side they take money that is earmarked for education (7 million this year) and use it keep taxes lower on the city side.
Every year Principles, Teachers and support staff are reminded that they are not valued by Manchester, Where Police, Fire and the rest of the city's employees are vital to keep services intact.
The process is broken it doesn't work. The schools need to be a seperate tax bill from the city, they need to set there own tax rate, and be accountable to the tax payers directly. STOP THE DOG AND PONY SHOW!! please,
- Kathy, Manchester

To John from Manchester:

(1) The last time Art Beaudry and I spent more than 10 minutes in a school was this morning. Several board members do visit schools and attend related functions. And seven of us (including me) have children currently attending our schools.

(2) Of the eight board members who voted for pink slips last night, five of us also voted to eliminate health insurance for the school board: Art Beaudry, Eric Fischer, Mayor Guinta, Bob O'Sullivan, and me. And two of us voted to eliminate stipends for the board: Bob O'Sullivan and me.
- Doug Kruse - School Board (Ward 8), Manchester

Board of School Committee member Doug Kruse put on a great show at last nights meeting and budget hearing. If front of the cameras and people attending he continually spoke of teachers neeing to make wage and benefit concessions. Yet he takes a $20,000 health and dental plan from the city when he is not an employee. Whast is he giving up? He also voted along with Mayor Guinta to give a $4,000 raise to the Assistant Superintendent. If you are going to talk the talk then walk the walk.
- Jim, Manchester

Doug Kruse and Mayor Guinta keep asking the teachers to give up contracted raises and make medical consessions in front of all the TV cameras last night. What was not show after was that during the nonpublic session they both voted to give the Assistant Superintendent a $4,000 raise.
- pete, manchester

Will someone with knowledge please explain the need for so many asst princs?

Having taught for many years, the need for one asst princ per school seemed to be fine.

Now, one school in my area has a principal and an asst princ for every 2 grades, from grade 7 thru 12. Since when do the students benefit from 6 administrators when 2 will do. The support staff of many schools represents money poorly spent.

The cost benefit analysis should be apparent. Spend the money for good teachers and the results should speak for themselves
- Emile, jaffrey

Tom of Manchester: I happen to be privelaged to have a substantial background as to how UNH hires their educators. Many are hired upon the combination of an ongoing assessment sometimes taken years before the student even applies for a position. Many UNH educators virtually do not even apply for positions-they may be recruited & asked to come to work there, barring the formality of filling out the application. "The point being" that it is my hypothesis that many who are seeking a teaching degree now, will be driven to work towards a masters or beyond, and just not bother with school districts that cannot give you job security. There is far more job security at the University level. Bottom line, universities have the power of financing. BTW, UNH is constantly updating,upgrading personel, and while they are cutting staff, they are adding staff as well. They are not just so outgoing to make that statement. Rest assured, UNH is not in the business of leaving any of their students lacking any staff to student support ratios. I invite Tom of Manchester to have the FACTS, FYI.
- Joe, Manchester

I "had" my job for 22 years ... no cared I was there that long when they were letting me go, said it was sorry, hard to do, yadda yadda yadda ... they also let young people go, too.

It's an easy equation folks:
1 week off or 52 weeks off for the future?

what would you choose? I can give you my recommendation.
- RG, Manchester

It's obvious Manchester doesn't value education. I think we should just skip to the part where the state takes over our schools and be done with this yearly horse and pony show.
- Maria, Manchester, NH

Police officers, Fire fighters, EMT's and TEACHERS should NEVER be layed off. They keep our childrens safe, and educate our children. They are our future. Do we really need to have a ton of parades each year? Do we have to have 4th of July fire works? No we don't. Why don't we stop spending un-necessary money like this, and keep our teachers in the school, and safety personel on the streets. I would gladly give all the fun activies up if it meant my children getting the proper education that they deserve.
- Christen, Manchester

Police officers, fire fighters, EMT's and teachers should NEVER loose their jobs. They keep our city safe and they keep our children educated. Let's remember our kids are our future. Is it necessary to have all these parades? I do not think so. Stop with all the un-necessary spending like parades and keep our teachers in the schools. Everyone throws a fit when all the fun activities in town are cancelled, but lets be real, there are far more important things. Do we HAVE to have 4th of July fire works? No we don't. Yes they are fun to go to, but I would rather have enough police on the street and teachers in the schools, then bring my family to fire works.
- Christen, Manchester

Sad times we live in, where a country, as great as ours, can't even provide the education necessary for our children to thrive, grow and learn. I can't imagine cutting so many necessary positions out of the district. You can't cut teachers, increase the class sizes and expect our children to learn. It's unfortunate how these layoffs are going to occur, with the brunt of them affecting the "lower step" teachers. Unfortunate that the cuts won't affect those that it should. The same holds true for the VP's. Our schools are too large as it is. Many for a Principal alone to manage.

It's the kids who are going to suffer from this. The kids who will not receive the quality education that they are entitled. There has to be another solution. 200 jobs? Come on. There has to be other "fat" in the city to trim.
- Trisha, Manchester

It is absolutely important to invest in our schools and in our children. If you are part of a community it is your obligation to do so.
- B, Manchester

This shouldn't even require a vote. The Superintendent should ALWAYS have the power to hire/fire as he/she sees fit. Its called "authority". Better yet, give that authority to the principals and let the superintendent hire/fire principals.

Alas our unionized government monopoly schools prohibit any form of genuine accountability. Tenure needs to go away. For that matter, the teacher unions need to go away.

Allow parents to send their children to any school they choose, private included. Let parents decide which schools provide the best bang for the buck. Lets see how long these dinosaur government union shops can stay in business then. Without the government imposed monopoly, they would crumble in no time.
- Jim Peschke, Croydon, NH

JC, your child is very lucky to have you, and I wish that every child were so lucky to have parents involved in their lives as yours are.
I don't have children, I am young, and I feel that I have something to offer children from my abbreviated life experiences. I encourage those who also have thought of reaching out to do so, because it's not only enriching for the child but also for the mentor.
I did not mean to offend you, and hope that your child will grow to have the best life.
Respectfully,
- AL, Manchester

yes... the school board voted to pink slip 10 assistant principals--but where in the article does it say that the board in closed session also voted for a 2% pay increase for K. Burkish???
- Jorge, Manchester

I envision a time when school administrators are allowed to choose who gets pink slips in their own schools. The union way of getting rid of the newest teachers with the fresh ideas to keep the oldest members around is outdated. The principals are the ones who should be making the decisions, they are the ones who are closest to the situation. We will once again see the youngest with the new ideas and good attitudes be sacrificed in order to protect the deadwood. The teachers who volunteer for extracurricular activities, bring fresh ideas to the classroom, and don't merely show up from 8 to 3 every day to run off worksheets and read the paper will be thrown out with no input from the administration.
- WS, Manchester

"I envision a future where quality educators stay away from financially unstable municipalities and tend to apply only at the college/university level". . Joe of Manchester ... Tom of Manchester "Ya kidding ,, right"? .. Hey Joe, do you think the colleges are understaffed? Didn't I just read that UNH is cutting staff? Wake up! Good teachers are wonderful, and education is important but:: what about the taxpayer who is losing his/her house? What about all the folks who have been let go from their jobs? Who is looking out for the average Joe .. not the Joe who seems to think there are thousands of college teaching jobs that no one wants.
- Tom, Manchester, NH

When the assistant principal positions, the paraprofessional positions, and some teachers positions are cut, now there fewer barriers between an out of control child in the classroom and your child. When the school nurse calls you and says that your child was hurt when another student threw a chair or desk at him/her, or that they were stabbed with a pencil (all true situations), then remember what Manchester's mayor is proposing with a slashed budget. That is the reality. Any teacher could relate.
- CAH, Manchester

I envision a future where quality educators stay away from financially unstable municipalities and tend to apply only at the college/university level. Talented educators do not typically like to job hop. They establish, learn, and continue to develop a career that benefits the students and the community, until the MSD terminates their employment that is. The first part of the MSD job application should read "beware, false promises upon reciept". Get used to the MSD future with this updated title: "All childs left behind". The city has some twisted finacial management ethics. Cut costs in education, but keep looking at a MILLION DOLLAR snow melting machine that they cannot even afford to operate.
- Joe, Manchester

As the economy gets worse - families losing their homes - - why take away from the kids? School is their place to go and explore - why are we taking that away from them? Think about it - you lay off teachers - more kids in a class - less personal time for the kids to get. The assistant Principles are important to keep all - they help keep things in order. Maybe our Government people should take a cut in pay to help save these imporant jobs.
- Kim, Manchester

"It takes a village to raise a child."

No thanks,

I raise my own kid.
- JC, Manchester

I could be wrong, but I think it is about time that members of the community reach out to the children of this city as mentors. I just printed out my application for Big Brothers and Big Sisters. "It takes a village to raise a child."
Respectfully,
- AL, Manchester

Weren't all these union members asked to take pay cuts and furloughs in leiu of losing jobs?

Did the union think budget and policy makers were kidding?

For decades, unions in have devastated American industry and helped push jobs overseas. American workers have since realized the union charade is nothing more than a dues collecting organization to give its upper own upper management fat salaries. The jig is up... Or is it???

Looks like unions have shifted the fleecing of american industry to a far more vulnerable target, Taxpayers.

I do feel bad though, arts an education are very important and for a school district that is struggling so badly, to lose a "gifted and talented" program will just force talented students out of the Manchester system and into private schools.

What'll that do to the Mancehster School systems testing averages? This city's school system is just getting sucked into an ever deeper and unrepairable vortex.
- John, Manchester

What do Arthur Beaudry and Doug Kruse know about running a school or a district? When was the last time ANY school board member spent more than 10 minutes in a school? These people are making decisions about the future of our children and have no connection with the schools other than they went to school once.
School board members should be required to spend 4 weeks in a school. This could be done in one week sessions. A week in September, a week in January, a week in April, and a week in June. This way they will get to SEE what actually goes on in a school on a daily basis.
Education has changed so much in the last few years and not all for the better. The No Child Left Behind law is so cumbersome it sets schools up to fail. Teaching is getting more and more difficult. We, as taxpayers, should demand more accountability from our elected representatives.
School board members should act in a professional manner and be setting a good example for others. This is not what I see when I watch the meetings on TV. I see some members and the mayor not paying attention when others are speaking. Laughing at their little side jokes. Enough is enough.
- John, Manchester

Hello Manchester--It's time to realized we need to invest in Education to better the futures of all. Funding education solely through property taxes is not working--we need someone to come up with creative ways to fund the much needed programs to keep kids in school and motivated to learn. Cutting athletics, music and arts, etc. is not the answer! While we all know the economy is bad, businesses should step up and help fund education--maybe tax cuts for those companies that do this would be a step in the right direction. Our kids deserve a great education and it's up to us to find a way to give it to them.
- Debbie, Manchester

Last night the school board discussed movie policies and trying to a get a programatic audit of the district done whatever the cost.
These discussions were often laced with unprofessional behavior and comments from a few board members.

Obviously the retreats aren't working.. I hope we can get a refund on that money.

Perhaps if the board talked about ways to find money, as opposed to posturing and insulting one another we could get through this in a way that is respectful of all involved.
- Leah, Manchester

The children are our future and today's it's the administration later on the Teachers. Students get the first impression of "people of authority" when they look at school administrators. Now cutting them is not the answer and cutting teachers is not the answer. We need to invest in our education where is the call to the President to bring a stimulus package to Education. Where are our Politicians of NH asking Washington for money for education. Investing in education is an investment in our future, and thats a good investment. We will only have ourselves to blame if we continue to cut education, education is our future without it we have no future. I’m willing to pay more in taxes if the direct it towards education.
- Ken, Manchester

Isn't that a rude awakening for Ms. Upham. Now she knows, how those of us who also lost their job due to downsizing, feels. I wish I would have had an option like a weeks furlough or even a lower hourly rate in my take home pay, as long as it ment that I would still be employed! Hope she has fun trying to keep her budget on an unemployment check! Unions, bah humbug!!!
- Pat, Manchester

my question is why do we need an Assistant Superintendent when we are giving pink slips to teachers?.
- jd, nashua

I hope they do not let teachers go based on seniority - it should be based on ability. There is a certain female VP where my children attend HS that should be in another field!
- Catherine, Manchester, NH

Yes eight Assistant principals were pink slipped last year and none were eventually layed off, but the truth is that due to the pink slip notification four of the assistant principals found jobs in neighboring school districts. The political game of pink slips has a huge impact on the schools and employees bring their valuable knowledge to other districts. A great loss for Manchester. Doug Kruse wants employees to make consessions but he voted to give himself full medical and dental insurance for his part time work on the school board. He costs the district over $20,000 for stipen and insurance. Great leadership by example.
- john, manchester

I'm confused, I thought that the proposed furloughs were going to keep 90 city employees from losing their jobs. Why is it now that those (furloughs) seem to be off the table, that over 200 teachers alone could lose positions???
- Brian, Manchester

Lori Upham should thank her union for her pink slip. She's right, it's not about the job someone does, it's about who has been there longer. The unions make sure of that!

Maybe that one week furlough is looking better to some?
- Rick, Manchester

Thats too bad because in the high schoolthey are the ones deally on a daily basis with the children.I think it should be the principles in those schools.We dont need more chiefs.The schools or police and fire dont need the cuts.Its in the city itself,pot holes arent being fixed anyways.The children need good role models teaching or disciplining them.
- karen, Manchester

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"School rules: Quality isn't valued"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, April 15, 2009

Ten assistant principals in Manchester's public schools were given pink slips Monday night. Lori Upham, an assistant principal at Gossler Park Elementary School, expressed her frustration this way: "People make a difference, and that doesn't seem to matter. Money is the bottom line here, not the job you do, and that's unfortunate."

She's exactly right. The Association of Manchester Principals insists that it be that way.

The union's contract requires that layoffs be based on seniority, not skill. It's last hired, first fired, regardless of competence. The same rule applies in the teachers' union contract.

If you wonder why it's hard attracting sharp, ambitious young people into public education, that's one reason. A system that rewards seniority instead of performance will get just that -- seniority, not performance.

It shouldn't be so, but it is -- because the unions insist upon it.

READERS' COMMENTS:

Frank and all the others who don't understand how this type of furlough works. You don't take a week off; you take an hour off, once a week for 40 weeks.

Nobody expects people who for the most part are living pay check to pay check to do without a weeks pay.

So instead of sitting in the teachers lounge during 3rd period on Wednesdays reading the paper at 10 or 20 or 30 dollar an hour, they'll be off the clock during 3rd period on Wednesdays, sitting in the teacher's lounge reading the paper.
- dan, Nashua

Why do these teachers continue to teach?

I actually have heard more negative comments coming from the school distict about us parents and how poorly we raise our children, and how undisciplined they are, and how parents only send kids to school to be babysat, and so on. These schools and the staff think so very little of parents and children, I have to wonder why even bother teaching?
- K, Hillsboro

No, Ryan, furloughs are not a good idea. Budgeting by furlough only means a larger increase in taxes in following years.

The premise of this editorial is a simplistic and one sided argument, but that is to be expected from a paper that shouts catch phrases instead of getting the whole truth into the open. For every action, there is a reaction and that is the case with seniority clauses in union contracts. Yes, there are some drawbacks in this tyoe of verbage in a collective bargaining agreement, but there is a logical reason for its existance. This protects people who have worked hard for many years from being terminated merely because they earn more than newer hires.

Many here like to blame teachers and their union for the state of public education, but certainly they face working conditions that are extreme when compared to that of a few generations ago. The schools are full of students who are unruly, violent and disruptive. Parents of students, sometimes by choice and sometimes by circumstance, have little involvement in their child's educational experience. Our teachers have been set up for failure by having to deal with an ever increasing set of circumstances that have nothing to do with education, but have an adverse effect on the classroom. They earn every penny they are paid and this includes the schoolhouse administrators who are busy day in and day out.

I guess the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but please stop presenting half the story to suit your agenda.
- Jules, Manchester

How would you define performance? Test scores? Passing students? How do you measure performance when one teacher has students headed to college and AP exams and another teacher has students who are glad to just have a roof over their heads or lack basic English skills? Does one perform better than another? How would you rate an Assistant Principal? They usually spend time on discipline, so would the one who gives less detentions be better?
Seniority is not a reason school districts have trouble finding (AND KEEPING) sharp, ambitious young people. If that is the case, why do people still work for Verizon and other companies that have unions and seniority? It is the long hours, hard work, and most importantly, the negative attitude towards teachers (from students, parents, and newspapers) that make them wonder why they want to put up with it day after day.
- Bob, Lake Ave 03104

Yet Karen Burkush got a $4,000 raise. Nice to see Manchester has its educational priorities straight.
- LP, Manchester

She is right. Money matters. A whopping savings of about $14.00 per taxpayer. Nice job Manchester. It is also her fault for taking the job to begin with. She should have known this would happen after last year. There is NO reward for loyalty from the "good" citizens of Manchester.
- John, Manchester

And exactly how are you planning to cover a furlough in a school since the teachers are paid for school days only? Are you going to volunteer to teach for a day, Ryan? That would certainly be a productive day for our kids.
- Frank, Manchester

Unfortunately, some of us, including teachers, have had to work at honest jobs where the threat from nepotism is way greater than the loss of teachers from brain death. No these are real jobs overseen by real administrators who prefer people who do what they are told and give up on trying to actually educate their students. Seniority is one way to prevent this culling of creative teachers or any teacher who does not toady. All the ranting about unions here indicates that the critics have never exposed themselves to actual workplaces. Stock brokers and bankers don't need unions - they already have you by the short hairs.
- Robert, Deerfield

And you know what, no one cares how the public school system in NH is run, including the DOE, so nothing will ever be done to correct this problem.

The NH public school system is just another business in which more money is poured into every year, with poor results.

These principals need to get the pink slip.So do the majority of the SAU staff in each district. There are more Administrators than need be, anyway. More money is going to How the kids are taught, than actually teaching the kids. Get rid of all the extras and keep the teachers, and let the teachers, teach.
- K, Hillsboro

A furlough doesn't sound like such a bad idea, does it Ms. Upham?
- Ryan, Hooksett

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"Proposed Manchester School Budget Full Of Cuts: Hundreds Of Manchester Teachers Hope To Avoid Layoffs" - www.wmur.com - April 13, 2009

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- The Manchester School Board voted to lay off 10 assistant principals in the city and proposed cutting more than 100 jobs and eliminating or reducing school programs.

Thomas J. Brennan Jr., Manchester's superintendent of schools, presented his budget to a packed crowd Monday evening, proposing major cuts in an effort to shave millions from the budget, WMUR News 9's Jean Mackin reported.

Teachers, staff and parents -- many wearing red shirts to represent support for education -- listened to the school board's proposed $152 million budget with layoffs and program eliminations as follows.

* 107 proposed layoffs of teachers and staff

* Eliminating elementary beginning band and orchestra, and the gifted and talented program

* Reducing kindergarten to a half day

* Cutting more than $200,000 from athletic programs

* Cutting $17,000 from music and arts

"I think it would be criminal ... to have our students at that young age not have the services they need," said Maxine Mosley, a school district employee.

"Highly qualified teachers are the most important thing to the education for the children in this city," said Ben Dick, vice president of the Manchester Education Association.

"Now, this year, they're telling me first-year teachers have got to go. So, basically, I'm the bottom of the food chain," said Melissa Savage, a teacher.

Scott McGilvray, president of the Manchester Education Association, said the teacher's union wants to discuss alternatives.

"Offering our assistance in this budget process ... please take advantage of our knowledge and expertise," McGilvray said.

Mayor Frank Guinta, a Republican, said he wants to sit down with unions but also cautioned that even this reduced budget is too high and unrealistic.

"We do need some compromise and I think the reality of the situation is that there has to be some compromise," Guinta said.

Aldermen will review the proposed school budget and could change it before incorporating it into the city budget, which has to be passed in June. If the school budget is cut further, the teacher's union said more than 200 teachers and staff could be laid off.
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Source: www.wmur.com/money/19172229/detail.html
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"Manchester Mayor To Seek Higher Office: 2-Term Mayor Of State's Largest City To Announce Plans" - www.wmur.com - (on or around) April 13, 2009

The mayor of New Hampshire's largest city said he will run for higher office next year instead of seeking a third term.

Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta told the New Hampshire Sunday News that he will announce by the end of the month which office he will seek. He said he's been asked to run for governor, Congress and the Senate.

The governor's office and congressional seat in Guinta's district are currently held by Democrats. The U.S. Senate seat, now held by Republican Judd Gregg, will be an open race next year since Gregg has said he won't seek re-election.

Guinta, a 38-year-old Republican, has been mayor since in 2006.

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GUINTA
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"All signs point to Guinta running for House seat"
By JOHN DISTASO, Senior Political Reporter, NH Union Leader, Tuesday, Apr. 14, 2009

MANCHESTER – He's not saying so publicly, yet, but all signs point to Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta becoming a candidate for the 1st District U.S. House seat within the next three weeks.

After announcing on Saturday that he won't run for a third term as mayor and will seek higher office, Republican Guinta told the New Hampshire Union Leader yesterday that by the end of the week, he will have a "Friends of Frank Guinta" federal campaign committee filed with the Federal Election Commission. He said he will begin to raise money immediately.

Guinta and close advisers have recently told Republicans in Manchester and elsewhere he intends to run for the U.S. House seat now occupied by two-term Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.

Guinta said the country "is in desperate need of action on behalf of American and New Hampshire families."

He said that as mayor he has focused on "controlling spending good government, enacting reforms to improve the environment, to make this city a leading city and to protect the taxpayers."

Guinta said that Shea-Porter and 2nd District Rep. Hodes "are voting to reflect their personal values, which seem to be in direct contrast with that. They are spending at record amounts while unemployment numbers continue to rise. There is no clear path toward getting our economy back on track."

Guinta said he would not have voted for the $787 billion stimulus package and opposes federal bailouts.

"Government has a role to pay in this (economy), but it should be a limited role and far different than what Carol Shea-Porter and Hodes are advocating," he said. He said the stimulus law has not helped the economy.

As for bailouts, "Sometimes federal officials feel like they need to act for the sake of acting," he said, advocating a more careful approach.

Guinta is not the only Republican eyeing a candidacy for the 1st District U.S. House seat.

Former state Commissioner of Health and Human Services John Stephen "has not closed the door and is interested," said Stephen advisor Greg Moore.

Moore said that while Stephen is focusing on his private sector position with the Lucas Group, "he keeps in constant contact with his organization and continues to have a strong district-wide organization and strong fund-raising base."

Guinta's weekend announcement opened the door for a possible flood of candidates for what is now an open seat at City Hall.

Republican Ward 2 Alderman and state Sen. Ted Gatsas said he is not ruling out a run for mayor and is "certainly flattered by the number of calls I've gotten."

Ward 3 school board member Doug Kruse said he intends to give a run for mayor "a lot of consideration," but said he is also looking at "other options."

Ward 9 Alderman Michael Garrity has said he is interested.

Democratic names circulating as potential candidates include Manchester Alderman-at-Large Mike Lopez, school board member David Gelinas, veteran city activist Donna Soucy, Hillsborough County Treasurer Chris Pappas, attorneys Bob Backus and Gray Chynoweth and state Sen. Lou D'Allesandro.

Alderman-at-Large Dan O'Neil said Guinta's announcement hasn't changed his mind; he does not intend to run.

State Democratic Chairman Raymond Buckley said he has been assuming for many weeks that Guinta will run for the House; he doubts Guinta will be successful.

"He's been able to get away with his George W. Bush-like antics in Manchester, but I think he reached his zenith," Buckley said. "The people catch on if someone holds elective office and has no record of accomplishment."

READERS' COMMENTS:

In some ways, I'm happy that Guinta is running for the House seat since Shea-Porter is very anti-gun.

On the other hand, I wish he would stay in NH. The federal government machine is a lost cause. It will never be fixed until it collapses on itself. We need to focus on our state.
- Jack, Concord

Carol Porter and Hodes are complete Pelosi rubber stamps. You can see what the democrats are doing to our state on a daily basis and it is exactly what these to automatons are doing in DC. You people forget that 63 million people voted against this administration, there is no mandate, we are a deeply divided country, you dems think that all the Republicans are unenlightened morons and I think that you are all naive, fleeced, constitution hating miscreants. The only advantage that you have is the media. It is now becoming apparent that the people are scrutinizing their media dollars and the great liberal media establishment is starting to come apart (Boston Globe, NYT etc) and when that it is done and there is a level playing field we will clean your clock but good.
- Dave, Hampstead

I for one would like to see Gray Chynoweth run as he would be a strong candidate in the race for Mayor. A natural leader, he has much respect from many around the state. His business sense speaks loudly to both his intellect and care for the city. I hope he does run, this city needs more people involved in the political process.
- Jeff Penta, Manchester, NH

I must respectfully disagree with the first poster, Jacob, on his assessment of the possible Mayoral candidates. Both Aldermen Lopez and Gatsas have served tirelessly for the City and we should be honored if Lou D'Allesandro is considering running. Also, Gray Chynoweth may be inexperienced in City politics but he is no lightweight.
- Dylan Cruess, Manchester, NH

Dale in Dover: First of all, don't believe everything you read in the Union Leader. Second, you can come here to watch the Fisher Cats any time. Manchester is a very safe city if you are simply here to have fun. It is only dangerous if you are a drug toting thief who wants to go looking for trouble. The most popular crime in manchester is domestic violence...really, look at the courts and you will see. Manchester is not a bad city at all and don't let the news stories fool you.
- Mike, Manchester

Chynoweth could prove to be one of the more solid candidates in the race for Mayor. He's got a sharp legal mind, has strong ties throughout the city/state, is involved in the community and has the political savvy the make strong run. I wouldn't underestimate his chances.
- EJP, Manchester

Richard, Don is correct. CSP was born in NYC where her ultra lib family hails from.
- Alex K., Deering, NH

I'd be excited to see Gray run. Be great to see some new ideas brought to the city by a business minded person. I've heard a number of local business owners who would also like to see him run. Hope he strongly considers it.
- Jeremy Hitchcock, Manchester

That Rip Van Buckley - he hasn't woken up yet and realized Bush isn't President any more. Bush may have started the bailout bonanza, but Obama voted for that one then doubled down on this bad bet once elected. Guinta says - no bailouts. There is no reason to doubt him on that. Sadly by the time he is elected the damage will be done and the dollar will be worthless as a result of bailout induced hyperinflation. The blame will be rightly cast on Democrats including Hodes and Shea-Porter. Both should be soundly defeated as a result. Good luck Frank, not that you will need any.
- Mark, Amherst

Here's a thought, how about the Mayor checking with the people of Manchester and "polling" them to see if he could win votes in the city that he runs now.
I find it so funny that these politicians can immediately have an expensive fundraiser, AND get the money!
Gee, could the people that are "supporting"him be expecting a "favor" in return for the $100.00 a plate luncheons? YOU BET THEY ARE!
If he was any kind of smart politiician, he should have held a fundraiser for those less fortunate first, and then work this into conversation with the public later.
Ah, but I am just a citizen that is smarter than he is, but no one would elect me because my ideas make too much sense AND I would truly be there for the people and not myself.
- Pauline, Franklin

Carol Shea-Porter is a NH native raised on the Seacoast. She is not a 'transplant".
- Richard, Manchester

In 2006 Carol Shae-Porter beat incumbent Jeb Bradley 52% to 48%. In 2008, she beat Bradley again by a wider margin, 52% to 46%. If Guita thinks he will have an easy time beating Shea-Porter I think he is in for a surprise.
- LJC, Manchester

He can't handle Manchester. How can he cut it in Washington. I'll enjoy the CS-P trouncing of Guinta.
- Tim, Manchester, NH

Dale, why are you worried about where Guinta is from? Shea-Porter, and Hodes are also non-native NH transplants.
- Don R., Exeter, NH

Guinta for Congress? Too funny! How about somebody who actually gets things done; rather than just taking credit for what others have accomplished? We don't need another professional politician.
- Bob V, Manchester

Guinta may stand a chance because of timing.The tide is turning against Porter and other Democrats because of the some old politics that made them turn against the Republicans. Guinta can't win on his record because he clearly has not taken the ball and ran with it at City Hall. He may win by standing at the right place at the right time. He will fit in just great in Washington. Another politician never short of hot air. They are all the same. BTY, he really need to surround himself with smarter and more talented people. His team in the mayors office could be his weak link in a run for office, I think he found them at Walmart. A good General need superior soldiers.
- Tom, Manchester

Dale,
You and your family should come and see a Fisher Cats game. Its a good time (and cheap). As far as getting out before dark, are you kidding me? You shouldn't be afraid to go down Elm St. at any time of the night. There are a lot of good bars to go to and some great places to eat down there after a game (though some not as "family" oriented as others).

As far as a bio for the mayor simply look at wikipedia. Yes he is not originally from New Hampshire but he did get part of his education from state of ours.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Guinta
- TMAN, Manchester

Guinta has done absolutely nothing as mayor. Just look at his own description of his record: "controlling spending good government, enacting reforms to improve the environment, to make this city a leading city and to protect the taxpayers." Does anyone not see that this is just empty rhetoric. He's not even saying anything there, just touching on a few talking points. All Guinta's done is talk about lowering taxes. And while I disagree with that, if you're going to do that you can't just lower taxes, you have to propose savings, etc. Guinta has never understood the difference between governing and campaigning.
- Michael Bellefeuille, Bedford, NH

Tomorrow there will be a Tax Tea Party in Manchester’s Victory Park @5:30 pm to protest all the taxation going on at the state and federal level. Guinta will be there, I doubt Carol Shea Porter will be, seeing as though she helped pass all this new spending/bailouts. That's all I need to know. I wish Mayor Guinta all the best of luck in his run, he has my vote already. Don't vote for more of what we've gotten the past few months, we can't afford it!
- Roger, Hooksett, NH

Dale from Dover. Your post made me laugh. Afraid to be out after dark? Like Dover is any safer. Are you really that naive, or just some Shea-Porter hack?
- Alex K., Deering, NH

I have been proud to consider myself a supporter of the mayors throughout his tenure as mayor. His strong leadership skills and diligence towards fiscal restraint after years of tax happy leadership under the previous mayor Bob Baines has totally changed the attitude at City Hall. He has gotten rid of some of the most dangerous night clubs in the state, increased police officers, added a police substation, forced out child murderers, and added dozens of neighborhood watch groups.

Under his leadership, he single handedly ushered in this "new" idea in Manchester that you can't tax your way out of every problem. He has promoted fiscal restraint, while still bringing about development like the Jac Pac renovation into Elliot at the River's edge.

I also agree that it will be sad to lose his abilities here in Manchester government, however I do also agree that we need his ability to change the attitude about taxes in Washington now as we did here in Manchester.
- Casey Johnes, Manchvegas

See, people like Frank or Kathy who blog on this board are so liberal that they consider Shea Porter not far left enough. I for one am tired of this lunacy and ready to move NH politics back towards the center. We need strong and proven leaders like Mayor Guinta in Washington now more than ever.
- Jake T., Manchester

Look at the Democrats squirm. They are utterly horrified at the prospect of running against Frank Guinta in this Congressional race. And they should be! Mrs. Shea Porter hasn't represented the interests of Manchester or District 1; all she has represented is her's, Ray Buckley's, and the Democrat interest.
- Sara Collins, Manchester, NH

Well surprise, surprise. Has anyone ever doubted that Mr. Guita is a professional politician--he's never had a real job--who adopted Manchester as his home town simply as a step to higher office? Why run for the House? Because Governor Lynch would crush him at the polls and the GOP--with daily cheerleading from the Union Leader--has already selected Jeb Bradley to run for the open Senate seat. I'm sure Guita will be a credible opponent to Congresswoman Shea-Porter but, with any luck, the voters of the entire First Congressional District will learn in time what we in Manchester already know: Mr. Guita is only interested in one constituent, himself.
- LJC, Manchester

I for one am sick of Carol Shea-Porter's lack of a backbone and inability of voting for anything other than what he party supports. This is New Hampshire, we aren't California! Reps from this state are supposed to embody the independent nature of those here in NH, however Shea-Porter has supported the liberal anti-business policies of Nancy Pelosi 99% of the time.

We will miss Guinta at City Hall, but his fiscal conservatism and independent record will he Manchester on a national level. Go get em' Guinta!!
- Chris King, Manchester

Well, there goes Buckley attacking any Republican with the "Bush Boogie Man" approach. Guinta wasn't in Washington EVER when Bush was in office and has nothing to tie him to Bush whatsoever, however Buckley's only attack plan is to attack any Republican, even ones who have never met Bush or ever voted to support any of his policies, by saying he is just "Bush #2." Buckley should realize that NH voters aren't that dumb to believe this Bush link to EVERY Republican out there.

Guinta would be a great Congressmen and he has my support all the way. Shea Porter has shown that bi-partisanship isn't even in her dictionary in how she has voted liberal party lines at every opportunity. On the other hand, Guinta has worked in a bi-partisan throughout his tenure as mayor in working with a majority Democrat Board of Aldermen. Guinta would be a breath of fresh air after Shea Porter since all she has been is a liberal puppy dog voting in step with Nancy Pelosi at every opportunity.
- Ryan Feltner, Manchester, NH

Smart move by the mayor. He will win this election in easy fashion.
- Jay Collins, Laconia

The only good news here is that Guinta will be out of Manchester politics. What a complete failure he's been. He presents a budget with one idea, a furlough, that can't even be enforced. Dumb. He hasn't got a prayer for another office. The "R" after his name stands for "Reject".
- Frank, Manchester

Michael from Manchester: I think you to need to look at past articles in this paper. Guinta has not been proposing cuts to fire and police since in office. He has actually increased the MPD by 20 officers and he has only been slowing down the rehire policy at Fire. As for schools, when the student population drops four years in a row, shouldn't the teacher population drop as well?

Sounds like good government and sound budgeting to me. Give her hell Frank!
- Seth Connors, Manchester, NH

Bush like antics in Manchester? Oh please. Give it a rest Ray-Ray. It is time to find new material.
- Joe L., Manchester, NH

Well, Guinta's announcement pretty much kills any opportunity for getting a tax cut, or even a small tax hike, this year. Furthermore, it undermines any effort by him to lead the tax cap. It's "Aldermen Gone Wild" with a distracted Mayor. Dig deep, Manchester taxpayers.
- Glen, Manchester

Michael, could you please illustrate for us a few examples of so called "pork" that Guinta has worked for? Aside from ushering in federal dollars for the Granite Street corridor (which vastly improves this city), he has stayed far away from federal dollars.

While you're on your union break, please also exemplify how the MPD is in poorer shape now, with a full compliment of officers, than it was when Baines was in office.

Partisan sputtering at its best.
- Daniel Hillard, Manchester

Being from the seacoast i will not vote for Guinta.I could tell all along that he wants to be a career politician.He must need a pension.My wife and I want to go to Manchester to see the Fisher Cats but are cocerned about the crime.We wanted to spend the night but I think we will be out of Dodge before dark.Question can anyone tell me if Mayor Guinta is a Manchester native or a implant also whats his bio.
- Dale, Dover

Reno...obviously you don't pay attention to city politics. Mayor Guinta had to announce that he wasn't running now. The city elections are in 2009.
- Phil Mogitz, Mannchester

I like how Ray Buckley drags Bush out for another beating. He can't defend Carol Shea Porter's record on spending and broken promises. Guinta for Congress I can't wait, 2010 can't come soon enough.
- Chris, Merrimack

Of course he is running for some other office. Obviously he does not think he could get re elected or why else would he announce so early and confirm lame duck status before the budget is complete? He is leaving a mess for someone else to clean up.
- Reno, Manchester

Although Guinta seems to be another in a long line of egocentric self promoting pols, he's gotta be better than Carol Shea Porter. After all, the R behind his name stands for RESPONSIBLE government. Go Frank!
- gr chase, Exeter

As a resident of Mancester for 15 years now, I see the positive impact Mayor Guinta has had on Manchester. For Ray Buckley to say those things only means he has real concern for what this race will mean to Caaroll Shea-Porter. If the Mayor really gets in, she will be in the fight of her life. I must say as a taxpayer of Manchester I am sad to see him go. I will however support him for whatever he runs for.
- Robin B, Manchester

Great news bye bye to Judas Gregg and now to Back Stabbing Frank Guinta now let's get some real Republicans to boot out Shea-Porter. Will Infantine or Jim Wieczorek are my choices. A knife fight between Guinta and Stephen would be fun to watch however, voting against these two would be a pleasure and worth the trip to the polls.
- Richard L. Fortin, Manchester

It's interesting that Mayor Guinta wants to take his career to the Federal level. What has he done for Manchester besides reducing police, teacher and firefighter payrolls? On one side of Mr. Twoface, he wants all he is entitled to: pork. On the other, he doesn't want to be responsible for ending it. I doubt he will be successful. His successful may mean stunting recovery for NH.
- Michael, Manchester

No big breaking news here. Anyone who has been awake in this city for the last several years has been saying all along that Guinta was only using his position as a step toward a higher republican office, and we're the ones he stepped on! All his ridiculous blathering about holding down taxes -at the expense of city services- was too transparent. He never cared about this city or its residents. His political resume is all he's ever worked for. Good riddance, Mr. Guinta!
- Kathy, Manchester

Thank God get rid of that loser Liberal Shea-Porter, Frank You have all my support and all of my customers support.

Good luck, all the real New Hampshire "live free or die" residents are pulling for you!
- MIke Johnosn, manchester NH

What an utterly pathetic list of possible candidates. Retreads like Lopez and D'Allesandro, machine hacks like Soucy and Gelinas, a blustering bully in Gatsas, and an inexperienced lightweight like Chynoweth.

Sad.
- Jacob, Manchester

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John DiStaso reported (above) that Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta (R) will most likely run for the U.S. House against Carol Shea Porter (D). "Guinta told the New Hampshire Union Leader yesterday that by the end of the week, he will have a 'Friends of Frank Guinta' federal campaign committee filed with the Federal Election Commission. He said he will begin to raise money immediately."
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Source:
www.realclearpolitics.com/politics_nation/2009/04/strategy_memo_state_of_the_eco.html
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"Alderman accused of assaulting former employee"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 4/16/2009

MANCHESTER – Alderman Kelleigh Murphy waived arraignment in Manchester District Court this morning on a simple assault charge that alleges she assaulted a female bartender in Murphy’s Taproom, the Elm Street bar owned by Murphy and her husband.

Trial was set for July 8 and Murphy remains free on $1,000 personal recognizance bail, with conditions barring her from contact with the alleged victim, Jocelyn Richard, and a witness to the alleged assault, Kelly Southwick.

Murphy’s attorney, John Kacavas, alleges Richard had a vendetta against Murphy and told her, some time before she was fired: “I’m going to report you to police for touching me.”

Court documents show Richard told police the incident occurred Dec. 27, 2008, but she did not report it to police until March 6.

Richard told police Murphy grabbed her by the back of her neck with one hand and gripped her under the chin with the other and spun her around in the direction of customers. Richard said Murphy then let go and grabbed her shoulder and told her to look in front of her. Richard said her neck was sore the following day. She also told police Murphy had grabbed her shoulder and turned her in the past and she had told Murphy she did not like to be touched.

According to the police affidavit, the manager on duty at the time, Kelly Southwick, told police she heard Murphy yelling at Richard and saw her grab, turn and push Richard, who started to cry.

Court documents show Murphy told police she was covering one area of the bar and Richard was covering the other, that night but that she constantly had to remind Richard to pay attention and help customers. At one point, she said, Richard wasn’t helping one of the customers so she walked behind Richard and placed her left hand on Richard’s shoulder and with her right hand grabbed Richard’s right arm and then physically pointed her in the direction of the waiting customer.

He said Murphy “absolutely denies the charge” of unprivileged physical contact and will “vigorously defend herself” in court. Murphy, who represents Ward 12, on the West Side, turned herself in Wednesday after police obtained a warrant for her arrest and was released on bail.

The simple-assault charge is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Murphy, 30, who is an attorney with a Portsmouth law firm, announced last week she intends to resign her seat on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen so she and her husband, Keith Murphy, can move to Bedford and “start a family.” She said she will make the resignation official once the couple closes on a house, which could happen as soon as May 29.

Kacavas said the criminal investigation had “absolutely nothing to do” with Murphy’s decision to step down and said any suggestion that it did is “rank speculation, perhaps malicious speculation.”

Kacavas said Richard, who was working for Murphy’s Taproom at the time of the alleged “contact,” was subsequently fired because of “difficulty in the employer-employee relationship over time.”

It was toward the end of her time at Murphy’s, Kacavas said, when her employment was in question, that the woman “threatened to do exactly what she did -- that is, report Kelleigh to the police.”

Southwick, the witness interviewed by police, also no longer works at the establishment.

Murphy is the daughter of former Alderman Jacquelyn Domaingue and New Hampshire Union Leader Vice President of News Ed Domaingue. She served one term on the Manchester school board before her surprise election to the Ward 12 alderman’s seat in 2007.

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READERS' COMMENTS:

William J Ritchotte, the police had enough probable casue to arrest her. Please explain to me why it is "outragous" to believe she did anything criminal
- Henry Allen, hooksett

For the record Mr Hirschman was an assistant coach and Vice President of Manchester West Little League Major Division back in the mid nineteen nineties.
I was the President at the time.
- Jim Brown, Hooksett NH

My comment about this is from a different perspective. I knew Kelleigh as a member of the Manchester Young Professionals. I personally did not like her as she did things I believe politically suited her but despite the different nips and tangles with myself or others it was always with words. People can change but for anyone to believe she did anything criminal here is outrageous.
As a person I feel she cares for no one but herself. She allies herself purely to gain access but she is not a criminal.
I think it is criminal to print a picture of Kelleigh being booked. I am sure the editors of this paper have been burned a bit themselves but has she any other act in her past?
Give her her time in court, dismiss the charges and say farewell for good.
- William J Ritchotte, Manchester, NH

What does the fact that she is the daughter of New Hampshire Union Leader Vice President of News Ed Domaingue have to do with this story?

Kelleigh, please come to Bedford and run for Town Council next year. We could use someone who doesn't always have a chip on their shoulder.
- Goldie, Bedord

So assaulting a school teacher for the emotionally handicapped is ok if your an alderwoman? Assault is never acceptable and especially on our school teachers. It is so sad to see all these people defending Ms. Murphy just because she is political. Get a grip the girl has a temper and it got her in trouble. That is what happens.
- April, Manchester

Bill P.,

Your comment, "Nothing worse than a vengeful woman" made me cringe. Since destructive vengeful behavior is obviously perpetrated by both genders, perhaps we should refrain from sexist commentary.

However, I think you make a good point about Murphy's opportunity to report the threat. Too bad, Murphy probably thought it was an idle threat and brushed it off.

As for your commentary on Manchester, I also agree. I was raised in Manchester the 70s and 80s and have seen a significant degradation in the quality of life in the city in recent years. In fact, after three cars and two homes in my immediate neighborhood were broken into, I moved to Auburn.
- Dan, Auburn

Hey, Will (and Tom for that matter)....ah, how did Dan O'Neil get brought into this? She is leaving, get over it.

What makes uneasy is that Keith "Coach" Hirshman is stepping back in. More of the same, with that load.....rhetoric and making things personal...always easy when a bully. Thankfully, most know a bully for what they are ~ cowards.

And could someone please share what sport and team he actually 'coached?'
- Jack, Manchester

No sooner does Keith Hirschmann announce he's running for alderman than this hits. Keith's best buddy is Joe Kelly Levasseur, who has been badgering the Manchester Police about this incident for weeks. Something stinks.
- Clyde, Manchester

What is the name of the employee making the accusation? Was she contacted to comment? Is she moving to Bedfrod too? Come on UL. Talk about bias in reporting.

*** Editor's note: As reported in the story above, the Union Leader's request for the complainant's name was denied by Chief David Mara. ***
- Jim, Robinson

Hey Sharon, Yes, Dan O'Neil works hard, the question is, who is he working hard for? Certainly not the taxpayers of Manchester.
- Will, Manchester

It sounds to me that this employee had a personal vendetta against Kelleigh. The truth will come out in courts.
- Charlie, Manchester

Good people don't assault others. Hands are for shaking not hitting.
- Mike, Weare

Hey Tom-

Murphy has been a good alderwoman, but how many meetings did she attend as a school board member? Not many....
Reason: She was going to move then, too.

As for Dan O'Neil.. yes, he works and he works hard.
- Sharon, Manchester

This is the state of 'at will' employment in New Hampshire. The hassle of an arrest, the cost of a lawyer, and the mental anguish expended are enough to drive any private employer out of business. Then everyone can work for the state. Or the city.

If there has to be a trial, Murphy would have been better off firing this marginal employee and beating back any blowback from the 'Hooksett Four' mentality in a courtroom in an entirely different dispute.
- Steve, Manch

it is too bad that she does not feel that the "West Side, " or Manchester for that matter is not an acceptable city to raise or start a family. !- Jessie, Manchester-03102
So you consider someone that wants a house with a large piece of land in the 'country' as a political traitor because they can't get that in a 'city'? Thats pretty twisted logic. There's no political motivation in your comment is there? NOT!
- Andrew Nault, manchester - 03102

The more I read and watch Ms Murphy, the more I want her to stay in Manchester. She is smart, interesting, actually works outside of her alderman [woman] job .. her husband has an investment in the city .. on and on... she is what Manchester needs more of ... not the likes of O'Neil [ does this guy work? ] or Lopez or Smith [ city retirement ] ..

Stay Kelleigh !
- tom, manchester, nh

I guess the real story has to come out and the paper is forced to finally report it. There is a lot more going on in the bar and with these two than meets the eye. Funny how they were both named to the 40 under 40 as the best and the brighest in NH. This was real bright for sure.
- Mike, Bedford

This would make a great reality show. Democrats Gone Wild. They could travel coast to coast looking for liberals getting themselfs in trouble with the law or anything else. It could be co-hosted by Ray Buckley and Barney Frank. Iam sure it would be a big hit.
- Bob, Mnachester

Now the real story comes out.......typical politician using her 'family' as the excuse when really the charges were already in the works.

Of course the employee was fired, she told her husband she didn't like that one person and to get rid of her.
- James, manchester

What a cop-out to resign her seat! She wanted the position, she should fulfill it.
- Joy, Bedford

This really sucks to get jammed up like this...but the fact is, it can happen to anybody at any time. Not knowing the facts, but knowing Kelleigh, My personal sense tells me there really is nothing to this.

If the other party involved is who I think it is, then I cannot say that I am at all surprised at this turn of events.
- Rick Olson, Manchvegas

Nothing worse than a vengeful woman. I don't think we have heard the whole story but I do think if this woman said that a few weeks back Murphy should have reported it then to make her postion more favorable. Jessie you need to get over it. More and more people are tinking Manchester is not a good placre to raise a family and that is reality.
- Bill B., Pelham

I am sorry for her, it is too bad that she does not feel that the "West Side, " or Manchester for that matter is not an acceptable city to raise or start a family. Ward 12 does not deserve an alderman with these beliefs...let Bedford have her!
- Jessie, Manchester-03102

Innocent until proven guilty. There are always two sides to a story and at this point nobody, except the two women, know what happened.
- Jeff, Manchester

----------

"City Hall: Mayor wannabes are lining up in Manchester"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 4/19/2009

Things are looking different now that Mayor Frank Guinta is out of the picture.

Just a week after Guinta announced he wouldn't be on the ballot this fall, there seems to be no shortage of people "thinking" of running for mayor.

"Certainly, the calculus changes," said Tom Donovan, the Democratic attorney who challenged Guinta in 2007. Just a few weeks ago, Donovan said he was out. Now, as he said, he's "giving it some thought again."

Another Democrat, former Alderman Jerome Duval, also stepped forward as a possible contender last week, saying "the issues facing our community are far too great . . . to sit idly by."

"While I don't rule out supporting another candidate, I don't see a candidate I would be inclined to support at this time," Duval said.

Donovan and Duval join at least three other Democrats who had already expressed an interest in the seat before Guinta dropped out: Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez, Alderman Mark Roy and local attorney Gray Chynoweth.

Things are just as fluid on the Republican side. Alderman Mike Garrity and school board member Doug Kruse have both said they're considering a run. Alderman and state Sen. Ted Gatsas told a reporter he wasn't ruling it out.

Richard Girard, who was an alderman at-large from 1998 to 2000, said he wasn't giving the matter much thought before, but he's starting to now.

"I've been caused to consider it by the sheer number of people who have inquired of my interest," Girard said.

Presumably, both parties would prefer to avoid a free-for-all. State Rep. Will Infantine, chairman of the Manchester Republican Committee, said he's been talking with all of the would-be GOP candidates and hopes to see if the party can pick one to rally around.

"Obviously, you don't want to have too much of a primary, because you want to conserve resources," he said. "That's just smart campaigning."

A non-partisan primary will be necessary if there are more than two candidates, and at this point, that seems pretty much unavoidable. Public-access TV personality Glenn Ouellette has already declared his candidacy.

- - - - -

NO THANKS: A few names that have generated some speculation can probably be thrown out. Attorney Bob Backus, a Democrat, said he doesn't have any intention of running for mayor this year. School board member Dave Gelinas, also a Democrat, said the same.

City Democratic Party Chairman Chris Pappas isn't interested in running for mayor, but he says he is leaning toward a run for an at-large seat on the school board.

"I think we can take schools in a different direction in Manchester, and that hasn't been getting the priority that it needs from the mayor and the Board of Aldermen," said Pappas, who co-owns the Puritan restaurant.

- - - - -

MAN WITH A PLAN: Former Manchester Planning Director Bob MacKenzie was indeed exploring a run for mayor recently, but it now appears unlikely he'll give it a go, according to a former city official picked to sit on MacKenzie's "advisory committee."

Former Planning Board Chairman Kevin McCue said MacKenzie would like to run but is concerned he'd lose his retirement benefits if he won.

"He's a little bit reticent," McCue said. He said MacKenzie would have run as an independent.

"I think he would have made a great mayor," McCue said, "because he's got a good technical background, knows the city very well. He'd be a consensus-builder."

- - - - -

SHAW 'NUFF: For the record, the last time this city had an open race for mayor was 1987, when Emile Beaulieu beat Ray Wieczorek in a squeaker.

The job was up for grabs because the incumbent, Mayor Bob Shaw, chose not to seek reelection. Shaw was himself a two-term mayor, and like Guinta, he had grand ambitions. He ran for governor the next year but lost.

Shaw ran for mayor again in 1995 and 1997, but he couldn't clear the hurdle. Years later, he told the Union Leader, "I should have run for a third term.''

- - - - -

WIKIALTY: Someone has been tinkering quite a bit with Guinta's page on Wikipedia. We don't know who's doing it, but it's obviously a fan.

As of this writing, the page credits Guinta with "successfully reducing crime and delivering Manchester's first tax cut this decade" and testifies to his "mayoral leadership and devotion to fiscal responsibility." It also quotes liberally from a particularly flattering New Hampshire Union Leader endorsement.

Those additions, all made within the past month, were authored by someone going by the name "Manchguy85." Since February, the "guy" has also repeatedly edited the Wikipedia page on the 2010 House races. Pretty much all of those changes had to do with Guinta, too.

Interestingly, Manchguy85 also commented on U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter's page: "This article (reads) more like a campaign promo rather than an unbiased encyclopedia article. Very poor article."

- - - - -

FRANK'S FRIEND: Guinta hadn't even said what office he'll seek when he got his first endorsement. Doug Lambert, the Gilford Republican who runs GraniteGrok.com, pledged his loyalty in an April 12 blog post.

"Whatever seat Guinta decides to go for, we'll be eagerly supporting him as an able, proven alternative to our present representation," Lambert wrote.

- - - - -

HOOKSETT HIGH?: Superintendent Tom Brennan's people are keeping an eye on Hooksett, where there's been some talk lately about building a high school in town, and by extension, pulling Hooksett students out of Manchester.

Kruse and other members of the school board's Coordination Committee were so concerned about that possibility that they asked Brennan to "develop and draft a strategic plan for the eventual departure of the Hooksett students."

Brennan assured the board he is "looking at the situation" but said it's premature to begin the sort of planning Kruse had in mind. He also said it might create the wrong impression, a point Gelinas echoed.

"I think if we were to vote for this it would send a bad message to Hooksett, that maybe we don't want them," Gelinas said.

Other board member agreed, and the matter was dropped.

- - - - -

MIND'S MADE UP: Alderman At-Large Lopez's proposal to reorganize the City Assessor's office appears to be dead in the water.

Lopez's idea is to reduce the number of full-time city assessors from three to one and create a part-time board. He says the move would save the city between $70,000 and $80,000 in salaries next year.

The Committee on Administration and Information Systems rejected the idea unanimously last week. Members later agreed to rescind that vote "as a courtesy" to Lopez, who said the committee should wait to hear what Assessor David Cornell has to say about the idea first.

Chairman Dan O'Neil conceded the point, but told Lopez, "Being up front, it's not going to change my mind."
-
Read Scott Brooks' coverage of Manchester City Hall during the week in the New Hampshire Union Leader. E-mail him at sbrooks@unionleader.com.
-

READERS' COMMENTS:

Leah from Manchester is mistaken. The vote on the Assistant Superintendent's contract was done in public session. (Votes by the board are always done in open public session.)

I voted against the contract because I do not believe we should be giving raises while others are receiving pink slips.
- Doug Kruse, School Board - Ward 8, Manchester

Come on Doug Kruse for mayor! He is the biggest grand stander and blowhard there is. Have you seen any of the Manchester Board of School Committee meetings lately. It is just unbelievable that Guinta allows him to have the floor so often and for so long. Some of the things he pontificates on are ridiculous.

Can you see this guy as mayor, the Board of Mayor & Alderman meetings will be a one man show that will drone on for hours.

In my many years, I have never encountered a local politician so into himself and anyone who enjoys putting on a show for the cameras like Doug Kruse does.
- Charlie Austin, Manchester

Doug Kruse lobbied for a confidentiality agreement and then announced a vote made by himself (and others) in non-public session on THE UL BLOG.
- Leah, Manchester

----------

"4-day school week up for discussion in city"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 4/20/2009

MANCHESTER – What if Manchester shortened its school week to just four days?

It's a radical question, but some city educators say it's one that ought to be explored as an alternative to layoffs, program eliminations and other cuts that may be in the offing this year.

"Why does it always just go to salary and benefits? Why can't we look at other things?," said Scott McGilvray, president of the Manchester Education Association.

McGilvray, who will present the idea and a list of others to the school board tonight, said the shorter week could save the district about $1.6 million by reducing the need for substitute teachers and cutting back sharply on busing and utility costs.

Students would go to school Tuesday through Friday, with an extra 90 minutes or so tacked onto each day. Vacations would not change.

Some school board members contacted yesterday called the proposal intriguing but said it there would likely be many hurdles in its way. A few said they don't believe it could be implemented in time for the 2009-2010 school year.

"If this were to be done, we'd need to give parents an awful lot of advance notice. And I'd want parents chiming in on this," board member Doug Kruse said.

School board at-large member Kathleen Kelley said it's hard to see how the change would work. When, she asked, would sports teams find time to practice? How would working parents supervise their children on Mondays?

"There's too many things to logically work out," Kelley said.

The school board had asked the MEA and other unions to come up with a list of cost-cutting measures to help the district avoid some of the painful budget cuts its members are anticipating. Superintendent Tom Brennan has said it may be necessary to lay off more than 100 employees. Other measures on the table include the elimination of some sports teams, including high school hockey and wrestling, and a reduction of all full-day kindergarten classes to half-day.

The unions will present their ideas at 7 p.m. at the school district offices at 286 Commercial St.

More than 100 school districts in 17 states have truncated their school weeks to four days, according to a 2008 article in Time magazine. The concept gained some traction last year as gas prices reached record highs, driving up districts' transportation costs. This year, districts in Minnesota, Florida, Oregon and other states are considering the idea as a way to cope with dwindling revenues.

McGilvray said he believes, based on studies conducted in other districts, the shortened week would reduce student absenteeism by 20 percent and teacher absenteeism by 50 percent. For one thing, he said, it would not be necessary for either a student or teacher to leave school for a doctor's appointment, because there would be time to see a doctor on Mondays, when school would be out.

Classes would be longer, McGilvray said, so students would have more uninterrupted "face time" with teachers and would spend less time in the hallways.

McGilvray estimates the district could save $150,000 on pay for substitute teachers. Buses would only be needed four days each week, so transportation costs, currently estimated at $5.3 million, could be reduced by 20 percent, he said.

Also, he said, the schools would be using less light and heat, so utilities, which now cost $3.6 million a year, could be slashed by 10 percent.

McGilvray said he doesn't see why the district couldn't make the change this year. Committeeman Joyce Craig said she would hope the district could act quickly if it decided the idea was worthwhile, but said, "I think we need time to investigate it."

Committeeman Eric Fischer, who represents Ward 12, called the idea a "great concept," and said if the unions can support it, "I don't see why we would have any objections."

The aldermen will have their first public discussion on the school district's budget tomorrow at 6 p.m. in City Hall. Mayor Frank Guinta has proposed giving the district $146.1 million, anticipating federal stimulus dollars will add to that sum.

The school board has asked for $152 million. Brennan has said that even at that level, he expects the district would have to dole out 107 pink slips.

McGilvray said he plans to propose other money-saving ideas tonight, including at least one that would help the district cut down on its energy costs. He said he expects the idea of a four-day school week will "ruffle a lot of feathers," but argued the district cannot afford the types of cuts now under discussion.

READERS' COMMENTS:

Just and FYI-
Not all schools in Manchester have full-day kindergarten!! One in Manchester only has full day for students that need it. So kids that are ahead of the curve get slighted because they already know something.
- DM, Manchester

To : Craig in Manchester

You said "A standard five day work week that has been in effect for decades. "

Hmmm - in this day and age, that's really not true anymore. There are all sorts of work schedules - folks who work second shifts, third shifts, week-ends, 3 days per week, 4 days per week, 6 days per week....those who telecommute from home all or part of the time. Many folks work all year long. Some only seasonally - summer only or winter only etc.

Do you HONESTLY expect public schools to accommodate ALL these types of work schedules? The answer, of course, is no. That would be just silly.

But, all those M-F 9-5ers who are complaining about the possible change in childcare ought to think about the many many other folks who deal with this sort of issue already, and who do not expect the schools to accommodate their work.
- BW, Concord

to Andrew in Manchester

you said "Can you offer a suggestion to solving that problem for us? I mean if your answer is for them to fork over the money for daycare and figure it out financially on their own well then why don't they just fork over the extra money for their taxes and deal with it?"

Hmmm- there are folks out there who pay the high taxes and deal with their own childcare problems. Why should their taxes go up to save YOU $$?
- BW, Concord

Bill, Dunbarton. I thank God for the chance to homeschool my child.

JD, Manchester. Why do parents send their children to school, if they are to do their fair share of teaching them at home? That is what homeschooling is.

It does not matter how long a child goes to school, they only are actually "learning" a few of those hours anyway. Most of the time is fluff time; non-academic time.

I think that if teachers really want to go back to "teaching" without having to jump through all the hoops that the administrators want them to jump through, than they would just give up on the public school system and open charter schools on their own.
- k, hillsboro

to :andrew, manchester

I am a SAHM who homeschools. However, I do not expect the government to solve my childcare problems.

Public schools are there to educate the children. They are not there to provide parents with free childcare. If they were, wouldn't we have year 'round schooling? After all, most parents who work outside the home work 365 days.

It's refreshing to see some outside the box thinking on part of the school unions and boards.
- BW, Concord

To : Jeff, Manchester

Nope - not a school teacher. Actually a Stay-at-Home-Mom who home schools her children.

I do not expect the government to solve my personal childcare problems as you clearly do.
- BW, Concord

Craig..
The way it looks...YOU don't want to spend money on education now...

What is being propose will save money and not cost anyone any more than it does now AND allow programs to continue.
It offers the same (if not more) class time and costs less. In my view its a win/win situation. At least hear the option out and see what is presented before you open your "closed minded" mouth.
- Jorge, Hooksett

Along the same lines, what about starting the school day later? It COULD save on heat, it WOULD cut truancy and absenteeism significantly, and put the "snow delay" idea mostly out of mind.
What about making Memorial the school for students who want to go to MST, so the district doesn't have to provide buses from West and Central?
What about implementing a community service requirement for or HS students and let them work for the city in the summers doing all the easy odd jobs that the city pays college kids (good money too) to do for 9 weeks? It would be free. And things would actually get done. Well, maybe.
Look at papers costs OUTSIDE the schools, can any other the useless papering be done via PDF files and email (if i'm not mistaken all employees of the SD have personal emails) or any other similar electronic transactions.

these are IDEAS, SUGGESTIONS and should be discussed with some form of decency and not outrage. Also, more suggestions for cost cutting should be mentioned
- Hogan, Manchester

"If parents did their share of the teaching at home, which responsible parents did in the past, we wouldn't be arguing about the kids loosing time in the classroom.
- JD, Manchester"
I absolutely agree which is why I don't solely rely on the school system to provide an education. I make sure that there is time ever single day to teach my children life lessons such as: Never take a short cut in life. Always give 100% and no matter what, don't let money ever be a factor when determining success.
I support school teachers 100% and always will. Teachers have one of the most difficult jobs and they can't do it alone.
That said, a 4 days school week is a dumb idea and for Mr. McGilvary to even suggest it tells me maybe the teachers union ought to rethink their leadership. How about a 3 day school week and just have 3 12 hour days. That would save money too. Or better yet, every other day school days....wouldn't that be a great idea.
- Mike, Manchester

Granted, school is NOT a babysitter. Yet, to save some jobs (public sector union jobs no less) we will change EVERYONES schedule to accomodate. A standard five day work week that has been in effect for decades.
I also like the fact we a now going to teach children that four days a week is good enough? I cant wait to hear the whining when they enter the actual work force and cant have constant 3-day weekends.
We have been pumping more and more money into schools for years and attendace/education has become worse and worse. Solution: 4-day school week. Priceless. Not a very bright idea from the "eduacation" system.
- Craig, Manchester

There is a flaw to the four day school week, and the 90 minute addition to a school day. As for example, you have to take into account snow days, holidays, and religious days. That on its own reduces a school week to a possible 3 or 2 days.
As for the 90 minute add on: take into consideration that each class is roughly 45 minutes, 8 classes per school day (in Manchester high schools). That gives us roughly 11 minutes added to each class, if not just adding 2 new classes. Balancing 10 classes a day may be a little much for some people.
And all those people claiming that all children are delinquents haven't taken into consideration that with a three day weekend gives them the ability to work more hours at their jobs.
Worth a try.
- Garrett G, Manchester

Its so Obvious when a Teacher chimes in on these discussions with a thinly disguised commentary on how good it would be for the City as well as the Children.

Anything else you want while at the trough?
- Malcom, Manchester

If parents did their share of the teaching at home, which responsible parents did in the past, we wouldn't be arguing about the kids loosing time in the classroom.
- JD, Manchester

The 5th day of the week could be used for professional development of the teachers and staff. The day has been used in other districts for reading recovery programs, writing programs, tutoring, athletics and many other services that are not able to be implimented under the current times and budget restrictions. It is only an idea that is being done in 18 states and hundreds of districts across the country. I congratulate the teachers for bring up something new to the school board. All things must be looked at. The school board and the mayor are $6-$8 million dollars apart with their proposed budgets. Even the school board's budget calls for drastic cuts such as the elimination of full-day kindergarten, sports, reading programs, gifted and talented program and over 100 employees. Are these type of cuts investing in education or allowing for babysitting as many readers think schools are for. I believe it is every citizens responsibility to bring suggestions to the table and be proactive during these economic times. Maybe some of the savings from such a plan could be put back into other services not provided now. Maybe full day kindergarten for all students.
- Jim, Manchester

As long as teachers and all school employees will be paid 4/5 of current salary, go ahead!
- John, Dover

Bill,
We made sacrifices when we went to school to teach your children. We paid a lot of money to enter a field which is underpaid and under supported with people like you against us. If we were selfish, we would not be in this field. I think a 4 day work is a good suggestion. Days would be longer, but the week shorter. I think they do this in Florida in some cities.
- JT, Manchester

Hey...It's LEGAL and it saves MONEY. Im ALL for it. As far as 3 day holiday weekends...You wouldnt have to worry about it. Think of all the money on the city side that would be saved.
- JC, Manchester

BW from concord, so I assume you don't have children or have a stay at home parent in the family. Well being a parent in a household where both parents have to work I am not implying that school is a 'daycare" for our children. we currently send our 2 non school aged children to daycare center that is structured like a preschool where they interact with teachers and other children and aren't just placed in front of a TV at someone's home for the day. What I am implying by suggesting the cost of "daycare" to parents to be considered is the fact that if both parents work 5 days a week M-F and their young child lets say under 13 needs someone to watch them because they do not have school on Monday what is that family to do? Can you offer a suggestion to solving that problem for us? I mean if your answer is for them to fork over the money for daycare and figure it out financially on their own well then why don't they just fork over the extra money for their taxes and deal with it?
- andrew, manchester

As if the education system isn't failing enough with properly educating the kids that are the future of the state of NH, they want to short change them by yanking a day from the schedule.

Some people have zero say in giving up pay, benefits, or their jobs. I think the teachers of Manchester are selfish in their motives and plans. Do what everyone else has been FORCED to do without a CHOICE and make some SACRIFICES!
- Bill, Manchester

This appears to be just a suggestion by the MEA as a cost saving measure - nothing is set in stone, and I'm sure there will many discussions about this and many other ideas in the coming weeks.

As was shown on MCTV, Doug Kruse has asked the city teachers' union for cost saving measures. My guess is that this is one of many suggestions that will be introduced.

This is a great discussion to have - though not everyone may agree with this idea, an active and thoughtful discussion about what is best for the students of Manchester can only be helpful.
- R. Pryzbylewski, Manchester

I look forward to the sky rocketing crime rate Manchester will endure throughout the whole year instead of just during the summer while kids are spending more time trolling the street .

Its absurd to claim a school is not an institution for discipline as well as education. Ask any kid that was taught by a Nun.
Its always been that way and having kids trolling the streets with nothing to do is a recipe for delinquency.

If I was teacher hell yeah I'd be fighting for a four day week but I would also know this is the worst thing for all kids involved.

I imagine teachers would expect a three day week to observe holidays too.
- Matt, Manchester

I think this a terrific idea, however I'd like to see research done on this. Whoever said it's a way to dumb done education--where's your research? Also, how do we know it's going to be a disaster for our younger students? What does the research say?
Also, as a former educator---SHAME on Craig..teachers are very hardworking and we did not come up with our schedule! Most teachers I know have two or three jobs to supplement their income, so they can do the job they love! I don't know about all, but I had to work over summer "vacation" and do lots of work during the evening and weekends! At least teachers are trying to give their ideas...where is yours?
- Jane, Manchester

To The UL:

If this comment from Don
Considering that the teaching, so-called, profession turns out semi-retards everyday, replacing a teacher mid-stream, wouldn't be a burden on the student, it could be a benefit.

is not considered bad taste... I'm not sure what is... 'Semi retards".....

Come on... now
- Sharon, Manchester

Leave it to Coach McGilvary to FINALLY come up with a real idea on cost savings. So many places are looking to the 4 day work week why no the schools. Thanks coach and you need to get yourself back on the football field!
- Mike, Bedford

Schools DO need to consider parent's work schedules whether they like it or not. Schools are part of how our society functions, they don't exist in isolation. In our society today, very few kids have a parent at home on a weekday to watch them. Many, many, working parents patch things together for vacations and other scheduled days off, but it doesn't mean what they come up with is beneficial to the kids. And people aren't going to pay for someone to watch their 14-18 year old, so now you'll have a bunch of unsupervised teens hanging around the city one day a week while their parents are at work. Who wants that? I do appreciate everything teachers do, but come on, a proposal that's going to give you guys 3-day week-ends every week??
- Leah, Manchester

"The public schools are NOT responsible for YOUR work schedule or daycare needs! NOR should they take that into account AT ALL.
- BW, Concord"

Must be a school teacher huh. A 4 day school week is just not plausible. It is hard enough to keep kids minds going for the length of time the kids are currently in school. An additional 90 Minutes would be a disaster.
- Jeff, Manchester

JSF:

Enrollments may be down citywide, but they went up last year at my daughter's high school!
- Leah, Manchester

This would not work for many reason. 1 is that young childrens attention span would hold up to an extra 90 minutes. Will the schools add an extra recess to help this?

I give my son a snack after school ... Will the schools take a break for an extra snack?

Another problem is that the schools are taking away my time with my child. Not everyone can take Mondays off to be with their child, and so now, with an extra 90 mintues to the school day, you are taking 90 minutes away from my time.

Where are you adding that 90 mintues? My kids get up early enough. So schools would have to add the 90 mintues to the end of the day, meaning that I have to pick my kids up at 4, giving me less time to cook dinner, bathe my children, get home work done and get get my children to bed at a resonable time.

Bad idea all the way around!
- Catrina, Manchester NH

First, I'd like to start off by saying that I am not a teacher, however I do have a great respect for the profession. Second, I'd like to throw a comment out there to all of you people, standing on your soap-boxes, trying to be heard and followed. The 4-day school week is a proposal to save jobs. Those of you who have done nothing but belittle the idea, certainly have not given much thought to other ways of trying to save money. Firing teachers because they are ill is not going to solve anything. We'd still have to hire a replacement! How about some constructive discussion on how to solve the problem?

I, for one, am glad that Don lives in Londonderry and his opinion in Manchester politics really doesn't matter.
- Trisha, Manchester

Mike from Candia... Candia's education has already been dumbed down....Were talking about Manchester. Not ByrdsVille
- Jim, Manchester

A four day school week would be a disaster for younger children. Their attention spans are limited and wishing it were not so won't change reality. These children will accomplish less in four days regardless of an additional 90 minutes.

If school officials want to save money, perhaps they could start school one hour later, saving electricity and heat as the school day would be warmer and have more daylight.

If a four day school week is needed, then at least make Wednesday the day off, not Mondays. Mondays off from school is good for extended weekend trips; Wednesdays off from school is good for students to rest and catch up on homework.
- DH, Nashua, NH

Most of you must learn to read. They are not just dropping a day of school, instead they would go to a 4-day school week by adding approx 90 minutes to each of the 4 days to make-up for the one taken away.

Don, this will save on having not to pay the fuel cost of busing students on the 5th day, not have to heat/cool the buidling fully during cold/hot days, or run electricity ALL day on that 5th day. As well, the district would save money having to provide lunch on the 5th day.

Mr. Tarr, this isn't the only school in the country doing this. Kentucky, Virginia, and Utah to name a few have school districts that are operating in such a manner and guess what IT IS WORKING wonderfully. Parents have to do something with their children during the summer so now they just need do so on this day. I don't know how about maybe highering a HS student or have your child go to the YMCA program.

There are work arounds for everything. Maybe you shouldn't be so closed minded and instead think about how this would save the city money. Most of you complain there are too many students per teacher, this would allow more teachers.
- Mike, Litchfield

The public schools are NOT responsible for YOUR work schedule or daycare needs! NOR should they take that into account AT ALL.
- BW, Concord

Let's dumb down our kids education - that's a great idea???
- Mike, Candia

Of course the lazy teachers are going to love this. 4 months off a year, now 3 day weekends! Seems reasonable in a district in need of improvement(sarcasm).

What about the increased class workload of the students, the reduced time to absorb class material and do homework, and reduced time for after school activities?

Its for the children? Anyone still buy teachers and their union rhetoric?
- Craig, Manchester, NH

This is a pipe dream. There is no chance of this ever passing. Let's face it, parents that work are struggeling to make their bills, how are they going to afford to pay for a child care provider? This is horrible timing for this crazy idea.
End this non-sense and start the cutting!!!
- John, Manchester

It makes me laugh that people are agreeable with laying people off but are not inclined to think of alternatives. I believe that a 4 day week could work. People are complaining about daycare with a 4 day week but I have not heard what happens if they truncate kindergarten to half day? Won't parents have to find daycare for their children anyway?
- Bob, Hooksett

As a parent I would be opossed to this measure. This sends the wrong message to our school aged children. It should be the burden of adults to possibly deal with a 4 day work week, not students. To me, this is a severe compromise on education. This action would be the final deciding factor for me to leave move to another district - real quick!
- Mark L, Manchester

What a stupid idea? What will happen to the children whose parents both work five days a week? Will those children be left unattended every Monday? Or does the city expect that one parent will give up a day's work--assuming they can even do so. I understand that the school budgets are stretched thin but this is the last thing that should be done to make ends meet. Surely there are other places cuts can be made or--gasp--perhaps taxes need to be raised to ensure that our children get the education--and supervision--they deserve.
- LJC, Manchester

While on paper this proposed 4 day school week may look good but what about all the working parents who will A) Have to fork out the extra money for day care and B) Have to adjust their work schedule to work 4 days per week? On the latter, many companies won't let their employees only work 4 days per week.
Maybe Mr. McGilvary and the teachers would foot the bill for day care for working parents.....
- Jeff, Manchester

Are you all crazy? I'd like to work only 4 days also but make the same amount of money. Give me a break! Do you really think the teachers or children will be alert after 2:30?

Thank God for homeschooling. At least my child will be educated by someone that wants to teach.
- Bill, Dunbarton

While I agree, slightly, with some of Don from Londonderry's comments there was no need to insult teachers calling them "semi-retards". It is a shame you think teachers are not qualified enough to teach. Where are your children? In public school? Perhaps you don't have children, but when you do are you going to have enough money to send them elsewhere or home school them? Yes, I do think that teachers are too well protected behind the union, and that the profession should be competitive like those in the private sector. Basically you don't do what you are suppose to you get fired, like everywhere else. Teachers whine like crazy when they don't get their way, I say do your job and be glad you have one.
- JP, Manchester

In budget times like this we must start thinking out of the box and look at all options and have open dialogue with the stakeholders. A four day school week is being successfully used across the country and deserves a look. It has shown to be benificial for both students and teachers. Districts have had a decline of the drop out rate and disciplinary referrals. A significant improvement in attendance and less interruptions to the teaching day. Teachers and students have longer periods of face to face contact and direct instruction. A four day week will have the exact same amount of class time as they currently do.
The City must raise the tax rate or drastically cut the services provided by the district. You cannot have it both ways. The teachers union is bringing ideas like this to the school board in an effort to provide the the best education to the students in Manchester in this economic climate.
It is time for all stakeholders in the Manchester School District to come forward with possible ideas and solutions to what is setting up to be a total destruction and elimination of services and opportunities for the 16,000 students in the Manchester School District.
- Scott McGilvray MEA President, Manchester

I see three huge drawbacks to this. The first is that kids tire easily. If you extend the school day, it is not reasonable to expect the children to learn anything in that time. If you simply extended their recess it would be OK, but then we would effectively be shortening the school year by 1/5. This is a terrible idea from an education standpoint. A four-day school week is going in the wrong direction. We should be extending the school year into the summer.

The second drawback, as mentioned in earlier comments, is a family with working parents. How is it in the children’s best interest if parents have to quit jobs to watch the children? In these times it is hard enough finding and keeping a job, do we really want parents asking for a four-day workweek? That certainly will not help the economy recover. Most employers cannot afford giving employees this flexibility. Other employers would make the parents part-time. That would result in parents without benefits – including healthcare.

The third drawback is what the children will be doing on those days off. We have problems with graffiti, etc. now. It should be expected that parents will continue working 5-day workweeks if their children are old enough to take care of themselves. What do you expect will happen when all of the 14-, 15-, 16- and 17-year olds are completely unsupervised for one day each week? Think about it.

Of all the departments to look at making a four-day workweek, the schools have to be the poorest choice. Consider the consequences of this action.
- John A., Manchester, NH

Robert Tarr
There was no mention of shortening the school day. Actually, it was to lengthen the school day by 90 minutes and shorten, by one day, the school week.
Libby
I believe Mr. McGilvary is the president of the teacher's union. He's the one who is presenting this idea. So I don't think the union is standing in the way. Keep your union bashing out of this. There is no place for it.
- John, Manchester

The schools are not babysitters, and are not responsible for working parents and their after school needs. The school's responsibility is to educate the children, and NOT worry about what an individual or group of parents MAY need in terms of daycare.

I think ALL options should be on the table (here that Concord!), including longer breaks in the winter (to save on heating and snow days) and eliminating the April break....
- BW, Concord

I don't see how most parents would consider this a real option. First off as many have stated finding daycare for your children for just one day a week would be very difficult. It is not as though daycare facilities can just suddenly add hundreds of spots to their programs for just one day. Secondly the cost factor as has been brought up by several people is not realistic. Do people realize that it would cost a family up to $100 a week to send 2 children to daycare for a day! I don't know about you but I can't afford to spend another $400 a month so the city doesn't have to.
- Andrew, manchester

How does this address the fact that the state requires 180 school days? Will the 4 days run 20 percent longer to make up the time?
- Jake, Manchester

This kind of change should only be made with the blessing of the public and I hope the members of the schoolboard will listen to the concerns of those who will be impacted most: parents. One question: Would this make the school year longer?
- Peter, Manchester

Don, good job reading the article.
Good job getting angry at an idea, a thought, something that might get the ball rolling. Good job keeping an open mind. Also a pat on the back for bashing teachers. Hooray! The article doesn't IMPLY that teachers miss work because they don't have MOnday off, it states it COULD/MAY reduce teacher absenteeism by 50%, which means that the teachers who are sick, or pregnant or have deaths or illnesses in their family my be able to recuperate, visits loved ones or doctors etc and NOT miss work. Your oh-so great idea of firing teachers who miss work would be fantastic because there are tons of qualified teachers just waiting in the wings to be called at a seconds notice... What is that? the 20 year veteran teacher who has been absent for 2 days because of some virus has been fired? quick replace him? His replacement shouldn't miss a beat, and the students won't know the difference.

Vouchers can be a good idea, no doubt. But, the idea of pitting school vs school means that each school needs to offer something different, an idea WEST is playing with (except, you know, there is no money for them to start it). So, your idea would be reduced to children choosing which teachers and schools they would want to churn them out "semi-retarded."
- Hogan, Manchester

I think this idea is great.

In response to the question about what will working parents do, what do they do in the summer, when children have no school at all?
- Tony, Manchester

Well, Don of Londonderry, as a teacher in Manchester I certainly don't feel underworked or incompetent in my "so-called" profession. I wonder what it is that you do for work that makes you work so much harder than us teachers? I invite you to come spend a week in school, not as observer but as teacher, doing all the work a teacher does, including the paperwork, planning, testing and meetings that are not part of a substitute's day. Then I wonder if you might still consider us "underworked".
- Lisa, Weare

WB in Manchester, your words just proved a belief of mine. Many people are going to be worried about their FREE babysitting service that will be gone on Monday's. Parents all over the place don't look at school as a place of education, just a service to put their kids for free.

Think about the children here and what's best. More face time hours and a cut on your taxes, you should be ecstatic.
- Y, Manchester

Moving to a four day school week would be great. The students would spend more time with teachers, therefore learning and absorbing more. The district would save a day of busses, a day of heating, cooling & lights. Meaning a savings of $$$$$$. As for Mr. Tarr's idea of having city empoyees work a four day week, that to would work for even a larger savings if the city combined the two ideas. The city could also benefit from attracting more small businesses to the city, an idea that Mr. Tarr is against because he has expressed his opinion in the past that he IS anti-business.
- Brian, Manchester

This idea may deserve some consideration.

It would open up many options for making up snow days.

It would also eliminate the need to call in crews over the weekend to take care of snow removal (at an added cost to tax payers) to get the kids into school after weekend storms.
- Sharon, Manchester

You've got to be kidding! Manchester is talking about doing this? It is bad enough when our education system is so far behind compared to other countries. Why are we even discussing this? Maybe we should start looking at other nations, such as why the asian nations are more advanced. They go to a six day school week. Education is their top priority. It isn't in the U.S.

We can't cut back on school days. If it means adding a student or two in class rooms because of the teacher cuts, than so be it. Or maybe with the cuts, the school hours will have to be lenghtened so the students are getting the proper education.

The schools shouldn't be providing a "babysitting" service. They are to provide a proper education foundation. The growing up & life experiences should be left to hopefully responsible parents. I am a parent also & I would make whatever adjustments in my family's life so that my kids get a good productive education.

Manchester & any other school districts need to drop this silly & lame idea. It will not benefit our children, only hurt them...
- Dave, Manchester

Public education is just government babysitting. Just look at WB's comments. Thus, no change change will be made.
- Tom, Henniker

Don,

Just a few questions:

1. When do you go have Doctor/Dentist appointments?
2. What "so-called" profession do you work in?
3. How many "semi-retards" do you have in your house to base your opinions on?
3. Did you learn the skills for your profession in school or were they given to you by divine intervention?

Stop wasting our time!! (And please don't ever run for public office!!)
- Rick, Manchester, NH

I find it interesting that so many people are concerned with finding someone to WATCH their kids. They aren't worried about anything other than babysitting. Thus showing that far too many parents use schools as babysitting instead of investing themselves in their children's education.
- Clint, Manchester

To the MEA:

Enrollments are down therefore teacher head count needs to go down proportionally. Is this common sense in your discussions?
- JSF, Manch

Maybe the teacher's union could watch the kids for free on the 5th day. After all it's for the children.
- andy, milford

Probably we should change the child labor laws so that the kids can work on Fridays to support their parents who are out looking for work. Kids have a short attention span and that includes the ones to whom we give Ritalin. Perhaps we could fire them up with Ritalin in the morning and then give them barbituates in the evening and on weekends so that our lives and pocket books could be saved. That is the important thing, isn't it?
- Robert, Deerfield

I think it would be far better to shut down the city workers for a day ( not schools) and do 4 / 10 hr days. Much harder and more expensive for all the people to find daycare for all the kids than for a parent to have a day off. Workers can stay later to make it easier for all the register cars and licenses. Article mentions less absenteeism for teachers - are they saying the union will give back the "paid days off" workers now get. I'm betting not and also betting every one of these days off will still be taken (by all) even on the 4 day work week. Union would not give up the days under the furlough plan, why now to save jobs. I would guess Bus companies are under multi year contracts for services, will they give up 20% of contract? Do the bus drivers get full compensation or take a 20% pay cut. Hard enough to get a doctor/dentist appointment now, I doubt having all these teachers and children having the same day off would be any better. If teachers believe in longer face time then do it now, longer classes but less times per week in a subject - if that's really what they mean. Lets see all the factual data from these other 100 systems that have done this before making changes based on theoretical assumptions. How much did those towns actually save in real dollars by changing the school week.
- Jim, Loudon

I can see this working, right now the school day is 30 minutes longer in Goffstown and after the first few weeks everyone has grown acustomed to it. There was a lot of worry about sports, afterschool activities, buses, etc., but once it got rolling everything worked out fine.

The issues I see are just with families of younger children, who may not be able to afford daycare. On the other hand as a student it's true that learning is easier when you have a longer class then when you only have 45 minutes to get setup, work, and then pack up to leave.
- Geoff, Dunbarton

I am not knocking the idea, but I do have some questions....what happens to the Teacher Workshop days? Do those fall on the 5th day or are those worked into the 4-day week? Same with Early release days? I like the longer day but perhaps we could look at reducing some fo the vacation time along with the 4 day week, like three day vacation weeks instead of 5....just some thoughts....
- Dawn, Manchester

Note to Mr. McGilvray: You want to save money on substitutes? How about reining the the minority of teachers who treat their generous allowance of sick time as extra vacation days? Most teachers are very dedicated but there are some who call in sick (often the day before!) as soon as they accrue a sick day or two. It's easy to identify the abusers - just check for very low or non-existent accrued sick time for veteran teachers and then eliminate the ones who have truly suffered a chronic illness or debilitating injury. The rest are costing the city many thousands of dollars because they don't want to work just 183 days a year. Oh - and you can bet that these folks will still be using their 15 sick days even in a shortened school week schedule. Now they can have FOUR-DAY weekends!
- Anonymous in, NH (so I don't get anyone in trouble)

So Don, teachers are never supposed to get sick, go to the doctor, have family emergencies etc.? You never ever ever miss a day of work? I somehow doubt that.

I am guessing you were at a tea rally last week...
- Greg, Manchester

i dont think the savings would be as large as represented because there are still fixed costs. for instance, a 4 day week wouldn't reduce bus costs by 20% unless there is an appropriate lay off or reduction in MTA workers. this is pushing part of the burden on to the MTA and does not save that portion of the budget in toto. instead it forces MTA to lay off
- Alan Bestwick, manchester

Didn't Deerfield have a four-day school week during the 1980s? They got rid of it, however. It would probably be to the school board's benefit to ask anyone who was in Deerfield government why they abandoned the four-day week (but also ask if there were any upside to it as well).
- Ryan, Hooksett

I don't know why teachers have to leave school during the day for doctors appointments!! Most are in their cars at 2:25pm! I have been teaching for almost 10 years and have never had an appointment I had to leave school for. Thats a lame excuse.
- MS, Manchester

Students and teachers need to spend more time together, the classes are too short as it is. The idea is certainly worth looking into. School board members and aldermen, protect our children and don't take away their full day kindergarten, the goal has always been to prepare more of the schools for full day, not take away the ones that have it!!!
- Brian, Manchester

OF COURSE - It is all about the Unions!
They don't care about the kids - and truth be known there are very few dedicated teachers that actually care about the kids either. The majority in class would not be considered presentable professionals in any other environment. Between the School Board and the Unions - the taxpaper is the one holding the bill. Send the pink slips
- Bill, Manchester

It’s a fantastic idea and should have been done a long time ago. Longer classroom time gives the kids more education. The payoff for the kids is no school on Mondays! Another issue to add is put all those “teacher conference days” on Mondays. A shortened school week can cause a bit of a problem for parents. Parents and kids are resilient and will do what they have to do to make this work if it means keeping good teachers. Sports practice/game time? You’ve got Saturday, Sunday and Monday for sports and all other extra-curricular activities.
- Karen B, Manchester

This may look good in the planning stages but where is the consideration for working parents... that is an additional babysitting bill for eight hours on Mondays, not all parents can afford to lose a Monday or change their schedule to a four day work week. I am sure babysitters will be pleased to have a four day school week but that will put additional stress on family budgets that are already tight...
- WB, Manchester

I, too, agree with Committeeman Eric Fisher, I think this just might work. As for time for sports teams to practice, etc., I think it could be worked out. The teams would find a way to work around a longer school day if it meant not losing funding for teams altogether. (I am the mom of 2 highschool athletes.)
- Kathy, Manchester, NH

This idea is a scam perpertrated by the weak and useless public sector employees. The idea that having a day off that private employees must work will save tax dollars is ridiculous. The teachers and staff must work every day or they should be fired. The article implies that not having the Monday off causes teachers to miss work, Well, if a teacher misses more work than a private sector employee then that teacher must be fired, plain and simple. There is no excuse for not working especially when under contract. If it were up mto me, the teachers could be fired during the school year. If there were no contracts there would be an availability of replacement teachers. Considering that the teaching, so-called, profession turns out semi-retards everyday, replacing a teacher mid-stream, wouldn't be a burden on the student, it could be a benefit.

I can't see cost savings in this proposal at all. I can only see a reduced workload for an already underworked, incompetent so-called profession.

Do you want to lower the cost of education and reduce the cost? Vote for school choice and vouchers. It will kill the teacher's unions and invigorate the education process anywhere it is available.
- Don, londonderry

It's about time! I have sent numerous e-mails to the MEA about this for at least 2 years. They have my breakdown of options in hand, and I see they are starting to use them for this purpose.

The only thing standing in the way are the unions. Remember, it's for the children!
- Libby, Manchester

I think this is a great idea as an alternative to losing teachers and programs. We are all in need right now, including teachers. With all the savings that could come of it, it should be given a shot. It may be difficult for many parents of younger children, but at the same time what was done before the kids were schoolage? I have kids in school and I think it is a great idea!
- Jen, Manchester

As much as a good idea this is, it isn't going to work and here's why. First working parents would need someone to give daycare to their children while they are at work. Many parents work during the day and are at home at night. Single parents, moms and dads, work during the day with no one home to watch the kids. Then you add on that daycare at facilities that could watch the children would cost $$$, which people just don't have in this economy. Second, under the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) and through the policies of our state regarding education the law makers both from Washington and the State would have to rewrite that which dictates children's education. Something that would take a few years to do. Let us reduce the work week from 5 days a week for city employees to 4 days a week adding the time onto those four days from the fifth day. Students need their education and the current five day week is just fine for this parent of four. There are other ways to save money, shortening the school day isn't one of them.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

I agree with committeeman Eric Fisher. I honestly think this could work. More face time with teachers (longer class time) would be good for the kids.
- ccc, manchester

At a time when schools are scrambling to make up the time lost by snow days, they are still considering shortening the school week? I think the idea has some merit, but at the end of the day, the idea of something is usually far different than the reality of it.
- Theresa, Dover

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"No teacher pink slips, at least for now"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 4/21/2009

MANCHESTER – Queen City teachers can rest assured they won't be getting pink slips today.

The school board voted, 9 to 6, last night in opposition to a motion authorizing Superintendent Tom Brennan to dole out layoff notices. Board members acknowledged they may have to revisit the issue in the coming weeks as the district's budget comes into focus.

"This will come up again," said Maxine Mosley, a McLaughlin Middle School guidance counselor. She was one of several district employees who attended the meeting and applauded when the board clerk announced the result of the vote.

At least, she said, "I think the board has made it clear they do not want to lay off teachers ... and if there's any way to minimize that, they're going to do it."

It was clear that many board members had not come to the meeting last night expecting to tackle the question of layoffs. The only item on the agenda was a presentation by Scott McGilvray, president of the city teachers' union.

Board members grilled McGilvray on his proposal to shorten the school week from five days to four, but took no action on it.

At-Large Committeeman Kathleen Kelley called it a "great proposal that needs to be looked at," but said she would want the district to schedule a public forum so parents could have their say.

Superintendent Tom Brennan said he is "absolutely" open to discussing the idea, but said a comprehensive review would be time-consuming.

"I'm just a little concerned about the turnaround time, in terms of trying to get this implemented," Brennan said.

In a four-day school week, students would come to school Tuesdays through Fridays, for an extra 90 minutes each school day. Vacations would remain as they are.

McGilvray said switching to a four-day week could save the district about $1.6 million and would be preferable to other money-saving options already on the table, such as layoffs or reducing kindergarten classes to half-day only. He also suggested the district could save money on busing, energy and supplies.

As the discussion turned to layoffs, Mayor Frank Guinta pressed McGilvray to consider his plan for all city and district workers to take seven days off work without pay. McGilvray said the teachers' union is firmly opposed to the idea.

"We're not going to take a furlough," McGilvray said. "We're going to honor the contract, just as you expect us to honor the things that you put in there that you wanted."

The subject of layoffs was raised by At-Large Committeeman Debra Gagnon Langton, who urged the board to declare it would not pink-slip teachers this year. That motion was tabled by a vote of 9 to 6.

Committeeman Art Beaudry insisted the board should put the question to rest as soon as possible.

"These teachers are going to be hanging on, wondering whether they're going to have a job or not have a job," he said. "I don't think that's fair." The teachers' contract requires the district to send out layoff notices before May 10, according to Brennan. The district has already sent pink slips to 10 assistant principals.

Members who voted last night to authorize layoff notices were Guinta, Joyce Craig, Bob O'Sullivan, Doug Kruse, John Avard and Eric Fischer. The nine members who voted against the motion were Mike DeBlasi, Chris Herbert, Donna Soucy, Katherine Labanaris, Dave Gelinas, Beaudry, Stephen Dolman, Kelley and Langton.

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READERS' COMMENTS

As a parent and a taxpayer in this city, I feel that the situation we are dealing with here needs to be delt with carefully. We are talking about our childrens future here! our kids will one day be our government, we should offer them the BEST possible education to ensure our States/ Nations future. I am very involved in my childrens education and the schools. I have to say that these new first year teachers who are facing "pink slips" have some of the best teaching skills/ideas. I would hate to see them removed from my childrens schools! We need new fresh ideas, we need these young teachers with the abillity to impliment new learning/teaching styles to help children do their best!
I think the 4 day school week may work. It may take some getting used to, but research shows that other city's/town who have implemented this have done really well. increasing attendance, decreasing sick days, more time each day for teachers to work with their students. I would much rather see this happen and pay a few more dollars in property tax than to see our schools with a 30-1 ratio. .... Our children lose out when this happens!! Everyone needs to stand up for these kids,
As far as the issue of where the kids will go one these days?? It is not the school boards responsibilty to worry about this!!! It is mine as a parent. We seem to do fine with week-ends and vacations, we all can get adjusted to this too! Its about the children!
- Melissa, Manchester

My fiancee is a teacher in the Manchester School District. She lives and breathes her job to educate these children. She works in a school where just getting the kids to school is a major challenge. Each day she goes there to do anything she can to better the lives of these kids. Each year they are left majorly short on supplies and she is always funding them with her own money. Is this a chore for her? No way! She is a teacher and although at times I do not personally understand it, it's amazing.

She stands to lose her job, it is breaking her heart. Shame on anyone who will take this away from her. In schools that already operate on a shoestring budget, further cuts are a disgrace. The sad thing is, Manchester's loss will be someone elses gain!

Cut the money somewhere else and do not sacrifice the education of kids that will be our future!
- Tom, Manchester

Mr. Tarr,

As others have mentioned here, the school district is NOT a child care service. If you have children you should be able to care for them. Maybe if you were not so anti-business, you could get some local employers to work with people on changing schedules. We all remember that you are a candidate for ward 5 alderman and you are also anti-business.
- Brian, Manchester

There are plenty of places to cut the budget.

The millions that is spent in the SAU. This is money that needs to go directly to the classroom.

The money spent on teachers "retreats" at the principals home. Thousands of dollars that can go directly into the classroom.

Hundred of thousands that are spent on field trips each year should be money spent in the classroom.

I could go on; look at the budget in these schools and see where the money is going. The majority is not going to the teachers or the children.

It is time to cut the fluff, and get back to letting the teachers teach math, science and the rest. Maybe it is time that the administration stop spending money on " telling teachers how to teach" and just let the teachers do the job that they were educated to do.

To the small amout of teachers who do think it is their jobs to parent, counsel, feed, clothe, and so on... our children, stop that. It is not your job.
- k, hillsboro

I do hope this year's PinkSlips are for real.

Especially to get those "teachers" who are at work writing on the UL blogs!
Thought those prep periods were for prepping student's work.
- Ellen D., Manchester NH

Jack Alex, I love how you just assume that most of them don't want to learn. Obviously you are completely out of touch with anyone under the age of 20, and would rather pass judgement than get to know any of them! Just because people dress a certain way and may have a little bit of an attitude doesn't mean that they do not have a desire to learn. It is called BEING A TEENAGER. Don't tell me you didn't exhibit some rebellious tendencies during those years.

And giving these kids the easy way out of optional education is outrageous. Sure, you may end up saving some money on education, but then things like unemployment and welfare will skyrocket in comparison. Because w/o at least a diploma or GED they won't be able to secure any job that pays anything over minimum wage.
- Justin, Manchester

Mr Tarr-

It is not up to our school system to take the responsibility of "babysitting" it is up to the parents - What do the kids do during winter vacation, spring vacation when the parents worK. Why should these teachers lose their jobs because parents can't find someplace to put their kids on Mondays? High school students should have been raised well enough to be able to be unsupervised for 8 hours while their parents work-
- Heidi, Manchester

Robert Tarr another great job of being open minded and thinking differently. You certainly would make a great politician. Did you attend the presentation last night? Have you taken the time to contact Mr. McGilvray to discuss his proposal? Maybe his proposal would not work in Manchester, but does it get people to look at various ways to deliver education to students? It will hopefully get the community talking. Mr. McGilvray is the only person who is presenting ideas and actual suggestions for efficiencies and cost savings.
- Jim, Manchester

Mr Tarr-The school district isn't a babysitting service! They are not responsible for sitting the children, that is the parent's responsibility. I don't understand where this idea that shipping these kids off to school equals a babysitting service!
- Mike, Bedford

Ya know, there are some compelling points given by the last 2 bloggers. Using their thinking we can't have any type of vacation because god for bid THESE children will be out, in public, causing on told amount of destruction. Summer vacation- gone. Christmas break - we can't risk it.....The only solution is 24 hour 7 day a week school- to keep our citizens safe!
- Bob, Hooksett

Folks, it's not a matter of whether you like or dislike a 4 day school week. You seem to want taxes lowered, and to the Mayor, that means cutting budgets. Well, there aren't many places left to cut in the school budget. I have 4 windows, 2 window shades, 30 desks, 2 are broken, I have a hole in my blackboard and a clock that doesn't work. I have a closet that locks, but won't close shut. And that's just my room, one out of 120 in the school.
This is an idea to help give you what you want without laying off teachers - who are needed. The argument that there are less students so we need less teachers is unsound. Would you argue that if there have been less fires, we need less firemen? Sure, there might be less students, but we still need the teachers. Student to teacher ratios that were up to 30 to 1 before would become - if we kept the current amount of teachers - maybe closer to 25 to 1.
You have a decision to make: save $13 next year in property taxes or save the quality of education?
- Bob, Lake Ave 03104

Nice to see the teachers union at least step up to the plate a come up with some alternatives. This may not be the best one but it is at least creative. I do have one question for those school board members that insist not to give out pink slips..What kind of game are you playing?? How do you plan on cutting the budget with what is left if you do not pink slip?? I want to know where the cuts will be even if the budget were at the recommended 152 million. Even at that number Dr brennan has said there will still need to be pink slips...well?? How about giving us the WHOLE truth before may 10th about the school boards plan to cut??? We are watching...This is an election year!!
- Rich, manchester

Mr. Tarr - I'm sure you weren't there last night to hear the actual proposal and instead are getting all of your news from the Union Leader. I was there last night and many of these concerns that you've brought up were addressed. In communities adopting this plan they found that it helped parents to only have to find a source of child care one day a week instead of every day after school. It allowed high school students to concentrate their work/volunteer schedules within the three days off so that they could focus on their school work the other four days. It lowered drop out rate, transportation costs, fuel costs, and other costs. In fact, when asked to reconsider the 4 day plan, communities overwhelmingly voted to maintain it. No one is saying it is a perfect plan. One of the problems in this city is that when a new idea, however radical it may be, is proposed, people like yourself assume they have all of the answers without much, or any, of the information. When the plan was proposed it wasn’t proposed as something that was perfect and ready to be implemented today. It was proposed as some well thought out ideas and research, and brought to the Board where they could offer their concerns and suggestions. That is how change works. Perhaps you should educate yourself in regards to the entire proposal and stop relying on online articles. Are there areas that would have to be addressed? Sure, as there are with any plan. But don't simply dismiss it as something that wouldn't work outright, especially without any knowledge of the idea itself. By doing so all that happens is we continue down the same path that brings us year after year to the issue of teachers vs. taxes. And every year someone loses.
- Ben Dick, Vice President Manchester Education Asso, Manchester

As Wendy said, "This same story is repeated year after year at this time of year. Nothing new here!" Like every other year in April they vote not to, then in late April or May they vote to layoff teachers. Over 100 pink slips usually go out, probably over 200 this year.

The best pink slipped teachers will find new jobs at well managed districts that already know what teachers they need next year. Just look in the classifieds of this paper. The search for good teachers has started. A couple of months later, Manchester will go looking to call back teachers and get only the ones no other district wanted.

This is how Manchester ensures a quality education. If you don't think the quality of the education is directly related to the quality of the management of the district and the quality of teachers it can attract you know nothing about education.

The most frustrating thing about this budgeting process is that it’s all about money and not value.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

Nothing more than a smoke and mirrors show. The fact is the "pink slip" is nothing more than protection. Non-taxpayer employees are at will employees and do not get notice of intent to fire.

In this instance the School Board does not have appropriating authority (cannot levy a tax) and if they fail to give notice by May 15, 2009 of Renominatenation or Reelection, the City Council must appropriate the money to pay every education related employee and more (see RSA 189:14-a). Moreover, the failure to take action by the School Board should be viewed as interference in the statutory authority of the City Council, the appropriating body. I note that unlike Laconia's School Board the deliberation about "notice" is not done in non-public session.
- Thomas A. Tardif, Laconia

This same story is repeated year after year at this time of year. Nothing new here!
- Wendy T.R., Manchester

Since most of the little buggers don't want to be in school lets make it optional. I'm sure many of them wouldn't mind hanging out on the sidewalk, shooting baskets listening to music blaring out of portable stereos and visiting the piercing and tattoo shops as they wander around in their black raincoats and coloring their hair like peacocks and spiking their hair with enough hair gel it would look like wax. That will do one of a few things. First it
will reduce class size, we can close a few buildings, reduce the size of school employees and cut back on the school year as we will only have the kids that want to learn occupying a desk. I mean Joe Clark did it down in New Jersey and he got rid of all the riff raff and malcontents that couldn't form a sentence or do a math problem with their limited brain power. Think how happy the teachers would be.

They wouldnt have to waste countless hours of grading tests and quizes and reading term papers from a bunch of dolts and simpletons. Doesn't a class size of say 9 or 10 sound a lot better than 30? Think of me the taxpayer, instead of having to pay to educate 20 morons I only have to pay to educate 9 or 10 smart kids that will be successful in life. Now that sounds like a fantastic thought. In fact with only having the cream of the crop they can cut back the school year, cut the hours to maybe say 15 hours a week as we educate those that want to be there.

This a win-win proposition. Lets do it.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

To Mr. McGilvray, I have a question for you sir. What would you like to have the students do on Monday's while their parents are at work? From some of the students at Central High I have spoken with, many say there isn't anything for them (teens) to do during the day, including weekends. Many said teens, some who do cause trouble, would be out in the community creating more of it simply out of bordom. I will agree this will place a strain on our police departments as well as other departments as a whole and city resources. Some teens said that going to school five days a week is preparing them for a working world where you have to follow a schedule from your employer and such. As for middle school age children and those younger, what services or activities is there for these children that won't place a burden on a struggling families wallet already stretched thin with unemployment and other concerns. So no, a four day school week won't work, not in this reality.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"Chief: Budget would close fire stations"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 4/21/2009

MANCHESTER – Fire Chief James Burkush said he would have to close fire stations on a "rolling" basis throughout the coming year under the budget Mayor Frank Guinta proposed last month.

The number of firefighters on duty at any given time would fall from 50 to 45, he said. One fire truck and one engine truck would be taken out of service.

Asked by Alderman Jim Roy whether "service to the city of Manchester would be significantly depleted," Burkush responded, "That's a possibility."

Meanwhile, Burkush's counterpart at the police department, Chief David Mara, said his staff is applying for grants to help the department achieve a full complement of 225 sworn officers next year. Mara cautioned, however, that he could have to lay off some employees, both civilians and officers, if the city does not approve Guinta's call for worker furloughs.

In addition, he told the board, without the savings from furloughs, "We would have to take people out of the divisions. We would have to take people out of Detectives, Juvenile and Traffic to be able to continue to handle the emergency coverage."

The meeting with Burkush and Mara was the aldermen's first of the budget season. Other departments will have an opportunity to address the board in the coming weeks.

Guinta has said he wants to increase the police and fire department budgets by about 3 percent. His proposal hinges on a plan to have all city employees, including police officers and firefighters, take off seven days without pay.

Even with the money he'd save from furloughs, Burkush said the Fire Department would be unable to fill seven existing vacancies and would have to lay off six firefighters. He said the reduction in staff would likely force the department to spend about $1 million more on overtime than if it were fully staffed.

Burkush said the department would need $19.6 million to maintain a full complement. He estimated the shortfall under Guinta's proposal, assuming there are no furloughs, would be be $1.1 million.

If forced to close stations, Burkush said, he would probably close one a time, taking a fire engine and a ladder truck out of service. "Today would be one station, tomorrow would be another station," he said.

Roy noted the mayor's budget proposal would eliminate the Juvenile Fire-Setters program, which provides counseling for children and teenagers who have been caught starting fires. The program has existed for 15 years, Burkush said.

"We would like to see that continued," he told the board.

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READERS' COMMENTS:

Jack, if you are in the financial difficulty that you cliam you are in, then I am very sorry for your state. However, there are a few things wrong with your claims.

First, as far as your property value goes, having it drop in value does not mean that your taxes should go down. If everyone's value goes down, it merely means that the rate per dollar of value would go up because the cost to run the city would stay the same or rise. The value of your home is relative to every other tax payer in the city and would not effect your bill as you state.

Secondly, not to be harsh, but if you are truly eating a half a can of soup every night, then it's time to drop your internet service and cable television and budget more responsibly.

What people here fail to recognize is that there is very little fat in Manchester's budget. The board at city hall has done a great job keeping expenses in line. that's why we were rated the #2 tax friendliest city in the entire country. While you people cry about the "high" wages of the city workers, you fail to realize that the police and fire departments are far and wide the busiest and hardest worked departments in this state and yet they are NOT the highest paid. That speaks volumes about the reasonableness of both the unions and the city who negotiate their pay scales.

Tammy - the increase in the budgets do represent a modest increase in wages that were negotiated in good faith a few years ago. However, where were you when these raises were not keeping pace with private industry? Where was your call for fairness when the city workers were not benefiting as much from a booming economy? You can't have it both ways.

James, I think that if you check your facts, you will see that this city and its services have NOT expanded as quickly as the economy nor has it expanded to keep pace with the growth in population. The department heads are certainly not whining or crying, they are being adults and informing the Board what the options are with certain levels of funding. That is what happens when things are run efficiently, when cost go up, one must decide whether to pay the increase or do without. It is a dangerous game to decide to close down city services and neglect our infrastructure. Penny wise and pound foolish is no way to live.
- Jules, Manchester

Robert, you PROVE to me that government workers make less than private sector workers . . . don't forget to add in all the "benefits" like health care and retirement. It is those who have cushy government jobs that would never make it in the PRIVATE SECTOR! As you so perfectly put it, we don't need five guys to patch a hole in the road. Even if you just cut one, there's more money available for essential services. These politicians and department heads just like to scare us into thinking that services would be cut because they don't want to make the hard choices to eliminate unnecessary spending!!!!!
- Molly W, Manchester, NH

Chiefs -

Force your people to take furloughs, lay off employees, shift personnel, close fire houses - just do whatever it is that needs to be done and stop the fear tactics that public safety will be greatly affected. If either of you are good at what you are paid to do, you will be able to make the tough choices while still insuring public safety is not affected. If you can't do that, then move on and lets get some people in there who can.

I will give Chief Mara credit that he shows that he supports the furloughs. I'm sure that is not popular with his officers, but it shows he does not pander to them.
- Richard L. Fortin, Manchester

Does Chief Mara support the furlough idea or not?

In addition, he told the board, without the savings from furloughs, "We would have to take people out of the divisions. We would have to take people out of Detectives, Juvenile and Traffic to be able to continue to handle the emergency coverage."
- Dave J, Manchester

Just remember, the men that man those cushy jobs as you put it. People in government make less and put up with more than you ever would. And think of this when the s, hits the fan and those big red truck go out in the worst of conditions, I am glad men have cushy jobs. Because I want to know that my self and family is safe. Though I too am tapped out I'm glad to pay for what services I might need. Stop going after Police and Fire, and teachers as well. Let us start at city and then at the highway department do they need five guys to patch a hole in the road, I would rather see monies channeled to the services we really need. And to Jack if you dont like move. Life is tough for all of us, and well we to will weather the storm.
- Robert, Manchester

Forget the furloughs, lets cut. But lets not also complain about loss of services.
- John, Manchester

You hit the nail on the head, Jack Alex. We working people have been squeezed dry . . . we don't have any more to contribute so that municipal and government employees can keep their cushy jobs and not have to worry about a few days of lost wages. Everything is going up EXCEPT wages. You can't get blood from a stone . . . enough already! City and State, get out your pen and start crossing off unnecessary line items from those budgets! We the people can do it, so can you the government!!!!!
- Molly W, Manchester, NH

What is is it about the municipal bureaucrat mindset that makes them INCAPABLE of understanding that sometimes you need to make the hard choices and cut your spending to match your income? I've had to do it and I expect that those who handle my increasingly harder to come up with tax dollars will do the same. Spare me the crap and posturing and get real here!
- DP, Manchester

Governments should never expand as fast as economic growth, ever! Managers of municipal entities such as Fire, Police, Education, Highway, etc, can't seem to understand why they're budgets need to be trimmed during these bad economic times. Not understanding is ignorant and indefensible. If the economy is shrinking, and businesses are cutting back spending and rightsizing their balance sheets, then municipalities need to do the same. This is called the allocation of scarce resources, a natural law that even the government can’t avoid (though they think they can finance their way out of it). Right now, discretionary income is scarce. It's not a difficult concept to understand. The more money government takes out of the system the less income there will be to spend and invest. So work with the mayor and trim your budget the best you can and stop crying.
- James, Manchester

There is definitely a problem when the mayor's proposed budget would give the fire and police departments each a 3% increase - and they still claim to have to get rid of police and firemen. It's an increase and they still can't manage. Why? Because the unions are guaranteeing that these police and firemen get their pay increases regardless of whether the economy is tanking.

116 businesses in NH have filed for bankruptcy. People are losing their houses. When are the union thugs going to get it? Take the damn furloughs, save those 90 jobs, and help out folks like Jack Alex who is just plain tapped out.
- Tammy, Manchester

This is a story about 3 Georges & Jack.

Stop applying for grant money!!!!!!!. Don't ever tell me cutbacks are impossible and that they are painful.

I'm tapped out. The only thing thats in my wallet is empty air. My wallet is taking a licking, I used to carry around $40 in walking around money. I used to carry around a 20, 10, 5, and 5 1's.
Now I'm lucky if I go out with $3 in it. I feel like I should put a sign on my wallet Washington slept here. I feel like I'm back in high school. The biggest joy in my life is when the 3 Washingtons return home with me.

You know your broke when you stop carrying the ATM & Debit Card and the
credit card goes in the vault. I used to direct deposit my entire paycheck in my checking account, now it goes in the savings and the only time I move money to checking is to pay a bill when it comes in.

Chief, I'm down to a half a can of soup at night. I cringe at an occasional stop at Dunkin's for a small cup of coffee. In fact I'm all for them cutting back the size of the coffee to one of those little 4 ounce disposable wax cups and maybe spending only .55 cents.

I'm tapped out, got nothing more to offer,
my house is overvalued on the tax rolls
because of the drop in real estate prices but I don't see the city's assessors office in a rush to recertify the value. They sure rushed around when the values were going sky high.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

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"Manchester Mayor's Race Opens Up"
By Ellen Grimm - nhpr.org - Monday, April 20, 2009

The upcoming mayoral race in Manchester has opened up.

Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta surprised city residents earlier this month when he said he's not running for a third term.

He said he wanted to keep his options open to run for higher office, possibly in Washington.

That announcement sent the city’s upcoming mayor's race into new territory.

NHPR Correspondent Ellen Grimm reports.

Tom Donovan is an attorney and former Manchester school board member.

He ran against incumbent Frank Guinta in the last election and lost.

Donovan had indicated he wasn't planning to run this time around.

That was earlier this month.

But since Guinta's announcement, he says he's been getting calls from people who want him to try again.

If he decides to run, he'll likely have a lot of company.

Chris Pappas is chairman of the Manchester Democrats.

PAPPAS: Manchester hasn't seen this kind of an open seat race for mayor since the late 1980s, so I think there will be a tremendous amount of interest from people who are in leadership positions in the city currently.

Joining Donovan on the latest list of democrats circulating are Aldermen Mike Lopez and Mark Roy, former Alderman Gerome Duval, as well as Manchester attorney Gray Chinoweth.

Mayor Frank Guinta’s been keeping track of Republicans interested in the job.

GUINTA: …..Alderman and state senator Ted Gatsas. alderman Mike Garrity, school board member Doug Kruse. Those are at least the three Republicans that seem to be considering it. I think all three of them would make great mayors.

Since then, former alderman Richard Girard has joined the list of interested Republicans.

Democrats right now have a majority on the aldermanic board.

That, plus their recent statewide prominence gave Democrats a certain momentum even before Guinta made his announcement.

City Democratic Chair Chris Pappas:

PAPPAS: We were very energized about the race to begin with because Frank Guinta is one of the last Republicans standing in New Hampshire, and we as Democrats felt he was doing a disservice to the city and had the wrong priorities for Manchester.

Pappas faults Guinta for focusing too much on the tax side of the budget equation at the expense of education funding and other investments in the city's future.

But Will Infantine, chairman of the Manchester Republicans, said Guinta has had the right priorities, particularly when it comes to public safety.

And he praised Guinta for holding the line on taxes.

Infantine: ….. I think with what's going on at the statehouse and what's going on in city hall the last number of years, with the mayor having to fight against all the tax increases, the people do want their political leaders to be more frugal.

Infantine said Republicans are considering lining up behind a single candidate who has, among other qualities, the best ability to raise money.

He said Republicans plan to meet some time in the next few weeks to make that decision.

As for the amount of money it takes, Brad Cook, a Manchester attorney and veteran political observer, said it probably costs a couple of hundred thousand dollars to run an effective mayoral campaign.

Is there enough time to raise that money?

COOK: Often decisions like this are announced the day before the end of the filing period or something like that...he gave them some lead time because the filing period isn't until, I think, June.

As for Guinta’s plans to move onto higher office, Republican Will Infantine says being Manchester’s mayor isn't necessarily a stepping stone.

INFANTINE: I was told over the last 50 or 75 years, only three mayors have gone on to future positions -- whether it be governor or congressman.

The mayor will have several options come 2010.

Assuming the incumbents run again, he could challenge Governor John Lynch or Representative Carol Shea-Porter for their seats.

Or he could try to be the GOP candidate for retiring Senator Judd Gregg’s seat.

In any case, he’ll have a year to campaign after finishing his term as mayor.
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For NHPR News in Manchester, this is Ellen Grimm.
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"Changes ahead for Manchester"
By Brad Cook, New Hampshire Business Review, Manchester, New Hampshire - www.nhbr.com -, April 24, 2009

Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta, up for re-election to a third term had he chosen to run, announced recently that he would not seek the office.

Guinta claimed that he would seek “higher office,” assumedly because he was hearing voices from those urging him to run, and claiming that running for re-election while seeking higher office would be inconsistent with serving as mayor.

Guinta’s action raises an interesting question and points to what may be a disturbing trend. Relatively young people, with no experience running things, often seek election to offices with executive responsibility. While there is nothing wrong with young people seeking office, the trend of first-time office-seekers running for chief executive positions in cities, or federal congressional or Senate seats seems somewhat out of whack. Aldermanic or selectmen seats, school board positions, legislative office and the like are more logical entry points into public office.

Indeed, without meaning to be harsh, Guinta’s two terms as Manchester’s mayor are devoid of any accomplishments that anyone has noticed. That being the case, what commends him for higher office? Similarly, among those rumored to be considering the office are bright, young but inexperienced people with no track record of administrative experience.

Why these untested people would think of running for a position that is chief executive of a several-hundred-million-dollar enterprise is one question. Why anyone would think of electing them is another.

In any event, Guinta’s exit provides another opportunity for a mass reshuffling in the state’s largest city’s offices. The outcome of that race is important, not only to the city, but also to the state.

*****

The state recently held a “stimulus summit” in Durham. Participants came from all over New Hampshire and represented governmental entities, municipalities, not-for-profits and a host of folks hoping to find a piece of the economic stimulus pie provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The meat of the subject was described by Orville “Bud” Fitch, director of the New Hampshire Office of Economic Stimulus. Fitch, the deputy attorney general, described the process for applying for funds and the various components of the stimulus package.

Basically, there are programs for the state government in the areas of education, roads and infrastructure, funds for various specific municipal programs like clean water and wastewater treatment plants, local education and other funds. There are not many opportunities for not-for-profits to seek help, but those who think there might be were urged to contact the state agency that normally provides funding or is involved in their subject matter. Applications for many of the programs have short time frames and therefore interested parties should inquire quickly.

More information can be found at www.nh.gov, by e-mailing NHOES@nh.gov or calling 603-271-2121.

*****

The 9,000 or so not-for-profits in New Hampshire have been the subject of much discussion during the recession.

The New Hampshire Center for Non-Profits, an effective organization headed by Mary Ellen Jackson, has a helpful Web site – nhnonprofits.org. On it, draft policies, procedures, helpful hints and notice of publications and conferences can be found.

Increasingly, not-for-profit boards and executives are seeking to cooperate with each other and get help. Many small not-for-profits struggle with issues that have successfully been handled by larger ones and the New Hampshire Center for Non-Profits seeks to be a clearinghouse.

The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Charitable Trust Division of the Attorney General’s Office and other concerned parties are engaged in discussions of how not-for-profits can coordinate, cooperate and share efficiencies. These efforts need to be successful if not-for-profits are to survive and serve the purposes for which they were established.

In connection with not-for-profits, the Internal Revenue Service recently has introduced a new Form 990, the form that has to be filed every year by almost all not-for-profits.

The new form delves much more deeply into the policies that boards have, any possible conflicts of interest, pecuniary benefit transactions and the like, as part of an effort to scrutinize the activities of not-for-profit organizations and make sure they are operating for the public purpose that allows them their tax exemptions.

Not-for-profit board members and executives should be aware of the new 990 requirements. Especially for those who fill out these forms themselves without the help of sophisticated accounting professionals, it is important to get to know these new requirements promptly.

Many of the new requirements come as a result of the special interest taken in not-for-profit activities by U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, former head of the Senate Finance Committee and its present senior Republican member.

Over the years, Grassley has been a supporter of not-for-profit tax exemptions but has taken special interest in organizations he believed were not operating in a manner consistent with the tax exemption, whether because of high salaries, benefits or other perceived abuses.

Whether right or wrong, Grassley’s efforts have resulted in the new form, questions, requirements for policies, and have made the life of not-for-profit organizations more complex. Those involved should be ready for the changes.
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Brad Cook is a shareholder in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green and heads its government relations and estate planning groups. He also serves as secretary of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire.
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The Manchester Fire Department marked this vacant building in Manchester with a red sign with an 'X' on it. (DAVID LANE)
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"Scarlet letters spell danger"
The New Hampshire Union Leader Newspaper (Online), April 25, 2009

MANCHESTER – Abandoned buildings in the city have a solid reputation for trouble and danger. Now they have their own scarlet letter.

Since September, the fire department has been posting red placards with a large X on structures that are abandoned and pose potential dangers if they catch fire. As of this week, 13 buildings had been so marked in the city.

If any of them catch fire, responders will use a "measured approach" to fighting the fire, said Ed O'Reilly, a district fire chief and head of the Fire Prevention Office, which oversees the new program.

O'Reilly said abandoned buildings have structural problems, such as holes in floors, and other issues that differ from occupied properties. The X gives firefighters an informational advantage, he said.

"We're just going to have an awareness there are certain hazards in the property. Nothing is going to preclude us from going into the building (for a rescue)," O'Reilly said.

The Xs are drawing some concern.

In his blog "Fortress Manchester," community activist Will Stewart worries that the X might attract squatters.

"If I was homeless and looking for somewhere to spend the night away from the New Horizons shelter -- or if I were a kid looking for a private place to conduct any manner of illicit activity -- I would make a beeline for any house bearing one of these signs," wrote Stewart, who is a community services specialist at NeighborWorks Greater Manchester.

"X literally marks the spot, telling anyone passing by that the house in question is unoccupied and available for whatever purpose one has in mind," he wrote.

At one of the 13 buildings, an X isn't needed to invite squatters or troublemakers. The front door of a Concord Street property was wide open yesterday afternoon. Faded telephone books sat on the front porch, still wrapped in their plastic delivery pouches. Graffiti scarred the siding.

"It's a threat to us; it's wide open; the kids go in there and raise hell," said Roger Davies, whose house is about 5 feet from the building at the closest point. If the massive three-story building were to catch fire, his modest, single-story wouldn't stand a chance.

"I'm scared now because nobody's there taking care of it," Davies said. "It's a bad situation, an invitation for trouble."

Davies has no problem with the X, which went up about a month ago. If it keeps firefighters safe, he's all for it, he said.

Several blocks away, a three-story apartment building on Spruce Street also has a red X. Its front door is padlocked. The lawn is neat, and a neighbor, Don Alley, said he's never seen anyone enter the building.

He has no problem with the X.

"There's abandoned buildings everywhere. What are you going to do? That's life," Alley said.

O'Reilly said the system is imperfect and subjective. At this point, there is no solid criteria of what warrants an X. A merely vacant structure won't earn an X; it has to be abandoned, O'Reilly said.

O'Reilly said the placards arose from a recommendation made by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety in light of the 1999 fire of a Worcester, Mass., warehouse that killed six firefighters. One recommendation called for inspections and pre-fire planning of vacant buildings.

Of course, owners dislike the scarlet letter on their building. O'Reilly said he's removed about 10 Xs since the program began. He will do so after an owner starts work on a building or after a real-estate agent starts marketing the building.

"When a real-estate broker calls us, it gives us a sense that another set of eyes is looking at the building," O'Reilly said.

He understands the X could be an invitation for squatters or troublemakers.

"To me, the good of the program is to give our first-responders an informational advantage," O'Reilly said. "If it does other stuff, we'll have to learn from experience."

READERS' COMMENTS

So why is the city not tracking down the owners of these abandoned properties? If they are unable to get owner to fix them up, the city should sieze these buildings, fix them up, and sell them.
- LJC, Manchester

There isn't a building in the world worth injury or death to a firefighter.
- francis fox, Hampton NH

In other words, even illiterate crack dealers and meth cooks can see a good place to set up shop, and the illegals know where they can go without even having to know English?
- Dave Sims, Manchester

a big red sign with an X on it. wonderful. why don't they just put a big sign that says "burn me." Oh, trust me, the criminals in manchester, or the street thugs OR the crack addicts (druggies) will be all over these buildings like flies on poop, and I can guarantee that those idiots will be careless and start a fire.
- scott, chichester

It's just a Sign of the times. Just a different twist on the sign. Instead of a real estate sign there's a big old X on the property.
- Ben Stern, Bedford

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"No swimming: Cut likely in city pool hours"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, April 29, 2009

MANCHESTER – Budget cuts could force the city to scale back operating hours at the public swimming pools this summer, Manchester's parks chief says.

Interim Parks, Recreation and Cemeteries Director Chuck DePrima said each of the city's four public pools would be open just three days a week, instead of daily, under Mayor Frank Guinta's budget proposal. Swimming in Crystal Lake, in southeast Manchester, would be limited to two days a week.

In addition, DePrima said, the season for swimming in the public pools and Crystal Lake would be shortened from nine weeks to seven weeks.

"It's quite a reduction," DePrima said.

The proposed cutbacks in the Parks, Recreation and Cemeteries would mean fewer jobs for seasonal workers, such as lifeguards. In other departments, there are concerns that some full-time positions may be axed, and others, now vacant, could go unfilled.

Possibilities, according to department heads who addressed the aldermen Monday, include as many as five layoffs in the city library, one in the City Solicitor's Office and one in the Department of Planning and Community Development. The department heads noted many of the layoffs would not be necessary if employees take the seven-day furloughs Guinta called for last month.

Yesterday, Guinta said the point of the furloughs was to save jobs and maintain services.

"My budget was crafted months ago based upon the best numbers available at the time," Guinta said in a statement. "The budget is now in the hands of the aldermen."

Alderman Ed Osborne said he believes the board will find a way to avoid many of the cuts now on the table, including the proposed changes at the public swimming pools.

"I don't see it happening, really. I hope not, anyway," Osborne said.

DePrima's plan for meeting the demands of the mayor's proposal -- which chops the parks-and-recreation budget by about 6 percent, or 4 percent if the employees take furloughs -- is to close the swimming pools on a "rotating" basis, so that no more than two pools would be open at any time.

The number of lifeguards would be slashed from 39 to 23. In addition, DePrima said he would cut two maintenance staffers and 12 recreation aids.

As a result, DePrima said, lines at the pools would likely be longer. DePrima also said he expects more reports of trespassing at the closed pools, resulting in more calls to the police.

DePrima estimates the changes would save $104,000. Furloughs, by contrast, would save the department an estimated $53,000, according to figures released by the Mayor's Office.

Manchester's public pools are generally open from late June to late August. Traditionally, the pools have been open seven days a week, in many cases for seven hours a day.

DePrima also said the mayor's budget would force him to eliminate three temporary recreation maintenance workers, who help maintain approximately 2,000 acres of cemeteries, school athletic fields and parks.

Separately, Library Director Denise van Zanten has said Guinta's proposal would force her to reduce operating hours at both of the city's library buildings. She would have to lay off two to three employees if there are furloughs, or as many as five if there are not, she said.

The library currently employs 34 full-time workers and 16 part-time workers, she said.

Guinta noted his budget proposal includes $600,000 in "salary adjustment" money, "so I have the ability to utilize this if departments are short."

READERS' COMMENTS:

I know times are hard but it appears this budget is going to turn our nice little city into a cesspool. I grew up here and live on the west side. I use the West Library quite a bit and much more since the economy has worsened. I hear their circulation has increased 30 percent since December alone. This always happens when the economy takes a downturn because people stop buying books, magazines and renting movies when they can get it for free at the library besides the fact that half the people going there are people who have lost their jobs and are using the internet to type resumes to find jobs. Have any of you been in there the place is a zoo and a daycare. So you cut the days of the pool during the hot summer and the libraries hours. I see the police dealing much more with frustrated kids and not just teenagers who are hot and have no place cool to go & will be getting into trouble that could be avoided if they at least have a pool or airconditioned library to visit. When I was a kid I went to the pool everyday during the summer. The west side is a poorer district then the rest of the city and is full of poor immigrants that the city has allowed to immigrate here and can't sustain them. Why has the city spent so much money on renovating the pools and West Library just to have them sitting there half the time empty? Times are hard and people are screaming about raising their taxes yet don't bat an eye about charging kids for use of the pool. Thats rich. This summer it appears that real crime will have to sit on the back burner while the police take care of the thousands of kids that have no place to go cause their parents who yes believe it or not are taxpayers and can't afford to send them anywhere except for the pools and the library. It seems for other cities the size of Manchester maintaining these services is a nobrainer. I'm sure Mayor Guinta kids have a pool and go to private schools. It seems he could care less about them and what is about to happen to our youth and future of Manchester. Our schools, pools and libraries. Like I said say hello to cesspool Manchester or should I say Dorchester as these kids will most likely fall prey to the drugs that will be ravaging our streets when the drugdealers see the opportunity in this.
- Cecil, Manchester

With all the lakes, and ponds in this small state why do municipalities even need tax payer funded pools?
- Don R., Exeter, NH

We are in an economic crisis. We cannot expect to have the same services in times like these. Reduce the pool hours and save some money.

Why in the world do we think we have to have a pool open like usual in times like these?

Everyonme is cutting. We can get over it - look at the sacrifices people made in WWII for rationing? These cocessiosn are far from that.

People have become accustomed to living fat and large. Pool access is not a right - it is a priviledge.
- CJ, Manchester

How about we just start charging people to use the swimming pools? Figure out what it costs to keep the pools open and how many people use them and then figure out a fee. Maybe it's $1 per child and $2 per adult, more for non-Manchester residents. We could also sell season passes.

We pay to use the golf course and McIntyre, why don't we pay to use the pools?

Before someone chimes in about what are the less fortunate going to do - a program could be set up to allow free passes or reduced cost passes for those who truly cannot afford to pay to use the pools.
- Tammy Simmons, Manchester

Let's fill in the pools that cause trouble and install a park with green grass and a water spray area. The spray system is on timers and only works at certain times. The water is recycled and because there is no swimming, there are no lifeguards. $$$$ saved.
- John, Manchester

How about charging a modest fee for pool usage? The city charges for use of JFK and McIntyre as well as Derryfield. Maybe the out of towners will also have to pay..
- JC, Manchester

The city has a snow melter and the only reason that it is NOT cost effective is because the city does not use it properly. The idea is that you close off a street and place the snow melter at the end of the street. Then you use your equipment to remove the snow banks as if you were hauling them away. Instead of hauling it away though, you load it into the melter, therefore saving thousands of dollars in trucking expenses. When the street is done, you move the melter to the next street. Out great city, sets the snow melter up in the mill yard and hauls the snow to a parking lot for storage and then melts it later. What an absolute waste of money.
- Brian, Manchester

I understand completely... when it comes to budgeting for my family I always reduce my family members benefits before I reduce my own. Manchester officials are starting to amaze me.
- Randall, Manchester

Why not charge a nominal fee? .50 cents or $1 especially for people who are not city resident's or do not reside in the ward where the pool is located. I am sure that would go a long way towards making the city pool's self supporting. Why isn't there snack bar's and other services at the pools? The city needs to think of these pools as businesses and potential revenue generators not as services. In most cases I would argue that the tax payers are not using this services it’s our tenants and visitors that are. If they began to generate some/any revenue then we could argue for longer hours and possible make money off of them instead of spending money on them.
- Joshua, Manchester

Oh here we go, the same people that want the unions to take concessions and city employees to work for free are now whining that due to the same budget, things are being cut. Go to a lake or maybe we can get a tax increase so you can swim...ugh
- Jim Wilson, Manchester

Has anyone ever thought of charging annual or per diem user fees for the pools? This draconian method of defraying costs for the public has been used in many municipalities. It might even make the city a little cash.
- gr chase, Exeter

I nearly always agree with budget cuts, however I wonder if saving $104,000 is short-sighted given the trouble that many more bored kids with nothing else to do in the summer might get into.
- JAC, Manchester

Let's hope it's not another HOT summer for those kids.

What's Manchester's next reduction? Certainly not health insurance for it's Aldermen & School Board members!
- Charlie Austin, Manchester

Snow bank melters? Thats rich....I want to know more about that boondogle..Someone please post details or a link.
- John, Manchester

I'm looking forward to the budget hearing. The MEA sent out a big page size advertisement. After reading it, All I have to say is 146 million is a start!
- Jack Alex, Manchester

Teens mostly are the ones who trespass at night and get into the city pools. As a neighborhood watch, it is seen alot on hot days. This creates tie ups for the police departments when a call has come in to look into the trespassing all the while taking away from somewhere else they could be. Currently, Hunt Pool in the inner city is open from 1pm to 7pm, reduced number of days will likely result in tempers becoming short. A solution would be to offer up a 3pm to 7pm swim time during the weekdays and 1pm to 5pm on weekends. We have already lost our basketball courts at Enright Park and Harrisman Park, how much more are we going to take away?
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

The city can't sustain the current amount of employees in the school district, but we can still manage to put some money in the pool budget. Oh, and don't forget about those Million Dollar snow bank melters the city has that, last season they couldn't afford to operate. Anybody seeing the stupidity?
- Joe, Manchester

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"Guinta takes heart from poll, eyes federal office"
By TOM FAHEY, State House Bureau Chief, NH Union Leader, Tuesday, April 28, 2009

CONCORD – Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta said yesterday he is focusing his eyes on a run for federal office in 2010.

Guinta, a Republican, said yesterday that he'll announce exactly which office he'd like within a few weeks, but he ruled out a run for governor.

While he said he was encouraged by findings in a recent Republican poll, a Democratic party spokesman read them differently. She said the results fall well short of what someone with long-stated political ambitions should draw.

Two weeks ago, Guinta said he won't run for a third term as mayor of the state's largest city because he plans to seek higher office. In 2008 he flirted with challenging Gov. John Lynch, but pulled out of the contest early.

Political observers expected him to run for Congress this time. Yesterday, a GOP poll showed him within striking distance of U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat in her second term who represents the state's 1st District, which includes Manchester.

The poll conducted by On Message Inc., a consultant to the Republican National Congressional Committee, showed Shea-Porter with 43 percent support, Guinta with 34 percent and 24 percent undecided, said Wes Anderson, a partner in On Message. The poll of 300 likely voters has a margin of error of 5.6 percent.

Guinta could challenge Shea-Porter, or seek the Republican nomination to replace U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, R-NH, who is retiring after 2010. U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes, D-NH, has already announced he'll seek Gregg's seat.

Guinta said he would not make a decision on polling alone.

"I don't think it's wise for any candidate or potential candidate to consider what a poll number says and allow that to dictate whether to run for certain position," he said.

Guinta said the poll, "clearly demonstrates that constituents have an interest in replacing Carol Shea-Porter. I understand that interest and it's encouraging."

Democratic spokesman Victoria Bonney wondered how Guinta could be encouraged by the poll.

"As mayor of the state's largest city, who has had statewide ambitions for several years, you'd think Frank Guinta could muster up a little more than 34 percent in a poll conducted by Republican insiders," she said. "A Republican mayor in a conservative city comes up with 34 percent? That's pathetic."

Anderson said the poll was "a quick look survey" that used as small a sample as can be statistically relevant. He said polling included other potential GOP candidates, whom he would not name.

The respondents in the poll roughly matched the state's mix of Democrat, Republican and undeclared voters, Anderson said.

Shea-Porter would be well ahead if this match-up were held today, but the numbers raise a red flag because her support is well below 50 percent, he said.

"By that alone, you say 'OK, we've got to keep an eye on this one.' This has to be on the radar screen," he said.

READERS' COMMENTS:

I believe that, with George Bush gone, CSP doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell. That is it, pure and simple. The woman doesn't have a brain in her head and was elected simply because of the anti-Bush sentiment at the time. Remember, she is nothing more than an anti-war, anti-Bush protester at heart. Without Bush and with conditions improving on the ground in Iraq she is simply nothing. Guinta should have no problem taking the seat from her IF his Party doesn't screw it up too badly.
- Bob Pickett, New Castle

Stuart, he brought one idea, you don't even bother to refute that. Is that the only solution to the budget? Or is that the only one that fits his political agenda? I don't see any evidence that he looked at any other parts of the budget to make the cuts that he said were needed.

Seriously $13.50 per tax bill to keep things level funded? You are being ridiculous.
- Bob V, Manchester

Bah. I wish he was running for NH office. He can't do any good in the swamp that is Washington DC. That city will never change no matter who gets elected.
- Jack, Concord

Drama Queen...
- Cathy, concord

Alderman Frank Guinta made a promise to improve Manchester schools when he ran for Mayor. (UL op letter 10/27/05) At the time three schools were listed as "In Need of Improvement". Now the entire school district is listed as "In Need of Improvement" and 3 schools are on the state's list for "corrective action". He promised that he would keep his word about improving the schools.

It has been almost 3 and 1/2 years since he became mayor and the schools have gone downhill since he has taken over. In Manchester as mayor he is the head of the school board. He professed to have a plan to better the schools during his campaign for mayor. He is a giant FAILURE... and he has hurt the children of this city. It is not just about taxes...this issue is about the the education and future of the children of this city. I will gladly pay more in taxes to improve our schools.

If you want a Great Leader DO NOT VOTE for Frank Guinta. If you want a Great LIAR well.....
- Lisa, Manchester

Jason from Manchester, it is very easy to see. Mayor Guinta has one agenda. Cut cut cut til it hurts. Well, he is a Wieczorek protege and we certainly don't need to go back to the Wieczorek days. We need forward thinking people as elected officials all the way around. Guinta brought unrealistic budgets to the table and then blamed the aldermen for raising taxes. Guinta has not offered one concrete solution for anything. Instead its a cut cut cut mentality. Well, where do you cut? Police, Fire, Education? Where. So it is very easy to see. He can cut all the services he wants but our taxes certainly won't go down so instead, we are paying the same taxes for less services. Wow, that is a great campaign idea. This isn't about partisanship as much as it is abotu realism and Guinta is not a realist.
- Jeff, Manchester

Bob V.
Have you read the budget address? You are horribly out of touch as you assert that the Mayor brought one idea, a furlough to the city budget. Even if that were the case, would it not be better than the layoffs of 200 city employees including first responders?

The structure of the city budget states that the mayor delivers his budget proposal, it is then deliberated on by the board of aldermen. He has delivered, and delivered big in my opinion. No tax increase and no layoffs...whats your better idea? Now its in the aldermen's lap to jack the tax rate and pander to the unions.
- Stuart Dunmeyer, Manchester

Yeah, Frank Guinta, our hero. He brought ONE idea to the budget debate this year, a furlough, and has offered NOTHING since. Now THAT'S leadership! We obviously don't pay him enough for all that he gives us.
- Bob V, Manchester

Jack Alex wrote, "With the current state of the Republican party in NH its going to be tough fight. To be honest they blew the election, maybe the didn't have the best ticket in the world but it seems that there was no effort to push it when it came to voting time."

Well Jack, what you say is ABSOLUTELY true of the days of the Fergus Cullen-led NHGOP lost in the wilderness. It is a new day, and a new Republican Party. We watched it first-hand up here in the District 3 Senate special election race. Governor Sununu leads a great staff that has thus far demonstrated they can and will engage the opposition while maintaining a structure that doesn't forget the basics of good campaigning. Of course, it helps when you have good candidates. Guinta is a GREAT candidate. Sayeth Mayor Guinta: "We are not here to fleece the taxpayers." Amen!
- Doug Lambert, Gilford

I'm kind of confused at how someone can accuse Mayor Guinta for not being strong on issues and changing his political beleifs as the winds change. Explain to me how you come to this conclusion? He is one of the very few individuals on the board of mayor and aldermen who stands alone fighting for tax cuts every year. Even though Lynch is popular, he has openly criticized him when he is wrong regardless of political ramifications. On the other hand, he has also worked together with Democrats in this state for the betterment of Manchester as well.

People like Jeff from Manchester should try and open their eyes for once and look beyond political parties. I consider myself a Conservative Democrat too, which is why I had enough with Bob Baines and voted for Frank Guinta. Likewise, I have had enough with Carol Shea Porter and will certainly vote for Frank Guinta in 2010 for similar reasons.
- Jason Freeman, Manchester, New Hampshire

Guints has been a very prominent supporter of fiscal conservatism in Manchester and we need his abilities in Washington now more than ever. If he runs, he will have my support in the primary and in the election against Carol Shea Porter hands down.
- Greg Sullivan, Goffstown, NH

Jeff you are just a partisan Democrat. Record as mayor? Guinta has a great bipartisan record as mayor. He has led this city strongly with an iron fist on fiscal issues and has been a tough fighter against crime throughout his tenure.

Jeff, how about you move to Massachusettes and maybe the liberal policies of their politicians will suit you better...after 6 years of tax increases and fiscal policies run crazy under Bob Baines, it has been a breath of fresh air having a mayor who will fight for the taxpayer rather than the union bosses.
- Kyle Collins, Manchester, NH

Well writen, and thank you, Mr Vallincourt.

Yes, I am a Democrat who is also "Conservative." A wing of the party that has been pushed aside and silenced...and why the Dem majority presently in Concord will be ushered out of Concord in the next election cycle. They've pushed too fast and too hard, especially with their 'social' agenda.

I am not a fan of Shea-Porter. However, if it is indeed this mayor who gets the GOP nomination in a run against her, I will not vote for him. In fact, I suspect she will thump him good.

There are more qualified GOP candidates than this mayor. Same with the Democrats.
- Jack, Manchester

I would like to see some additional Republican candidates come forward...please.
- Mike, Raymond

Without getting into a dispute over whether Guinta is a good candidate or stands a chance, I feel the need to say that Manchester is in fact a conservative city. It's Democratic but conservative Democrat. Just look at how often Manchester Dem Representatives go against their party. Just look at how two of the three Dem Senators on the hook to vote against gay marriage are from Manch--Lou and Betsi. Look back to the Mel Thompson margins in Manchester. Look at the liberal Fernald getting clobbered while conservative Dem like Lynch does well. Look at an historical analysis of the Manchester vote vs. other cities. An impartial person can reach no other conclusion than that Manchester is more conservative the state on average. Just look at the internals of Andy Smith's UNH poll last week which covered five social topics. I've seen the internals--Manchester is more conservative. Thus, Victoria Bonney, who I assume is well paid as a consummate spinmeister, happens to be correct in this assessment.

Steve
- steve vaillancourt, manchester

ok James, so by your thinking, isn't shea porter a New York City-native political carpet-bagger???
- Roger Hanford, Hooksett

I love how these pollsters already have Guinta at 34%. That is until his record as Mayor hits the news state wide at which point his percentages will drop even more. This guy has done absolutely nothing here in Manchester yet he thinks he can do a better job in either the house or senate? Ok. That just makes me want to vote for Carol Shea Porter even more. At least we know what we get from her. With Guinta, it is the finger in the wind trick...which direction will I go today?

Good luck Guinta. Have a great campaign and enjoy the lessons of defeat.
- Jeff, Manchester

James it is called a National RECESSION! That is why downtown development has slowed. However, even in these tough times, Guinta has brought the biggest development in Manchester since the Mall of NH to frution; the Elliot at the River's Edge development. You just sound like a tax happy liberal who thinks taxation is the solution to every problem. Guinta has absolutely made Manchester a safer place by adding dozens of new police officers after Baines neglected the police department and public safety for years. Guinta had the guts to get the dangerous night clubs kicked out (the same ones that Baines let ruin our city for years).

It will be sad to see Guinta leave City Hall, however I certainly believe that he will have a greater impact for Manchester working on behalf of the city on a national level. I hope you will run against Rep. Shea Porter because as an Independent voter, I am tired of her extremly liberal views.
- Fred, Manchester

As a Manchester resident I'm thrilled that the New Jersey-native political carpet-bagger Guinta is moving on. I think he'd be great in Congress, where he can do way less to impact regular people. Perhaps when he runs for higher office someone will finally put a bright spotlight on his record in this city. Let's talk about how crime, potholes, economic stagnation, and political gridlock have all expanded during his tenure. Our schools underperform because (see Kelleigh Murphy) anyone who can escapes to the suburbs.

This is the state's largest, most diverse city, with the greatest resources -- but Concord, Portsmouth, Dover, Keene, and even Nashua all offer far superior quality of life. Is there even a plan on the drawing board right now for the continued revitalization of downtown? It does not seem that way. All of Manchester's momentum has evaporated. I hope this city can manage to elect a leader with some vision this time around.
- James, Manchester

This Victoria Bonnie woman from the NH Democrat Party better learn a little more about New Hampshire before making comments to the state's largest paper- either that or she is just a great spin doctor. Manchester is ABSOLUTELY NOT a conservative city. It is a moderate city, but I think it is even arguable that it leans to the left politically. Her comment also doesn't make any sense. It is obviously expected that Guinta wouldn't have high name recognition ouside of the Greater Manchester area. People in the nothern parts of the district don't even know him yet and those in the south only get bits and pieces of Manchester news.

If I were a Democrat, I would be pretty worried that a candidate who hasn't even built up his name recognition in most of the district is within 11 points of beating a two term represetative.
- Shane Biledo, Manch

LOL the Dems are trying the make it sound like Guinta should have higher poll numbers??? He polled pretty darn well (only 11 points behind with other Republicans on the ticket as well) considering he hasn't been a politician outside of Manchester and most of the ditsrict doesn't even know who he is yet.

Shea Porter's days are numbered. She can't even break 50% and she has been a congresswoman for two terms?! I am tired of Shea Porter voting lock step with the Democrat Party and a majority of voters in this district will feel the same way.

Also, LOL did the Dems really call Manchester a conservative city? That's one heck of a stretch! It really couldn't be more obvious that the Dems are trying to spin these numbers as best as possible because they are VERY scared by what this poll shows.
- Cindy, Manchester, New Hampshire

Good for the mayor. Carol Shea Porter recently said that she votes 100% in like with the Democrat party because she agrees with them 100% of the time. That certainly is not the congresswoman that the independently minded New Hampshire should be sending to represent the first district.

By the sounds of the Democrat interviewed in this article and the worrisome tone of the Democrats about Caol Shea Porter in general shows that even they recognize that she is in trouble (as she should be). Guinta has done a great job as mayor and he would absolutely (and happily) have my support in a race against Carol Shea Porter!
- Jacob Rumney, Manchester, NH

Shea-Porter's numbers are deplorably low and she should be very worried. Her marching in lock step with Obama/Pelosi and her reliance on out-of-state money will weigh her down even more. This seat is ripe for the picking if the Republicans pick a strong candidate.
- Tom, Campton

Will always predictable pork spending ACORN loving Porter-Pelosi-puppet be running against "failed Bush policies" again??? Or will she finally have to answer for her own votes?
- Mae, Plaistow

I am very interested in seeing Carol Shea-Porter booted out on her ear but not replaced by that do nothing back stabber Frank Guinta. There are better Republicans who can win. If he should run and win the nomination I will definitely vote against him. Why send a do-nothing Mayor to be a do-nothing Congressman, we already have Carol Shea-Porter doing exactly that.
- Richard L. Fortin, Manchester

Great! Now that the mayor has destroyed Manchester, he can turn the rest of the state into a giant ghetto!
- JJ, Manchester

CSP can be beaten. It will take a higher level of commitment than has been done in the past. Guinta would have to convince a lot of people to vote for him not so much against Shea Porter.
- Chris, Merrimack

While I wish Mayor Guinta luck, I will miss him as Mayor. He is going to face a huge upward hill battle moving from a city elected official to reperesenting a wide geographic area beyond just Manchester. He will need to make sure he has the proper exposure to people who may never have heard of him before. With the current state of the Republican party in NH its going to be tough fight. To be honest they blew the election, maybe the didn't have the best ticket in the world but it seems that there was no effort to push it when it came to voting time.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

Guinta obviously is going to run against CSP, but I do not think he can pull it off. Her numbers are worrisome for an incumbent, as is her fundraising, yet Guinta may have appeal issues outside Manchester. It makes sense for him to make the leap, but even without coattails, CSP will probably hang on.
- Justin, Moultonboro

It looks like Frank Guinta has received the generic support any Republican would get against Shea-Porter. Congrats, Mr. Mayor, you have a pulse!
- Glen, Manchester, NH

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"City Hall: Doug Kruse won't run for mayor"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, May 3, 2009

Two days after this newspaper reported Mayor Frank Guinta was exploring a run for the 1st District U.S. House seat, a man named Ron Vars went online and plopped down $10 for the rights to guintaforcongress.com.

He bought it as a friend, he said, having met Guinta while campaigning for Rudy Giuliani in the 2008 presidential primary. “Better me than more nefarious people,” he said.Guintaforcongress.com remains a blank page for now, but Vars, who lives in Hampton Falls, is currently transferring the domain-name registration to Guinta, per the request of the mayor’s chief consultant, Mike Biundo. The transfer should become official any day now, Vars said.

If there were any doubt, Guinta himself erased it Friday, when he confirmed that he has filed paperwork establishing an exploratory committee for a possible run at the seat representing the 1st Congressional District.

Biundo has spent a heap of money to lock down any Internet domain name that might prove useful to the two-term Republican mayor. Just one week after Vars snapped up guintaforcongress.com, Biundo bought guintaforsenate.com, guinta2010.com and frankguinta2010.com. He also renewed the registration for guintaforgovernor.com, a site he purchased in February 2008, when Guinta was mulling a challenge to Gov. John Lynch.Biundo said he was just playing defense.

“You don’t want folks to purchase those sites and have a rogue site up there with the mayor’s name on it, because somebody could play havoc if they wanted to,” he said.

The purchases would seem to suggest there was, just six weeks ago, some uncertainty in Guinta’s camp about which office the mayor would seek. At the very least, it’s clear Guinta wanted to cover his bases.

GUINTA-NET: Guinta’s online shopping spree doesn’t stop there. The latest report on Guinta’s reelection campaign chest (which, of course, is no longer needed) shows Guinta spent $800 on domain-name registrations in the first three months of 2009.

Biundo says none of that money was used on sites that had anything to do with Guinta’s quest for higher office.

“I’ve been in politics a long time. I know what you can and cannot do (legally),” Biundo said.

So what did Guinta buy with that money? A partial list, according to Biundo and records at GoDaddy.com, includes mayorguinta.com, therealfrankguinta.com and — get this — theguintayears.com.

The Guinta Years. It could be a sitcom.

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING: By the way, guintaforpresident.com? Still available.

PAYBACK: That campaign finance report we just mentioned shows Guinta raised $15,450 last quarter. The question is, now that he isn’t running for mayor, what will he do with it?

One option, according to Biundo, is to pay himself back. Previous finance reports show Guinta loaned himself $58,000 during his first run for mayor in 2005, money he has yet to recoup.

Biundo said he’ll probably call each donor and ask them what they’d like to do with their contribution. Legally, he said, the money can’t be transferred to Guinta’s federal campaign.

OUT OF CONTENTION: School board member Doug Kruse has decided not to run for mayor.

“I just think this is not the time,” Kruse said.

Kruse said he is considering other offices and will likely make an announcement this week. He would not commit to running for reelection in Ward 8.

Other Republicans who are said to be interested in the mayor’s job are Aldermen Ted Gatsas and Mike Garrity and former Alderman At-Large Rich Girard.

IN THE PINK: It’s an uncomfortable subject, but like it or not, it’s going to come back up.Pink slips.

Superintendent Tom Brennan has said it will be necessary to give some out to teachers this week, but he needs the school board’s authorization to do it. A vote to give that authorization to Brennan failed two weeks ago, by a count of 9 to 6.

Mayoral aide Mark Laliberte said the mayor, who voted in favor of pink slips, will call a meeting to force a second vote, most likely this Wednesday. Whatever happens that night is expected to be the final word on the matter, since the teachers’ contract requires the district to dish out layoff notices no later than May 10.

Expect to hear plenty of talk about teacher layoffs at tomorrow night’s public hearing on the city budget. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at Memorial High School.

Last year’s public hearing drew about 2,000 people. It would be surprising if this year’s hearing is any less packed.

MIKEY LIKES IT: Mike Roche, mouthpiece for the city unions, was positively giddy about the aldermen’s decision last week to switch health insurance carriers. Broadly speaking, he said, the employees don’t like Cigna as much as they liked Anthem, the company that once administered insurance to city workers and will do so again, starting in July.

“Anthem is a better plan,” Roche said.

Roche, however, did say he thinks the unions should have had some say in the decision. The selection committee that reviewed the bids did not include a union representative.

Consultant Tom DeLacey conceded it would have been a good idea to seek more input from city employees.

ALL WET: City officials are still weighing the pros and cons of charging non-residents for a dip in Manchester’s public swimming pools.

“We’ve been calling around to other towns and finding out what they charge,” said Chuck DePrima, interim director of parks, recreation and cemeteries.

Odds are the pools will remain free for everybody this summer, he said. Swimming season begins in late June, after school lets out.

Other changes may be afoot. DePrima has said he would have to scale back operating hours at the pools if the aldermen approve Guinta’s budget proposal.

If that happens, he said, the city may decide to ban non-residents from the pools entirely. Otherwise, he said, there would be a real risk of having too many people trying to swim in too few pools.

BRUNELLE FOR ALDERMAN?: Gerard Brunelle says he is contemplating a run for alderman in Ward 12.

Brunelle, a Democrat, is a campus safety officer at St. Anselm College and a part-time court officer for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department. His is also the uncle of state Democratic Party Executive Director Mike Brunelle.

UNAFRAID: State Rep. Pat Long says he isn’t alarmed by Alderman Peter Sullivan’s early fund-raising. A campaign finance report shows Sullivan raised $1,250 during the quarter ending March 31, an unusually large sum for an alderman this early in the year.

Long, who has said he will challenge Sullivan for the Ward 3 seat, said he doesn’t have time to worry about fund-raising right now, what with his responsibilities in Concord and with the Ironworkers union.

“I’m way busy,” he said.

HEADS UP: The City Hall column will be on hiatus next week.
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Read Scott Brooks’ coverage of Manchester City Hall in the New Hampshire Union Leader. E-mail him at sbrooks@unionleader.com.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Sounds like Mr. Long is too busy to be an alderman. Better to keep Peter Sullivan, who's doing a fine job and has no trouble making time for meetings.
- John A., Manchester

"HEADS UP: The City Hall column will be on hiatus next week."

Scott .. how can you do this to us? Think of the "children". Joe Kelly, the two Joes, the city union bosses, the guy running for alderman, the gay marriage advocates, the teachers, our mayor and future congressman Guinta, .. all the municipal employees who live in suburbs, O'Neil/Lopez/Smith, Ms Murphy,
the police/fire/and garbage, .... I get it, this is a joke, you are testing us. Ok... whew.. for a minute there, I was worried. See you in two weeks with more corruption, personal failure, campaign talk. .. wait :; you aren't moving to Bedford are you?
- tom, manchester,nh

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"Alderman joins race for mayor"
By GARRY RAYNO, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, Thursday, May 7, 2009

MANCHESTER – Three-term Ward 1 Alderman Mark Roy will run for mayor this fall, saying he wants to bring a consensus-building and fair-minded style of government to the Queen City.

Roy, 40, said he has a fundamental belief that "if people don't get involved and work toward the solution, the solution may never come."

Roy seeks to fill the position to be vacated by current Mayor Frank Guinta, who has said he will not seek a third term, and instead is likely to seek the Republican nomination to the 1st District U.S. Representative seat currently held by Democrat Carol Shea-Porter.

Roy is one of several Democrats expected to run for the mayor's position, which for the first time in 22 years will not have an incumbent in the race. There are as many Republicans interested in the office, in what is a non-partisan election.

Roy expects budget issues to be both an immediate and on-going issue as Manchester faces the loss of both state and local revenue.

"You basically have two options: either you raise taxes or you find a better, more efficient way to do business. I'm committed to finding better and more efficient ways to do business within the city of Manchester," he said.

Despite the city's money woes, Roy said, he will be a pro-education candidate and mayor.

"I commend (former) Mayor (Bob) Baines for all of the work he did to get the physical plant of the education system going in the right direction. I'd like to pick up some of the things he would have liked to have accomplished before he left office, like a more efficient education delivery system," Roy said.

He said he wants to raise his two children in the city and wants them to have an excellent public education with economic opportunities so they can remain in Manchester. "I want them to be able to afford to live here by making Manchester's tax rate competitive," he said.

"We've talked about making Manchester a more business-friendly location for many years and increasing our tax base, but it's very difficult to convince companies to come to Manchester and expand here when they don't see Manchester investing in ourselves," Roy said.

The city, as a community, needs to work to address the issues standing between where Manchester is today and where the city could be tomorrow, he said.

Roy is an owner of The C M Roy Group, a real estate and development firm. He and his wife have a 2-year old daughter and a 10-month-old son.

"I'm doing this as much for them as anybody else. You need to invest to get the payback," he said.

He said he has been amazed at the number of people encouraging him to run for mayor.

READERS' COMMENTS:

As a business owner, I'm excited to see a business owner run to be chief executive of the city. He has served my ward well and is a great neighbor.
- Jeremy Hitchcock, Manchester, NH

As an aldeman Roy's record to date shows that he is the problem of what is wrong with our city government. Vote against this clown
- Rob, Manchester

Roger has partisan blinders on. Teddy Gatsas was the big proponent of this years budget, the one that raised taxes, cut bus service, cranked up the deficit, but protected good old boy city employees.
- Richard, Manchester

Mike in Manchester, You are dead on!! People only remember short term but the Wiz let the city fall into dissrepair, then called Baines a out of control spender, when the money had to be spent because of him. 40 kids in one classroom and 30 books! No surprise he was chairman of Guinta's campaign. The only reason Guinta became mayor is because no one went out and voted in the election thinking it was a landslide for Baines. Guinta never cared about our city, he's not from here, and used us as a political stepping stone. All he cared about was his record! Proposing 0% tax increases, then stepping away to pin the teachers firemen and police against the tax payers! Thankfully Gatsas and co. crafted a better budget, but Guinta sits back and says I proposed zero increase, and the gang of 8 screwed you! We are still small enough of a city where we should have local people running city office that have a genuine intersest in the city and the peple in it!
- Ryan, Manchester

The only two Alderman who have the guts nd knowhow to become Myaor of Mnchester are Theodore “Ted” L. Gatsas and Michael Garrity , the rest are simply control freaks with an inflated ego.
WAKE UP Manchester residents were being fleeced by these useless characters on the board of Mayor and Alderman.
- Roger R.Charest, Manchester, NH

Bobby Baines, all disrespect intended, was removed from office due to illness.....the voters were sick of him and his tax and spend democrat policies. If you want a model to work from look to Mayor Roy. Bob Baines can't hold his jock.
- Tom, Manchester

You better believe Baines spent money on the schools. After Wieczorek completely devastated the schools somebody had to come in and actually show the citizens that schools are important. Let's not forget that Baines made significant improvements to the quality of education in this city and he also put a lot of money into the buildings that was desperately needed.
So, if you want to blame Baines for spending money, by all means...go for it. Wieczorek didn't have any care for the schools and neither does Guinta. hmmm...that is tough to figure out isn't it.
- Mike, Manchester

Go back to the heyday of Bob "people like tax hikes because of the value they are getting" Baines? NO THANKS!
- WS, Manchester

To guys like Roy going in the right direction means spending more money! Thats all Baines did with the schools.
- Mike Bodruk, Manchester

Well Mark Roy one of the big spenders wants to be Mayor, maybe if a few more of their type get in the mix we can get some sane Aldermen and women to take their place. Personally I don't think Aldermen Lopez and O'neil have the guts to place their seats in jeopardy they are wimpy wusses.
- Richard L. Fortin, Manchester

I have known Mark Roy and his family, the Thorntons of Manchester, for years, and I know him and his family to be wonderful human beings.
He should make a wonderful mayor for Manchester.
- Bob Kroepel, New Durham, NH

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"Martineau raps mayor over city budget"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, May 12, 2009

MANCHESTER – Welfare Commissioner Paul Martineau ripped into Mayor Frank Guinta yesterday for his handling of the city budget, saying Guinta's dealings with the Welfare Department were not "business-like."

Martineau said he was kept out of the loop when Guinta settled on a budget proposal for the Welfare Department. He and Guinta had previously agreed the department would get $1.12 million, Martineau said, but Guinta wound up proposing $67,000 less than that.

"We hear all the buzzwords about running the city like a business, efficiencies ... synergy and so forth. But if there's no communication," Martineau told the Board of Mayor and Aldermen yesterday. He did not finish the sentence.

Martineau was followed into the aldermanic chambers by Marty Boldin, director of the Office of Youth Services, who criticized Guinta's decision to cut funding for a program aimed at juvenile arsonists. More than 30 "high-risk" children would have been served by the FireSafe program, Boldin said. The program costs $10,000 a year to run, but Boldin said the program deters kids from starting fires that would cost much more than that in damage.

"Not all cuts save money," Boldin said, "and this is one that I certainly don't think will."

Guinta prompted Boldin to note that the program used to be funded by the county and that some of the children it serves are not from Manchester.

The mayor was largely silent during yesterday's meeting, the latest in a series of discussions about the city budget. Aldermen are continuing to hear from department heads. The board is expected to approve a budget in the next month.

Jennie Angell, director of information services, said the mayor's proposal is "very lean and very tight." The proposal gives her department, Information Systems, about $76,000 less than Angell said she "would have liked." However, she said, "We realize that the current financial situation is challenging, and we will do our best to work with whatever budget the Board of Mayor and Aldermen decide to appropriate."

Department heads have offered mixed views on Guinta's plan to have city employees take seven days off without pay. Angell said she is concerned about the plan, noting her department has fewer workers than it used to but is doing more work.

Guinta's proposal would increase the Welfare Department's budget by 6 percent if the workers take furloughs, and by 4 percent if they don't.

Guinta told Martineau he hoped his budget proposal "would be enough to get you by."

READERS' COMMENTS:

Mr. Martineau, I agree with Todd from Manchester. Why don't you start going after the welfare frauds? That I'm sure would more than make up for the loss that you are griping about. There are alot of people capable of working yet are not and are living off welfare. I'm all for helping the truly needy, those who through no fault of their own or through unfortunate circumstances need asistance. But not those who are having baby after baby or those who are just plain not willing to work. Seems only Mayor Guinta understands the plight of the the taxpayers
- Rob, Manchester

Mr. Guinta's promise was to keep taxes down. Sounds like he is working hard to live up to what voters elected him to do.

Everyone wants more. City departments, federal departments, employers, citizens, military, etc. There is only so much to go around.

Mr. Mayor, you're doing a great job. Please keep it up!
- JAC, Manchester

Mr. Tarr, how many elections have you entered and lost? Paul Martineau is doing a great job. He works tirelessly as do his workers in the office. Martineau is not a spend thrift as you cast him out to be. Maybe you should do some research on how much money he has saved the city of manchester before you go spouting off how he is a democratic elite. Maybe you should get to know him and wht his job is before you try to throw him under the bus. Maybe you should run for Welfare comissioner...but then again, you have run for elected office and lost.
- Mike, Manchester

I think the point is not about trying to find programs to cut, but to manage what we have. First, let's evaluate the outcome of any taxpayer funded program. Does it successfully serve the purpose that it was intended to serve? Is there another way to serve the same purpose less expensively? Is the purpose worthy of taking taxpayer's money? After this kind of evaluation, budgets can be realigned so that the most can be done while confiscating the least from the taxpayers. Although, there are always plenty of people that want some one else to pay for their programs, every expenditure is not a necessity and some programs may be effective at lower budget levels.
- Frank, Manchester

Jack from Hollis...first off...those Bums you refer to are people who are in difficult times. If you were an educated person, which you clearly are not, you would understand that Martineau is the Welfare Commissioner of Welfare for the City of Manchester...not a state run agency but a city run agency...helping CITY residents. It has no effect on your taxes in Hollis or anything of that matter. So, maybe you should do some research before you spout off on topics you know nothing about.
Second, City Welfare is an agency that helps residents in Manchester who are in desparate need. It could be anybody...a person who just lost their job, a person who is disabled and awaiting disability payment, a homeless person in need of medication or anybody who demonstrates need.
The city welfare office is a good office that helps people every single day. So Jack from Hollis maybe you should understand what City Welfare is before you come on here and write comments that clearly took little to no thought.
- Mike, Manchester

With job cutbacks, layoffs and reduced hours, now is not the time to raise taxes or fees. It is time for everyone to in city government to find ways to save our money. City employees have the choice to loose a few days work or be responsible for their co-workers loss of their jobs. We have to put up with longer lines and fewer services either way.
- D. J., Manchester, NH

Really? Cutting support for those in need in the worst economy we've seen in a long time? Martineau could hardly be called a liberal spender...by *any* stretch of the imagination!!!
- Jennifer, Manchester

Well, this seems to be a trend for Gunita. He is handling the school system in a bad way, too. Our reading specialist was pinked and it looks like she will not be replaced. Send in the feds--now. I suspect we will lose our accreditation. Guinta does not seem to care about much of anything aside from himself and that includes welfare and promises made. His promises are empty.
- JT, Manchester

Democratic elite? That's a joke of a comment. Like the Republicans are out there for the little guy. Ridiculous.
- Bob V, Manchester

Hey Martineau... Why don't you start going after some of these citizens that abuse the welfare system? Then maybe you won't need such an outragous budget to handle them all. There are plenty of minimum wage jobs out there that they don't want to do because of their free monthly check you send them!
- Todd, Manchester

Why are there bums on welfare anyway? Why do I have to pay for other people's bad decisions? Can't these people get a job and lead a responsible life like the people who pay the welfare toll? Still there is a 4-6 percent increase and there's screaming!? My pay didn't go up 4% last year.
- jack, hollis

Welfare Commissioner Paul Martineau also said in a 'Meet the Candidates' back in 2007; 'Don't elect Republicans because they will take your jobs away!'. Only two republicans were asked to attend, myself and another person and we didn't find that amusing then. Mr. Marineau is a democratic elite, one who is not out for saving taxpayers and their dollars. He even has made comments about welfare applicants in the past. This reader thinks it's time Mr. Martineau had a challenger to his position, maybe we could find someone who thinks of everyone and is willing to take a reduction in their budget for the greater good. Any takers?
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"City Hall: Unions dangling a financial carrot for aldermen"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, May 17, 2009

AFTER WEEKS of wrangling, the unions are offering to make some concessions (and no, they aren't talking about a furlough.)

Five of the city's 17 unions stepped forward last week with a deal for the aldermen. Sources say those unions, a group that includes teachers, police officers and firefighters, have offered to give up half of their cost-of-living-adjustments in the coming fiscal year.

In exchange, the sources said, the unions want their contracts renewed for another three years, with pay raises guaranteed through 2013.

The offer is a big step in what has been a tumultuous budget process, though it's not yet certain whether the aldermen will accept it. Board members are hashing over the details.

An important factor will be whether the deal would save enough money to make it worthwhile. One source said the deal would save something in the range of $1 million -- not exactly chump change, but way short of the $3.6 million Mayor Frank Guinta said he would save if every city worker took seven days off without pay.

Then again, the rest of the unions could come aboard. Aldermen are slated to talk to all the union heads tomorrow at 5:30 p.m.

Mike Roche, the unions' spokesman, would not discuss the proposed deal but said he's open to anything so long as it's not a mandatory furlough (or as Roche calls it, "the F word").

The president of the teachers' union, Scott McGilvray, said he would not characterize anything presented by the five unions last Tuesday as an "offer." Like Roche, McGilvray was also loathe to discuss the negotiations.

He did say the discussions have been positive, but he tamped down expectations, saying, "I don't think what we discussed . . . is going to be some magic bullet that's going to get this budget dilemma solved."

Barring any changes, employees in the four law-enforcement unions are due for a 3 percent pay hike this July. Teachers are in line for a 2.5 percent raise in September.

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DUELING BUDGETS: It's hard to see how anyone could come out a winner when it comes to this year's budget, but some will try.

Alderman Mark Roy said he is planning to come out with an alternative budget proposal of his own in the next few weeks. Word has it Alderman Ted Gatsas is working on one, too.

You've got to figure either would love to be the hero who tamed the budget crisis. Sounds like the sort of thing one would brag about in a mayoral campaign, no?

Roy, a Democrat who has already announced his candidacy for mayor, said his plan includes a "voluntary furlough package." Obviously, Roy said, voluntary furloughs wouldn't save as much money as mandatory ones, but it would save some.

Contrasting himself with Guinta, Roy said, "I'm not demanding something of the employees. I'm asking for their cooperation."

Roy said he has about 20 other cost-saving ideas he plans to bring forward for the board's consideration. He said his goal is to keep the tax rate where it is, but he would not say whether his proposal does that.

Both Roy and Gatsas have recently sat down with the union reps to discuss their ideas. Broadly speaking, Roche said, their ideas were "very similar."

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UNOFFICIALLY, IT'S OFFICIAL: That Gatsas is running for mayor is probably the worst-kept secret in City Hall.

Several aldermen have told us they're certain the Ward 2 Republican will run. Alderman Mike Garrity said so, and he ought to know, since he was considered one of the top Republican prospects for the job until just recently.

Garrity said he decided to stay out of the race because he wants to be there for his family. "I have a 13-year-old son at home," he said. "Being married -- it's just too much time."

Officially, Gatsas won't say what his plans are. We asked him about it on his way out of the aldermanic chambers last Tuesday. He treated the question as if it were a gnat, swatting at it as he mowed on by.

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DON'T RULE IT OUT: Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez won't be counted out.

Lopez, a Democrat, said he isn't letting Roy's candidacy influence whether he'll run for mayor. He said he planned to make an announcement soon, but not before last Wednesday, when he went in for surgery on his sciatic nerve.

"I told Mark, right now I'm concentrating on my surgery," Lopez said the day before the operation.

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SORRY, MIKE: For months, Roy had said he would not get into the race if Lopez did. At some point, though, he decided he didn't want to wait any longer.

"I felt that in order for someone to lead the city come next January, they had to get out and start talking about what their intentions were during the budget process," Roy said.

Roy stressed that he has the utmost respect for Lopez. "Even if he ends up being an opponent, I will never say a bad thing about Mike," he said.

Lopez merely shrugged. "Everyone is entitled to do what they want," he said. "Free country."

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ON BOARD: Former school board member Tom Donovan has agreed to join the Roy campaign as fiscal agent. Gray Chynoweth, who had previously considered running for mayor himself, will be a campaign chairman.

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DONOVAN VS. WIHBY?: The race to succeed Roy in Ward 1 is already getting interesting.

Two big-name pols have said they're thinking of running. On the Democratic side is Donovan, the 2007 mayoral candidate. Across the aisle is Dave Wihby, who held the Ward 1 alderman's seat from 1986 to 2004.

"I think I could contribute something again if I came back," Wihby said.

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APPLICANTS WANTED: Alderman Betsi DeVries is looking for someone to fill the Ward 8 school board seat, which is about to be vacated by Doug Kruse. At least two people have contacted her to express an interest in the job: Christine Pariseau Telge and Kevin Verville.

Pariseau Telge, a registered independent, is the owner of Milly's Tavern. She ran unsuccessfully for alderman at-large in 2007.

Verville is himself a former aldermanic candidate. He conceded he would be surprised if he got the nod, since DeVries is a Democrat and he's a Republican.

But then, he said, "You never know. This is the era of change."

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FAREWELL ADDRESS: Kruse said goodbye to the school board last Monday. He's moving south to take a job at Florida Atlantic University.

"Know this," he told fellow board members. "I am so proud to have called you all my colleagues, and I certainly will miss you as I go forward."

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NOT A RADICAL: Alderman Peter Sullivan has taken up the cause of gay marriage.

"There was a time when I could not have foreseen taking such a stance," Sullivan wrote in a letter to Gov. John Lynch last week, just a few days before Lynch solidified his stance on the marriage bill. Sullivan noted he is a practicing Catholic and "hardly the embodiment of a radical, by any definition."

However, he wrote, "I have learned to listen to my friends and neighbors in the GLBT community. I have come to understand that we owe them the same legal protections and the same degree of dignity that we claim for ourselves."

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ACCESS DENIED: The city has started blocking certain Web sites on employee computers because its bandwidth can't handle the load, according to Information Services Director Jennie Angell. Among the sites that are now banned: Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and, as Angell put it, "certain sports sites."

Tough break for city workers. But hey, there's always Spider Solitaire.
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Read Scott Brooks' coverage of Manchester City Hall during the week in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email him at sbrooks@unionleader.com.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Dominic and Mike,
I am a Manchester teacher who owns a home in Manchester and pays taxes. You bet I want my cost of living increase. After what I paid to go to school in order to give BACK to Manchester, I deserve my 2.5% increase. You bet I do. Maybe that makes me selfish, but I give so MUCH to the children of this city that I deserve my 2.5%. I also work a second job, which makes it just possible to survive.
- JT, Manchester

Oops, I made a spelling error. I am not perfect nor do I claim to be. Whatever style or technique is used to convey the message is not the issue here.
The point of the whole matter is this city and many others are so out of touch with reality, and what is happening with our money, and lives. We need serious change in this city. I dont see how talking about a style of language is going to change it. We need a reality check. We need to get rid of some of the old dead wood that is downtown and get a fresh approach to running our city. Mr.Tarr wants to bring in real people, well the truly qualified people will cost money. It will be a cost to the residents that they cant afford.
- Robert, Manchester

To Peter Sorrentino, Manchester
I get so tired of having the teachers, firefighters and police used as weapons on the tax payer as if we all get to see the books and spending in an honest way. I'll bet you if we all knew where every nickle got spent we would not just find a ham sandwhich but most likely entire pork farms in state spending we could do without and go back to doing for ourselves again if we so choosed to do so. But they always threaten us with the actual services most of us would be happy to support.
Then we can get into the promises of pensions to political hacks, friends and relatives of those we elect. They hand them out as if the tax payer never feels the burden. They work twenty years and get a pension and people like me work forty plus years only to have the politicians destroy the social security system and tell me sorry. I thought people sought out government jobs because they cared for their country. Now government is an employer and more corupt than the so called evil business men government keeps telling us to hate.
One party really should just change its name to the communist party since its core values seems to be having everyone working for government. Well I don't go out and work every day to support government and hope the majority of Americans feel as I do.
- Deb, Derry

Negotiations with the Unions? Are you for real here. Here is the way the negotiations should go:
OK Union....we will provide your members with a pay increase if there is a surplus in the budget. If not, then no raise. End of story. It is outrageous that these union thugs want more and more and more. Privatize the whole lot of them. In todays economic situation there is no room to negotiate because THERE is NOTHING to negotiate. Be thankful you have a job and be thankful you have insurance. Enough with the police, the fire and the teachers. Freeze all their pay until such time the economy can handle an increase. The aldermen need to put their foot down and say no more negotiationg. You get a raise when there is money.
- Mike, Manchester

What planet do these union people live on? They are not looking out for anybody but themselves. After the dot com bubble burst, I went three years without a raise, constant furlough's and changing work hours so the company could save on operating cost to name a few things that saved peoples jobs. This sense of entitlement that the unions display is deplorable. YOU PEOPLE HAVE JOBS. I'm sure that there are a lot of people out there who would kill to have your jobs, even without a raise or a union.
- Dale, Manchester

It's good to see the unions and the city starting to work together. It is something that can be good for both sides. Robert in Manchester- It's paid, not payed. I will agree that the schools are failing badly if a simple word like that isn't spelled correctly.
- Mike, Bedford

This token offer by the unions is a disgrace and totally inconsistent with the current economic climate. They forget that government exists to serve the people, not the other way around.
Why shouldn't unions act boldly when faced with a lame duck mayor? Obama is the president, right?
If Guinta isn't willing to fight this one to the mat, he has no business being Mayor. If he won't take a stand on gay-marriage, he has no business being governor. And if he won't take a stand on DOMA, he has no business being a Congressman.
Manchester citizens are hungry for a new mayor who will take a stand on all of these issues. Maybe we'll get one.
- Steve, Manch

"unions want their contracts renewed for another three years, with pay raises guaranteed through 2013."
****************************
Are you kidding me? No one except the unions ask for a guaranteed pay raise and make it part of the negotiations. That is plain ridiculous.
It seems that the unions are squeezing the last drops of money out of the city that they can before the party is over. And that time is coming soon.
And for people to say that the teachers and firefighters are underpaid, have no clue what the rest of us make and how much we have to work to make as much as them.
Maybe I should have become a teacher, get paid a good wage, do enough to get by, and have the summers and holidays off.
- Domenic, Manchester

So the unions want to renew their existing guaranteed pay raise contract for another three years, but they will give up part of their guaranteed pay raise this year. Could the UL actually have reported this correctly?
This is a big win for the taxpayers. When the economy is good is they get a 2.5 – 3.0% raise. When the economy is bad they give up the fat 2.5% raise, so they will be ‘guaranteed’ a fat 2.5% when the economy is good? Are these really the unions that are pushing around our city? Will unions have to bring this to a vote by their members? If so, how would it pass? Are the employees that naive?
For those making comparisons to auto dealers, and other businesses, are you not aware that they have much less demand for their products and services (auto dealers are selling far fewer autos)? That is why they cut back. Are you cutting back on your demand for city services? Will you not expect your trash to be picked up? Will you allow for higher crime due to less law enforcement officers on the job? What about fire? Will you not send your children to school?
I want my taxes lower too, but I’m not going to incorrectly compare city services to businesses. How about we do things differently, with fewer people? Such as buying modern trash trucks operated by one person, not three (We need several news ones anyway)? How about we consolidate redundant functions like payroll, accounting, etc? Imagine the savings you could find if you actually looked behind the doors of city hall, not just on the streets and at board meetings. This is now to save money. Not 1.5% of just employee costs. That will just not get you very far. Wake Up!
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

Robert, of Manchester .. you are a credit to the excellence of public education. Your adroit use of syntax, peppered with just a touch of colloquialness, is without a doubt the perfect example of further need to spend our taxpayer money on highly paid teachers, and others within our municipality. Thank you for enlightening us...
- tom, manchester,nh

I think that is is very sad that our city employees do not look at the big picture, they are not willing to keep there jobs by taking a day off here and there over the course of the year? The unions are selfish and dispicable and using the feeling of "entitlement". Maybe someone should tell them that the economy is not good right now in the "real world", where people are losing there jobs or taking unpaid time off.
- Nick, Manchester

Where does it say the people have to hire union workers to do the jobs our taxes pay for?
How is the unions getting half the pay raises, a three year contract with pay raises guaranteed through 2013 going to stop our taxes from being raised during an economic down turn where many in the private sector are loosing their jobs?
I'm learning to lower my own pay scale to survive and go without while these unions are still getting pay raises and all the politicians have to do is find a clever way to make us pay for them without us knowing.
I'm not anti worker but when I hear about making sacrifices from unions it seems to still mean they get something while many of us are going without. It's easy to see who controls our politicians and it's not the people.
- Deb, Derry

Where do we get real people ? It appears Mr.Tarr, you are not the person either.
We all need to buclke down in the times we live in. have you or the City Government seen some of theses city workers in action lately. It seems though not covered by the Union Leader we have had several major house fires. Yeah the firemen are under payed. our schools are failing bad, Teachers are leaving, under payed. You get what you pay for and we as a city better start findind ways to fund our little piece of the world or it will be no longer. Let us do as other cities do, The mayor and alderman only get a stipend instead of a full salary. Entyce people to stay. Increase our taxes, in some sense it needs to be done, but when I see people just sitting around a city run road job and the operator of one of the machines is sleeping and another is reading a newspaper , I wonder why this is happening. How much money is this costing the city.
To end this Mr.Tarr, if you want real business people to run our city, it will cost you and every person in the city. Real businessmen/women are not cheap.
- Robert, Manchester

After reading all week in the UL about the auto dealerships which will be closing, and the loss of jobs and revenue, as well as the overall economy which is in terrible shape with millions of job losses; our city unions propose to give up cost of living increases if they get pay raises? This is a joke; right? How about the city telling these overpaid, underworked, slugs that the party has ended, and start laying off the fatcats who are so out of touch with the real world. Will someone at city hall wake up!
- Thom, Manchester, NH

When an alderman, any alderman says; "He said his goal is to keep the tax rate where it is." If that is the case, this reader doesn't think the taxpayers would be happy with another 4.7% increase on their properties when economic times are not as good as could be. Even another alderman stated; "upto 60%+ goes to salaries for city employees". Again taxpayers don't see their cost of living increases go up each year in their paychecks why then for city employees? This reader has been working for/at $7.50 per hour for the last two and half years and no raises in sight. It's time we had aldermen who understand it would be nice to give a raise to city employees every year however when the city starts loosing more and more taxpayers and there is only a handful of them left to tax, how are they going to offer them a raise? Time to vote in some real people who understand how to run a successful business and government is a business like any other.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"Workers, Manchester reach deal on cutbacks"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, May 19, 2009

MANCHESTER – City union heads and aldermen worked out a deal last night to halve pay raises over the coming year, while the school board rejected a similar deal and proposed freezing an upcoming pay raise entirely in order to save jobs.

City workers would lose half their pay raises over the coming year under a tentative agreement between the aldermen and the city's labor unions, a deal that would save the city $1.8 million.

In exchange, the unions would see their contracts extended for another three years, with pay raises guaranteed each summer. The raises would cost the city an estimated $5 million through 2013.

The deal is an alternative to Mayor Frank Guinta's call for employee furloughs, an option the unions have fiercely resisted. Yesterday, for the first time, Guinta said that option is off the table.

Aldermen's support for the deal was unanimous, though some members later said they worry the new labor contracts could prove burdensome in the long run, especially if the economy continues its slump.

"We are really rolling the dice on this," Alderman Peter Sullivan said.

Meanwhile, the school board rejected a similar proposal on an 8-5 vote. Rather, the school board wants to freeze the 2.5 percent cost-of-living raise in its entirety, extend the contract another year and offer a 1.5 percent pay raise for that year, said Vice Chairman Katherine Labanaris. The savings would generate $2.9 million, all of which would be devoted to preserving as many jobs as possible, she said.

Labanaris said the board decided it could not promise three years of pay raises in the future.

"The board took this action because they thought it was the only fiscally prudent thing the board could do at this time," Labanaris said.

It is now up to the five unions that represent school workers to consider the proposal.

On the city side, if the unions agree to the proposal, employees would see a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase in summer 2010, followed by a 2.5 percent increase in 2011 and another 2.5 percent increase in 2012. Crucially, according to some union heads, they would retain their current health and retirement benefits.

Union heads are now taking the proposal back to their members for a vote. Several of them said they expect the agreement will sail through without a hitch.

"We think it is great," said Bill Clayton, president of the Manchester Professional Fire Fighters Association. The association's executive board approved the proposal by a unanimous vote yesterday morning.

City officials hope the agreement will help them stave off a large-scale tax hike in the coming fiscal year, beginning July 1. Officials are also trying to minimize layoffs.

Toward that end, Guinta characterized the agreement as a "good start" but said the aldermen are still going to have to find more savings. The agreement, he noted, saves only half as much money as would have been saved under his own plan to have every employee in the city take seven days off work without pay.

"There's a lot more work to be done," Guinta said.

Under the agreement, city workers expecting a raise this summer would not see one for six months. The delay effectively cuts their raises in half.

As a result, most employees would, in essence, see a 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment, instead of 3 percent. A perk for employees who retire before the raise takes effect: They would get their raises, retroactively, upon retirement.

On the city side, the savings amounts to roughly $1.05 million this year. On the school side, the savings is estimated at $800,000.

At least one board member, Mike DeBlasi, had "serious reservations" about the proposal "" first, because it likely doesn't save enough money to make layoffs unnecessary, and second, because it increases costs in each of the next three years.

"Knowing that it doesn't meet our goals right off the bat, and that the risk down the road is so severe, that's making me question it," DeBlasi said.

Guinta hesitated to characterize the proposal as either good or bad. He said he believes the proposal saves jobs this year, but said the new contracts could put the city in a difficult situation down the road.

Some city unions are expected to return to City Hall next Tuesday to continue discussions with the aldermen. Mike Roche, who has been acting as spokesman for most of the unions during the negotiating process, said the unions generally agree to the "concept" behind the proposal. He said he is hopeful the unions will approve the plan.
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Union Leader reporter Mark Hayward contributed to this report.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

I wish people would stop referring to the pay increase as a "raise". Teachers don't get raises no matter what we do in the classroom. We get tiny cost of living increases that increasingly aren't keeping up with the actual inflation rate.

Under this plan we will forfeit half of our cost of living increase for this year in exchange for a three year contract guarantee of full cost of living increases, which will not actually keep up with the inflation rate and apparently, aren't guaranteed because the fine citizens of manchester refuse to properly fund the schools even though a first grader can understand the negative impact this has had, is having, and will continue to have on the city of Lawrence North, I mean Manchester.
- Fred, Amherst

My guess is most of these posters would be happy if all city employees were tied and burned at the stake.

Cut, cut, cut, gimme, gimme, gimme....which is it?
- Freeme, Concord

Tom, You want the city to suspend raises until 2010, and revisit the matter when the economy has stabalized. The problem with that is that as long as city employees are paid by tax payers, the economy will never be better according to the tax payers. They simply will never say, "now that the economy is better, let's now give raises."
Dave, Manchester: You seem to think city workers are not doing enough if they geve back 1/2 of their raises. That's $150 for every $10,000 they make. Are you willing to write out a check to the city for an extra $150 for every $10,000 that you make? It does not matter if you are a city employee or not, this is a city problem, and as a resident you should be willing to help out just as you think city employees should. For the good of the city, do what you want the city employees to do. Yeah, I didn't think so!
- Bob, Manchester

I find it hard to believe that any of you high and mighty people would be very happy about not getting a full paycheck, or not getting the raise that you have a CONTRACT for. Stop trying to balance the budget on the backs of the workers. You don't need your $14 tax cut. Has the city ever offered the workers a bonus when times were good? Oh, but thats different.
- Joe, Manchester

So, Mr. Tarr, you brought the idea of Everyday Math to the school district? Oh, I thought it was the Math Curriculum committee in the district....I work for the district and hadn't heard it was your idea...interesting...Did you also invent the program....?????
- JJ, Manchester

Jim, Manchester,

What I was getting at is there is in fact a way to gauge a teachers performance but it is not used in who is laid off, given a raise, etc. due to Union seniority nonsense. Ed and Jules seem to be happy with this system but most taxpayers are not.
- Craig, Manchester, NH

To Abby from Hooksett (obviously a city employee):

The aldermen cut their stipend by 20% last year.
- Clyde, Manchester

"Cry me a river people. You had it good 5+ years ago in the private sector and were making all kinds of money while the city worker just got by. Now you are down on your luck and the city worker is still just getting by. I'm sure every city department has an opening somewhere. If you want a raise then apply for a city job and stop complaining. waaaaaaaah!
- Rick, Manchester"
I see this is a city employee who wants his money. Well, I agree....when times were good people city employess should have been treated better. No argument. Fact is, that is in the past. Today, times are tough and for you to come on here and basically say it is payback time shows how much you don't value your job. If your job is cut because the unions don't want to cooperate you won't find a job in the private sector because there aren't any. Then you won't have your city job either...so...what will you do?
I don't think anybody is against city employees. People are upset with the UNIONS who want to have it all their way. Everything for the Unions no matter who it hurts. Maybe the city employees should vote to get rid of their unions and maybe then the employees would actually have a voice. The union is only trying to protect themselves and when it comes time for layoffs, what will the union do for you? NOTHING.
The taxpayers of Manchester can't pay what they don't have.

Maybe all the taxpayers in Manchester should withhold paying their taxes this June until the taxpayers voices are heard. What will the city do? Put a lien on every house in the city? Good luck. Maybe as taxpayers we should just refuse to make payments for this upcoming tax bill and force the leaders in the city to listen once and for all....it would also get the Unions attention because the longer the tax payers don't pay the more likely it would be for the unions to endure serious layoffs due to a lack of funding.
- Jeff, Manchester

How can the Unions even begin to think they are bargaining in good faith by saying..ok..we'll forgo 1/2 the pay raise this year if the city promises pay raises over the next 3 years? This is ridiculous. Nobody in their right mind would ever agree to anything like this but then again, we are are dealing with manchester politicians.
Tell the unions to take a look at the economic forecast and they will see we are still in a RECESSION and the union demands of more money over the next 3 years is out of the question.
The school board did the right thing maybe the aldermen should take a lesson from them. Enough is enough. The private sector is hurting and people are sacrificing pay raises just to keep their jobs yet city employees want their increases. Well, the majority of taxpayers in the city are not city employees thus a majority of the tax payers are in the "Freeze" zone meaning we are not being given our raises but we still have a job.
- Mike, Manchester

Craig,
I as a teacher had 3 performance reviews this year! Its already being done... Get your facts straight before you spout your ignorance....
- Jim, Manchester

Cry me a river people. You had it good 5+ years ago in the private sector and were making all kinds of money while the city worker just got by. Now you are down on your luck and the city worker is still just getting by. I'm sure every city department has an opening somewhere. If you want a raise then apply for a city job and stop complaining. waaaaaaaah!
- Rick, Manchester

It is very difficult to sit here and read the number of posts which lack substance but make suggestions that are statistically destructive. First off, teachers in general are not overpaid. If anything they are underpaid. Classroom sizes and nothing else should dictate the number of teacher required for the district. With that said, part of the calculation should allocate a need for more teachers based on the number of IEP’s. You cannot compare one district to another unless you take into account the number of individuals that need additional attention. Cities will generally have a greater number of IEP’s given the diversity in the population.
The fireman and the police force should be based on statistics as well. These sections of the government along with education are needed at the top of their game regardless of economic stress.
Where do you cut? Well I was less than happy to see 3 trucks, a front loader, and a supervisor on a 60 degree day cleaning up snow piles in cul-de-sacs’ in my neighborhood 2 months ago. We do not need recycling picked up every week. There needs to be a close look across all administrative positions throughout local government and reductions made.
There are many departments throughout government and yet it always seems that the department of education gets the most ribbing. What about City Clerk, Finance, Highway, Human Resources, Mayor, Parking, Public Works, Tax, Transit…..?
- Erik, Manchester

Craig,

Your plan for performance reviews does not take into account teacher seniority and course loads.

If a teacher has been in a school for 20 years, he or she probably teaches honors students. Those students are typically well behaved and will pass classes regardless of the instructor.

If a teacher has been teaching for a limited amount of years, he or she probably teaches remedial courses where students typically do not have as much success in terms of grades and behavior.

In your scenario teachers who have seniority would have better performance reviews. Your system only encourages the best teachers to avoid teaching lower levels, struggling readers, and students who do not perform well. Your system encourages any teacher who wants a pay raise to inflate grades or demand a course load of high achievers.

And Craig, please do not say that state test scores should be used. Again, that means any teacher who chooses to work with special needs students or refugees won't get a pay raise, because those students are at a disadvantage to pass.

Jules is asking for a system that does not drive teachers to flock to honors courses instead of being where the teachers are needed most. Almost anyone can transmit information to hardworking honors students with limited issues, but it takes a master teacher to engage the troubled students at any school.

What are the results that you suggest principals use to judge teacher performance?
- Ed, Manchester

Here's an idea- let's eliminate the at large BOSC & BMA positions. This will save us stipends and health insurance.
- Kelly, Manchester

Unfortunately, many fine individuals who have spent years in the district will leave because they have been pink slipped.

Because the city did not adequately fund education for a decade we are now in serious jeopardy of having (3) school shut down. I guess the solution is to fund the district... not through the people who get the service but the people who provide them.

If the teachers take this offer they are too stupid to be entrusted with my child. Bedford here I come!
- Bob, Manchester

I'm a proud teacher at West who feels as though the school board just offered to take me to dinner and then give me a furlough.

Call it what you will - you're not honoring your promises and taking from the rank and file.
- Blue Knight, Manchester

And will the school board and Aldermen be taking a cut in their stipends? Or, will they vote to pay for the health insurance they take?

It sounds as though the BOSC is not willing to "sacrifice" themselves, but putting the burden on the backs of the employees and TAXPAYERS.
- Abby, Hooksett

Henry - I like how all of a sudden I am a liar because you can't grasp the fact that my arguements are correct. I am not going to name the city I work for because I choose not to. That's my right.
- City Worker, Manchester

Doug Kruse - School Board Ward 8, Manchester .. : seems to me, the city is laying off teachers who have gone to college, and have an education while at the same time giving pay increases to people with high school diplomas .. and one wonders why Manchester is turning into Lawrence North?
- tom, manchester,nh

T of Manchester. To answer your questions. Yes I have a job, I also volunteeer my time in many areas that have helped our school system as well as our city. I also pay taxes, through a thing called renting. I have time to do all these things because I can manage my time efficently and a savings to the city. Some examples are; Advocating for EveryDay Math in the elementary schools, reducing crime in our neighborhood through the watchgroup we belong to and advocating for the city busses to stay funded and not reduced or eliminated altogether. This is my committment to our city and the schools my children attend. So yes, lets see some changes in how our city manages tax payer dollars, as School Board Member Doug Kruse has said, the school boards position is a better purposal than the one aldermen were purposing...It looks out for the majority of the people in the city and not just a choosen few.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

A pay increase this year and a new contract that gives pay increases each year for the next 3 years.

And that's call a cut back. I think I need a new dictionary.
- Sue, Manchester

Not living in Manchester, this doesn't affect me, yet. But promising pay raises for the next three years (city workers) is bad enough when the economy is still going down. But why in the world would anyone agree to 1.5 raise the first year, then 2.5 the next two years?
What I would like to see, that would never happen, is the unions be taken out of goverment and state jobs, and all the positions be filled by non union employees. I would apply in a heart beat.
My pay and beneifits have been cut twice in two years. Given a choice between job or no job, I would take the job anytime.
Time to trim the budgets, keep people who work hard, time to unload dead weight in all jobs, union or not.
- Craig McIntosh, Allenstown

Big city fight in the big city I see. The taxpayers have a right to complain about anything that cost them money. I believe the unions won this round by getting anything short of the furlough. Only in union speak is a smaller raise a pay cut. The issue I believe is some city workers are dragging the majority down. Fire a couple unworthy teachers and gain the respect of the citizens. Explain to the city workers digging a hole somewhere to make sure 3 guys are not leaning against their shovels watching one person do most of the work and garner your taxayer's respect. Public employment can be a thankless job but everyone can improve
in some ways. The unions will always muddy the waters in Manchester in my opinion. They portray the feeling of entitlement that trickles down to that person just truly trying their best at their job. Someone mentioned when times are good, city workers get nothing in return. I disagree, that is when they get new equipment that will help them do their jobs easier. Whether a new snowplow or new computer. I believe the mayor had the best idea but the dance ensued and your leaders just put off the tough decsion.
- brian, weare

I have no problem paying taxes and incurring the raises you see each year with the cost of living and need for special projects BUT this agreement is ridiculous! These city workers are lucky to have a job (albeit not always the highest paying but with killer benefits) To shoot down a 1 week furlough to save jobs is selfish. To agree to a 1/2 pay increase is selfish. Take a furlough, agree to hold flat on pay increases for a year and be grateful you have a job.
- Sue, Bedford

As a victim of a layoff in the private sector late last year and as a current employee of the City, I have to take a deep breath before I read many of these ignorant comments. After being laid off, I accepted a position with the City that resulted in a 25% paycut from my position in the private sector. My position in the City has greater responsibility and is more challenging. I work longer hours without overtime pay (something I was granted in the private sector). As a new employee, my options for health care benefits and vacation are suspended because I'm on probation. Those benefits were immediately available to me in the private sector. My retirement contribution is not matched. My software, hardware and materials I need for my job are outdated and in disrepair. And the kicker - I will never see the pay increases that I did in the private sector. When times were good, I earned two 10% and three 8% pay increases over 4.5 years. I earned an annual bonus. I will never see that working for the City, even when the economy is booming. My inspriation to work hard is fed by new sources, though. I have more pride in my job than I ever have before. As a resident, I experience my work on a daily basis. Everything I design, bid, calculate, inspect or oversee - every resident that approaches me on a job - every morning when I enter my office, I'm (almost) grateful I was laid off in the private sector in order to have the honor for working for this City and serving the residents of Manchester - even those of you who feel my 25% paycut and 1.5% raise is still grossly outrageous. With my potential 1.5% raise I may be able to turn my cable back on, not buy a new car or take a vacation. I'm thankful to be employed in this economy. I'm inspired by my director and other department heads in the City. Trust me, City employees are not in this for the money... Thanks for all the support, though.
- JF, Manchester

City Worker,

I think that you don't want to say what city you work for because then your claim would be proven false.

There are no cities of similar size here in NH when compared to Manchester. If you work for a town in Mass., then the tax burden of those taxpayers are certainly higher.

There is no harm in naming the city that employes you, unless you are just making things up as you go along. Again, I have checked the tax rates in Nashua, Concord and Portsmouth and they are higher and employ fewer workers and are certainly not of "similar size"....am I misssing something?
- Henry, Manchester

Sorry Brad, not all private sector jobs are as luxurious as you think.
Take mine, mandatory 6nights/week. Bennies are two weeks vacation for the first ten years. That's it. Raises are every 5 years. And the cost of your bennies are.....?
Bonus. Not enough to fill the oil tank.
Am I whining? Nope. Live within my means.
Forcing more people into foreclosure will get the city what in revenues? A lot less than they had foreseen which is usually the case because the pol. likes to believe next year will be better than the previous year. Meaning higher taxes and so on and so on.....
And you renters best not think your escaping from the madness as your rent goes up to compensate for the increase in prop. taxes. Unless your Sec. 8.
Can you hear the avalanche?
- Michael, Manchester

Brad seriously who are all these people that are getting bonus after bonus? I dont know anyone. I have never received a bonus in 20 years. You have to work for an organization that offers them, and they are few and far between.
- Jeff, Manchester

Henry - you have some good points. But, my arguement is that it is pretty clear right now that we are in a bad economic climate. It's never easy getting any city to give their workers a raise, I agree. But, it shows good faith if the workers are able to pass on a raise for just one year. And it shows selfishness if you can't take a 7 day furlough to save your co-workers jobs, in my opinion.

I don't want to say what city I work in, but it is one of the largest with very comparable tax rates to Manchester, but we have more city employees. Trust me, it's a fight every time we have to go in front of the BOA for a new contract, but it's easier if each side gives a little.

I understand that you can't let the City decide what a good time is to give raises. But, the taxpayers are having a tough time making ends meet, give people some time to get back on their feet.

Please don't make it out that the City workers are starving to death. They aren't, trust me. If they budget their money right, they can make it another 6-12 months without another raise, I did and I am not getting a raise for at least another 24 months and I am not a big wig.
- City Worker, Manchester

The school board chose not to accept the aldermanic proposal for two reasons:

(1) It included a three-year contract that calls for significant pay increases that we cannot commit to during this uncertain economy.
(2) It only saves $799K, which simply is not enough, given that we have $3.3 million in layoffs.

Instead, we propose to freeze the salaries of EVERY employee in the district – including the superintendent and other non-union administration – for next year. (No cost of living increases and no step increases.) Everybody will earn the same pay next year that they earn this year, at a savings of nearly $2.9M, which we will apply toward minimizing layoffs.

In exchange, we are offering a one-year extension of the current contract (through 6/30/11) with a 1.5% cost of living adjustment and the restoration of step increases.

Our proposal asks the same sacrifice from every employee, saves over three times as much money as the aldermanic proposal (and twice as much as the mayor’s), provides for the smallest number of layoffs, and does not lock in three years of unsustainable pay raises. In short, we ask for sacrifice, offer something reasonable in exchange, and do not compromise our financial position going forward.

It is not a perfect proposal by any stretch, but I believe it’s the best and fairest one on the table so far.
- Doug Kruse - School Board Ward 8, Manchester

How to assess? It's called a yearly indvidual performance review, performed by your superior, which takes into account work performed(or classes taught), quality of that work and result(did all your students fail, pass, etc.), and any special circumstances and outcome.

I can't believe I actually have to explain the concept of a yearly performance review. No wonder education is in such sorry shape.
- Craig, Manchester, NH

Again...remember when it comes to unions...the DEAD WEIGHT stays. It is the newer, recently hired, making less money than the rest who are the ones let go. So thinking that the layoffs will rid the city of employees who do not contribute...you are mistaken.
- HT, Derry, NH

Craig and Jules,
I teach and have a review done by my Principal EVERY year. So I don't know(or maybe you two don't know)what your talking about.
Craig,
The only complaining I hear about how much I make comes from you. If you want to get right down to it, the average pay for a teacher in Manchester is 39th in the state. Manchester's average per pupil spending is 4th from the bottom in our state. On the city side we are about 4th from the top in spending. Look at the facts and you'll see where the real waste is. It is not on the school side it is on the city side. A fireman made $64,000 last year after 18 years experience. I've taught for over 30 years and did not make that much. Remember firemen work once every 4 days. That comes out to 91 days a year. You do the math.
- John, Manchester

I do not belong to a union. I work in the private sector and was informed at the first of the year that there would be no raises or bonuses this year. I understand and accept that as a sign of the times. However, if I had contract, and a union to advocate for me, I would certainly expect them to do so. They do not have to settle for less - period. You can think it would "nice" if they did, but the bottom line is that they don't HAVE to. Any concession they make to negotiate with the City should be apprecaited.
- Nancy, Manchester

Craig...

How DO YOU fairly rate teachers... If I teach honors chemistry, I have a different caliber of students than if I teach level 1 physical science. Do you put in a weighted performance rating like schools do for class rank?

What is YOUR answer?

This answer should be interesting....
- Jim, Manchester

City Worker,

How does one predict when it will be OK to give or receive a raise? Who makes that decision? Won't most city boards claim that there isn't enough money to go around in any economy? I know that in this city, through the booming economies of the Reagan and Clinton years, the cry was loud and clear that taxes were too high and we could't afford raises for the workers or improvements to our infrastructure. It seems never to be a good time.

It seems to me that giving up any money on the part of the unions is indeed not greedy at all. When is giving ever greedy? The reason for contracts between unions and municipalities that contain regular, moderate raises is so that large spikes in the tax rate can be avoided and workers can keep up with the cost of living.

I don't enjoy writing a check to the city twice a year and I don't enjoy seeing an increase, but I do believe that my burden is very reasonable when I compare it to that of my children who own homes in Hooksett and Concord. Take a look around and see what others pay for less in services.

You say that your union agreed to harsher terms in order to help your employer and tax payers. I applaud you and your union. However, are you really comparing apples to apples in this case? Do taxpayers in your city of employment share the same burden as those in Manchester? Do some research and I think you'll find that the community in which you serve pays more per household in property taxes than those of the Queen City.
- Henry, Manchester

Lets see there are at least 5 people in office at highway dept before you get to someone that does the work. Layoffs will only come down to the lower people that do the work. Get rid of the overhead dead weight and yu might see something change. layoff a garbage collector only means the higher paid office people have fewer people to look after.
- John B, Manchester,N.H.

Craig, I never said that teachers don't think they deserve more pay based on their level of education and the importance of their jobs. What I said was that "city workers" don't claim that people in other professions don't deserve what they make. They don't call other workers lazy or overpaid. Learn to comprehend...nice try though!
- Jules, Manchester

While it is nice that the unions are accepting a cut in the wage increase the problem with this entire solution is that the aldermen and the unions are betting on the future which may or may not pan out. Taking a 1.5% cut is a great concession but to then guarantee a 3 year package with built in pay increases is really putting the cart before the horse. While the cut helps for now, how can anybody guarantee we will be in a better financial situation over the course of the next 3 years? Unless the unions and the aldermen have a crystal ball and can read into the future I say the city approve the cut of 1.5% on wage increases this year and renew a contract for 1 year at an additional 1.5% increase for next year. After that, the unions can come back to the table and re-negotiate. If the economy is on the upswing and people are seeing pay increases in the private sector then I say give the city employees the same thing. The problem is the private sector (which makes up a majority of the tax payer in the city) is not guaranteeing 3% increases to pay over the next 3 years so how can the unions expect the same?

What a mess.
- Mike, Manchester

To the people who sit here and say, "I work in the private sector and haven't seen a raise in 18 months," Well when times were good you were probably getting bonus after bonus (or at least every quarter) where as these "public servants" are not as fortunate to get these bonuses. Also you probably had nothing bad to say about the city employees when they went years, yes, years with no raise, and now it is in their contract to get the raises, and all of you complain that it is the unions being greedy. Well sit here and type all of your hate, because in a year or two when times are good again, and you are making the good money again, these city employees will still be there working.
- Brad, Manchester, NH

Why is it that Manchester taxpayers always have to grab their ankles everytime we get a "good" deal from our politicians and unions?
And for Mark in Manchester: As far as I am concerned a monkey on a tonka truck can plow my street beter then the knucklehead who does it now! I also have low marks for most city workers with the exception of the trash guys; those guys actually work.
- Mike Bodruk, Manchester

Hurray, more tax dollars out the window and they passed this, knowing full well it's going to affect the costs down the line. Way to go, bosses.

Firefighters and most cops deserve the raises as their lives are on the line daily. I say most cops because I have no respect for the ones who tell me that any crime in my neighborhood is "what I get for living there" instead of doing anything about it. Or the ones with the arrogant smug looks on their face because they have a badge. Those particular MPD officers can go....well, you know the rest.

Teachers on the other hand, should've been cut hard. Too much dead weight within the district. Kids are coming out less educated, teachers fail to keep the kids on the school grounds, and then they whine when there's a resistance to a raise for them.

I wish I had kept to ignoring politics (thanks McCain vs. Obama) because the more I see politics, the more it generally results in my head falling into my hands and shaking my head in disbelief at how insane some of these politicians really are.
- Bill, Manchester

Really Craig?

Why don't you inform us unenlightened common folk how to FAIRLY and ACCURATELY rate the performance of a group of teachers and police officers who perform similar jobs, but not in similar situations. What is your marvelous, objective method to quantify their job quality??

It's easy fro you to sit and complain, but try backing your claims up with some factual evidence behind your empty rhetoric.

I have yet to see any fair way to accomplish this task for both the city and its workers.

Time to put up or shut up, Craig.
- Jules, Manchester

Jules - There is a difference between taking a raise during good times and bad times. When you take a raise during a good economy, then it's okay because the rest of the taxpayers can afford it. When you take a raise during a bad economy, that's plain greedy. Some of the taxpayers of Manchester, like the rest of the country, have lost their jobs and are living from unemployment checks that aren't even half of what they used to make.

To say the city workers aren't greedy when they are "agreeing" to half a raise, which is at least something, is utterly absurd during these times. Take the furlough then work with the City when times are better. I am hoping that the City workers can live without 7 days pay.
- City Worker, Manchester

50K salary x 1.5% = 750 bucks a year, or 63 bucks a month. Not a whopper of a deal if you ask me.
- CJ, Manchester

Are you people serious? Your're most likely the ones that complain when your trash isn't picked, up, your street isn't plowed, there's pot holes around the corner, crime is out of control and your parks aren't clean. I encourage all of you to walk on down to Human Resources and apply for a city job, if you think it's the greatest job on earth...as many make it seem. The city hires employees all year long. I believe many of you just enjoy complaining and would bash any article containing the words "city employees". We now live in a society where people expect what anyone else gets. These unions have a contract and they are not required to delay any raises. If they don't delay them, it will surely result in a tax increase. Yes, they get guaranteed raises in this deal, but they are also delaying their contracted raises for 6 months, which will buy the city some more time to come up with other alternatives to a tax hike. I own several buildings in Manchester, all of which are taxed, and I see no problem with this deal at all. It's logical to remain current with our pay rate to city employees, rather than play catch up years down the road. And yes, I do live in Manchester too.
- Mark, Manchester

Jules, Manchester,

There aren't ways to assess the job performance of teachers and police? That is probably the most absurd statement I have ever read in the comments here.

You clearly are a city employee with little grasp of life outside the city union.
- Craig, Manchester, NH

Jules, Manchester,

Actually teachers often complain about being underpaid for what they do and how low their pay compares to other professionals in the private sector. Nice try though.
- Craig, Manchester, NH

It wasn't long ago (about 15 or so years) when Repubs. in DC wanted to lower the rate of growth from 8% to around 4% (not sure of the exact numbers but you get the point). Dems. called it draconian cuts. Children will starve because of cuts in the school lunch program. They couldn't chop off Big Bird's head without someone from PBS showing a crying child pleading to save Big Bird.
But, if you have any foresight as to what is taking shape, the dollar will be worthless. The people will soon be reduced to bartering for their food.
What's going on locally is miniscule to what is happening on the national and global scale.
- Michael, Manchester

My. Tarr, do you or your wife have a job??? You seem to have a lot of time on your hands to write in these blogs and to interfere with the running of the school your kids attend. Do you not think your time could be better spent finding employment? That way you would be earning an opinion on matters involving city taxes. Of all the schools in the area that need teachers, your kids attend the school with perhaps the biggest problems, yet for some reason you fail to see this!!!
- T, Manchester

"We are really rolling the dice on this," Alderman Peter Sullivan said.

Thank you Peter Sullivan for Gambling with our tax dollars.

I work in the private sector and haven't seen a raise in 18 months and don't have a contract. Why are union members so entitled? This is extortion, at best.
- Frank, Manchester

The unions have stepped up to the plate and offered a cost savings to the city. They have also allowed for moderate raises over the next three years. If the economy does recover, I doubt any of the naysayers who have posted here will ask the city to offer more to the workers because times are good. I doubt any of you will put aside your slogans of hate and discontent toward these people to open a contract when the city coffers are full.

That is the difference. The "greedy" city workers don't complain when others are making more. They don't decry the earnings of another and label them as lazy or undeserving. Stop the pettiness and discuss the issues like adults...with facts and civility.

I see many have lamented raises without performance tied to them. How do you measure the performance of a teacher? Should Smith Rd schools teachers students have the same standardized test scores as those at Beech St School? Should a cop who patrols the city's North End have the same number of arrests as one who patrols the innner city? There is no objective or fair way to quantify the performance of many city jobs, so how can raises be tied to performance?

My tax rate here in Manchester is very reasonable and moderate increases every year do not bother me. There is a cost to running the city and I have no problem with the value I get for my tax dollar.
- Jules, Manchester

The employees are getting a really good deal not having the increase till half way through the year. If they got a 1.5%increase the whole year their overall salary would be less then the proposed 3% increase half way through the year.
If someone makes $50K a 1.5% increase is a total salary of $50750.00, a 3% increase is a total salary of $51,500.00. So when they get the 1.5% increase the following year it would be based off of the higher salary amount.
- S B, Manchester

Mr. Winters of Hooksett, With all due respect, I am not a union favorite, that much is true. However I do understand the contracts between the city and the unions and all that goes into it. As to which do not reflect the 'good faith' policy in my book. Do union workers deserve a raise, sure!. I have seen many workers work in high heat, rainy days and other weather conditions to ensure our city services are maintained. Do the taxpayers of this city deserve equal treatment? They sure do. In 'good faith' it would have been to good to go with the furloughs instead of asking the taxpayers to pay more in taxes that they just don't have. I ask you, has the average taxpayer seen a raise in their job each and every year? Have they seen the company they work for offer up 'good faith' policies and contracts so that the can pay their bills? The answer is simply NO. In these economic times one must understand that sometimes we must make choices that benefits the majority of people and not just a few. So no, I think the aldermen in my personal and professional opinion are not respecting the concerns of those they represent and are only 'fishing' for more votes come November.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

Once again the crybabies of unions win.

There goes my almighty tax dollar.

Laying off some deadwood would have been a better way to go. This would have been the way in the private sector.
- Fern FG Packer, Manchester

We need new candidates for Mayor and Aldermen- a block who will care about Manchester taxpayers (rising taxes and unemployment) and can take on selfish city workers, especially cops and fire. How many of them pay the Manchester taxes they throw around? Even Guinta's chief lives in Bedford.
- Amelia, Manchester

Hmmm level funding, putting off a payraise, a guaranteed raise down the road ... all on my back ... I would think that the workers would be happy to have the job that I do not .. and the times of the past year or so would quickly point out that having a job is not an entitlement in life - it can be taken away just that quickly....the taxpayer be damned I guess, huh?

I believe the quote from Peter Sullivan says it best.
This move sounds like the band-aid approach when there is the need for a tourniquet.
As an unemployed person after 20+ years of service at my old office, I see employers and businesses further cutting their workers and expenses all around today to prepare them for the unknown future as well.
On the surface, these future raises appear to be a larger problem that will return everyone back to Square One all over again.
In that regard, the problem is not fixed.
The tough choices that need to be made NOW, are being put on the back burner for someone else to deal with and those choices won't get any easier.
- RG, Manchester

Nice leadership, Mr. Mayor. Did your head explode because they were talking about other ideas besides your furlough plan? We pay you a lot of $$$ and all you can come up with in this situation is ONE idea? You should be embarrassed.
- Bob V, Manchester

bob,i seem to recall you announcing some candidacy at the end of a recent comment concerning this issue in the city.if i may offer some advice,i would tell you that running as the"NO"candidate,as an obstructionist with the plan to disband city unions and disregard contracts negotiated in "good faith"will earn you the votes ,maybe,of the three guys on this comment list who don't understand contractual agreement law,and will ensure you a very brief political career,and a record of 0 accomplishment.It should be very amusing.A pay freeze is a legal tactic that does'nt need approval by the union,it's just a courtesy to ask,just look at pensions across the whole world.Anyhoo,the administration of "job performance review"would be as expensive as what would be saved,as it would be legally challenged seven ways to sunday.I'd sit it out if i were you,until you get a better grasp of civics,and save yourself alot of time and money.you don't have a whisper of a chance.Cheers.
- david winters, hooksett

Go with furloughs and lay offs. Stop letting the unions rape the taxpayers' wallets. Raises should be earned based on perfprmance, not on simply showing up. Cost of living increases should be based on the cost of living, not on some pre-negotiated guesstimate. It's time for municipalities to start living within their means and for unions to stop dictating conditions of employment. We have all seen what union greediness can do in the GM case. Toyota, without unions, produces a better product at a much lower cost. That doesn't say much for unions now, does it?
- Brian, Farmington

I think the unions may have painted themselves in a box here. On one hand, if the economy booms, there will be a number of members who will be unhappy about "below market" pay increases. If the economy continues to tank, however, they will still have to deal with the prospects of layoffs each year.

I'm not sure a 3 year extension was the smartest move for these folks.
- Greg Moore, Manchester

Mike, Bedford- spoken like a true out of touch with reality union member. What department do you work for? Unemployment sounds better than a wage freeze or small decrease? I just don't understand the city unions and am frankly tired of being bullied by them as a taxpayer. Enough is enough with you people.
- Craig, Manchester, NH

I am a city worker, just not in Manchester. My union decided to forego a raise for this year and next year because that's the generous thing to do when you have a good paying job and the taxpayers are the ones who are paying you.

I would gladly take 7 days off with no pay to save the taxpayers money and my co-workers jobs. It's a nice vacation and I can budget my money so that 7 days won't kill me. Shame on the City's unions.

I am going to write to my Alderman. If he wants my vote, he'll have to vote against this. If the economy doesn't turn around, the City of Manchester's taxpayers are going to be in big, big trouble over the next couple of years.
- City Worker, Manchester

This story should be posted in the "crime" section, not "general" news.
- Dale, Manchester

Well,,, I'm sure the value of my home just went down "AGAIN". Would anyone in their right mind purchase a house in Manchester after reading this article? Guaranteed pay raises? In this economy? For folks who are already overpaid, underworked, overbenefitted?
How on earth did Manchester elect such people as the present board of aldermen. Shameful .. and also unbelievable. Welcome of Lawrence.
- Thom, Manchester, NH

well mike in bedford, it is contractual to terminate employees so, to follow your advice, to agree to do nothing would certainly result in layoffs. is that what you would prefer?
- mike conway, manchester

I guess they don't get it? I guess you don't get it. They have a contract and are under no obligation to do anything but they decided too and yet again the board is trying to take it to em. I say stand up and give nothing back. You earned it and need to keep it!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Mike, Bedford

First of all there is only 3300 employess in our city and more than 50,000 tax payers. Again the tax payers are getting the bad end of the deal. All the signs point to favoritism, back door politics and misrepresentation to the people they (alderman) are supposed to serve. First we had the gang of eight not allowing a tax cap, second we had one alderman saying "I can't see how we aren't going to have at least a 3% tax increase", third you have another alderman who wants to keep the taxes as they are; at 4.7% and finally you had Mr. Roche wanting to meet with only a handful of alderman. All the aldermen should have been present from the first discussion not later. If the apathy continues in our city, the taxpayers are the ones who will be getting the bill. Time to vote out those who truely don't represent the voters/tax payers and time to vote in people who will ask for performance reviews and other purposals that will work for the majority of the people of Manchester to keep taxes low, our city services upto date and well managed, not the minority of a few that will give a check mark next to their representative come voting time.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

Wasn't that nice of the unions. We'll only take 1/2 of the pay raise. We'll stand up and help the city save money!!! We'll save the city $1.8 million. There are a lot of us out here in the private sector who have not seen rasises for the last couple of years. No increase in pay but I do get to pay the increased health insurance, the higher co-payment that helps keep the price of the premium down. Then I get to pay the co-payment at the Dr's office. Maybe unions need to really looked at what they receive in pay and benifits. I really love it when I hear city workers, school teachers and school administrators complain about the high cost of there health insurance. Listen up people we all have to tighten our belts and find ways to save in these times. To keep the public services for the interest of the entire population. Stopping belly aching about what you deserve and just do the job for now. We're in the good ole 10 year cycle and if you've been here before you know that things will turn around. They always have and they always wil.
- Dave, Manchester

i am not sure the union members will ratify this change. whats to keep the city from pulling the same stunt next year and the year after, etc. meaning they'll approach the unions and say times are still tough we need to lay off even more of your members this year(2010) unless you take another pay cut.
this is not a done deal yet.
- bill, manchester

1.5 percent pay raise for that year.

They still don't get it do they. Not surprising though. After all they do think of themselves as the seeds to the ivory towers.

Save as many jobs as possible would truly mean a no percent increase to and save as many jobs as possible.

Or maybe a reality check of true integrity and a pay reduction of 1.5 % and insuring saving jobs.
- David Smith, manchester

I think that to guarantee these people a raise no matter what their job performance is like is ludicrous. They should be happy they still have a job, There are thousands of people who are jobless and would give anything to work and would do it for half of what our city employees are presently making. I think the school board has the right idea. Suspend pay raises untill 2010, which will help to avoid any tax increases and revisit the matter when the economy has stabalized.
- Tom, Manchester

I wish I were getting a pay raise this year, or last year. Given the state of the economy (outside government), even a pay raise next year is looking unlikely.
- JAC, Manchester

WAKE UP ALDERMAN!! The unions are getting the same deal professional athletes get, long term pay contracts regardless of job performance. They must have the same agent as David Ortiz and Manny!
- Mike, Bedford

Well I am extremely happy about this. I am one of the 78 teachers who got a pink slip. I don't just "show up for work" and get a raise each year. I have several hours of professional development I must complete outside of school hours to keep up my certification. I also get observed and have standards to meet. I work very hard and our classroom sizes are already good size, I couldn't imagine having larger classes... With the needs of the students I teach, they must have smaller classes so teachers can spend time with small groups especially in reading and math. These students would definitely get neglected if these teachers are laid off.
- J, Manchester

The price on the city side continues to go up at an alarming rate. While at the same time the percent going to the schools shrinks. Nice to see where the Mayor and the Mayor-want-to-be's priorities lie. Notice, the only ones to hold the line were the School Board. Maybe they should have seperate taxing power. Funny that the top story was about other districts going after the federal government to pay up for Sped. Where was Manchester? If Pembroke is "owed" $9.5 million, how much is Manchester "owed"? Who dropped the ball on this? Millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs are at stake.
- John, Manchester

Who are you guys kidding? The Mayor didnt do this, the future Mayor did. Dont kid yourself, whether it be Gatsas, Lopez or Roy, all three want the support of the unions. What better way then to offer them raises for the next three years for this minor 6 month concession. All contracts in the city expire July 1, 2010, do you think there would have been raises during a normal negotiation. Not!! Especially if the economy remained in the tank. So in essence the slick Mayor wan-a be's all courted the unions for this measley 6 month concession and gave them raises for the next three years, all for union support for their candidacy... SHAME ON ALL THREE OF THEM!!!!!! None are worthy of the position.
- Frank, Manchester

They didn't throw the next Mayor under the bus, they threw the Manchester Taxpayers under the bus.

People are losing their jobs and yet the city workers will be guaranteed a pay increase for the next 4 years regardless of whether the taxpayers can afford it and not based on whether or not they do their job well. They get an increase every year for just showing up for work. Show me where that happens in the private sector. The aldermen screwed the taxpayers again.
- Ben, Manchester

glan, the mayor didn't even vote of the measure. the alderman voted and it was unanimous. how can gatsas and roy throw themselves under the bus?
- mike conway, manchester

Why do I get the feeling that Mayor Guinta and the unions just threw the next mayor under the bus? Good luck to Gatsas or Roy or Duval to try to bring in a budget that doesn't have a huge hike next year. Think that might become an issue on the Congressional campaign trail?
- Glen, Manchester, NH

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Komi
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"Komi announces for city mayor"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, May 19, 2009

MANCHESTER – State Rep. Richard Komi, a Nigerian refugee who won a seat in the Legislature less than two years after acquiring U.S. citizenship, has announced he will run for mayor.

"I will be running as a fresh face," Komi said. "This is fresh breath that will be coming to Manchester politics."

Komi, 41, is less than five months into his first term in the state House of Representatives. A Democrat, he was an active volunteer on Barack Obama's presidential campaign in New Hampshire last year and was sent to the Democratic National Convention as a delegate for the then-Illinois senator.

The story of Komi's escape from violence in Nigeria and his attempt to start a new life in the United States caught Obama's attention in May 2007, when Komi graduated from Southern New Hampshire University. Obama delivered the commencement address.

"We celebrate with him," Obama said of Komi, "because his journey is a testament to the powerful idea that in the face of impossible odds, ordinary people can do extraordinary things."

Komi said his first goal as mayor would be to "stop the growth of property taxes." Beyond that, he said, he would strive to improve education, create jobs and "fight crime, tooth and nail."

He said he would try to raise revenues without raising taxes -- for example, by inviting film companies to shoot movies in Manchester at no cost, provided they stay in local hotels, eat in local restaurants and hire local people as extras.

City Democratic Party Chairman Chris Pappas said Komi is "serving admirably" in Concord and "has a lot to offer."

For a mayoral candidate, however, Komi is relatively unknown. Asked about Komi yesterday, Alderman Mark Roy, the only other Democrat now running for mayor, said the name "doesn't ring a bell." Former Alderman Jerome Duval, a possible contender himself, said, "Richard who?"

Komi came to New Hampshire in 1999. He had fled southern Nigeria four years earlier, at a time when the government was cracking down on activists, such as himself, who campaigned against the foreign oil companies that polluted local waters and devastated the area's important fishing and farming industries.

Today, Komi works with disabled children at Easter Seals. He is married and has three children, ages 5, 3 and 18 months.

As a legislator, Komi has co-sponsored a bill to crack down on landlords whose properties violate building codes. The bill passed the House and is now in the Senate.

His newness to New Hampshire politics doesn't have to be a liability in the mayor's race, he said.

"If the voters listen to me," he said, "and they understand where I'm coming from, I will win."

READERS' COMMENTS:

Given the thinly disguised racism that is behind many criticisms of Mr. Obama. I doubt Mr. Komi has much of a chance. Face it, racism is alive and well in Manchester.- LJC, Manchester

-Just as anti-white racism is alive and well in the Obama administration.
- David Parent, Manchester

Hey, Komi has as much chance as Howie Howe or Jeff Kassel or JKL for that matter.
- steve vaillancourth, manchester

First let me say that I agree that Mr. Komi would be well advised to serve out his term in the House before seeking higher office. In fact, I also think he should consider a term as an Alderman before running for mayor. That said, I still believe that unfortunately his race will be at least a tacit issue and that the Republicans will use the same sort of innuendo against him that they used against President Obama.
- LJC, Manchester

Word in Concord is that Mr. Komi is "asked" by his fellow Democrats to step out of the chambers when it comes time to vote IF his vote runs counter to the Democrat Party's liberal agenda. Knowing this, his non-votes on gay marriage start to look really good. Also, his stated platform of tax relief and crime-fighting sounds rather conservative. If worse comes to worse, maybe Manchester's Undeclareds and even Republicans ought to support this conservative Democrat's candidacy.
- James, Manchester

Gee, Mr. Tarr. Did Richard Komi win an election in Ward 5 and you didn't? Are you jealous? You'll never be elected to anything in Ward 5 with your right wing attitude. Ward 5 tends to swing left.....Good luck to Mr. Komi, he is a nice man. Personally, I will vote for Mark Roy because of something he said to me that caught my interest and I hope he is true to his word. But, who knows? Maybe Mr. Komi can catch my interest as well....May the best man win.
- JF, Manchester

Frank - please stop your crying. The parallels with Obama are obvious. I suggest you get used to hearing criticism of your guy, because you're going to hear more and more of it as we go forward.
- Tom, Campton

One thing you need to remember LJC racism is not a one race problem. It is practiced against ALL races. Remember when you make your comments that if your going to say things like this you need to back them up with facts. Simply sayig it does not make it so. I think if the man is qualified and can convince the voters he is the person for the job he can win. After all Obama did it right?
- Bill B., Pelham

Well Tom and Roland, good for us you guys don't live in Manchester. Maybe when there is a vote to pave Main St in your towns, you can get out and make a change.
- Jim Wilson, Manchester

Of course a "local" is someone who has lived in NH for a few years and understands how our government works.
- Fred R Packer, manchester

I will have to agree with Tom from Campton on this one. The guy was elected to a position 5 months ago, and the term was a two year term. Is that not good enough for him? Is he too good to serve the term he was elected? Is he going to be Mayor for 6 months, then run for the senate? Also, he completely missed 5 votes on the gay marriage issue. I don't care how he would have voted, he choose not to even go.

I don't think any person that is just elected should be able to run for a different office, until they have served at least one term. It is just wrong - to slap the faces of the people that voted for you.
- Roland, Penacook

To LJC in Manchester... do you seriously think you can scare people by calling them racists every chance you get? God forbid you have an opinion about an african-american in this country. They must be a racist!
- Bob, Manchester

Can't wait to vote for him. I think we should vote everyone serving right now out. Time for a total change.
- Maria, Manchester, NH

Tom/Campton, you need to grow up. Every comment you post has to mention Obama. This story had nothing to do with the president. If you don't like the results of the election then move somewhere else.
- Frank, Manchester

Not qualified, not qualifed, not qualified.
Try showing up in Concord every so often and prove yourself as a capable elected offical first before attempting to take over the reigns of a city political system infested with back biting rats that would love nothing more than to have a weak Mayor in place. Gatsas - you running or what. Stop being coy. People need to know. You're not doing anyone any favors by being silent.
- Peter G., Manchester

I am guessing local means someone who has lived in New Hampshire or Manchester for more than a couple years.
- Sarah, Manchester

Gee Wendy, what exactly do you mean by "local"? Your statement can be taken several ways.
- Bob V, Manchester

Hi.
I can't say that I love the attitude on the message board.
Why don't you hear the man out before making your decision.
I, for one, don't think that the "locals" have been doing such a great job.
I, for one, believe that it's a good thing that he's not tied up with local politics.
I, for one, am not overly concerned witht the fact that he did not vote on the gay marriage legislation.
He probably doesn't get much information from his constituients to make an educated decision one way or the other. Did you write or call him on the subject, Mr. Tarr?
- AL, Manchester

Well, since racsim in the city is still very much alive in this city, chances are very slim that he will win unfortunately. I will give you an example: My volunteer at my school works in the ELL program and attended the volunteer breakfast. A parent asked her if she has children in the school (She doesn't; she volunteers). When she said no and that she volunteers in the ELL program, the person was aghast and exclaimed, "The what?!" and then ignored my friend. Hello! Manchester is a refugee drop off point!

Good luck to Mr. Komi. He has my vote.
- J, Manchester

"Komi, 41, is less than five months into his first term in the state House of Representatives."---Why not spend a few years in your current position before seeking a promotion Mr. Komi? We saw the same with Obama - rush to get in now before people realize you are incompetent. Look where this has gotten us.
- Tom, Campton

LJC'S comments about Manchester being a racist city is an example of the small minded left that wants to impose there will on us. As a Democrat I find those comments dangerous and untrue. Everybody has a chance here but the concerns Bob Tarr brought up are real and would cause me to vote for someone else. We don't need another part time Mayor.
- Mel, MANCHESTER

Given the thinly disguised racism that is behind many criticisms of Mr. Obama. I doubt Mr. Komi has much of a chance. Face it, racism is alive and well in Manchester.
- LJC, Manchester

odds of winning = 0% or less
- james, manchester

Not sure this guy is intouch with how Manchester government runs.
I'm going to stick with a local when it's my time to vote for mayor of Manchester.
- Wendy T.R., Manchester

tarr makes a great point. if komi can't even show up for a less than part time gig in concord, he can't be trusted to run this city. papas would kow tow to anyone with a D in front of their name so his comment should even be surprising.
- mike conway, manchester

Mr. Komi is my representative here in Manchester's Ward 5. With the gay rights bill that was introduced in the House, Mr. Komi missed all five times to vote on it. According to the records it states; 'Not Voting/Not Excused'. According to Mr. Pappas; "Komi is "serving admirably" in Concord and "has a lot to offer." If a person misses important votes such as this, how does that reflect on the people he is suppose to represent? "If the voters listen to me," he said, "and they understand where I'm coming from, I will win." How about he listens to the people first then run for higher office when he has served a full term on another office.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"Aldermen get rolled: City unions win big", The New Hampshire Union Leader, Editorial, May 20, 2009

Manchester's Board of Mayor and Aldermen got completely rolled by the city's public safety unions Monday night. It was either that or, to mix metaphors, the board willingly played along as the unions' puppets.

The agreement aldermen approved would cut the unions' pay raise for Fiscal Year 2010, which begins in July, in half, from 3 percent to 1.5 percent. When many taxpayers are losing their jobs or taking pay cuts, that is the big concession the unions offered. In exchange, however, aldermen agreed to extend current contracts -- which contain guaranteed pay raises -- for three more years, costing city taxpayers an additional $5 million!

That's a sucker's deal for the city, and the aldermen -- all of them -- took it.

The school board was smarter. Members rejected that deal, which would save the district only $799,000 next year, and countered with an offer to freeze next year's raise and give only a 1.5 percent raise the following year. That would save taxpayers $2.9 million in 2010.

The school board's counteroffer protects both taxpayers and teachers. The deal aldermen accepted protects the unions. With the city budget millions of dollars in the red, what in the world were they thinking?

READERS' COMMENTS:

Why does the City even have unions? I don't understand that at all. Or maybe the question is why don't all workers have unions? It's nice to think that you can get paid what you're worth, but what it all comes down to is how much can your employer afford? Unions don't care what the employer can afford, it just wants to keep getting raises and benefits for employees, some of whom definately don't deserve it. You can work your butt off or not and still get the same raise. Doesn't take long until your lazy co-worker's bad habits rub off on you. After all, why work hard when you can get the same pay and raises and benefits too, by doing much less work.
- Alice J, Manchester

Government’s purpose is not to employ people; it’s to provide services.

Yes, services can be provided without employing people, even if they’re non-Union. I’m shocked we don’t see this. Private Companies are laying off or cutting salaries. The Government hires and gives raises. Private Companies are closing their doors. Government is growing. Private Companies cut back on business expenses. Government increases spend. Private Companies control costs and create market strategies to create revenue. Government raises taxes.

When does it end? The standard answer to this question will be, “shut up and pay your taxes”. However, my question stands. You can tax at 100%, then will it end?
- Wally, Manchester, NH

The BMA and the Unions are all on the same page. The BMA likes to put on a show, but in the end lets face it, the Mayor gives them everything they want. He doesn't care about the City - all he cares about is getting the Unions support when he runs for a higher office. He'll sell the City down the drain for his own interest.
- Dave J, Manchester

Well now, isn't that interesting. I didn't see that one coming...Or did I? With apathy running ramped throughout the city of Manchester it is no wonder the aldermen get away with it. In 2007 alone only 800+ registered voters came out of the 3000+ on the voter guide. Today is a day of reckoning, today the tax payers of this city should stand up and voice loudly their dislike to such treatments. Come November lets all get out and vote for someone who truely represents us, not the few.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

Jack Alex owns no property in Manchester. Phony name and phony behind it.
- John, Manchester

WOW, I actually agree with an editorial. I am in shock.
- Mike, Manchester

Mr. Mayor the aldermen just rolled over you like you don't matter at all. So, instead of 78 layoffs at the MSD the Board of Aldermen in their infantile wisdom said goodbye to about 37 teachers - just so that they could place the burden of city-side layoffs and furloughs of non-affiliated employees squarely on your shoulders.

Once again I would like to thank the Board of Aldermen for their never-ending struggle to run the city of Manchester into the ground. You have become a great success at doing that. Barney Frank is proud of you.
- David R, Manchester

a couple of counterpoints,UL unidentified editorial writer. First,furloughs for the teachers were not feasable,and illegally violated a standing negotiated contract,and the teachers would have worked during the week of furlough then not been paid some other week in the summer,or during a vacation week.Without being able to apply for unemployment benifits,it amounts to a pay give back.Not a good idea as most people plan their budgets to coincide with a paycheck,hmmm?Secondly,it seems that you trot out the "taxpayer did'nt get a raise or benefit enhancement"chestnut, and present that as somehow relevant,with absolutely no data to back it up.If you have designated youself the voice of the taxpayer,let everyone know,don't be a sneak,or even worse,intellectual lazy with your editorial.If you took the time to get even a basic grasp of contract protocol or law,it really would help you be a more informed opinionator,although i'd guess "cooler heads" dont sell papers.Anyhoo,there are lots of other places that the city can save money other than chiseling labor contracts,such as the redundant management and administration system,which is where the REAL cronyism lies.But, you already know that,hmm?cheers
- david winters, hooksett

This editorial is right on, and I dont say that often. This pay delay is small and not even close to the furlough that the Mayor was asking for. Add the $5 million to that in the next three years, and the Unions did well. Had the unions held their grounds, there wouldnt have been a $5 million dollar price tag attached to future raises and negotiations would have gotten them very little as contracts expired. And by the way I predict if this passes with the teacher union, they will be back demanding the same pay raises the other city employees are getting, and the Alderman and new mayor will go right along with it... what is good for one should be good for all.
Good luck future Mayor, you may have bought the Unions support with this one for your candidacy, but dont plan on much else in return. They look after themselves, much like some politicians and you know who you are....
- fRANK, Manchester

Max: This article was an editoral, though I don't see the author's name listed.

If you amortize the net effect of each of the two deals (furlough vs non-furlough), they are not even similar.
- JAC, Manchester

UL, you can't have it both ways. You have consistantly called out the unions to make concessions and here they pretty much gave the city the "furlough" they wanted by defering their pay raises and yo bemoan that. Give us all a break.
- Max Grey, Manchester

This is no suprise to me. The BMA is very labor friendly. It always has been.
Thats the trouble with politics, its always someones friend or relative whos job is affected and then the BMA gets weak kneed.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

----------

"Students, parents see red over teacher pink slips"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, Wednesday, May 20, 2009

MANCHESTER – Two weeks ago, Colby Chery's fifth-grade teacher was pink-slipped. Yesterday, Chery was in City Hall, delivering a message to the aldermen.

"You're fired," he said.

Chery, 11, was the youngest and shortest of the dozens of people who spoke up in the aldermanic chambers last night, outraged that the Manchester school district recently doled out layoff notices to 78 teachers.

The crowd numbered more than 100 and included many teachers who are now confronting the prospect of losing their jobs at the end of the school year. Some of those teachers pleaded with the board to increase the district's budget so they and their colleagues would not have to reenter the job market.

One teacher broke down and cried. "We are here to let you know that we love our jobs," said the teacher, Isabel Gunther, who teaches third grade at Beech Street elementary school. "We love working for the city of Manchester, and we love working at Beech Street school."

The teachers' testimony preceded last night's aldermanic meeting. Typically, public-comment sessions in City Hall last half an hour. Last night's session last an hour and 45 minutes.

Alderman Mike Garrity said the teachers were venting at the wrong board. The decision to pink-slip teachers was not made by the aldermen, he noted, but by the school board.

"They talked to the wrong people," Garrity said after the session. "Go talk to the school board. The school board is the one that laid them off."

The teachers' contract required layoff notices be sent by May 10. District officials will not know exactly how many teachers may need to be laid off until the aldermen set the district's budget.

Regardless, administrators have said at least some layoffs would be necessary under the $152 million budget recommended by the school board. Scott McGilvray, the president of the teachers' union, called that recommendation "irresponsible." Some audience members accused city officials of caring too much about the tax rate and not enough about the quality of education in Manchester's schools. One parent, Leslie Want, said she would "gladly double her taxes" to ensure the health of city schools.

"You may think I'm crazy," she told the board. Her next sentence was drowned out by applause.

Teachers took some of the credit for recent test scores that are helping to stave off sanctions for certain schools. A few noted Gossler Park Elementary School made adequate yearly progress in both reading and math this year. Still, several of its teachers have been pink-slipped.

"How will you show the children in this city that you care about them and their future?" said one of those teachers, Kate Griffin.

Jessica Morrell, a fifth-grade teacher at Jewett Street School, said she has begun looking for work in other districts. Others are doing the same.

"I hate to admit this," Morrell said, "but it's your loss, and another district's gain."

READERS' COMMENTS:

Your statement about holding people accountable for the amount of children they have in the school system has to be the most ridiculous statement I’ve ever read! It is everybody’s responsibility to help pay for education, that is in part how civilizations, countries and communities grow, develop and advance. Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders and every country or nation that ever existed were all based on family structure without exception. So whether you have children or not a good part of the standard of living you enjoy today is intrinsically tied to education and the support of the family unit. Would you put an even greater financial strain on a family that is already struggling to make ends meet? Those children in that large family will grow up to be productive working taxpayers in the future. In every conceivable way they are an investment in our collective future!
- Rob, Manchester

I have a high school student and I would say they should lay off most of the teachers and higher new ones. New teachers usually put all the effort into their jobs where as teachers who have been at their jobs a long time tend to start to feel its just a job.

This could actually improve the performance of the high schoos. Its amazing how a positive environment creates positive kids.
- Susan, Other

Really Susan? They should "higher" new teachers after firing every old one? Good luck with that. Manchester struggles to find more than a few applicants for each job because most teachers can earn more elsewhere. Maybe your job should fire everyone who has been there for more than five years.
- Kelley, Manchester

As one of the early posters on this topic some people say I shouldn't believe everything I read in the Union Leader.

Well Im not a puppet to the Union Leader but there are some conservative principles that sound pretty darn good now.

I remember when the school budget was closer to $100 million and that was about 20 years ago. They keep incresing the budget and what does it get, nothing. The majority of the kids don't seem to graduate any brighter than when they went in.

I think everyone deserves and affordable education, but theres been so much tonnage added onto the 3r's. Some of it good, a lot of it bad, and a whole lot thats just plain wasteful.

Let's be honest, we can't afford 1/4 of the teachers we have. There are plenty of programs for youth to take advantage of in the private sector, music lessons at ted heberts, Im sure there are bands that can be put together outside of the mainstream. The taxpayers just are unable to afford to do things that they have been doing for the last 4 decades or so.

There are plenty of programs that can be started for kids to get into privately sponsored sports programs. There are art programs and drama programs that are offered that can take place outside of the classroom. Programs for gifted and talented kids that are above and beyond a base education can also be offered by the private sector.

Granted families will have to dig into their wallets to pay but thats better than the thousands that can't afford all the other programs to keep your children happy and culturally developed.

Lets get back to a core education, the 3r's, science and history.

My last bit of wisdom is to move special
education onto its own seperate program outside of the mainstream. Lets be honest, these children and I think theres far too many that have been labeled special needs than that they are just hyper and need to burn of energy, they shouldn't be forced to compete with the mainstream. They need to learn at their own pace. There needs to be a public private partnership to let them learn at their own pace beyond the current scope to try to move them along the path to independent mainstream life.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

It amazes me what I'm reading on here! I would like to ask anyone with a job how they were able to get that job. Education? Clearly.
So next time you start bashing teachers and saying how useless they are, think of where you would be without them because you certainly wouldn't be able to read or write the way you all can now.
- Ashley, Manchester

First of all, I find it remarkable that the Union Leader (of all publications) would include in its terms for posting a response to their online articles that "comments that are... poorly written... will not be approved." Hilarious.

Secondly, all I'm saying is that I've seen more errors in spelling and grammar from those knuckleheads calling out for teachers to get fired and for parents to send their kids to public schools if they want a good education.

The public school system isn't perfect, but it sure as hell isn't going to get any better unless everyone in society who draws some water from the well puts something back in later on. I don't have any kids, and I'm happy to have my taxes fund public schools. You know why? So that someday, an uneducated kid doesn't grow up to break into my house because he's unemployable.

And frankly, if I was in charge of any of this lot, I'd probably fire each one of you for not being able to read or write--yet being quick to express your ignorant opinion regardless. Quit your jobs and go back to public school for a few years!
- The Dude, Manchester

It is unfortunate to have to layoff teachers but the city needs to set a budget and stick to it. The schools must live within those means, period. It is nice to "want" more, but when we cannot afford it, we cannot afford it. Sorry, but that is the reality of a budget. You do not set it at what you want and then raise taxes to meet it; you set it at what you have and reduce expenses--just like all of you do at home.
- Brian G, Manchester (Currently Iraq)

Cry me a river, Beth of Manchester.......I know something about working in a school because I was employed for a number of years in an area school district. After all of the money from local property taxes (along with state and federal funding) was spent on upgrading this district's schools, the high school was only rated at the 50th percentile statewide. No one in the district talked about this figure (and with good reason) at town meetings because a number of school officials might have been tarred and feathered - literally.
- Mark, Manchester

LOL pretty soon the Police, Fire, and Highway departments will be running the schools because you fired all the teachers.
Tell me something though. In what other capacity do people with, at most, a bachelor's degree make up to 100K a year, while their coworkers, who have masters degrees, make less then half that? Why is it the MPD and FD make so much, yet we cut the teachers first, even though they usually make the least of the three? Do we REALLY need so many cops leeching the system? Where were THEIR cuts?
I guess it's double the job security for them though. After-all, there is a direct correlation between a crappy and underfunded school system and a higher crime rate in said community.
- joe t, derry, nh

Mmike Garrity is good at giving quotes to the newspaper but why doesn't he actually talk to people and let them respond? Is he afraid people will not agree with him? It is so nice to see an elected official give his quotes to the newspaper but it would be even better if he went on a talk show to defend his remarks. How careless to say it is all the fault of the school board. Mr. Garrity: Question: WHO FUNDS THE SCHOOL BOARD? Oh...thats right...the ALDERMEN. So, the anger is appropriately directed at the aldermen.
- Mike, Manchester

Shame on all of you for judging people without walking in their shoes...this is not about Unions, all that teachers do, or even the feeling of the school board OR alderman. This is about money...Manchester simply does not know how to manage money. Other cities with our demographics and school district sizes do just fine with their monies, why can't we? Will it happen again, yep, but will we do anything DIFFERENT this time to stop it from happening again...nope...that's why Manchester is the biggest joke around!

Whoever said that the furlough would be legal if both parties agreed...ah...nope...get your information right. Would it be legal if I bought drugs and the dealer said it was ok...sounds stupid huh?

Shame on the people judging Lesley Want...she is not rolling around in money, she just appreciates education. Stop being bitter about losing your jobs because you have no unions to protect you, you had a choice of what job you wanted to do when you became an adult...and DON'T tell me that you wouldn't be fighting for your job if you could have.

This is the first time I've read these and cannot believe that I am even taking the time to write this...again your ignorant comments is what Manchester is such a joke. I bet if we put our energies into the budget as we do with the "arrogant" comments maybe we'd be in better shape. Oh and by the way...I have an idea...let's just put 55% of the tax bill to education and 45% ot the city and everything would be fine...oh I forgot, this is Manchester, that would be too easy!

Doug Kruse...you words do not matter here anymore, enough! Aren't you in Florida, Boca Raton (the RICHEST city) yet?

Whoever said, "if you were a good teacher you wouldn't have been pink slipped." My god do you know anything...it's last person hired, first person fired, no matter how good you are. Is that the fauly of the Union...maybe, but the board never brings up any ideas for changing that when contracts are open.
- Mary, Manchester

Why not concede your sick days like the Hooksett union did. You are one of the only SALARIED professions that have sick days. You are paid weather you show up or not. The clincher is when you cash in those unpaid sick day! Good trick time to lose it.
- Frank Henderson, Hooksett

First off, I am not a teacher and I am unemployed.
It is very difficult to sit here and read the number of posts which lack substance but make suggestions that are statistically destructive. First off, teachers in general are not overpaid. If anything they are underpaid. Classroom sizes and nothing else should dictate the number of teacher required for the district. With that said, part of the calculation should allocate a need for more teachers based on the number of IEP’s. You cannot compare one district to another unless you take into account the number of individuals that need additional attention. Cities will generally have a greater number of IEP’s given the diversity in the population.
The fireman and the police force should be based on statistics as well. These sections of the government along with education are needed at the top of their game regardless of economic stress.
Where do you cut? Well I was less than happy to see 3 trucks, a front loader, and a supervisor on a 60 degree day cleaning up snow piles in cul-de-sacs’ in my neighborhood 2 months ago. We do not need recycling picked up every week. There needs to be a close look across all administrative positions throughout local government and reductions made.
There are many departments throughout government and yet it always seems that the department of education gets the most ribbing. What about City Clerk, Finance, Highway, Human Resources, Mayor, Parking, Public Works, Tax, Transit…..?
- Erik, Manchester

i have a better idea, seeing as mayor guinta has already stated he will not seek re-election , why not say good by now to him, use his salary for the school budget , also mr. garrity says the teachers are barking up the wrong tree, they should complain to the school board , but it is the alderman in each district that set's the budget for each district. i say it is time to clean house and get people in these politcal offices who actually care about this city. how about term limits for each city office, how about cutting back on aldermans, let us say instead of 30 alderman, we only have 15, look at the money that would be saved and we would have the education system in place that we deserve for our future. mr. garrity , you and your constituants need to re-evaluate your stand and help this community, not destroy it . it is so pathetic and so are you and your constituants. help fix the problem, not be the cause of it .
- mike, manchester

The issue about paying taxes toward education when one doesn't have any kids is a peculiar one. I pay taxes in Manchester... yet I pay for a private school for my child (so I pay twice)... can I get a tax refund since my child goes elsewhere to be educated? Yes I know, I CHOOSE to send my child to a private school, even though I have the public school option. Also, as a former teacher, I understand the woes the teachers face and I sympthasize. However, EVERY sector in this economy has been effected by this downturn. It is unfortunate, but a reality. As my mom used to say 'You can't bleed money from a stone.'
- Kim, Manchester

To JackAlex... people like you are fueling a generational warfare. Im in my early 30's. I sure hope you are not one of these curmudgeon retirees who just wants to sit back and collect big fat pension and social security checks while we younger generations dole out for your medicare. It's a 2 way street pal, everyone's helping everyone. You dont want to go pay property taxes and schoos? Go rent... try Florida.
- Chris, Bow

All you teacher union whiners were warned.

It's YOUR FAULT colleages have lost their jobs.

The teachers union did this to themselves. They called the city's bluff thinking the continued exortion would work and it backfired, just like the auto industry. (nice pun huh?)

Good luck on the job hunt, really. If I were a principle or superintendant interviewing, I'd be wondering why you weren't good enough to be kept employed.
- John, Manchester

As someone who can have no children unlike other comments I don't mind paying for the education of our states children so long as it's managed well.

Saying that where are these teachers unions when the tea parties are taking place to bring attention to the waste and over taxation of government? As a conservative independent it is my view that our real needs from government are to ensure we have schools and qualified teachers, police, fire, roads and some other infrastructure such as sewerage. What I get angry over are things like promised pensions for political favors, positions made for political favors, and the so on. The majority of those who pay taxes for this will not enjoy the same treatment come their retirement day so what makes those in government more special than the average Joe?

Gain my respect teachers and fight to stop the waste in government by both party and stop giving one certain party a free ride because the unions are tied to the party. Then just maybe the citizens would have the money to hand out raises or keep the positions running. But please do not Let the Obama administration print up another trillion dollars for the kids you’re teaching to pay back just so you can have a job now. Be at the tea party and we can all support each other.
- Deb, Derry

I do believe that we all have a responsibility in helping better educate the kids in our community. However, I don’t think individuals who do not have kids in the school system should have to pay the same rate as someone who has 1 kid or 5 kids in the public school system. I think its time to start holding the parent who chooses to have to many kids accountable, they are creating a burden on the public schools and on society.
- ti tete, concord

I do believe that we all have a responsibility in helping better educate the kids in our community. However, I don’t think individuals who do not have kids in the school system should have to pay the same rate as someone who has 1 kid or 5 kids in the public school system. I think its time to start holding the parent who chooses to have to many kids accountable, they are creating a burden on the public schools and on society.
- ti tete, concord

Now is the time for the "Little Red School House" to spring up in neighborhoods across the city. Homeschoolers, no unions, no condoms on bananas. Just reading, writing and arithmatic.
- Michael, Manchester

Jack Alex- you probably shouldn't make comments simply on what the Union Leader chooses to print. In my speech I said that I don't live in Manchester. I gladly vote, in my own town, to properly fund education.

DP- It appears that you were not at the meeting last night either. I made it quite clear that there are many people who should be taking responsibility for the mess the city is in including the school board (the health insurance they voted to keep) and superintendent/assistant superintendent). I will be more than happy to send you a complete copy of my speech so you get the true version- not the watered down Union Leader version.
- Kate Griffin, Hooksett, NH

All of you teachers whining about your jobs: If you want to keep your jobs, get rid of your union!

It is your union that refuses to take furloughs (cut the "illegal" nonsense; its perfectly legal if both parties agree). Your union that enforces the idiotic seniority-based layoffs. Your union protects incompetent teachers.

Your union ensures that young teachers are underpaid, old teachers are overpaid, and the entire system costs too much money so that cities have no choice but to cut positions.

If you really want stable, quality education without the fear of being axed for lack of public funds: Get Rid Of Your Union!!
- Jim Peschke, Croydon, NH

I agree with the folks who put it in a nutshell: wake up teachers, the unemployment rate is near/over 10% - this includes every type of job in America. If your unions are fighting for raises and increased benefits in this type of economy, or even the status quo, THEY are the ones signing your pink slips.In private industry we have all had to give up something and many have lost their jobs. Stop the screaming about our children's futures for heaven's sake...they will do fine (especially if parents start taking a more active role in assisting in educating at home. Remember something - YOU chose this profession. We all have to make decisions in life, no one is forcing you to teach. If you truly feel de-valued and that taxpayers arent giving you what you deserve, change careers. OR go teach in a private school (they often make even less!) I have a family member who teaches and I am horrified at the stories of many in the ranks who really don't care and don't put themselves out. Sad thing is, with a union you just can't get rid of the poor performers.
- Joyce, Londonderry

All I have to say is that there are some truly disgusting and ignorant people in this city. If you want to live in a city with under-funded services and schools then good luck to you. Eventually cold reality will slap you in your selfish face and you'll be left living in a dirty cesspool full of under-educated and unemployed people.

Of course, with your short-sightedness it will never occur to you that these same people are the ones that you turned your back on when you spouted crap like "Why should I pay for your kid's education?". Thanks for being a good neighbor and a contributing member of the community. The rest of us responsible tax-payers really appreciate it.
- Ben, Manchester

I have a high school student and I would say they should lay off most of the teachers and higher new ones. New teachers usually put all the effort into their jobs where as teachers who have been at their jobs a long time tend to start to feel its just a job.

This could actually improve the performance of the high schoos. Its amazing how a positive environment creates positive kids.
- Susan, Other

Chris,
What you don't see is:
1. Furloughs are illegal. What don't YOU understand about that?
2. If furloughs were legal there would still have been lay-offs. What don't YOU understand?
Jack Alex,
Your not even on the tax rolls for the city of Manchester. What is your beef or is that a phony name like the person behind it?
- John, Manchester

Matthew from Milford,

First, teachers are not and shoudl not be baby sitters. Second, what baby sitter charges per kid? I have three and when I have a sitter, I pay them $10 bucks an hour and provide dinner. I don;t pay them $10 per kid, so your analogy is flawed.
- CJ, Manchester

Leslie Want, said she would "gladly double her taxes" to ensure the health of city schools.


She can pay mine too
- CJ, Manchester

Works for me - all you anti-education anti-tax folks can move to Rochester and let us responsible citizens raise taxes to adequately fund education.
- Heather, Manchester

For those that want to pay more, please do. I am sure that the city accepts donations and grants. Please give more. Some of us are quite happy that the City is trying to fight higher taxes.
- Tom, Manchester

and that is exactly why I chose to NOT buy a house in Manchester you get what you pay for. Any parent who is moving to this area and runs "numbers" will clearly see it just doesnt make sense to do the Manchester experience
- Stacy, Londonderry

I don't want to hear the whining about you having to pay for kids when you are elderly or that you don't have children. Guess what someone had to pay for you when you were younger! How about those families long ago that had 12 children! Someone paid for them too. That is how the cycle is. It is tough too swallow but that is how our democracy works!
- jl, goffstown

Enough with the furlough!! Some of the city employees can not afford that. I am supporting a family on my city pay check and by no means am I able to afford a furlough. I am paying taxes for schools as well as for all the other services of the city. I am not complaining that I pay taxes for trash collection and I don't even use it. We all pay for services that the city provides and if we want cheap services, then thats what we will get. It is time to wake up and see that things need to change. Education is not something we should be skimping out on.
- DM, Manchester

While I think Mike Garrity is a true representative of his ward, he is dead wrong in blaming the School Committee for the layoffs. Mike Garrity needs to stop toting the Guinta line. Guinta is the one who gave the School Board a proposed number which ultimately eliminates the teachers. It is the Aldermen who are utlimately to blame if they do not adequately fund the Schools. The Aldermen are the ones who set the budget and give the school district the money so, with all due respect to Mike Garrity...He is WRONG.

The school board has done their due dilligence but the boad of aldermen are the ones who are being courted by the Unions into a long term financial agreement the city can not afford. The schools are the most important area in city government because in the end, the schools educate our children. We always hear politicians boast about how they are pro-education well, time to put up or shut up. I am completely in favor of fully funding the schools but on the flip side, the teachers union will have to live without pay raises. That is the trade off. Fully fund the schools so there are no layoffs of teachers or Asst. Principals but in return, the teachers and Asst. Principals have to agree to no pay increases. Very simple solution to the entire mess on the school side.
- Jeff, Manchester

I am so sick of hearing the dribble that these teachers always bring up. First of all I'm not unsympathetic, however many people have been losing their jobs or haven’t you teachers noticed? Are teachers supposed to be immune from layoffs when everyone else is not? I do care about my kids, which is why my wife and I work so hard to keep a roof over our children’s head and put food on the table. This definitely is not a case of hating teachers, although that accusation is applied to anyone who is against paying higher taxes or a school higher budget. Leslie Want, if you can afford to (gladly pay) double the taxes "in your own words" to as you say ensure the health of the schools, then why aren't you doing so now? You are apparently wealthy enough to afford to do so but aren’t but cannot seem to comprehend that many taxpayers cannot afford to pay higher taxes! I can’t even afford my blood pressure medications and must do without because I cannot afford to. If you teachers are so concerned about the children as you claim to be, then understand that some many of us are trying our best to provide the basic necessities of life for our children. Teachers, just like every other hard working taxpaying citizen are not immune to layoffs, so deal with it!
- Rob, Manchester

I have a couple of things to say on this

1) Be glad you all do not live in Pembroke, I pay over 7000 a year in prop tax on a 250k house.

2) I agree with those who say all need to pay towards the education of the future generation but those who use more should pay more. aka more kids higher tax rate. one thing that would do this is to make multi family units pay their fair share of their true cost in taxes. They should be taxed on the "rental value" of their total units as if they were condo's. Thus a 6 family unit valued at 300k would no longer pay the same as a single family valued at 300k. Only fair when the single family puts 2 kids into the sytem and the 6 family puts 12.

I know rents will go up due to this but that may be more incentive to keep costs down, when all share in the pain of these costs all will look to reduce these costs.

Lastly a tiered tax system should be created. All pay the base rate. One child still base. From the second one on there should be an increase in the rate. People should not have children they cannot afford at the expense of those who may also desire children but cannot have them because they are paying for those who have more than they can afford.
- Chuck, Pembroke

I must say, the teacher from Beech St school who spoke was compelling.. She is a credit to teaching. Well done. That said, the city is a mess. Guaranteed pay increases for high school grads, and pink slips for college grads? Let's see; get rid of the meter maid manager who makes over $100,000 .. that will keep 3 teachers working. On and on.. the city is a sewer of political corruption. The aldermanic board should be called "The Back Slappers". They sit and wink to each other, argue over health benefits because it effects THEM. The school board members are "friends of the teachers and administrators" .. If they were serious about education, they would ask for the evaluations of all the teachers in the city, those who have bad rap sheets get the pink sheet. But noooo.. don't want to upset the union guy. And what does the union pres teach? He has the vocabulary of a brick layer. His middle name must be "duh". What a mess .. and getting worse. Until Manchester elects smart, professional, aldermen who care about the city not their "buddys", the slide will continue.
- Tom, Manchester, NH

The 107 lay-offs approved by the school board (including the 78 teachers) will save $3.3 million in next year's budget.

To save those positions, we need to find $3.3 million elsewhere in our budget. (Actually, not quite that amount, because the superintendent has said that some of those positions are not needed and should be eliminated regardless of the budget.)

The school board's proposal? Freeze everyone's wages next year. In other words, no increases for any employee. (Yes, this includes Tom Brennan and Karen Burkush too.) This will save $2.9 million, which would go a long way toward keeping lay-offs to an absolute minimum.

Our plan saves far more positions than any other proposal on the table (from the aldermen, the mayor, or the unions) and it asks the same reasonable sacrifice from every employee in the district. I am hopeful that the bargaining units will accept our proposal.

(And, yes, DP in Manchester, I voted to eliminate both the stipend and the health benefit for board members back in March, and I voted against the raise for our Asst Superintendent.)
- Doug Kruse - School Board Ward 8, Manchester

Right on, Jack Alex! People want kids then they should be the ones responsible for paying for their education. Why should anyone else have to pay for your rugrat?!
- Bob, Manchester

Rick - you fail to see an option with regard to Mr. Garrity. As you suggest, Garrity may be naive as to the process: that his board allocates the funds to the school district. Or he may be being deceptive or flat out lying.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

Why is there so much hate for the schools?
- Maria, Manchester, NH

I can't afford to double my taxes. But, none of us can afford the education of these kids to go at the wayside.
Every Single one of you that state "It's not your problem and the parents need to double their taxes and it doesn't APPLY" to you, just remember who is going to be choosing your retirement home and who is going to be running this country very very soon.
If anything is to change for Manchester, our politicians from Mayor Guinta on down have proven they don't have what it takes to do so. BUT, WHAT WE TEACH OUR KIDDOS WILL. They need to know the only way for things to get better for all of us is only if they learn that their education is PRIORITY.
I even agree that the teaching pool could stand to be cleaned up, but, that will not happen if we continue to layoff teachers by seniority. All that does is remove the innovation and the modern education and technique that the young teachers bring in with them. If pink slips are needed, fine. Pink slip the ones who are not up to par for our kids. Leave the fresh start accessible to our kids.
- jess phillips, manchester nh

I can't believe that these teachers believe they can cry about their jobs and demand that they keep them. Do you think that people who work for private companies got that chance when they were laid off? The economy is terrible, and the city has to run on a budget. Unbelievable. I'm disgusted.
- Jeff Cote, Manchester, NH

You want your kids to have a great education? Then parents need to send their kids to private schools. Public schools have failed our kids for years and the unions will not change. They alwasy want more, more, more. And give me a break about how many hours teachers work. Most people I know work way more then 40 hours a week to make ends meet. Wake up mom and dad. Do something for the future of your kids.
- FreddyD, Goffstown

I would love to sit down and ask "Mark" and a few others...are you a teacher? Do you have any idea what you are talking about??? Who are you to say "those who can't teach?" May I ask, what do you do? It's very simple, Manchester's schools are already made fun of...I wonder if we continue to underfund our schools what kind of adults will be leading the city tomorrow? Do the math...everyone complaining about paying taxes...Manchester asks so little of you compared to other communities. You sound ridiculous complaining about taxes. You are cheap and should move somewhere where you are really taxed and there are amazing school districts, I'm sure you will truly freak out if you are asked to dig even deeper in your pockets than Manchester has ever.
Please, I ask you...come to a classroom and watch what a teacher does before you claim teacher's are practically worthless.
- Beth, Manchester

My daughter is one of the many students in Manchester who has benefited from tha amazing teachers we have. Losing even one of these treasures is beyond reason. Yes, budgets have to be watched carefully in our difficult economic time. But should the future of our children be the cost? The actions of today will shadow the well-being of our next generation. There has to be another way and I am begging as a parent and a citizen of Manchester that other options be considered rather than losing such a precious resource.

As for those who say that they don't want to pay for my child's education, I say that I have been a taxpayer for twenty five years, since I took my first job at sixteen. I have paid for a Social Security and medicare system that will probably not be there when I retire, medicaid that I have never (thankfully) needed and for a variety of social programs that did not apply to me because I was born here and am not classified under any "special" classification. So it all balances out. Others are helping to pay for my daughter's education. But the benefits you receive, I paid for long before she was born and will continue to pay long after she becomes a contributing member of society.

Which, by the way, she needs a decent education to achieve.
- Alison Stanley, Manchester, NH

This is an annual rite. The city pink slips teachers, then finds the money to bring them back in August. It's stupid and causes way too much distress all around. It would be nice if everyone would grow up, act like adults and deal with this issue without the brinksmanship.

As for the "I don't have kids I shouldn't pay taxes to educate them" crowd, who paid for YOUR education? It's called the social compact. Public education is the ONE thing that created our great democracy. And the decline in public education is directly responsible for the dumbing down of our country and the loss of our standing in the world.

It's time for everyone to realize that paying to educate our children is a bargain in the big scheme. It's the best way out of poverty. And it's much cheaper, long term, than having to support the undereducated with government money.

Remember, that kid at Webster Street School will be paying YOUR Social Security for the next 40 or 50 years-and they probably won't see a dime of that money when they retire.
- Bob, Bedford

Okay, for all you anti-teacher taxpayers out there, before you complain, try being in the classroom yourselves. I married a teacher and they don't get paid nearly what they're worth. My wife brings work home. They don't merely work 7-2.
There was a great article last year in the Bangor Daily News in Maine about how teachers are paid. If we paid them like we pay babysitters at, say, $5/hr, a teacher would be making well over $200k/yr. And they don't work 52 weeks a year. So be glad they're only paid $30-60k/yr. out of taxes, folks.
And how about all those tests that need correcting and grading? Teachers spouses help with that.. FOR FREE!
Teachers have to multi-task more than any other job out there. They have to keep an eye on 30 kids in the classroom at once, by themselves. They have to have lesson plans ready, usually WEEKS in advance. They have to play politics, dealing with parents and community members. They are role models in and out of the classroom. They need to watch what they do or say when they're out at the grocery store, mall, anywhere in the community. Why? Because their students or parents of students are all around them.
Teachers pay tens of thousands of dollars getting their education in order to get these jobs that barely pay living expenses, let alone take care of the student loans. So rather than getting upset at teachers for thinking that their very essential jobs shouldn't be on the chopping block, thank them for their sacrifices. It takes a very special soul to be a teacher. And most get frustrated enough to wonder why they chose their profession because of short-sighted folks in the community that feel teachers are over paid and under worked.
- Matthew, Milford

Alderman Garrity,

If you are really so out of touch with this whole process, then it seems this term needs to be your last! Please do us a favor and don't run next term!

Since you fund the schools, what would you propose that the city due in lieu of laying off teachers. I'd be really interested in your response.
- Rick, Manchester

I was there and I spoke. I believe the kids came of their own volition. Bottom line: We need good teachers and we need to educate. If we are not funded then we cannot do our job effectively. Even if you do not have children, educating the future society should be a priority because these are the people who are going to be leading and working when you are too old to care for yourself. They will be your nurses, doctors, lawyers, service people oh and your grandchildren and great grandchild's teachers. You see, it is a cycle. Therefore, even if you have no children and even though you are not a senior citizen--YET--some day you will be and some day you will require a service that these people, the future generation, will or should be able to provide. Now if you will excuse me, I have to go an teach.
- Jessica Trewhella, Manchester

I saw that story on TV, and it was sad to see that idiotic Union rules only consider seniority, not job performance. As long as there is support for a Union that does not keep really good, enthusiastic teachers, I have no sympathy for those who get pink slips. Performance, not seniority, should be the criterion for pay, and when necessary, layoffs.
- Gary Hoffman, Bedford

One parent, Leslie Want, said she would "gladly double her taxes" to ensure the health of city schools.
"You may think I'm crazy," she told the board.

I do think you are crazy. There is no way I can afford to pay double what I am currently paying in property taxes.
- John, Manchester

Leslie Want, I'm glad you're so flush right now you could absorb a doubling of your tax bill. Unfortunately, my wages, like so many others, have gone down this year due to tough economic times. This economic pain is real, it's tangible, and you need to understand that! You and your misguided friends are not helping the situation with your silly and unrealistic posturing.

Funny - I dodn't see where anyone asked the School Board to return their health insurance stipends, or ask Karen Burkush to give back her raise. No, What I see is once again, let's just raise taxes. It's no wonder Manchester is turnign into one big joke.
- DP, Manchester

What we need to do during teacher layoffs is eliminate the deadweight. I'm so sick of seniority playing vital roles in layoffs. How about initiating performance reviews through an outside organization. Keep our competent teachers and pull the plug on the deadweight!
- jsb, Manchester

The state decreed that Manchester has underfunded education for a decade.

I hope my elected officials sue yours for the contract you are about to break.
- Pearl, Hooksett

Jim-
Why should Ms. Morrell not tell the board she is looking for work elsewhere? They just told her not to come back!
- Kelley, Manchester

Wah, wah, wah....go cry to the school board and your union head, McGilvary. They're the ones who put you in the mess of being canned, not the aldermen or the taxpayers. The Manchester school district has been need of an overhaul and removal of countless teachers since the 90s and it's finally happening. At some point for them, it became more about money, power, and politics than it did education, preparing the youth for the future, and just giving a damn. Good luck to all of you being laid off, now you'll get a real dose of reality. But be sure to thank McGilvary on the way out because of his stubborness, you don't have a job.
- Bill, Manchester

I am a teacher, and although I can sympathize with my colleagues, I disagree with them and the parents who want double taxes for the whole city.

Let's be realistic...

The budget is what it is.

So we can cut teachers or eliminate programs and athletics.

The threat is always "teachers" ... maybe the school board should and townspeople should ask themselves if another football championship, or hockey championship, or basketball championship is more important than teachers. Let's face it athletics cost money - and lots of it! Just think of the transportation costs, field upkeep, rink time, coach salary, officials salary, etc...

Do I think we should cut athletics? No, and as a coach, I would be sad to see that go. However, I do think that there should be a "Pay to Play" program initiated. An athletic fee of sorts.

This is just one suggestion, but one that could alleviate loads of dollars... and save a some, if not all, the jobs.
- Marc, Manchester

This is how the school board works. When they don't get what they want they pink slip teachers to get them behind the board. Then they march around with the sky is falling mentality. How many teachers are retiring this year? There are many ways to cut but the board liks to create fear and panic instead!
- Mike, Bedford

Manchester’s local education tax rate is $5.98 per thousand, Salem’s is $6.05 and Nashua’s is $7.79.

Manchester’s local town tax rate is $8.05 per thousand, Salem’s is $4.79 and Nashua’s is $6.50.

Exactly what is it about these numbers citizens and elected officials of Manchester do not understand? Even an idiot can see that to Manchester taxpayers schools are cheap, while the town government is expensive. Manchester citizens are paying less for schools and much more for town government, but when they want to cut they go after the schools.

If the people of Manchester want to cheapest schools, (which is the topic of much conversation and energy), regardless of the performance, (the current poor performance is not nearly as discussed) they should just come right out and say so. The Manchester School District will be a poorly performing district, it will cost very little, the city will attract very few people that care about a quality public education for their children, so in time the district will have fewer students and cost even less. It is a process that already appears to be happening. It can be hastened by making it clear that this is the city’s goals. And why not? People wanting a quality education for their children or to live in a town that offers a quality education can move to other towns. People who don’t care about it, or will send their children to private schools will move to Manchester and enjoy the low taxes.

I’ll be moving under these circumstances, but that’s okay. Others will move in.

Also, for the people whining in public about not being able to afford their property taxes, I suggest you heed the numbers presented at the top of this post. Also, take advantage of the low income property tax relief offered by the state. See http://www.nh.gov/revenue/forms/low_mod_program.htm
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

"One parent, Leslie Want, said she would "gladly double her taxes" to ensure the health of city schools.
"You may think I'm crazy," she told the board. Her next sentence was drowned out by applause."
If these people want to pay more, please do. Just don't drag me into it.
- Mike Bodruk, Manchester

Jack Alex said "You want children, then their education should be your responsibility not mine". Ok Jack, my taxes go towards supporting many things I don't use. Since I'm not a senior citizen my taxes shouldn't support the local senior center or senior services. I don't use the town recreational facilities, so I shouldn't have to pay. My kids don't play town sports, so I shouldn't have to pay for the upkeep of fields. The list goes on and on. Jack and Nancy, you are truely short sighted and unaware. When people look into moving into a community, one big factor is schools, good schools draw people. Poor schools hurt everyone. Try selling your home if you live in an area with a school system with a poor reputation.
If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
- Dave K, Sandown

Every teacher in that room last night can thank Union Boss McGilvray for all 78 pink slips. A furlough or pay-cut equivalent would have saved most of those jobs. Look inward if you want to know why you were let go!

BTW - Chris in Hooksett said "I would rather pay more towards educating our children." Go ahead, what's stopping you?
- Ryan, Hooksett

I saw this coming 2 yrs ago, why do teachers think they are an exception?
People with more children should be paying more taxes, everyone pays for one childs education, but if you have 5 kids in the sysytem you pay 5 times.
- Carly, Pembroke

wah wah wah, the sky was falling last night. give me a break. marching children up to city hall to campaign for jobs? self preservation at its worse.

if someone is truly willing to pay double taxes for education they would send their kids to private school which would cost less money and result in a better education.
- mike conway, manchester

i had to reread alderman garrity"s response twice and i cannot believe he really believes what he said. he said they are speaking to the wrong board. does he have any idea how this process works? the alderman set the school budget so it is they-the alderman- who are responsible for the pink slips. the school board can only work with what they get.

if the alderman underfund the school budget then the school board has no choice but to send out pink slips.

alderman garrity better wake up and figure out how this process works.
- bill, manchester

I wonder if the situation is more related to population.

Recently I saw where Lake Bryant Alabama is experiencing a population increase as a result of Kia.

Over 20,000 jobs have been created in the region in the past 2 years.

It would be interesting to see the ratio statistic between service cuts and population in areas like Manchester.
- Harry, Atkinson

Jack Alex and like-minded people who cannot see why they should pay taxes to educate other people's children: your short-sightedness is astounding. Just a few reasons to pay for public education:
1) These kids will someday be your healthcare providers, businessmen, politicians, etc. You need them educated.
2) Good, taxpaying homeowners are attracted to quality school districts. Failing school districts attract no one desirable. The city will fall in on its crumbling, underfunded schools.
3) Someone payed for your schooling, now it's your turn to give back to society.
4) Public education is mandated by local, state, and federal government. There are probably some third world countries who don't provide public education - you are welcome to find a suitable one and move there if you like.
- Kathy, Manchester

Oh, the tragedy of it all, teacher layoffs! Let's do the math, boys and girls - the people who pay the salaries (us) can't afford the taxes that pay the salaries of the recipients (teachers) because we are unemployed or underemployed. Dare I say it? "Those can do; those who can't teach."
- Mark, Manchester

Jack Alex, you said it all!
- Nancy, Manchester

Colby Chery is very impressive to say "You're fired." to the alderman. It doesn't matter if they spoke to the wrong board. Alderman makes the decision on the district's budgets and still are the same thing. It doesn't matter if they work with the city board or school board. Aldermen will always be aldermen. I used to live in Manchester, but now I live in Florida, I read newspaper everyday all the time. Manchester always the same everyday, nothing different about what city hall does or not. I would do the say same as Colby will say....."Aldermen....you're fired." Geesh, 78 teachers is TOO MUCH.
- Daishun Bickford, New Port Richey, FL

You refuse furloughs, you get the layoffs they were designed to avoid. Why does noone else see this?
- Chris, Manchester

Dirty pool. Sending and bringing children down there to fight their battles.
They should have all been greatful for even having jobs to begin with rather than ranting and raving. If these peopel ever did that in the private workforce and showed up at a board of shareholders meeting of a corportion they'd be fired.

Colby Chery's fifth-grade teacher was pink-slipped. delivering a message to the aldermen.

"You're fired,"

The question I would have asked Colby is how much money did mommy and daddy pay for taxes last year. Because I can bet they didn't pay nearly enough to pay for your education. You should be honored and priveledged that another taxpayer like me with no kids helped pay for you to sit in your classroom and learn. And right now the camel is tapped out.

Leslie Want, said she would "gladly double her taxes" to ensure the health of city schools.

Thats what parents should be paying. You want children, then their education should be your responsibility not mine.

How will you show the children in this city that you care about them and their future?" said one of those teachers, Kate Griffin.

They're going to get a good education. Im sure its not the best. If parents want the best send them to private schools. Im sure Derryfield, St Pauls, Bishop Guertin, Trinity, Exeters Phillips Acadamy and Phillips in Andover MA, all would be more than happy to take your money if your kids can pass the entrance exams.

"I hate to admit this," Morrell said, "but it's your loss, and another district's gain."

Well it's not our fault, we cannot garuntee employment forever. Don't get too attached to your job becuase we may not be able to afford all the wages.
Nothing lasts forever.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

Unbelievable, these people teach for a living and they can't understand what's going on out there in the world and they think that they're immune.

There is alot of dead weight in teaching and there should be a system to get rid of the dead weight, regardless of the financial crisis.

Before the attacks begin, I'm not calling this group who was pink slipped dead weight, although their attitude towards being immune to the financial crisis might seem otherwise.
- Scott, Manchester

So the reasons to want to live in Manchester are decreasing every year now. More people will choose to live elsewhere because of things like this, and that will further cripple future budgets. Blindly hacking away at education is one of the dumbest things you could do in the name of being fiscally responsible. Education is an investment, and by eliminating these positions you are causing trouble down the road. Uneducated people (like the ones Manchester will be creating) statistically are a greater drain on state services such as police action for juvenile delinquency and entitlement programs like welfare and food stamps. I would rather pay more towards educating our children than paying for the other problems that lack of education causes in a few years.
- Chris, Hooksett

Shocking, a parent with a kid in school is offering to pay double taxes to keep teachers that the city can't afford. We all don't have kids, we are in a recession, cuts have to be made. That's life. Also, I don't know of any job where a current employee would tell her employer she's looking elsewhere without consequence, hopefully an example is made of Ms. Morrell.
- Jim Wilson, Manchester

Gunita takes pride in lowering the tax rate, but Guinta is also a landlord and I would like to know if his pride extends to lowering the rent rate that he charges to those who rent from him.

Since Guinta came into office the test scores for all of the Manchester schools has been sliding backwards. His tenure as mayor in terms of preparing the United States future (students) has been dismal on a good day and far worse on a bad day. America's hope for the future rides exclusively on the back of todays youth and simply shunning them for personal profits and political gain is a national weapon of mass destruction. I urge all to pink slip this mayor next election.
- R Kimball, Candia

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"Taking teacher heat: Aldermen deserve it"
The New Hampshire Union Leader, Editorial, May 21, 2009

When more than 100 showed up at Manchester City Hall Tuesday night to protest potential teacher layoffs, Alderman Mike Garrity pointed out that the school board, not the aldermen, issued the teacher pink slips. "They talked to the wrong people," he said of the protesters. Not so.

The school board issued the pink slips to meet a deadline for layoff notices in the contract. But after issuing the notices, the board went to work to save teacher jobs. Members crafted an offer to the teachers and principals unions that would save numerous jobs by freezing pay next year. It would save $2.9 million next year, which the board would use to pay teachers who otherwise would be laid off.

What did aldermen do? They approved a union contract that would save only $799,000. Such a small savings is nowhere near the amount needed to close the large gap in the school budget and would guarantee more teacher layoffs than the school board's offer would.

So the teachers, parents and students who scolded aldermen Tuesday night were talking to the right people. Or some of the right people. They also should have scolded the leaders of the teachers union, who so far have indicated a willingness to let good, young teachers go rather than agree to more significant pay reductions for senior staff.

READERS' COMMENTS:

Hey g, what good is the union contract when you're just going to break it whenever it suits you? That contract was freely negotiated with the alderman/school board. Apparently, that's meaningless to you so why bother?
- Bob V, Manchester

We are drowning in debt and bills and the aldermen toss us their safe. Political hacks one and all, none of them could save a buck if they got free money.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

Lay off of the alderman! Guinta proposed a plan to save the city budget without cutting teachers. Because of the UNION the idea of a furlough was a non starter. YOU CAN COLLECT UNEMPLOYMENT WHEN FURLOUGHED! they would have saved their fellow union member jobs, saved their contract, saved teachers. You want to point a finger, point it at the unions. Leave the alderman alone!!!
- g, Nashua

bob,where to begin?How about alittle labor law primer?Employees are either,"at will",or "union".This we can no doubt agree apon,I hope.An "at will" employee"can be terminated,demoted,have hours cut back,or whatever "give backs"an employer can dream up,as long as it isn't related to race,gender,age,national origin,disability,or i think,religion.However,an employer cannot furlough a saleried employee that is not entitled to over time.they have to lay them off,so unemployment benifits can be sought.With me so far?good.The next type of worker is a "union "employee,who has entered into a collective bargaining agreement with his employer,which sets peramiters for any work changes.Thats called a CONTRACT.You can look it up,no kidding.Ok,so self appointing yourself as the voice of the city taxpayer is blowing my mind man,because as you have stated,you are a renter,which in a legal sense,is not a taxpayer,no matter how obtuse your thinking on the matter may be.IN conclusion today,I would like to respectfully remind you that a philosophy of what is fair and just to your targeted group,is just what is right or wrong,not what is legal.Running as a union buster is a bad idea for you,bob,apparently you don't have the gear,man.I like your enthusiasm,but you really need to expand your campaign,i've never heard of you outside the UL editorial forum.cheers,dave
- david winters, hooksett

We hear the story from 'our' aldermen all the time; "IF you want city services then taxes have to increase". Really? Then how can the aldermen justify giving a COLA increase of 2.5% just to take it back in the form of a tax increase. The latest being 4.7%? The math just doesn't add up. When the city saw a huge increase in taxes after the last reval how did a COLA increase help then, it didn't? In this downturned economy as in the 90's, we must save where we can and hold off on other cost too. If every tax payer left the city and there was only the union members to tax, would they say; "Sure, I don't mind a tax increase on my house because I'm getting a cost of living increase in my pay". This reader hardly doubts that. Time to send a clear, strong message come November, get out and vote, vote for someone other than those who favor the few over the many.

Robert M Tarr
Candidate for Ward 5 Alderman - 09'
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"Manchester, NH approves budget sans layoffs"
AP, May 27, 2009

MANCHESTER, N.H. --New Hampshire's largest city has passed a budget without layoffs or furloughs for its 3,200 employees

After months of debate, Manchester aldermen said their 2010 budget is an amended version of the mayor's proposal.

But it comes at a price. WMUR reports the budget includes a 2.88 percent property tax increase, which prompted Mayor Frank Guinta to veto it. In turn, the aldermen voted to override the mayor's veto.

Unions also agreed to receive a new three-year contract.

The $146 million allotted to the school district sparked an argument. The aldermen said no layoffs would take place, but 48 retirements would not be replaced.
-
Information from: WMUR-TV, www.wmur.com
-
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"Aldermen OK budget; taxes to rise"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, May 27, 2009

MANCHESTER – Aldermen gave quick approval last night to a new city budget that they said would save city jobs while increasing taxes by 2.9 percent.

"This is, I think, the best that we can come up (with) for the city of Manchester," Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez said.

Authors of the proposal said it would eliminate the need for layoffs, either in city offices or in the school district. School officials, however, took issue with the claim that the $146.4 million school budget was enough to preserve the jobs and programs thought to be on the chopping block, and some said the district will still have to lay off dozens of teachers and administrators.

"The fact is, this budget is total fantasy," school board member Doug Kruse said last night.

One agency head promised there will be layoffs. Manchester Transit Authority Executive Director Carey Roessel said the $900,000 set aside for his department -- the same amount given last year -- will force sharp reductions in both jobs and service.

Right off the bat, he said, "Saturday is eliminated. There will be no Saturday service. Period." He also said he expects some bus routes will have to be cut.

The aldermen's approval came quickly, just hours after the budget was brought forward by Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez and Alderman Ted Gatsas. The approval process was broken into several motions, most of which passed by wide margins.

Aldermen had no trouble overriding a veto from Mayor Frank Guinta, who used the opportunity to make a statement condemning the state -- and Gov. John Lynch, in particular -- for threatening to withhold millions of dollars in aid to the city.

"I think it's up to us to let the taxpayers know who's doing this to them," Guinta said.

The budget assumes the state will hold back $3.9 million in "revenue sharing" and $1.9 million in building aid. "So," Gatsas said, "when all is said and done, before anything, we started with a deficit of $6 million we had to find."

Alderman Betsi DeVries said there was no need to green-light the proposal so quickly. According to the City Charter, the aldermen had until June 9 to approve a budget.

"What is the rush for this board?" she said. "Are we afraid that we will find out too much about this budget in one week?"

A vote to table the proposal until a future meeting failed, 10 to 4. Aldermen who voted to table were DeVries, Mark Roy, Peter Sullivan and Dan O'Neil.

Roy spoke forcefully against the budget, saying it "does a great disservice to the students of Manchester." Roy, a Democrat who has announced he is running for mayor, had previously said he was planning to release his own budget proposal. That proposal is now moot, he said.

Lopez and Gatsas were an unlikely pair when they came together to hammer out last year's city budget. Lopez is a Democrat. Gatsas is a Republican. Both men have been touted as possible candidates for mayor this November.

Lopez described the proposal as "the aldermen's budget. Not Gatsas' budget; not Lopez's budget." He said the co-authors consulted all of the aldermen but two. He did not say which two did not participate.

In their presentation last night, the aldermen said they expect the new tax rate for city property owners would be $17.85 per $1,000 of valuation.

The aldermen's plan does not impose furloughs on city workers, a budget tactic the unions have staunchly opposed. Employees, however, will lose half their pay raises this year under a deal most unions have already approved. The employees have been promised millions of dollars in raises over the next three years.

The police, fire and highway departments will be expected to keep some positions open for the entirety of the year, although aldermen said those departments can ask for permission to fill those slots at any time.

The budget follows through on Guinta's proposal to give the public-access TV stations, MCTV and MCAM, just $500,000, which is substantially less than what they're entitled to in their contracts. Aldermen have dispatched the deputy city solicitor to negotiate with the stations.

Superintendent of Schools Tom Brennan said he had some concerns about the district's budget, arguing the aldermen had not accounted for some expenses that will be unavoidable next year. He asked the board for time so he could review the proposal, having only seen it for the first time last night. Gatsas and Lopez noted they had talked with Brennan several times before they released their proposal.

School board member Art Beaudry accused the aldermen of swiping $7.4 million in state education adequacy aid "and putting it on the city side to balance the city's books."

Beaudry said he expects all 78 teachers and 10 assistant principals who have already been pink slipped will not be back next year. He said the board will probably have to cut some of the district's support staff, as well.

READERS' COMMENTS:

The only losers in this budget are the children. If you think the scores are low now just wait, then who are we going to blame. I know the TEACHERS. I have two children who go to Manchester School and also I work for them, I am so sorry for my children and others. The teachers are doing the best job possible. I see them working past 4pm not including working at home and weekend. Don't blame the TEACHERS if the school fails look towards your Alderman and School Board......
- Paula, Manchester

Doesn’t MCTV have a newly negotiated contracted already with the City? Why waste the City Solicitor’s time? The ink is barely dry on that contract and now the City wants to negotiate with MCTV and the public useless channel MCAM? What is going on? Why not leave MCTV alone to do what they are suppose to do which is to continue to show what is going on in this City without prejudice or editorial input! Let the voters decide what is true and not by what they can see and hear, not what they are told!
- Judith, Manchester

Mr. Tremblay,

I am very sorry that you have been forced to make this decision. There are many wonderful teachers in this district that work hard and make due with what they are given to provide the best education that the children of Manchester deserve. Many of us will continue to provide this much deserved education regardless of what budget is approved, because all children are worth it. Good luck to you and your family.
- Teacher, Manchester

I've seem to have forgotten, what concessions did organized crime (woops, I mean labor) make to the city?
- Dale A., Manchester

I want to try to clarify something on the budget that was passed last night. The 2.9% is not "going" anywhere. The mayor's budget proposal included funds to be received from the state -- funds that are not, in all probability, materializing. Because of the shortfall of funding from the state to the localities, there was a budget "gap" almost immediately that needed to be resolved. While I was hopeful that we could pass a budget with as little burden as possible on the taxpayer (even though my residence is changing, I still own property in Manchester, and still pay property taxes) I think that it's important to note that, had the state monies the mayor's budget counted on come through, the budget set forth last night would have resulted in a (albeit very minor) tax cut. I think that Aldermen Gatsas and Lopez did a commendable job in ensuring both that fiscal responsibility would prevail, and that essential city services would not be cut.
- Kelleigh Murphy, Manchester, NH

How many taxpayers in Manchester (besides city employees) had there incomes increase 2.9%? I would imagine you would be hard pressed to find a majority of people that have.
To the BOA and Mayor, you are all cowards. Gatsas for mayor, Guinta for congress you got to be joking. The rest of you arent much better either. Throw them all out!
- Mike Bodruk, Manchester

To Chris from Merrimack:

The aldermen who opposed this budget all supported Obama. The guy who wrote it was a state co-chairman for McCain.
- Richard, Manchester

I suppose this new tax rate will be applied to my fantasy-world valuation that was derived years ago at the height of the market.

I'm disgusted with this city. The working man and woman are subjected to the realities of this economy, while the union worker continues to thrive under this umbrella provided by our aldermen. Those of us that live in the real world have no promises; no guarantees. Saving jobs is not a victory for this city. It is nothing more than shameful self-preservation at the expense of the taxpayer. We have no leadership in this city, and we are screwed.
- Floyd, Manchester

I'm DISGUSTED!!!!!! Why do these people think they are above anyone else?? To bad we can't all get such a break like the "City" workers.. My house's value has declined a great deal in the last few years and NOW you are going to raise my property taxes, on something that isn't even worth it! I'm ashamed of you people.
- Jen, Manchester

The aldermen GUT the school budget and still you people complain about how much you spend for schools. Look at the city side to see where the waste is.
Maybe they should fire the school superintendent, his 1 asst. and the finance officer. The could save about $250,000 more. Then Gatsas and Lopez could run the school district. Obviously, they KNOW more than the experts that were hired to do the job. NOT. As a taxpayer and lifelong resident of this city I'm ashamed of the behavior of this board.
When the most fiscally conservative member of the school board calls this budget "total fantasy" I see trouble ahead for our city. Good luck school district. As my grandparents used to say, "You get what you pay for."
- John, Manchester

The school district is getting about the same amount of money the Mayor Guinta recommended. So the question should be, where is the 2.9% going?
- RG, Hooksett

"Manchester Transit Authority Executive Director Carey Roessel said the $900,000 set aside for his department -- the same amount given last year -- will force sharp reductions in both jobs and service.

Right off the bat, he said, "Saturday is eliminated. There will be no Saturday service. Period." He also said he expects some bus routes will have to be cut."
Fuel costs are way lower this year than they were last year, so why wouldn't the same funds be enough to provide the same service? We need a new transit director.

I hope that MCTV holds the to their contracted funds. MCTV is one of the best tools we have to keep track of our city government.
- Jeff, Manchester

Unfortunately the sad reality is that everything goes up. My generic canned vegetables at Hannaford's went up from 50 cents a can a few months ago to 71 cents a can. That'a almost a 50% increase. My electric bill went up, etc. But I need my vegetables and electricity, etc. If people and businesses don't pay their bills they go into bankruptcy and close. Well the city can't close. In one article here yesterday they're talking about how the recession is better in NH and in another one the opposite point. Make up your mind. How they expect the school budget to exist on what they were funded last year is a real mindboggler. I've seen some good ideas on here. I don't see why nonessestial departments of the city can't go on a 4 day work week. It's happening all over the country. Of course that would be a good idea. Like Betsy DeVries idea to look over this budget for another week was a good idea but of course no one listened to her.
- Cecil, Manchester

As parents of two boys that should be attending the Manchester Schools this fall, my Wife and I have been watching a lot of School Board and Mayor and Alderman board meetings lately. We watched last night as well.

Does anyone realize that when you look at agencies that rank school systems, Not one of Manchester schools ranks above a 3 (on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest). Many of our elementary schools rank 0. Of course as one person said throwing money at a problem doesn't always fix it, but trust me not providing any real money, only guarantees that it will not be fixed. Last nights budget presentation and exchange between Alderman Gatsas and Dr. Brennan was absolutely appalling. (I must say I think Dr. Brennan is great and truly has the best interest of Schools in mind, I wish I could say the same about the Alderman). Last night confirmed that my children will not attend these schools and sadly my family will be moving out of the city.

An education is far to important to allow politics to trump it. If an increase in property taxes was necessary to improve our schools then I think any resident of Manchester would be willing to pay it, however taxes have continued to go up, crime rate has continued to go up, however, education and overall quality of the city has gone down.

It really is time that the best interest of the City's residents and their children be considered, the power trip of the Board of Alderman that was displayed last night MUST end.
- Rick Tremblay, Manchester

I really can't understand you guys. In one breath your saying don't raise taxes. In the next breath your complaining because schools may lose extracurricular activities. You can't have it both ways. If you get rid of city employees who is gonna do their job? Ok lets get rid of the street sweeper. Next people will complain that their streets are dirty. My answer is get out their and clean infront of your house then. Last year people complained that sidewalks were not plowed. Why is it that the homeowners would snowblow right up to the sidewalk then stop? Are these the same people that won't pick up an empty soda can infront of their house because they feel the city should do that also? It appears I live in a city with many selfish people. I work for the city, I'm ok with my taxes going up and if my curb line needs cleaning I go and clean it. I don't even have kids in the school system and I'm being taxed on that. But do you see me complaining? I could be saying that we should be paying only for the services we use. School taxes? I don't have kids why should I pay for some other kid to go to school? Come on people come to grip with reality. Manchester is a great city to live in. I pay taxes here just like you. Am I happy where all the money is allocated? No. But I am happy with everything the City gives me. For those complaining about flushing city hall, I hope that you are the first to run for alderman or mayor of this great city. What you don't have time because you have to work at your low paying job? What you didn't vote last time but you will vote this time? Just another lame excuse. If you think you can do anything better run for a position.
- Matt, Manchester

Little off topic here, but since 2005 (when Guinta took office) what revitalization has happened in Manchester. What improvements has Manchester made to not only keep our residents happy but to keep them here. How many improvements were made to make sure that people spent their money here and not else where, the two biggest improvements that i can think of are Verizon Wireless Arena (2000) and the Fisher Cats (2004). Elm street could be a fantastic place for businesses and store fronts and restaurants (actually, anyone notice how many fantastic restaurants are on or around Elm? are we turning into a Culinary Capital? it would be nice) and the like. Maybe my memory doesn't serve me so well, but what has Guinta and our Aldermen done to KEEP people in Manchester? What have they done to make people spend their time AND money here? Very little. Livingston park redux is on the top of that list, and that is a few years removed. Our budget is a problem because we can't keep our residents and tourists here. It's a shame.
- Hogan, Manchester

In the past year, I have noticed numerous For Rent signs all over my neighborhood. Why. Because, according to one landlord I spoke to, folks don't have money to pay the rent, they do not have jobs. Along with this For Rent crisis, the city is being overwhemed by sec 8 housing, which is basically free housing, being offered by absentee landlords who do not live in Manchester. Neighborhoods that once were desirable places to live, have become less so. The owner occupied two family homes are bearing the burden of lower rents, bad neighbors, and higher taxes. This is a recipe for disaster, or the Lawrence-a-tion of Manchester. Just as elections have consequences, the decisions made by the elected effect all the citizens of the city. But? What if the city is run by folks who do not live in Manchester? What if the aldermen answer to union contributors, and ignore what is before their eyes? As a life long resident of Manchester, I am frightened. My home is losing value, my neighborhood is being overrun by noise, garbage, left by folks who do not care about the quality of life, or property. My taxes are rising so someone does not lose his/her job, whether the job is necessary or not. The schools and their suporters [ mostly employees ] ring their hands, scream out "it is for the children" as if we all have not heard that line before. When asked to present an alternative to the way they operate, nothing. It is as if they are incapable of change. Cities do not become a Lawrence overnight, it is a year after year after year process which ends when all those who can leave. The Bedfords build their own school, followed by the Hooksetts, and the Candia's and Auburn's most assuredly will want their kids going to one of these schools [ ask Ms Murphy ]. We are witnessing the destructive process of bad government. And some of us are paying to see the show.
- Tom, Manchester, NH

Thanks for nothing, aldermen. I can't afford for my mortgage to jump another $70, like it did this past year, or another $300, like it did the year before. This is outrageous. The schools and the city government are NOT living within their means, they are not cutting back in a rational manner, as we all have been forced to do. Lopez? Gatsas? What a pair. Thanks for the tax hike, guys!
- Stephen, Manchester

Of course it will save city jobs and avoid layoffs. Who cares that those of us who pay the tax increase can't just wave our magic wond to save our own jobs. I won't speak for anyone else but I love working more and more days a year to pay for government jobs and pensions. Heck just give every government employee a raise while you're at it so I at least know how much to raise my own rates to keep up or drive myself out of business, which ever comes first.
- Deb, Derry

What a joke this board and the city has become.
Is there prosperity all around?
No!
Are economic times tough and worsening?
Yes!
Is this a RECESSION?
Yes!
Are other businesses cutting/holding costs?
Yes!
Are jobs being eliminated?
Yes?
Are job not filled when left by attrition?
Yes!
Does City Hall respect the taxpayers?
No!
Will they ever listen to US? NO!!!

IF they want to raise taxed without making cuts, then tax us on the present fair market value of our homes, not the inflated values of years ago.
That would be fair. Let's see if you can make some cuts and trim the fat then!

DeVries is right, what's the rush with the Lopez-Gatsas budget. How can everyone be sure that "it's the best we can do" if it was seen last night for the first time and could use some more time to be properly vetted?

If the State of NH is holding back $6M, that the city may not see, what happens in November?
Are things better for the taxpayer or worsened?

Do any of the alderman recall that they are there to serve the city taxpayers and not their own self-aggrandizing egos? Doesn't appear that way.
- RG, Manchester

great none of the 3200 will have mandatory furloughs or layoffs but tens of thousands of us will pay for it.
So our alderman want us to pay more for our houses that are worth less. Thats seems like price gouging to me.
Lets be fair Manchester reasses our houses to help out your constituants and think of new ways to recapture money.
I can see it coming now. Announcing the Manchester Clean Air Tax . Heres the slogan You breathe it, We tax it
- Brian M, manchester

I wish all the non-Manchester residents would worry about their own town instead of worrying about what's happening in Manchester. I own several buildings in Manchester and I get taxed on ALL of them. I applaud the aldermen for this budget. It's a small increase that will keep our city functioning. I would love to know how many of these people who post here are actually paying taxes. And for those who say that you pay rent, so you pay taxes...find a new landlord because I will not pass this small increase onto my tenants who have been forced to make cuts. This increase is more than reasonable. Nice job aldermen.
- Steven, Manchester

Clearly, we have an aldermanic board in the pockets of the city unions - obviously, some stronger than others!
- Mark L, Manchester

Seems to me that the only good,secure jobs these days are government jobs. The unions have intimidated the aldermen and we the voters do not seem to have any input or influence. Job loss in the private sector is throught the roof yet I see two police officers on minor road repair sites (talking on cell phones). I see street sweepers spending hours on the same street, snowplows just riding around many hours after the storm. and so much more ridiculous wasted labor. ie. (How many of us older folks remember "teachers aids" when we were in school)
There is so much waste in this city and yet it goes on and on year after year. Wake up folks. Vote these so called leaders out. Those of us who have been put on furlogh, laid off, or elderly trying to survive on fixed a income cannot afford this tax increase. We need real leaders in this city.
- William Simone, Manchester

Shame on all city employees. One week furlough is the least then can do. One week off without pay, or 52 weeks off without pay & benefits! Look around people, EVERYBODY are making sacrafices! These union people are selfish and inconsiderate! So I guess now, we'll continue to see 8 city employees standing around the one guy digging the hole. It makes me sick to see these guys get paid the money they do, and are doing nothing. The city came by my house to fix the curbing that was ruined by the snowplow. One guy, picked up the broken pieces, one guy shoveled the loam, one guy spred the seeds, and another guy packed it down. Another guy spread the curb mixture, and another one packed that down. I took pictures of this, I could not believe my eyes. This was a patch of about 5'x5'. One or two people could of down this job, heck my 91 year old grandmother could of done it. Last summer when the gas prices were ridiculous, a police officer was answering a call at a neighbors house, he left his car running for 45 minutes. I waited for him to go back to his car, and I asked him, why did you leave the car running? His reply was " I wanted to keep the car cool", gas at the time was over $4 a gallon, shame on him. Then how about the highway dept doing a snow plow job, I asked one of them why it took so long to start plowing? His reply was, "we were waiting for midnight Saturday, so then we could be paid double time for working Sunday". I am so fed up that this is continuing to go on. These supervisors and dept heads need to be held accountable for allowing this to continue, time and time again. And aldermen need to be working for the people instead of waiting until election time to get their heads out of you know where so they can get their votes. I'm sorry but you need to earn my vote!
- Nancy T, Manchester

Well, same old, same old with these Alderman. No backbone to come up with a budget that doesn't increase taxes. What happened to 4 day work weeks or layoffs? I don't want anyone to lose their job but lets be real here, no one can afford an increase in taxes. Not when everything else is going up and everyone's pay isn't. Why is it that everyone in private business are able to tighten up and cut the waste but the leaders here in Manchester can't. Why do the employees of this city think that they deserve a pay raise when no one else seem to be getting them. Can't wait until November, no one on this board will get my vote. It's always the same here take the easy way out and increase taxes and don't listen to the people who actually put you in office.
- Lynda, Manchester

Now that the Aldermen have cut the funding for the MCTV Government and Education channels nobody will get to see what the Aldermen and the School Board members are really doing! I guess they got want they wanted (decide things without the public seeing the truth).
- Natalie, Manchester

If the 2.9% increase were going to be used to improve things in the city I'd be all for it....but its not. Its going to be used to guarantee lifelong employment for city union members. Manchester-employer of the $80k meter maid.
- Craig, Manchester, NH

People who follow Manchester politics know that Doug Kruse, Republican, is the most fiscally conservative member of the school board and chairman of the finance committee. Doug has found several ways for the school district to save money. When he is quoted as saying "The fact is, this budget is total fantasy" you know the schools will be underfunded. The article says the school budget is $146.4 million, which is the same as this year’s, but next year the state has already committed to contributing $7.5 more to the school district.

If this article is accurate, it shows that most of the aldermen do not consider Manchester schools a high priority. They are taking additional state funds for schools and using them on the town. The article claims the aldermen said layoffs will be avoided. Do they know seventy eight teachers have already been laid off?

People who think the Manchester School District is overspending are just plain ignorant of the facts. Facts I have presented on these pages and at meetings many times. Manchester and many of its people seem content to ignore the facts, and continue to whine when taxes do not go down. When they come to grips with the fact that the City runs a very lean school district, but a very rich town government, only then might they be able to actually reduce taxes.

According to this article, your tax bill next year for schools will be lower, but your taxes for the town will be much more than 2.9% higher. The heavily funded town government gets more heavily funded and the lean schools become leaner. Watch your bill.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

Let's think about this clearly and not blame the School side.
1. For FY2007/08, the schools got about $148 mil.
2. For FY2008/09, the schools got $146.
-What happened to taxes? They went up. How? Didn't schools get less money?
3. For FY2008/09, the schools got $146.
4. For FY2009/10, the schools will get $146.
-What will happen to taxes? According to this report, taxes will go up. How???
How can taxes keep going up if the schools are losing money or staying at the same funding as before? Where is the money going??
- Bob, Lake Ave, Manch

Manchester, NH has one of the lowest tax burdens (per capita) in the country. We also have a school system where 2 of the 3 high schools (Memorial and West) are in danger of losing their accreditation within the next 2-3 years and the third (Central) has been targeted by the state for possible closure for health/safety reasons. This budget guarantees that there will be no money available to address any of the major issues plaguing our schools. Layoffs are a problem but they are only one part of the larger issue. The way this city allocates funds is fundamentally flawed.

The people in this city who constantly complain about their taxes seriously need to get their heads out of their asses and take a look around. You have it GREAT here in Manchester from a tax perspective. Of course, the price you pay for not paying higher taxes is a school system in danger of crumbling and drastically reduced services that will hurt ALL city residents.

Does simply throwing money at a problem make it better? No, but if you cripple the city/school district with a completely unfeasible budget right from day one then they will have to work harder just to maintain the status quo. Putting additional effort into fixing some of these long outstanding issues then becomes pure fantasy.

But keep complaining about the amount of taxes you're paying, that will really help. God forbid you think about anyone but yourself or the community as a whole.
- Ben B, Manchester

The city can't plow our street in the winter but we enjoyed the street sweeper running through our 1 block neighborhood last night for over 4 hours... finally stopped at 9:30- hope they were paid overtime...

Clean up the WASTE MANCHESTER and hold the schools ACCOUNTABLE for teaching!
- Mary Williams, Manchester

In a democracy we get what we deserve. If we keep returning these tax and spend clowns to office, then this is what we deserve. Time to clean house in City government.
- DP, Manchester

you Aldermen keep taxing us right out of your jobs. Gatsas won't get my vote
- Rob, Manchester

The city needs to be run like a business. Institute the 4 day work week for non-essential city workers - trim the budget, save on energy, trim overall spending on services, freeze payroll increases etc... In addition, our "leaders" need to find opportunities to bring in businesses to help provide jobs for the community. NOT simply taking the easy route and raise taxes. Who among us will take a stand and actually lead?
- Sharon, Manchester

With so many people out of work or forced to take pay cuts this is NOT the time for a tax increase. We have to get by with less. The city govt needs to do the same. I hope the union leader reminds everyone of who voted for this at election time. Its time to get some aldermen in office that will actually represent US.
- Steve M, Manchester

Good job aldermen ! NOT. I loose my bonus, take a cut in pay to keep working, and now my taxes are going up 3 %. How is it im forced to make cuts but the city cant ? Ill be out there voting next time and you guys wont be getting my votes, I can promise you that.
- John, Manchester

The majority of the Aldermen and many of the department heads earning hefty salaries have absolutely any sort of idea of how to think outside the box of some up with ways to make things work better in this city.

The department heads do things because that's the way it's always been done and it they don't get more money they automatically say they must make drastic cuts.

The lack-of-leadership aldermen just find it easier to vote in another tax increase than put their noses to the grindstone and make some tough decisions so that the taxpayers aren't whacked again and again.

I'm presuming my alderman George Smith voted for the tax increase. He always does. He said at the outset that it wouldn't be fair not to increase taxes. Well, Mr. Smith, it really wouldn't be fair to reelect you this fall either.
- Ben, Manchester

Glen,

What would you define as real leadership? You don't actually say anything other than "get rid of this group." Who would you put in its place?

As for the budget deal, Alderman Gatsas will have a tough time selling the public that he is a tax fighter when he has proposed two tax increases in a row. I'm sure the alderman to his left will remind public of that during the Mayor's race. That said, Alderman Roy would tax residents back to the Stone Age, so I guess when you compare the two, Gatsas is the better choice.
- Ryan, Hooksett

And thus the baby is split in two. Imagine what a Manchester with real leadership would look like, either from the Mayor or the Aldermen. Sadly, we won't be seeing that anytime soon- not with the current cast of characters or people who are lining up to run. We will be a wasteland for another two years, as the special interests continue to run amok.
- Glen, Manchester, NH

Mr Tarr, I am all for voting out Gatsas and a couple others.
- WW, Manchester

Don't you people get it? Your job is to pay taxes to support public employee unions.

Ask Obama he will tell you. "Everybody is going to have to give. Everybody is going to have to have some skin in the game."

Is this the "hope and Change" you wanted?
- Chris, Merrimack

this budget will cripple the school system. get the students ready to pay for all after school activities-sports, clubs, etc. they will all be eliminated.
- bill, manchester

2.88% and people seem happy with that increase. What happen to holding the line! Do you guys & gals downtown listen to your wards. No more!

Time to vote out the people who just want to continue to spend, spend.

Every business in the city has tighten there belts, trim waste, done more with less, became creative, scaled back... time for the city to do the same.

YOu can't tell me that demmand for the services we are keeping are all up or the same. I keep seeing numbers that are showing declines or the same. How can you justify this!
- LJ, Manchester, NH

Why are we always so concerned about "saving job?" The city is not an employment agency. If the a job needs to be filled, fill it. If a job needs to be eliminated, eliminate it.
- Gary M, Manchester, NH

The next step to keeing cost down is to bring back the school systems under the town or citys GOV. over the years the school system has done a great job of breaking away from the core leadership.
The school system in the state of NH has become a run away Money Train. Its crazy to see the school system and the citys GOV fight over " our " money its all from the same pool us the tax payers.
- Doug St Pierre, Boscawen

Shame on the aldermen for siding with the union heads! Is this what we want for our city? "Saturday is eliminated. There will be no Saturday service. Period." Some things will greatly affect the people of Manchester and taking away bus service on Saturdays will affect people who work on those days. Hopefully the tax payers of this city have had enough and will come out in large numbers this November to vote them out of office. Otherwise they will continue to see those re-elected playing favorites and not representing the people of their wards.

Robert M Tarr
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"Manchester Budget Approved Sans Layoffs, Furloughs: Property Tax Rate To Increase By Almost 3 Percent"
WMUR.com - May 27, 2009

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- New Hampshire's largest city passed a budget Tuesday night without layoffs or furloughs for the city's 3,200 employees

After months of debate, Manchester aldermen said their 2010 budget is an amended version of the mayor's proposal.

The lack of layoffs and furloughs comes at a price. The approved budget includes a 2.88 percent increase in the property tax rate, which prompted Mayor Frank Guinta to veto it. In turn, the aldermen voted to override the mayor's veto.

Unions also agreed to receive a new three-year contract.

The $146 million allotted to the school district sparked argument. The aldermen said no layoffs would take place, but 48 retirements would not be replaced.

The school district and the Manchester Teachers Union said they're concerned about the impact of dollars in the classroom. The school district is still sorting out what this budget means to Manchester schools.

Both the aldermen and the mayor said they're watching the proposed state budget, concerned the state will strip millions in revenue sharing from cities like Manchester.

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"A city budget: Job protections and tax hikes"
The New Hampshire Union Leader, Editorial, May 28, 2009

The unemployment rate in the greater Manchester metropolitan area rose from 3.9 percent in March 2008 to 6.5 percent this past March, according to the state Department of Employment Security. About 1,300 people lost their jobs in that time. Exactly one of them was a Manchester city employee.

As Manchester's private sector was shedding jobs all over, the public sector was holding steady. That will continue next year. The budget aldermen approved on Tuesday provides extraordinary job security for city employees, excluding school district employees, who don't have a new contract agreement with the school board.

To secure those jobs, aldermen approved a 2.8 percent tax hike. As usual, the city employees emerge from the budget vote as winners, the taxpayers as losers.

At least the tax hike is smaller than the ones in Manchester used to be. It wasn't that long ago that aldermen were approving 8 percent tax increases. The question is: Do we have to have a tax hike? Aldermen Ted Gatsas and Mike Lopez, a Republican and a Democrat, respectively, say we do. They were the primary forces behind this budget (and the last one) and they say there's just no way we could get to a lower number this year.

That might be true if one takes as a given the current level of city employment. There was no will on the board this year to have layoffs, furloughs or even pay cuts for city employees. That was clear when aldermen approved a contract deal that gave city union members a pay raise this year and for the next several years.

No one likes layoffs. But taxpayers are going to have a hard time swallowing a budget that protects not only city union jobs, but city union pay raises, while private employers in the city are cutting pay and laying people off.

If you're a municipal employee, this budget is great. You not only keep your job, you get guaranteed raises. If you're a taxpayer, well, better luck next time.

READERS' COMMENTS:

Hey Bob from Lake Ave. Manchester - where do you think we get the streetsweepers and trash haulers from? The answer - the Manchester school system!! That's where! No matter how much money we throw at it, is remains one of the worst school systems in the state.
- Richard Ripley, Manchester

From the perspective of a School Committeeman, I have a great deal of skepticism about the $146 million budget approved by the BMA.

First, the school administration's original recommendation was for $156 million, but later went to $158 million when it became clear insurance and pension costs will increase.

Second, I suspect the BMA majority is counting on at least $6 million in Obama recovery money to help fund education. Unfortunately, that money is at present highly regulated and, in effect, won't provide the district with useable funds. That money is entirely limited to special education needs and low income needs. None of it is allowed for general education needs. And it's there where we need help the most.

These stipulations on the Obama money also prohibit the district from substituting Obama money for general fund money being spent on low income or special ed. In other words, we can't use it to reduce general funds in these areas! We can only supplement existing services in these two areas, not substitute the federal money for existing general funds.

It's my understanding that Alderman Ted Gatsas, who crafted the budget, didn't consult in any meaningful way with Supt. Tom Brennan. Imagine proposing a budget for a 2,000 emloyee, 16,500 student school district without running it by the person most familiar with the district! That's what happened, and yet a majority of the Aldermen voted in favor.

Would you run a government enterprise, or a business enterprise this way? Of course you wouldn't. This budget is not credible and should have been treated as such.

As to the effect on education services with this budget, consider these facts. The School Committee limited Dr. Brennan to 78 "pink slips" at a $152 million funding level. His recommendation at the $146 million level was to reduce employment by almost 250 people: More than 10% of total employment. We rejected that. Maybe we shouldn't have.

We will do what we can do with what the BMA approved of course. But in all honesty, unless the federal government lifts its restrictions on its recovery funds, the school district is going to incur damage that will take years to repair.
- Chris Herbert, Manchester

Maybe there aren't layoffs because the city is run at a fairly efficient level. I just figured out that my taxes will increase a not-so-whopping $126...even if they went up twice as much, it would be worth it to keep services at their current levels. $10-$15 more a month is very reasonable....keep up the good work alderman.....you ARE making the tough decisions...the decision to not let this city go down the toilet for a few bucks a week.
- Jules, Manchester

Someone said:

"The economy stinks, deal with it and move on" (You must work for the city..)

Right. That's what they are counting on.
So they raise taxes. Tell me, what will happen when things turnaround?
Let me guess, raise taxes again and expect
us "to deal with it"..
See the trend, whether the economy is up or down, taxes will always go UP.. Whether we
have jobs or not, whether times are tough or
not, the theme is clear..

Shut up and pay SUCKERS.

Your elected government is counting on you to dig deep, do your part and not complain.
After all it's THERE money anyways right?
Wake up people, we are all being taken.
- Jim, Salem NH (former Manch res)

I want to see a detailed budget. There is no way you will ever convince me that there aren't ways to trim the budget. After all, we're expected to trim our budgets to scrape up more tax money! Doesn't matter if I claim I cannot run my household on less money than I had last year, I've still got to do it . . . the government has to learn that and we've got to stop voting in the same old people who do the same old thing . . . NOTHING!
- Molly W, Manchester, NH

I can't believe Karen (in the second post, below) has the audacity to blame Frank Guinta for not lowering taxes! It's clear as day that he tried, but the Aldermen refused to follow his lead, or to even come up with different ways to cut expenses so we could have some tax relief in these tough times.

The Gatsas-Lopez budget let the taxpayers down, not Mayor Guinta's.
- James, Manchester

Bob, Lake Ave, Manch...I agree, it isn't the schools. On the city side, if they stopped sending 4-6 workers to watch one worker patch a hole, maybe we could save cash on the DPW end. If they want to save on trash hauling, pick it up once every other week. The city will not improve overall as long as we have a mayer who wants to make himself look good and offer up a budget that is underfunded, so he can look good when the aldermen propose a more realistic version.
- Bill, Manchester

I agree with Tim and Cecile. I couldn't have said it better my self. We all like our Trash picked up and the snow plowed. Guinta you look like the good guy but you are a TRUE POLITICIAN. I am proud to live in Manchester and I absolutely love the ALL of the services they provide. I would love to see all of you whiners live in say, Goffstown or Hooksett and not have any services.They still have HIGHER taxes then Manchester. The economy stinks, deal with it and move on.
- sara, manchester

The Mayor proposed a tax cut, Gatsas and Lopez changed it to a tax increase. Even if you subtracted the money from Mayor Guinta's budget that was supposed to come from the state and added in some layoffs you could have a zero increase. The problem is the Alderman will not make any hard choices, they would prefer to let the taxpayers do it.
- Robert, Manchester

I guess it's real clear how much the city of Manchester values education. Schools were basically level-funded and city government gets a raise! How many of you are as disgusted as I am?
- Debbie, Manchester

I don't know how many of you watched the budget meeting on Tuesday but what I didn't realize was that the Mayor's budget was based on fantasy numbers that he was hoping for millions from the state that the state has already said they are not going to give to him. Now maybe the state would change their mind but that would not be until the end of June which is two weeks past the deadline for the city budget. So the mayor projects a budget with no tax increase and then the state doesn't give him the millions he needs for his budget and then he's back at square one to come up with a budget that would I'm sure have a tax increase. When Dan O'Neil brought this to his attention at the meeting and that they were going with their budget because it was based in reality and not wishful thinking. How irresponsible of a Mayor to base a budget on dollars that might be there just so it can look like he wasn't raising taxes and again making the alderman look bad because they are. However, I truly wish they would spend more on the schools than the municipal depts.
- Cecil, Manchester

I wish that whoever authors these editorials had the courage to write their name. It seems that everyone has forgotten the 7 year stretch in the 90's that the city stole step raises from city employees and claimed hardship and gave no raises. Nobody wants to talk about that. The concept of 8% raises is a untruth, but if it were accurate then 7 years times 8% is 56% that was not given to the employees.
Did the alderman do something wise with that 56% to prepare for today? Probably not, so stop blaming the city employees. Every whiner in Manchester will continue to have their trash picked up, their water will continue to run to their homes and waste from their house. If their house is on fire, a firefighter will come, the police will find a burglar for you or dispute some silly problem with your neighbor for you (because you are a whiner and cannot do this yourself). The pools will be open for every "underprivileged" kid to use, teachers will go to school each day and deal with 30+ kids per class, the parks will be cleaned, the snow will be removed from your street, the street lights at intersections will continue to work, the potholes will be filled and streets repaved. I am sure that there are many other things that will be done but you whiners and authors must see the point that I am making. You must pay for services plain and simple.
- Tim, Epsom

Can I point out once again:
Your property tax is divided into 4 groups:
1. City Services
2. City schools
3. State services
4. State school funds
Let's focus on the city side:
2 years ago the schools lost money. What happened to property tax bills? They increased.
Now the schools get the same funding as last year (which won't cover ANY increases in pay, services, oil, etc) and what happens? Taxes are expected to go up again.
Let's make it clear its not the schools' side that increasing everything.
Guess we care more about our trash pickup and street weepers than education.
- Bob, Lake Ave, Manch

Guinta never proposes a realistic budget- he leaves the real work to the aldermen. ALl he wants is to be able to say, "I wouldn't have raised taxes." But the aldermen screwed it up this time, big time. They put the unions over the people. No wonder why so many city workers live in the burbs. They take OUR money.
- amelia, manchester

Karen, if you want Mayor Guinta to follow through with what he promises, then you should elect Mayor Guinta's team to the Board of Aldermen. Right now, the majority of the Board of Aldermen is hostile to Mayor Guinta and the Board of Aldermen passed the tax increase over Mayor Guinta's objections.
- Nicholl, Manchester

Karen - Didn't you hear Alderman Lopez at the BMA meeting on May 26th? According to Alderman Lopez, it's: "The Aldermen's Budget". It's not the mayor's budget. Mayor Guinta did not propose a 2.88% tax increase.
- David R, Manchester

I would like to see the Union Leader list by ward each Aldermans name, phone number and how they voted on the front page of the paper. That way we can all save it and bring it with us to the polls in November...and not vote for them.
Ginta's gotta go!!
- SG, Manchester

So much for a tax cut!!!!!!This was the third time GUINTA made that promise.its a joke,how many more houses will remain empty and unkept??Which decreases our VALUES ,Which should be re-assessed to current market.Another kick in the teeth!!!!!
- karen, manchester

The Alderman know that the city workers and there familys Vote!
The Alderman know that most of the noncity employee tax payers are cattle and will not vote them out.
The Alderman love to spend money and cut deals.
The taxpayers should vote them out in November. Tax and spend, tax and spend. Alderman only tax and spend your money.
Stan Howser
- stan Howser, Manchester, NH

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"School officials dismayed over budget"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, May 28, 2009

MANCHESTER – Alderman Betsi DeVries saw it on the faces of the school board members seated across the room: an unmistakable look of "dismay and disbelief."

"They do not believe the budget presented this evening is meeting their needs," DeVries told fellow aldermen Tuesday night, part of an unsuccessful plea to delay approval of the city budget.

One day later, school officials are still dismayed, convinced the $146.4-million budget they've been handed is too small to stave off layoffs and program cuts, despite the aldermen's claims to the contrary. Superintendent Tom Brennan said he struggles to see how the aldermen's math "adds up," pointing to more than $5 million in necessary expenses that he says were left out of the aldermen's equation.

Alderman Ted Gatsas said the aldermen's math is sound.

"We gave them what we could give them with the best ability we could give them," said Gatsas, who co-authored the budget with Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez. "I don't believe in the blueprint we gave them there is a reason to lay off teachers or cut programs."

School board members have until the end of the month to get the district's budget in order. That work will get under way Friday at 5 p.m. in the district offices at 286 Commercial St.

Brennan said he expects members to renew discussions about a proposed deal with union members, which would cut employees' pay raises in half while guaranteeing more money for workers through 2013. The school board rejected the proposal last week, but aldermen, who negotiated the deal with the unions, incorporated it into the district's budget anyway.

School board member Joyce Craig said she suspects the aldermen were trying to "force us to approve" the deal. The proposal would save an estimated $852,000 in the coming fiscal year, though critics note it would cost millions more in the years to come.

The new city budget for fiscal 2010 comes with a projected 2.9 percent tax increase. It restored money to several departments that warned of service and personnel cuts under the budget presented in March by Mayor Frank Guinta.

Library Director Denise van Zanten said concerns that she would have to lay off workers have been allayed. Chuck DePrima, interim director of parks, recreation and cemeteries, said he won't have to scale back hours at the public swimming pools, as previously feared.

The Police Department will have to maintain eight vacancies. Chief David Mara said he hopes to win federal grants to pay for additional officers.

School officials say they don't yet know whether they'll be able to recall any of the 78 teachers and 10 assistant principals who have already been pink-slipped. Committeeman Art Beaudry said he expects all of them will lose their jobs, and that some support staffers will have to go, too.

Brennan said the district will have to review a list of proposed cuts he made this spring. Among the items on that list:

-- cutting back on sports and music.

-- fewer school buses.

-- eliminating programs like Ready for Success; Ombudsman; and Gifted and Talented.

Brennan said the aldermen's budget is based on the faulty assumption that the district made do with just $146.1 million last year. In actuality, he said, the fiscal 2009 budget was supplemented with $1.5 million taken from an expendable trust, plus $1 million taken from the previous year's budget to "pre-buy" textbooks and school supplies.

The newly approved budget also fails to account for an additional $1.1 million in contributions to the state and city retirement funds and $600,000 in extra health care costs, Brennan said. In addition, he said, the aldermen neglected to note the 48 projected retirees will receive paychecks this summer, at a cost to the district of $577,000.

Gatsas said the school board's decision to take $1.5 million from the expendable trust was not part of the agreement the aldermen and school board signed last year. He maintained the budget that he and Lopez presented Tuesday is sufficient.

"It's not like we just threw a number out there," Gatsas said. "There was a lot of time put into that budget."

Some teachers continue to be nervous. Craig said she received calls yesterday from district employees "asking about their job and their status, and should they retire."

She said she didn't know what to tell them.

Scott McGilvray, president of the teachers' union, said teachers ought to be comforted by the aldermen's budget. He said he believes the aldermen's claim that jobs need not be cut.

"It was clearly laid out on paper," McGilvray said.

READERS' COMMENTS:

Bob Tarr is right. The City needs to make huge cuts in everything. We need more right wingers like Bob. He will shake things up and run the lefties out town. Law and order Bob won't take any non sense from the rest of them. Lets help Bob bring back the Republican Party . He will be a great leader.
- Leon, Manchester

All this Grant money...how much does it actually cover? Not too long ago we didn't have "paraprofessionals" or all these extra teachers or special needs teachers. Yes there are kids who need it but I often wonder why is it that so many kids are coded. The schools need to stop giving raises to Asst. Superintendents when teachers are getting laid off. Maybe we should look at the adminsitrative salaries and see how many teachers those salaries will fund. It just seems that the administrative costs keep going up while the enrollment numbers decline.
- Jeff, Manchester

Josh,
the thing is they did NOT solve any problems. that is the problem. There was no creativity in their solutions. The problem with Manchester politics is its refusal to change or do anything "different." There are creative ways to solve a tight budget and plenty of ways we have, over the past few years, refused to create anymore major revenue streams. It's not any one person, it's the culture of NH politics. There have been many fantastic ideas in the past few years, but all have been nixed because of refusal to accept change. So many of the Aldermen have been a part of this refusal and this newest budget, for me at least, shows that this does not FIX any problems its just throws money at places and says, "here you go, be happy you got at least some."
- Hogan, Manchester

Where does one find a listing of Manchester salaries?
- billy, manchester

The school dept. should have used the same collection outfit that the city employees use. After 5 years of living in this city I finally figured out who actually runs this city, and it's not the people who we elect, just the "employees" we pay for.
- Dale A., Manchester

Josh (Manchester), I watched Gatsas last night on 2joes. Most every question sent his way, he tried to skirt around giving a flat out answer. That is not what Manchester needs. We need to clean house, and that includes Gatsas.
- Bill, Manchester

To Jeff in Manchester,
Please do not lump special needs kids as being without disapline. It is people like you that I dislike. We have a child in special needs for autism in the schools and we are by no mean lazy parents that don't care. If it wasn't for the schools, he would not be getting education because health insurance does not cover programs for things like autism. So next time you want to talk about these kids, try spending a day with them or thier parents and see that they NEED the special ed that the schools supply in order to be a productive member of society.
- Bill, Manchester

This is typical UL comments ! Look this whole budget is FUBAR as is, but at least Alderman Gatsas and Lopez are trying to work something out with it. If Gatsas put the numbers together, I trust them. We have a problem in NH of always attacking anyone who ever tries to solve a problem, and then we reward people who make a living off doing nothing (Lynch). We wonder why good candidates don't run for office, and why we have the same problems over and over again!

I've seen all the meetings and I know that Gatsas is one of only people who knows anything about this city. If he runs for Mayor he has my vote, and he should have yours too !
- Josh, Manchester

DM of Manchester posted "MTA? They need to be restructured. They can't keep bus driver's. We have had a different driver every week for weeks now on my kids bus route. Never mind being chronically late". .. DM, the MTA should not even be in the school bus transportation business. Nashua, uses First Student to transport their students. Derry? Laidlaw. Goffstown/Auburn/Hooksett/Bedford/ Candia .. all served by Goffstown Truck which is a division of Student Trans of America.. and these towns get along just fine. My cousin's children love their school bus driver. He drives in Auburn. He is always on the job, fall/winter/every day. The MTA is a hackerama of politics. It bleeds the city and does a terrible job. The school department knows it should put the school transportation out to contract, but they are so incompetent, they can't even manage this task. As another posted, Manchester is becoming more like Lawrence Mass each day.
- Thom, Manchester, NH

Peter,
I'd vote for you.
please run for something.
- Hogan, Manchester

We have more staff, for the fluff going on at these public schools, than actual teachers that teach academics. Private schools and charter schools have the opposite. Unfortunately the public school is more interested in raising our children than teaching them, that is why they need more paras and administration that do not spend the time teaching. I am all for paying teachers to teach if that is what they are going to go bact to doing. Our taxes should not go to all these extra "fluff" programs.
If anyone attends schoolboard meeting in their districts, they will see where the money is going, and very little of it goes to actually educating the students.
- k, hillsboro

Kathy. Excellent tax-paying property owners? What does that mean? Property owners who blindly rollover to tax increases without so much as a boo? Have you ever bothered to look at the amount of foreclosures listed in the paper?
Why not start taxing those who reproduce? Say $5 dollars per child each month. No school lunch programs. Time to get up parent of child and make your kids breakfast and lunch.
Arts? Take the kid to Currier and Ives. Extracurriculum? Go to the library.
For those of you crying for more, nobody is stopping you from making donations. Well?
Thank you Peter for the facts.
- Michael, Manchester

Peter Sorrentino, Manchester...I watched 2joes last night when you were on. I was totally amazed by your research and knowledge in terms of the city and the budget. You were well informed. Please consider running for mayor of Manchester. This city needs someone who can fix years of neglect.

Sorrentino for Mayor!!!
- Bill, Manchester

Thank you Peter Sorrentino for your excellent facts! When will our aldermen pay attention to this? Kathy, you hit the nail right on the head--excellent schools attract great residents. To the aldermanic board--What are you doing to our city schools? Do you not understand the tax figures supplied by P.S.? Our city doesn't have its priorities straight--in November, watch out!
- Debbie, Manchester

To Peter and Bill in Manchester:
I too continue to shake my head at what we spend for city services in relation to what other cities of comparable size spend. The only thing I can come up with is that because of all the nepotism and cronyism within the city departments, there would be a huge level of discomfort at the annual St. Patrick's Day breakfast if the alderman did the responsible thing and reigned in the costs of city services. We have 78 teachers and 10 assistant principals being laid off, along with 48 retirements in the school department. So the school department is going to have 136 less people next year. Meanwhile, city departments have laid off exactly 0 and their budget is being increased. So I guess in short the aldermen find it more important to make sure the city unions who hold signs and man the phone banks every election cycle are taken care of while the ones who are not old enough to vote yet are ignored.

Mayor Gatsas? Mayor Roy? Congressman Guinta? You've got to be kidding me!

EVERY SINGLE ELECTED OFFICIAL IN MANCHESTER NEEDS TO BE LAID OFF IN NOVEMBER. We will not be able to do anything until we drain the swamp in city hall.
- Wayne S, Manchester

I for one am sick of the schools getting blamed for high taxes. Two years ago the school budget was higher and taxes were lower.
Gatsas, Lopez, & Guinta should just admit what we all know, they are anti-education!
$7 million in extra state aid for education, and they use it to fund other city services. That's robbery!
Underfunding the schools is ruining this city.
- Jim Anchower, Manchester

Jeff,
ESL is funded by Title 3 grant money. SPED is funded by Title 1 grant money. If it were cut, the Office of Civil Rights would not like it too much because it would violate their rights. If they cannot understand English they cannot access the curriculum. Anyway, funding is from grants for these programs.
- J, Manchester

This budget and Manchester's attitude toward education makes me not want to be a teacher anymore. Our district is supposed to be implementing RTI, which is response to intervention in which the reading specialist facilitates a program where children who are behind get extra help. Now that we will not have a reading specialist this will no longer be in place. I guess those who are behind will stay behind. The rest of the state has been using this model since 2004. It is obvious that the aldermen are corrupt and have no idea how to run a school system especially Gastas. I hope the state will take over soon, so that we do not lose accreditation. At least if the state takes over children will be able to get the services they need and to which they are entitled. I regret becoming a teacher. I did not realize how hated by the city I would be. Time to find a new profession. You are not only against teachers, but more importantly the children of this city and it is disgusting.
- J, Manchester

While I support the schools my question to the School Committee is, with a reduction of students from West High School, why is it the budget continues to increase each year. My math may be a bit off here but, if we are losing students (or have lost students to Bedford already) why don't the budget numbers reflect that?
My second comment may not be overly welcomed but, when I went to school, we didn't have all these paraprofessionals. We had a classroom teacher..period. Today, we have ESL teachers and frankly speaking, I think this is bsolutely absurd. The federal government wants to relocate refugees to Manchester then the feeral government needs to pay for the ESL teachers...not the municipality. Another issue is all the special needs teachers. Maybe more discipline by the parents at home would alleviate the needs for all these special needs programs in the city. It just seems that ESL, special needs and paraprofessionals seem to outnumber ordinary teachers. Maybe if we didn't have to be so fancy and just stick to letting teachers teach and forcing parents to become more disciplined with their kids, we could save a lot of money in the budget.
- Jeff, Manchester

I'm glad to see Mr. Tarr using this blog to launch his campaign, but all he does is lay crisiszm on what is going on but doesn't tell us what he will do. I am guessing that he would raise taxes to meet the spending plan rather that the other way around which is place spending around the amout of taxes raised. Good job Alderman. You kept the tax rate below the rate of inflation and as usual we get the "sky is falling" from the School Board. Its time to have the Alderman run the School Board buget and then we can really save some cash.
- Mike, Bedford

MTA? They need to be restructured. They can't keep bus driver's. We have had a different driver every week for weeks now on my kids bus route. Never mind being chronically late.
- DM, Manchester

McGilvray and the teachers union board members needs to clarify how $800,000 is going to save programs and jobs better then the 2 million the school board deal proposed. The alderman dangled a carrot in front of the teachers union board members and they grabbed it. The only ones benefitting from this deal are the teachers at the top end of the pay scale, which I suspect the union board is made up of.
- John, Manchester

Taxpayers of Manchester should be aware of the following:

Last year the aldermen charged you $8.05 per $1000 of home assessment for the town and $5.98 for schools. Nashua was $6.50 for the town and $7.79 for their schools and Salem was $4.75 for their town and $6.05 for their schools.

The budget the aldermen passed for next year kept flat the school budget, while increasing the town budget. Next year the schools will lose $1.5 million dollars from Bedford tuition payments, but will gain $7.5 million from the state school funding. We are keeping our school budget flat when the state is giving us effectively $6 million more.

So next year, when you look at your tax bill you will see an even higher town tax and a lower school tax. It seems to me that given the numbers I see in Nashua and Salem that we should be going in the opposite direction. The aldermen charge us much more for town services and much less for schools. Next year they will charge us even more for town services and even less for schools. If you, like me, would like lower taxes you might also ask… Why so much town spending?

FYI –
All number are per $1000 of evaluation
……………….Manch….Nashua…..Salem
Town tax:…$8.05…..$6.50……..$4.75
Local Ed:….$5.98…..$7.79………$6.05
State Ed:….$2.28…..$2.25………$2.16
County tax:$1.04….$1.01……….$0.88
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

how can the aldermen (and mayor) be so short sighted that they underfund education in this city year after year. and what makes it worse is they try the old "smoke and mirrors" play to try and make it look like they did a good job with the budget.

plain and simple-if this budget is left as is it will cripple manchester's school district.

yet once again the aldermen take care of the city side at the expense of the school side.
- bill, manchester

If my taxes are going to go up - I want to see it spent in a way that means the most to the community. It should be going to the schools - not swimming & keeping the department of parks & rec fully funded!! Shame on the Board for even discussing cutting programs such as Gifted and Talented & music. And shame on those keeping the money away from our bright students and their schools!! Now is the time to focus on what is important and invest in our future.
- F.M., Manchester, NH

Cutting teachers and packing classrooms, especially in high schools makes for more troubled high school students and very frustrated teachers who can't handle the students. Cutting busing makes transportation for people harder, cut out the weed and seed program which I believe is run by Manchester Community Recreation Center could save money. If the city hands money to MCRC, drop it, it doesn't help people. Schools are important, busing is important, how about the city hall folks dropping their salaries. This is all garbage. We need new people, the same people are killing the city but are sitting high still. If you want to print my name, go ahead.
- Robin Sepersky, Manchester

I don't get it: how did they manage to underfund everything AND raise taxes? What a mess. I wish I could feel Mr. McGilvray's optimism that jobs won't be cut, but the numbers just don't add up. We can only hope that it'll take only a year or two of the schools and city crumbling before the BOA and a new mayor smarten up and find the revenue needed to successfully run a city of this size. I've said it before: excellent schools attract excellent, tax-paying property owners to a city. Underfunded, failing schools with overcrowded classrooms, negligible arts and extracurriculars, and unkempt buildings (that's where we're headed, folks) attract no one. And that's just one of the underfunded city departments. How long till they learn?
- Kathy, Manchester

The aldermen also approved funding of just 48k for a program (Weed & Seed) that curves crime in the city and helps restore the community safety. This program used to be funded at a total cost of 200k, in it, it took into consideration of prostitution detail, a teen program at the Boys and Girls Club, graffitti removal among other things. Now with funding so small and the possibility of a grant not coming through to fill in the gaps, this program is sure to fail. How does a 2.9% tax increase help keep crime low and our city safe? It doesn't. Then we also have lower funding for our MTA, city vehicles falling apart and services that surely will go down hill futher. After we saw a 4.7% tax increase last year, ask yourself, what did you see for that increase? The aldermen need to be voted out of office and others need to be put in place that work to serve the people of Manchester, not just some chosen few or special group. Time for a 'REAL' change, a change brought on by the people for the people.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"How Manchester aldermen voted on the city budget"
The NH Union Leader, May 29, 2009

Aldermen this week approved a city budget expected to raise taxes 2.9 percent.

Here's a look at key budget roll-call votes by Manchester aldermen this week:

Motion to table city departments appropriation: Fails, 10-4. Voting Yes: Mark Roy, Peter Sullivan, Betsi DeVries, Dan O'Neil. Voting No: Ted Gatsas, Jim Roy, Ed Osborne, Real Pinard, William Shea, Michael Garrity, George Smith, Russ Ouellette, Kelleigh Domaingue, Mike Lopez.

Motion approving the Gatsas-Lopez city departments appropriation: Passes, 12-2. Voting Yes: Gatsas, Jim Roy, Osborne, Pinard, Shea, DeVries, Garrity, Smith, Ouellette, Domaingue, Lopez, O'Neil. Voting No: Mark Roy and Sullivan. Vetoed by Mayor Frank Guinta.

Motion to override mayor's veto: Passes, 10-4. Voting To Override: Gatsas, Jim Roy, Osborne, Pinard, Shea, Smith, Ouellette, Domaingue, Lopez, O'Neil. Voting To Sustain: Mark Roy, Sullivan, DeVries, Garrity.

Motion to approve Gatsas-Lopez school district appropriation: Passes, 11-3. Voting Yes: Gatsas, Jim Roy, Osborne, Pinard, Shea, Garrity, Smith, Ouellette, Domaingue, O'Neil, Lopez. Voting No: Mark Roy, Sullivan and DeVries.

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"School board seeks to revisit budget"
By DAN TUOHY, New Hampshire Union Leader, May 30, 2009

MANCHESTER – The school board voted unanimously last night to request the mayor and aldermen reopen the budget for next year.

Setting the table for a fiscal showdown, members worried about Manchester schools falling far out of compliance with state minimum standards.

The board contends the $146.4 million the aldermen approved Tuesday fails to account for about $7 million in costs, most of them bills the district is legally required to pay.

"This is a devastating budget to the educational system in Manchester. It has to be revisited," said Chris Herbert. "They haven't done their homework, obviously."

The school board seeks a meeting as soon as possible because the fiscal calendar is running out. Aldermen must adopt a budget by June 9; the new fiscal year begins July 1.

Alderman Mark Roy, who was in the audience last night, said the mayor and board of aldermen should revisit the budget.

According to the school board, the aldermen used different budget estimates and omits financial obligations.

The big differences include $1.1 million in additional city and state retirement, an extra $600,000 in health insurance costs, and another $750,000 in various salary increases for 2010.

Compounding their problem, they argue that, as a starting point, the aldermen's budget is $2.5 million lower than it should be because of a failure to recognize trust and surplus spending in the current year.

Board members, minus Mayor Frank Guinta, held the special meeting to discuss the operating budget and potential teacher and staff layoffs.

Earlier this year, the board recommended $152 million. Guinta's budget called for $146 million.

Faced with the $146 million figure, and obligated by collective bargaining deadlines, the board previously authorized Superintendent Thomas Brennan to send out layoff notices to 75 teachers and 10 assistant principals.

Aldermen said the budget was the best plan, under the circumstances. Alderman Ted Gatsas called it a "worst case scenario," and blamed the city's financial hardship on the state eroding local aid.

"The budget we gave them does not lay off anyone," Gatsas said in phone interview Thursday.

Nonetheless, the school board remains busy abiding to contracts and responding to the potential for those pink-slipped teachers. Board members discussed ways to help some of those teachers meet a retirement deadline, and conferring with union representatives for possible consideration of cost saving measures.

In trying to get a reconciliation of budgets, the board also voted to have the school department's finance officers confer with counterparts on the city side.

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City Hall: "Loyalties come and go as budget deadline draws near"
NH Union Leader, City Politics Column, May 31, 2009

Last year when Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez and Alderman Ted Gatsas teamed up to write a budget, Alderman Mark Roy hailed it as a "true bipartisan event."

Lopez and Gatsas were at it again last week, but this time, Roy wasn't singing their praises.

"It just shows what's wrong with city government," Roy said Thursday. "It shows that people would rather do something quick and political, versus take the time and energy and lay things on the table."

Roy was one of four aldermen who tried, in vain, to take the $288 million budget off the fast track, saying officials ought to have more time to review it. The Ward 1 Democrat later slammed the budget as bad for schools and said it "does not change one business practice in the city of Manchester."

Roy had been hoping to present his own budget proposal to the board. That won't happen now.

It's reasonable to assume the budget will have implications for the mayor's race, particularly if it boils down to a contest between Roy and Gatsas. That's certain to be true if Lopez joins the fray, an option he continues to consider.

One might wonder why Lopez, himself a Democrat, chose to work with Gatsas, a Republican, instead of Roy. The reason, according to Lopez, is simple: Gatsas asked.

Lopez maintains he is not upset with Roy for announcing his candidacy so early, before Lopez could decide if he would make a go of it himself.

On the other hand, Lopez said, "Do I wish he would have waited? Yeah, I wish he would have waited. And I told him to his face."

- - - - - - -

FOUR YEARS, THREE VETOES: Let the record show that this was the fourth and final budget of Frank Guinta's tenure as mayor. Of those, only one didn't meet with a mayoral veto.

The only time Guinta allowed a budget to go forward without a veto was in 2007. Not coincidentally, that was the only budget that lowered taxes.

- - - - - - -

THE NAYSAYERS: Two aldermen stood in firm opposition to the budget: Mark Roy and Peter Sullivan. In a series of votes, both aldermen rejected the budgets for the city, the schools and the Manchester Transit Authority.

Sullivan said the budget "makes a fetish of protecting jobs on the city side." He also said it does more to preserve the status quo than it does to solve problems.

"If we're going to (be) raising taxes on homeowners, there better be a damn good reason," Sullivan said.

Sullivan was one of two aldermen who did not get a say in the budget before it was presented Tuesday night. The other was Betsi DeVries. Lopez said he tried reaching out to both, but DeVries was tied up at the State House and Sullivan did not respond to a voicemail.

DeVries was the only alderman other than Roy and Sullivan who opposed the school budget. That vote was 11 to 3.

DeVries also opposed the MTA budget, as did Alderman George Smith. That vote was 10 to 4.

- - - - - - -

SLAP IN THE FACE: Activist Kathy Staub, a fierce advocate for the schools, was so "disgusted" (her word) with the aldermen's budget that she promptly sat down and penned a letter to one of the state reps who helped secure an additional $7.4 million in "adequacy" aid for Manchester's schools.

It was a letter of apology.

"The additional $7.4 Million that the state sent to us this year could have helped us to continue the work we have begun in transforming our district," Staub wrote to state Rep. Emma Rous, a Durham Democrat. "Unfortunately, our aldermen chose to use most of the additional money you sent us to balance the municipal budget ...

"I recognize that this is a slap in the face to the state and to the towns and businesses that provide us with our adequacy money," Staub continued, "so I wanted to apologize."

Gatsas, responding to a question about the $7.4 million, noted that even though the state gave the money to the schools, it took another $4 million in "revenue sharing" from the city.

"Should we just forget about that?" Gatsas said.

Gatsas said he prefers not to distinguish between the city and school district, saying, "I look at both as a community that we all live in."

"What if next year the state says, 'We're not giving you any adequacy aid,'" Gatsas said. "Do you think we would walk away from the school district and say, 'Geez, you've got to go down to $135 million to run your district.' I hope nobody would think that."

- - - - - - -

THIS LAND IS OUR LAND: A city-affiliated agency that promotes economic development has struck a deal to buy an empty plot of land on Granite Street.

The Raphael Social Club has agreed to sell the land, which measures roughly an acre, to the Manchester Development Corp. for $600,000, according to Manchester Economic Development Director Jay Minkarah. The parcel happens to be located at one of the city's busiest intersections, that of Granite and Second streets, and although there are no plans to develop it now, Minkarah said it has great potential.

"It's a very prominent location," Minkarah said. "It's critical that it's developed in a way that's appropriate and consistent with the city's overall development goals."

Aldermen will have a chance to approve the sale Tuesday. Minkarah said the purchase would be made with MDC dollars.

- - - - - - -

MR. POPULAR: MTA Executive Director Carey Roessel is a very popular man these days. Seems like everyone wants to hang out with him.

First he got an invitation to ride the bus this Saturday with Guinta, who was trying to make the point that some bus lines are underused and ought to be eliminated.

Then, Alderman Real Pinard urged Roessel to join him at his usual table at the Dunkin' Donuts on Candia Road. The idea was to gaze out the window and watch the empty buses go by.

Roessel, obligingly, met Pinard at a quarter to 6 in the morning last Thursday. He arrived via bus.

Roessel says there will have to be major service cuts as a result of the new city budget, which level-funds the MTA at $900,000. For sure, he said, Saturday bus service will be axed.

A public hearing on possible cuts at the MTA has been scheduled for June 15, 3 p.m., at City Hall.

- - - - - - -

OUT OF THE RUNNING: Kevin Verville says he will not run for office this year.

Verville, a Ward 8 Republican, says he is looking to buy a bigger house, most likely outside the city. He and his wife recently made an offer on a home in a town not too far from here.

Verville had previously said he was thinking of running for the Ward 8 school board seat. There's a rumor Steve Vaillancourt is considering the seat. We must have caught him at a bad time, though, because when we called Vaillancourt to ask if he was thinking about it, he said, "I'm not thinking about anything ... except eating my dinner."

- - - - - - -

SEPARATED AT BIRTH: Upon meeting the mayor of Manchester at a recent GOP dinner, it occurred to a Republican blogger from Grafton County that Guinta looked "oddly familiar."

"I finally figured it out!" the blogger exclaimed in a recent post. "He looks like Jack Malone (Anthony LaPaglia) from the CBS program, 'Without a Trace'!"

See for yourself. Pictures have been posted on the anonymous writer's blog, takebackorfordnh.blogspot.com
-
Read Scott Brooks' coverage of Manchester City Hall during the week in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email him at sbrooks@unionleader.com.
-
----------

"City's lawyer: It's a no-budge budget"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, Tuesday, June 2, 2009

MANCHESTER – It is not legal to reopen the city budget now that it has been approved, the city's chief legal adviser said, quashing the hopes of school board members who argue the budget will devastate Manchester's schools.

"Once the budget is adopted, that's it," City Solicitor Tom Clark said yesterday. "There's no provision to reopen it."

The solicitor's interpretation leaves school board members with little choice but to start deciding how to make do with the money they've been given. With a budget of $146.4 million, members say they'll be forced to lay off dozens of teachers and administrators and pare back a range of services and programs, including busing, sports and music.

"We may have to start making our cuts sooner rather than later," the board's vice chairman, Katherine Labanaris, said.

Superintendent Tom Brennan said he hopes to arrange a meeting with the aldermen to "reopen discussion regarding the appropriation."

Aldermen could direct more money to the schools by way of a supplemental budget, the city solicitor said, but only if they can find more revenue. With the economy in recession, school board members are not holding their breath.

"Where are we going to get more revenue? We don't have any idea of other revenue streams," Labanaris said.

Aldermen have made the case that no layoffs or major program cuts are necessary under the $146.4 million school budget they approved last week. Reached yesterday, several aldermen said they see no reason to reopen the budget even if they could.

"There'd have to be a damn good reason," Alderman Ed Osborne said.

Osborne said he cannot ignore the possibility the school district will receive millions of dollars in federal stimulus money. In fact, he said, the potential for a stimulus windfall was one reason he did not try to direct more local taxpayer dollars to the schools.

"If we were to give them $152 million, and then they were to get another $4 million (in stimulus money), two years down the road, they're going to be expecting it all the time," Osborne said.

The aldermen's budget is projected to increase taxes by 2.9 percent. Alderman Jim Roy said that was about as high as the board was willing to go.

"Would I have liked to have been able to give the schools everything they wanted? Absolutely," Roy said. "But from what I saw, nobody got everything they wanted."

School officials say the aldermen left some important numbers out of their budget calculations. The way they see it, the aldermen's budget shorted the district about $7 million.

Brennan said the goal of arranging a meeting between the school board and aldermen would be to "see if there is a better understanding of why the numbers seemingly do not match."

School board members voted last Friday to urge the aldermen to reopen the budget. Yesterday, Brennan said he had been told reopening the budget is not permissible.

The city charter used to have a provision allowing the aldermen to reconsider budget resolutions, but the provision was erased when the city revised the charter in 1996.

In 1990, as one of his first acts as mayor, Ray Wieczorek announced he would reopen the city budget that had been approved under the previous administration, declaring it "completely irresponsible." The city ended up with a higher tax rate, but with more money for schools.

READERS' COMMENTS:

Jack Alex,

I'm not sure where you get your info from but this year a starting teacher at step 1 will earn 31,793 in manchester, In Nashua, it's 34,325,and In Bedford, 32,849. Those all the ones that I could find after a 5 minute google search. Where in NH does a first year teacher start at 40,000+
- Mike, manchester

Jack Alex
If you don't have a good teacher at the elementary level it doesn't matter what you pay a person at the high school level. The student would not have a good foundation for the high school teacher to build on. Seems to make sense that the elementary teacher(who do much more by the way)should get paid at least as much as a high school teacher.
- John, Manchester

"I looked at the wage lines I am hard pressed to find a teacher making entry 28-32 a year. Most are making $40K a year. For 180 somewhat days a year!"

Hey Jack Alex, would you like to know why no one is making entry level pay?

It is because Manchester has not been hiring teachers in the last few years!

Everyone complains that there needs to be teachers laid off to balance the students lost to Bedford. Well, that is what they have been doing. Only in specialized certifications are people being hired. That has been going on for *big shock* three years now.

Trust me, no one (at the teaching level) gets hired above their worth.
- Ed, Manchester

Debbie of Manchester, You are correct. As a parent and former co-president of a PTO at a local elementary school we did as you said. We (PTO) helped prepare students for the future by using money awarded to the school through the A+ program Stop N Shop offers. Through that program, in it's first year, the elementary school recieved a check for $5,995.00. That money was used to update our library media, purchase moble equipment and give students supplies they could use in the classroom. It also helped pave the way for Everyday Math to become district wide because we (PTO) paid for half the cost of the resource materials of Everyday Math Teacher and Student Kits, which was also purchased at a discounted price because we asked. Every year since we (PTO) have used such monies to provide for the students and help the school and the district as a whole save money. As for this budget is concerned, that 4 mil. of stimulus money will be used for technology and other items. Of the 6-7 mil. NH gave Manchester, well it was placed in the school budget as part of the 146.4 mil. and not to help maintain a level of service required by the state and federal mandates. So yes, this budget is off balanced and out of sync with what is required. Is that enough of a good damn reason not to revist this budget to help our students and their future? I personally think so.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

The bottom line is that no one is winning in this situation. The taxpayers, the city workers, and especially the students. Overall the city is in bad shape right now, and the next mayor has a really big mess to try and clean up.
- Sue, Manchester

Sarah, where did you go to school and who paid for it? Pay it forward and stop being so selfish. Education is a necessity especially when we have to compete with India and China. How is it these two countries can educate their masses of children better than the United States. Shame shame on us. And they do. The fact that they've replaced us in test scores and the job market proves it. But let's just let Manchester turn into hillbilly central.
- Joanne, Manchester

Has anyone thats a proponent of education really sat down to look at the budget the schools wanted. I looked at the wage lines I am hard pressed to find a teacher making entry 28-32 a year. Most are making $40K a year. For 180 somewhat days a year!

Would someone try and tell me how a elementary school teacher is worth as much as a science or math teacher at the highschool level.

Look at all the para professionals.

I never met a para professional in high school and wouldn't know what they did or would do!

Talk about millions of dollars. And people think they are worth more.

This is simply ridiculous, the amouth of copiers, printing and binding costs, travel/confrences , general supplies equipment of al sorts. Sabaticals?????
Psychologists, land and building rentals.

Reading specialists, teachers assistants.
This isn't a school district, its for special head cases. No wonder they need 152 million, even thats enough.

And people out there wonder why people like me don't want to spend any more.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

John, John, John, of Bow, Bow, Bow...

"Weren't teachers asked to take a pay cut?"
They did.

"Did their Unions not reject this?"
It did NOT.

"And they are now facing losing their jobs?"
78 already got laid off in the past month.

"Were they not warned this would happen?"
You got this one right.

"The Unions were warned, and just like with GM, they dug their heels in and refused."
Nope, the union agreed.

"The rest of the country is dealing with paycuts and layoffs, yet teachers Unions demand MORE MORE MORE."
Really, what more? They took a cut and had 78 teachers laid off.

"Hookset, Candia, and Auburn lawyers can sharpen their pencils, time for Manchester teachers and their unions to prepare for a cold sharp axe."
Generally Hookset's, Candia's and Auburn's lawyers fight to have more money be spent on Manchester high schools so their contract is not violated. This generally means fewer teachers to be laid offs, and few to no cuts in programs.

John was your post intended to be sarcastic? Many people post not knowing what they're talking about, but your post sets a record for ignorance of the facts.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

hmmm... Budget on the city side goes up 6 million from last year , the schools are "cut" 6 million, The city side gets a 3 year extension on their contracts for pushing back their raises 26 weeks. The school board doesn't offer the contract extension to teachers.

Is it me, or does this seem fishy... Why increase the city side if we "can't afford increases"?????
- Jorge, Manchester

Sarah of Manchester,
That's fair. Then I will not pay for your snow plowing or police protection or fire protection. Why should I? I don't know you.

You have to think of the bigger picture. You are paying to educate people who will deliver services to you some day.
- JT, Manchester

I am so sick of parents complaining about their child's education. Why don't you pay more in taxes because you decided to bring a child into this world? People out there are procreating quicker than rabbits, I shouldn't have to pay for that. I don't have a child because I can't afford one. Why aren't people more responsible?!

YOU pay more to have your child go to school. I will pay for the services that I use. That seems fair. Stop complaining about the budget and do something. Join the PTA or run for office. Step up to the plate instead of complaining about it behind your big, bad computer.
- Sarah, Manchester

Alderman Osborne--Are you serious? IF the school district receives stimulus money, it wasn't meant to fund salaries or help maintain the status-quo. Stimulus money is earmarked for one-time boosts like technology--of which Manchester is desperately lacking. How do you expect us to prepare students for the 21st century with computers that don't have a USB port or no CD drives and 12 year-old software? Let's get real and put a priority in education in this city.
- Debbie, Manchester

So, some in Manchester does not want to live up to the 20 year contact they forced on Auburn, Candia and Hooksett.

You will lose quite a few good atheletes from your school teams and if you look at the record quite a few of your top high school academic students.

Keep the fires going in Manchester and keep your city going downhill fast.
- Kevin, Auburn

Weren't teachers asked to take a pay cut?

Did their Unions not reject this?

And they are now facing losing their jobs?

Were they not warned this would happen?

The Unions were warned, and just like with GM, they dug their heels in and refused.

The rest of the country is dealing with paycuts and layoffs, yet teachers Unions demand MORE MORE MORE.

Hookset, Candia, and Auburn lawyers can sharpen their pencils, time for Manchester teachers and their unions to prepare for a cold sharp axe.
- John, Bow

Maybe it's time to have a school board which can set it's own tax rate like is done in other states.

Since the alderman do not care about education (or are too busy to take the time to understand what's needed), maybe this is an alternative.

I was appalled to watch the alderman meeting on MCTV and see the cavalier attitude taken by the alderman during the discussion of all the state requirements not being met by the schools.

In my ward, I would much rather have Arthur Beaudry, even with his micromanagement style, looking out for the schools than Mike ("They did a nice job.... don't worry about it) Garrity.
- Rick, Manchester

I guess the Alderman believe that City Service such as trash pickup naming bridges are more important than our children education. If I could I would pull out of this city ASAP. I have a kid graduation from Memorial next year, my luck they won't even be able to get a diploma for there will be not money to have them printed.
- Paula, Manchester

All those who end their kids to Manchester from surrounding towns...build your own schools. All we hear about is how Hooksett, Auburn and Candia will sue. I say bring it on. Maybe they should be paying more money. I am so tired of the surrounding towns who send students here complain about the process. Their taxes are not affected. If the rich people in Auburn want to build their own high school then by all means...have at it. Here is a great concept. End all contracts with outside towns and force their tax rate to rise. If we end the contracts we would lose money but we wouldn't have to listen to all the complaining from the neighboring towns.
- Mike, Manchester

This is the real Kathy Staub. I did not write that first post but I wholeheartedly agree with it. The reality is that there are probably hundreds of people named Kathy in Manchester who know and understand what has happened and are deeply concerned about it.
As far as throwing money at things goes, I am the cheapest person on the planet. Just ask my kids. However, our schools need to be retooled to make our city competitive in the 21st Century and that is not going to happen unless we make the investment.
- The real Kathy Staub, Manchester

Way to invest in the city of Manchester. This should really encourage people to move back or even move into Manchester if they have children. What a joke. We live in the perfect location for any young professional and we have so much potential. Now my taxes are going up and my children will have less oppurtunity for their education. But, hey, I'll have better police and fire protection and my streets will be plowed better. Good thing, because all those sports programs that will be eliminated will put more kids out on the streets with nothing to do. Nothing like taking oppurtunities that have been around for decades because two aldermen have made a HUGE mistake.
The feeder schools should be furious and what the aldermen have done is against the law. By the way Senator Gatsas and Mr. Lopez - where is that itemized budget that doesn't lose one job? How about sports for kids? How about the strings program that was established years ago by Russ Poehlman that changed the course of orchestra and bands in the city? What about programs for public school students to have more options during and after school so that they can go to good schools (and they certainly do now)? What about it? Everybody wants their taxes chopped - it didn't happen - an now you are getting far less bang for your buck. What about it?
- joco, manchester, nh

Rich from Manch, the surrounding towns do pay into the pot. It's not their fault that we have city leaders who couldn't budget a 2nd grader's allowance. Lighten up!
- John, Manchester

It's time to take a hard line on all of these unfunded "mandates." It's also time to take a hard look at the real costs of mainstreaming special ed children. I view it as my obligation to pay my fair share of the education bill. I do NOT view it as my obligation to pay for a full time aide to sit in a classroom next to a child whose disabilities are so severe he/she disrupts the entire classroom. Let's get back to basics here. We're in a recession.
- DP, manchester

Peter Sorrentino, Manchester .. you are the skunk at the party for the municipal workers in Manchester .. We have way too many hacks, and hackets, and hack jr's, and hack aunts, uncles, aldermen relatives .. on the hackroll .. aka = the city side of Manchester spending.. Manchester is run like GM ..still loving the Hummer's while its future [ Manch schools ] go down .. Let's start with city side spending .. cut cut cut .. and then take a "real" look at the education spending . .. Before we layoff a classroom teacher, let's go after administration/and all the other fat..
- tom, manchester,nh

Jim -
I have an even better idea.... Why dont hooksett build there own high school and then you taxpayers will really find out what it really costs for an education. Just ask bedford, they are now realizing how much it actually costs for a high school education!!
- Rich, manchester

Jack Alex

- What extra fluff are you talking about? You give little details as to what these students receive that you didn't have. If the point of high school is to just graduate then fine stick 40 kids in a classroom with one teacher. She'll spend less time with each of them but give them all passing grades because if she doesn't then she'll just see them again next year and the classes will be even more over crowded. So yes kids can graduate when there are 39 other kids in the class. But the question I ask I ask is the diploma worth more then the paper it's printed on? The point of school is to learn. A diploma is something to put on your wall. Which one will benefit you more in the long run? Not a tough question.
- Scott Mullen, Dorchester/MA

Mr. Alex...I believe you should educate yourself on "mandates" before you comment in the future. Manchester schools are failing, all of them, based upon the state and federal standards set forth. Therefore, we are in danger of losing accredidation which will not allow any of our graduating students the opportunity to go to college, a trade school, or the military because their diploma will mean absolutely nothing. It is time you, and persons like you, stop being so selfish and ignorant to believe that this budget isn't a major problem. I don't care what measures need to be taken, but the budget needs to be revisited, whether its through supplemental funding, grants, or some other means of revenue...146million might as well be zero. Stop doing the children of Manchester a disservice and invest in YOUR future.
- Jeff, Manchester

Jack Alex -

What is frugal about increasing city spending and town taxes when the taxes look like the following:
……………….Manch….Nashua…..Salem
Town tax:…$8.05…..$6.50……..$4.75
Local Ed:….$5.98…..$7.79………$6.05
State Ed:….$2.28…..$2.25………$2.16
County tax:$1.04….$1.01……….$0.88

Why increase spending in the area we're already spending so much in, yet keep flat the area we're taxes relatively little for? I know you've seen these numbers before, do you not understand them?

Manchester spends less per student than almost everywhere in the state. Isn't that frugal?
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

I think its time that we bid all the sending towns a nice adieou. They should build their own high schools, deal first hand with their own teacher contracts, figure out how budget, staff, and pay directly for what they have. From what I hear some of the older Bedford residents are just finding out the nightmare of what the newer younger residents wanted and how much the "real costs are".
- Jack Alex, Manchester

The alderman claim to have brought forward a budget that will not require layoffs or program cuts. Tom Brennan says that is not the case.

Please Union Leader, publish Brennan's budget numbers and Gatsa' numbers so we can see who is lying. Let the public evaluate the line items.
- Jeff, Manchester

now watch the aldermen get the "deer in the headlights" look on their faces when the school department starts announcing cuts to sports, band, and after school clubs etc. i would think if you are an aldermen and you had no buisness sense what so ever that you would abstain from voting if you had no idea if what you were voting on added up.

this budget they passed would be a joke if it wasn't so serious.

there will be major cuts coming in all school programs. there is no way now to avoid it.
- bill, manchester

Kathy, BOA. Too funny, but you're right, that is what it has come down to, The Board of Aldermen. They are out of control!!!
- Gary Palys, Allenstown

kathay staub, is there any money you wouldn't throw at the schools? give it a rest
- mike conway, manchvegas

Being FRUGAL or being STUPID... Have the alderman budget for lawsuits from Candia, Hookset and Auburn? This is going to cost Manchester for default on a contract WE signed in good faith with Manchester. I know they will not be meeting accreditation!! I know it!! I hope our lawyers are sharpening their pencils... We will prevail!!

How's that for frugal!!
- JIm, Hooksett

It's all about being frugal. Thats a term that supporters of "education" are not familiar with. Neither are they familiar with tough times.

Wether or not theres a 7 million dollar discrepency or not they were given a budget. I was given a budget in life too.
When I was a kid it was an allowance. When I grew up it's called a living budget.
You either save money to pay the bills and just maybe if you are good enough you have enough to take a trip every now and then or you save for retirement.

They are not "MY" children, listen up parents, they are "YOURS". It's just that simple. If you want all the extra-curricular activities the music, sports, artistic, gifted, and exceptional talent programs YOU figure how to pay the extra. The only thing I am willing to pay for is to get your Johnny and Suzy educated enough to either go to college, get a skill in a trade, go to work, or join the military. Thats the only obligation I have.

I didn't have access to all the extra "fluff"
they have padded into the educational system today yet I went on to college and I still have a job. When I went to high school there 30-35 students in a class. We all graduated.

As far as state and federal mandates, you took the money from Uncle Sap. They had an always will have strings attached. So don't complain just don't take.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

'"There'd have to be a damn good reason," Alderman Ed Osborne said.'

Damn good reason #1: $7million discrepency

Damn good reason #2: (Y)our children

Damn good reason #3: State and federal mandates

Just because the BOA doesn't choose to look at the needs (not wants, but needs) of the schools doesn't mean that those needs don't exist. Take your heads out of the sand.
- Kathy, Manchester

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"Alternative school budget would avert layoffs"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, Tuesday, June 9, 2009

MANCHESTER – School board member Art Beaudry stepped forward last night with a proposal that he said would allow the district to reinstate all of the teachers and administrators who have been pink-slipped this year.

The proposal would not save every program, he said, but it would preserve full-day kindergarten classes and stave off cuts to sports, music and art.

"I am here to achieve a goal of the district," Beaudry said last night, "which is to get our people back to work in the district and get our students back in the classes they deserve."

A note of caution was voiced by Karen Defrancis, the district's business administrator, who said she was "not in agreement" with the way the proposal's authors crunched the numbers. Defrancis also said there was reason to doubt whether the district could tap into a key revenue source, without which the proposal comes up $1.9 million short.

Superintendent Tom Brennan said the proposal is "helpful."

Board members are waiting to see what he proposes to do with the $146.4-million budget the district has been handed.

Though Beaudry urged him to report back quickly, Brennan said he would need time to put together a proposal. He is expected to deliver a report to the board June 18. Board members will debate the budget the following Monday, June 22.

Beaudry shared credit for the proposal with School Committeeman Bob O'Sullivan, who was not present at last night's board meeting. Beaudry said the pair hashed over the numbers last Friday in a meeting with the co-authors of the city budget, Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez and Alderman Ted Gatsas.

Their proposal calls for the district to rescind the pink slips it doled out to 78 teachers and 10 assistant principals. However, the district would lose 110 positions through attrition. Beaudry estimated about 90 of those positions are in the classroom.

Paraprofessionals would retain their jobs. The district also would keep three school resource officers and Ready for Success, a summer program for children heading into kindergarten.

Other programs, however, such as Ombudsman and the Gifted and Talented program, would be eliminated. There also would be cuts to transportation, maintenance and reading programs.

The ongoing anxiety about the school district budget was evidenced by the crowd of teachers, parents and students who flooded the district offices last night.

They addressed the board for upward of an hour and a half.

Some decried proposed cuts to the athletic budget. Jeff Seifert, who runs a regional hockey program, said he believes families would be willing to pay $100 so their child could compete on a varsity hockey team.

Barbara Naeger, who oversees the guidance department at Central High School, said the district must not cut its department heads.

"Imagine a store or a restaurant without a floor manager," she said. "Or imagine a hospital without the head nurse. It just doesn't make sense to me."

School Board Vice Chair Katherine Labanaris said she sent a letter to aldermen requesting a meeting about the budget but received no response. In addition, Defrancis said she tried to schedule a meeting with city Finance Officer Bill Sanders but he "respectfully declined."

The proposal presented last night would have the district siphon $1.9 million out of an "impact fee" account, a move Defrancis called into question. It also requires the superintendent to figure out a way to spend $1.7 million less on "city services," such as cleaning and maintenance.

READERS' COMMENTS:

To Jack Alex:

Remember that those kids who don't "shine" are the ones defending your country and your rights to say the garbage you posted. And many of those kids are as intelligent or maybe even more intelligent than you are. Just because kids are not motivated in school does not mean they won't do well. Some of the most intelligent people out there are bored in school. Your ignorance about those who defend our country makes me sad.
- Marie, Merrimack

So Jack Alex, what do you suppose we do with all the special needs children and children who can't speak English? Seriously, where does the city put them during the school day if they aren't in school.
Honestly, have some common sense.


One of the precipices of this wonderful nation is that every child is entitled to a free education, don't forget you got one too.
- y, Manchester

Robert Tarr
I did not know that. Thanks for enlightening me to that law. The school district is in violation of so many other statutes that one more won't matter. Maybe we should have a forum where people can offer different solutions even if, like mine, they turn out to be not workable. I'm sure there are people out there that have some great ideas. We all have a considerable stake in this and our elected officials don't seem to want to hear our ideas. Again, in all sincerety, thanks for pointing that out for me.
- John, Manchester

Jack Alex...
While your at it, get rid of the cops and firemen. Just tell people to play nice and not play with matches.

Intellectual thinking!!!
- Jim C., Ward 2 Manchester

John, Manchester in case you may have missed it, it's the law when it comes to transportation.

RSA 189:6 states: "189:6 Transportation of Pupils. – The local school district shall furnish transportation to all pupils in grade 1 through grade 8 who live more than 2 miles from the school to which they are assigned. The local school board may furnish transportation to kindergarten pupils, pupils in grades above the eighth or to any pupils residing less than 2 miles from the school to which they are assigned, when it finds that this is appropriate, and shall furnish it when so directed by the commissioner of education. "

So saying that Manchester can terminate all transportaion, they can't, otherwise they are violating the state law. So if the Commissioner of Education says that Manchester must provide transport of studetnts, then they must comply. Facts are facts. Hope this helps with understanding that committee member Beaudy can't offer that solution.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

Well said Celine Carrier, I agree with you completely. The system needs more teachers like you.

I actually had you as a teacher for English in 91-92 at Southside. I haven't forgot you or the education I have received, and I have done well for myself. Thank you.

It's also sad when another teacher on this message board call people in Manchester "white trash fools." Perhaps another profession would make them happy.
- Craig, Manchester, NH

Cut cross country, track, crew, tennis and all the other none major sports programs. They are costing the city major money on sports that the great majority of people don't care for and don't help students with college. Track and Cross Country are the most worthless sports out there and should never had been in the sports program to begin with.
- Gill, Manchester

I'll bet this voice gets drowned out in all this.

note of caution was voiced by Karen Defrancis, the district's business administrator, who said she was "not in agreement" with the way the proposal's authors crunched the numbers.

This story says nothing about how the funds were made available suddenly. Sounds like a duck.
- Deb, Derry

The whole school district needs to be transformed into a more efficient model. Less administrators top to bottom, less department heads, and less para professionals cluttering up space.

Kids that can't read or speak english don't belong in the classroom. I'm sorry they need to learn on their own.

I was in class with 42 students. We all graduated and to my knowledge none of us ended up being a greeter at wal-mart.

We need to stop encouraging mainstreaming of disabled kids to participate in the classroom and focus on those children that are capable of learning and applying what is taught and how to grow at the post-secondary level.

The buck is the most important thing to save. nothing wrong with that.

here are some programs that kids can take care of in the private sector.

advance and gifted programs through post secondary institutions and learning programs like sylvan.

music instruction through ted heberts and private music teachers

art classes at art institutes

libraries

museums

youth baseball

youth hockey

youth basketball

youth football

we could cut spending down to where it should be about 120 million a year and get rid of all the fluff that doesnt matter.

besides parents should be involved in taking care of their children, making them breakfast, lunch and snacks to brownbag.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

What happened to the seven million the state wanted spent on education in Manchester????? Where is it, Frank? Any lawyers out there reading this?

What Brennan should do is cut sports, music, and art. That will annoy the hell out many of the parents who care the most about education. It will get the folks in Auburn, Hooksett, Candia, and Deerfield so mad they will sick their lawyers on the city.

The fact that Manchester is full of white-trash fools who have no comprehension of the importance of education is sad. The fact that these folks elected a mayor from their ranks has proven devastating to an already grossly underfunded school district.
- Fred, Amherst

Funny how the sky is falling but in the end they still manage to do just about everything, and save everyone's jobs, with less money! Why didn't they do this to begin with?
- Dave J, Manchester

The realist "Jack Alex" makes a great point: Plumbers, Soldiers, Hard Laborers, can't make it in school. Plumbers, Soldiers, Hard-Laborers are all drop outs and (therefore) stupid.
meanwhile, the rest of us who graduated are smart and deserve jobs that pay well and reward us well.
he also makes another great point, in that, our children and schools should suffer a little more because I owe the IRS money for taxes and the what-have-you. I don't know about the rest of you, but once the IRS hits me up for money, i have to pay my credit cards off (i have 10), i just couldn't afford any more tax dollars from the city to educate students. It's not fair for ME.
And he makes his last point: the district needs to educate our children. It's true, we do need to educate our children (did you know that?). Now, who should we get to educate our children...? Oh, i know, i just heard that 74 of my friends might get laid off from their jobs. I wonder if they'd be good at educating our children?

truth is, this budget stinks no matter how we look at it. Though i do find it a bit silly that all the educational and community driven programs (Schools, Libraries, Alt./Adult Ed., Weed and Seed etc) are, seemingly, always the ones to get hit the most.
- Hogan, Manchester

I tell you, I will be displeased with the BOSC and the Aldermen if my son's teacher, who is phenomenal, gets let go so some JOCK can play football!!!
- Jorge, Manchester

Manchester School District is a failing and poor district. The schools are over crowded and the student population is embarissing. Politicians need to step down from thier positions as education leaders and teachers need to fill those seats. What do politicians know about the wants and needs of students and the importance of educational programs?
- J, Manchester

Wait .. there is a bird at the door .. "Hello", "what do ya want" mr bird. "Oh, I just wanted to tell you that your tax bill just arrived, and the city budget has been completed" .. thanks Tweet ... time to fly on..
- Tommy, Manchester, NH

If there is a way to save teachers jobs, I have to say I am encouraged that people are still exploring options.

As for certain responders who are saying special programs did not exist thirty years ago, yet people still grew up to be doctors and lawyer, I agree. But the welfare rolls also increased in that time, often with people who dropped out if school as soon as they legally could because their academic skills had never progressed to a proper level. And why did that occur? Maybe it was because they had never had their learning disability diagnosed and addressed. Thirty years ago my own child may have been written off. Today she works with a paraprofessional in her classroom in order to keep up with her classmates. Today she has a chance. I am glad that my child was not in school thirty years ago. And I am grateful that she attends school in Manchester where they much the effort to make her not feel as if there is something wrong with her. There is nothing wrong with my daughter or other children like her. They just need a different way of learning.

The lesson here? If we don't want the children to give up on school and themselves, if we don't want the students of today to be the welfare recipients of tomorrow, we have to be concerned with their education today. It doesn't just affect my family. This is for the betterment of society as a whole.
- Alison Stanley, Manchester

The police ought to pay for their own school resource officers. Those cops are great- they know and help students. We don't need kinda-cops dishing out ice cream at meetings where the same people say the same things. More in the schools.
- Amelia, Manchester

- Jack Alex, Manchester

or they can do what you did. just sat back and did nothing, then just excel at greeting people at wal-mart!
- scott, chichester

As a former employee of the Manchester School District (20+years) this is a story I have heard many times before. And I still wonder why sports are the last consideration for cuts. How many of our children will find a career in sports versus how many of them will find a career that requires them to read, write and calculate? Research has shown that the most important aspect of any classroom or school program is the teacher standing in front of the room. Yet, Manchester continues to argue this point time and again. It's time to truly determine who is making a positive impact in those classrooms and eliminate those who are unable to perform. We crave excellence in education yet we conteinue to allow mediocrity in a profession that ulimately holds the future in its hands. Several points for consideration:
Are Manchester's schools making forward progress in terms of real education? Are standards being met?
Is there a decrease in the number of students who are dropping out of school before they reach graduation? And, this number should include those who have "dropped out" but are still sitting in classrooms each day.
What is the percentage of Manchester's students who are attending and completing college?
Do Manchester's college graduates return to the city to share their gifts?
Does Manchester, in fact, have a gifted program for the students who will be our leaders? Or do we have on on paper that means nothing?
Instead of programs that house failed students and discipline problems, why doesn't Manchester have a quality program for at-risk students that gives them the skills they really need - self-respect and responsiblity?
Corrective Action status has less to do with programs than it does with outcomes. What are the outcomes?
Who tracks the results of Manchester's system of education after graduations have occured and students have moved on? Are Manchester's young adults contributing citizens?
Finally, I challenge anyone to visit the reality of a Manchester school for more than a brief period of time. Meet the students and the teachers and listen to what they have to say. Elementary staff is hopeful and encouraging. Most elementary school students are eager students. What happens between then and later?
Money is not the answer - money well-spent could be. Manchester needs to give much more thought to what is really important in education and take giant steps toward fixing a failed system. Money well-spent could encourage quality educators into the system where they could do some real good rather than continuing to support the mediocrity that has become Manchester's hallmark.
Oh, and by the way, Manchester's leaders should really think about Manchester and its future - not where the next political office is coming from. Care about your city! Care about its future!
- Celine Carrier, Charlottesville, VA

You had your chance. Calling the taxpayer's bluff is a ridiculous game that is constantly played.

Next time around, get serious when it is time appropriate, not weeks later.
- JAC, Manchester

To Jack Alex, 30 years ago many special needs children were not allowed to go the public schools. Now they are and big adjustments had to be made and are still continuing to be made to this day. You also didn't have 70 languages from many immigrant groups being spoken. The schools are trying to keep up but its a big job. Did you see the article of the Bhutan refugees. You know how many have entered the schools in the last 2 years. Most of these children have to go Webster and Hillside schools because there are no teachers alloted for this in the West side schools where many of them live. So they have to be transported and there's another expense. The teachers are dealing with so many different issues and just barely getting the coverage. Same goes for the students.
- Cecil, Manchester

Robert Tarr
I would think it is the parents responsibility to get their child to and from school, not the school districts. If we eliminate all busing it would save over $2 million. Couldn't that be better spent elsewhere??? I drive my child and friends to school every day even though they are eligible to ride the bus, the other parent picks them up after school. We all need to stop asking the government, in this case the school district, to do everything for us. Time to pick up the slack and ALL chip in. Will this inconvenience some people? Yes, but all must sacrifice for the city in this time of financial crisis. What are you willing to sacrifice??? Lets stop asking the school district to be the only one to sacrifice.
- John, Manchester

Mary
Maybe these "kids at risk" should get a job. Instead of being trained to be dependent on the state for the rest of their lives. We have to import people from other countries to do jobs? this is nonsense. Make the kids get in the work habit, it will keep them out of trouble. Let these "social service people" get a real job for a change, instead of encouraging "public assistance dependence" at an early age!!
- Steve, Raymond

So, it seems like when the feet are held to the fire, solutions are found. All of the screaming and hollering "for the children," but they are all of a sudden able to make the numbers work.

School Board members Beaudry and O'Sullivan are to be commended for deciding to get serious.
- Ryan, Hooksett

Good heavens! How in the world do we choose between youth at risk and the youngest and poorest of the city's children? Cutting Ombudsman would be a terrible loss, but what is there present impact? I'd ask the same of any other program being cut and what the risks are that could be realized if they are eliminated. Let's look at impact. Kindergarten is a no-brainer; we need that to remain as-is. Support services such as maintenance and transportation may need to tighten their belts like everyone else. I get the feeling their needs to be one more pass with the finetooth comb on this budget in order to save some of these high-impact programs!
- Mary, Manchester

Kathy,

To be quite honest, they already had their opportunities to work a budget in March and April. The proposed budget went to public hearing in May. The aldermen passed their slightly higher version. Its done, its over. Theres nothing to discuss, they know how much they have to spend and thats all they get.
The sky is not falling, this district needs to educate your children and pay for the costs of operating the buildings. Thats all. Thats enough.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

It is irresponsible for the Union Leader to claim a budget proposal could save jobs when it has not been adopted by the board or vetted by the Business Administrator.

Beaudry did propose a budget last night, but the board agreed that no action could be taken without the superintendent's proposal or a proper investigation into the use of funds.

This budget depends on various monies the school district hasn't even applied for yet- it is also money that we would need mayoral permission to take.

How about printing the facts, rather than telling the citizens of Manchester that jobs will be saved?

I have not seen one saved job yet.
- Ed, Manchester

What full day kindergarten? Some schools in Manchester DO NOT have full day kindergarten for all their students!

What gifted and talented program? I haven't seen one. In the Manchester school my children attend it's their teachers who are challenging them to achieve beyond their straight A's.

If we want to cut transportation, that is fine, but property owners must clear their sidewalks so the kids can walk to school.
- DM, Manchester

See, all the screaming and kicking and temper tantrums and they are able to save jobs. They didn't have these specialized programs 30 years ago yet the folks who are scientists and doctors and engineers got their education. We can't afford the above and beyond, it's up to the kids to self-motivate themselves, to learn more than what's taught inside the classroom.

They can go to the library, learn about science, math, reading, history, etc and build on the good and basic education they get in the classroom. They have to learn to work for the results and I have faith that those that have it inside will shine. Those that don't can take up a trade in plumbing, those that don't can go and be a soldier or get a job fixing the roadways.

See I'm not a cheapskate, I am a realist, and the reality of it is, I'm tapped out. The IRS got to me first. If you have any further complaints, do what Mr. Smith did, go to Washington. I hear they love sit-ins.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

Why won't the city's Finance Officer meet with the school district's business administrator?

What exactly is an "impact fee" account?

In the print edition of the UL several weeks ago, there was an article about the NH Education Board demanding the Mayor & district present a plan addressing deficiencies (the one that stands out in my memory is pests -bugs, rodents, etc- related to lack of window screens). The many deficiencies have been tabled for years now, threaten our schools' viability, and Mayor Guinta promised a solution. Where is this plan, and how will it be affected by the budget?

Please, UL, do you have any reporters willing to ask the important questions and/or do you have any editors willing to publish the answers?
- Kathy, Manchester, NH

"Other programs, however, such as Ombudsman and the Gifted and Talented program, would be eliminated. There also would be cuts to transportation, maintenance and reading programs." Cutting transportation will place a burden on families who have no vehicle to transport their children to school. Such would be the case in Ward 5 where many families children go to McLaughlin Middle school some 2.2 miles away. Try getting your child to school during the winter months where the sidewalks are unplowed and poorly taken care of. Reading programs being cut goes against the NH State and Federal mandates and would affect NECAP scores more than they are now. Ombudsman and the Gifted and Talented programs are worth keeping. Many children excell in these programs and go on to earn a professional degrees in science and mathatics. Without these programs, those students will be robbed of an opportunity they might not get else where. Sliding scale fee to play sports could help reduce the budget and keep teachers in the classroom. Remember some schools are now in "Corrective Action status", cutting or having programs eliminated goes against what corrective action does to keep standards at a maintained level.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"City school superintendent talking about big cuts"
By MARK HAYWARD, New Hampshire Union Leader, 6/20/2009

MANCHESTER – The Manchester school superintendent has proposed eliminating some sports and music programs, along with full-day kindergarten, to meet the $146.4 million spending target for next year.

Recommendations mady by Superintendent Thomas Brennan call for the elimination of varsity hockey, wrestling and ski programs as well as B team basketball in the middle schools. In the elementary schools, beginning band and orchestra would also be eliminated. Kindergarten, which is currently full-day in some schools, would be reduced to half-day citywide.

In the meantime, class sizes would increase from kindergarten to high school, high school elective courses, art and music programs would be reduced. Elementary and middle school students would have to live more than 2 miles from a school to be bused, and the high-school bus subsidy would be eliminated.

A host of host of secretaries, paraprofessionals, adminstrators and 10 assistant principals would be out of a job. No teachers are on the list, but the list does include 40 additional "non-designated positions."

In total, 190 full-time equivalent jobs -- 11.7 percent of all school staff -- would be eliminated.

"The educational impact will be significant and a greater burden will be placed upon the remaining staff in meeting the educational needs of our students," Brennan wrote in an 18-page rundown of his suggested cuts.

Brennan is scheduled to discuss his recommendations 7:30 p.m. Monday evening with the Manchester school board.

His recommendations also include pay-to-play proposals for athletics and music. Full fees for high school sports would be $100 and $50 for middle school. But the fee would be halved for students who receive reduced lunch prices and waived entirely for students on free lunch.

Brennan also said stimulus funds may be used for full-day kindergarten and to rehire the assistant principals. If state Building Aid comes through, another $1.9 million could be freed up to rehire staff or restore programs, he said.

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"Trails for the city: Grab the cash"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, June 20, 2009

Manchester is a city that can be difficult to navigate by car. One-way streets, dead ends and clogged thoroughfares make crossing some portions of the city cumbersome and time consuming. As bad as that can be, though, try walking or biking from one side of town to the other.

A group of residents has been trying to change this. They formed Manchester Moves Inc. with the hope of turning the city's old railroad beds into bicycle and walking paths that would connect the city from end to end and to nearby towns. It is a magnificent idea. But it will take lots of money.

The estimated cost of completing this large project is $23 million. Obviously, the city taxpayers cannot shoulder this burden. Manchester Moves hopes people will donate money. Even a $5 bill will help. That is a good start, but unless some wealthy citizens or corporations donate fives with a lot of zeros behind them, it won't be enough. So the group is trying to secure a federal grant.

Now, this isn't exactly a federal earmark. It turns out the money has already been authorized by Congress. It's spent; it just has to be allocated. The question is, who gets it? According to Manchester Moves, the nonprofit group in charge of dispensing the money is considering sending it to Manchester, but it needs encouragement.

As the money is going to be spent on some sort of trail project, Manchester's proposal is a strong one. But every bit of encouragement helps. So Manchester Moves wants people to contact their U.S. senators and representatives to ask them to help us get the funding.

This tax money is already gone. Better that we try to secure it for a productive project here than see it go to some place where it won't be put to as worthy a use. We urge our delegation in Congress to see if it can help this money find its way here. Manchester area residents should do the same.

READERS' COMMENTS:

You know how many teenagers have to do community service in this city and they are not allowed to volunteer at certain city departments anymore because of required background checks. Why not put this same group of individuals to work on these trails. Talk about saving the city money. But I guess that's just too easy an answer. Because who would want to supervise these teenagers. That's too much for any one to handle. I'm being sarcastic. 23 million dollars? Excuse me. Put these trouble maker kids to good use that might make them feel good at the same time. Everyone young or old likes to feel good and that they're contributing to society whether you want to believe it or not. I know I work with them everyday.
- Cecil, Manchester

$23 million for trails? $23 MILLION? Will they be paved with silver and gold?
- Joan, Manchester

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City Hall: "Spending cap issue has only two outcomes"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, Saturday, June 20, 2009

THERE ARE TWO WAYS of looking at the aldermen's decision to seek a legal opinion on the proposed spending cap: Either it was a perfectly reasonable response to the recent court ruling on a similar proposal in Concord, or it was part of a devious plot to keep Manchester voters from having their say.

Mayor Frank Guinta subscribes to the latter theory.

"The majority of aldermen have been opposed to this for years," Guinta said. "They don't want a spending cap. They want the ability to spend as much as possible."

Aldermen arrived at their decision in a closed-door meeting Tuesday, so there's no way of knowing what sort of debate they had. It would appear, though, that Guinta did not have many allies in the room -- perhaps only one: Alderman Ted Gatsas.

"We've told the voters they would have the opportunity to vote on it," Gatsas said in an interview. He insists voters should get that chance.

Notably, other aldermen who favor the proposal are fine with having a Hillsborough County Superior Court judge weigh in on the subject. Alderman Mike Garrity, the only other Republican on the board, said he's unconcerned, mainly because he believes the cap will hold up to legal scrutiny. Alderman Real Pinard, also a fan of the cap, said he has no objections, either.

The board may not have known it, but they saved anti-cap activists a lot of time and energy. Members of a newly formed coalition called Keep Manchester Moving said they were planning a two-week lobbying blitz to convince aldermen to seek a judge's input.

No need to bother with that now.

- - - - -

THROWN UNDER THE BUS: The Tuesday night roasting of Manchester Transit Authority Executive Director Carey Roessel -- make that former executive director -- wasn't pretty. One alderman, George Smith, compared his colleagues to a "lynching crew."

"I felt sorry for the poor guy," Smith said. "He didn't deserve what was coming."

Roessel took hits from all directions that night. Guinta called him disrespectful. Alderman Jim Roy said his "body language" sometimes came off as arrogant. Alderman Bill Shea suggested he was overpaid, tossing out salary figures that a transit executive later labeled inaccurate.

"I don't think one alderman had a kind word," Smith said.

Gatsas went so far as to accuse MTA officials of overspending their budget. He said if Roessel was a city department head, he might be guilty of a jailable offense.

At Gatsas' urging, aldermen ordered the city's independent auditor, Kevin Buckley, to do a full audit of the MTA's books.

- - - - -

SCAMPERING LIKE MICE: MTA Commissioner Joe Deselle said he was nervous about a rumor that some city officials want a change of leadership on the MTA board.

"We're scampering around like little mice, saying, 'What's going to happen next?'" he said Thursday.

Guinta said some aldermen are looking at ways to improve the relationship between their board and the MTA commissioners. His office has not called for any resignations. However, he said, "I think there's going to be an ongoing discussion about the commissioners."

- - - - -

BLOGGING TEDDY'S PRAISES: Guinta continues to use his blog on the official city Web site to make political points, a habit that has repeatedly drawn criticism from city Democrats.

This time, Guinta took the step of praising the Republican who hopes to succeed him as mayor.

"Manchester residents should credit Senator Ted Gatsas for his fiscal responsibility, and for continuing to oppose the overspending in Concord," Guinta wrote on the blog.

"It's definitely inappropriate," city Democratic Party Chairman Chris Pappas said when told about the post, "because it's not just him supporting his own political ambitions. Now he's supporting the political campaign of one of his allies."

Guinta has previously said the statements he makes on the blog are no different than the ones he makes in other public forums.

- - - - -

MONEY MEN: A co-chairman of Gatsas' newly-formed campaign finance team is promising to raise major bucks for his candidate.

"The last few races for mayor have required raising and spending $250,000 to $300,000," the co-chairman, Sean Owen, wedu president, said in a statement. "The outstanding team that Ted has assembled will definitely exceed these totals."

The 18-person finance committee includes some of the most prominent businessmen in the city. Among them: developer Dick Anagnost, real estate manager Ben Gamache and AutoFair President Andy Crews. It also includes some folks from outside Manchester, such as former state Sen. Chuck Morse, of Salem, and Nashua activist Fred Tausch. Tausch, an investor, will co-chair the committee.

- - - - -

HIRED: Alderman Mark Roy, who is challenging Gatsas for the job, has brought on former school district spokesman and New Hampshire Democratic Party Executive Director Dave Scannell to manage his campaign.

Roy will formally kick off his campaign June 25 at the Puritan Backroom restaurant.

- - - - -

IN OR OUT?: Questions about Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez's ambitions should be answered very soon. Lopez says he expects to make an announcement next week.

- - - - -

ALL SIGNS SAY YES: Meanwhile, every indication suggests former state Sen. Bobby Stephen will soon enter the mayor's race. Former Alderman Mary Sysyn said she has talked to the self-proclaimed conservative Democrat and is almost certain he's going to run.

"I don't believe it'll be too long before he finally announces," she said. Sysyn calls Stephen a "strong candidate" who is "very well known" in Manchester.

"I think he'd give everybody a run for their money," she said.

- - - - -

LESS FILLING: City officials say they will continue the recent tradition of keeping positions open throughout the new fiscal year.

Fifty-nine full-time positions are currently vacant, Lopez said. It's the aldermen's intention to maintain that many vacancies all year long, he said.

Department heads will still have to run all hiring requests past the mayor, but if they don't like what he has to say, they can ask the aldermen. (Sort of like going to Daddy after Mommy says you can't have a cookie before dinner.)

- - - - -

SHOWING THEIR APPRECIATION: Dozens of employees are retiring from the Manchester school district, and the expectation is that none of them will be replaced. This, officials hope, will save the district more than $3 million next year.

On a related note, Guinta has announced that he, the superintendent and School Board Vice Chairman Katherine Labanaris will host an "appreciation event" Tuesday in the retirees honor. Have no doubt, retirees: You are very, very appreciated.

- - - - -

HAMMERING IT OUT: School board members will have their hands full this week. The heavy lifting begins at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, when Superintendent Tom Brennan is expected to unveil his budget recommendations. As usual, the meeting will be held in the district's administrative offices at 286 Commercial St.
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Read Scott Brooks' coverage of Manchester City Hall in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email: sbrooks@unionleader.com.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Gatsas is the only man who can be counted on to continue the important accomplishments of Mayor Guinta. And they were important accomplishments. Thank you for declaring your candidacy.
- Steve, Manch

With regards to the motive of the aldermen sending the spending cap to the court for yet another ruling, I agree with Mayor Guinta - it is yet another attempt to thwart the will of the people and prevent the voters of Manchester from actually voting on whether or not they want aldermen to restrain spending in future budgets.

If this is a result of the "recent" ruling in the Concord spending cap - that "recent" ruling was back in March. If that was the impetus for the behind closed doors meeting, why did it take 3 months? Probably because it has nothing to do with the Concord ruling.

Last fall, these same aldermen did everything within their power to keep the spending cap off last November's ballot. The main argument then was that voters were not smart enough to weigh in on this issue without first being educated by the aldermen. You all remember the Gang of Eight, right? If not, let me refresh your memory:
Ward 1's Mark Roy
Ward 10's George Smith
Ward 8's Betsi DeVries
Ward 11's Russ Ouellette
Ward 4's Jim Roy
Ward 7's Bill Shea
At-Large Mike Lopez
At-Large Dan O'Neil

Ironically, their insistence that it not be on last year's ballot was likely a blunder on their part - had it been on that ballot it might have failed because of Obamamania.

Putting it on the ballot this November - when the people of Manchester will be voting for Mayor and Aldermen - voting for or against those who raised their taxes, for or against those who sided with the unions, for or against those who want to find ways to spend less rather than just continue to spend more and more of the taxpayers dollars with no regard for how those taxpayers are managing in these economic times.

Now the aldermen had to find a way to get it off this ballot - go back to court and hope that it delays it long enough. Keep in mind that the language was already signed off by the Attorney General's office, the Department of Revenue Administration and the Secretary of State's office. It is virtually the same language as other spending/tax caps that have already passed and are in place in Franklin, Laconia, Dover, and Rochester. Rochester's just passed overwhelmingly last November using this language.

Non-public session is not meant to allow for private votes - it is for discussion on issues that are appropriately private - most often those involving personnel matters. Shame on the aldermen for even allowing such a vote to occur. Why are they so afraid to let the public know who voted to send it back to court and who did not? Perhaps the readers should call their alderman and ask them how they voted.

This November's election affords the voters of Manchester the opportunity to elect some people who respect the will of the voters. That's not the majority of the board we have now. If it were, they'd just let you and I vote on the matter once and for all rather than resorting the same old game playing they play all too often.
- Tammy Simmons, Manchester

The column; good reading until I got to "Former Alderman Mary Sysyn said .."
There she is, Manchester's answer to the pet rock, a house plant who sat and did just as she was told, never bothered to understand city government, and then pouted when her pay/health benefit was cut. It is the likes of Ms Sysyn that Manchester finds itself is such a mess. For the love of god, country, and the American way :: will that woman ever just ... GO AWAY !!
- Thom, Manchester, NH

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"Costs drive suggestion to drop some Manchester sports"
By CHAD GRAFF, New Hampshire Union Leader, June 21, 2009

MANCHESTER – Expenses and particpation levels are the factors that drove city athletics director Dave Gosselin's proposal to eliminate varsity hockey, wrestling and skiing at city high schools.

The plan Gosselin outlined is a response to Superintendent of Schools Thomas Brennan's request to pare $200,000 from the city's athletics budget, aimed at helping the district reach its $164.4 million budget target for the next fiscal year.

Brennan's cost-cutting proposals also include eliminating full-day kindergarten in favor of a half-day program citywide, cutting B-level middle school basketball, cuts to music programs, and lopping off 190 full-time equivalent positions.

Gosselin said yesterday that participation numbers are dwindling for wrestling and skiing. Meanwhile, hockey, which has 58 city athletes, costs more money per athlete than any other sport. Ice time alone costs double what wrestling and skiing cost as a whole.

"It cost us over $100,000 to run the sport (hockey) in the city. We pay $75,000 every year for ice time at West Side Arena and JFK and that is with a home town discount of $200 an hour," said Gosselin, who went on to say that wrestling and skiing cost between $35,000 and $40,000.

Another suggestion to save money is eliminating sports at the freshman and junior varsity levels before cutting varsity teams. However, Gosselin said that proposal isn't efficient because the cost per student-athlete is so much cheaper for other sports than the varsity ones that he recommended to be cut.

Brennan also recommended a pay-to-play format for both sports and music. Gosselin cautioned that plan could hurt participation across the board.

"Nationwide, cities our size lose 30 to 35 percent of athletes (when they switch to a pay-to-play format) because they can't afford the additional cost. And Manchester is to diverse a community. I think if we go to a pay-to-play system, we would be closer to 40 percent of athletes lost," said Gosselin.

Under the recommended pay-to-play system, high school athletes would be forced to pay $100, while the middle school fee would be $50. Students receiving reduced or waived lunch prices would be charged less or nothing.

Memorial High School hockey coach Kyle McDonough, who is part of a family with deep roots in city hockey programs and who played professional hockey in the AHL and in Europe, recommended amending city fund -raising rules to allow teams to keep all of the money they raise.

"I'd rather go around fund-raising. If athletes don't have the money for a pay-to-play system, let them put in a couple of weekends raising money for there team and sport," said McDonough. "I don't want the whole system changed, just a couple of rules."

McDonough said that if the rules allowed teams to keep all of the money that they raised, then teams would be able to raise more money than the pay-to-play system would bring in.

Brennan is scheduled to discuss his recommendations Monday night at 7:30 with the city's school board.

READERS' COMMENTS:

To: JT from Manchester

You complained that Scott made an irrelevant comment because refugees placed in Manchester are funded under Title III funds from the Federal government.

In Scott's defense, where do you suppose Title III funds come from? Do they just sprout up out of the ground? Does King Obama snap his fingers and wish them into existence? Hardly. Those "governement" funds are taken from people like me and you and Scott, you know, citizens who pay taxes. I would rather those monies go to our kids here in Manchester than be confiscated and redistributed by the government.

Perhaps, if our government wasn't involved in so many social engineering efforts, our overall tax burden might be lower and issues like local funding of our schools might not be so painful.

Maybe you shouldn't have been so condescending to Scott - he was right in complaining that our money is being misspent.
- Mike, Manchester, NH

Michael: cut funding for special ed and continue funding sports? Are you kidding?

Wouldn't our society benefit more from children who graduate educated? Remember, they are the ones who will be running this world as we grow older. Look at how many of our skilled jobs are going overseas now. If we don't keep education a priority our country will fall behind the rest of the world.

Sports are loads of fun and great for keeping kids healthy. But really, how will playing sports help them in life if they can't balance a checkbook or read well?

You need to get your priorities straight.
- Sue, Bedford

Here we go, attack the student athletes. There is more difficult life lessons learned on the playing field in sports than in the classroom when it comes to leadership under fire and team work. Sports allows kids the opportunity to grow outside of the classroom and teaches kids discipline as well as a focus on education. Lets not forget, the student athlete must...MUST...maintain a certain GPA in order to participate. This forces the student athleteto not only excel in the sport but to excel in the classroom. Student athletes ...as well as those student who participate in any school activity such as band, make sacrifices of their own time to promote school spirit and quality educational experiences.

We can not put a prive tag on the value of sports programs within the high schools, middle school or elementary schools. The lessons learned on the field, onthe court, on the ice, in the band are experiences these kids will take with them forever and will help them grow.

I don't have a problem with a flat fee to play sports either. This is one way of helping to offset the expense side of things.
- jeff, manchester

Tom,
Yes there are benfits from sports, however if they have to choose between an up to date curriculum and books from this decade or hockey and other expensive sports I think they should cut the sports. You also played basketball, which most likely has the involvement numbers to be worth keeping. The city is asking taxpayers to foot the bill for a few students to play all the sports under the sun that they want to, and that is not right. While I fully support educational funding there was a line crossed in recent years between needs and a wants when it comes to public funding. If people could find a way to defray these costs without costing taxpayer dollars and I am all for it.
- Mike, Manchester

We would have all the money money the city would need, if we stop taking in all there refugees from Africa and other countries. The Lutheran church in Concord keeps bringing these people here, with no way to support them but our hard earned taxes. This city has become hugely diversifed with wrong sectioin 8. We have property taxes. These people are putting a dime in. They are draining us.
If we can't stop the dead wood from drifting in then we have only one solution and that is to implement the pay-to- play programs. What a sad day for this city!!!
- John, Manchester

Scott of Manchester,
The refugees are paid for by TITLE III FUNDS and not by the city. Your comment is totally irrelevant. Do your research before posting something erroneous.
- JT, Manchester

If you think that education is all about reading, writing and arithmetic than you are not a global thinker living in today's world.
Our kids deserve better - especially because they are eventually going to be in charge. Sports, music, science and art are things that are imperative to bringing it all together.
Alderman Gatsas and Lopez - you have let us down and set us back years.
- joco, manchester,nh

for the remark of his opinion from michael king let me tell u something there we cant cut from the special need to satisfy you and your sports i believe in education, my son has a disability as in autism i like my son get the same as your child or children if it means my taxes to go up so does it, so keep your money in Epping
- jim, manchester

UL, the budget is 146 million for next year, not $164.4 million.
- C, Manchester

Wrestling? Is this acutally a sport? The only thing that I've seen of it is what Comiecast advertises for PPV and it's entertainment. Tennis? Want to become the next John McEnroe or Serena Williams? Pay for private lessons I'm sure there are private summer Tennis camps. Skiing? If you want to go skiing, go out and buy a season lift ticket for little Johnny or Susie and you can drive them up to the local ski resort after school or on weekends and they can ski all they want.

As a taxpayer I find it I can't afford to take advantage of playing tennis or skiing and I doubt wether I would waste time learning wrestling as it's a sham anyways. We ought to be furnishing an education not a recreational activities program.

As far as hockey programs there were private groups at one time that offered a host of opportunities, no reason why these items need to be part of the school program.

For $210,000 they could go out and buy books.

I have no problem paying for a basic education and making sure little Johnny and Susie have text books and in all honesty the parents are responsible for sending them to school prepared that means fed with a breakfast, dressed in the proper attire, packing a lunch or with enough money to buy lunch and with notebook and pencils and pens to complete their education.

To be any less prepared is parental negligence.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

Mike from Manchester...since when is playing sports not educational? I learned a tremendous amount from playing basketball during high school including VERY VALUABLE business lessons including: teamwork, leadership, communication to name a few. There is plenty of FAT to cut from any budget...this is fundamentally wrong.
- Tom Boucher, Bedford, NH

As a fiscal conservative, my first reaction is to view the threat of cutting sports during a budget crisis as a ploy by the education establishment to bluff the public into acquiescing to more funding. This comes from the constant drumbeat by the education establishment that we could improve education if only we had more money. No matter the problem, money always seems to be the answer in public education.

My daughter will be a senior at Central this year and is an active member of the marching band/concert band. I am prepared to "pay-to-play", if necessary, in order for her to continue her music studies. The instruction she has received from Mr. Sterling and Mr. Russell has been outstanding and they, along with Mr. Seniow, are to be commended for building a first-rate music program.

I must agree with Scott from Manchester who asked why Manchester can be used as a refugee relocation center by the Federal government while our own children potentially suffer the loss of services and opportunities. I know that Central has a diverse student population and has dozens of different languages spoken by those students. I can only assume that there is a tremendous cost associated with educating these children.

As the great-grandson of non-English speaking immigrants, I believe that we should return to the concept of total immersion in English to give these kids the same opportunities my family has enjoyed. I wonder how much money can be saved from ending the coddling of foreign language speakers. You are in America - learn our language so that you can contribute to our society as a full participant. If it was good enough for my great-grandparents, it is most certainly good enough for you.
- Mike, Manchester, NH

This year’s Manchester taxes compared to Nashua and Salem:

All number are per $1000 of evaluation
……………….Manch….Nashua…..Salem
Town tax:…$8.05…..$6.50……..$4.75
Local Ed:….$5.98…..$7.79………$6.05
State Ed:….$2.28…..$2.25………$2.16
County tax:$1.04….$1.01……….$0.88

Clearly we’re taxed much, much more for our municipal government and a bit less for schools.

The recently passed budget keeps the schools spending roughly flat, while raising he city spending. The state is giving the schools an additional $7.4 million dollars next year, but the schools will lose $1.5 million dollars in Bedford tuition. Additionally, the state will not be granting $4 million in revenue sharing. Given this information estimated rates for Manchester for next year will be:
Town tax:…$9.24 (up 15%)
Local Ed:….$5.38 (down 10%)

As anyone can see, taxes are what they are in Manchester do to our very large city spending, not our school spending.
Are tax increases with reductions in school spending what the people of Manchester want?

Just who are our aldermen and mayor representing? It does not seem to be people, who want lower taxes, or people who have children or people who value public education or the teachers union, or the school district administration. The numbers don't like. If people want a better Manchester they’re going to have to stop lying to themselves.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester, NH

Schools are for learning, that is their purpose. If by removing these programs they free up more money to teach our kids at a competitive level then I am all for it. Some people forget that while sports do have their good intentions, in the long run educating our students is far more important. If anything maybe they should charge fees to play? I went to a school that did that myself, it allowed more money to be spent on teaching and only the students who were actually 100% committed to their sports would play. Seems like a good idea.
- Mike, Manchester

Cut out some of the specially mandated requirments from Education like some special ed and the Aides needed. I know a bunch of people will start "Well it is Federally mandate that we do X Y & Z". Well tell the Feds to fund it or forget it. Its a big mistake to quit funding sports/student activity.
- Michael King, Epping

Varsity, or any level, Sports should not be cut!! Amend the fundraising rules! Include the Pay to play as well. I know that in hockey, it's a "family" atmosphere, I know that hockey families help one another. If the kids have been playing together for some time, other families that are more well to do would be willing to help out the families that are struggling.This will allow those who really want to play to play.
- Dawn Gagnon, Manchester

Absolute joke this city is becoming. There is alot of deadweight that the city employs and the kids are gonna be the ones to lose.

How much is that band stand in Stark Park costing?

I drove past the tennis courts at MHS the other day and the weeds were about 3 feet tall. How come the inmates at Valley St. aren't trimming? Because the highway dept. union screams that work is being taken away from them?

Where's all this Obama stimulus money going? It's great to see the city take in so many refugees but homegrown kids are gonna lose out on sports so these families can be supported.

I would like to see the UL do an in depth look at the budget and publish where city funds are being used, because there has to be a better solution than taking away from the students.
- Scott, Manchester

----------

"Board OKs school budget with 'pay as you play' feature"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 6/23/2009

MANCHESTER – The school board approved a budget last night that leaves open the possibility of recalling laid-off teachers, even as it threatens to increase class sizes and eliminate a range of programs.

To make it work, board members have embraced a plan that would require students to pay a fee to participate in extra-curricular activities, including sports and music programs.

The budget plan was approved by a vote of 8 to 7, with Mayor Frank Guinta casting the tie-breaking vote.

An alternative budget proposal brought forward by school board member Art Beaudry met with defeat last night. Beaudry said his proposal would bring back all 88 teachers and administrators who were pink-slipped this spring and sidestep most of the program cuts that have made this year's budget process so fraught.

The plan, however, failed to win over the district's business administrator, Karen Defrancis, who said Beaudry was leaning on revenues that may not come in. Board members rejected the plan, 10 to 5.

Brennan said he is very confident the district can preserve full-day kindergarten classes and recall all 10 of the assistant principals that were pink-slipped in April. The superintendent also said there is the potential to reinstate some of the 78 teachers who received layoff notices.

"That's what we want to accomplish," Brennan said, "and if I was asked my level of confidence in accomplishing that, it would be extremely high."

The superintendent's proposal looks to attrition, layoffs and retirements to take $6.8 million in salaries off the district's books. Brennan said the district would lose the equivalent of 190 full-time employees -- roughly 12 percent of its workforce.

Board members rejected Committeeman At-Large Debra Gagnon Langton's plea to reconsider the deal the unions laid at their feet last month. Union members were willing to sacrifice half their cost-of-living increases in the coming year, saving the district $852,000, in exchange for a three-year contract extension. The school board had previously rejected the proposal, arguing it would cost the district an extra $11 million through 2013.

"There's $852,000 that's sitting on the table," Committeeman At-Large Kathleen Kelley said last night. "Even if it's a one-time fix, it's one that we know is there."

Beaudry said his budget plan would leave 110 positions vacant through attrition, but would preserve many of the programs Brennan's plan would not, including elementary band and orchestra and a pre-kindergarten readiness program. He conceded his plan requires the board to make a few assumptions -- for instance, that towns and cities will successfully contest an increase in state retirement costs as an "unfunded mandate -- but, Beaudry said, "I believe they're assumptions that will come to fruition."

Defrancis said her biggest concern about the plan is that it assumes the mayor and city finance officer will allow the district to drain all $3 million out of its "impact fee" account. The money comes from developers who build homes in the district.

Under the superintendent's proposal, many, but not all, classrooms would be a good deal more crowded. For example, a report provided by the administration shows the average enrollment for third-grade classes at Beech Street Elementary School would jump from 19 to 30. First-grade classrooms at Hallsville Elementary would go from 14 students per class to 21.

"It seems to me this would be devastating to education in the city," Committeeman John Avard said of the increased class sizes.

Brennan said a "fully funded" school budget would be $157.8 million. The budget approved by the aldermen falls $11.4 million short of that mark.

"I don't want to make any of these recommendations, because the school district really can't afford any of them," Brennan said. "But seeing that, we have a budget that I need to address."

The superintendent would still have to come up with a proposal for "pay-to-participate" activities. Brennan suggested charging $100 for athletes at the high school level and $50 for those in middle school.

For musicians, fees would vary, from potentially as little as $40 to join the choir to potentially as much as $185 to join the band program.

Committeeman Doug Kruse, who participated in the meeting via teleconference because he was in Florida, said eliminating sports outright would be a "deal-breaker."

Brennan is proposing to spend a portion of the $10.5 million the district is slated to receive in federal "stimulus" money, but he said he wants to be careful because the restrictions on much of it remain unclear.

Brennan did say he hopes to use $814,000 in stimulus money to preserve full-day kindergarten classes, which otherwise would be reduced to half-day. In addition, he would use $1.1 million to "recall" or replace the 10 assistant principals, who, because of federal requirements, would have to work exclusively with disabled students.

READERS' COMMENTS:

NOT ALL MANCHESTER SCHOOLS have 14 kids in a class...check your math! Try 23-28 in some (this year), that's BEFORE school choice! Try 30+ easy! Then you come in and teach for a day! Good luck, if you think it's so easy!
- Diane, Manchester

Makes sense to me to do this... although I think the fees need some work... $185 for band???

The only extra costs to band are the stipends for the directors, music, transportation, and uniforms. OK then break that down per kid and assess that as the fee.
- Marc, Weare

I do not have a problem with paying something towards extra programs. My child does not play sports, but I do pay for her to take a sports-like class (karate), so I do not see a difference. When she did play, it was with Manchester South Soccer and Manchester Girls Softball, so we payed then. She now does the strings program and if it is a reasonable amount, I am willing to pay. BUT - my husband and I work hard, sometimes having trouble making ends meet. We do not qualify for aid and do not expect extras. But as I understand it, the school board is saying that children who are already getting free/reduced lunch/breakfast will get the same break here for sports and music. So does that mean it will cost my family more so another child can play? That does not seem fair. A reasonable amount is more than fair. My paying for another family's child to play is not.
- Alison, Manchester

Greg - As I said before, I am more than willing to pay for sports. I think that is a reasonable request. What I don't think is reasonable is charging music students for their academic class. If you are going to do that, then you need to charge for every elective that is available. Band is no different that auto mechanics, early childhood education and the like that are taught at MST. My point is that you can't single out band/chorus/orchestra and not apply the fee to others equitably.
- Pam, Manchester

This has now gone far beyond a joke. The City of Manchester has now broken its own record as lowest-funded school district per pupil in the state. We're # 1 - counting from the bottom up. GOOD JOB!!!
- Jack, Manchester

About 20 years ago, I was part of the Music Department at Central High - I played Bassoon, Clarinet, Bari Sax, Piano, Mallet Percussion and managed to pick up Flute on the side.

I worked and attended school, attended Foreign Language Clubs and remained active in all of them for all four years of high school.

The cost back then to professionally clean and re-pad my instruments were:
Clarinet: $125.00
Bassoon: $300.00
Bari Sax: $325.00
Flute: $85.00
Replacement Mallets: $20.00

My wind instruments required reeds:
Clarinet: $3.00 each
Bassoon: $22.00 each
Bari Sax: $6.00 each

Then I paid my Band dues of 10.00/year, prepaid for fundraiser items in advance and sold the rest, paid for my own excursions that involved the music department which probably totaled about $700.00 but not including money for meals for the trip.

My parents never foot the bill because when you are one out of five kids - that meant having a job to help ease their financial burden. I still maintained High Honor Roll despite the huge load on my shoulders... and never once got into trouble.

20 years later - I threw in a call to some of the music shops and asked what the going rates are for upkeep on some of the more common instruments - would you believe a Euphonium was running about 600.00?!

People - sports isnt more expensive, everything is expensive all around. I have a daughter who is finishing Freshman year at Memorial and learning that I could potentially be required to pay for her to play is rediculous. There are MUSIC TEACHERS GETTING A SALARY - we should not have to be paying more than our fair share. These Music teachers are all having meetings right now as we post our messages, TOTALLY DISGUSTED by this...

If Music were considered an Extra-curricular activity, then why is it that Fine Arts is on the roster for classes to pick and sign up for when you register as a student or returning student? Thats not EXTRA - thats part of the curriculum. My daughter is a percussionist and loves this so much that she chose Music as her major. (thanks Mr. Bresnahan and Mr Brien)

So - to the ignorant people who are sports-driven, before you assume Sports costs more, get educated and learn about the investments we make towards music in general. We both are on the same playing field when it comes to expenses (no pun intended)

And to our so-called City Administration - youre SUPPOSED to be listening to the people of Manchester - you have seriously lacked in this area and with all due respect, you could stand to take a few math classes yourselves and learn what it means to document everything and hold yourself accountable to exact penny, and THEN prove it to the people where you have spent your money...and WHY.... STOP making our kids pay for your mathematical mistakes and your limitless greed - you make me sick!
- A very angry Music Dept parent, Manchester

If we are going to charge for band class, then are we charging for math, English and science? If not, why? They are all part of the curriculum.
- Pat, Manchester

Take the union offered $852,000 concession this year. Do you think the city will not spend all of the 11 million projected on raises when the contracts come due?
- Dan, Manchester

The only constitutional mandates for schools are reading, writing and arithmetic. The rest is just plain non-essential. Families are cutting down non-essential items from the family budget. But yet they moan and whine when the schools and state have to do the same. If you don't like it and don't want to pay for non-essential activities then MOVE to the socialist state of Massachusetts! Then when they go bankrupt like the socialists state of California, you can scratch your heads and wonder why. Good job Manchester school board! You have my support. Don’t listen to these spoiled YUPPIES!
- Greg Harris, manchester

Good! Our taxes foot the bill to educate these kids - let them pay for the extras!
- Tracy, Manchester

I have no issue with the pay to play idea, however if reduced meals means reduced or no pay. With the economy the way it is I see alot more people appling for reduced lunches come fall. Also can anyone tell us wh kids have to pay to ride the bus to high school yet other kids do not have to pay? Where does the money high schoolers pay go anyway? I have been to board meetings and talked to a few different mayors over the years and still can't get an answer.
- dan, manchester

Part of the budget problem for the schools can be blamed on the Teachers Union board members. They pushed for the members to vote for the aldermans offer, saving only 800,000+/-, while rejecting the school boards offer which would save 3 million +/-. Why? To insure pay increases for the older members. The union is sacrificing newer workers to benifet the old.
- John, Manchester

"The problem with pay-to-play is that the alderman will take that revenue and deduct it from next year's school budget in order to buy a new fire truck. Its time to make the school it's own department, send out a separate school-tax bill, and let the BOSC members take the heat themselves. It is clear that the BMA does not understand education, and that the BOSC doesn't understand voter concern - or, maybe they are the few that actually do.
- Joe Briggs, Manchester"
Right on the money Mr. Briggs. This pay as you play option is simply going to be money that the aldermen deduct from next years school budget and will force another increase in fees.

This city is crumbling every day. Downtown looks hideous. HAs anybody ever watched a parade on the local channel? The downtown area looks like old town Mayberry. Nothing modern about downtown but then again we don't have a Mayor who tries to bring economic redevlopment to the downtown.

This city has schools that are crumbling, a downtown that is crumbling...what is left to be proud of in the city of Manchester? It is beginning to look like a disgusting run down city. I don't know if Gatsas will be the answer but I think he has the business smarts to bring in the jobs needed, fund the schools and get Manchester back on the map. This city is getting older by the day and now the school board has just given the aldermen another revenue source.
- Jeff, Manchester

I agree with you both, Tom and Laurie. It's not fair for the people that are working to have to pay for everything. It's time to give the non-workers (the ones who are not working by choice) a good ol' kick in the butt. We should give them a timeframe to get a job, start paying for the children they bring into the world, and make them start to take responsibilty.

I, for one, cannot afford to have children, so I choose not to bring a child into this world. I am in awe of Tom and Laurie who can afford to make it with 6 children (and foster kids) and actually work. Thank you for being responsible.
- Sarah, Manchester

I agree with Kim's comments. How do you charge a student for a CURRICULAR activity? Band and chorus are both classes, not an after school activity. Are the kids paying so they can march in parades? My high school student is in band, chorus and plays sports. I am willing to pay for sports, but I think it's lunacy to ask parents to pay for classes. Yet, as Mr. Sorrentino so astutely points out, the cost of city administration is absurdly high. With so many questions about the pay to pay program unresolved, I hope to hear from members of the school board with clarification so that parents can make decisions sooner rather than later. It may be time to move.
- Pam, Manchester

Has anyone turned on the tele and seen whats going on California. The whole state is on the brink of insolvency. They were a state living beyond their means for decades. Many of the fine principles and method of education flowed west to east. Many of those very same programs require money, and lots of it. Without the money they have no way of funding it.

I hope people wake up here and realize we are in the same boat. It's time to use some good old Yankee ingenuity.
I remember there were some great programs like the Muchachos and other groups as well.

There are other programs kids can take for enrichment, Im sure the NH Institute of Art and the Currier can put together some opportunities.

Drama programs through the acting loft
and the Palace. Ted Heberts music academy.

Education needs to be re-invented and theres no reason that it can't be here.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

The sky is falling .. the sky is falling .. all I read here is complaining.. boo hoo..

How about some solutions?

I was in the band in HS, we paid to play. Long time ago. And we loved it. We raised money with car washes, etc. The parents got involved, I mean "really involved" .. helping out with uniforms, instruments, rides, you name it .

A good thought: when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Get off your butts and offer solutions, stop complaining, and looking back.
- tom, manchester,nh

Wasn't it said before by the Superintendent that a level-funded budget (to keep all teachers, Assistant Principal's, programs they way they are) would be around $152-3Mil, right? From 146 to 153 is a 5% increase right? On a $250,000 home, taxes are around $5,000. A 5% increase in that $5,000 is $250.
If you have just 1 kid wanting to do band (as much as $185) AND athletics ($100), you'll pay more now than you would have had taxes increased on the school side! Now imagine how much you might have to pay if you have more than 1 kid wanting to do these programs. AND class sizes will be bigger and I'm sure they will run out of money for supplies earlier, too!
You'll be paying more now than if taxes had increased.
- Bob, Lake Ave, Manch

If you look at what schools must provide, per the state constitution, adequacy is the metric. In my opinion, math, english and science are required for adequacy.

Don't get me wrong - I know that sports can provide a lot of value to a growing child. Confidence, social skills and character can all be built on the field or court. However, I would not consider organized sports to be a requirement of formal education. Much of the educational value of sports can be obtained in the school's phys ed classes.
- Dan, Auburn

Thank-you Tom! We too have six kids. My husband recently lost his job at a big ad agency in Boston. We were on one income, and we have sacrificed a lot. Even though he made good money, the cost of gas and the t-pass etc just to get in there and back, would often put us near the edge financially. We have had to pay for everything we do...and frankly we would not have it any other way. When it came time to have the kids in sports, we would shell out the cash, and use mastercard for food. Not that, that is the smartest thing to do, but we would not go asking for handouts. Our kids are homeschooled (trust me not the easiest thing to do.) Their math books alone cost us about $185.00 per kid, that is on top of tutoring when they need it. They run track, and play baseball for Central. They have had successful, and great times playing for the Central teams. I am not sure that you can put a price tag on that. I have heard, not sure as to its' validity, that Manchester has the highest per capita refugee population in the country. I agree with Tom, that there are many people in this city that benefit from those of us who are working our selves to the bone to provide the basics, and then some. There are many in the city, for whatever the reason, some legitimate, some not, who pay nothing into this system, and get all this "stuff" back. It is time to start tightening up on those who could do what we do, work hard, sacrifice, and get two jobs if need be. As to refuges; I know that there are many truly good people who are hard working,and just in need of a little help to get themselves back in gear. No one minds helping out a hard worker, but we should not be giving freebies out to those who are just to lazy to bother. I still wish that the teachers had taken the one week unpaid deal, that Mayor Guinta offered. If that would have avoided all of this, I am sure that would have been the most reasonable way to go. People all over America are being asked to sacrifice. Teachers work hard, I know it is not an easy job, but in this time period, it will take a little bit from everyone to get by. My husbands former co-workers are working only three days now a week, no overtime, and cuts in health insurance. If the private sector has to do that, why not the public sector?
- laurie, manchester

Thank you, Kim, for finally pointing out that music is NOT an extracurricular activity. It is an academic course of study. Colleges recognize this and award degrees in music performance and music education. All State level musicians can earn significant scholarship money.

Making musicians pay to play in the band is like charging science students an extra fee for Biology lab.
- David, Manchester

Jim of Manchester,

You know what should be keeping these kids out of trouble?

The parents!!!

Why is it that people can't take responsability for their own kids?

People on this site will always bring up the fact that parents split, work multiple jobs, etc. Those are just excuses people use so they don't get held accountable.

If you really want the best for your kids you figure it out and participate in their learning experiences!

Basic subjects (math, english, etc) should be the most import part of school. Sports, music and the like are just bonuses and should be treated as such.
- TMAN, Manchester

My fear is it will force good kids with out fincial support off character building school/ team activaties. Often times these activaties are the only thing keeping these kids out of trouble.
- Jim, Manchester

Now with the budget behind him maybe Dr Brennan can spend more time controlling the violence and gang activity at McLaughlin Middle School and perhaps he could respond to his emails in less then two weeks
- Bryan, Manchester

Pay to play in music programs! That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard of!! These are CLASSES in school. After school sports are NOT. You get graded in your music classes NOT after school sports. Last I knew they students were not taking college class in music were you have to pay for your musical education! Plus we are cutting the elementary program. So much for feeder programs for middle and high school programs. Guess we won't have to worry about the fees to long as there will be no one "feeding" up to the middle and high school programs! UNBELIEVABLE!!!
- Kim, Manchester

Kathy, I think you should rethink your take on what decade that classes were larger and "mixed".

I graduated from Salem in the mid 90's. Almost every class I was in had ~30 students. In those classes we even would have kids with special needs.

Without having anyone at home pushing me to be a better student (no one checked my grades or if I did my homework) I still did just fine.

It doesn't matter how many students are in a class. We just need to give them an opportunity to learn. Then it is up to them to put in the effort.

People need to realize that not all students are going to turn into doctors. The world is always going to need ditch diggers.
- TMAN, Manchester

Anyone need any further evidence why Kelleigh Murphy - and likely many more like her - will move to the suburbs and Bedford?

Case closed.
- RG, Manchester

I think the "pay to play" is a pretty good idea.
With owning my own home, I pay a lot of taxes every year to help fund these schools. What exactly are all the section 8 people, who live in apartments paying? I'll tell you the answer, NOTHING! It's time they stop feeding off the system and start paying in. I say Kudos to the city for coming up with this idea. I don't have kids, but if sure going to feel good to hear they are coughing up some dough.
- John, Manchester

We did pay to play in Michigan and worked. I took dance and voice lessons and my parents had to pay for it. it's what parents do. My friend's son take soccer and baseball and she pays. He always takes karate, which is not free. Parents need to take the responsibility and know that when they have children, those children will want to participate in events. Participation requires money.

As for class sizes, it is going to be crazy. Try being in a room with 30 eight year olds. They are not respectful. (Gee, I wonder why). Also, consider who is in the mix-ESL, SPED, EH--kids with so many needs. Try doing that alone. I challenge any of you against us teachers to try it out. You will run out crying within an hour.
- A teacher in Manchester, Manchester

Ed has some very good points. The nuns that taught Bill and the rest of us, back in the day, did not have multiple levels of kids in their classes. Today we have inclusion, meaning that kids with special needs are taught right alongside mediocre and gifted kids. The teacher has to meet all of their needs: one teacher for 1 or 2 severely challenged kids plus 5 or 6 emotionally handicapped kids plus 20 or 25 more-or-less average kids plus 3 or 4 gifted kids who are bored with regular curricula. You do the math. And when Bill was in school, kids had 2 parents at home. Kids from intact homes are in the minority now. Teachers are trying to teach kids who haven't even eaten since school lunch yesterday, and will have no one at home to help with their homework tonight. Bill, and Jack Alex, your views of education are so outdated as to be ridiculous. There are unpleasant realities of society in 2009 that your teachers never dreamed of, or rather had nightmares of. Deal with today's issues, not 1970s issues.
- Kathy, Manchester, NH

The problem with pay-to-play is that the alderman will take that revenue and deduct it from next year's school budget in order to buy a new fire truck. Its time to make the school it's own department, send out a separate school-tax bill, and let the BOSC members take the heat themselves. It is clear that the BMA does not understand education, and that the BOSC doesn't understand voter concern - or, maybe they are the few that actually do.
- Joe Briggs, Manchester

The politicians need to start acting responsbily and stop looking to their political futures. The district needs money and the only viable alternative is to raise taxes. I live in this city and am willing to pay for good schools and teachers. I dont relish the idea, but raise the taxes and properly fund the school district.

Also renegotiate the teacher contract and get rid of layoffs by reverse seniority. As it has already been stated, the younger, energized, and motivated teachers are the ones that we are losing. We should be getting rid of the old, bitter, yell all day teachers instead. If you dont believe me take a look Green Acres for a day and you will find a few. There is so little leadership at that school that one of the worst teachers I have ever seen (Mrs. Gagnon) retired and was brought back as a substitute.
- Ben, Manchester

The final Bedford students graduated from West High last Saturday. Looks like they got out of Manchester just in the nick of time.
- Dick, Bedford

thank mayoral candidate gatsas for this
- mike conway, manchester

Pay as you play only applies to those of us who are already paying. If you get free lunches then you get free sports and music. If you have reduced lunches you get reduced costs for sports and music. If you have to pay full price for lunches then you pay full price for all the programs that your kids want to do. So in other words, I have to pay the higher taxes to help these kids get free lunches and free sports, I have to pay the full price for the activities my kids want to do in order to allow other kids to do them for free. I have 6 kids including my foster kids. It adds up. I don't have an issue with helping out kids, ie why I'm a foster parent and my wife is an educational surrogate but these budgets punish my kids and my family because we have to pay extra for everything and can't always afford that while someone else who's parents refuse to work gets to do everything. And all of you know that in many cases that is the truth even when the economy is good. I was forced to take a big pay cut to stay employed because of the economy, my taxes have gone up and will go up again, my medical insurance double again this year and any money I get for being a foster parent doesn't even come close to paying for what it costs to raise teenage foster kids. And yet I still have to pay for everything, if anyone needs a break it's the people who pay the taxes to support all of this. It's really starting to hurt, so much so that I may have to move because I can't afford to do this anymore and I love the Manchester area and the schools. I have kids ranging from McDonough all the way up to Central so believe me I know what I am talking about.
- Tom, Manchester

So what happens the first time a parent says why isn't my kid playing, I paid my $100.00?
- Steve, Pembroke

While 30 is a little too many students in a classroom, particularly for weak teachers who can't control a class, we now know that Manchester teachers have been sailing by with class sizes of 14? Easier for teachers, but worse for students, because children learn from each other, too. My kids would have been bored to tears sitting with same 13 kids every day. Bring on classes of 27! When will Manchester start to use our taxes with wisdom instead of for power and politics?
- Melissa, Manchester

You might just as well kiss the music program good bye. Charging students to participate in a performing group only leads to the fall of the whole program. Since when should you have to pay to sing? It will not be a pretty sight to see the bands marching down Elm St. when they have only 10 people in it or to have Manchester represented in state wide festivals with two singers. Why is it that whenever there is a money issue, the fine arts department always takes a hit? This will not be beneficial to the students who excel in the arts programs. What about the lower to middle class family, how will they afford the different extra-curricular activities? Does Manchester have to always be the one in the news?
- Cathy, NH

Sports costs far more than music programs. Sports has never been proven increase a student's ability in school Taking piano lessons has been proven to improve test scores.
IF merit pay were instituted, many of the teachers would be gone never to return. Those who were paid meritoriously would take up the slack. But we'll never know because the unions and their backers won't have it.
- Harry Callahan, Bow

Ok we are going to increase class sizes, we want to increase test scores and we need to meet all of the requirements of No Child Left Behind....In the middle schools classes are just put together randomly so you may have 5 algebra students with 10 students with IEP's but don't forget only 1 teacher!! Increasing class size and meeting the needs of the students is never taken into consideration when a budget needs to be put together...Maybe the school board needs to teach a few classes in the schools they oversea and attempt to fund.
- Mary Hartigan, Raymond

Unfortunately, the teachers that were pink slipped (and may not be coming back) were chosen strictly by seniority and NOT by merit. What this means is that there are still a lot of bad older teachers on the payroll that just happen to have seniority over the younger teachers. All this means is that the school district's teachers will trend older as the younger teachers are purged each year in the annual pink slip debacle.

Class size is less important than quality teachers. The skills that these kids need to learn (basic math and science as well as technology and life skills) will be taught to them by an increasingly out of touch stable of teachers.

The Alderman and the School District are both to blame for voting for this ridiculously small budget and also for voting to pink slip teachers. However, the method in which the pink slips are handed out (seniority trumps merit) sits squarely on the shoulders of the union. It's a shame and it's a sign of laziness on the union's part.

They'd rather simply lop off the bottom 78 teachers on the seniority list than actually test and track teachers ability and hand out pink slips according to that. All that means is that instead of losing "dead weight" or under-performing teachers each year which would actually strengthen the district despite the lower budget, the district will lose a more or less random sampling of teachers (some good, some bad, some great) which means that there's no way to tell what kind of effect this will have on the district's performance.

It's a half-assed solution to the problem and it's a major reason why this district is getting worse year after year rather than better.
- Ben B, Manchester

Have you people been listening? It is not the "dead wood" that is being cut. Cuts are being made to the young, fresh out of college, energized teachers.

Question: Does pay to play add up per sport and activity? If a student is in band, plays 3 sports, is in NHS, and art classes, does that student owe over $648? Even at reduced rates, most families will tell students to pick one or two activities. Gone are the days when the kid from the wrong side of Webster Street can join every sport, every club, take honors classes, and pursue his or her dreams. Our low income students will not be competitive for college like the students who come from more affluent backgrounds.

What about impacts to electives and honors classes?

And Bill, when was the last time you were in a room with 30 eight year olds or 35 sixteen years olds for that matter? Unfortunately, kids today are not respectful of teachers (wow, I wonder where that comes from). Teachers are asked to do so much more than nuns did years ago. I challenge your "better education" anyday. When was the last time you were in a school?

I go to a school everyday. Try it sometime.
- Ed, Manchester

How pathetic it is that our city has become a laughing stock of the state, if not beyond. We are in tough economic times. The state provides Manchester with an additional $7 million for schools next year. We want tax cuts, so we hold flat the school budget, effectively spending the addition state money to raise the town budget. We then increase taxes to raise the town budget even more, and all we read and talk about is how to schools are cutting programs to make ends meet.

How about an article about where all the additional tax money going? By all measures the city government spending is very high. Will the cobble stone, circa 1920, curbing on my street finally be upgraded? I’m tired of cars running into the houses on this street. What are we getting for this additional money we’re spending in these tough times?

I moved into this city 20 years ago in part due to its lower taxes when compared to surrounding towns. Today taxes are comparable to other towns, crime is higher, the schools are worse and more poorly funded, the city government seems to do no more, but is more richly funded. Does anyone think this is good city and fiscal management? If so, explain to me how.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

I don't think that the board has any idea what they've done here. Manchester is a city with many students who come from lower income homes. These parents can't afford to shell out for each extra-curricular program - programs that help keep kids off the streets. Now, these kids will be on the streets, or parents will need to take time off work to keep an eye on them - time they can't afford to take. Anyone care to take a guess what these kids will be up to? What they're giving the kids the opportunities to be exposed to?

Not to mention opportunities for learning and growth these programs provide.

Heck, even middle class families are having a hard time making ends meet and can ill afford to pay for these programs.

I'm sure I'll get a lot of posts saying "these schools aren't babysitters" and the like. Well, maybe we wish they didn't have to be, but this is the real world we live in.
- Mike, Bedford

Scott,
Looks to me like you must have been educated by one of the "dead weight" teachers in the manchester "school" sytem. Why don't you name the teachers that should be cut since you are so sure there are "at least 88 dead weight teachers in the Manchester "school" system ! And before casting stones at the "school" board members, why don't you start with the aldermen who got us in this mess to begin with !
- Jim, Manchester

15-21 children in a class, heavenly days!
When I went to school we had 30+ in a class with one nun and we not only learned discipline, but, we got a better education then what some get today. Losing 10% of teachers is not a bad thing - as long as it is the ones that don't teach anyway - will give others something to do with themselves.
- Bill, Manchester

Well I am glad someone has maybe read some of the comments I have posted over the last few months.

I know how painful this is going to be for the children, the parents, and the education professionals. The school district has finally learned that they must prioritize what is truely important.

I think with the cost of employing quality teachers and mainstreaming services to keep the expenses managable while still providing a valuable basic education is the goal. Public education is what it is, its an educational system for the masses. It doesn't need to be low quality, but it needs to be an efficient lean system and like the Henry Ford assembly line.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

"...leaves open the possibility of recalling laid-off teachers...." What does that mean? Will they be recalled or not? How many? Which ones? Math teachers? Special Ed? Elementary teachers? High school?

I think we need much more information. I trust you're working on the details, UL?
- Kathy, Manchester

One proposal by a school board member was shot down. That's a start, now we need to start voting these people out.

"A one time fix"? Kathleen Kelley says, even though it would cost the city an extra $11,000,000 over the next couple of years. A "better one time fix" would to be voting this math major out of office.

Charging athletes $100 is another "one time fix" failure. I think participation in sports will drop and the city won't recoup as much as they expected from this revenue generator. I can assure you that alot of students who are slated to play JV will opt not to poney up the money knowing that their athletic success is limited. I find this very unfortunite for the kids.

Laying off 88 teachers might not be bad idea if the right 88 were let go. I can gaurantee that there are at least 88 dead weight teachers in Manchester's scholl system. Manchester was once praised for it's academics in the public school and now the system is looked down on.
- Scott, Manchester

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"Manchester Schools Consider Pay-To-Play: Officials Say Budget Cuts May Force More Fees"
www.wmur.com/money - Channel 9 out of Manchester, NH, June 23, 2009

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- The Manchester school budget passed Monday night may lead to bigger classes, fewer teachers and more money out of parents' pockets, officials said.

The contentious vote went late into the night, with Mayor Frank Guinta casting the tie-breaking ballot to pass it. The fiscal year begins July 1, so there was pressure to finalize a plan, but it still contains several unknowns, such as possible funding from stimulus money or pay-to-play fees on sports.

The $146 million budget is about $11 million less than the school district said it needs.

"I don't believe taxpayers at this time can afford to pay additional money," Guinta said. "We've got to find ways to be more effective, more efficient so we can keep money in taxpayers and property owners' pockets"

The district is considering the possibility of pay-to-play sports and music programs to supplement the budget. Under consideration is a plan to charge $100 for high school sports, $50 for middle school sports and $40 to sing in the choir.

Parent Mickey Spain has four children. He said his wife texted him about pay-to-play as soon as she read about it.

"We'll have to find the money somewhere," he said.

Other parents said their children would have to drop extra-curricular programs. One parent, who identified himself only as Frank, said his son would have to drop out of choir.

"I can't afford it," Frank said. "I'm out of work, and it's tough."

School officials said they would hopefully offset the costs by offering a sliding scale to families with students on reduced or free lunch programs. Officials said the situation may not be as dire if the district receives more funding.

"There are a lot of unanswered questions," said Scott McGilvray of the Manchester Education Association. "There is a lot of pending money that could be revenue sources for the school district."

Those extra funding sources include $10 million in stimulus money over two years, but school officials are wading through the rules on how that money can be spent. The hope is that it can be used to reinstate pink-slipped teachers.

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"City schools scramble after pay-to-play vote"
By KEVIN GRAY, NH Union Leader's Staff Sports Writer, 6/24/2009

Manchester – A day after the Manchester school board approved a budget that hinges on extracurricular user fees, administrators were left scrambling for answers yesterday.

How will it affect participation? Who will collect the money? What about families with multiple students?

Welcome to the "pay to play" era, one of the latest measures to help the city meet a $146.4 million school budget.

David Gosselin, the city's director of interscholastic athletics, spent yesterday in meetings with program coordinators, attempting to implement a program likely to begin this fall, pending formal approvals. The latest developments:

--Gosselin met with Superintendent Thomas Brennan and the city's high school athletic directors and discussed potential fees of $100 per student, per sport, and fees of $50 for middle-schoolers. Families with multiple students and hardship cases would be eligible for yet-to-be-determined discounts.

"We're in the process of brainstorming, trying to find ways to get this started and make it as fair as possible," Gosselin said. "It's unfortunate, but we're all good soldiers. We're going to try and make it work."

--Gosselin said high school wrestling, hockey and skiing, as well as middle school "B" basketball programs, will be eliminated without a successful pay-to-play program.

--Manchester High West's faculty manager for athletics, Sarah Dumais, predicted further difficulties for the school's already struggling sports programs. West already has felt the impact of dwindling participation resulting from the loss of Bedford residents to that town's new high school. The implementation of user fees -- though a great revenue generator -- could mean another 30 percent drop in participation levels, according national averages.

"Our athletic programs are suffering. (User fees) could be devastating to us," Dumais said. "I understand the situation the schoolboard is facing ... but it's sad it's coming down to this."

--Chris Martin, the city's director of fine arts, sat in on meetings with Brennan and Gosselin yesterday. Estimated participation fees range from $40 to $185 based on the student's number of music activities.

--Athletics officials have begun looking more closely at the role of booster clubs and fund-raising activities in supporting sports programs. Booster clubs might be able to help defray the cost of player fees. Typically, teams with fundraisers keep 90 percent of profits while 10 percent goes toward a general fund.

"If teams decide on a fund-raiser, it's a great idea in theory, but you need the money up front (before the season), and you don't even know who's on the team yet," Dumais said.

--Officials also raised procedural issues. For example: Who is responsible to collect the money in a pay-to-play system?

"It's still up for debate," Dumais said. "It will have to be somebody contractually obligated to deal with that prior to when school starts."

Not a new concept

Pay-to-play is hardly a new concept across the state. The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association surveyed almost 100 high schools last fall, gathering data from 91 percent. The NHIAA learned that 37 percent of responding schools relied on user fees, though at some schools fees were limited to the most expensive sports, such as football and hockey.

Even Trinity High of Manchester -- a private, parochial school -- has implemented fees ranging from $80 for track and field to $160 for football.

It's a sign of the times that concerns NHIAA Executive Director Patrick Corbin.

"In public education, if you believe the theory that everyone gets an equal shot, it's no longer an equal shot when student-athletes can't find a way to pay the fees," he said. "It would be like charging a fee for a book in algebra, in my opinion, if you believe the school-based activities like sports and music programs are integral parts to education. That being said, these are hard times, and local school boards have to make hard decisions. Only they know what their options are."

A few years ago in Nashua, the school board needed to cover a $200,000 gap in the budget and began exploring user fees. In the end, an anonymous donor wrote a check for a short-term fix.

Corbin, overall, hasn't seen pay-to-play drastically affect sports programs across the state -- in some cases, booster clubs pick up a chunk of the bill -- but he worries about Manchester.

"In an urban area like Manchester, I would have the concerns as we had in Nashua. You don't want to price a segment of the population out of the market," he said.

Manchester Central girls' basketball coach Mike Wenners wonders about the future of the city's proud basketball programs.

"It's going to make the landscape a little different as far as who's coming out for the program and who isn't. The numbers have been dwindling in recent years. (Pay-to-play) may be necessary in these tough economic times, but I don't necessarily think it's going to help."

Added Kyle McDonough, Manchester Memorial's hockey coach, "Some of the kids might be able to come up with that 100 dollars, but it's already an expensive sport. People are tapped out just trying to get skates on the kids' feet."
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READERS' COMMENTS:

RG

People in the private sector lose their jobs because there isn't work for them to do because of the lack of demand for their products/services. That is not true in teaching. In fact, next year teachers will be asked to do more than they ever have due to the reduction in staff. I'm not sure how many people are aware of how bad Manchester school are doing at the moment. They are in danger of losing accreditation because of staffing needs(that are federally and state mandated). In most Manchester classes, class size is NOT 14 people and is usually 25-30+ which will increase with that staff reduction. That was a huge issue with the accreditation committee.

The teachers will not get their step raises for the first half of the year and it will save the district over 800,000 dollars. There are 21 schools in manchester and employ at least 2000+ people, The raise they are getting is about 400 pre-tax, while I understand they are getting a contractual raise(from a legal contract agreed about by the city and the teachers like someone earlier commentd), but it's about 250 after taxes not thousands of dollars. If the city were doing better economically, would the teachers get more than 3%? the answer is NO, the contract was signed when the city was doing better than now. They got 5% over 3 years(1.5 the first 2 years and 3% the third IIRC) People in the private sector get bonuses for good work, teachers got a coupon for two dollars off a sub at D'angelos(when you buy chips and a drink)
- Nate, Manchester

Pauline from Franklin. I really must take exception to your statement that; " the only reason that people let their kids play sports is to be popular." I wonder if you understand that the sporting industry is one of the largest in this country. As a graduate of the Sports Management dept. at the University of Massachusetts, I think that I can speak clearly on this subject. More importantly, as the mother of six athletic kids, I can testify that popularity is the last thing on my mind when encouraging them to use their athletic abilities. You see, our kids are home schooled, so popularity truly has nothing to do with their sports participation. They, like most kids, have certain gifts and abilities, one of their gifts is that they are athletic. Going back into our family history on both sides are some fairly decent athletes. Why should the athletic kid have to apologize for that? While it is true that there are many over the top parents who do not have a true perspective on where "little Johnny" may be headed in the sporting arena, they usually get a wake up call as they climb the athletic ladder. I find that the majority of those parents also place a strong value, on their athletes education. While it also may be true that some athletes get away with some stuff they ought not to, that is true in "academia" as well. Although our kids are home schooled, they have grown in so many ways by participating in Central High Track, and baseball. Our second oldest just finished her HS track "career." This past year she has been able to be co-captain, an important member of a class L team first place finish, qualifying in many events for meet of champs, and then qualifying as a member of two relay teams to New Englands. She has formed close bonds with her team-mates, and coaches. She has met kids from all over the state, and New England. One of her coaches would testify to her growth, not only as an athlete, but more importantly as a person. I was an athlete myself, and it has given me the hard working ethic that I have today. Athletics is just one more way for kids to learn that if you want to be good at anything it takes hard work, and perseverance. Recently, while on a college interview, I watched as our once "shy" daughter, walked into a college coaches office, introduced herself, and proceeded to hold an adult conversation. Her years at Central high Track have given her a boldness I do not think she would have had would it not be for all of her years there. Yes "sports" have given to our kids something. That something is confidence, and academics is not the only way to teach that.
- laurie, manchester

What would be nice to see is a pay to play for school in general. If you have school age children, YOU should with other parents, be the ones paying for the schools. For those of us that have no kids, it just isn't fair, nope.
- Kevin, Dover, NH

So now what...if you can't afford the pay to play the kids end up hanging out on the streets, playing video games etc. This kept kids in ck with grades and behavior, that will all change. What do you say to the single mom who has two children maybe three children from high school to middle school, I am sorry that you can not afford to have your kids play sports or band. I guess they will need to hang out instead...get into trouble...drugs...GREAT PLAN MANCHESTER!

OTG, Manchester... this is true about Manchester Grads not able to read... It is so true and sad all in one. Now id they had IEP's well then there is no need for them to read their para will do all the work for them...so true.

And my final thought...where is all the property
tax going...oh right YOUR SALARIES
- ll, manchester

I think it's too bad that families will be charged a fee to play sports. But, if there's truly no other option to help avoid this or reduce costs (which I find hard to believe), then so be it. Another thing I find sad - all of the people that leave comments on these UL articles, where they're judging people and making assumptions about parents and kids that they don't even know. I don't read these comments all the time but when I do, there's always some type of bashing going on - bashing of the parents of someone who's done something wrong (because all of you and your kids are perfect, right?), bashing of people from MA, or anyone else that someone decides to make a target. Stop judging and complaining - get up and do something to make a difference.
- Lisa, Manchester

Bob is right. Maybe the Claremont attorneys will be interested.
- Sandy, Manchester

Pauline - You have got to be kidding me. You are definitely uninformed about the significance of sports and music in schools. Sports are definitely not a waste of time. They are a vehicle for many kids to learn responsibility and to stay healthy. If coached properly, kids in sports programs take many lessons learned and apply them to their everyday lives later on. All my kids (6) play sports and it is not because they want to be popular. Grow up Pauline. In our house we have a policy that they must maintain a B average in all subjects, at all times or they will be taken out of sports immediately. All of our kids graduated so far (3) have done so with honors and scholarships. So I suggest you get your facts straight and stop making such uneducated and ridiculous comments. Pay to play is a direct result of communities unwilling to support the necessary programs within the school system. The only ones suffering here will be the kids.
- Jeff, Littleton

I grew up out of state and my town always had booster clubs to help pay for sports and extracurriculars IN ADDITION to allocations from the town budget. The result, a lot of excellent programs for kids to compliment their academics. It was kind of neat driving around town and seeing the signs showing the progress. Another thing we did in high school once per year was go door to door in our uniforms and ask for donations to support our teams. Both of these strategies raised enormous sums of money for the programs and gave people the choice of declining rather than have the costs baked into their taxes.

Why is Manchester only figuring this out now?
- Chris, Bow

It's interesting to me that what gets people moving in this city is the thought that little Johnny might not be able to play ball or hockey. It matters little whether or not little Johnny is going to get into a decent college if he doesn't graduate from an accredited high school. It matters little that little Johnny can't read at an adult level or calculate enough to make sure he has the right change. It matters little that little Johnny can't THINK and come up with creative ideas about anything. But, lord help us if he can't tackle a QB or score a goal. How many of Manchester's graduates have played professional sports for a living? How many of Manchester's graduates have actually had to WORK for a living. If you are convinced that your child is going to gain something useful from playing sports in school, then PAY for it just as you do for summer soccer camps, hockey equipment, and all the other accouterments of the game. The school district has a responsibility to EDUCATE your child - since when did that include memorizing plays, dribbling or making a slap shot? I don't know about the rest of you, but those are skills I don't often use in my JOB. But, the fact that I have a quality education (from the state of NY by the way) has been one of the most valuable assets in my life - second only to my family.
When are the people of Manchester going to GET IT??
The mills are gone, folks. Where will your kids work after high school?
- Celine, Manchester

I agree with a previous comment, how is this legal? Are they aware and ok with the fact that they will likely lose talented atheletes who might not be able to afford it?
I'm sure you'll all start to complain though when there are MORE bored teenagers hanging out and getting into trouble.
- C, Manchester

I had to pay to play 15 years ago when I was in high school. I think its a great way to save tax dollars. Sports are a huge part of school budgets we should pass some of the burden on those that play rather then those that could care less about a ball or a stick. and if you want to teach your kids about responsibility, make them work to earn the money and pay the fee themselves. thats what I had to do.
- Tom, Manchester

Here's the lesson for all you out there have failed to realize or want to embrace:

WE ARE IN A RECESSION/DEPRESSION!!!!

This is economics 101, folks.
Dartmouth College, the Dartmouth Med School and yesterday Harvard announced staff layoffs due to the economy! It's the economy, Stupid!

Do any of you know someone who's lost their job through no fault of their own but the economy? Check out the empty store fronts on Elm St. (The UL won't count them b/c they've laid off lots of employees themselves) Have you seen costs rise with benefits if you've still got a job? Did any of you go to that so called job fair this spring that was over-run with people and had to be shut down for public safety?

What makes anyone think that the City of Manchester's budget and the schools in the city would be impervious to this and why?

Does anyone realize the teachers STILL GET THEIR 3 PERCENT RAISE AND STEP INCREASES!?!?! Do you now think that all this is "For the Children?" It's NOT! It's teachers protecting teachers' jobs and pay raises pure and simple.

There is no part of this recession that has not touched and altered the way every business and person survives in this economy.

Time for Manchester to change the way it does business. Get used to it this "economy" will be around for a long time, like it or not.
- RG, Manchester

Why should the homeowners of Manchester pay for your children to play? If YOU and YOUR children want to play then you can pay for the cost of it. WE will continue to pay to EDUCATE your children - not amuse them!
- Tracy, Manchester

I'll answer the question. Who killed JV hockey? The City Athletic Committee about five years ago. Back in the 1980's you couldn't play JV and High School. The Junior League upped the age to play Bantams to Sophomore in HS. Now you can play both HS and Juniors providing there isn't a game conflict which HS takes preference. John Young who was the Central coach at the time wanted JV Hockey because he had another 10 or 12 kids he might've kept instead of cutting them. John Young a great guy was shot down.
He's now at Trinty and they have a JV program. End of story.
- Dave elliott, hooksett

“thank the unions for refusing guint'a budget and gatsas for this pig of a budget. what a mess. the mayor's budget with furloughs would have kept every job and extracurricular activity. i hope the unions are happy”
The school union had a legal contract that they wanted honored. Both the union and the CITY went into a LEGAL contract. They were guaranteed certain things. The city wants to change the details but if the union wanted to do that everyone would be up in arms. I know things aren't great right now but would the city make up for it in better times? My guess would be NO. The union is taking a pay reduction even though they were legally entitled to the pay increase. TPTB knew full well that they have legal obligations to fulfill and made a budget that would be IMPOSSIBLE to honor. And Mike from Conway, furloughs are ILLEGAL so what does it say about a leader whose only solution to make a budget that includes illegal actions? Education has been screwed by our current mayor, these kids will be taking care of us in the future and if they have a crappy education with what the city provides them(the teachers do the best they can with what they are given) then that screws us all!
Take your anger out on the city side of things not the school side!
- Mike, Manchester

Good call, Bill from Manchester. All you over-involved parents need to do is driop little Ashely's cell phone subscription and you'e covered her pay to play fee AND put some money back in your own pocket. Start teaching your kids by example.
- DP, Manchester

What would you expect from the same schoolboard that took 2 years to order pizza?
Also, the same school board that insisted that 3 high schools get renovated when they knew only two would really be needed if Bedford left the system.
- Mike Bodruk, Manchester

Let's see we're going to drop hockey. We have six hockey rinks in the area, two colleges playing, a pro team and Trinity.
Brilliant!
Another tremendous move by the powers to be in the Queen City. Getting rid of a few administrators and people with touchy feely positions kids wouldn't have to pay a dime.
At one time when I coached practice time wasn't charged it was unlimited even at the Junior varsity level. Bink Smith AD at the time said, " You've got all the practice time you want make sure you show up."
Memorial always had 20 jv kids even at 5:30 in the morning. Who killed the jv program if numbers are a big deal?
Why don't parents ask why they don't charge ($3.00)for single HS hockey games which draw 300 to 400 people? Maybe this might defray some of the costs?
Prediction: When Hooksett, Auburn and Candia's contract is up or sooner these towns will go the Bedford route and build their own high school.
Manchester will then become another Lawrence, Haverhill etc.. Good luck!
- dave elliott, hooksett

Pauline, that's the problem with today's society! It's all me, me, me! We need teamwork and not selfishness!
- Scott, Manchester

I am the parent of three children. One is a Memorial graduate and the other two are currently in the school system. I do not have a problem with pay to play for extracurricular activities if all who participate are required to contribute. I understand that there will be a sliding scale fee based upon the free and reduced fee lunch programs. So, kids with free lunches will be able to participate without paying the user fee. It's just another way to make those who pay property taxes (which includes an increase this year) bear the burden of supporting these programs. Everyone should be required to contribute something. Having said that, I am NOT in favor of pay to play being applied to the music programs, as these are academic courses of study and not extracurricular. Kids are graded on these courses. If we are going to charge them, then the system must charge for all electives. It's basic fairness.
- Pam, Manchester

Seems silly that after all this hoopla about lower taxes, we get a tax raise AND we have to pay for our children to play. Shouldn't they have just raised the taxes more, so we wouldn't have to worry about our students paying to play and our teachers and administrators?
Silly, all this extra work and headache for how much? $200,000?
- Hogan, Manchester

Is it lawsuit time? Are students' equal access to curriculum denied because of pay to play? I mean if the School Board grants gym credits for athletes, and credits for music classes, does implementing pay to play deny some from getting that credit?
- Bob, Lake Ave, Manch

Let's discuss all the schools who started football programs , etc. and promised the school districts that they would fundraise and take care of all of the costs to operate it. Yes, until their kids graduate. Then the burden went to the taxpayers.
Your kid isn't going to die because he never played sports. he WILL die however if he doesn't have a decent education to support himself in life.
How about we teach our kids (expecially now) about finance and make them see the value of their education while it is still free to them?
Stop whining about nonsensical things and if you want to play, then just pay and be done with it.
OTG- Your kid is going to have more problems than just laundry. It's parenting like yours that will let a kid turn to drugs. Try WATCHING your kid once in a while and MAKE him help out around the house, and while you are at it, TEACH him to budget his money.
- Donna, Rye

OTG- are you kidding? The reason your kid didn't know anything about chores, is that you just let him run wild and not make him take responsibilties.
All my kids started some kind of chores when they were 5. None of them drink or do drugs-never have. All are very successful and make good money. None of them ever played any sport because it was a waste of time.
The reason these kids can't read IS sports, etc. They are made to believe that it is the center of the universe. They are missing school for games,etc. and their grades suffer. Here if Franklin, I personally know of 3 kids that were failing, but since they were good athletes, they were suddenly passing.
Parents let their kids play sports to be popular, plain and simple. They hope that they will make it big and their kids will be famous and rich. That never happens.
I love the idiots that play the "teamwork" card. Life isn't teamwork these days, it's every person for themselves in the workforce.
I am tired of my tax dollars going to "education" and the kids aren't being educated. It is sad when these kids are allowed to get away with so much and graduate stupid.
Make them pay, that way they will actually learn that money doesn't grow on your magic tree either.
- Pauline, Franklin

When does summer start so I can ignore all stories having to do with public education. Talk about a bunch of cry-babies. Get off you .... folks, and start talking solutions. Set up booster clubs, open email lists, do some fund raisers, and most important of all .. reach out to the alumni. They played in the band, played the sport, and now it is up to them to give back. Many of the former musicians, athletes, are just waiting for the computer to beep with an email that starts: Dear XXX .. we need your help, whatever you can do.
- Tom, Manchester, NH

MRS - just remember I'm not old so I don't want to pay for your medicare.
- Bill, Plymouth

OTG...Your college admits people that can not read! I hope to god your college is not accredited.

Aside from that, this idea makes sense to me. Essentially, it's taxing the people that actually use the service. It's indiscriminately by making allowances. What's the problem? Oh yeah, you want your cake and to eat it too. Also, bad behavior is reflective of parenting, not schooling.
- DL, Manchester

In the private sector, the second biggest cost next to labor is benefits. Many companies have introduced high deductible health plans with an HSA component to reduce health costs. Most municipal employees still enjoy low deductible, traditional health plans that are negotiated into their contract and are taxppayer fuunded. Perhaps the city should change the health plan like the private sector and free up hundreds of thousands of dollars.. If they did this, we wouldn't be having this discussion..
- JW, Manchester

Maybe its time to go back to the basics. I'm sure mom and dad can find the money if they didn't have to pay for the monthly cell phone bill that most kids seem to carry !!
- Bill, Manchester

It's a horrible day to institute a double tax but why single out athletics. If this group is so self rightous, they should institute a pay for use for everything, why single out athletics. I suspect that unless any education program is mandated, everything else from kindergarten to the prom to cheerleading to the chess club and everything else will see the same user fees instituted. This is a cheap stunt to get the most involved segment of our population up in arms.If I pay $5,000 in property taxes and additional fees for athletics and any other extra-cirricular, should my kid get more privilidges because I have funded more of the costs? What is next...textbook costs, where will the madness stop. If you can't afford the budget, make equal cuts across the board or elimiate the lowest participatory programs and classes and not just athletic programs.This is just wrong.
- chris, claremont

I'm glad its more money out of your pocket Dave Lescatre. That means its less money out of mine!!!
- TMAN, Mancheseter

If pay to play is approved the city is going to have to work harder on getting better quality and better qualified coaches. No kids/parents are going to pay $100 or more play for bad coaches. It's not always the love of a sport that keeps them involved, it's the guidance and knowledge of a good coach and there are far too few of them out there.
- Becky, Manchester

thank the unions for refusing guint'a budget and gatsas for this pig of a budget. what a mess. the mayor's budget with furloughs would have kept every job and extracurricular activity. i hope the unions are happy
- mike conway, Manchester

Yes Dave, out of your pocket. Quit picking the tax payer's pockets.
- Bob H, Londonderry

who gave them this budget folks? Remember it at election time....and just a hint.. it wasn't the current Mayor.
- Frank, Manchester

I think all towns should have kids pay to play! About 65% of my tax bill goes to the schools and I don’t have kids, I know it will not go down but give me a break and stop making it go up. I also understand that without a good school system my property value would not be the same but again give us a break
- MRS, Bow

Let me see... Over the past few months I've heard "The sky is falling, the sky is falling", "Boo hoo hoo", "This is all a ploy", "Tighten their belts"...Well guess what folks---the schools said that they didnt have enough budgeted to them---Guess they were right??? You want to PLAY, you gotta pay!
- Jorge, Manchester

More money out of our pockets. Poeple just dont have the money . Kids on my sons little league team did not even have 6 dollars for a cup let alone $50 or $100.
Are you people for real.
- Dave Lescatre, manchester

Our teenagers need some alternatives that build teamwork, responsibility, time management and character. Research show that young musicians generally do better than their peers in school. My son didn't know what a washing machine was until he started in youth hockey. He believed the laundry elves just whisked away his dirty clothes and put them back clean in his drawers. What will teens do if they are priced out of sports, music, the arts? Possibly more drinking, drugging, irresponsible sex..."Let's find out whose Mom is working tonight, and head over there to party!" Maybe the kids will work, and then they'll have the bucks to fund some bad habits. Unless Mom or Dad actually charge them for gas, insurance, food, etc. Highschoolers view these jobs as 100% play money. Who knows where the dollars go? Meanwhile let's focus on teaching reading and basic math. As a Department Chair at a local college, I met many Manchester grads who tried, but COULD NOT READ THE TEXTBOOK.
- OTG, Manchester

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"Offer of help ends in injury"
By DAN TUOHY, New Hampshire Union Leader, June 27, 2009

MANCHESTER – Police are investigating an alleged physical altercation at a club involving Alderman Michael Garrity, who happened to be in the company of Mayor Frank C. Guinta at the time.

The incident occurred June 18 at the East Manchester Fish and Game Club on Massabesic Street, police said.

Manchester police Capt. Gerald R. Lessard confirmed an investigation is under way. He declined to disclose names or the nature of the case. No charges have been filed.

An ambulance was called to the club. No police units were called. A couple of days after the incident, a third party reported it to police.

"We became aware of some altercation taking place," Lessard said.

Thomas English Jr., 40, who is a former city worker, was taken to the hospital for treatment of a serious leg injury, according to his mother, Jacquelyn English, who was reached yesterday. She said her son was unavailable and that police, citing the investigation, advised them not to talk about it.

In an interview, Garrity said there were a lot of false statements and rumors floating around, including that a fight had ensued. He said that was not the case. One over-the-top rumor, he said, was that his brother, state Rep. Patrick Garrity, D-Manchester, beat English with a bat.

Garrity said he was called to the club to pick up English, a friend who has stayed at his house and who was no longer being served alcohol at the club. Because Garrity was with Guinta at the time, they both went to the club.

There, Garrity told English that he had to leave the premises, he said, and English grabbed him.

"He kind of snapped and had me in a choke-hold up against the wall," Garrity said.

He said his brother, who was next to him, either pulled or pushed English off of him, and English then fell, slipped or tripped and hurt his leg.

"I feel bad it happened, absolutely," he said.

Guinta, a Republican who is running for Congress, said he did not witness the incident unfold. He said he did not know what had happened when he saw English on the floor.

"It happened very, very quickly," he said.

Guinta said he later notified police of the situation and volunteered to provide any information. He said he has not been interviewed by police.

In separate interviews, Garrity and Guinta said they were at the club for about 10 to 15 minutes with the purpose of picking up English.

"This wasn't anything other than me and Mike trying to help a guy out," Guinta said.

Garrity said that after an ambulance was called for English, English said he did not want to call the police. Police began looking into the incident this week.

READERS' COMMENTS:

So, the mayor and the alderman went to go pick someone up in a bar. the alderman is allegedly assaulted and the Mayor, who is with him doesn't see it. That made me laugh. Oh and then the alderman's brother breaks the guys leg and now the Alderman says the guy tripped or fell? Again that made me laugh even more. Now we have a Mayor, an alderman and a State Rep, all inter-related and now none of them know what happened? That part makes me laugh even harder.
To read this article makes me think of someone telling a joke:
So, A mayor and alderman and a state rep walk into a bar. When they leave there is a person lying on the floor with a broken leg. Sounds like a fun night with the elected people in the city.

Just when you thought the politics in this city couldn't get any lower, it just reached another all time low.
- Jeff, Manchester

What would you do if you were trying to catapult your political career? I know I wouldn't go making a stink about my involvement in shady stuff. So a couple of city officials were involved in a bar room scuffle.....big deal. At least they were not sticking bribe money in their bras.
- Tufftraktor, manchester

First, I love the product placement on the banner ad. What better story to promote a brewfest?
Secondly, I find it ironic that the man who worked so hard to shut down Flo's Bar and Grill would even know where the East Manchester Fish and Game Club is located.
- kathy s, Manchester

Everyone now just realizing these two are at private clubs drinking almost every week day. They even use the city car or the aldermans patch.Some one should look into it.
Stan Howser
- stan Howser, Manchester Nh

Ladies and gents i present to you the Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie of Manch. Mr Garrity and the honorable Guinta
- Brian, Manch

Great story. The mayor and his assistant are called to remove a "well connected" drunk from a bar? Said drunk then attacks the person helping him. Wow. This is exactly what I mean when I say that America is a country drowning in drugs. Alcohol is a legal, deadly, and addictive hard drug. In fact, it is the state drug. We take these bizarre incidents as normal, yet gasp at the thought of legal marijuana, a far, far safer drug. An overdose on pot might have landed the same individual at the Back Room for a nice meal.
- shndler, Manchester, NH

Why is this even a story? If no one wanted to report the incident and there is no victim reporting it than why is there an investigation? Looks to me like the people assaulted don't want anything do so leave it alone!
- Mike, Manchester

Mr. Mayor... You see that glow in the corner of your eye. It's your career dissapation light and it's going into overtime.
- Jim, Manchester

Sounds totally suspicious! This story reeks of a cover up by the politicians in this city... as if that never happens.. Sounds like a lie detector test should be requested for all parties since it seems so impossible to tell the actual story. The victims injury is NOT consistent with a simply push shove fall.. is a a double bone break with possible permanent damage. Check the facts folks... this is to "puffy" for the reality of the situation.
- Nat, Manchester, NH

Much ado about nothing...Hey Glen, Many years ago, while offloading vehicles and equipment from an LCAC (Marine Corps Hovercraft) in Bahrain, I fell finding myself in the water with full combat gear on. In an attempt to climb up onto a nearby Amphib, I totally blew out my knee, maniscus and surrounding tendons. The medical officer thought my leg had been run over...but all I did was "step up"

So now, you will sit here and opine that a serious injury always requires a serious event? It does not sound like a fight to me...It sounds like Mike Garrity, who happened at the time to be in the company of the Mayor, went to give a drunk friend a ride home. The drunk friend, behaving badly misstepped and seriously injured his leg. It happens. For real!
I am not writing to specifically to stick up for the Mayor or Alderman Garrity, just to say that the account is plausible. Unless, of course the reader is one of the folks who lines their hat with tin foil, and finds a conspiracy lurking around every government corner at all levels.
- Rick Olson, Manchvegas

How can you say "scandal?" Its pretty obvious that the Garrity brothers (one a Republican and the other a Democrat- for you partisans out there) were just trying to do the right thing with picking up a drunk friend and Guinta just happened to be at the wrong place and the wrong time. Just because there is some pushing and shoving doesn't mean the police need to be called and I'm pretty sure the drunk guy wasn't feeling too much so he probably didn't even know his own leg was broken until at least the next day.

If this "smells" like anything, it just "smells" like the media trying to make something out of nothing pure and simple.
- Dave Thompson, Manchester, NH

Robert- learn how to spell SCANDAL first of all. Second, where is there a scandal? You should look up the definition at the same time and then re-read the article
- Matt, Nashua

So, does every bar room brawl in Manchester get to be investigated by a CAPTAIN of the MPD. Or just the ones involving the Mayor and his buddies.

The question isn't why it took so long for Guinta to come forward (that is obvious), but why he now has? What dark secret is the UL colluding in keeping this time?

And also - why did Guinta even go there. He is the Mayor, a candidated for the US House and he thinks it prudent to insert himself into a situation involving a drunk being ejected from a bar!

Guinta's judgment and political savvy were clearly lacking that night.

I'd like to think we would learn more, but in this case I suspect the UL will take on the role of Iran's State Media.
- Leon, Manchester

Just goes to show ya; there are a thousand stories in the Queen City, this is one of them ...

It was a dark, rainy night ... blah blah
- tom, manchester,nh

Hey Mr. Mayor, it is "Mike and I" not "me and Mike."

The police advised Mrs. English not to discuss the incident because it is under investigation, but the mayor and the alderman commented on the incident. Were they also advised not to discuss the incident?

I hope this incident does not get swept under the rug.
- TW, Manchester

Can you say scandall?
- Robert, MAnchester

Where's the outrage! Let's get this social club shutdown for violence. If it takes 2 weeks to report this crime then what else have they been hiding, with the assistance of the mayor of course.
- james, manchester

I saw the Mayor speaking at a Goffstown Republican event on the evening of the 18th, he did a good job btw. This story seems to be what it is just a unfortunate situation. I hope this guy Tom English gets soom help. He might have an issue.
- Steve, Goffstown

Did you even try to interview any other witnesses?

When you write an article about a incident such as this, is it standard UL practice to just interview the alleged perpetrators and print their defense verbatim as fact?

And thanks for informing the public of a potentially criminal incident involving 3 of our elected officials 1 week later after it has been the hot topic of conversation all over the city for days.

I wonder how this story would have read if it were three Democrat officials???
- John, Manchester

Wait a minute. I watched the Joe Levasseur and Joe Briggs Show the other night and there are some differences in what Joe Levasseur said on his show and what Mike Garrity and the Mayor say to the news paper
On the show Joe Levasseur said Mike Garrity told him that Mike was not with the Mayor until he got a call from the club and then Mike walked to PJ Osullivans to meet the Mayor. In the article they claim they were together when they got the call. SO what is the truth?
Also, the article says "Guinta said he later notified police of the situation and volunteered to provide any information." I believe on the Joe Levasseur show they said the Mayor called the police during the week which would have been 4-5 days after. So, the Mayor should now tell the public when exactly he notified the police. The article says the incident was reported 2 days after by a 3rd party. Then that couldn't have been the mayor.
WHy is the mayor and mike garrity's statement to the newspaper different than what mike told Joe last week? Something isn't right here.
- Ron, Manchester

It took the Union Leader a week after the incident to report this? Even better, it took three days after a report on the 2 Joes show. Perhaps they're protecting some of their favorite local politicians?
- Adam, Manchester

Alcohol will make ya do the strangest things...
- Rick, Manchester

Seems like an unfortunate situation, but the media attention means that the MPD can't sweep it under the rug.

The part that is confusing is that Guinta says he went with Garrity with the purpose of picking up English, and English and Garrity got into a scuffle but Guinta didn't witness the incident.

How does this make any sense? If you go to the club with the express goal of picking up your drunk buddy, and he attacks your friend, how do you miss that? And if he's seriously injured in a fight, why doesn't anybody call the police? Think that would happen at Club Liquid? Guinta has been the leader of "responsible behavior from bar owners and now he doesn't report a bar fight under his nose. Bizarre.
- Glen, Manchester, NH

June 18th? And makes the newspaper eight days later? With three local politicians involved including an outgoing mayor. Something smells.
- Eric Kezer, Manchester

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"Mark Roy launches campaign for mayor"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, Friday, June 26, 2009

MANCHESTER – Alderman Mark Roy launched his campaign for mayor yesterday, promising a clean break from the years of Republican leadership in the corner office.

"We can't go the way we've been going over the past four years," Roy said in a speech that focused to a large degree on the city's schools.

Roy, a Ward 1 Democrat, said the quality of public education in Manchester must improve to keep more families from leaving the city. He also said the next mayor should aim to improve Manchester's image, noting, "The perception outside Manchester is not a positive one." At the same time, Roy said he wants the city to stop putting off major projects, including plans to replace older buildings like the Highway Department garage and the police station.

"If we don't focus on them now, they will cost us, the taxpayers, more later on," Roy said.

Roy spoke to several dozen supporters at the Puritan Backroom restaurant in Ward 1. It was, he said, the same place where he launched his first campaign for alderman in 2001. Roy lost that race but came back two years later to defeat a well-known incumbent.

Introducing him yesterday was the last Democrat who ran for mayor, former school board member Tom Donovan. Donovan rolled out the campaign's slogan: a "smarter, safer, stronger Manchester," repeating the line so often that some audience members started mumbling it with him.

Donovan also invoked the man who defeated him two years ago, Mayor Frank Guinta. "After four years of part-time effort and half-hearted initiatives in the corner office down in City Hall," he said, "Manchester needs someone who's going to be not just a sometime mayor, not just a full-time mayor, but an overtime mayor." Supporters in the crowd said they appreciate Roy's thoughtfulness, casting him as good listener and reasonable person. "If he's wrong," said state Rep. Jim Craig, "he'll admit it." Roy laced his speech with references to city workers. At one point, he alleged the city's reluctance to renovate or replace old buildings puts employees in jeopardy.

"Sooner or later," he said, "there's going to be a tragedy."

Mike Roche, president of the Manchester Water Works union, said Roy "should definitely get the lion's share of labor support in the city, both from private and public."

Roy did not have the unequivocal support of everyone in the crowd. Alderman Peter Sullivan said he considers himself neutral, noting another Democrat, state Rep. Richard Komi, is also running for mayor.

Alderman Betsi DeVries, who was singled out during Roy's speech for encouraging him to get in the race, confessed she would have some thinking to do if former state Sen. Bobby Stephen decides to seek the post.

"It appears Mark is going to have a strong campaign," DeVries said. "As long as that's the case (at the time of) the filing period, then I will be standing strong with Mark Roy."

Donovan, who is Roy's finance agent, said the lone Republican in the race, millionaire state Sen. Ted Gatsas, is "well financed" and will "write more checks than he will shake hands." "So," Donovan told the crowd, "we all need to pony up with a large financial contribution, the biggest that we can."

City elections are officially non-partisan.

Roy has been an alderman since 2004. He is a graduate of Memorial High School and Western Kentucky University. A father of two, he is the owner of a real estate company, the CM Roy Group.

READERS' COMMENTS:

Manchester is under slob rule. Every overpaid city hack is on the gravy train and the rest of us hardworking stiffs are thrown under the wheels.

100% removal of all politicians this November is the only chance to save this city.
- Craig, Manchester, NH

Less service, higher taxes. The king of Tax and Spend is now at bat.
want really, really high taxes elect Marc Roy.

Stan Howser
- Stan Howser, Manchester, NH

Any incumbent with ties to the current circus in the City has a real nerve running for anything!
- Leo, Manchester

There is not ONE politician currently occupying city hall that deserves to be returned to office. Drain the swamp and start over.
- Wayne Stanley, Manchester

Ok, so Tom Donovan hasn't got over the thumoing he took in 2007 I see. He got some new lines though. The old ones didn't work, so hey why not.
- Robertl Belize, Manchester

I have been 10X happier under a Republican mayor than I was under a Democrat Bob Baines when I was handed six straight consecutive years of tax increase after tax increase when the economy was actually doing well!!!
- Chris King, Manchester, NH

Mike roche says that mark roy should have strong support among the labor unions in the city. Thats because if we the taxpayers elect mark roy, there will be no stopping the increases in your tax bills. Thanks for the statement mike, the rest of us should now know who NOT to vote for in november!
- Rich, manchester

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"Bobby Stephen joins the mayoral race"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, June 29, 2009

Manchester – Former state Sen. Bobby Stephen announced today he will run for mayor.

“It’s time to restore a vision for Manchester’s future,” he said.

Stephen, 69, said he considers himself an “outsider” in a race that features two sitting aldermen, Mark Roy and Ted Gatsas.

“The folks that are running for mayor have been there and are part of the problem,” he said.

“In the past two years,” he said, “we saw two tax increases: I think 5 pecent last year and 3 percent this year. You know, that isn’t correct. That shouldn’t be happening if we want to thrive in Manchester.”

Stephen has referred to himself as a “conservative” Democrat. A former restaurateur, he served in the state Senate throughout the 1980s and later worked for the state Department of Resources and Economic Development.

His son, John Stephen, is a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for Congress last year.

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"Play and pay: Hope for Manchester sports"
NH Union Leader, Editorial, July 2, 2009

We were not surprised to see restaurateur Tom Boucher, owner of Cactus Jack's and T-Bones, step up to the plate to help fund scholastic sports in Manchester. We are concerned, however, that the city might passively wait for more public-spirited folks to come forward rather than aggressively pursue donors.

Boucher is going to donate to the school district's sports programs 10 percent of the price of each meal sold to a city teacher or student from now through Aug. 30. That's a very generous gift for which everyone in Manchester should be thankful. It was disappointing, though, to see that Boucher had to approach the city with the idea. The city ought to be seeking corporate partnerships and private donors on its own initiative, not waiting for them to volunteer.

Boucher's "play to win" program does give hope that the city can find a middle way to fund some sports programs that have been put on the chopping block. In addition to seeking other public-spirited business owners, the city should look to Bedford for inspiration. That town has partnered with a group of basketball enthusiasts and wound up with a free basketball court for a local middle school.

Whether it's donated facilities, uniforms, equipment, labor or cash, Manchester can find ways to provide school sports at a lower cost to taxpayers and students -- if it tries.

READERS' COMMENTS:

In case anyone out there is unaware, Central High School has a crew team. It is a pay to play program. 100% pay to play. Completely funded by parent involvement, student involvment, and community (when possible). Stuents are required to fundraise and pay (registration fee) to play. Some of these boats cost $20,000.00. The progrram takes NO tax payer dollars and is so succcesful that athletes actually qualify for the Head of the Charlse which is the largest regatta int he world. The team has roughly 75 rowers. WOW! The team reaches out EVERYWHERE for funding to assist the program. It is a very succesful program. Mr.Boucher; we would love assistance from you. Can you picture t-bones and Catus Jacks Logo on a boat racing down the Charse River broadcast in every country around the world? You are welcome to sponsor a boat!
- Dawn Davenport, Manchester

Bill from Candia Just one point. Maybe instead of having money for the video game system the parents can spend the money on a sport.
I've been saying for years that we should allow companies to direct sponsor a school or sport. It is obvious that the board that everyone keeps electing doesn't care about the city they serve and deffinatley the people they serve.
I say way to be first and I hope that the people you intend to help get the money.
- RT, Manchester

Great, let's only let kids who's parents can pay for sports play and get some excercise. We really do need more fat kids playing video games instead of getting healthy!

Let's bring back the President's Council on Physical Fitness so we don't need government (read taxpayer) funded health insurance. When you excercise, you don't suck up as many health care dollars.

Another example of government cutting something of benefit and fostering a culture of slothing!
- Bill, Candia

It's nice that the resturants can and are doing it. Don't forget that these resturants also have big tax bills as well. Sounds like there are willing to do more than there share. To bad there won't be a money trail from the resturants to the kids on the teams that will use it. As an earlier poster stated, who knows where the money will actually end up.
- C Mac, Allenstown

I cannot wait until I go to a Memorial Day parade and see every brass instrument with a Verizon logo on it.

Please.... Have some dignity. Lose this idea.
- Art, Portsmouth

Thank you Tom Boucher! The problem with pay-to-play is not just sports programs, it is the requirement that students participating in band, chorus and orchestra must also pay a fee. I believe band members will have to pay $185. Band is an academic course of study, so I still don't understand how we can be required to pay for a class that they will be graded upon, unless all electives start carrying a fee.
- Pam, Manchester, NH 03109

Kudos to Boucher. Shame on Manchester for not making it mandatory for matching funds for arts. Sports programs get more sponsorship already. There is virtually none for the arts.
- Harry Crisp, Bow

Thank you very much Tom Boucher, Cactus Jack's, and T-Bones. What a great community presence!
- Catherine, Manchester

Initially I was opposed to a pay to play system. After looking at the issue more carefully I guess I would have to say that we as parents have no problem paying for our childrens athletics when it comes to rec leagues or AAU so then why not have a fee to play in school? Why should the school system bear the brunt of this? Lets face it, $100 is alot cheaper than some of the AAU fees people pay. Some AAU basketball fees for example can exceed $1000. There are some that are as low as $400. So, when we compare the price, $100 to play a school sport really is not a bad idea.
- Mike, Manchester

You're actually asking / expecting these people to be proactive? You do realize that in order for that to happen they would need to actually do something. I'm pretty sure the folks running the show are happy to sit on their duffs in their nice comfy taxpayer paid chairs, behind their nice fancy taxpayer paid oak desks.

But thats okay, because all you people will vote them all back again anyway.
- Craig D, Manchester

I agree that we should expect the parents, children, and school district to show some initiative in raising money for sports rather than expecting the rest of the city to cough up the money for their select few to enjoy optional activities.

I wonder, though, if a local business who approached by the City for a "donation" is going to feel as though the donation is entirely voluntary. "Good will" goes a long way when you're in front of local regulatory boards. If you were in front of the planning board on a land use issue and got a letter requesting funds for athletics, would you feel that your "good will" would increase or decrease if you told them that because of a bad economy and increased state and local fees and taxes, your profits didn't support a donation this year?

In this case, Cactus Jack's is supporting the community and making a smart business move - it gets people who are otherwise not eating out into the restaurant. The food is good enough there that hopefully they'll come back. This is how both business and charity should work - free people making the choice to support their causes in ways that benefit everyone. I applaud Cactus Jack's owner for the generosity behind his offer, and for his chicken chimichangas.
- Mark, Rochester

A very nice gesture by Tom Boucher but like any money coming in it would go to the City General Fund not a sports program. So the money might go to fix the streets, salaries etc. and not the athletic programs.
The School Department should be a separate entity so you actually see how city money is spent. This has been mentioned several times by numerous people. You would have to change the city charter I believe?
- dave elliott, hooksett

I find it sad that this is what education is turning into, corporate sponsorship. What will be next? Jack Alex maybe you should go to the businesses too and ask for a night of donations for your taxes. This really shows students what the public thinks of education, when no one wants to support the schools. If you recall it was $13 on each of our tax bills to be able to pay for everything in education. Now it will take a lot of dinners out to make up the amount for students to be able to participate in extra-curricular activities.
- Katherine, Manchester

Thank you very much Tom Boucher, Cactus Jack's, and T-Bones.

Many businesses may want have fundraisers for Manchester's schools. Many businesses may want to match employee donations up to a maximum limit the businesses set.

Many restaurants may want to have education days and education nights and donate a percentage of sales to Manchester's schools. Restaurants may want to compete against each other to see which is able to raise the most money for education.

Many businesses may want to donate prizes for raffles for Manchester's schools.

Many businesses may want to donate a percentage of sales to Manchester's schools.

Manchester's schools may want to see if any wealthy people and businesses would be willing to endow any teaching positions. Many colleges have endowed teaching positions.

Manchester's schools may want to see if any wealthy people and businesses would be willing to donate money in exchange for having a department or sports program named after them. Colleges often have schools named after wealthy donors.
- Ken Stremsky, Manchester, NH

This is what I've been saying for years, that it's up to the school system to try and reach out. Not only for extra-curricular activiites, but for education too. The taxpayers are taxed out, I remember when there was a peper shortage businesses came thru donating a case or two.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

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Police are looking for Marsalis Johnson, 17, pictured above in both photos, in connection with a shooting Sunday night.
-

"Gang connection in city shooting?"
By KATHRYN MARCHOCKI, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, July 7, 2009

MANCHESTER – Police continue their hunt for the shooter accused of firing multiple shots into a group of people after Sunday night's fireworks-- wounding one man and a teenage bystander -- while they explore reports of the gunman's street gang connections.

Police consider Marsalis Johnson, 17, armed and "extremely dangerous" given he allegedly fired at least four rounds at the group of people he and his friends were arguing with on the stairs beneath the Bridge Street Bridge about 10 p.m., police said yesterday.

"In light of last night's shooting and the recklessness in which it was carried out with the large number of people around, we consider him really dangerous," Lt. Nick Willard said.

The shooting appears to stem from an ongoing rift between two groups who are known to each other, police said. The five to six friends who formed each group were part of a total estimated 75 to 100 people gathered to see the fireworks display near the bridge, police said.

"These two groups of people don't get along. They meet each other. And, with complete disregard to the everyday people around them, they engage in a fight and ultimately start shooting," Willard said.

The dispute culminated when Johnson, whose last known address is 89 Dionne Drive on the city's West Side, allegedly pulled out a handgun and began shooting at the group he and his friends were arguing with, police said.

Christopher Shuman, 26, of Manchester, was hit once in the left hand and once in the left foot. A bullet or bullet fragment also grazed the upper shoulder of a 15-year-old juvenile bystander who was out enjoying the fireworks, Willard said.

Johnson also is considered a "person of interest" in a June 25 gunplay incident on Eastern Avenue, police said. Officers responding to a report of shots fired at 1:30 a.m. found Johnson and another man in the parking lot, Willard said. Both denied involvement in the shooting; police at the time were unable to link them to the incident, he said.

Investigators also received information during the course of their investigation indicating Johnson, who attended Manchester High School West, is a gang member, Willard said. They are trying to corroborate that now, he said.

Police obtained an arrest warrant yesterday charging Johnson with first-degree assault, attempted first-degree assault and reckless conduct.

Police said the public should not try to approach Johnson, but to contact Manchester police at 668-8711 or Manchester Crimeline at 624-4040.

Police said at least four shots were fired Sunday night. The shooter then was grabbed by a group of people, the weapon fell to the ground and the shooter fled, Willard said.

Police recovered a .38 caliber revolver and will compare it to bullets found at the scene, he said. City police are working with federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms experts to trace the history of the weapon.

Meanwhile, four others already were arrested at the scene of Sunday night's shooting. The four allegedly were part of the argument that broke out between the two groups, police said.

Police gave their names and the charges against them as follows: Burt Carlson, 20, of 15 English Village Drive, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest; Colby Mann, 17, of 6 Notre Dame Ave., resisting arrest; Joshua Vasquez, 17, 328 Cedar St., disorderly conduct, possession of a controlled drug; and Brian E. Shuman, 17, 48 Sterling St., disorderly conduct.

READERS' COMMENTS:

Tonya...thank you for your insight on parenting..im sure if you have children they are saints and you have never had to struggle. As for YDC...have YOU been personally involved with them on a family level or just from the articles you read about? Unfortunately, and i did say UNFORTUNATELY...i have. I did my VERY best as a mother to my daughter and sometimes as much as you try, they take their own paths...Yes it does start at home...not every home is perfect and you would be a hipocrit to say yours is....All i stated was that these boys were YDC boys...i can tell you of SO many kids that get out and end up back and if you ask THEM they will tell you that YDC is like a fun house...even some of the PO's and attorneys I have had to deal with regarding my daughter have said the same thing...Do you not think i tried EVERYTHING in my power to help her to find the right path? I willingly led her down a path that would have her end up in a place like YDC? I think not. Ultimately these boys will pay for their crimes as they should...they did wrong..but do they realize it or think that YDC or a prison wont be so bad? Counseling in YDC? NO! They are called handbooks and brochures! At any rate, i think its sad that Manchester has turned into what it has..when i was 17 i could walk around Lake Ave or Merrimack Street and not be afraid..today as an adult im petrified!
- Em, Manchester NH

The Mass border has moved to Manchester.

How fortunate that there weren't innocent good citizens hurt...or worse.
- Mike, Loudon

I'm getting pretty sick of the West High School bashing. Some punk commits a crime and has an address on Mancesters west side and everybody blames that high school. It is BS! West High School provides its students with quality education and promotes community involvement. Stop, stop, stop blaming the schools and teachers. Where the hell are the parents of these kids and why did they blatantly refuse to teach their kids right from wrong. My child goes to West High and she and her rather large group of friends are not running the streets, doing drugs or commiting crimes. Why? Because we as parents are involved in our childrens lives each and every day and teach what's right and wrong. Yeah I know I repeated myself, and I do it with my child too so they understand. On a slightly different note, God bless all our troops overseas may they all come home safely very soon.
- Dana, Manchester

You don't point a gun into a crowd of people hoping to assault them (That's what your fists are for), you pull a gun hoping to murder someone! Guns are not for assualting someone, they are used to KILL! Gang members are not trying to injure anyone they are trying to kill someone. Why aren't they charging him with attempted first degree murder. They need to chop off his fingers perferably his trigger finger and show NH that we will NOT tolerate this garbage in our city. I am not going to sit in my house as a prisoner because of some moronic CHILD who THINKS he is tough when really he is a big coward affraid of going to jail and facing the consequences.
- Karen, Manchchester

WOW wicked smart move to put his last address in there. Way to endanger the family!
- Anonymous, Webster, NH

It is both sad and revealing that so many people are blaming immigrants for this kind of violence, since this young man is not an immigrant. Let's put the xenophobia aside and address the real problems that cause youth violence in this country.
- Deanna Coles, Concord

Where's the coward hiding? Check Lawrence or Lowell Mass. Or his Grammie's house!
What a whimp! Fires off the gun and then drops it and runs.
Glad it wasn't a fatal shot or another cop wounded.
- Albert Frankin, Manchester NH

EM of Manchester:

You must understand that Y.D.C. is not to blame here, whether these men were placed there or not, Y.D.C. did not raise these boys, their parents were supposed to. As for Y.D.C. being a place for them to hide from their responsibilities, you're wrong. As you even stated, they have a schedule, one they have to stick to. They have chores, and they do have mental health and community education there. They have an INDOOR pool, because this is a jail for youth, they cannot have an outdoor pool and a basketball court because these are youths that need to still learn, express, and releive energy in a constructive way. The reason your daughter thought it was a vacation is because females are a minority there, they do have it a bit easier, if you felt it was too easy for her and she thought it was too easy for her, then send her to Goffstown for a week, see how easy that is. It's not Y.D.C.'s job to straighten out these kids, it's their parents! So, be the parent and do your job! You place so much blame on everyone else, but it's all about parenting! If my kid was getting into trouble, I wouldn't 'do my best' I would do my job! If you need help parenting your child, just ask! Ask the Police Department, ask a Judge, ask Health and Human Services, ask Child and Family Services, ask the Boys and Girls Club, ask Big Brother Big Sister, ask a therapist, ask whoever you can! If parents would research and put effort into who can help them parent their kids instead of thinking of who can parent them for them, we would have a lot less crime! PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY! Just ask someone for help! There are plenty of people who would love to help these kids! It's your job to raise your own children and there is nothing wrong with needing help to do that, what's wrong is expecting teachers, police officers, and neighbors to do it for you. I would judge an ignorant person before I judged someone looking for some help, no matter their situation. We would rather help someone now than to be on their jury in 5 years...
- Tonya Ferrara, Manchester N.H.

James in Manchester, quit playing the race card. It doesn't work anymore. People are sick of it, and sick of "white guilt".

Knock it off. Self-loathe if you want, but we're not playing your game anymore.
- Jason Entres, Hollis

Lowell, Lawrence and Mass flushed their trash and it flowed up stream. I can't wait to see the UL headlines about West High School next September. They might want to check this guys grandmother's house. That's where they found brave, convicted murder Addison.
- Russ, Manchester

This issue is not about the refugees in the city. People look at the color of the skin and assume it is about refugees. There are plenty of white kids who act like they are thugs. This isn't about the police or anything other than parents not keeping a short leash on their kids. Parents need to spend more time with their kids, show more of an interest in their kids activities and discipline their kids at an early age.
We can balme everybody in the world but parents need to start taking care of their own kids and stop giving these kids whatever they want. Kids these days walk all over their parents and the parents take it. Time for parents to stop being their childrens friends and start being their parents. Maybe we would get rid of some of these thugs if their parents actually gave a damn about them.
- Mike, Manchester

Hey Bob in Bedford, did you notice the question mark at the end of the sentence? I was just asking....cool off!
- PF, Keene

I love that this topic has come down to refugess and minoritys riding free off the system. I'm sure no white people take free $ from the gov't right?

these kids are like 90lbs each, with no gun and 43 friends they are useless, just like in real life 10 years from now
- james, manchester

I'd vote for you Michael from Derry if you ran on that platform. Sick of all these handouts that are to easy to get that just promote lazyness. Meanwhile it is my hard earned tax dollars that I work hard for that goes to these people who are able to sit around and live large of my dime. Hopefully this is a wake up call to NH. Innocent people are getting hurt now and it will only get worse.
- Ryan, NH

To everyone who blames the increase in violence and gangs in Manchester on the Mayor, the Chief, the Diversity, and anyone else that they can point a finger at, I say this...
Take a look in the mirror. You are the ones who do not attend your neighborhood watch groups, you are the ones who do not call the police or notify anyone when observe something suspicous happening, or when you see a drug deal, or when you watch an assault take place, or when you yourself harbor individuals like these in your neighborhoods and or homes.
The police can only do THEIR job, and the amount of calls for service that they answer on any given night is absurd. You cannot blame anyone except for the actors that commit the crimes and the lowlifes that support it by being in kahoots together and those that are not stepping up to the plate and reporting it as they should.
Sure there are other factors that "create" these mindless morons, like lack of morals, lack of family, addiction etc etc and of course lack of brains.

If you really cared about "taking your community back" you would do the right thing and report crimes when you see them, you would be active in trying to assist the police in doing their jobs. Just think about it for a second would you, instead of complaining and playing the blame game?
- Frank, Manchester

Sec 8 .. No dad .. No job .. Welfare .. what do you expect? If Manchester does not stop the sec 8 housing, the welfare, ..
soon the whole city will be unsafe. Let's face it, where do the city employees live. Not in Manchester! The police chief lives in Bedford! Manchester needs to make it mandatory for city employees, that they live in Manchester. Many cities have a residency requirement, counties, even states where large cities are split by a river. Its not fare to the city residents, taxpayers, that while we suffer at the hands of the sec 8 gangs, the city employees sleep in the suburbs.
- tom, manchester,nh

Michael Layon from Derry for Governor!
- Sarah, Manchester

phil, i'm a refugee and dont appreciate you saying that refugees are the issue, im an educated teen who avoids gangs and just wants to make a future for myself, i have no issue with you having a problem with gangs, but realize that being a refugee doesn't automatically make you a gang memeber as well and fyi there are a lot of "white people" (no offense) in gangs!!!
- nonya, manchester

Steve B, Hooksett....I agree that if you point a gun at someone and shoot that constitutes attempted murder. However your last comment about the Yankees is off base (no pun intended)....the loser is wearing a Mets cap!
- Aniki0609, Manchester, NH

Let's ask the mayor if he would honestly drive or walk around specific neighborhoods of Manchester alone late at night. Manchester has been in decline for some time now, but hey, we have semi-pro baseball and hockey so it must be a nice place to live right?
- Carl, Manchester

Gangs are in Nh and have been for some time. Manchester refuses for some reason to acknowledge it. It is what it is. Identify it, catalouge it, and address it through agressive interdiction. You can't make it go away but you can manage it. Send your "Juvenile Det. or Youth services" to Lawrence and Lowell to learn how to do it. Have you limitation s and learn from those who do it on a daily basis. I am retired after 20 yrs and worked gangs in R.I.I have seen your Latin Kings(even one of mine) and Asian Boys.Yes they are here and I can say YOU HAVE A PROBLEM. Ignoring it and slapping a bandaid on the cases as they arise is a diservice to the people you work for. You have some great brothers and sisters in that agency. Let them do what you pay them for.I wish you luck but you have to address it.
- Ryan, Bedford,nh

That's right, B, Manchester is being flooded by FAMILIES of criminals from all over the world, thanks to the insanely generous welfare payments they get here. Look at the welfare projects where they live: Nice cars, free air conditioning, and free satellite TV.

Back when those residents had to make do with a cheap radio and riding the bus, we weren't a prime draw for international lowlifes.
- Jon, Manchester

thank heaven i'm moving out of manchester to a great town to the west! i drive around manchester and with the exception of the north end (because the trash can't afford to live there, YET!) it is a sorry looking place. the people, all types just seem to not care about themselves or anyone else. the decay and filth is awful and getting worse. and i wouldn't put a child into the public school system here for all the tea in china! so long manchester, good luck to you, you're gonna need it!!!
- fpc, manchester

" have to pose a question to Manchester residents: Is it possible that all of this crime and gang activity you've seen over the last 10-15 years may be related to the fact that Manchester is a relocation center for refugees or that your city administrators continue to draw every street thug from surrounding states and cities because they make welfare so easy to obtain?"

PF in Keene is like a lot of people in that he/she mistakenly think that the big, bad government brings refugees to Manchester. Guess what PF? The refugees are brought here mainly by CHURCHES. That's right. Churches (or NGOs as they're eupemistically called) get paid by the government to provide support for the first 6 months a refugee is in the states. After that they cut their ties and leave welfare to pick up. It's a lot like a mortgage originator taking their profit from a loan then selling it to get rid of the risk.

In this case you can't blame the government. Read for yourself http://www.nh.gov/oep/programs/refugee/agencies.htm
- Bob, Bedford

Once again you get what you vote for. Welfare and low income housing ARE associated with increased crime, including violent crimes against persons. Perhaps we can kid ourselves longer that the grafitti popping up all over is just innocent teenagers expressing themselves through art.

I prefer a realistic long term approach. Cut welfare off at six months, no ifs ands or buts. Six months and your done. No pay raise for getting pregnant. Drug tests for everyone living on welfare. Eliminate low income housing. The state is better off with people who are self providers, rather than supporting leaches who live off other people's hard earned money. Approach gangs for what they really are, unions of domestic terrorists. Commiting crime as part of a gang, including grafitti, should carry stiff sentences. If you are old enough to use a gun to commit a crime, you are old enough to be tried as an adult, including receiving the death penalty.

We can and should learn from other cities and states with their experinces with gangs. We have two viable options, ignore the problem or crush it with all the force we can muster. To try and "talk" with these kids or give them easy sentences is ignoring the problem.

Ignoring illegal immigration makes about as much sense as skydiving without a parachute. Show me a place where illegal immigration hasn't resulted in increased crime, decreased effectiveness of schools and money wasted on free healthcare for them. Deport them or excute them. Take back NH and bring back America the great!
- Michael Layon, Derry

Hey I know, Lets get the Verizon wireless Arena to put these photos on their outside jumbo sign. Wanted...
See if they come out of their hole then
- kevin, Raymond

Anyone seen Gran Torino? It seems to me that if anything is going to change the good people have to take this city back. The cops need to be trained to deal with this mindset of disrespect and lifestyle so they can stop it. I am afraid in my own home here in our fine city. I am surrounded by tenement buildings and children running around unsupervised. Those will be the next gangs.
- Kara O, Manchester West sider

While the majority of families coming here from other places are good people, we cannot deny the fact that they are coming here as refugees. They have nothing to their name when they arrive. The children are then ripe pickings for people like this little puke-gang-banger-wannabe to scoop up with the offer of easy money.

If we as a community don't stand up and say enough is enough, people like this are going to turn Manchester into Lawrence or Haverhill. I am not sure what the solution is. I do know that we have become somewhat complacent with what is going on in Manchester. When we see dealers on the street, we need to call the police. When we see something that doesn't look right, we need to call the police. These little pukes need to know we are not going to stand for their stupidity any more.

Our political "leaders" have become nothing but a bunch of infighting little whiners. They are more concerned with protecting their little piece of political power than actually trying to solve problems. It is time to get rid of the whole lot and start over. Anyone who votes for an incumbent in the upcoming election is saying they are happy with how everything is going in the city and we should keep going on this path. Dump every one of them.
- WS, Manchester

For all of the politically correct that don't get it this is in fact a problem with many of the immigrant groups. There already is multiple gangs in the city that are aligned along racial and ethnic lines but the politically correct don't want to hear that. It will continue to grow as a problem until everyone recognizes it. You need to understand gang colors and styles, your need to recognize gang tagging in areas that define it as their area. On the other hand you can pull the wool over your own eyes and put double locks on all your doors , stop going anyplace and still claim there is no problems or you can do something about it. You need to ask a police officer "off the record" about "Is there gang problems" and you will get a quick affirmative.
- Don Armstrong, Henniker

Ben, I agree. I never understood how pointing a gun at another person and pulling the trigger is not attempted murder and only first degree assault. Why is it universally considered a "deadly weapon", but in this instance when fired at someone only considered to be first degree assault? Anyone knows guns are meant to kill. I am a gun owner, and staunch believer in the right to bear arms, but think far harsher penalties for those who use firearms illegally would benefit all. I truly think someone who uses a firearm with the intent to harm another person should be locked up for life (with the exception of self defense!) A person who makes a conscious decision to shoot at another human being does not deserve the same freedoms as the rest of us. They surrender them when making that terrible decision........but what do I know...
- nb, Bedford

1st Gangs have been around for years, but the MAN PD denied it when Central's newspaper reported on it 4 years ago. "Gang problem, we don't have gangs here">
Yeah right.

2nd. Is this the time to be cutting things from the state budget like the Tobey school and possibly YDC funding? We need to put money into these programs to intervene with these kids.

And to the mother whose daughter was in YDC. I am convinced your daughter is on the straight and narrow because she came out of there to you, not a gang.

Having worked with many of the professionals at YDC I can safely state that they work very hard within the parameters allowed under law.
- Corinne, Manchester

I can see it now. This punk kid draws his hand gun, tilts it sideways and then shoots. You know, these kids think that by tilting the handgun sideways somehow makes them tough. He showed how tough he really is by using a gun. MPD did a great job responding to the scene. This kid may think he can hide from MPD but let me tell you, they will find him and they will arrest him. He would be better served turning himself in because MPD will hunt him down and they will get him.
- Jeff, Manchester

Funny when people toss out numbers like they know something, 10-13-15 years for gang presence in NH? You're all joking right? Diversity is the root?

For starters gangs have been around longer than I have lived in Manchester (more than 3 decades), in the early years it was Irish and French gangs that plagued the city in the 1800's. How about the 1960'2 and 70's when motorcycle gangs were big.

Yes the gang numbers have grown but so hasn't our population so it is all to be expected. But you can clearly see it has NOTHING to do with diversity but more like an issue of big city tough times and poor childhood where a kid feels the need to belong to something and "friends" act more of a family.
- Brian F, Manchester

How is it that if a law-abiding citizen leaves a round in a chamber when breaking down a Glock and puts one through their floor, their house gets swarmed with cops and they lose their CCW, but a punk like this deliberately fires a gun at a crowd and doesn't get charged with attempted first degree murder?
- Jake S., Manchester

Maybe we need to make greater use of racketeering laws to deal with gangs. Let all the gang members know that if one guy is involved in a shooting you will all be charge with attempted murder.

Too often there are 2-3 hardcore thugs, the rest are just weak willed youths trying to act tough. When they go to court the followers appear cleaned up and their parent argues "they are good kids". Well if they ALL have to face the consequences it may discourage many kids from joining.

Even if a judge or jury eventually throws out the charge, the effect of all the gang members being charged for attempted murder might have a chilling effect. At the very least it will take them all off the streets for a little while.
- David R, Manchester

All I have to say is that I am so thankful that I did not bring my two children to the fireworks this year. Pretty sad when a family event is ruined by two wanna be thugs who clearly are just little boys craving attention!!!! Just a thought, where are their parents?
- Heidi, Hooksett

Phil & PH- I agree with you 100% that diversity-refugees and foriegners who ride the system are the cause of a lot of crime and drugs in this area. I'm certain that the stats would back me up on this!
- M-, Manchester

I love the people saying don't start burning crosses. That is the attitude that has gotten us where we are today. It's not about it being right or wrong, it's about facts. The facts are that the Illegals, Unemployed Welfare recipients, and Minorities are more likely to be in this situation. So stop the Political Correctness rants, and realize we have lost Nashua, Salem and Manchester to this infestation, and will soon lose our beautiful state if this continues unchecked.
- Dave, Pembroke

Gangs... yes we have them! State Police even have a task force. And our gangs are getting bigger. As a former teacher at a public HS we would have to ask these kids to remove their colors, and honestly they get in your face. They feel like they have a right. They would/could wear them if it did not represent violence. And the girls in these so called gangs are worse!!!!!!!
Knowing a few of these kids I am rather disappointed in their behavior, but they are a product of their environment. Please do not tell me that a parent does not know what all the "color represents" I have had it with the parents "not knowing"
It is not the schools turn to babysit, it is the school to teach them fundamentals and they go to "hang out" and talk smack. You would be shock at how many can not read and are passed...

These kids had absolutely no regard for the people around them cause they do not care, and in their minds why should they...Everyone wants to be a gangster.
And finally, as much as I support the kids/youth in our community, these guys need to understand what they could have done and did. Stiff punishment needs to be instated, and stick to it. We are constantly letting pedophiles, gang bangers, and other criminals out on probation, or just a simple 30 days will do them good...Guess it is not working is it
As for the YDC statement...YDC has a philosophy to cradle them use psychology on them, the poor you syndrome. Are you kidding me, they are laughing at you when they get out. I have heard so much from these kids even I was shocked. Honestly they need a kick in the A**!
- hh, Manchester NH

Mr Goss, that chief and Guinta said nice cops in tees hanging around neighborhoods will stop crime. Now we got gangs running neighborhoods. Stabbing and shooting on the street, even fireworks. Makes the old guns at clubs look safe. Bring back crime fighters.
- Mina, Manchester

If they find him he will get a slap on the wrist because it not his fault. It was the way he was raised and society fault.
And yes he should be charged with attempted murder and for wearing a N.Y. Yankees hat too!
- Steve B, Hooksett

Joe in Manchester:

If the rising crime rate in Manchester isn't related to the changing demographics of the area, then explain to us why the most "diverse" cities and states in the US also have the highest crime rates. I don't believe all crimes can or should be blamed on a particular group, but Southern NH never used to be as dangerous as it has become in the last few years.
- Marc Carter, Rockville, MD

It says "Police obtained an arrest warrant yesterday charging Johnson with first-degree assault, attempted first-degree assault and reckless conduct" how about charging this punk with attempted murder and make an example of him..........
- Ben, Manchester

The vast majority of refugees in Manchester are FAMILIES not gangs of criminals. I suggest Phil that you work on your xenaphobia.
- B, Manchester

Well Phil it is not actually the diversity part that is the problem. It's the errosion of leadership that once knew who was entering the nation and they had to learn the language, customs, and how our constitution worked. Those who flow over our border are simply bringing to our society what they know from where they came.

Now it is us who has to change to be more like them. We are becomming a nation within a nation and the result at some point will not be good.
- Deb, Derry

Always get a kick out of the tough guys waiving the guns and shooting people, but when it comes time to pat up, they tuck their tail and run. Great role model for up and coming thugs!!!
- Brian, Manchester

3 of the boys listed in the article are all YDC boys...my daughter was in YDC for a short time and i truly believe that these boys didnt get any help from the place. YDC has become just a place for them to hide from their responsibilities..they dont offer any type of counseling or help with the gang issues..they have an indoor pool and a brand new basketball court!!! My daughter said it was like a vacation!! They dont have to think in there because everything is done for them...they are told when to wake up, eat, sleep, shower..no decisions made on their own..had these boys maybe had some direction or tougher consequences to begin with maybe this wouldnt have happened! My daughter is no saint but when she got out of there she stayed out of trouble. Its 2009 and like it or not the kids are changing and we need to keep up with whats happening to them. Stop blaming the parents..we do the best we can in some cases..not all..but most do.
- Em, Manchester NH

"Any chance we can send these thugs over to North Hampton to live?
- Jake, Manchester "

I hear there is a very nice host family with open arms for troubled minds.

Shooting into a crowded area... then running away, Coward!!

15 years old trying to enjoy fire works and she gets a bullet grazing her shoulder for it. 26 watching the fire works and he has 2 physical wounds.

Yea.. you guys are tough. Go shoot each other up in some empty building and ffs at least hit your targets and kill each other off... not the good people.

Hope ya catch these dopes!
- Chris Patten, Goffstown

To Scott in Manchester. Are you out of your mind or just not in touch with reality. Not filing charges and having a parent take care of the problem worked well with throwing eggs at a house or shoplifting. This is an incident where a young ADULT fired four rounds at point blank range within a large crowd of people.
- Jack, Epping

I agree with Scott: "Then again, the fathers would have to be around to take care of their kids."
Seems like in today's society, fathers are around long enough to plant a seed and then they fly off to the next one.
- Connie Rice, Manchester NH

The law says that children must attend school until the age of 18 as they can not drop out.
Teachers interact with these children every school day. Yes there are gangs in Manchester, teachers and administrators are called upon often to discourage children from fighting. This young man needs to be charged with attempted murder. Too many incidents not to be gang related.
- amanda, manchester

Now Phil, let's not start burning crosses just yet. This is not a diversity problem. Crime is going to happen. It's just human nature to want what the other guy has. Some peple work for it, others try and take it by force or stealing, and still others go without. I'm not justifying what this idiot did, however that no reason to start that way of thinking.
- Joe, Manchester

Any chance we can send these thugs over to North Hampton to live?
- Jake, Manchester

I have to pose a question to Manchester residents: Is it possible that all of this crime and gang activity you've seen over the last 10-15 years may be related to the fact that Manchester is a relocation center for refugees or that your city administrators continue to draw every street thug from surrounding states and cities because they make welfare so easy to obtain? I'd be interested in knowing if this is the case.

It's a shame. When I grew up my brothers and I could walk through downtown Manchester or Nashua without fear.
- PF, Keene

gangs have been around for 12 or 13 yrs now, they were imported, now they are home growen. i'm sure they have been in most towns, they leave their mark if they claim your town as " their territory" just ask your kids,,, they will know,,,,
gangs, illegals, refugees = shootings, unemployment, infestations,
nh isn't so wonderful anymore is it, just lock your cars, house, barn, garage shed, leave nothing out in the yard. booby trap your boats, and your gardens,
great way to live huh,,,, Live free or die,,,,
- c colby, taxahampshire

What happened to the good old days and charges were never filed. The fathers would pick the kids up at the police station and handle the situation and the kids were basically never heard from again by the police.

Then again, the fathers would have to be around to take care of their kids.
- Scott, Manchester

Embrace Diversity folks... What has it given your fine city so far?
- Phil Hubbard, Northfield, NH

It's really too bad when families can't even go to a fireworks event without having to worry about some thug carrying a gun. He looks like a punk, someone who thinks he's a big man because he carries a gun. He's nothing, or at least nothing that he thinks he's is. I hope they find you, and sentence you to a very long prison term. That's where you belong, right away from law abiding citizens.
- JG, Manchester

Still no gangs in NH, right? That's what the police chiefs keep saying.
- David Goss, Manchester

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"Details of teen gunman's arrest described"
By JIM FENNELL, New Hampshire Union Leader, July 13, 2009

MANCHESTER – Marsalis Johnson, the teen allegedly brazen enough to open fire into a crowd of people following a city fireworks display July 5, was arrested Saturday night after police found him hiding in a kitchen cabinet of his family's Dionne Drive apartment.

Johnson, 17, was arrested after police acting on an anonymous tip went to 89 Dionne Drive, a multi-family house, shortly after 10 p.m. Manchester police Sgt. Mark Sanclemente said officers secured the perimeter of the house before approaching the second-floor apartment where Johnson reportedly lives with his mother and sister.

Sanclemente said police were allowed to search the apartment after speaking with Johnson's mother. Johnson was found hiding in a top cabinet in the kitchen.

Johnson was wanted for first degree assault, attempted first degree assault and reckless conduct in connection with a July 5 shooting that happened at the end of the fireworks display along the river.

Johnson allegedly began firing after two groups of men got into an argument along the staircase underneath the Bridge Street bridge near Bedford Street.

Two men were injured. Police said Christopher Shuman, 26, of Manchester was shot once in the left hand and once in the left foot and a bullet also grazed the upper shoulder of a juvenile victim. They said Johnson and Shuman were known to each other. The juvenile was a bystander who reportedly had no connection with either group.

Four men were arrested at the scene that night and an arrest warrant was issued for Johnson.

Johnson also faces additional charges of resisting arrest (hiding) and possession of a controlled substance after he was found. He was being held at Hillsborough County Jail on $100,000 bail and is scheduled to arraigned today.

Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta praised the police for their work and is asking for the maximum sentence for Johnson.

"The message that our law enforcement community is making is that this sort of violence will not be tolerated in Manchester," Guinta said. "If after a fair trial, the allegations against Johnson are true, then I hope he faces the maximum penalty permitted by law."

Sanclemente said Johnson offered no resistance when he was found and did not have a weapon on him.

Johnson was considered armed and dangerous, but Sanclemente said the department's special weapons unit was not used because it wasn't sure Johnson would be there.

"If we had known for sure he was there, we may have changed our course of action," Sanclemente said. "We were just acting on a tip. We can't activate SWAT every time a person says there's a wanted person somewhere."

A handgun was recovered at the scene of the shooting and police are testing to see if it has any link to the shooting.

Police are also looking into Johnson's involvement in a June 25 shooting on Eastern Avenue in which no one was reportedly injured.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

"Johnson was found hiding in a top cabinet in the kitchen."
He's not so brave when other people, who are trained to operate firearms, are the ones with the guns!

I agree with Rosanna, the mother LET the officers in to search the apartment - she didn't tell them to come back with a warrant. She could very well have been the one to call the police to come pick him up so he could face up to what he had done.
- tracy, Manchester

Tammy from Manch,
You're wrong. Whether I knew the family or not...If these people were my own family...I would call them scum and turn them in. And to the rest of you cry-baby liberals saying he's only 17...He was old enough to choose to fire a gun in a crowd; he's old enough to live with the consequences.
- James, Hampton

Rosanna wrote:
"He's a 17-year-old kid. How many of you were fully formed at 17? How many of you did stupid, dangerous things when you were 17? I know, you never waved a gun. But did you drive too fast down a residential street? Being charged as an adult at 17 is ridiculous. The law states you're not mature enough to drink until you're 21. You're not mature enough to smoke until you're 18. But at 17 your brain is fully developed enough to be considered an adult for criminal prosecution."

I can honestly say that 17, I was fully formed enough to know that shooting a gun into a crowd of people is illegal, dangerous and stupid. Hell, I'd have known that at age 8. 17 is plenty old enough to be held accountable for such frightening and dangerous actions against human beings and society.
- Ginger, Hooksett

Gee, I wonder if his mother knew he was home and that he was wanted? Charge her with aiding and abetting a known fugitive.
- John Krats, Manchester, New Hampshire

Once you do something that lands you on the front page, it leaves you open for judgement.

Sorry, that's how the media works.
- Jill, Manchester

He's a 17-year-old kid. How many of you were fully formed at 17? How many of you did stupid, dangerous things when you were 17? I know, you never waved a gun. But did you drive too fast down a residential street? Being charged as an adult at 17 is ridiculous. The law states you're not mature enough to drink until you're 21. You're not mature enough to smoke until you're 18. But at 17 your brain is fully developed enough to be considered an adult for criminal prosecution.
One more thing. The tip was anonymous. How do you know it wasn't his mother who called it in?
- Rosanna, manchester

Here we all again..acting like.judge.jury..and prosecutor..once agian none of u know this family or would not b talking ill of them. Lets focus on our lifes..Let God do the rest.
- Tammy, Manchester

Actually, if I knew one of my family members opened fire in a crowded area on America's birthday, I'd be disgusted and embarassed....and he would've been turned in by ME, not an anonymous tip.
- L.A., Derry

Matt in Manchester. 17 is considered an adult in NH as far as being charged with a crime. This law changed years ago. It helps to be aware of the law when commiting violations against it.
- Jim, manchester

Jack from Manchester-the reason why he is being charged with first degree assault and reckless conduct instead of attempted murder is because they would need to identify a motive. If no motive can be proved, then this idiot gets to walk free. The police and attorneys use the best possible charge that will have a higher chance of conviction. Sadly, this is how our system works.
- Jen, Concord

- debonie thompson, manchester, nh wrote:

And no I'm not trying to say what he did was right , but no one has the the right to take someone's freedom away or be in control of it.

Um, actually, denbonie, yes, there are those with the authority to take someone's freedom away. They're called judges and juries. And thank goodness we live by the rule of law. I suppose you think anyone has the right to shoot a gun into a crowd? Because we wouldn't want to take away anyone's right to shoot a gun wherever they like. No matter who they hit. Right?
- Ginger, Hooksett

I moved out of Manchester because these vomit bags were given a place to live courtesy of our wonderful Liberal politicians using OUR TAX MONEY. I talked to a few of these families and you would PUKE if you knew how much of our m oney is being GIVEN to them. They are also told if you want to keep getting your ENTITLEMENT register to vote DEMOCRAT!

This is the dirty little secret, the Libs use our money to buy votes. They don't care, these elitist don't have to vlive with them WE DO!
- Mark finch, Littleton

To Matt, Manchester

At 17 in NH you are, criminally, an adult but a minor for other things. So for example if a 17 yr. old ran away from home and if the police found them they would be brought back to their parents. But if they committed a crime, they would be prosecuted as an adult, as this kid will.
- Joe, Nashua

but no one has the the right to take someone's freedom away or be in control of it.
- debonie thompson, manchester, nh

I think people, especially law enforcement has every right to take away freedom or control it after you shoot into a crowd of people. I also find it hard to not be judgemental towards a person who fired into a crowd of hundreds of unsuspecting people, and I find it rather disgraceful of his mother to defend his actions. I haven't heard anyone firing at him or putting his life in jeopardy doesn't seem like he was acting in self defense. Also, would you be so understanding if your family was in the area when this happened or god forbid got hit by a stray bullet?
- Meghan, Manchester, NH

And no I'm not trying to say what he did was right , but no one has the the right to take someone's freedom away or be in control of it.
- debonie thompson, manchester, nh

Hey Debonie, this coward sacrificed any rights when he lifted a gun and fired into a crowd of people. God above. This line of 'thinking' makes me cringe. Also makes me wonder what this society has become. I'd like to see Debonie's reaction if it had been a relative of her's that took a bullet.
- Jack, Manchester

Nice job by MPD.

Matt in Manchester, at 17 he's still considered to be an adult in NH and he faces criminal charges as an adult.

Fortunately, our legislators were not able to get the age for criminal charges raised to 18. If they had, he'd be nameless and a JV, or need to be certified as an adult.

I think the Democrats were behind the move to raise the age to 18. Typical of their approach to fighting real crime, especially by young criminals, who when not handled properly, go on to become big criminals.
- Melvin, Keene

Debonie, not sure if you realize that in reality, we (society) do have the right to take his freedom away. Imagine if he fatally wounded those two people. He would have taken away everything from them, not just freedom. Is he a confused youth? Probably but, shooting people, that's completely unacceptable.
- Joe, Manchester

Debbie in Manch says, "no one has the the right to take someone's freedom away or be in control of it." Are you saying we should open up the doors to the prisons and DYS?
- Chris L, Manchester

Aiding and abetting a well known criminal is a crime. The whole family sounds like fine outstanding citizens. What kind of coward would hide in a cabinet? A scared one without his gun, that's who!

Heck I'm sure he'll be back on the streets in no time.
- Doug Heffernam, Manchester, NH

"He's 17. Isn't that a minor? Does that mean no matter how much trouble he get's in for this that he'll be released at 18?"

Not if he's charged as an adult. At 17, you can be charged as an adult in the state of NH. Thanks to some much milder stupidity at that age, I know from experience. Thankfully, I learned from the stupidity.
- Bill, Manchester

In NH when you are 17 you are considered an adult. That is why he is in Hillsborough Count Jail and not a juvenile center. He will be charged as an adult with felonies and hopefully spend years in jail. Had that bullet, that hit the youngster, been ten inches in a different direction, it could have blown his head right off.
- paul, manchester

I highly suspect debonie there is part of the demographic that's the problem.

No, I don't know them. I don't WANT to know someone who would fire a gun into a crowd of innocent people.

You're one of the "stop snitching" group, aren't you, debonie?

Why don't you move to Lawrence?
- David Goss, Manchester

Debonie, you are wrong. He shot into a crowd of people, he didn't have the right to put other lives at risk and because he did so, his freedom should be taken away.
His mother should have helped him make better choices, that's what mothers are supposed to do.
- Maria, Manchester, NH

Curled up in a cabinet, probably sucking his thumb like a little baby! Not such a big guy without his gun!
Throw them all in jail. Good job MPD!
- Arthur Spooner, Manchester, NH

He's 17. Isn't that a minor? Does that mean no matter how much trouble he get's in for this that he'll be released at 18?
- Matt, Manchester

I think people need to stop being so judgmental towards people they don't know.

Because I'm sure if it was one of your family members you would be defending there action's , just like his mother was trying to.

And no I'm not trying to say what he did was right , but no one has the the right to take someone's freedom away or be in control of it.
- debonie thompson, manchester, nh

The coward was found hiding in a kitchen cabinet? Why is the residents of this home not charged? With all the publicity I'm sure they had to know the police were looking for him, and why. Aiding and abetting a criminal on the lam is a crime.
- Jim H, Manchester

Sadly I don't think I could fit my head in my kitchen cabinet.

Even sadder with the state of our justice system, is this kid will be walking around free in matter of months.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

The mother should be charged.
- Doug, Concord

Fine parent , guess the apple wasn't very far from the tree .
- Pete, Lancaster

Gotta love it...he was just practicing for when he is sitting all curled up in the corner of his jail cell for the next few years. He will be released only to be back in jail within a year!
- Brett, Manch

Tough guy....firing into a crowd of people. And then found hiding in a cabinet. No, this clown is nothing more than a coward.

But first degree assault and reckless conduct? He should be charged with attempted murder!

I cannot imagine what the words of the mayor/candidate for congress would have been if the juvenile bystander with no connection to either group had been more than just "grazed" and that bullet was a foot higher and more centered.
- Jack, Manchester

Nice work MPD...thank you!!!!
- Roger, Hooksett

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"City school board nixes 2-mile bus radius"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, July 14, 2009

MANCHESTER – School board members last night veered away from a policy change that would have forced many more students to walk to school.

Board members voted unanimously to continue providing school buses to students who live at least 1.4 miles from school, rather than move the radius to two miles. The vote also restores money for busing high-schoolers.

"I know I speak for everyone in the room when I say I certainly breathe a sigh of relief this evening," one parent, Marie Papp, told the board.

Superintendent Tom Brennan did say the administration is looking into other ways to cut down on busing costs, including the possibility that students would have to walk farther to get to a bus stop.

What remains unclear is how the district will pay for the busing privileges that board members have now decided to preserve. The money for those privileges was not provided in the $146.4 million budget the school board approved last month.

School officials are hoping the Board of Mayor and Aldermen will send the school district an additional $3 million in state aid. Mayor Frank Guinta said he expects the aldermen to "take up that matter" some time before Nov. 1.

The extra $3 million could be used, additionally, to rehire several dozen teachers who were laid off this spring, Brennan said, and to stave off reductions in art, music and sports.

The superintendent did not say what sort of cuts the district might have to make if the aldermen don't come through with the $3 million, but he acknowledged some cuts would be necessary.

Brennan had said last week he was planning to ask the school board to roll back busing for students who live less than two miles from school. Officials were unclear on how many students would have been affected by the policy change.

The cut would have saved the district an estimated $247,000, administrators said.

The busing vote was taken up as the first order of business of the night. In an unusual step, committeemen took the vote before the public-comment session that usually precedes each meeting.

Committeeman Joyce Craig argued the vote was unnecessary, maintaining the district's policy of busing students who live 1.4 miles from school was still in place.

Committeeman Art Beaudry disagreed, saying the board approved the busing cutback when it voted for the superintendent's budget plan last month. Committeeman At-Large Debra Gagnon Langton echoed his point, saying her concern about busing reductions was one reason she voted against the budget.

The district's spending plan for the new fiscal year called for a host of program cuts and left uncertain whether many officials who have been laid off would be coming back to work in the fall. Since then, however, the district has found it could use federal stimulus dollars to avoid some cuts.

Already, Brennan said, the district has resolved to use $815,000 in stimulus money to restore full-day kindergarten classes, bringing back 21 teaching jobs. It has also recalled seven assistant principals.

The district has, however, axed 16 library assistants.

Hopes for a $3 million supplemental budget for Manchester's schools were raised after Gov. John Lynch signed the state budget. The state budget included $1.9 million in school building aid for Manchester. To access that money, school officials need the aldermen to sign it over to them.

School officials also need city approval before they can spend $1.1 million in "impact" fees.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

I honestly can say that "I walked to school uphill...both ways" because when I left my house in the morning, I walked out my front door, which was 3/4 of the way up a hill, walked down the hill, crossed the main road, walked a mile down the street and then up the hill which the school sat at the top of and then did the same in reverse.

I know back then when I was in elementary and junior high school, back in the late '70's and early '80's, we didn't have to worry about things like people in cars pulling up to us asking if we wanted a ride. Of course there were 7 of us who walked together every day so maybe that had something to do with it.

I mean, I remember when on Saturdays we would ride to an off-road bike riding area six miles from my house and one Saturday, on the way home, I got a flat tire and was walking along in the rain and some guy in a pickup pulled over and asked us, there were two of us, if we wanted a ride and, without even thinking about it, threw our bikes in the bed of the truck and hopped in the truck and got a ride home.

See if that happens today. With every time you turn the TV on all you hear about is kids vanishing in the neighborhood, amber alerts etc etc.

It wasn't the same back then as it is today...Or, maybe it was and just nobody talked about it like they do today.

However, you do not need bus stops every 4-5 houses. I drive down a street in the morning and the bus stops no less than 7 times in a half mile stretch.

There should be one communal bus stop every one to one-and-a-half mile stretch where kids would have to gather and get picked up all at once.

And maybe they also wouldn't have to wake up at 5 in the morning to catch the bus at 6:30 or 7:00 even though school doesn't start until 8:30 or whatever.
- Paul Scorpio, Providence, Rhode Island

WHAT????
Can't these people make a decision and stick with it??
They seem to bend whatever way the wind blows.. If they keep this up, pretty soon they will break their back and someone else will be sittng in their seat!

I am NOT pleased with many of the decisions that have been made by the School Board and Aldermen in the past few years.

It's time for a CHANGE!!!!

I am already watching/reasearching the mayoral candidates and I can't wait for the Alderman and School Board candidates to register.
- Scott, Manchester

Let me get this straight, the city will not have children walk to school but are taking the police out the middle schools. Seems to me that one is a safety issue while the other is not an issue at all
- Jonny Nitch, Manchester

I have grandkids in high school there. their parents agree about the walking situation.
Manchester has the same educational issues as Franklin does, it just gets noticed more here because we are small city. We have more kids per capita in the National Honor Society than Manchester does.
Once you reach 7th grade here, you are not allowed to ride the school bus if you live within 1.5 miles of the school, sidewalks or not.
The bus stopping every 50 ft. is annoying to everyone not to mention inefficient. I agree there should be more neighborhood type bus stops, but with parents being so lazy these days, no one wants to do anything for anyone else unless they are getting something out of it.
I think you should all do like most of us in Franklin are going to do this election cycle. Clean house and start from scratch. Get rid of the dead wood. Find people that will listen and have some common sense.
The question you all need to be asking is, when all this stimulus money runs out- what will they do then? Will you all be back in the same boat again? What will they do NOW to keep this from happening later??
Instead of bashing Franklin- perhaps you should focus on the future of Manchester and what you can do to keep from having this come up again.
- Pauline, Franklin

Maybe these kids would loose a pound or two and not be so lazy if they had to walk 2 miles to school. High schoolers should not have any bus service within the city at all. I had to walk from the N end to Central before I had a car, so did a lot of my friends. Kids today have it way too easy.
- Ed, Manchester

Pauline... Franklin has many side walks, furthermore you probably would be complaining too if your 6 year old lived down by the hospital in Franklin and had to walk all the way up to Paul Smith School--crossing Main St in Franklin w/o crosswalks or light??? Then again--it is Franklin, maybe you would let your kid go...
- Jim C, Ward 2 Manchester

Hooray!! Now my son doesnt have to play "Frogger" on Brown Ave to get to and from school every day! Thank you to the school board for making the right decision for the kids! I agree with Steve, my son should walk to the end of the road to catch the bus, and its healthier too. As long as he is safe, thats all that matters to this mom!!
- sthomas, manchester

Pauline- Kids can walk the 2 miles one way, but in towns like Franklin its a bit easier considering the size. Plus the arguement is more for the younger children in grades K-4, would you want your child walking 2 miles one way to school at age 6? Give it a rest. It was voted down. Lets now move on and figure out where the money is going to come from, and preferably before Nov. 1st.
- Alex, Manchester

Pauline, I don't think that anybody has an issue with OLDER children walking two miles to school, certainly older children can and should walk more often and for greater distances. The concern was for much younger children, first and second graders, who would be walking on main thorough-fares where there are no sidewalks, crosswalks or crossing guards. It seems that two hundred thousand dollars is a small sum compared to the liability issues that would result should a child be injured or killed walking to school under these circumstances.
- LNT, Manchester,NH

Pauline from Franklin and Chris from Laconia, one ? do you have kids in the Manchester School District? geez just wondering....
- Suzi, Manchester,NH

I agree with Steve...I follow buses on my way to work on Candia Road. It stops at every other streets, its quite ridiculous!!!! My daughter takes the bus and we pay $8.50/10 rides. We get no freebies. Our bus driver collects the fee every ride!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Suzi, Manchester, nh

There should be set bus stops throughout the city. Watching a bus travel 500 feet between stops is ridiculous. I have been behind a bus that stops every several hundred feet. Designate bus stops where the kids can walk to and meet up. Enough of the "curb side door to door service". The 2 mile radius was a horrible idea and I am happy that plan was nixed. Now lets see the school board work on adopting designated bus stops so that can lessen the amount of time spent stopping at every door step.
- Mike, Manchester

What happened to the days of neighborhood bus stops? I had to walk two blocks to a park where 15-20 kids waited for the bus...now we stop at each driveway? The kids can still text or play their Gameboys it will just have to be at a community bus stop!
- Ryan, Manchester, NH

My friend lives 8 miles from Memorial. You expect him to walk? If we had a train system and good bus system in the city, eliminating school buses would be an option. Isn't it true that high school students pay for the bus weekly anyway? If they pay, then how is it costing the district?
- JT, Manchester

I know this is a classic joke but it's true, when I went to school I did have to walk almost 21/2 miles to school and climb a very large hill to get there and in every kind of inclement weather! Why can't even middle schoolers walk to school?
- bobbi, Raymond

See, back in the old days, parents would get off their butts and actually BRING their kids to school. If some parents worked, kids found rides with friends in their neighborhood. And yet other kids, LIKE ME, actually walked to school. Parents these days are just plain lazy, kids are even lazier.
- Ricker, Manchester

What a bunch of whiners!
These kids will walk more than 2 miles to get to their favorite hangout, their fsvorite burger joint, the mall, etc. but you won't let them walk 2 miles to go to school?
Don't complain about your taxes then.
- Pauline, Franklin

Why is it that our children in high school can't take the public bus? Heck they drive around the city empty all the time anyway's why not actually use them? Other major cities do it why can't we?
- Joshua, Manchester

The district should designate bus stops (a child can walk or their guardian can wait with them) where neighborhoods could gather rather than stopping at each childs house - this might fight childhood obesity as well as the bus funding issue. Beyond that it's a huge pain when you get behind a bus that stops in 5 driveways next to each other!
- Steve, Manchester, NH

If they made sure the bus drivers were actually collecting the 0.75 per ride fee from the high school students they won't have so much of a shortfall in the future. Sometimes it would be months before the kids would use up their 10 ride pass.
- tracy, manchester

To the School Board and Mayor & Alderman Board:
Why don't you leave things as they are for once. Now there's talk of hiring back those layed off teachers! Changing the requirements for busing students.
Why upset so many people then change things back to how they were?
Waste of my tax dollar if you ask me.
- Arthur Spooner, Manchester, NH

"Mayor Frank Guinta said he expects the aldermen to "take up that matter" some time before Nov. 1."?

Why after Nov. 1? School starts before Labor Day this year-- Aren't you a little late Frank?
- Jorge, Manchester

I have an idea..how about they start charging parents a fee (gas money, etc.) for having their children take the bus? And don't cry "i already pay taxes) even people with no kids pay for YOURS. I'm suggesting fee only for those with kids that take the bus.
- Chris, Laconia

re: $3mil in state aid for the schools, "Mayor Frank Guinta said he expects the aldermen to 'take up that matter' some time before Nov. 1." Huh?
Mayor Guinta, school begins on Sept. 1. Could we please "take up that matter" before then? Preferably now. Stop playing Lame Duck and cause those aldermen to step up to the plate. Now.
- Kathy, Manchester

Are you kidding me people? Your kid can't walk more than 1.4 miles to school? I used to walk up hill both ways...
- Chris, Laconia

Maybe the school board, alderman and mayor could give up their parking passes which gets them convenient(free)access to city buidlings and they can walk the 2 miles.
- parking guy, manchester

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"City candidate filing period opens"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 7/14/2009

MANCHESTER – Alderman Mark Roy burst out of the gate yesterday as the first candidate to sign up for the mayor's race, headlining Day One of the filing period for candidates in November's city elections.

"We're going to get out there in order to achieve our goals of a smarter, safer, stronger city," Roy said after submitting his nomination form at the City Clerk's Office.

At least four other candidates are expected to join the mayor's race before the two-week filing period ends July 24, 2009.

One mayoral hopeful, public-access TV producer Glenn Ouellette, showed up at the clerk's office yesterday but did not file, according to a clerk's office staffer. The staffer said Ouellette is looking to take an alternate route to the ballot, submitting a nominating petition instead of paying the $100 filing fee. Candidates for mayor who file by petition must gather the signatures of 200 city residents.

In other news, school board member Joyce Craig is now officially a candidate for the Ward 1 alderman's seat. No one else filed for the seat yesterday, but former school board member Tom Donovan said last week he plans to seek the post for himself.

Also stepping forward yesterday was Welfare Commissioner Paul Martineau, who will look to keep the job he has held since 2002. He now faces a challenge from Jane C. Triboletti, of 45 Hilton St.

Eight aldermen were quick to announce their bids for reelection. That group includes Aldermen At-Large Mike Lopez and Dan O'Neil and Aldermen Peter Sullivan (Ward 3), Jim Roy (Ward 4), Ed Osborne (Ward 5), Mike Garrity (Ward 9), George Smith (Ward 10) and Russ Ouellette (Ward 11).

One of those aldermen is already facing competition. Former Alderman Pat Long is challenging Sullivan for the Ward 3 seat.

Elsewhere in the city, two races have already gotten crowded. In Ward 2, former Parks and Recreation Director Ron Ludwig will duke it out against public-access TV show host Joe Briggs and state Rep. Robert Thompson.

In Ward 12, former Alderman Keith Hirschmann is looking to get his old seat back. He'll square off against recent Franklin Pierce Law Center graduate Patrick Arnold and St. Anselm College campus safety officer Gerard D. Brunelle.

Meanwhile, three sitting school board members made their reelection campaigns official: Committeeman At-Large Kathleen Kelley and Committeemen Art Beaudry (Ward 9) and John Avard (Ward 10).

Also announcing yesterday were:

--Ron Sample for Ward 11 school committeeman. Sample, 50, is a registered Democrat and a retired industrial technician.

--Tom Katsiantonis for Ward 8 school committeeman. Katsiantonis has been nominated to hold the seat for the remainder of 2009. His wife dropped off his nomination form yesterday because he was unable to do it himself, City Clerk Matt Normand said.

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"Found money: No bus cuts after all"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, July 15, 2009

Isn't it interesting that with a city school budget approved, Manchester residents are not hearing from their school administrators or school board members that draconian cuts are coming. We are no longer hearing tales of kids walking two miles each way in the snow. In fact, the school board nixed that threatened outcome on Monday night (7/13/2009).

When budget money was up for grabs, the powers that be in the Manchester schools were certain that a $146 million budget would leave kids without lots of athletics and without bus service within two miles of school. There just wouldn't be enough money.

Now, they have a $146 million budget, and guess what? Board members and the superintendent say they'll find the money to at least keep the current level of bus service. They don't know where they'll find it, but they're sure they will. They are so sure, the board voted to restore the funding before the public comment period at Monday night's meeting. Having the public yell at you is no fun.

Stimulus money that was off the table (it came with federal restrictions, don't you know?) before a final budget was approved now is magically available to pay for full-day kindergarten. Amazing.

The superintendent still says cuts will have to be made. But unlike before, he's not saying where.

We guess he doesn't like the public yelling at him either.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Ben,
Well said. Just because the UL says it is so does not make it so. Often times they tap dance or only give half the facts.
We deserve better journalism - more accurate, well researched and unbiased.
- joco, manchester, nh

To Jorge Manchester,
My wife and I both went to school in a 35+ classroom situation and got a pretty good education. I was finally able to buy a house got have a 30yr mortgage with a fixed 5.85 rate, so my mortgage payments will only increase if the taxes go up. My mortgage payments when I first bought my home were $1,100.26 per month. In the past 5 yrs that I have owned my own home my mortgage payments rose to $1,336.27 per month because of tax increases! That’s a $236.01 per month increase or $2,832.12 more a year! My wife and I both work full time, but with heat, electricity, car and home insurance, health insurance and prescription costs, gas, food and everything else that has gone up we have nothing left to put aside for retirement, and we also don’t take vacations. People are being furloughed, job hours are being cut and you’re squawking about 5 teacher’s positions? What makes teachers jobs so untouchable and their layoffs so unthinkable especially when the Manchester school system has lost a large chunk of the student population from other towns? Taxpayer’s need a break and city spending is out of control and that needs to take hits too. Those arrogant alderman need to be replaced.
- Rob, Manchester

What is the point of this editorial?

In the first paragraph the editor states that since a school budget has been approved, we are not hearing about cuts. He implies that when money was up for grabs we heard horror stories of tough cuts, but now that $146 has been approved, the district will find money for everything they need. The example he presents is the busing money being ‘found.’

In the last paragraph the editor says the superintendant is not saying what cuts will be made.

Do the editors not know how budgeting works? Existing busing levels will be maintained by cutting something else, not by finding money: not one a tree, not under a rock, etc. In my experience, that seems to happen only in this editor’s mind.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

There seems to be a lot of magic money coming when unions are involved these days. Heck give them a pay raise and boost the pension plans while you’re at it.
- Deb, Derry

The issue with stimulus money was never the federal restrictions as much as it was the state restrictions which have since been lessened. Another example of the Union Leader's editorial staff not presenting the full picture. People in this city need to stop looking at this paper as their source of information because it will do nothing but diminish your ability to make fully informed opinions and decisions.
- Ben, Manchester

Found Money???
Bussing will be funded at the expense of @ 5 teaching positions! It seems that people in Manchester are more concerned about getting Johnny to and from school and whether or not it is going to cost money for Johnny to play football than whether Johnny will be in an accredited institution or in a class of 35+ kids!

Trust me it is not FOUND MONEY--it will come at an expense.
- Jorge, Manchester

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ENGLISH
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"Charge filed in skirmish with alderman"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 7/24/2009

MANCHESTER – Police have arrested the city man who broke his leg in a skirmish with Alderman Mike Garrity last month, alleging the man grabbed Garrity's neck and pushed him against a wall.

Thomas J. English, 40, turned himself in late Tuesday afternoon after police obtained a warrant for his arrest. The charge is simple assault, a misdemeanor.

No charges have been filed against Garrity or his brother, state Rep. Pat Garrity, who intervened in the scuffle at the East Manchester Fish and Game Club. Manchester Police Capt. Gerald Lessard said he does not expect to press charges against anyone other than English.

"We have not developed any probable cause to charge any other individuals who were at that location," Lessard said.

Pat Garrity told investigators he pulled English off his brother and pushed him toward the door, according to an affidavit filed in Manchester District Court. "Pat also said it was during this time that English broke his leg," the affidavit says.

The police report provides no further insights into how, exactly, the leg broke. Lessard declined to talk about that, saying, "I'm not going to get into specific details about the case itself."

The affidavit also makes no mention of Mayor Frank Guinta, who was at the bar that night but said he did not see the altercation. Guinta is running for Congress.

English, in his first public comments since the June 20 dustup, denied grabbing Mike Garrity's neck and said he plans to plead not guilty. He said it was Garrity, the alderman, who made the first contact.

"It was more or less mutual combat," English said in an interview yesterday. "He grabbed my shirt, I grabbed his."

Garrity said English's account is "unequivocally a lie." He said English was "intoxicated" at the time of the confrontation.

"I never put a hand on that man. Ever," Garrity said. "And that's the reason why I am not charged."

Garrity and English, a former Highway Department worker, have described themselves as "best friends" before the altercation. English was living in Garrity's house at the time.

Garrity, a four-term Republican alderman, told police he went to the private club that night "with the intention of bringing English home with him," according to the affidavit. "Mike said that he began questioning English about being drunk, and reminded him that he had promised Mike's wife that he wouldn't come home intoxicated," the affidavit says.

English, according to the report, admitted being annoyed by Garrity's "verbal badgering" and "as a result grabbed Mike by the shirt, near the front collar, and pushed him against a wall near where he was standing."

Pat Garrity, who was nearby at the time, told police he saw English "grab Mike with two hands around the neck hard enough to cause Mike to turn red." Pat Garrity is a Democratic legislator. Reached by phone, his wife said neither would be willing to comment for this story.

English said he does not know how his leg broke, saying, "I more or less just passed out from the pain." His mother, Jackie, said English continues to walk on crutches and is receiving therapy twice weekly.

"It's a shame that through all this Mike Garrity feels the need to press charges when he's not the one who got hurt," said English's uncle, former Alderman Paul Porter.

English said he and Mike Garrity had been drinking together at the Ukrainian Club around 3 p.m. that day. He said the alderman was already at the Fish and Game Club when he got there later that afternoon.

English continued to drink and play pool all through the evening. He said he does not know whether Garrity was there the whole time.

Garrity insisted he went to the club that night "for one specific reason, and that was to bring Tom home."

English is out on $1,000 bail, personal recognizance, and is staying with his parents in Manchester. An arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 12.

News of the altercation attracted national attention because of accusations that Guinta left the bar while English, a friend, was still lying on the floor. Guinta has said he and Garrity did not leave the bar until someone called for an ambulance. He noted that Pat Garrity, a firefighter and EMT, was "attending to Tom."
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Ah the wonderfull work of the Mayor and Aldermen covering up more things. It takes about 6lbs of pressure to snap a knee and alot more to break a leg. But why was this guy arrested if he's the one with the injury. If all those guys were around then how did it get this far anyways? Alot of questions and too many people willing to save face instead of doing whats right. This is a great example for our kids.
And they say private clubs are better for the city. And how many more Alderman where there cause a couple more and that could be concidered a wrongfull meeting. Maybe they were there planning the budget. We will never know.
- Randy, Manchester

Maybe the NHSLC should keep a closer eye on these "private drinking clubs" like the VFW or Legion Posts. After all, people aren't there for their wonderful buffet. They are there to do one thing, get smashed and stumble out on to the roads.
- jstran919, Pembroke

Wow, no wonder our city is a mess. The Mayor and Alderman out getting loaded at 3pm, and fighting like a bunch of fraternity boys. Way to represent our city.
- Scott Hartford, Manchester

I find it odd that Toms leg was broken and no one is being arrested for that, but Tom grabbing Garrity gets him arrested. Was Garrity even treated at a hospital or left with bruises? This sounds like a cover up to protect the Alderman. Its always easier to throw the underdog under the bus.
- Trish, Manchester, NH

This story keeps getting stranger and stranger. Let's see from previous stories the Mayor said he went there with Mike Garrity to get a friend. Then at this tiny club he must have been very distracted by someone else(?) to never have witnessed his friend being choked and turning red and his brother going to his rescue and the attacker's leg being severely broken. How convenient. The police report contradicts statements that were given by witnesses on WMUR, one being the bartender. Good investigative work.
- Cecil, Manchester

Finally some good old skool fighting. Maybe our "NEW" residents will look at this as an example and see you can just have a brawl with your best friend with out using a gun, knife, machete or bed bugs.
- mark, hooksett

Hmm ... so they had been drinking earlier at another saloon. the by the time he got there, Garrity was already there. there's a reference to "night". So the boys have had a day of drinking perhaps? Did either or both of these gentlemen drive themselves from bar to bar? -Jeff
- Jeff O'Hora, Manchester

I feel that this is a complete miscarriage of justice. Mike Garrity is definately getting the first punch in now. The alderman was not hurt and neither was his brother. Tom was acting in his own defense and because of that ended up in surgery for many hours.
- Janice Robinson, North Port, Fl

I always heard "what happens at the Fish, stays at the Fish" .. what is happening to my once great city.
- Thomas, Manchester, NH

This should be pretty easy to figure out what really happened during the incident. Unless these people were the only ones in the whole bar, someone had to have witnessed this whole altercation. Unless perhaps everyone there hadn't seen a thing. Hmmmmmmmmm.
- Lyle, Manchester

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"City races now set"
By MARK HAYWARD, New Hampshire Union Leader, 7/25/2009

MANCHESTER – Center-city activist Glen Ouellette became the fifth person to add his name to the mayor's race yesterday, and others filed last minute to run for school board and alderman, guaranteeing contested races for nearly every city seat.

The two-week filing period closed yesterday. That sets the roster for the non-partisan city primary, which will be held Sept. 15 and narrow the field of candidates to the top vote-getters. The general election will follow on Nov. 3.

The biggest news yesterday may have been who didn't file. Katherine Labanaris, the vice chairman of the school board, did not file for her Ward 5 seat, a position she has held for 14 years.

"I think it's time for fresh eyes and a fresh perspective. Let some of the younger people give their ideas," she said. Labanaris has been vice chairman for the past two years, a high profile position that made her the de facto spokesman for the board.

Also yesterday, William Infantine changed his mind and kept himself in the running for Ward 6 alderman. Infantine said he received many calls from supporters after he announced he would not seek the seat being vacated by Real Pinard.

A few last-minute candidates showed up at City Hall yesterday afternoon to file papers. Michael Reuschel was going to sign up to run for poll worker in Ward 7. But at the last minute he signed papers to run for alderman against incumbent Bill Shea, making it a three-way race.

"People need a choice," he said. "I think I can bring new, fresh ideas instead of the old way of doing business," he said.

City Democratic Party head Chris Pappas said he anticipated that at least one Democrat would file for every seat, and more than 90 Democrats would run for elected office this year. Many of those positions are for poll workers such as clerk and moderator, which are non-policy jobs that involve running annual elections but nothing else.

Still, Pappas said Republicans couldn't get half as many candidates to sign up.

"I think this shows that the Ted Gatsas coronation has been called off, and you have a valid race for mayor because the Republican Party has failed in its recruiting," Pappas said. Gatsas, an alderman and Republican state senator, is running for mayor.

Infantine, the Republican Party chairman in Manchester, said the costs of a citywide campaign kept some people away from the at-large races. Other than that, the Republicans offer quality not quantity, he said.

Infantine noted that several of the races will pit Democrat against Democrat.

"I think the Democrats are unhappy with some of the Democrats in there, so they've chosen to run against their own party members," Infantine said.

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"2009 candidates for Manchester offices"
The New Hampshire Union Leader, 7/25/2009

. Mayor: Mark E. Roy, Theodore "Ted" Gatsas, Richard Komi, Robert "Bobby" A. Stephen, Glenn R.J. Ouellette.

. Welfare Commissioner: Jane C. Triboletti, Paul R.R. Martineau.

. Alderman At-Large: Michael "Mike" Lopez, Daniel P. O'Neil, Jane E. Beaulieu.

. School Board At-Large: Kathleen M. Kelley, Kathryn "Kathy" B. Staub, Debra Gagnon Langton.

. Ward 1 Alderman: Joyce Craig, Richard W. Higgins, Timothy Sawyer

. Ward 1 School Board: Deborah "Debi" Rapson, Gary W. Hunter, Shelly A. Martel, Kevin A. McCue,Sarah Ambrogi

. Ward 2 Alderman: Ronald "Ron" Eric Ludwig, Robert B. Thompson, Elise D. Annunziata, Robert G. O'Sullivan.

. Ward 2 School Board: Joseph "Joe" Briggs, Sandra Smith

. Ward 3 Alderman: Peter M. Sullivan, Patrick Long, Joseph Kelly Levasseur

. Ward 3 School Board: Michael J. DeBlasi.

. Ward 4 Alderman: James "Jim" Roy, Leo P. Pepino.

. Ward 4 School Board: John Castelot, Christopher Hebert, Jeffrey A. Sullivan.

. Ward 5 Alderman: Edward "Ed" Osborne, Robert "Bob" Tarr, Theodoros "Ted" Rokas.

. Ward 5 School Board: Adam Mackler, Norma Green Champagne, Cathryn "Kate" E. Vaughn, Joseph Lahr

. Ward 6 Alderman: Keith J. Webb, Kevin Garth Corriveau, Fatima B. Deek, William "Will" Infantine.

. Ward 6 School Board: Donna M. Soucy, Bryan M. Bernier.

. Ward 7 Alderman: Lisa J. Gravel, William P. Shea, Michael J. Reuschel.

. Ward 7 School Board: Daniel C. Pinard, Dave Gelinas, Calum R. McNeil, John O'Donnell.

. Ward 8 Alderman: Betsi L. DeVries, Christine Pariseau Telge, James C. Webb Jr.

. Ward 8 School Board: Thomas Katsiantonis, J. Steve Vaillancourt.

. Ward 9 Alderman: Michael D. Garrity, Barbara E. Shaw.

. Ward 9 School Board: Arthur J. Beaudry, Joan S. Flurey.

. Ward 10 Alderman: George W. Smith, Phil Greazzo, Ryan Tower.

. Ward 10 School Board: John B. Avard, Charlene K. Huard-Marcoux.

. Ward 11 Alderman: Russell Ouellette

. Ward 11 School Board: Ronald C. Sample, Stephen Dolman

. Ward 12 Alderman: Keith Hirschmann, Gerard D. Brunelle, Patrick J. Arnold Jr.

. Ward 12 School Board: Eric F. Fisher Jr., Roger R. Beauchamp.

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"City Hall: Many city officials delinquent on tax, sewer bills"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 7/26/2009

THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY recently went after Mayor Frank Guinta for not paying his sewer bill on time. You'd think they would have checked to make sure their own candidates were a bit more punctual.

Guess not.

We count four Democratic office holders in Manchester who owed the city money as of last week. The foursome includes Alderman and mayoral candidate Mark Roy, who was five months overdue on his own sewer bill, and Alderman George Smith, two weeks late on his property taxes.

Republicans, not to be outdone, had their own share of deliquencies. Offenders, if they can so be called, include state Rep. Will Infantine and former Alderman Keith Hirschmann, who is trying to win back the Ward 12 seat.

Just about everyone echoed Guinta, chalking it up to a mere oversight. Most told us they would take care of it right away. (Infantine, about two weeks late on a $2,800 property tax bill, cut his check the day before we called him to ask about it.)

They also said -- and others concurred -- that it's not such a big deal, nor do they appreciate the way this sort of thing has become political fodder.

"I hate it," said school board member Eric Fischer. "We have such huge issues in this city, like trying to figure out how to keep test scores up and keep teachers employed, and the debate shifts to this."

State Democratic Party spokesman Victoria Bonney maintains Guinta's sewer bill is worthy of attention, in part because it wasn't the first time the Republican mayor and Congressional candidate had fallen behind on his bills. Last year, the city placed liens on Guinta's West Side rental property because he owed more than $3,000 in property taxes and wastewater charges.

Bonney also noted the mayor recently loaned $20,000 to his Congressional campaign.

"Unlike many people who are struggling to pay their bills because they are victims of Bush's failed economy, Frank Guinta had the money and just didn't bother to pay his debts," Bonney said.

Roy, a Ward 1 Democrat who hopes to succeed Guinta, said he didn't know, until we told him, that he was five months overdue on a $95 sewer bill. "I will address it and get it paid first thing in the morning," he said.

Hirschmann, too, sounded nonplussed when told he had missed a year's worth of payments ($349, including interest) on wastewater services at his West Side home.

"My escrow agent always pays," Hirschmann said. "The city will get their money, and it's not a big deal." He added that he thinks the sewer rate is "damn outrageous."

Smith was two weeks overdue on his $1,674 property tax bill when we called his house last Wednesday. His wife, Ruth, who typically handles the bills in their household, said money has been tight this summer. She vowed to pay up ASAP.

Other local politicians who were late paying their bills or taxes were state Reps. Tommy Katsiantonis and Barbara Shaw. Both are Democrats.

Roy said city politicians like himself are "just a sampling of the everyday fathers, workers, mothers, sons" they represent. "We've got the same trials and tribulations, and lack of thought, and wants and needs as everybody else out there," he said.

In fact, according to Joan Porter, tax collector, 9 percent of Manchester households have yet to pay their July 2009 property taxes in full.

Porter said she knows of some people who deliberately wait to pay their taxes so they can get a bigger deduction, even though the city charges 12 percent interest on delinquent accounts.

"We don't tend to judge everyone who is delinquent," Porter said, "because (for) some people, there's a reason. And there are people who are just having a really hard time. And other people are just not that good about paying bills."

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NO QUARTER: Roy said he thinks it would be better if the city changed the way it bills residents for sewer use. Currently, bills go out quarterly.

"I've always thought that quarterly billing is just outside of people's normal bill-paying mentality," he said.

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ON THE AIR: MCAM hosts Joe Briggs and Joe Kelly Levasseur are trying to get the first crack at all the mayoral candidates.

The Republican duo plans to host a "sit-down discussion" with all of the candidates, together in one room, on the Aug. 12 filming of its show, 2Joes Live, according to the public-access station.

A second opportunity to see the candidates share a stage is slated for Sept. 1, at a one-hour debate hosted by MCAM and WGIR AM. Radio personalities Charlie Sherman and Angela Anderson will moderate, according to MCAM.

Meanwhile, MCTV Operations Assistant Sarah Laplante is conducting half-hour interviews with each of the candidates. Those segments, according to MCTV advisory board chairman Mike Roche, are expected to air over the next few weeks.

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LAUNCHING SOON: Roy's campaign Website, markroyformayor.com, will be activated Thursday, his campaign has announced. He plans to celebrate the opening of his new campaign headquarters that same afternoon, at 5 p.m.

The office is at 379 Elm St, next to the Hodes for Senate campaign office.

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THAT'S WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT: All this year, Tom Donovan has been doing the political version of the hokey pokey. He puts a foot in, and then he takes a foot out.

First, he was thinking of running for mayor, only to announce in March he had decided against it. Then, when Guinta bowed out to run for Congress, Donovan again said he was mulling a run. He backed out a few weeks later.

Finally, this month, Donovan announced he would run for Ward 1 alderman. But then he didn't.

"Joyce and I agree on most issues," he said last Thursday, referring to school board member Joyce Craig. "So I decided to let her do it."

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FREQUENT FLYER: There was a moment when former Ward 6 Alderman Paul Porter was considering what it would be like to get back on the board. Then he thought better of it.

"Been there, done that," Porter said last week.

Porter, 69, said he hopes to spend more time at his vacation home in Florida. "I want the flexibility to be able to come and go," he said.

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ONE AND OUT: Former West High School guidance counselor Gary Hunter wants to be the Ward 1 school board member, but he doesn't want the job for long.

His intention, his said, is to serve one term, then step aside.

"I don't think we need lifelong politicans," Hunter said. "I think people should come in, fired up, ready to work, provide two good years and get out of the way for the next good idea."

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HERBERT FOR MAYOR? MAYBE LATER: There's a reason Ward 4 school board member Chris Herbert waited until the last day of the filing period to make his reelection bid official. For some time, he said, he was contemplating a run for other offices.

Looking ahead, he said, "In another two years, if I plan right, I'll either run for alderman or mayor."
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Read Scott Brooks coverage of Manchester City Hall during the week in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email him at sbrooks@unionleader.com.
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When the decision was made to build Manchester's downtown minor league ballpark in 2003, Queen City officials promised residents there would be no tax impact from the project. (FILE)
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"Ballpark keeps costing city taxpayers"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, July 28, 2009

MANCHESTER – The city's riverfront ballpark continues to eat up taxpayer dollars, according to information provided by the city finance officer.

Manchester taxpayers have now shelled out a total of $1.7 million to help finance MerchantsAuto.com Stadium, home of the minor-league New Hampshire Fisher Cats. The taxpayers' tab grew by $425,000 over the past year, as revenue sources that were supposed to cover the bill came up short for the fifth year in a row.

What's more, Finance Officer Bill Sanders says he expects taxpayers will pay an even higher price this year and possibly beyond, now that a key pool of money has dried up. Sanders estimates the ballpark will cost taxpayers about $650,000 a year, for several years to come, "unless something significant changes."

The finance officer's calculations fly in the face of promises, repeated by various city officials before the stadium was built, that the $27.5-million project would not drive up the tax rate. In fact, information provided by Sanders suggests the average homeowner in Manchester has contributed, all told, between $38 and $43 to the project over the past five years.

The decision to build the stadium in 2003 was based in part on expectations that new commercial and residential developments in the ballpark's shadow would bring in millions of dollars in tax revenue. That assumption, however, has not panned out as some had hoped.

Developer Eric Chinburg continues to wait out the housing slump, rather than plow on with plans to build dozens of townhouses south of the ballpark, in a development called Riverwalk Place, plus three mid-rise condominium buildings. So far, Chinburg has built just 24 of the 45 townhouses he set out to build.

Construction of the mid-rises, meanwhile, is still "quite a ways down the road," according to Raymond Guay, the properties' listing agent.

"The market has put the brakes on the entire project," said Guay, business development manager for the Gove Group, "even though we still think it's a home run and exactly the right product in the right location."

Another piece of land just north of the stadium has also failed to bring in needed tax revenues. In 2003, city officials were hoping the quarter-acre lot near the ballpark's entrance would be used for retail space. Instead, the city bought the parcel this spring, announcing plans to turn it into a parking lot.

The need for revenue is more urgent than ever now that the city has emptied a crucial pot of money -- letters of credit that Chinburg and other riverfront developers gave the city in 2003, in case their plans for construction hit a snag. Chinburg's letter of credit was worth $1.6 million. The city used up the last of that money last December, Sanders said.

City officials say they still have confidence revenues will come in to pay for the stadium, though it's clear they have a long way to go. To break even, Sanders said, the city would need there to be a little more than $60 million worth of development on land around the stadium. To date, according to City Assessor David Cornell, developments on the ground, including the Hilton Garden Inn hotel and the Riverwalk Place townhouses, are worth $26.8 million.

Mayor Bob Baines and other officials were adamant when they set out to build the stadium earlier this decade that the project would place no burden on taxpayers. Baines said the stadium, which opened in April 2005, would be a "tax-positive project for the city."

Aldermen in June 2003 voted 10 to 4 to sell the bonds needed to pay for the stadium. Alderman Ted Gatsas, who is running for mayor, voted against the project, as did Aldermen Ed Osborne, Real Pinard and Mike Garrity.

Both aldermen at-large, Dan O'Neil and Mike Lopez, voted for it, as did then-Alderman Frank Guinta. Mayoral candidate Mark Roy was not on the board at the time, though he said he believes the stadium has "benefited Manchester as a whole."

In many ways, the ballpark itself has turned out much as advertised, drawing thousands of fans per game. City officials frequently make the case that the stadium has been good for the local economy, luring more people to downtown Manchester, with its shops, restaurants and nightlife options.

"The project hasn't met expectations, as far as tax base creation," Roy said yesterday, "but what it has done, and has done exceptionally well, is give another destination in Manchester where people can come and spend their dollars."

Sanders sparked an intense controversy two years ago when he reported that the city had been dipping into its general fund, the pool containing property tax dollars, to pay off the bonds used to build the stadium. At the time, he reported, the taxpayers' tab was $1.3 million.

Former Deputy Finance Officer Randy Sherman, a key player in the 2003 deal, said Sanders' report was "not anywhere near accurate." The city's independent auditor, Kevin Buckley, confirmed that the stadium has driven up the tax rate, though he said there's still hope taxpayers will be reimbursed as construction resumes on the riverfront.

Annual shortfalls on the stadium bond payments have added about 17 cents to the city's tax rate since fiscal 2005, according to information provided by Sanders. For the owner of a $237,500 home -- the median home value in Manchester, according to the city assessor -- the impact over the past five years could be estimated at $40.38.

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"Ballpark bailout: City taxpayers get the bill"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, July 29, 2009

Six years ago, Manchester taxpayers were asked to make a huge investment -- $27.5 million -- in a baseball stadium, and to do so immediately. There was no time to wait, we were all told, because the stadium had to be finished on Opening Day in 2005. Taking the time to make sure the deal was actually paid for would scuttle it.

If you've been watching the health care debate in Washington this summer, that scenario should sound familiar.

In June of 2003, we wrote: "No responsible corporate board of directors would approve a deal this big with as little information as aldermen have been given. The developers and the mayor keep promising that the financing is there and the construction will come through. They expect aldermen, trustees of the public's money, to commit $27.5 million of that money with no security other than promises from developers and the mayor. That is not good enough."

Alas, under pressure from Mayor Bob Baines and developers, aldermen approved a deal that was supposed to hold the taxpayers harmless, but did not. Yesterday, this newspaper reported that the ballpark has cost city taxpayers $1.7 million thus far. That's roughly $40 per homeowner over the past five years. And city Finance Officer Bill Sanders says the future outlook is worse. He estimates that the stadium will drain $650,000 a year from the city's general fund for years to come.

Some aldermen say the ballpark is worth the cost to the taxpayers because it has helped revive downtown. However, no one at the time expressed the intention to use the ballpark to transfer money from all taxpayers to downtown business owners. It is hardly just or fair for aldermen to use a public facility for the purpose of "spreading the wealth around."

Had taxpayers been told they'd have to shell out to fund the ballpark, more opposition would have surfaced -- which is why they were told the private development would pay for it all, even though the developers were not obligated to pay stadium debt payments beyond a few years.

The lesson here is a simple one. Promised future revenues are no substitute for firm contractual guarantees. In 2003, aldermen (including now-Mayor Frank Guinta, but excluding mayoral candidate Ted Gatsas) foolishly took developer promises to the bank, thinking they could be cashed. Gatsas and others warned that taxpayers would pay if the developers didn't. They were right.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Thom wrote: "The area around the baseball park is empty, Elm street is a dead zone, nothing has come of the promises made by the people who voted for this boondoggle." Are you kidding me? When did you move to the area? Did you ever try to find a restaurant open for dinner in downtown Manchester in 1990? Do remember what the south end of the Millyard (often referred to by the UL as "hoboland" I think) looked like back then? Manchester completely dropped the ball on redeveloping the mills, losing out to places like Lowell until it started to follow the model of those communities. Has it all gone exactly as planned? No. Show me any plan of that scale that succeeds 100%. But has it worked? That's not even open to debate in my opinion.
- Steve, Manchester

How much money has been spent by visitors to the ball park at local restaurants, shops, parking vendors etc? How about the HIlton Garden Hotel, would that have been built without the ball park? Doubtful.The ball park has been a wise investment for the city and I don't mind at all my tax dollars going to support it. It's an important economic base for the revitalization of the city. The editorial board of the UL have absolutely no vision for the future of Manchester. Because they know as Manchester changes and becomes more vibrant and diverse, the UL will become more obsolete.
- Richard, Manchester

How come the Fiasher Cats don't send me the equivalent in free tickets every season then?
- Jim, Manchester

.666666666 per month for 5 years from city tax payers.......
- anhredhead, Manchester

As most of the percipient commentators said, at the time this was proposed, "if it is such a great investment, why doesn't the private sector would build it themselves". To think: my tax money is used to pay for a baseball park which I do not envisage ever visiting. The area around the baseball park is empty, Elm street is a dead zone, nothing has come of the promises made by the people who voted for this boondoggle. I predict that soon the Fisher Cats will up and leave, and Manchester will be stuck with this white elephant. Thanks Baines, and your fellow democrat liberal spending friends. Ya got any more great ideas?
- Thom, Manchester, NH

I attended the double header last night and had a great time. We can be proud to have a such a nice facility in our city with a class act such as the Fisher Cats as its tennants. The place is well maintained and the food and drink is of good quality at a reasonable price (for a sports venue). Along with great baseball the whole experience makes for a wonderful evening.

That said, the finance package was definitely overly optomistic even for the time it was conceived when the real estate market was doing well. But Mayor Baines wanted baseball at whatever cost.

Sigh... I don't like the position the city is in but I really like the Fisher Cats and the ballpark.
- JSF, Manch

This isn't an Editorial this is a stump speech for Ted Gatsas. Nice try, but I am one of those who is glad to see the ball park and all the people it has brought to our city. Maybe there where some naive people leading us down this path with blinders on but in the end the city has ended up with one great asset and a customer for it that is paying a pretty hefty sum of money.
- Joshua, Manchester

Why do cities continue to make these mistakes? City governments should concentrate on providing the basic needs and services, at the most efficient level and cost. They should not be engaged in making investment decisions, especially when the money risked belongs to taxpayers.

We see how good a job politicians do at every level of government, city, state and federal.

If that ball park was such a great deal, the people pushing it would have had plenty of private sector investors. That should have been the first hint!
- Melvin, Keene

Hang on to this headline. You'll be able to reuse it in a few years. Substitute just a couple of words and you have:

"Train bailout: NH taxpayers get the bill"
- Robin, Henniker

This is the sort of mind-set that would have left Manchester stuck in the mess that it was 20 years ago. Rather than listen to this sort of negativity, true civic leaders charted a course that revitalized what only could be considered a miserable, depressed downtown where the only people drawn to Elm Street after 5 PM were bored youth cruising up and down the road. Has there been a cost? Sure, and that cost has yielded immense benefits. Typically, the Union Leader can only "knock down the barn" as Sam Rayburn used to put it. It takes skill to put one up, and that's what Manchester has done.
- Steve, Manchester

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July 29, 2009

Re: Manchester misused its state public education dollars this year!

The city of Manchester received a record amount of public education funding from the state this fiscal year, but low-balled the school district's budget, while raising taxes on the city side because the state cut its revenue sharing funds to Manchester. Maybe the new downtown baseball stadium, which does NOT have adequate parking, is part of the reason why the school budget was underfunded while the city budget increased taxes by nearly 3% & counting this year. Alderman Ted Gatsas is very intelligent when it comes to city & state government finances! Maybe he can weigh in on this pocketbook issue, too.

- Jonathan Melle

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"Master planners offer glimpse of the future"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader, 8/10/2009

MANCHESTER – City planners are offering a glimpse of the sort of city they want Manchester to be in the decade to come.

Their vision is a city with direct rail access to Boston and non-stop flights to the West Coast.

It's a greener city, with more tree-lined streets, hybrid cars and a so-called "Environmental Education Center" where the city dump used to be.

And it's a happening city, with more performing arts venues, new outdoor sculptures and better parks and trails. A city that might even host an "international" film festival.

"This is what we would like the city of Manchester to be in the future," said David Preece, executive director of the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission.

Preece is one of five members of the steering committee that helped author what they hope will become Manchester's new Master Plan, a document that will guide the city's development over the next 10 to 15 years. A draft of the 22-page report is being presented to the Planning Board for its review Aug. 27.

The plan includes a "wish list" of projects that generated interest from committee members and other participants in the process, including many city residents. They are also, by and large, projects the committee believes the city will have the means to afford -- if not now, then eventually.

"I feel a good majority of them will happen," said Kevin McCue, the steering committee chairman.

Among the major projects included in the draft are completion of the Northwest Business Park on Hackett Hill; a "multimodal" transportation center, which would include a rail station, in downtown Manchester, plus another rail station by the airport; an expansion of the police station; a phased rebuilding of the Highway Department garage; the renovation and expansion of the West Side library.

Almost all of those projects are sure to take years to finish, if they ever get under way. Just this year, aldermen funneled money away from the Northwest Business Park. Meanwhile, Highway Department officials continue to look for money for a new building but have yet to find enough to get the project off the ground.

"Of course, money is a big issue. Money is a huge issue," McCue said. "We're realistic about it. I'm not overly optimistic they're going to say, 'Oh, yeah, we have the money to do all this stuff.'"

The committee has other suggestions. They include:

-- the consolidation of Derryfield Park, the Derryfield Country Club and McIntyre Ski Area into one big "complex."

-- a dog park

-- the construction of an Environmental Education Center at the former landfill site on Dunbarton Road.

McCue described the "education center" as a place where business people could learn how to make their companies more environmentally friendly.

"I don't want to say it's a pipe dream," he said. "But it's something we said could be achievable at some point."

The Master Plan draft has been more than three years in the making. Work was slow, McCue said, because the Planning Department was short on staff. At one point, he said, the committee went close to a year with hardly any accomplishments to its credit.

"The process kind of dragged out much longer than it should have," McCue said.

The project got back on track when the city brought on former planning director Bob MacKenzie as a consultant.

Manchester's population is projected to continue growing in the coming decade, from close to 110,000 today to roughly 118,000 by 2020, according to the state Office of Energy and Planning. If that projection is accurate, the Master Plan says, the city will need developers to build about 300 new housing units per year for the next 10 years.

The Master Plan encourages mixed-used projects and neighborhoods, combining residential space with retail and office space. It also calls for the rehabilitation of older buildings.

Preece said he wants the best of two worlds: a downtown that feels like a big city and surrounding neighborhoods that feel like a small town.

"I think we can have them both," he said.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

What a bunch of crap! Nobody wants to do business here. The planning department is full of idiots and croonies who will make it almost impossible to do any business in Mnachester. The Mayors office has let them get away with it for years. Manchester is anti-business!
- Tom, Manchester

I like the idea of nonstop flights to the west coast, but I've liked the idea for the past eight years it hasn't happened. Manchester Airport is hemorrhaging traffic at a rate far higher than any other airport in New England. Blame Logan all you like, but if it were that simple Providence would be losing passengers at roughly the same rate. We need to first protect the shrinking number of flights we have now, not dreaming about service we don't even have (and probably won't).
- Chris, Brookline

Hey Richard, David & Sue: Sorry to say, but the CAVEMEN are not the problem. It's the SICKIES. The Select In Crowd Keeping Its Interests Supreme. I have made many attempts to join various study groups and downtown revitalization initiatives over the years. But they are very much controlled by the same old "in-crowd" comprised of Manchester Development Corp hacks, Chamber hacks, lawyers, architects and SVP's of corps who participate only because Papa employer insists they have a presence in the community. It's the same old in-crowd that keeps a strangle hold on how and what we do as a community. It's the developers willing to put up money, contractors, and the overpaid Planning Dept employees that steer the planning ship here in ManchVegas...not the ideas of its citizenry. Get real. Money drives the system here, and what this Southern NH planning commission has proposed thus far is simply pie in the sky, ill conceived ideas that never have nor never will leave the drawing board. But I have a great idea. Let's hold a meeting at the downtown Raddison and invite Manchester's business leaders and brainstorm of few ideas. Oh sorry, this has been done over and over and over, and bears little fruit. Bottom line, as long any future development idea (1) advances or (2) does not impede the "inner circles" interests, its an idea worth pursuing. How can I get involved when the message gracefully delivered to me with a smile is more like "get lost".
- Paul B, Manchester NH

Why is is "negativity" to not want to waste money on foolish ideas?
- David Goss, Manchester

Manchester has lost its transportation accessibility. Manchester was a city that once had a balanced intermodal transportation system that included rail,trolleys roads and an airport. It served all income and age ranges and connnected it to the rest of New England . Now there is an argument about reestablishing rail. Why not. It provides people with choice and connectivity. Would one invest all their retirement in one stock or look at one school for their child. Why then with transportation is considered just roads. The master plan should included looking at all the historic raill connections. How will they play a role in the marketing of Manchester's future. Should Manchester not be connected by rail to the seacoast, Andove, MA, Montreal. The rail corridors should nobe be used for trails. It is an underutilization of a valuable resource. One has to onle lopk at teh Downeaster BOs-Portland to see waht effest rail has had on economic development. The $100m renewal of the Saco mills resulted from rail. Doesn't Manchester deserve the opportunity for this kind of investment ?
- PETER, WINDHAM

This comment section is filled with "CAVEMEN"; Citizens Against Virtually Everything Manchester Ever Needed".

David and Sue, you are exactly right. Some people would rather gripe than get off their butt and do something positive. It's time to move beyond their tired old act.
- Richard, Manchester

Mike from Cannes,
I am unaware if the MPD has their own version of a long term plan, but if they don't I would definitely encourage it. You are correct in that our crime is getting worse (just look at the police logs), and I do feel it is a growing, if not already a serious problem. I hope I didn’t imply that fighting crime now means “giving up,” it was not my intention. That is always a vital part of our immediate safety and solvency. However, my response was in reference to the master plan in general. I didn’t look at crime to be part of this conversation (ie. economic development, zoning issues, etc…). On the other hand, the more I think about it, an argument could easily be made that crime prevention should be included in these very same master plans. Perhaps the Police Department should have their own part of this discussion.
Nonetheless, thank you for a civil, substantive and thoughtful response to my post. It’s not often I get that around here so you just made my day. :)
- Breyer S., Manchester, NH

PS to Breyer S.: Congratulations! You are, predictably, the first to argue that, without government planning, there will be no planning at all. (If we buy this, then people will start arguing that without Obama-care, we will all be "without health care"!)

To be clear, each law-abiding citizen should plan his own future, and the city should enable everyone to succeed at his own plan. Not build them a ballpark. The alternative is power to trample on the individual's goals to carry out the whims of the planners. (As usual, there is no way to use this power in the "public interest," but it is handy for sale to private parties.)
- Spike, Brentwood NH

STEP 1 - Get rid of subsidized housing, so people aren't afraid to step foot out their door and enjoy their revitalized city. Let the rats go back to Lawrence and Lowell.
- JP, Hooksett, NH

Is it just me or does using these comment boards for candidate campaign advertising seem tacky?
- DP, manchester

That's it? Really? That's it?? Reviving a barren Hackett Hill area that no one could care less about because its a sandpit that is just too far away from civilization? Great new ideas though....let's replace the old highway dept building. Gee, hasn't that been mentioned before? And a train station too? Well, just remember that we'll need rail service first, and that ain't happening because the state will never pony up the money to build one. NEVER. So we're left with an International Film Festival as an integral part of our master plan. What a joke. Really. And bringing Bob MacKenzie back to help the commission out. So, as a retiree he's now pulling a city pension and getting paid as an independent consultant. Nice gig! We're so clueless as a city when it comes to planning. No vision. Just a lot of old ideas rehashed and rehashed. I'd suggest that you put on a fresh pot of coffee and get back to the drawing board. I'd like to know what the Mayoral candidates think about this lackluster "vision".
- Tom B., Manchester

I'm shocked, and dismayed at the level of negativity posted here. Doesn't it make sense to have someone thinking about, and planning for this city's future? No one is expecting ALL of these ideas to happen; But personally, I am pleased to see that there is some good thought going into the future of the city I am raising my family in.
- David, Manchester

Stop complaining and start a program to make your neighborhood better. If people actually stepped up to the plate and did their part so many of these issues named above would be taken care of.

We need long-term vision and planning in order to better ourselves. Maybe it won't all come to fruition but at least it is a start.
- Sue, Bedford

Unless the city gets serious about properly funding its public schools, nobody with a brain will want to live in Manchester. Raise taxes in order to properly fund the schools and smart people will move in and all the stuff on the master plan and much, much more will happen on its own. If the anti-tax zealots don't like it they can move away. That would be a wonderful thing for the city.
- Fred, Amherst

Breyer,
I understand your concern about planning for the future but I do not believe (nor, I believe, do the others making light of this proposal) that focusing on the immediate problems of today is somehow akin to giving up on planning for the future. We have a very real threat to the city of Manchester and it can be found in the crime center in our city's urban core. I don't know how we are supposed to envision ourselves as a haven for artist colonies and a venue for summer stock theater performances 10 years from now when we have hoodlums and layabouts infesting our city TODAY. You and I both would like to live in a city that these planners envision but first I would like to envision getting these miscreants on the next bus back to Lawrence or Lowell.
- Mike, Cannes, NH - (you know, where the film festival is)

jobs=tax base= fluff money to pay for these dreams.

This region needs to focus on job creation of all types, not just mickey mouse "Business Park" jobs that are here one day and gone the next. I'd like to see world class heavy industry back in Manchester that would employ thousands directly. All types of people would be employed both white and blue collar not just "Business Park" types. Then a healthy demand, and healthy funding, would exist for the fluff the planners are dreaming about.
- JSF, Manch

What a bunch of Hogwash Pipe Dreams - this city needs more green, green in the form of real jobs that pay more than minimum wage - we don't need to destroy Hackett Hill to create industry, we need the city to stop cahsing industry out of thethe city, and allow it to grow where it makes sense, and that is the appropriately zoned Ward 7.

An education center at the old Dump? How about following what Virginia Beach did with their capped dump, make it a park for all to enjoy, with bike trails, skateboard ramps, picnic tables, and so forth.

Train stations and direct flights to the West Coast will not help the majority of people in this city who are looking to make a real living above the poverty line.

These clowns are same ones who brought the city down by caring more about building mausoleums, dedicated to themselves and cronies, than taking care of the people who live here.
- Howie Howe, Manchester

In stead of building an education center why not make the planning board and varience boards more business friendly instead of making prospective business's jump through hoops to get anything done. We need to add commercial based property more than we need apartment houses that are going to load the schools with kids.
- Russ, Manchester

Out of touch with reality! This is a very scary article. Who elected these people? Santa Claus!
- Elizabeth, Manchester, NH

And we put these people into office to vomit out these ridiculous 1939 World's Fair brochures? Why not a monorail while they're at it?

What in the world is wrong with us for electing then? Throw these idiots out, and get someone who can talk about the real problems, throwing out the Lawrence trash, ending Section 8, gentrifying the crumbling mess that the city is becoming by attracting professional offices like law and high-tech firms, businesses such as high end restaurants and prestige retailers.

We don't want to be a dirty suburb of Boston, the cheap place to live for the trash, and that's all a rail link would make us. This is disgusting. Throw all these idiots out. All of them.
- David Goss, Manchester

In reference to some of the comments: God forbid we start planning for the future. God forbid we start being accountable for our neighborhoods. Maybe we shouldn't prepare at all and just deal with any and all issues at the time they happen(which usually ends up being too late). Now, I don't think most of these aspirations and goals will probably come true in the manner predicted, but we still need to shoot for something, shouldn't we? These master plans have been successful in the long run, haven't they? Consider the direction this city was going in the early 90's (Lowell/Lawrence) and look where we are now. A lot of this city's great turnaround can be attributed to our want and ability to plan for our future. It's nice to know that there are people around me that care about the welfare of this place. Manchester has some talented, long-term thinkers... and I like that.
We can make condecending jokes and ridicule the more specific points of this plan all we want, but I'll take this plan over nothing at all. Doing nothing about our future is akin to just giving up. Giving up is what happened to the very nearby cities we're so afraid of becoming.
- Breyer S., Manchester, NH

The thing about a "master" plan is that it purports to plan everything. Any faults in the plan are remedied with--more planning. And any obstacles to public acceptance of the plan (which, to the extent that they differ from the preferences of individual city residents, are to be achieved by overriding them) are remedied by building Public Re-education centers.

Apparently, those who can, do. Those who cannot, plan.
- Spike, Brentwood NH

I wonder what the Master Planners have in mind for the sales tax rate that will be necessary to support their vision of commuter rail service to Boston.

I just returned from NY, visiting relatives, two of whom own businesses. Both are moaning about the brand new payroll tax being assessed on all businesses to support NY's mass transit system. That's on top of the existing tax support that subsidizes the operation. In Mass, the system chews up 20% of the state's sales tax dollars.

These Master Planners will never get into the FACT that no mass transit system in this country is financed with rider fares alone. They ALL NEED heavy tax support to operate.
- Ditmar, Hollis

How much money did we put into this committee and what did they do?

...flip through some travel brochures and go, "Hey, this would be cool!"

We can't even meet our snow removal budget but we've got a city committee watching reruns of the Jetson's, and taking notes.

It would be unbelievable if it wasn't sooo believable.
- Mark, Manchester

This international film fest biz has become dime a dozen. Every city has one. But, what this region does not have is a theatre festival along the lines of Ashland, Oregon's yearly event. Were Manchester to start something similar, it would pull in some of the summer stocks NE is famous for as well as connect interest in the city to the artist enclaves of the Monadnock Region and to the Boston art scene. Palace would be an obvious draw, but outdoor venues would work wonderfully at Arms and Veterans park. A more practical option.
- Peter, Catalonia, formerly NH

Yaa baby .. I'm happening, in a happening city .. Dude goin to fly to LA,
and then fly back, take a train. Then jump into my Hybrid sports car, with the top down .. head on over to the Enviro .. so I'm in the know know .. and when I get back to the old neighborhood on my tree lined street with NO motorcycle noise, I will gather my friends and neighbors around me and we can cash in our food stamps, figure out how to get four more people into our sec 8 apartment, load up and head to Elm street for the Friday night riot.. we are happening, in a happening city. ya baby.
- Tom, Manchester, NH

Nonstop flights to the west coast would be more convenient for business in the city and area, as a way of avoiding the drive to Logan. It would also help to increase trouism to the area. Look at the nonstop flights Southwest offers to Phoenix and Las Vegas. They are incredibly popular. Los Angeles and San Francisco flights would do just as well, if not better.
- Richard, Manchester

Right now the NH Institute of Art has built one of the greenest new buildings in the state to house a dorm and studio for their growing campus. They even moved the historical building that was once Central High School and the SAU. Well done.
Manchester has such potential - but it needs to invest on making the quality of life better for the people who live here and who may eventually move here.
I agree that some of the focus should be directed to be more within the city itself - but love the idea of the rail to the Boston area. Having made the ride to Boston on Saturday I can tell you that I would much prefer the train - saving the stress of traveling 93, the cost of parking and the hastle of back to back traffic in Boston.
The fact that Manchester was recycling long before some of the towns that surround us is promising and I hope continues. I wish all the landlords would provide information and encouragement to their tenants when it comes to recycling. Everyone should take advantage of it.
- joco, Manchester, NH

Now I see why the aldermen are opposed to the tax cap - look at all the freebies we have coming our way! If we would only shut up and let them take care of us, Manchester would become a Utopia (or at least the Cannes of New England with an international film festival).

Get back to work and don't forget to pay your taxes - the city wants to give you "free" stuff in the future. Bread and circuses anyone?
- Mike, Manchester

Look around Manchester. What percentage of it's citizens need to fly nonstop to the West Coast, say once in a lifetime? Two percent? Hybrid cars? Cars aren't part of a city infrastructure, they are personal goods.

Could we keep the ideas meaningful to locals? Thanks.
- Joe, Manchester

If there's a wish list, let's throw in removing the vermin Lowell/Lawrence fed us. Personally I'd rather have a clean, safe city than a dirty crime-ridden one with rail service.
- Bob, Manchester

300 new housing units over 10 years? Where? Where are the jobs, or is the expectation everyone will be working at Wally-Mart or 7-11 or CVS? Try telling my neighborhood in South Manchester where they are putting in a Super Wal-Mart that it will feel like a small town.

Is that from the estimated 1000 cars that go by per day?

Manchester is a big city and the only way going from here is a lot more congestion and gridlock. I've already seen it when traffic backs up at 10am on Saturday morning down off of So. Willow and Spring Gardent St.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

How come you left out the part about the Tooth Fairy paying for it?
- leo, Canterbury

"The plan includes a "wish list" of projects that generated interest from committee members and other participants in the process, including many city residents. They are also, by and large, projects the committee believes the city will have the means to afford -- if not now, then eventually." As a resident of Ward 5 and a candidate I support a dog park that could be built in a small undeveloped parcel of land here in the ward as well as seeing the completion of sidewalks on Mammonth and Terrytown Road. Another project I support is the completion of the rail trail that goes through Ward 5 from Valley Street to Page Street. This will support good health and safety to our friends and neighbors as well as provide a walkable part of the city to many more people.

Robert M Tarr
Candidate for Alderman of Ward 5
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

Hopefully, Manchester will have evening bus service to at least 10 pm and Sunday bus service. This would help Manchester get more value from its $100 million plus investment in Verizon Wireless Arena and its $20 million plus investment in the baseball stadium. Manchester may attract more green businesses and other businesses to Manchester. Restaurants, retail stores, and other businesses may have more customers on Elm Street and other parts of Manchester. Manchester may have cleaner air. If people have an easier time getting to and from jobs, New Hampshire may be able to spend less money on food stamps and Medicaid. The website for Manchester Transit Authority is http://www.mtabus.org

Manchester may want to discuss with local colleges the building of an engineering school in Manchester similar to what UNH-Durham has that high school students and college students could take courses at. Many students might be able to do cooperative education similar to what takes place at Northeastern University. An engineering school may help many businesses do green research projects and other research projects.
- Ken Stremsky, Manchester, NH

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"Manchester teachers give up pay in new deal"

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) -- The Manchester school board is endorsing a revised deal that would see teachers and other school district employees give up a little more pay this year.

The deal would save the district more than $1.1 million.

In exchange workers would receive a new contract promising $11 million in wage increases over three years.

Committeeman Donna Soucy says what's important is that the unions are giving something up.

The terms of the deal would apply to all five of the unions representing school district employees.

Union President Scott McGilvray tells the Union Leader the package is good enough to bring back to members.

The school board approved the proposal by a vote of 9 to 3.
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Source: New Hampshire Union Leader Online via The Nashua Telegraph Online.
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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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Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis

Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis
Should he be fired? As Bank of America's Stock Plummets, CEO Resists Some Calls That He Step Down.

Hookers for Jesus

Hookers for Jesus
Annie Lobert is the founder of "Hookers for Jesus" - www.hookersforjesus.net/home.cfm - Saving Sin City: Las Vegas, Nevada?

Forever personalized stamped envelope

Forever personalized stamped envelope
The Forever stamp will continue to cover the price of a first-class letter. The USPS will also introduce Forever personalized, stamped envelopes. The envelopes will be preprinted with a Forever stamp, the sender's name and return address, and an optional personal message.

Purple Heart

Purple Heart
First issued in 2003, the Purple heart stamp will continue to honor the men and women wounded while serving in the US military. The Purple Heart stamp covers the cost of 44 cents for first-class, one-ounce mail.

Dolphin

Dolphin
The bottlenose is just one of the new animals set to appear on the price-change stamps. It will serve as a 64-cent stamp for odd shaped envelopes.

2009 price-change stamps

2009 price-change stamps
www.boston.com/business/gallery/2009pircechangestamps/ -&- www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2009/02/27/new_stamps_set_for_rate_increase_in_may/

Red Sox v Yankees

Red Sox v Yankees
Go Red Sox!

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama
AP photo v Shepard Fairey

Rush Limbaugh lackeys

Rush Limbaugh lackeys
Posted by Dan Wasserman of the Boston Globe on March 3, 2009.

Honest Abe

Honest Abe
A 2007 US Penny

Dog race

Dog race
Sledding for dogs

The Capital of the Constitution State

The Capital of the Constitution State
Hartford, once the wealthiest city in the United States but now the poorest in Connecticut, is facing an uphill battle.

Brady, Bundchen married

Brady, Bundchen married
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and model Gisele Bundchen wed Feb. 26, 2009 in a Catholic ceremony in Los Angeles. www.boston.com/ae/celebrity/gallery/tom_gisele/

Mayor Jimmy Ruberto

Mayor Jimmy Ruberto
Tanked Pittsfield's local economy while helping his fellow insider political hacks and business campaign contributors!

Journalist Andrew Manuse

Journalist Andrew Manuse
www.manuse.com

New Hampshire Supreme Court Building

New Hampshire Supreme Court Building
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Hampshire_Supreme_Court

Economic State of the Union

Economic State of the Union
A look at some of the economic conditions the Obama administration faces and what resources have already been pledged to help. 2/24/2009

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama
The president addresses the nation's governors during a dinner in the State Dinning Room, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari).

The Oscars - 2/22/2009.

The Oscars - 2/22/2009.
Hugh Jackman and Beyoncé Knowles teamed up for a musical medley during the show.

The 81st Academy Awards - Oscars - 2009

The 81st Academy Awards - Oscars - 2009
Hugh Jackman pulled actress Anne Hathaway on stage to accompany him during his opening musical number.

Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow
A Progressive News Commentator

$500,000 per year

$500,000 per year
That is chump change for the corporate elite!

THE CORPORATE ELITE...

THE CORPORATE ELITE...
Jeffrey R. Immelt, chairman and chief executive of General Electric

The Presidents' Club

The Presidents' Club
Bush, Obama, Bush Jr, Clinton & Carter.

5 Presidents: Bush, Obama, Bush Jr, Clinton, & Carter!

5 Presidents: Bush, Obama, Bush Jr, Clinton, & Carter!
White House Event: January 7, 2009.

Bank Bailout!

Bank Bailout!
v taxpayer

Actress Elizabeth Banks

Actress Elizabeth Banks
She will present an award to her hometown (Pittsfield) at the Massachusetts State House next month (1/2009). She recently starred in "W" and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," and just signed a $1 million annual contract to be a spokesmodel for Paris.

Joanna Lipper

Joanna Lipper
Her award-winning 1999 documentary, "Growing Up Fast," about teenaged mothers in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Happy Holidays...

Happy Holidays...
...from "Star Wars"

Massachusetts "poor" economy

Massachusetts "poor" economy
Massachusetts is one of the wealthiest states, but it is also very inequitable. For example, it boasts the nation's most lucrative lottery, which is just a system of regressive taxation so that the corporate elite get to pay less in taxes!

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon
Hollywood Actress

Peter G. Arlos.

Peter G. Arlos.
Arlos is shown in his Pittsfield office in early 2000.

Turnpike OK's hefty toll hikes

Turnpike OK's hefty toll hikes
Big Dig - East-west commuters take hit; Fees at tunnels would double. 11/15/2008.

The Pink Panther 2

The Pink Panther 2
Starring Steve Martin

Police ABUSE

Police ABUSE
I was a victim of Manchester Police Officer John Cunningham's ILLEGAL USES of FORCE! John Cunningham was reprimanded by the Chief of Police for disrespecting me. John Cunningham yelled at a witness: "I don't care if he (Jonathan Melle) is disabled!"

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
The 44th US Presi