Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I turned 39 (2014)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ted Gatsas running for Mayor of Manchester, NH in 2009

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GATSAS
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"It's official: Gatsas to run for mayor"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, Wednesday, June 3, 2009

MANCHESTER – Alderman and State Sen. Ted Gatsas is making it official: He will run for mayor of Manchester.

Gatsas plans to announce his candidacy at a news conference Monday afternoon (6/8/2009) at City Hall. The Ward 2 Republican said he is "humbled" by the number of people who have encouraged him to run and said his campaign will be about "working together."

"We're a community," Gatsas said last night.

Gatsas becomes the first Republican to join a race that already includes two Democrats -- Alderman Mark Roy and state Rep. Richard Komi -- and an independent, Glenn Ouellette.

Meanwhile, the list of people thinking of throwing their hat in the ring continues to grow. Last night, former state Sen. Bobby Stephen said he has been mulling it over.

"I've just been listening to people that have been encouraging me, but I haven't decided," Stephen said.

Republicans tout Gatsas, 59, as one of the most seasoned candidates the party has put forward in years. Gatsas has been an alderman since 2000 and is now serving his fifth term in the state Senate.

"He was born and raised in the city of Manchester, and he has the interest of the people in his heart," said Hillsborough County Register of Probate Bob Rivard, a longtime friend. "You know, he's a good guy. He can be a tough guy to deal with, but he's a good guy."

Democrats say Gatsas has not committed himself to being a full-time mayor. Their criticism is backed by a recent statement by city GOP Chairman Will Infantine, who said Gatsas intends to retain his state Senate seat until his term expires at the end of next year.

"Anyone who runs for mayor needs to commit to it," Alderman Mark Roy said.

Chris Pappas, chairman of the Manchester Democrats, said Gatsas' years in public life have been defined by partisanship, as well as personal ambition.

"I think he's shown that he really serves only one person, and that's Ted Gatsas," Pappas said.

Gatsas said he has already lined up five to six campaign co-chairmen in each of the city's 12 wards. He said he has a 20-person finance team ready to get to work.

Executive Councilor Ray Wieczorek will be a citywide co-chairman, Gatsas said. Another co-chairman will be announced soon.

Infantine said he does not expect any other Republicans to compete against Gatsas in the primary, which is officially non-partisan. He said he suspects other Republicans who had thought about running "will take a back seat to Ted at this point, for a number of reasons."

"He knows the issues, he can raise funds to put on a campaign, and he's very well known," Infantine said. "I mean, those are some pretty important qualifications for running for this position."

Gatsas grew up in Manchester, graduating from Central High School and the University of New Hampshire. His business enterprises have included a local real estate company and, later, an employee-leasing company known as Staffing Network.

As an alderman, Gatsas has co-authored each of the last two city budgets. His partner in both cases was a Democrat: board Chairman Mike Lopez.

Both budgets made compromises that drew fire from critics. Both also had the effect of raising taxes, by 4.7 percent in 2008 and by a projected 2.9 percent this year.

Among the other Democrats who have expressed an interest in running for mayor are Lopez and former Alderman Jerome Duval.

A formal announcement for Gatsas' candidacy is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday in the aldermanic chambers.

READERS' COMMENTS:

Sally, it is my understanding that the AG's office has stated that a mayor can also be state legislator, and vice versa.
- David R, Manchester

Glen, yes it is extremely unfortunate that our taxes have gone up in Manchester over the past few years. However, you need to be educated and look at the big picture before making your comments. Have you reviewed the voting history of our alderman? Gatsas tax increases would be lower than what Roy has wanted! Roy doesn't even respond to neighbors in his ward who have questioned how he will represent his ward in certain key votes. IE, because he was voting to raise taxes.
- Maggie, Manchester

Ted Gatsas running for Mayor, not a bad choice he's got the name a fairly conservative record and hhe's got the most important ingredient he's got his own bucks. I would have no problem voting for Ted, he could shake things up suddenly a decent Republican Mayor looks like it would be possible, after that do-nothing Guinta. Break a leg Ted.
- Richard L. Fortin, Manchester

Fuzzy Math Man for Mayor?

No thanks
- Abby, Manchester

The quality of candidates and choices for the office has finally turned the corner. The candidate with a progressive vision for Manchester will get my support.

Greg Barrett
- Greg Barrett, Manchester

I could get more done in my work too if I ignored the truth. If Mr. Gatsas becomes mayor, the voice of the truth will be proclaiming loudly, "But the emperor-mayor has no clothes!!!"
- CAH, Manchester NH

Ted Gatsas has been an embarassment as my alderman for these years and now he wants to be mayor. This has to be a joke. The budget that he shoved through with the help of his puppets is dishonest. He keeps telling the public that the schools are fully funded, when everyone who actually goes over the numbers knows it is untrue. I think a minimum requirement of having to tell the truth to be mayor is not too much to ask.
- ROBERT TUBBS, MANCHESTER

Unfortunately, this would meen that we lose Mr. Gatsas in the Senate. He has been a great conservative in a sea of yahoos.
- sally, candia, nh

The guy that just put together the budget that hiked taxes by 3% wants to be Mayor. How exciting for taxpayers to know that we would have at least two years of tax hiking with Ted in office. *Sigh*
- Glen, Manchester

THANK GOD ! I am so happy to hear that Gatsas is running. Regardless of what anyone says about the budget, or any other criticism, Gatsas has a proven record of getting things done. Also all this nonsense of not being "committed" because he will also be a State Senator is ridiculous. I would rather have my mayor also in the thick of important state matters so that he can be on the front lines of protecting Manchester! Also it is like most wards gain another senator who is looking out for their interest in Manchester. Gatsas is the guy for the job, and he has my vote!

p.s.

No matter what, Gatsas will keep taxes A LOT lower than his Democratic counter Roy !!!
- John, Manchester

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"For Manchester: Solutions, not slogans"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, Thursday, June 4, 2009

Manchester will have a rare opportunity next year to reorganize its city government in ways that are beneficial to residents and public employees. But only if the city's elected officials have the will to do it.

Mayor Frank Guinta, twice elected on promises to stop runaway tax hikes and curb spending, has laid the foundation for changing the way the city works. Guinta's focus on taxes led to lower tax hikes than had been prevalent before he took office. But for a variety of reasons, including partisanship and union clout, he was unable to proceed with institutional reforms the city desperately needs. That will be the challenge, and ought to be the central goal, of his successor.

Manchester could be considered the municipal equivalent of General Motors. Absurdly generous union contracts and overt hostility to change on the part of both management (aldermen) and labor have left the city with a sputtering bureaucracy ill-equipped for the efficient delivery of top-quality services. If this does not change soon, city services will collapse of their own weight.

Candidates for mayor, this is your chance. The people need to see what plans you have for changing the way Manchester does (or doesn't do) business. It is not enough to say you support tax cuts or the children. This city needs more than campaign slogans. It needs solutions. Let's see them.

READERS' COMMENTS:

Why is it that a city of this size, that offers the scope of services that it does even HAS a mayor in the first place? A city manager would be a much better, more logical option. With a city manager, the city would benefit from the insight of a person with the long term goals of the city in mind, someone who was not motivated by politics and who was not using our city as a stepping stone to another elected position. Has anyone given any serious thought to this option, or are we so married to the past and the way things have always been done that we can't envision anything different?
- LNT, Manchester,NH

The Union Leader endorsed Frank Guinta as their choice for mayor of Manchester each time he ran for mayor. His slogan for his first campaign was 3 - 6 - 3. Frank Guinta explained that this slogan meant that Manchester had 3 schools in need of improvement, 6 years of tax increases and 3 of something to do with crime. Alderman Frank Guinta made a promise to improve Manchester's schools when he ran for mayor (see UL opinion letter on 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 listed on the state's list for corrective action. Frank Guinta promised that he would keep his word about improving the schools. Maybe he decided not to run for mayor again because his slogan from his first campaign would come back to haunt him.

If he ran for mayor again, his slogan would be 21 - 3 for 21 schools in need of improvement and 3 years of tax increases. I don't think that's a very good record as mayor.

Bedford gave their teachers raises this year. This contributed to their property tax rate increase. Bedford values the quality education that they provide to their children. (Obviously, Frank Guinta doesn't care about quality public education in Manchester.) Why is it that the UL has not written an editorial about how wrong Bedford is to increase property taxes during this economic downturn?
The Union Leader is only focused on the tax rate when they are writing about Manchester politics. Why not write an editorial about the 21 schools in need of improvement? What does the UL have against providing a quality education for the children in the city?
- Lisa Frisselle, Manchester

I agree with Jack Alex’s assertion that unions once served a very useful and necessary purpose. Unfortunately unions have become too powerful, self-perpetuating, self-absorbed, and self-serving. Their main interest is the dues their members pay. City government and unions are too stubborn and continuously at odds with each other. Neither side is willing to consider compromise or make necessary sacrifices and choices that would be beneficial toward taxpayers. Ideas for providing more economical and efficient services are not even considered. More to the point, neither side has the best interests of the taxpayers at heart. City government has become arrogant and focused on tax increases and not on spending and cost containment. Unions mean while have no incentive to provide checks and balances or assurances that those represented by them are doing their jobs or performing well. Their main objective is simply to get what they can for their members, which is not what’s best for the taxpayers. The end result is too many not doing their jobs that are protected just as vigorously as those doing a great job, and there are many that are doing a great job. But unions provide no mechanism to remove those unwilling to improve their performance as these under performers are paying dues too. Simply raising taxes is not the answer; we have had too many years of that with nothing to show for it other than higher tax bills and a failing system which clearly demonstrates my point. Obviously there is more to the problem. City government as well as the school board both need to make due with less, and Unions must be willing to make concessions in these tough economic times. Robert Tarr has presented some good ideas. But we need more and a city government that is less arrogant and bent of just raising taxes, but one willing to listen with the courage and wisdom to implement ideas that saves taxpayers money and serves the public interests. In short we need action not slogans.
- Rob, Manchester

The most expensive city employees are the non union management. Go from department to department and you'd be amazed how many supervisors, deputies, and assistants there are. I know it's easy to want to blame the unions, but in all fairness, there is far more waste ,and cost, in the management of the city, rather than from the Patrolman, Fireman, or the guys that pick up your trash.
- Tim, Manchester

Isn't there a line .. I have looked at the problem, and it is us .. or something like that. The aldermen, et all , do not want to move forward, they are happy with the status quo. Wouldn't you be happy if all around you folks were losing their jobs, the auto industry is bankrupt, layoffs, cuts in pay and benefits .. and your aldermen is telling you not to worry, you will get "YOUR RAISE" ... !! Every week the aldermen vote to increase a fee, it seems. And now the property tax will go up 3% .. yet; not one solution. As O'Neil, Lopez, Smith, Roy, the other Roy .. they don't want good government, they want the same old cronyism, corruption, back slapping.
The way to a future is not to vote for the present aldermen, find new blood, get behind a candidate, or become a candidate..
- tom, manchester,nh

Mr. Tarr
Shouldn't we be looking for what's best for the city? The lowest bid is usually not the best bid. As a private contractor I always tell potential clients to get at least three bids. Throw out the high and the low and take one somewhere in the middle. The high bid is looking to make a large profit and the low bid is leaving some type of service out. Maybe you should enlighten yourself to the workings of business before you try to run for office.
- John, Manchester

A while ago, the UL ran an article with comparitive budgets for the municipality and the school system for several large cities/towns in New Hampshire. As I recall, Manchester is the ONLY place where the city budget exceeds the school budget. Either there's a good demographics based answer for this or the Manchester city government is woefully inefficent. If the latter is the case, then the next election needs a Hercules to clean the city's Augean stable.
- John, Manchester

Hey Robert, if your going to run for alderman you need to find out whats going on in your city. We already have central purchasing and most items are put out to bid.
- Ron, Manchester

General Motors is a company in trouble. So much trouble that it may not be around in a few years. Yet, comparing GM to Manchester city government is an insult to GM. In the face of strong competition, GM made major mistakes and will pay the price.

Manchester city government on the other hand has no competition. It will remain Manchester city government for a long as Manchester is a city. Elected officials will come and go, but as we have seen little will change with regard to now the city operates. That is the big difference between Manchester and GM.

GM automated assembly lines, and their competition automated assembly lines. GM computerized engineering and design, as did their competition. GM designed cars that were more efficient to build. All of these things did little to the cost of one hourly employee. What they did do we dramatically reduce the total number of employees required, and reduced the total cost of all employees. That is how all businesses achieve the bulk of their productivity gains. No by, relatively nickel and diming hourly employees, but by doing everything they can, as efficiently as they can, to get the job done. Almost always, that means more efficient processes, automation and computerization, and fewer employees.

And there is Manchester’s fundamental problem, and crux of the insult to GM. GM has done all of those things and produced more cars with fewer employees for several decades. Alas, the competition has done it better. Nonetheless, one would be hard pressed to find anywhere that Manchester eliminated duplicate processes (such as multiple accounting, payroll, etc), automate (such as using refuse trucks that require fewer people per truck, etc).

What’s my point? If you focus on reducing labor costs by negotiating with the unions you might get a $13 per year tax reduction as Guita proposed. If you’re willing to rethink and restructure town government, and probably eliminate some employees in the process (probably mostly, if not entirely, retiring employees), then you’ll likely achieve better services for less money and true tax reductions.

We must elect representatives willing to do this. For the most part we currently do not have them. Most, albeit meager, attempts to streamline operations of the city are voted down. The aldermen are told by department heads that services will be reduced. The aldermen do not hold these well paid department heads accountable for reducing costs while increasing the level of services – which is what businesses require of their managers. Alderman go along with department heads and vote down any real cost reduction efforts that might come along.

So continue blaming the city unions and continue opening contracts and getting reductions, but only if you want higher taxes and the same or poorer city services. Reengineer how city services are delivered and you will reduce the number of employees required, while achieving true savings.
- Peter Sorrentino, Mancheser

Interesting headline....solutions not slogans, indeed! This paper has done nothing but shout slogans from the rooftops and offered no real solutions, screaming "Cut, cut, cut", but not giving any detailed suggestions. I find the rhetoric amusing. The party cry is that taxes are too high and that our city is too inefficient and then stories are printed to show that we have one of the best tax situations in the nation.

I also found it amusing that the very vocal tax cappers have picked a number of 2.5% as their reasonable cap and yet the unfettered and out of control BOA came in with a modest 2.88% this year. Sounds like they are doing fine on their own. Reasonable people can see that our city, as a whole, is run pretty efficiently. That is why cuts to save a few dollars merely send this town in the wrong direction by cutting needed provisions. How's that for a slogan??
- Jules, Manchester

It has been a long time since we have had a Mayor who has had a real view on Manchester's long-term future. It was pre-1996, before the Wiz ran for Congress. After that failed run, he was burnt out and put all his energy into the civic center/Verizon Wireless Arena project.

The city has not seen a real reform effort since the charter revision effort in 1996. The last attempt to revise the charter in 2003 was a joke and we all knew it, which is why it was rejected.

The next mayor should IMMEDIATELY call for a new Charter Commission, put together a slate a leaders who he/she wants to serve in this Commission and push hard to get them in office. Then you could get the things Manchester really needs, like a true tax cap.
- Glen, Manchester

Can someone tell me why the streetsweeper is out after 5:00PM? I saw the streetsweeper out on Brown Ave after 9:00PM last night. Are these overtime hours or second shift?
- Lynn, Manchester

I don't believe our city leaders have looked into the future for Manchester, just at how to get by for now. Not giving the School Board it's full budget because of the possibility of receiving stimulus money is obsured. This forces the School Board to have to cut extra curricular activities such as Band, Chorus and Sports from the budget to get by. Now we have Walmart being stuffed down the throats of the folks living in the Gold and S Beech st. areas because the city can't get by without the tax revenue generated by this big company. Where do the future city funds come from when residents start leaving the city for the suburbs to find well funded schools and no Big Box stores next to their swimming pools? We can not afford to let our young people down, we want them to be proud of the city of Manchester and the schools they attend. This will not happen if they continue to study in non-accredited schools which will soon have no Sports or Extra curriculars to help them get into higher institutions of learning. We're in trying times yet we can't afford not to look at the future of the city or that of it's young people.
- Dan Willett, Manchester, NH

At one time unions were a good thing to push for good, fair, and equitable working conditions. In the public sector unions will not go away.

What seems to give the unions so much power is they feed off our own managerial inefficiencies. Plus that they seem to ally themselves with people that love to give away other peoples money.

Collective bargaining is the # 1 impediment to the public sector, the unions are dinosaurs to the old days now that we have ample employment laws to govern the workplace wether public or private. This city wastes so much effort negotiating and bargaining that we overlook the running and efficiency of our city. It's also political croyn-ism and the "good 'ole boy network" where one hand washes the other.

There is so much that can be saved if both city and schools worked together because lets face it, we're all stewing in the same pot and the end guy or gal paying for it is the local taxpayer. The district should be a department of the city once and for all, the heck with brick walls they put up.

It goes beyond tax cuts, tax cuts will only get us so far, it comes down to strategically downsizing the budget and doing more work with less hands. It's also convincing citizens that the sky isn't going to fall if we adjust services to meet their expectations while keeping it affordable and proving to people once and for all just throwing money at a problem doesn't fix it.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

As a candidate for Ward 5 Alderman one solution I would like to see is central processing and purchasing. I would also like to see that city departments could get the lowest bid on a product or service so that savings could be passed onto the taxpayer. Other options would include placing some city departments into a four day work week and reducing overtime by hiring part-time employees who could work those hours on a regular pay grade. There are solutions to the budget crisis we face as a city and we need new leadership to accomplish that. Our next mayor needs aldermen who are willing to work with him/her so that solutions can be made a reality. The only way this can happen is if taxpayers and registered voters come out in November to vote. Changes start with the people, otherwise it will business as usual for the next two years.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"City Hall: Floodgates open to take Gatsas' seat at the table"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, Sunday, June 7, 2009

Former Parks and Recreation Director Ron Ludwig is planning a return to public service, this time as the Ward 2 alderman.

"I just want to give something back," Ludwig said. "I mean, I don't want to make a career out of this. I'm no Bill Cashin . . . But I think that if I could do it for a few years, I'd like to see the city go in a different direction."

Ludwig, 58, is a lifelong Democrat. He is the first candidate out of the gate in what is now an open race to succeed Ted Gatsas.

The competition may not be far behind. School board member Bob O'Sullivan admits he's "strongly considering" a run for the seat now that Gatsas, a fellow Republican, is stepping aside to run for mayor.

Ludwig worked for the city for nearly 33 years and was director of parks, recreation and cemeteries for the last 12 of them. When he resigned in 2007, it was largely because of his frustrations with city government.

He didn't vocalize it at the time, but Ludwig now says he was "tired of taking the blame" for the fact that the ski area and ice rinks were losing money by the fistful. He resigned less than a week after Mayor Frank Guinta called for an 8.5-percent cut to the Parks and Rec budget.

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DISAPPEARING DEM: State Rep. Tom Katsiantonis wants to make something clear.

"I'm not afraid of my party," he said. "I'm not afraid of anybody, you know."

Katsiantonis, a Democrat, has consistently bucked the party line by voting against same-sex marriage. He says he would have done so again last Wednesday, had he been there for the all-important final vote. But he wasn't.

His absence prompted state Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, a Republican and same-sex marriage supporter, to speculate that someone -- Democratic Party leaders, presumably -- pressured Katsiantonis and other Manchester reps who opposed the bill to stay home.

"He just happens to be planning a run for alderman," Vaillancourt wrote of Katsiantonis on the conservative blog, RedHampshire.com, "so does anyone believe that he just might have been (told), 'Hey, Tom, you want help with that run for alderman. Maybe you should disappear for a day.'"

Rubbish, Katsiantonis said. He said he called ahead to let the House clerk know he would be unavailable to vote Wednesday because he needed to spend the day in Boston, helping his mother-in-law with her immigration paperwork.

This much is true: Katsiantonis is planning to run for alderman in Ward 8 -- but, he said, only if the Democratic incumbent, Betsi DeVries, steps aside. DeVries has not gone public with her plans, and she did not respond to repeated requests for comment last week.

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ANTI-CAPPERS GETTING ORGANIZED: The state AFL-CIO is taking a stand against the proposed tax cap, describing it in a recent newsletter as a "gimmick."

"In general, tax caps are not a way to manage government," said Mark S. MacKenzie, president of the AFL-CIO in New Hampshire. "The way to manage government is to have responsible people elected to positions where they make decisions about the overall priorities of the city."

The group's newsletter invites union members who want to help defeat the cap to contact the Political Director Jess Clark. The subheading is, "Keep Manchester Moving."

The AFL-CIO represents many city workers, including firefighters and Water Works employees.

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POWER PLAY: The argle-bargle between the aldermen and school board over this year's budget has convinced school board member Steve Dolman something needs to change.

Dolman says the aldermen have made a "complete and utter mess" of the school district's budget, now for the second year in a row. He has decided it would be better to take the aldermen out of the equation, empowering the school board to set its own budget, and by extension, to determine the district's share of the tax rate.

"The school board needs to be autonomous," Dolman said.

His colleagues on the school board are giving the idea some consideration, asking Superintendent Tom Brennan to look into it. Brennan said he plans to update the Coordination Committee on his investigation Wednesday.

The change won't happen overnight. Several officials said they expect it would require changes to state law and to the city charter. Ultimately, they suspect, voters would have to approve it at the ballot box.

Dolman is an unlikely champion of the cause. A former alderman, he was a member of the commission that revised the city charter in the mid-'90s. At the time, he said, he was "emphatic" that the school board should not be autonomous.

"I can tell you, honestly, it's a complete 360 turn for me," Dolman said.

Alderman At-Large Dan O'Neil said the school board has far more urgent things to do than explore Dolman's idea.

"I think it's the wrong time for them to be looking at anything other than taking the budget that was passed and working their tail off to make it work," O'Neil said.

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THE ART OF NEGOTIATION: The man who used to negotiate the city's labor contracts says it's "very likely" some aspects of the new three-year union contracts will come back to haunt the city.

"It's very likely, quite likely, there are things in the different contracts that are expensive and are problematic to the city," former chief negotiator Dave Hodgen said in a recent interview. "And by agreeing to leave those aspects in the contracts as they are, the city will have to live with those problems for the next three-year period."

Hodgen was the city's labor-contract negotiator for 20 years. He retired in March 2008. His position has been vacant since.

In Hodgen's absence, the aldermen did their own negotiating. The new three-year contracts give union members a 1.5-percent cost-of-living increase in summer 2010, followed by a 2.5 -percent increase in each of the following two years.

It will take some time before it's clear if the aldermen did a good job, Hodgen said. Conceivably, he said, "If the economy in the next couple of years takes off . . . or if the consumer price index takes off and inflation runs rampant, there's the potential that the raises (city employees) got won't look that impressive."

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WIZARD OF OSBORNE: Someone needs to take Ed Osborne to Vegas. The guy is on fire.

Back in March, the Ward 5 alderman said he'd be OK with a 3-percent tax increase. Lo and behold, the aldermen banged out a budget that called for a tax hike of 2.9 percent.

He was pretty much dead on a year ago, too, anticipating a tax increase of 4 to 5 percent. As it turned out, taxes rose 4.7 percent.

"I gotta start betting, huh?" Osborne said. "I should pick the horses . . . Lay it all on there. Weee!"
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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:

I hope Ron Ludwig runs... he'd be great!
- Sharon, Manchester

Ron Ludwig is a good guy but the last thing the City of Manchester needs is another retired City employee on the Board. When you look around the Aldermanic Chamber, only 3 or 4 have ever run a private business. The rest are current or former municipal or federal employees. Manchester needs more business sense on the Board.
- Tom, Manchester

David from Manchester..Why hasn't the Great Mayor been promoting this city as great place to move or start a business? Because IT ISNT!!! Our schools are underfunded and "failing", our infrastructure has crumbled, our Mayor WILL leave too..(mark my words) WHY WOULD anyone want to move here? Our politicians are moving out to better communities, our police chief doesn't even live in this city--The writing is on the wall-READ IT
- Jim, Manchester

Mr. Tarr, give it up. You stand a chance against Mr. Ludwig. He is a respected figure in the city and some one who actually had a job. Perhaps you start with one of those before you try to become a leader of those of us who actually work and contribute to the city.
- Max Grey, Manchester

Will someone please come up with some new ideas? Not this non sense about four day work weeks and insurance cost. The real solution is the neglected commercial tax base. The problem is Manchester neglected commercial development in favor of politics as usual. Why hasn't the Great Mayor been promoting this city as great place to move or start a business? The other problem is that certain departments make it very difficult the do business here. Not one person that wants to be an alderman talks about this they just want to blabber about issues that have almost no impact on the residential tax rate.
- David, Manchester

I think Ludwig, as a former Department head, would bring a very interesting perspective to the board. Moreover, I hope Mayor Gatsas (with fingers crossed) can retain his Senate seat.

What Rep. Vaillancourt is talking about with respect to Rep. Katsiantonis is what I have frequently referred to as the ‘democratic rainbow coalition pressure machine.’ Note that Katsiantonis doesn’t deny he was pressured, he just says he isn’t ‘afraid’ but ‘happened’ to have other plans anyways. Nice!

'The aldermen made a complete mess out of the school board’s budget' - Huh? Funny, I thought the economy made a mess out of everyone’s budgets. Giving the school board the power to control it’s own budget (without having a tax cap in place) is like giving an alcoholic the keys to the liquor cabinet. Voter’s won’t know who to hold responsible when their taxes go thru the roof.

Ald. Osborne’s gambling method is simple and effective. Anticipated rate of inflation + 10% = Tax increase. Since the tax base is essentially a fixed number except for re-development and ownership turn-overs, and the city’s expenses increase roughly at the rate of inflation, he has to cover inflation (cost of living raises) plus perks (fat raises) to his supporters, the unions. The fix is in. Neither spending control nor modernization (of the workforce, the human resource groups, and the vehicle fleet) ever enters the equation.
- Jim, Manchester

Is this what we, the people, want for Ward 5? An alderman who gambles away everything? Real solutions not slogans! I for one support a four day work week for some city departments, reduction of overtime by hiring part time employees. Reducing the city's bonding to save money.

As for the school side, start with reduction of administrative cost. Placing goods and services out to bid and the lowest bid with the best quality of service wins. Starting off administrative staff at the start of the pay grade, not where the past employee left off. Health and medical benefits adjusted to reflect better management. Such as if you make 60k or more, you pay a higher premium. These are just some solutions I would be willing to "bet" on, or more importantly place these solutions on the table from day one.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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State Sen. Ted Gatsas announces his candidacy for mayor of Manchester yesterday (6/8/2009). (JOSH GIBNEY)
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"Gatsas vows to streamline goverment"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, June 9, 2009

MANCHESTER – State Sen. Ted Gatsas kicked off his campaign for mayor yesterday with a speech that emphasized his local roots, presenting the Ward 2 Republican as a successful entrepreneur who entered public service after achieving the "American Dream."

Gatsas, 59, said his experience as a businessman, alderman and state legislator "will allow me to lead this city and its people at a time when we need leadership most."

He promised to streamline city government, consolidating departments "where it makes sense," and to explore "green" initiatives.

The speech was short on policy and long on biography, name-checking educators in the city schools who taught him important life lessons and tracing the arc of his career all the way back to his days pumping gas on Elm Street.

The setting was the aldermanic chambers in City Hall, where Gatsas, who is also an alderman, was flanked by a veritable who's who of New Hampshire Republicans. Among them: former Gov. John H. Sununu, Senate Minority Leader Peter Bragdon and former Mayor Ray Wieczorek, who has agreed to serve as a campaign co-chairman. Wieczorek shares the title with former Central High School football coach Jim Schubert, whose friendship with Gatsas spans several decades.

Tucked within the crowd of roughly 75 supporters was at least one Democrat: Alderman Bill Shea, who said Gatsas has his unequivocal endorsement. Shea, wearing a blue Gatsas campaign sticker on his lapel, said he told Gatsas two years ago he ought to run for mayor.

"He's proven he's a good leader," Shea said. "I feel he would be an excellent person to lead the city."

Gatsas is the lone Republican among the four mayoral hopefuls in the race so far. The field includes two Democrats -- Alderman Mark Roy and state Rep. Richard Komi -- and an independent, Glenn Ouellette.

At least three other Democrats -- namely, Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez, former state Sen. Bobby Stephen and former Alderman Jerome Duval -- have expressed an interest in the job.

Roy, responding to Gatsas' speech last night, said, "I have never questioned his love for Manchester. But I think, personally, the next mayor of Manchester has to have more than just a love of the city. They have to have a management approach that truly can bring people together."

As an elected official, Gatsas said he has consistently reached across the aisle on issues as varied as the city budget, the education-funding "crisis," utility rates and tax exemptions for seniors.

"And," he said, "I made it a point to ask the tough questions so we could find the right solutions."

Republicans who cheered him on at yesterday's campaign kickoff said Gatsas is one of the hardest-working officials in state government. Bragdon said Gatsas "does his homework."

State Sen. Jeb Bradley said Gatsas "doesn't tolerate foolishness."

Speaking after the rally, Gatsas said he stands by the city budget he co-authored with Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez and disputed claims that it will require layoffs.

He said he believes Mayor Frank Guinta, a Republican now running for Congress, "does a great job" despite tough circumstances.

Gatsas' campaign manager is Samantha Piatt, who is his legislative aide in the Senate. The campaign's fiscal agent is Hillsborough County Register of Probate Bob Rivard.

Gatsas, 59, was elected to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in November 1999. One year later, he won a seat in the state Senate. He served as Senate president for one year, from September 2005 to December 2006.

READERS' COMMENTS:

I think it is interesting that Ted's election motto is, "Building a better Manchester TOGETHER". He wasn't thinking about togetherness when he voted against gay marriage. In a Union Leader article dated Jun 3, 2009, Gatsas said, "We're a community". Hahaha. You are kidding me, right? Community and togetherness. He didn't and doesn't cqare about the gay community, so why now, should the gay community support him? They shouldn't. They should band together and make sure someone deserving becomes the next mayor. Funny how he is all about community and togetherness now. Please. I don't think so.
- William, Manchester

Gatsas crafted the last two citys budgets with massive tax increases consecutively. He is on the side of the unions and city workers, not the average citizen. Him and his fat cat buddies will stick it to property owners year after year until you can no longer afford to stay in your home. Don't be fooled by a "familiar name" when it comes time to vote.

Gatsas and Lopez both have tax-hike fever, and the only cure is more foreclosers. Wake up people!
- Jeff Baxter, Manchester

NO WAY!

Every single person serving in office at this point in time needs to be voted out. They have had their chance(S) and blown it.

Unemployment for every last one of them.
- Wayne Stanley, Manchester

Alderman Gatsas will not have my vote. I find the way that he treated Dr. Brennan and Ms. DeFrancis from the school district absolutely rude and uncalled for. It is his unresearched budget proposal that is now harming the school district. He comes off as a loud mouth and is ofter mean to people appearing before the board. Mark Roy has my vote. He is respectful and kind to all who approach him.
- JJ, Manchester

With all due respect to Ted Gatsas, what's he been waiting for? He's been an Alderman for a number of years. He says he wants to streamline government, why did it take him to run for Mayor to come to this conclusion?
- Glen, Manchester, NH

Ted Gatsas will be the voice manchester needs, but he will also need support on the board of aldermen. Manchester residents also need to replace most of the board as they are either incompetent, or too beholden to union interests to be honest representatives for the residents of this city. I don't want to see the city hold the line on taxes and spending one year, only to give back everything and saddle residents with a double-digit tax increase the following year.
- David Harlacher, Manchester

Ted Gatsas will be the voice manchester needs, but he will also need support on the board of aldermen. Manchester residents also need to replace most of the board as they are either incompetent, or too beholden to union interests to be honest representatives for the residents of this city. I don't want to see the city hold the line on taxes and spending one year, only to give back everything and saddle residents with a double-digit tax increase the following year.
- David Harlacher, Manchester

We need a Tea Party in Manchester, and the first thing to go in the Merrimack has to be Gasbag himself, quickly followed by the rest of the downtown crew of aldermen who made such a mess of this city to begin with.

If we keep reelecting the same people, we are going to end up getting the same results.

Gasbag like that fool mayor just wants to use the city as a stepping stone to Washington DC. It's sad that people are going to fall for his line of crap. They've been doing it for years and what do we have to show for it?

No money for schools
Fancy arches all around the city
Fancy new parking meters
a baseball stadium that we are paying for
two cops on the entire west side
a police department that wont answer the non emergency line
and yearly property tax increases.

No, Gasbag, you are not going to get my vote, but you'll get elected because you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time and you're counting on that being enough. Sadly, it probably will be. Isn't time to stop drinking the kool aide Manchester and elect some NEW blood with courage and vision instead of the same people over and over again? How are we ever going to make progress if nothing and no one in city hall changes?
- Al Wood, Manchester

Good someone with some really good experience.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

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"Alderman Mike Lopez won't run for mayor"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 6/23/2009

Manchester – Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez today quashed speculation that he will run for mayor this fall, saying he has decided to seek reelection.

“I like what I’m doing, and that’s to help the people of Manchester, help solve problems,” Lopez said. “I don’t need to be mayor to do that.”

His decision to stay out of the mayoral race leaves the number of hopefuls at four, but former state Sen. Bobby Stephen, a friend of Lopez’s and a fellow Democrat, said today he is still “leaning toward running” and plans to make an announcement soon.

Lopez said he would prefer to focus on one of his longtime goals: the construction of a monument dedicated to Manchester’s World War II veterans.

Other hopefuls are state Rep. Richard Komi and public-access TV producer Glenn Ouellette.

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"City Hall: Bars and Manchester politicians share long history"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, July 5, 2009

AN ALDERMAN and a Congressional candidate walk into a bar . . .

Stop us if you've heard this one.

The joke of the week was on Mayor Frank Guinta, who found himself tangled up in the sort of mini-scandal that was just weird enough to earn mentions on several major political blogs, often under sensational and completely unfair headlines. How unfair? Try this one, from the Huffington Post: "Frank Guinta: GOP candidate implicated in drunken bar fight."

We've still got questions about Guinta's and Alderman Mike Garrity's wild night at the East Manchester Fish & Game Club, and no doubt, many of the details will be sorted out in the weeks to come. To the national press, though, which seems shocked, shocked! that a Congressional candidate would spend so much as a minute in some city bar, we have this to say.

Welcome to Manchester.

This is a city whose aldermen postponed a regularly scheduled board meeting so it wouldn't conflict with St. Patrick's Day.

It's a city that, two years ago, elected a bartender, Jennifer Peabody, to the school board and a bar owner, Kelleigh Murphy, to the board of aldermen. Now comes another election, and we've got one former bar owner, Keith Hirschmann, running for alderman, and another, Bobby Stephen, running for mayor.

For crying out loud, our City Hall is almost literally surrounded by bars.

"Hey, it's part of the fabric of a community," said Alderman Peter Sullivan, who likes to unwind after board meetings with a beer at McGarvey's or the Wild Rover. Sullivan's law office is located above a bar. Its owner is his landlord.

This is a city of private clubs, like the Fish & Game, but also the American Legion's Sweeney Post on Maple Street, where Alderman George Smith can be found five afternoons a week.

"Everybody has a private life," Smith said. "Even though they're politicians."

This is a city where union members get a new contract and go straight from City Hall to the Strange Brew to celebrate. It's a blue-collar town, a former mill town, built by beer-swilling immigrants who begat beer-swilling sons and daughters.

You know, Guinta himself used to be a bouncer.

There will be questions, sure. How did Tom English break his leg that night at the Fish & Game? Was Garrity out drinking with English, as English's family has said? More to the point, why didn't Garrity and Guinta stick around until the ambulance arrived?

Answers may be hard to come by, but if you're willing to settle for rumor and speculation, get yourself to downtown Manchester. There's a bar just around the corner.

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HAND OVER FIST: State Sen. Ted Gatsas is on pace to shatter the city's campaign fund-raising record.

Gatsas' mayoral campaign held its first fund-raiser last week, pulling in $111,225 in one fell swoop. That's not a typo.

"It's a huge number for one event," campaign manager Samantha Piatt said. She estimates Guinta raised a record $310,000 in the entire 2007 campaign.

Finance committee co-chairman Sean Owen said he's aiming to raise between $300,000 and $350,000, all before the Sept. 15 primary. That way, he said, they can cruise into the general election without worrying about money.

Piatt said the campaign will probably roll out TV ads before Labor Day. Already, the campaign has sent out 20,000 surveys, at a cost of roughly $15,000, Owen said.

Gatsas' rivals won't say they're trying to keep up with him. Neither Stephen nor Alderman Mark Roy has held a fund-raiser yet, though both said they're confident they'll be able to raise "enough."

"I'm not worried about raising money," Stephen said. "I have been raising money successfully for charities for most of my adult life."

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IT MUST BE RAINING: It's time, once again, for the aldermen to scoop some money out of the ol' "rainy day" fund.

Fiscal year 2009 came to an end last week with the city in a $3.5 million hole. It will be up to the aldermen to decide what to do about that, but Guy Beloin, the city's assistant director of accounting and reporting, said he believes it's inevitable that some or all of that money will come out of the "rainy day" fund.

That's not a good thing. Without money in the fund, the city could see its bond ratings downgraded, making it harder to pay for major projects.

There's $9.2 million in the fund right now.

"Any time you have to draw on it, it says the management side of the budget didn't meet expectations," Alderman Roy said.

The deficit might have been about $1.5 million if not for the newly approved state budget, which withholds revenue sharing from local communities. Manchester was expecting a $2 million check this September. That won't be coming now.

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DEM VS. DEM: Alderman Jim Roy is facing some competition from within his own party.

State Rep. Nickolas Levasseur, a two-term Democrat, has decided to challenge Roy for the Ward 4 alderman's seat. The reason, he said, has less to do with what he thinks of Roy than with the fact that he wants to be an alderman, and, as he puts it, "This is the seat available to me."

"It's not an anti-Jim thing," Levasseur said. "It's a pro-me thing."

Roy said he was surprised to hear Levasseur was coming after him. "But he's welcome to," Roy said. "Obviously, anyone can do it."

Levasseur, a Trinity High graduate, is 25 years old and says he wants to inject some young blood on a board that's, shall we say, seasoned.

"With Kelleigh Murphy not running, there's a bit of an age gap," he said. "I'm definitely somebody who believes we need young progressive leaders in government."

For the record, Roy is 54. "And when I was 24," the alderman said, "I thought 54 was old, too."

- - - - - -

NEW CHAIR: Committeeman John Avard has been picked to chair the school board's finance committee now that Doug Kruse has left the board.

Avard, meanwhile, has announced he will seek a second term on the board.

- - - - - -

GOING FOR IT: After years of trying to change the system from the outside, education activist Kathy Staub is biting the bullet. She's going to run for school board at-large.

Staub said the focus of her campaign will be "student achievement."

"I've been told that if that is what I plan to talk about there is no way I will ever win," she wrote in an e-mail. "So be it. All I know is that a decade of arguing about money and pizza has gotten us nowhere."
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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:

The Wild Rover is a "dive"?

Looks like Jack Alex opened a bottle or two before posting his comment!
- Richard, Manchester

Well, Guinta & Garrity are fortunate that they are not Democrats and having that fiasco covered by the UL. I mean is ther anybody who can't see through this spin?
- Bill, Manchester, NH

Scott, there you go again. You quote from the Huffington Post, a far left Democrat web site. Do you think they are going to say anything about the Demorat alderman that was more involved than the Rebublican mayor that appeared to be an onlooker ??
- Robert Hilliard, Pembroke

Jack Alex -- I'd wish you'd either get your facts straight or just shut up. Anyone who would consider either McGarvey's OR The Wild Rover a "dive" has either never set foot in the place(s) or has absolutely no idea what the term "dive" means...I'm betting the former AND the latter. Your comments here, again, show a complete lack of understanding not only the real world but being able to see more than just one side of situation -- yours! After reading some of your other clueless comments on these pages, I suggest you give up trying to read and go back to watching American Idiot full time. Let someone else do the heavy lifting and voting for you.
- Ray Pendergst, Newport News VA

Oh the days of FLO's where one could ride his motorcycle through and not look out of place. At least FLO's did one thing, if the police ever needed to find someone they were looking for it was like a one stop thing they didn't have to searching house to house, usually could find the subject of their search on the first try.

Alderman Peter Sullivan, who likes to unwind after board meetings with a beer at McGarvey's or the Wild Rover. Two of the city's biggest dives at least they are not as dusty as the Fish & Game Club.

American Legion's Sweeney Post on Maple Street, where Alderman George Smith can be found five afternoons a week, why doesn't this suprise me, and I guess I shouldn't be suprised its cheaper than the Rover or McGraveys. For my buddy George it's a chance to probably get out of the house.

As far as the "rainy day" fund goes right now its pouring cats n'dogs and waters coming over the dam. "Any time you have to draw on it, it says the management side of the budget didn't meet expectations," Alderman Roy said.
For the record revenues didn't meet up to expectations. People downgrading their cable, 2nd cars getting let go or not re-registered, folks going broke and not being able to afford their new boat or camper.

'there's a bit of an age gap," he said. "I'm definitely somebody who believes we need young progressive leaders in government'. I'm not sure if I can afford your progressive leadership sonny, my wallets pretty empty, see the Fed and State got to me first before I got out of the office.

'Staub said the focus of her campaign will be "student achievement"' Even though I think Kathy would end up being a big spender on the school board and I do respect her philosophy maybe more needs to be down to get parents involved in their childrens education. There should be parents at home with their kids after school to make sure homework is getting down, that there is supervision and discipline and parents should be held accountable as well is their kids.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

"It's time, once again, for the aldermen to scoop some money out of the ol' "rainy day" fund. Fiscal year 2009 came to an end last week with the city in a $3.5 million hole." Well of course the Aldermen will blame the people elected to the State for it, after all they didn't get a 2 mil. check. So what about the 1.5 mil. that's left. Oh that's right, the 2.9% tax increase was the aldermen's idea to say to the people they represent; "Hey we are fiscally responsible, we kept the tax increase from being more than 3%". Or the favorite line of theirs; "If you want quality services, tax increases have to happen sometimes." Tell me another one. The people of this city (hopefully) have had it with poor mismanagement of their tax dollars. After a tax cut, yes cut, in 2007 that was 1.7%, the people of Manchester were given a 4.7% tax increase in 2008 and another increase this year of 2.9% with still 3.5 mil. deficit. So adding insult to injury, the aldermen remind me of a story I read to my daughter, The little red hen. It goes something like this. As three farm animals don't want to waste their time helping bake the bread with the hen (Who will help bake the bread?, Not I said the farm animals) but when it comes to eating the bread, (Who will help me eat the bread? I will! said the farm animals). Just goes to show, the aldermen won't help to make this city better for everyone but they will be sure to take your money without another thought to the matter. Time for new leadership both in our school committee as well as in our city government.

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

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"Gatsas camp logs $209,000 as primary election nears"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, September 8, 2009

MANCHESTER – Alderman and State Sen. Ted Gatsas is speeding into next week's mayoral primary with a trunkful of cash, leaving all other candidates in a cloud of dust.

Gatsas has raised more than twice as much money as his two most prominent rivals combined, according to newly filed campaign finance reports. With one week to go until the primary, the Ward 2 Republican's campaign chest had been stuffed with a whopping $209,000.

His closest competitor in the fundraising game, former state Sen. Bobby Stephen, raised about $61,000. Alderman Mark Roy's take rounded out to about $38,000.

Gatsas' haul is significantly larger than what past front-runners for the mayor's job had managed to raise up to this point in the cycle, and it puts him on pace to reach his stated goal: a record-smashing $300,000.

His campaign manager, Samantha Piatt, noted that Gatsas, a multi-millionaire, has not contributed any of his own money to the campaign.

Not surprisingly, given the disparity in the candidates' finances, Gatsas has also outspent his rivals by leaps and bounds. The Republican's financial report shows he has spent more than $100,000 since he started exploring a run in June, including large outlays for polling, consultants and campaign ads.

Stephen, by contrast, spent a reported $32,000. Roy spent about $17,000.

Roy, a North End Democrat, said he never even considered trying to go dollar for dollar with Gatsas.

"Ted runs in a different world than I do," Roy said. "I live in a middle-class world, and happy to do so."

Two other candidates have not yet filed their finance reports with the City Clerk's Office. One of them, public-access TV producer Glenn Ouellette, estimated in an interview yesterday that he has raised about $5,000.

The other, state Rep. Richard Komi, declined to characterize his fundraising efforts.

"We have been focusing more on the people of Manchester, not money," said Komi, a Democrat and freshman legislator.

Gatsas benefited from a bounty of large-dollar contributions, more than 50 of which were for $1,000 or more. Eight donors, according to his campaign's report, chimed in with contributions of $10,000.

Many of Gatsas' biggest donations came from outside the city. Fred Tausch, a Republican investor who now lives in Merrimack, kicked in $10,000. An additional $20,000 came from Nashua businessman Brian Moses, either through his company or his family.

Gatsas also accepted sizable contributions from city businesses, including $10,000 from AutoFair.

Brady Sullivan Payroll Management gave $5,000 to Gatsas and $1,000 to Stephen.

Ouellette, an independent, said it's wild to think Gatsas would raise so much money to win a job that only pays $68,000 a year.

"You're not running for Congress here, or governor," he said. "You're running for mayor of the city of Manchester -- a blue-collar community, mind you."

Stephen characterized his fundraising effort as strong considering he was the last candidate out of the gate. His total was buoyed by 20 donations of $1,000 or more.

Roy's biggest contributions came from members of his family, including $5,000 from his father, Raymond; $2,500 from his sister, Karen Schaeffer; and another $2,500 from his mother-in-law, Judith Corso.

Roy also reported a $10,000 "in-kind" contribution from SilverTech, a city-based Web services firm.

The non-partisan citywide primary will be held Sept. 15. Each of the top two vote-getters will move on to the Nov. 3 general election.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

"C", what does abortion have to do with the mayor's duties? I can't see any relevance at all.

By the way, I think all three major candidates are pro-life.
- Sid V., Manchester

It bothers me that so many people can give boatloads of money toward electing the Mayor.
How about some og these large donors give monet to support our schools that need the fiscal help to get on track. $200,000 would go a long way in prchasing the items needed to help educate our future leaders and taxpayers.
The point of this topic is that money can buy an election. How can the other candidates keep up with this.
Questions need to be asked and the U.L. needs to ask more because, we as voters and taxpayers dont want more of the same BS that city hall throws at the citizens.
- Robert, Manchester

Mike Conway, I believe entrepreneurs believe that he might make Manchester less hostile to business, and they want his leadership so they can move in and make a profit. That's good for everyone. As it is, just try to bring a business into Manchester and watch the stupid games the petty old men play.
- David Goss, Manchester

If Mr. Gatsas has raised more money than the rest of the field I have a thought as to why: He listens to the people! I have had an issues with quality of life on my Westside dead end street and he took the time to call me and personally assure me of his strong stand on crime. I have been a life long republican and he will not only get my vote but my money also. He is the only true option to straighten out the mess being left by our departing mayor.
GO Ted GO!!!
- Chuck Berube, Manchester N

gatsas had 8 donors at 10k each? someone should really look into this. who gave this money? it may not be illegal but it certainly raises questions. why is nashua so interested in manchester?
- mike conway, manchester

It"s great that the Union-Leader covers this inside-baseball stuff. How about also telling us which of the candidates is pro-life?
- C., Manchester

If elected maybe Gatsas could keep that money flowing and buy some well needed city vehicles and buildings.
- Kristene, manchester

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"Candidates answer survey questions"
The NH Union Leader (Online), September 8, 2009, ~In Part~

Theodore "Ted" Gatsas

Gatsas
Age: 59

--Retired business owner and operator, state senator and Manchester alderman

--Republican

What makes you the best candidate for the job?
1) My diverse business background combined with my elected government experience has prepared me to lead the city on day one.

What would you do, as mayor, to improve the local economy?
2) Ensure that current economic development projects intended to create jobs and expand the tax base are completed while protecting taxpayers.

What would you do to improve Manchester’s schools?
3) 1) Work in conjunction with the Superintendent 2) Encourage increased parent and peer involvement 3) Lobby for fair testing standards

What city services, in your estimation, are most in need of improvement?
4) Residents could benefit from city services that were more customer-focused, including implementing online technology to increase accessibility and engagement.

Name one way the city could be more efficient.
5) Finding ways for city departments to share equipment and activities that will eliminate duplication of services and deliver cost savings.

What are your thoughts on this year’s city budget?
6) The bipartisan aldermanic budget maintained city services while receiving less local aid and revenue from the state.

Do you support the spending cap, as written?
7) Yes
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Source:
www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Candidates+answer+survey+questions&articleId=93f46d9a-a21e-42d2-b90f-1a5b567eadf9
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"Ted Gatsas: My plan for building a better Manchester"
By TED GATSAS, Op-Ed, The NH Union Leader (Online), September 10, 2009

I am proud to share The Gatsas Plan for Building a Better Manchester -- Together. The plan focuses on key areas outlined below. The foundation of this plan rests on one absolute tenet -- that we put politics aside and work together to find solutions for the greater good of the city.

It's critical that the next mayor of Manchester has a plan to move the city forward. We need clear and decisive leadership on Day 1.

In the interest of limited space, this column is only the beginning. There's an in-depth outline of The Gatsas Plan at www.tedgatsas.com. I hope that you will review it and provide feedback.

-- Charter reform: It is time for a comprehensive review and rewrite of the city charter. There is a host of issues that should undergo serious review: budgeting guidelines, campaign finance reform and the balance of power between the school board and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

-- City services: We must develop a comprehensive long-term strategic plan that provides clear direction and guides our actions beyond the typical 12-month cycle. We must also increase productivity and generate cost savings. We can do this by streamlining city government; consolidating where it makes sense; and adopting a customer-focused, responsive approach to delivering essential city services.

-- Economic development: We must create an environment for businesses to come to Manchester and stay in Manchester, and do it while protecting the taxpayer. If we are to continue being the economic heart of the state, we need to expand our tax base, attract business and investment opportunities and diversify our economy.

-- Education: As a product of the Manchester school system, I can attest to the high-quality public education that can be provided for our children. By preparing our students for their futures, engaging parents and lobbying for fair testing standards, we can get the Manchester School District back on track.

-- Engaging residents: Manchester's No. 1 resource is our residents. If we harness the collective energy and talents of the people of Manchester, there is no limit to what we can achieve. The best answers to our biggest challenges don't always have to come from government.

-- Fiscal management: To ensure a successful future for Manchester and to lessen the burden on the taxpayer, we must adopt a balanced approach to fiscal management. This includes a mix of: economic development, driving efficiencies, implementing a tax cap and effective budgeting. To simply focus on one aspect is not enough.

-- Manchester-Boston Regional Airport: This is the single largest economic engine in the state of New Hampshire. It generates more than $1 billion in economic impact each year. From an economic standpoint, there is no more critical priority for the city of Manchester. As your next mayor, I will make promoting the airport inside and outside of the state a top priority. The airport is doing what it can to remain competitive by keeping operational costs low, but the city, the state and our residents need to work collectively to ensure its success.

-- Manchester Goes Green: It's unacceptable that a city our size, and with millions of dollars in energy costs, lacks a long-term plan to become more sustainable. These are investments in our future that pay significant dividends in cost savings, come with incentives and allow us to reduce our environmental footprint. We can accomplish this by: adopting an action plan, exploring the potential to power our schools with solar energy and expanding the lighting renovation program.

-- Public safety: Safety on our streets, in our schools, community spaces and neighborhoods is tantamount to realizing the full potential of the Queen City and its residents. As your next mayor, I will be a trusted partner of the police and fire departments. We will enhance neighborhood and community visibility to deter crime, update and maintain equipment and bring in more state and federal resources to crack down on rising gangs, drug traffic and the violence that follows.

The city of Manchester is a $300 million business funded by your hard-earned taxpayer dollars. While the objective of city government is much different from that of a big business, there is one common thread -- both must provide good value for the money spent and do it in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Manchester residents deserve a chief executive who understands the complexity of the issues and who has a well-thought-out strategic plan to address them. I believe that I am uniquely qualified and prepared to lead the city and its people at a time when leadership is needed most.

As I continue this conversation with you, I pose this question: Whom do you trust to manage this $300 million business for you? My hope is that the plan I have outlined and my record of bipartisan leadership that I have built at City Hall and the State House over the last 10 years helps answer that question for you.
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Ted Gatsas is the alderman for Ward 2 and a Republican state senator. He is running for mayor of Manchester.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

James, get your facts straight. Last year Manchester did not replace over 100 teachers who retired. That's 10% of the workforce. Manchester has cut the number of teachers every year since Bedford opened.

Again, Manchester spends the least and has the lowest scores. This isn't rocket science. You get what you pay for.
- Fred, Amherst

Fred from Amherst, the schools don't need more money, they need better fiscal management. Bobby Stephen has correctly asked why schools aren't being consolidated. Why weren't more teachers fired when 1000 students left West HS? Savings were not realized.
- James T., Manchester

Mr. Gatsas, I don't live in Manchester, but I work at one of the public schools. I hope you realize that Manchester currently spends less per pupil on education than all but a handful of towns in the entire state AND Manchester has the lowest No Child Left Behind test scores. Dead last. Per pupil spending at the high school level is dead last in the state.

If you are serious about improving Manchester you'll need to do something to lower class sizes and increase the quality of the resources (like computers) available to the children.

If the schools continue to decline in quality, quality people are going to continue to avoid Manchester.
- Fred, Amherst

Jonathan Melle, Amherst, I hope he's not tolerant of gay marriage, because it's not marriage, that's reserved for a man and a woman. It wasn't put to a public vote.

Thanks for letting me know where he stands on an issue important to NH, I'll be voting for him now. And why do you care, you don't even live in Manchester.
- D. Chandler, Manchester

Oh.....the messiah comes to Manchester in the form of Ted Gatsas. Who's in this Windbags pockets?? Looks like politics as usual to me.
- Jake, Manchester

Ted Gatsas is a staunch supporter of the "Guinta"-backed spending cap! YET, Gatsas is promising all of these initiatives to improve the quality of life and business in the city of Manchester. He (not so) greatly contradicts himself! For one, the "Guinta"-backed spending cap would finish Guinta's mismanagement of the neglected public school system. Gatsas is promising the sun, moon & stars to the people of Manchester, but he also supports gutting the financing of the city's services!
- Jonathan Melle, Amherst

Ted Gatsas voted against gay marriage in New Hampshire.
Gatsas, Theodore (R) 16 - Nay vote.
The bill passed the Senate, 14-10, on June 3, 2009, on a party-line vote.
On January 1, 2010, gay marriage will be legal in all of New Hampshire.
Will would be Mayor Gatsas be tolerant of the law he voted against?
- Jonathan Melle, Amherst

Ted's plan comes about two weeks after Bobby Stephen's much more detailed 14-point plan and Ted's is pretty slim on details.

Unlike Bobby Stephen, Teddy Gatsas has not committed to cutting taxes or relieving the tax burden for the taxpayers. Homeowners are in trouble because Teddy and the Democrats passed two tax-hiking budgets in the last two years.

I won't vote for tax-hikers and I hope no one else will, either.
- James T., Manchester

Bob S, we don't need mass transit. The buses have maybe five people on them at a time. Mass transit for who?

Light rail? Why not just sing the monorail song from that Simpsons episode? Mass transit is a socialist waste of money we don't need. If you can't afford a used, cheap car, you're doing it wrong.
- L. Astin, Manchester

Mr. Gatsas, Thanks for writing your plans. However, these are all very high-level goals.

There is nothing in here about how as mayor you would attract new good paying jobs to the City of Manchester and the Manchester area. What kinds of companies will you promote the city to?

How are you going to develop the city, especially the downtown area?

Curiously, there is no mention of the biggest issue facing the city - the lack of an integrated transportation infrastructure. It's the single most important problem the Manchester area has. (Yes, it's even more important than the school situation and the budget, since every possible activity involves transportation.)

How are you going to get the NH DOT to put Manchester first in the state's priorities? How will you resolve the current situation with the regional buses providing service to Boston but excluding Manchester? What is your plan to improve the embarrassing service levels of the MTA bus system? Will you establish or restore inter-city bus service?

What about the area's primary highways? Which improvements do you envision? What about the secondary highways and city streets? What are your plans for mass transit, such as light rail, regional rail, high speed train service. Will you help finish the city's trail system? Do you support the conversion of irreplaceable rail corridors and bridges into walking and bike trails? What is your plan for designing and locating an inter-modal transportation center downtown?

What are your plans to increase cooperation and planning with the towns surrounding the city?

Even if you have no plans, it would be interesting for us to know.

The people who live around Manchester have a lot at stake in this mayoral election. We need leadership from the Mayor of Manchester, something we have been lacking.

Thanks and good luck.
- Bob S., Hooksett

The best way to build a better Manchester would be to hire a city manager and reduce the role of the mayor to that a ceremonial position. This city needs a professional looking after her best interests, not an individual looking to use the position as a stepping off point, or one of the same tired old members of the Old Boys Club, whose only qualification to run is that they are life long residents of the city. A city of this size, should not be run by 'temporary' employees, but by dedicated PROFESSIONALS!
- LNT, Manchester, NH

Ted, a plan contains actual milestones. Your plan is nothing more than delightfully generic prose. Give us a break. I want to vote for you, but pull your head out and make me believe you're working for me. Tell me exactly what you're going to do. Hell, I could have written this.
- Floyd, Manchester

Good plan, problem is you have city employees, firemen for one, who think working for the city is a part time job, so they go out and get a "full" time job. Just one example, but it does show that there are many city employees doing just about nothing, and getting paid for it. Where in the plan do you address the disparity between what a cop who stands around talking on his cell phone gets paid and the single mother with two jobs, neither of which pays more than $10 dollars per hour, with not benefits. If Manchester's residents are its most important resource, why do we allow our city management to live in a suburb, send their kids to a suburban school, and pay taxes from their generous pay package to another community? You have presented the "big" picture, now show us what you will do about the "real" picture.
- Thom, Manchester, NH

Good plan, problem is you have city employees, firemen for one, who think working for the city is a part time job, so they go out and get a "full" time job. Just one example, but it does show that there are many city employees doing just about nothing, and getting paid for it. Where in the plan do you address the disparity between what a cop who stands around talking on his cell phone gets paid and the single mother with two jobs, neither of which pays more than $10 dollars per hour, with not benefits. If Manchester's residents are its most important resource, why do we allow our city management to live in a suburb, send their kids to a suburban school, and pay taxes from their generous pay package to another community? You have presented the "big" picture, now show us what you will do about the "real" picture.
- Thom, Manchester, NH

Glen,
We cannot improve our public safety and schools without tax dollars. There will also be large initial costs that come with turning the city green but in the long term we will not only be saving the environment but we will save money. I respect Mr. Gatsas for not just telling people what they want to hear about taxes because he knows it would be a promise he couldn't fulfill. I've never voted for a Republican before but that might change with this race.
- Scott Mullen, Manchester/NH

Does your plan involve providing school with paper as this year's budget did not.
- Pearl, Manchester

Thanks for the info, Ted. I notice that nowhere in your plan is there any mention of cutting taxes. That's a shame, as Manchester's taxpayers are taking a beating.

I would suggest taking this plan, dumping it, and starting from scratch with one that puts the taxpayers first, not the government. We have enough big government types in Washington, we don't need another one here.
- Glen, Manchester

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"Five-figure campaign donations not unprecedented in city races"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, September 11, 2009

MANCHESTER – The five-figure donation is not entirely without precedent in city politics.

Two years ago, in his reelection campaign, Mayor Frank Guinta collected a total of $10,000 from Sen. Judd Gregg's political action committee, the White Mountain PAC. In that case, though, the contributions were split, with half the money coming in before the primary and half after.

Such a lag between checks is one way a candidate can remain in compliance with state election laws, according to Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan.

In state campaigns, he said, "Ten thousand dollars could be given prior to a primary, as long as the donor designates that it's $5,000 for the primary and $5,000 for the general."

There's no one way for a donor to make that sort of designation, he said. "It could be done in writing. It could be done verbally," he said.

Gatsas said his top donors, eight of whom cut $10,000 checks to his campaign, made no such designations. He maintains he was told by both the city clerk and city solicitor that state election laws on campaign contributions do not apply to city races.

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"Large Gatsas donations prompting concerns"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, September 11, 2009

MANCHESTER – Alderman Ted Gatsas' fund-raising machine is fomenting concerns about the city's campaign finance system and is spurring allegations that the city is not properly enforcing rules on big-money donations.

Some city Democrats say Gatsas has benefited from a loose reading of the City Charter, an interpretation that has allowed the Republican mayoral candidate to tap individual donors for unprecedented sums of money.

Several of those donors have written checks for $10,000 -- twice the legal limit for contributions in a primary for state office, such as governor or state senator.

Gatsas said his campaign is in full compliance with the charter, having been told by both the city clerk and the city solicitor that there are no limits on contributions to a city campaign.

"I followed the rules as I was told when I got into this election," he said.

Gatsas' competitors in the mayor's race say they, too, have been told there is no cap restricting donations to a city candidate. And though none has solicited checks for more than a few thousand dollars, one of them, Alderman Mark Roy, did report a $10,000 "in-kind" contribution from SilverTech, the company that built his campaign Web site.

The advent of the $10,000 city campaign check has drawn fire from two Democrats who helped write the charter in 1996. Former Mayor Bob Baines and former state Democratic Party Chairman Kathy Sullivan both maintain the charter requires candidates to follow the laws for state elections, which bar donations of more than $5,000 in either a primary or general election.

Baines said he always was told to abide by that law during his own campaigns for mayor, between 1999 and 2005. In fact, during his first campaign, he was forced to give back $1,000 to the Granite State Teamsters after the union exceeded the $5,000 limit, according to a newspaper report at the time.

Former Mayor Ray Wieczorek, a Republican, also recalled a $5,000 limit on contributions, though he couldn't be certain he was remembering correctly. "It's been a while," he said.

City Clerk Matt Normand, who has worked in the clerk's office since 1994, maintains the city has not limited campaign contributions "for the last 20 years at least." A long-serving predecessor, former City Clerk Leo Bernier, declined to talk to a reporter for this story.

The City Charter says state election laws "shall apply to all municipal primary and general elections to the extent practicable." It goes on to say the city clerk, "in consultation with the chief legal officer, shall determine the applicability of state election laws."

"I think the applicable sentence is when it says these laws shall apply to the extent practicable," Normand said. "I'm not sure it would be practical to all of a sudden institute a cap mid-election cycle."

Normand has headed the clerk's office since June 2008. Baines called him a "very new clerk" and described his interpretation of the charter as "very shallow."

Sullivan said the clerk "needs to go back and read the whole thing in its entirety."

Roy, one of three Democrats in the race, said his understanding of the city's campaign finance rules and how they are being enforced "are two different things." He declined to elaborate, saying, "I think it's a question more for the solicitor."

City Solicitor Tom Clark did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

City officials had fewer reasons to fret about large campaign contributions a decade ago, when Baines spent a reported $69,000 to unseat Wieczorek as mayor. In the past few years, though, the cost of a successful campaign has soared to between $200,000 and $300,000.

Gatsas, the lone Republican in this year's five-man field, is on pace to shatter the record, having had $209,000 already in the pot a full 10 days before next Tuesday's primary.

Included in Gatsas' haul were eight $10,000 checks. Half of them came from donors in Nashua: Julilyn Colpoys, Terrance McMahon, Ronald Wood and Brian Moses & Associates Realty.

The other $10,000 checks came from Gatsas' two finance team co-chairs, Manchester business owner Sean Owen and Merrimack investor Fred Tausch; Trivantus, a company run by Gatsas' brother, Michael; and AutoFair Group.

One donor, Brian Moses, kicked in a total of $20,000, including contributions from his wife and company.

Gatsas, explaining his ability to solicit large donations, said, "It just shows you that people are looking for good government, and I have good friends."

Baines said his issue is not with Gatsas. "He's an honorable person," Baines said. "I'm not questioning his integrity or honesty. He's doing what he was told he could do."

Former state Sen. Bobby Stephen, one of Gatsas' rivals in the mayoral race, has railed against the lax regulations on campaign finances in Manchester.

In a press release last month, he wrote, "If a Colombian drug lord wanted to give $100,000 to someone running for mayor of Manchester, that would be acceptable today."

Gatsas himself has said the city's campaign finance rules need reform.

Stephen's campaign manager, Kris Schultz, stopped short of demanding Gatsas return a portion of his donations. She did, however, criticize the rival campaign, saying, "It's unconscionable that any group, company or individual would put that much money into a race like this."
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Might as well put the sign up at City Hall: "Brady Sullivan Government Activities Center".

Disgusting.
- Richard, Manchester

Oh, Poor Democrats!

But it is OK for Soros to 'buy' Obama's election...!
- sally, candia, nh

I have no problem, people can donate whatever they wish and besides, Ted is well liked.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

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"City Hall: Who will draw the other's votes is a primary concern"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, Saturday, September 12, 2009

TALK TO Bobby Stephen for a few minutes, and you're almost certain to hear the phrase "massive tax increases."

Stephen repeats the line over and over again as he goes around knocking on doors, telling just about anyone who answers that city property taxes have risen 8 percent in the past two years. It seems to work for him, he says.

"More than a majority of folks are telling me, 'You're right on. The taxes are too much,'" the former state senator said.

More than anything, in his bid for mayor, Stephen is resting his hopes on voters' frustrations with their tax bill -- a tactic that wouldn't be remarkable for a Republican, but a straight-up gamble for a man who has always identified himself as a Democrat.

His candidacy is the monkey wrench in the contest, the one thing separating this year's five-way primary from primaries past. Those contests had a clear outcome: Two candidates would move on to the general election, and one would be universally recognizable as a Republican, and the other would be, unquestionably, a Democrat.

Stephen aims to toss assumptions like that on their head. The question shadowing his campaign, then, is this: Who exactly is his constituency?

Can Stephen challenge Alderman and state Sen. Ted Gatsas for voters on the right? Can he lure voters on the left away from the other two Democrats in the race, Alderman Mark Roy and state Rep. Richard Komi? And if he targets one voting bloc, must he necessarily forfeit the other?

Stephen says he doesn't see the race in partisan terms. And yes, technically, the election is non-partisan, meaning there will be no D's or R's next to the candidates' names.

But Stephen does sense opportunities to peel away Republican votes. Time and again, last week, he bounded up to houses that Gatsas had already staked out with giant blue-and-yellow campaign signs. A friend, Marc Arcidy, said Stephen takes particular glee in the challenge.

"I see myself as a conservative Democrat drawing a lot of the Republican folks who are not happy with Gatsas," Stephen said. "And there are many."

Roy says Stephen is "running to the right of Ted." The thought pleases him.

"If (voters) choose to vote for a fiscally conservative Democrat instead of the Republican candidate, that wouldn't break my heart," Roy said.

When he isn't talking about "massive tax increases," Stephen likes to tell voters he is an "outsider" and that he aims to "restore the vision Manchester once had." Many of the people who greet him at their doorstep recognize him, telling him they've seen him at boxing matches, or hey, aren't you John Stephen's dad?

Seniors tell him they used to eat in his restaurants back in the day: "We loved your veal Parmesan!"

Stephen reminds all of them to vote on Tuesday. Historically, turnout is low in city primaries, and those who come out tend to be partisan. Stephen says he has been told to expect a turnout of 12 percent.

"Hopefully," he says, "I'm energizing a lot of folks that have never voted before." Maybe. The primary is two days away, and there are plenty more doors for the knocking.

- - - - -

PAC MAN: Stephen's campaign manager, Kris Schultz, jumped all over Gatsas when she saw his campaign finance report included a $2,000 check from Cigna's political action committee.

There is some history here, though it's not clear Schultz knew about it. Gatsas was one of four aldermen who backed Cigna when the city's health insurance contract went out to bid earlier this year.

Cigna, which had held the contract since 2007, ended up losing out to Anthem amid claims that city workers were unhappy with the incumbent's performance.

Gatsas noted that a panel of "experts" named Cigna their preferred administrator. The panel found sticking with Cigna would save the city a little more than $560,000 over three years.

In any case, Gatsas said Cigna's donation to his mayoral campaign would have no influence on him if the contract went out to bid again.

"There's no amount of money that influences me on something one way or the other," Gatsas said. "I look at the facts before me."

- - - - -

PAGING, DR. ROY: Gatsas' campaign manager, Sam Piatt, had a miserable sinus infection last weekend, so she dragged herself to the Eliot Urgent Care center in Londonderry.

She didn't know what she was in for.

"I'm sitting there waiting, reading a magazine," she said, "and the doctor walks in. And he says, 'Hi, let me introduce myself. I'm Dr. Marc Roy.'

"I looked at him," she said, "and I started laughing."

The good doc must have done a fine job, because Piatt was sounding and feeling much better after her visit. "He was very nice," Piatt said. "Marc Roy was good to me."

- - - - -

TWINS: Back when he announced his candidacy for the Ward 1 school board seat, Gary Hunter said he wouldn't want to serve more than a single term.

Well, scratch that. Now, he says, he doesn't want the seat at all. At least, not right now.

Hunter, a West High School guidance counselor, is bowing out of the race and endorsing another candidate: Debi Rapson.

"I share Debi Rapson's views, outlook, and her heartfelt will to serve," Hunter told us in an e-mail. "But it's as though there are twins running for Ward One BOSC, Scott, and there's only one seat."

It's too late for Hunter to take his name off the ballot, so who knows? He could wind up squeaking through the primary, anyway.

- - - - -

NEW DIGS: The school board is saying goodbye to the second-floor conference room at 286 Commercial St. and trading up to the cozier confines of City Hall.

Beginning tomorrow, the board will hold its meetings in the aldermanic chambers. The move comes with some potentially good news for all you rabid fans of the school board (you know who you are), which is that soon, it should be possible for MCTV to broadcast the board's meetings live.

Mayoral aide Mark Laliberte said Mayor Frank Guinta and Superintendent Tom Brennan thought it would be a good idea to relocate the meetings, in part because it's often hard to find parking on Commercial Street. Many board members should be happy, too.

"Some of them said they're not crazy about the place they're in, anyways," Laliberte said.

Just wait until Art Beaudry -- watchful guard of the meeting room thermostat -- finds out how cold it can get in the aldermanic chambers. That room is like an igloo.

- - - - -

OUT TO BID: School Committeeman John Avard wants to see if the school district could save money by switching banks.

Avard said he recently discovered the district has been paying high bank fees for years. He said he thinks the district should go out to bid.

"We think it's important to find savings everywhere we can. That's a good place to look," he said.
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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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"Gatsas, Roy to meet in mayoral finale"
By DAN TUOHY, Union Leader Staff, September 15, 2009

MANCHESTER – And it's Gatsas in a blowout.

Alderman and state Sen. Ted Gatsas was the top vote-getter in today's primary for mayor, according to unofficial results at City Hall.

Alderman Mark E. Roy was the runner-up and will advance to a showdown with Gatsas in the Nov. 3 general election.

Gatsas collected 5,377 votes to Roy’s 3,353 votes. He won every ward.

Roy edged out former state senator Bobby Stephen, an established political figure who emerged as Gatsas’ chief critic over the past month, by 813 votes.

Local cable-access producer Glenn "R.J." Ouellette had 201 votes and state Rep. Richard Komi had 190 votes.

Over the next 49 days, Gatsas said he would put emphasis on his fiscal conservative credentials and bipartisan leadership, both in the city and at the State House.

Mayor Frank Guinta did not run for re-election, opting to run for Congress next year.

Gatsas is a Republican. Roy is a Democrat.

"In the coming days we’re going to talk about how we’re going to build a stronger Manchester," he said.

In the face-off with Gatsas, Roy said he would stick with a positive campaign. "I’m definitely a consensus builder who is going to get as many people involved as possible," he said.

"We’re going to stay with the same message — fighting for a smarter, safer, stronger Manchester," Roy said. "We need to really focus on our public school system and also on our public safety component."

Gatsas is a Republican. Roy is a Democrat.

Though a non-partisan primary election, New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman John H. Sununu said Gatsas’ showing was proof of voters looking for fiscal discipline.

Mayor Frank Guinta did not run for re-election, opting to run instead for the Republican nomination for 1st District Congress next year.

Stephen thanked his supporters and his challengers. "The voters have spoken," he said by phone. "I want to congratulate my opponents, they ran a great race."

Manchester voters also picked candidates yesterday for the alderman and school boards, with the two top vote-getters in each of the city’s 12 wards facing off in the Nov. 3 election.

All but three wards had primaries for alderman.

In Ward 1, Joyce Craig and Richard W. Higgins won the most votes for alderman, while Sarah Ambrogi and Deborah "Debi" Rapson won the most votes for school board.

In Ward 2, Ron Ludwig and Robert G. O’Sullivan won the most votes for alderman; there was no ward 2 school board primary.

In Ward 3, Joseph Kelly Levasseur and Patrick Long won the most votes for alderman — each with 223, eclipsing Peter M. Sullivan; there was no ward 3 school board primary.

In Ward 4, Chris Herbert and John Castelot won the most votes for school board; there was no primary for ward 4 alderman.

In Ward 5, Ed Osborne and Ted Rokas won the most votes for alderman, while Cathryn "Kate" Vaughn won the most votes for school board.

In Ward 6, Will Infantine and Garth Corriveau won the most votes for alderman; there was no primary for ward 6 school board.

In Ward 7, William P. Shea and Lisa J. Gravel won the most votes for alderman, while Dave Gelinas and Daniel C. Pinard won the most votes for school board.

In Ward 8, Betsi DeVries and Christine Pariseau Telge won the most votes for alderman; there was no primary for ward 8 school board.

In Ward 10, George W. Smith and Phil Greazzo won the most votes for alderman.

In Ward 12, Keith Hirschmann and Patrick J. Arnold Jr. won the most votes for alderman.

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"Cashin backs Ted Gatsas for mayor"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, September 18, 2009

MANCHESTER – Former Alderman Bill Cashin crossed party lines yesterday with the announcement that he is endorsing Ted Gatsas for mayor.

"I know Ted, and I know he's really concerned for the city. That's why I'm supporting him," Cashin said.

Gatsas' rival, meanwhile, Alderman Mark Roy, challenged the Republican alderman and state senator to debate him 12 times between now and the Nov. 3 election -- one debate for every ward in the city. Each of the debates would last 90 minutes, he said.

"You and I have been given a great privilege by the voters; let's thank them by making this election the most open and accessible in our city's history," Roy wrote in a letter to his opponent.

Gatsas declined, saying that he and Roy are already slated to square off in four debates.

"We will certainly have enough opportunities to get our ideas and thoughts out there," Gatsas said.

Gatsas touted the Cashin endorsement as a signal that his appeal is not limited to Republicans.

"The results of Tuesday's election and this key endorsement are both clear demonstrations that my experience and record of bipartisan leadership are being recognized by Republicans, Democrats and independents alike," he said in a statement.

Cashin, a Democrat, is the longest-serving alderman in Manchester history. He represented Ward 10 from 1974 to 2002.

Gatsas joined the board at the end of Cashin's aldermanic career in 2000. "I worked with Teddy," Cashin said. "He and I got along very well."

Roy became an alderman two years after Cashin stepped aside. In an interview, Cashin had no unkind words for Roy, describing him only as a "very nice fellow."

Cashin said he has not been happy with the direction the city has been taking in recent years. "I was very upset by some of the things the board has done," he said, "and believe me, I don't agree with everything that Ted's done."

But Gatsas, he said, has proven to be a capable leader. "Anything Teddy brings to the board, 90 percent of it passes," Cashin said. The board is dominated by Democrats, he noted.

Roy said he has a "deal of respect for" Cashin. "He's entitled to his opinion, as is every voter," Roy said.

Roy's press release calling for 12 more debates was laced with knocks on Gatsas, mainly concerning the Republican candidate's "big money supporters from Merrimack and Nashua."

"This race should be open and accessible to all of Manchester's voters, not just the wealthy out of town contributors who are writing $5,000 and $10,000 checks to Senator Gatsas," Roy said in the statement.

Gatsas said he is talking to voters across the city. "I will be in all 12 wards," Gatsas said, "just not with Mark Roy dictating when we're going to be there."
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Twelve, 90-minute debates? Check my math but I believe that’s 18 hours. All in the next 6 weeks?

If one of the four already scheduled isn’t in my ward, I’ll drive to the furthest one and I’ll get there in less time than it would take Roy to schedule 1 of his 12 debates.

In the last Presidential campaign year (key word year), how many debates did they have?
- Wally, Manchester, NH

There is already too much bloviage in Manchester politics without the added sideshow of twelve debates.
- DP, Manchester

12 debates is cruel and unusual punishment.
- tom, manchester,nh

I would love to see these debates. Our city needs a leader that has new ideas and a plan to make our city a better place - I don't care which party he comes from. We should let the voters decide. Bring on the debates!!!
- Bobby R., Manchester, NH

Twelve debates sounds a little desperate.
- Greg Salts, Manchester

Big dollar Ted is scared of the issues. Mark Roy is smarter and more in tune with the voters of this fine city. Roy has my vote.
- jon, manchester

Poor Teddy!!!!
First it was Bobby Stephens that offended Ted Gatsas when he suggested a spending cap on the election. Now it's Mark Roy asking for twelve 90 minute debates.
Ted Gatsas replies that "I will be in all 12 wards, just not with Mark Roy dictating when we're going to be there." What is he afraid of?
By the way how about a real debate not just a question and answer discussion. Pick 3 or 4 subjects and let the candidates truly debate it.
- Dave, Manchester

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"Which way will Stephen voters swing in mayor's race?"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, September 20, 2009

VOTERS DON'T always think the way you might expect them to.

We met one guy outside the polls last Tuesday who said he voted for state Sen. Ted Gatsas for mayor but didn't know why. Another guy, a fitness enthusiast, said he voted for former state Sen. Bobby Stephen because he works out a lot.

We mention this because there's a lot of speculation right now about which one of the two surviving mayoral candidates, Gatsas and Alderman Mark Roy, is likely to pick up Stephen's votes now that Stephen's candidacy is kaput.

Democrats, naturally, say most of Stephen's votes will gravitate to Roy. Both men, after all, are Democrats.

On the other hand, Stephen's platform was not exactly liberal. In fact, Roy himself had accused Stephen of running to the right of Gatsas.

"I would think the folks that voted for Bobby might have a harder time voting for Mark Roy than they would for Ted Gatsas," said Phil Greazzo, a Republican candidate for Ward 10 alderman.

Ryan Williams, the state Republican Party spokesman, lumps Gatsas' and Stephen's voters into a single voting bloc -- one with a shared disdain for property taxes.

"The anti-tax candidates took 68 percent of the vote in this race," Williams said. "Both Ted and Bobby Stephen were for the tax cap. Mark Roy is against it."

There is, of course, another way of crunching the numbers, as city Democratic Party Chairman Chris Pappas demonstrated. In a quick speech at Roy's campaign headquarters Tuesday, Pappas proclaimed that the three Democratic candidates got more votes, all told, than Gatsas did.

"By 55 percent, a majority of people rejected Ted Gatsas," he said.

Roy, for the record, got 29 percent of the vote. Gatsas got 46.

STAYING NEUTRAL: One Stephen voter may be harder to predict than others, and that's Stephen himself. Two days after his defeat, Stephen said he had decided not to endorse either of his former opponents.

"I thought it would just be good for me to stay neutral," he said, "because of my charity work that I do."

Stephen, meanwhile, celebrated a milestone on Wednesday: his 70th birthday.

"It's just another year," he said. "I feel great. Who knows? Could be another run in my life. I'm young enough."

OUTMATCHED: State Rep. Richard Komi says it's clear why he didn't get many votes on Tuesday.

"I did not have the organization nor the resources to run a campaign of that magnitude," said Komi. He finished last, with 1.6 percent of the vote.

"I was swimming against a very strong current," Komi said. "But I was determined to put my message out there."

A Democrat, Komi said he will work with Roy if Roy asks for his help. He doesn't know what he may run for next, but, he said, he has no regrets about the campaign that, for him, just ended.

"No office is too big and no office is too small if your intention is to serve the people," he said. "That is what I strongly believe."

'DON'T FORGET ME NOW': City Clerk Matt Normand zipped over to Beech Street elementary school Tuesday to check out an allegation involving Ward 5 school board candidate Norma Greer Champagne.

Champagne was in a funny, though not entirely uncommon, situation. As a ward selectman, it was her job to hand out ballots, and as a candidate, she happened to be on the ballot. We're told there's nothing illegal about that, and anyway, that's not why Normand was there.

Normand was there because a man claimed he heard Champagne telling other voters, as she handed them a ballot, to remember to vote for her.

Champagne denies doing anything of the sort. The ward moderator, Paul Crawford, said he could not find anyone who could confirm the allegation.

"I don't know if something happened or not," Crawford said. "But I do know this gentleman was upset, he reported it, and we acted on it as best we could at the time."

The voter who made the complaint, Michael Puglisi, 56, said he heard Champagne tell one voter, "Don't forget me now," and then, to another, "Don't forget to vote for me.'"

"I was flabbergasted," Puglisi said.

Champagne, a former state representative, said she knows state law forbids solicitations in the polling place. "I've been in elections," she said. "I've been moderator. So I know better. So whoever said it is someone that apparently doesn't like me or whatever."

Champagne continued to hand out ballots for the rest of the evening, but Crawford said he "put someone behind" her to make sure nothing funny was going on. Normand, who spoke with Champagne and the moderator, said he was assured that Crawford was "monitoring the situation."

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HONK HONK!: What is it with Ward 5?

Word was going around about some sort of incident outside the polls involving Alderman Ed Osborne and one of his opponents, state Rep. Ted Rokas. Apparently, the scene was wild enough that the cops showed up.

Osborne says it's true he was approached by a policeman. His alleged offense? Honking his car horn at a voter.

"I tooted my horn because I knew him," Osborne said. "As far as I'm concerned, I was sitting in my car, eating. I wasn't doing anything."

Osborne said he suspects Rokas was upset about his honking and tattled on him. Rokas declined to discuss any of the specifics, calling the whole episode a "non-incident."

"The cops did show up," Rokas said, "but it was something me and Mr. Osborne could have handled without cops being there, because we're both grown men."

SECRET ENDORSEMENTS?: The Manchester Education Association, otherwise known as the city teachers union, came through with some late-breaking endorsements for alderman and school board just a few days before the primary. You may not have heard about them, since the union didn't announce any of their picks to the media.

It's not often that politicians get endorsed in secret. But we digress.

The endorsements perplexed one candidate, Elise Annunziata, since no one from the union bothered to meet her before deciding to back one of her rivals in the Ward 2 alderman's race, former city Parks Director Ron Ludwig. Actually, the union skipped the chance to meet with other candidates, too.

MEA President Scott McGilvray said the union picked candidates its members already knew or "had talked with quite a bit."

"Oftentimes, not all of them, their opponent was somebody we felt was very much anti-school ... Especially somebody like a Keith Hirschmann," he said, referring to the Republican candidate for alderman in Ward 12. "We felt very strongly we wanted Patrick Arnold in there."

The MEA also endorsed Garth Corriveau for alderman in Ward 6, plus several candidates it had endorsed before and a few who weren't facing a primary. Other endorsements will come later, McGilvray said.

As for the Ward 2 pick, McGilvray said the union backed Ludwig because it always had a "good relationship" with him when he was parks director. He also mentioned that Ludwig's wife is a teacher and a member of the MEA.

Ludwig finished first on Tuesday, with 408 votes. Annunziata came in third, with 374.
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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:

As a former Candidate for Alderman of Ward 5 and being there most of the day, yes Mr. Osborne did honk his horn at voters, but only after they had made their vote, not before. Mr. Osborne has done this during the 2007 elections as well. Again he knew the voters and they knew of him, nothing wrong there. I would like to thank Mr. Osborne for sharing sandwiches with me and discussing matters of the Ward. It was a productive day and we both agreed at the end of the night it was a shame we couldn't have had a rematch in November. See you all in 2011.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

Dear Manchester Education Assocation:

If you do not interview the candidates, how are you going to know which candidate is going to do the best job improving education in Manchester for our students? Education is about the students.

If you want Manchester to better fund education and other essential services, Manchester needs to elect people who care more about economic development in Manchester. The bigger the business tax base is the better able Manchester will be to fund education and other essential services. The bigger the business tax base is the better able Manchester will be to reduce property taxes on residential properties and business properties making it easier for families to raise children.

Democrats are sometimes better on education and economic development.

Republicans are sometimes better on education and economic development.

What are the priorities of Manchester's schools? Is the top priority academics or something else?

I hope Manchester's schools will soon have a non profit that people and businesses may make tax deductible donations.
- Ken Stremsky, Manchester, NH

Ah, Phil Greazzo ~ this 'folk' will not be having a 'hard time' voting for Mark Roy after casting a vote for Bobby in the primary.

Come on, Scott...could you not find anyone else to share their opinion upon this? The the dog park guy-candidate from ward 10!?!
- Jack, Manchester

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"John Stephen backs Gatsas for mayor"
The New Hampshire Union Leader (Online), September 22, 2009

MANCHESTER – Former state Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen has endorsed Alderman and state Sen. Ted Gatsas for mayor of Manchester.

"Anyone who cares about the impact of high taxes on the working families and seniors in Manchester should vote for Ted Gatsas this November," Stephen said. He said he plans to campaign with Gatsas, a fellow Republican, over the next few weeks "to ensure that the public hears his message of fiscal responsibility."

Stephen, who is working as a consultant, was previously supporting another candidate in the mayor's race: his father, former state Sen. Bobby Stephen. The elder Stephen, a Democrat, dropped out of contention after a third-place showing in the primary last week.

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"City Hall: Roy says issues more important than bank balance"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, September 27, 2009

Alderman and state Sen. Ted Gatsas' campaign for mayor continues to vacuum up money, recently at a rate of $1,000 per day.

The campaign has raised about $20,000 since Sept. 4, for a total haul of roughly $230,000, according to Sean Owen, who is co-chairing the Republican candidate's finance team. Owen said his goal hasn't changed: He expects to get to $300,000 before the Nov. 3 election.

And what about Gatsas' opponent, Alderman Mark Roy? We'd like to be able to tell you how much he's raised, but by the time we talked to him on Thursday -- 24 hours before the filing deadline -- he hadn't started crunching the numbers. Which, in some ways, was telling.

Roy, a Democrat, has repeatedly said his campaign is not about fund-raising. And in the week and a half since the primary, he's had every opportunity to ramp up his campaign -- to hire more staffers and kick-start his fund-raising operation. But he hasn't.

It's just not his style, he says.

"I'd much rather be talking to someone about an issue on the street or something that would make the city better than asking them for $1,000," Roy said. "To me, it's much more enjoyable to serve than to ask for financial support."

Roy said he's confident Gatsas will continue to out-raise him, and outwardly, at least, he doesn't appear to be concerned about it. Looking back, his campaign was out-raised by former state Sen. Bobby Stephen in the run-up to the Sept. 15 primary, and Roy beat him anyway.

What's become apparent is that Roy intends to run a very different campaign than what we saw from the last Democratic mayoral candidate who took on a well-financed opponent. Two years ago, Tom Donovan surged out of the gate with an impressive fund-raising operation, proving he could keep pace with the incumbent mayor, Frank Guinta. Donovan, incidentally, is now a co-chairman and fiscal agent of Roy's campaign.

Democratic Party officials say they expect Roy to continue running the "grassroots" campaign that got him through the primary.

"You do need money to get your message out. There's no doubt about that," said Mike Brunelle, executive director of the state Democratic Party. "That being said, there's also a point where one can spend too much. If Ted Gatsas wants to spend a million dollars on this race, it's going to fall on deaf ears."

This is the charge that Roy and his supporters repeat whenever the conversation turns to money -- that Gatsas is "trying to buy" City Hall.

"Mark, I believe, wants to use the fund-raising as a negative, and we've heard the rhetoric," Owen said. "To me, I see the numbers as a very positive statement. There are a lot of people who are very unhappy with the way things are running at City Hall. They agree with Ted, and they're financially supporting him to see his way through."

- - - - - -

MONEY IN THE BANK: To date, Gatsas has not contributed any of his own money to his campaign. The way things are going, Owen said, he probably won't.

"We don't foresee it being necessary," Owen said.

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SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT: Remember all that talk about "educating" voters about the proposed spending cap? Well, it's finally happening.

Nearly a month after Republican activist Phil Greazzo gathered supporters of the cap for an "informational discussion" at the West Side library, opponents are planning, for the first time, to host a session of their own.

The forum, sponsored by the anti-cap group Keep Manchester Moving, will be held Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the aldermanic chambers. Speakers will include economist Brian Gottlob, of PolEcon Research, and attorney Brad Cook.

Gottlob expressed concern about the cap at a Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week, warning it could spur cuts that would make the city "less appealing" to well-educated, higher-income people.

"It's the libraries. It's the service amenities. It's the infrastructure," Gottlob said. "Under a tax cap, I wonder what would happen to a Verizon Center or an airport, or perhaps the ballpark. So those are issues to consider."

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NOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME: Are Manchester's schools assigning too much homework over the summer?

School board member John Avard appears to think so. At a committee meeting last Monday, he lamented the amount of work assigned to some of the incoming high-school freshmen.

"It pretty much tied up their whole summer with school work," Avard said.

Broadly speaking, Superintendent Tom Brennan said he doesn't object to summer assignments. "I think it's a good thing to do," he said.

- - - - - -

WHAT TO DO WITH WEST: Avard also said he wants to see the district beef up West High School's arts programs, suggesting West could become a magnet for students who are interested in the arts.

"West has been slowly emptying out," he said, referring to the school's declining enrollment numbers. "Here we are at the beginning of the 2010 school year, and nothing has been changed yet."

Brennan said he intends to launch a "comprehensive" review of the district's options. To cite one example, he said the district could reorganize the three high schools into a single school with three campuses.

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THE BUICK STOPS HERE: The Executive Council clarified its stance on the use of state vehicles last week, saying employees should not be commuting to and from work in them. Executive Councilor Ray Wieczorek went further, suggesting the state should consider whether it's appropriate for so many employees to have a state vehicle in the first place.

Wieczorek's comments were music to Mike Roche's ears. Roche, who heads the city Water Works union, has been crusading for years against supposed abuses of city-owned vehicles.

"Raymond Wieczorek has finally seen the light after not doing anything about this in Manchester during his 10-year tenure as Mayor," Roche wrote in an e-mail. "The City of Manchester has been in financial (straits) for a while now and must step up to the plate and do the right thing. Hopefully, the local city fathers will see the light also."

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PARKS & REC: Guinta's nominee to lead the Parks, Recreation and Cemeteries Department says he does not think the department needs more money -- just more creativity.

"How can I advocate for a larger budget in an economy that doesn't justify it?" the nominee, Richard G. Towle, asked. "It's not appropriate."

Towle, who flew up from Maryland to meet with city officials early last week, said he thinks it's possible for Manchester's parks to bring in more revenue than they do now. The city, he said, could be finding new uses for the JFK Coliseum during the summertime, or offering programs at Rock Rimmon Park. He also said he would consider increasing some fees.

Towle is the director of parks and recreation in Talbot County, Maryland, a county that, coincidentally, is in the process of opening its first dog park. "In other words," he said, "I've already done what you're doing."
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Scott Broooks' column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. His e-mail is sbrooks@unionleader.com. New Hampshire Union Leader staff writer Denis Paiste contributed to this column.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Of course Gatsas has money coming in - he represents the people with the money. Look at all the apartment buildings with Gatsas signs - with owners who live outside city limits.
Who cares about the people who need to take public transportation to get around?
What Manchester really needs is a mayor that cares about every resident of this city - past, present and future voters and residents.
As for putting three schools together as one - as proposed by our supt. of schools. Talk about losing individuality. Easy way to solve a problem that should have been worked out five years ago. At least a magnet school is inventive and would draw people to the city.
Manchester needs to start looking forward.
- joco, manchester, NH

Phil Greazzo already had one public meeting on the spending cap and I believe has another scheduled for October.

Now Keep Manchester Moving or Granite State Progress or whatever name they using as it is all the same people with all the same Union ties claims to be willing to "educate" the voters. I already had a piece of their "education" left on my windshield. It was propaganda at best.

The flier also claims that Keep Manchester Moving is a coalition of "concerned citizens business and organizations dedicated to protecting the quality of life in Manchester and opposing destructive policies like the tax cap gimmick".

This is who Keep Manchester Moving is:

Josiette White: Democrat from Ward 10; NH State Director of America Votes (which lists as it's coalition members the following union organizations: AFL-CIO, AFSCME, NHEA, SEIU); Treasurer of Granite State Progress PAC; worked for both MoveOn PAC and 21st Century Democrats in the 2004 campaign cycle; Former Northeast Ohio Regional Field Manager, America Votes; former Regional Organizer, Voices & Choices and America Speaks; former Project Manager at Organize! Ohio.

Michael Farley: Democrat from Ward 8. City Democratic Committee Secretary;
State Rep District 15 who only showed up to vote on five days in 2009; disbarred as an attorney in 2002 after being suspended from practice in ’96 for making improper withdrawals from his trust account
(http://www.courts.state.nh.us/supreme/opinions/2002/0203/farle013.htm)

Bonnie Doherty: Democrat from Ward 10; Executive Board Member of Manchester Education Association; Member of Hillsborough County Democrats; taxpayer paid 4th Grade Teacher at Hallsville School.

David McCloskey: Democrat from Ward 9; Postal Worker, Union Officer.

Maxine Mosley: Democrat from Ward 6; Public Relations Director for the Manchester Education Association and employed by the taxpayers as a McLaughlin Middle School Guidance Counselor.

Ryan Cashin: Democrat from Ward 7; Manchester Union Firefighter.

Sure, they're just concerned citizens. Right?
- Ben, Manchester

This reader wants to know how both candidates for Mayor are going to reduce our overall general debt, currently in the amount of $863+ million and without more tax increases? Mr. Gottlob says; "warning (a tax cap) could spur cuts that would make the city "less appealing" to well-educated, higher-income people". Of course a tax cap would, how else could you consider a tax increase year after year if you don't have higher-income people in the city to pay for it. That's the whole thing about those who oppose a tax cap. They WANT to push out the middle and lower income out of Manchester and make it a town for the rich. As for 'well-educated', I guess that says alot about the people who currently live here, in Mr. Gottlob's opinion of course? In this reader's opinion we have many well-educated people in Manchester and it's also an insult to those who have lived here all their lives as well. Mr. Gottlob should reconsider his words and offer an apology.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

Issues matter and leaders lead. Leaders do not just talk about the issues. Leaders talk about the issues and lead.

The Manchester Transit Authority was discussing the elimination of Saturday bus service and much of the fixed route bus service during the week in June. Because of this, many people talked during a comment period before a Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting that is supposed to last 30 minutes. It lasted about 2 hours and had many people discussing how scared they were about losing Saturday bus service and much of the fixed route bus service during the week. Many senior citizens are not able to drive cars. Many people depend on the buses to get to and from work. Many people depend on the buses to get to health care appointments.

Ted Gatsas cares about people and he provided leadership dealing with buses. I road the bus on 3 routes with Ted Gatsas in June. He asked me very good questions and he is a very good listener. Ted Gatsas has met with the new Executive Director of the Manchester Transit Authority Evan Rosset and union members of the Manchester Transit Authority. I road the bus with Ted Gatsas in August.

Ted Gatsas mailed people a survey asking them about issues important to them. He did this because he cares about what people think.

If you get to meet Ted Gatsas and talk with him for a while, I think you will like him.
- Ken Stremsky, Manchester, NH

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"Mayoral candidate Roy troubled by class sizes"
The NH Union Leader (Online), September 28, 2009

MANCHESTER – Democratic mayoral candidate Mark Roy says he is "very deeply" troubled by the growth of class sizes in Manchester's schools, a phenomenon he blames on the budget his opponent, Alderman Ted Gatsas, co-authored.

"It's 100-percent budgetary," Roy said.

Gatsas, the Republican who finished first in this month's non-partisan primary, said he has not seen data showing that classes have gotten more crowded, though he did not dispute the claim that they have.

Roy and Gatsas were at opposite ends of the debate over this year's school budget. The budget rose a fraction of a percent under the proposal written by Gatsas and Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez.

Roy, who voted against the budget, has said he thinks the district deserved at least $152 million, calling that a "very fiscally conservative number."

If elected mayor, he said, he would look for savings in the city budget so more money could be spent on schools.

Gatsas said he believes it would be possible to reduce class sizes through redistricting. He also called for "serious discussions with Hooksett ... to see if we can find a way to make their home at West (High School) something they can live with."

"Those conversations should be happening now, before the election," he said.

-- Scott Brooks, New Hampshire Union Leader

READERS' COMMENTS:

How ridiculous is it that Central is over crowded, while West is practically a ghost town? If the Administration really knew what it was doing they would balance out the student population.

They should also stop wasting all the money on their bloated salaries and the rent on fancy millyard offices so there are enough books for the students who have to keep sharing the old books they do have.

I also wonder which school is going without heat this year...

Phil Greazzo
West Manchester
- Phil Greazzo, West Manchester

Until the whole "Manchestter" attitude changes and we as a city become committed to to core services at an affordable cost to the taxpayer, this is just more empty wind from a wannabee politician.
- DP, Manchester

It isn't budgetary. It's called a recession and a lack of money and the rest of the city needs to operate too, we can only spend what we can afford.

There is a correlation over the last few years 6-7 of the expansion up off of Wellington Hill Rd. The last 7-12 off of Bodwell Rd and Front St. And, last but not least the last 12-18 off of Brown Avenue south of the Airport.

If someone had told me back in 1986 that Manchester would be a suburb of Boston I would have laughed in their face. Now, I'm not so sure given the flow of the traffic headed south in the AM and north in the PM.

Oh, and by the by, can anyone tell me how many new manufacturing companies have opened in the last 6, 12, 18 years?
- Jack Alex, Manchester

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"Mayoral candidates state positions, don't trade barbs"
By PAT GROSSMITH, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, October 7, 2009

GOFFSTOWN – Manchester's two mayoral candidates, in their first head-to-head debate, argued this morning over the school budget and the mandate that new department heads live in the city and conceded some city streets may not be safe after dark.

There were no fireworks, however, in the very civil, 45-minute exchange between Republican Ward 2 alderman Ted Gatsas and Democratic Ward 1 alderman Mark Roy held at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College.

The city's school system and its funding drew the most attention.

Gatsas, who is also a state senator, maintained throwing money at schools is not necessarily going to solve the district's problems. He pointed out that the total budget, when federal and stimulus funds are added in, is $174 million, or $28 million more than the $146 million the city allotted. He added the budget was approved by a bipartisan group of aldermen.

Gatsas said parents need to get involved in their children's education, read to them, help them with their homework and stress the importance of an education.

He added the city also must look to redistricting, particularly in areas of growth such as Currier Hill, off Wellington Road, and the Hackett Hill Road area; stop making social promotions, and work with the school superintendent to solve the problems.

Roy maintained the $146.3 million budget was inadequate and devastating to schools.

As for parental involvement, he said the reality today is sometimes it is hard to get children to even go to school when parents are working two and three jobs just to make ends meet. Some programs that could be used to help those particular children were cut out of the budget, he said, adding that advances made in the past decade to reduce class sizes were wiped out in the past two years because of budget constraints.

When it came to this year's school budget, he said originally the school administration proposed a $156 million budget, which the school board reduced to $152 million and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen reduced further to $146 million. Roy felt the $152 million proposal was workable.

The problems at Southside Middle School, where six school employees were injured over the past year by students in a self-contained classroom for the severely emotionally disabled, are not new, both candidates agreed, but Roy said the tight budget exacerbated them.

Roy said what the district needs is a curriculum addressing modern-day children who should be receiving the same opportunities he and Gatsas had when they went to Memorial and Central high schools, respectively.

Tom Fahey, State House Bureau Chief for the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News, moderated the debate sponsored by Comcast, and produced by the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

The questions posed came from readers, reporters and editors. Roy thanked Fahey for asking his question - whether the school budget met the needs of the district - drawing laughter from the audience of more than 100.

Other topics included:

Crime: Asked if there were some streets in the city that were unsafe to walk after dark, both agreed there were.

Gatsas told the more than 100 people in the audience that his 83-year-old mother asked him to pick up something at a Greek market on Spruce Street, because she was scared to go to the area. People coming into the city to go to dinner, the Verizon Wireless Arena or to see the Fisher Cats should not be accosted by panhandlers, he said.

Roy said the realist in him says there are some streets in the city that are not safe after dark, but the optimist in him says the city's streets are safe. He is not scared to walk down any street, he said, although there are drugs and gangs in the city and the police department, which wanted funding for 270 officers, was told to leave vacancies unfilled.

Mandatory residency for department heads: Gatsas voted for it, said it is constitutional and maintained anyone getting paid six figures should be required to live in the city. Roy opposed it, said it is unconstitutional and maintained no one should be hired based on his ZIP code.

The affiliation of Catholic Medical Center and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center: Both voiced concerns about it. Gatsas said there should be a guarantee health-care costs will not go through the roof, while Roy, who said the move was a merger, believes three health care facilities are better than two in the city and in the long run, the values that are CMC will be lost.

The debate is being broadcast on Manchester Community Television (MCT) on Channel 16 beginning Friday, Oct. 9, at 4 a.m., noon and 7 p.m.; on Saturday, Oct. 10, at 3 a.m., 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.; on Sunday, Oct. 11, at 4 a.m., noon and 8:30 p.m. and again on Monday, Oct. 12, at 4:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

It also will be available for download on Friday from MCT's Web site, nhmanchtv.org.

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"New, old mayor clash over hiring 4 police officers"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, November 12, 2009

MANCHESTER – A decision to hire four new police officers and a crime analyst in the aftermath of two center-city shootings pitted the city's outgoing and incoming mayors against each other Tuesday night.

Mayor Frank Guinta insisted the hirings are needed to combat crime. His newly anointed successor, Alderman Ted Gatsas, fought for a delay, suggesting the city might not be able to afford the new recruits when the time comes to approve a new city budget next spring.

"My question is, how do you pay for it?" Gatsas said.

Aldermen sided with Guinta, by a margin of 11 to 2. The two dissenting votes were cast by Gatsas and Alderman Bill Shea.

The decision gives police brass an extra $169,000 as they try to beef up patrols in crime-ridden neighborhoods. Chief David Mara said the money will pay for four officers and a civilian crime-statistic analyst, plus overtime for officers who will be out on the streets.

Aldermen are covering the expense with money that would have gone to building maintenance. But, as Gatsas noted, those dollars will dry up when the fiscal year comes to an end in June.

After that, according to the chief, it would cost the city $293,000 to keep the four officers on the payroll for another year.

"If you want to tell the chief to go hire four people but lay them off in June because we don't have the money in the next budget, I don't think that's fair," Gatsas said.

Guinta pointed out that 12 aldermen -- Gatsas and Shea included -- supported the hirings when they were put to a phone poll Oct. 29, five days before the city elections.

"Two weeks ago, everyone's for it. Tonight, all of a sudden, we're not," Guinta said before the vote. "It doesn't make sense to me."

The vote to approve the hirings was, in fact, unanimous the first time around, when it was done by phone poll. Pressed for an explanation, Gatsas said he knew the $169,000 would be used, in general, to reduce crime, but, he said, "There was never any discussion about hiring four new police officers."

Alderman Mark Roy, who opposed Gatsas in the mayoral race, said the implications of the measure should have been clear.

"Increasing the complement shouldn't be something you just support when there's an election around the corner," Roy said. "It needs to be a focus of City Hall."

The addition of four new officers brings the police department's complement to 231, including positions covered by federal dollars. Mara has consistently said he believes the department should have at least 250 officers.

Guinta made a pitch for additional officers at a news conference a week after a pair of fatal shootings in the center city. On Tuesday, Gatsas expressed sympathy for the families that lost loved ones in the violence, but said one of the shootings, allegedly resulting from a dispute between a husband and wife, was beyond the police department's control.

"I think it's important that we all understand that those tragedies happen," Gatsas said.

Gatsas made a motion to table the proposal, but it was defeated by the same 11-to-2 margin. Had it been approved, Shea suggested the police department would still have been allowed to spend close to half of the $169,000 on overtime.

Mara said he will begin recruiting applicants for the officer and analyst jobs immediately. It may be April by the time the officers are out on the street, he said.

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"Default or pay? Arena rock and a hard place"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, November 12, 2009

Manchester might not be able to make its bond payment on the Verizon Wireless Arena next year, and Mayor Frank Guinta says it's the state's fault. Maybe. No matter whom is to blame, though, city leaders have a duty to fix it.

The city covers the bond payments with rooms and meals tax money. This year, the state froze municipalities' share of that money for the next two years. The city counted on that money rising. Now it looks as though the city will be about $66,000 short of next summer's payment on the arena bond. That is, unless the city ponies up the difference.

As unpalatable as that would be, it is better than defaulting on the bond. Were that to happen, the bank (Bank of New York Mellon) could repossess the arena and sell it.

Now, it might not be a bad deal for the taxpayers if the arena wound up in private hands. But if the bank does the sale, it will have the bank's, not the city's, interests at heart. Manchester's elected officials cannot let that happen.

Mayor-elect Ted Gatsas and the aldermen should find a way to make that payment next year. Defaulting should not be considered an option.

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"Manchester mayor-elect resigns his Senate seat"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, November 13, 2009

MANCHESTER – Mayor-Elect Ted Gatsas resigned his state Senate seat yesterday.

The announcement, coming a little more than a week after Gatsas' election to the Queen City's top political office, fulfills a campaign promise and sets the stage for a special election in District 16.

A few candidates have already lined up in hopes of taking his place. On the Democratic side, Manchester state Rep. Jeff Goley declared in an interview yesterday he will run for the open seat. Democratic attorney Bob Backus, meanwhile, said he is "definitely thinking about it."

Across the aisle, former state Rep. Terry Pfaff told NHPoliticalReport.com last week he would campaign for the seat once Gatsas resigned. Another Republican, state Rep. Dave Boutin of Hooksett announced his own intentions back in June.

Gatsas said he has spoken with Gov. John Lynch about his hopes for the special election. He said he would like the primary, assuming one is necessary, to be held Jan. 12, followed by an election on Feb. 16.

"I want to ensure a smooth transition with minimal disruption," Gatsas wrote in his resignation letter. "As a result, I am taking this step so that a special election can be held to fill this seat in a timely manner allowing my successor to fulfill the duties of the office."

Gatsas hand-delivered his letter of resignation to Senate President Sylvia Larsen yesterday afternoon. The resignation was effective immediately.

"We had a nice meeting," Larsen said. "He seems enthused and ready to go on his next phase of public service."

Larsen said she'd like to have a new state senator in place by mid-February, when the Senate's workload starts to get heavy.

District 16 covers Wards 1, 2 and 12 in Manchester, plus the towns of Hooksett, Bow, Dunbarton and Candia. Gatsas, a Republican, has represented the district for nine years. His tenure includes a stint as Senate president.

He did not throw his support behind any of the prospective candidates yesterday and declined to say whether he would endorse anyone.

He said many people had asked him to finish out his term, which would not be over for another year. Asked whether he was tempted to stay on, serving as both mayor and state senator, Gatsas said, "There would not be enough time in the day to do it justice.

"At some point," he said, "I've got to find time to sleep a little bit and maybe go to dinner with my wife once so that there's harmony."

A Gatsas aide, Samantha Piatt, said she ran into Goley at the State House yesterday and asked him whether he was going to run for the seat. Goley's answer was yes.

"I've thought about it," Goley said in an interview. "I was looking for the right time to run, and I think now's the time."

Backus lost to Gatsas in two separate bids for the District 16 seat. Reached for comment yesterday, he said, "I haven't absolutely ruled it out, but I'm certainly not ready to announce an interest in it."
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Progressive = Liberal = We spend money we don't have and like to raise taxes on the ignorant peasants
- Andy, Milford

@ Gary & Matt

Progressive? as in more Progressive and Liberal control freaks. "Progressives" are certainly not civil libertarians by any stretch the imagination.

Isn't that exactly what radical Leftists do themselves - legislates their personal tastes into "law"? Rather hypocritical.

History has shown us the ills of "Progressivism" as backdoor assault on liberty ever since the late 1890's.

I like NH to remain "Live Free or Die", perhaps you two are living in the wrong state.
- Mac Wade, Newmarket

Hopefully Manchester will replace him with someone outside the usual GOP/Dem mold. Not necessarily third party, but maybe a libertarian Republican or conservative Democrat would be a nice balance.
- Tom, Keene

Well I guess there is a silver lining to Gatsas's win! We will now have one less ignorant representative in our state senate! Let's hope we will vote in someone who legislates based on the interests of the citizens of NH rather than their own personal values.
- Matt, Manchester

Actually, the state legislature is now better off than it was two days ago. The state's senate is on the brink of being more progressive now than it was a few days ago before Gatsas resigned. Glad to see that he is not there to stymie progress. Hope that Manchester can have better luck with him than the rest of the state's residents had.
- Gary L. Kerr, Chichester

Manchester's gain is the State's loss.

Gatsas was a voice of reason in Concord.
- sally, candia, nh

Good job, a great first step.
- Fred L, Manchester

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"Paying for officers: Gatsas gets it right"
The New Hampshire Union Leader (Online), Editorial, November 16, 2009

Under a plan advocated by Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta, the city is to transfer some building maintenance funds to pay for four new police officers through the end of this fiscal year. Eleven aldermen joined the mayor in supporting the move.

Only Mayor-elect Ted Gatsas and Ward 7 Alerman Bill Shea voted against it. Gatsas questioned the wisdom of hiring four new officers when no one has any idea how their salaries will be paid beyond July 1.

"My question is, how do you pay for it?" he asked.

For that reasonable response, Ward 1 Alderman Mark Roy, who opposed Gatsas in this year's mayoral race, accused the mayor-elect of not favoring an increase in the police force. But Gatsas has argued for hiring more officers. He just wants to make sure they're paid for.

The burden should not be on Gatsas to defend his position, but on supporters to explain how they will fund the officers next year. They have no answer. That's irresponsible budgeting. Good for Gatsas for not joining in.
-
READERS' COMMENTS:

Gook luck to Guinta. PLEASE people... this was obviously a ploy to get some press by the outgoing Mayor. He's running for another office so... let's propose everything great for the city NOW that he can leave the budget woes it will create with someone else.

Gatsas will do what's right and the answer isn't always to hire, hire, hire or spend, spend, spend. How about we actually get the officers hired with the monies the city received from the 'Stimulus' BEFORE we commit to hiring more. hmmm... novel idea, huh?
- Mark Ridel, Manchester, NH

I would hope that the newly implemented tax cap will cause the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to carefully scrutinize any expense for how it impacts the city's long term budget.

I believe that Mayor-elect Gatsas is reacting to the new paradigm that is taking place with the implementation of the charter amendment. That was one of the strategic goals of the cap and a majority of Manchester residents agreed, despite the pro-tax forces being heavily outgunned by those opposed. For that, he deserves credit, and furthermore, let's hope it shifts the thinking away from "spend first, ask questions later."
- Greg Moore, Manchester

Tony S. - Manchester - as a former member of another department, you should know that the construction companies hire and pay for the officer, not the City of Manchester.

That being said, if you "Get them into a car or better yet foot patrol" the City of Manchester needs to pay them. That means there is a cost to the City of Manchester. Where that money is coming from is the question being asked.

I do agree with your analysis that officers on desk duty should be put out on the street.
- George, Henniker

How much do the horses cost us?

I love horses too, and I'm the first one to admit there hasn't been a successful stage coach robbery since we got them, but there's a simple solution for hiring more two legged officers without blowing the budget up- get rid of the four legged ones.
- Mark, Manchester

As a former member of a different dept. Let me tell you that before hiring new PO's you need to first look at the resourses you have. Number one you have PO's doing special details babysitting construction crews. Get these guys on a car or better yet a foot patrol. Construction can hire flaggers. Number two Officers currently on desk duty or other adminstrative posts should be freed up for patrol.
- TonyS, Manchester

I read a post this weekend that we should just tell them they can use the money to pay for the last 4 cops in their compliment. They never get there and just use more money to pay cops they already hired. Is that true?
- Ray, Manchester

Steve, we are Lawrence North, but only since the Guinta/Mirror kinda cops plan. Like Ron said, just move them back to the street. But not SROs or the PAL cop- they do good.
- Mina, Manchester

Ron's comment about cushy jobs is NUTS. School Resource Officers are essential for the success of the rest of the Police Department. SRO's are the most proactive members of the PD. Cutting positions like that would be like cutting off your nose.
- scott, Hanover

Until the horses are "glue" , Manchester Police don't need a thing. How can our Bedford resident police chief ask with a straight face for more cops while he is feeding the nags? Take those horses to Rockingham, tell them if they don't win in the forth race, they go to the glue pot. In fact, maybe our new mayor, "Blue Grass" Ted Gatsas will claim them. Since our mayor is a fan of the sport of kings, why don't we give racing horse nicknames to the aldermen. Le't see ;; Speedy Lopez, Oats O'Neil, ..
- tommy, manchester,nh

Is the Union Leader really taking this position? I couldn't agree more with Guinta and the majority of the board in hiring these new COPS. If the Police Department says they need four more officers, I say we take money from programs that are a waste of money anyways and get the chief what he needs for this budget cycle and figure out where the money can come from for the next. The police chief is the man dealing with crime every day and knows best- Sorry Union Leader and Ted Gatsas, but I trust what our police chief says we NEED over your opinion of what you THINK we need to keep Manchester safe.

I commend the mayor and the majority of the board whom I rarely agree with on this vote. May God help Manchester if this is the kid of leadership we are going to get from Ted Gatsas as mayor- besides giving us a budget with Lopez that consisted of tax hikes, he obviously isn't going to be a friend to the police department. When I voted a couple of weeks ago, I voted for the lesser of two evils, but now I'm wondering if I would have been better off writing somebody in instead. I don't think its going to be long into Gatsas' tenure before we are wishing Guinta was still running City Hall.
- Louise, Manchester

Gatsas did not have a problem with this proposal a week before the election. Either he has changed his position now tha the has won the election or he was incapable of understanding the question a week earlier.
- Bill, Manchester

I don't understand this editorial at all. Is the UL saying that every essential budget item should have an eternal budget plan attached to it? It is not like Mayor Guinta was looking to build a stable behind city hall to hold the Mayor-elect’s race horses. Guinta was looking to hire police officers, to protect our families. If the Mayor-elect can’t figure out where to cut in the budget to find room to hire people to protect our city, than perhaps we are in for a long two years. Perhaps he should ask Mike Lopez to help him, like he did when he came in with his own budget and stuck it to the taxpayers once again. Guinta proposed a tax cut this year (I think he proposed one every year) I am sure he can figure out how to save the city money while still making police a priority. He has done it for four years. As a taxpayer and father of two, I am going to miss his thinking in City Hall.
- Phil, Manchester

We don't need new officers. We need to get the cops who currently work on cushy details like school resource officers and horse mounted patrols back on the street where they belong. It's time for the alderman to start being stewards of "our" money and exercise their fiduciary responsibility. The have been beholden to the municipal unions for far too long.

There is fat to trim from every area of our city budget and I'm calling on the Union leader to publish Manchester's "line item" budget on a regular basis.
- Ron, Manchester

All you people who are against hiring more Cops need to take a walking tour of Lawrence of the North. We'll see if you come out in one piece.
- Steve, Amherst

Ted Gatsas and the UL get this 100% wrong. Police are a priority. They are really one of the few things that government should be focusing on. Gatsas came in with a tax hike this year. Guinta a tax cut. Why? Because Gatsas worked with Mike Lopez to avoid doing the tough things needed to cut taxes. Not hiring the police officers comes with the same mind-set. It says there is no place else to cut in the budget and I don't want to make my first tax cut higher than it has to be. If this is how Ted Gatsas is going to be as Mayor, than we have a long two years ahead of us. Hire the police officers and find the fat cut somewhere else. It really isn't that hard. The problem is, the Alderman have never wanted to lay anyone off or even furlough some of the non-essential city workers. Instead they rather skimp on police and still raise taxes. I for one will miss Mayor Guinta. He should have stayed as Mayor for at least one more term. 13-1 board of Democrats and a guy who cuts budget deals with Democrats. God help the taxpayers.
- Robert, Manchester

Who says the officers are going to be around next year? Maybe they hire these 4 for a short term presence on Wilson Street and don't replace any retirees etc. for a while? I see this move as a temporary exception to the hiring freeze.
- Jim, Manchester

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"Gatsas wants city budget trimmed"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader, January 2, 2010

MANCHESTER – Mayor-Elect Ted Gatsas has set a 1 1/2 percent budget cut for nearly all city departments as a preliminary target in the run-up to next year's budget talks, a scenario that has some officials talking once again about the prospect of layoffs.

Several department heads said they expect they would have to let some staff go under the budget reductions that Gatsas has asked them to explore. Fire Chief James Burkush said he imagines he would have to lay off 20 firefighters, plus several other employees. Denise van Zanten, the library director, said she would probably lose five employees.

"I have no place else to cut," she said.

Gatsas said the 1 1/2-percent target is merely a "starting point" in a budget-writing process that is expected to stretch on for several months.

"I could have said to them, 'Cut 5 percent,' or I could have said to them, 'Increase your budget by 4 percent,'" the soon-to-be mayor said. "But I think starting here gives us a pretty good idea of where we can start and where we have to build from."

Gatsas did not say whether he believes layoffs will factor into the budget he plans to propose at the end of March. He did, however, say he will be reviewing a host of possible "synergies, consolidations and efficiencies" that he hopes will help the city avoid more painful cuts.

Some of those ideas, he hinted, may be aired next Tuesday, when he delivers his inauguration speech.

Department heads are still working on the assignment Gatsas gave them shortly after the November election. The mayor-elect's directive was to examine the affects a 1 1/2-percent cut would have on each department. Gatsas said he expects the departments will also come forward with proposals to save the city money.

One part of the budget was exempt from the exercise, and it happens to be the largest piece: the school district. Gatsas said he expects Superintendent Tom Brennan to present a budget proposal to the school board by Feb. 15. He did not say what number, if any, he has in mind.

"I didn't talk to them about a 1 1/2-percent cut," Gatsas said. "I talked to them about sitting down and working out a budget together."

Several department heads would not say what a 1 1/2-percent budget cut could mean, either for their employees or for the city residents who rely on their services. One department head, Public Works Director Kevin Sheppard, said, "I don't want to release anything prematurely, because I don't think there's any need to upset employees if that doesn't need be the case."

Police Chief David Mara said the possibility exists, assuming a 1 1/2-percent cut to his department's $18.8-million budget, that he may have to keep some positions vacant. However, he said, "We don't anticipate laying anybody off."

"I can assure the public that public safety is not going to be jeopardized," he said.

The difficulty for many departments lies in the fact that payrolls continue to grow. Most city employees are in line for a 1 1/2-percent wage increase next year, which follows the 3-percent increase that, because of recent contractual negotiations, is set to take effect today.

Burkush, the fire chief, said a 1 1/2-percent budget cut would leave his department $1.8 million short of what it would need to be fully staffed.

"That's significant money," he said.

According to his calculations, 20 firefighters would have to be laid off, along with two fire inspectors, three administrative assistants, a dispatcher and a technician. Another 11 positions that are now vacant would have to remain so. Fire stations, he said, would be closed on a rolling basis.

For the Manchester Transit Authority, a 1 1/2-percent cut would not amount to much. Executive Director Evan Rosset calculates that, including federal matching funds, the agency would only be down $27,000.

"We're not talking about cutting one of our major trunk lines," he said. "But you are talking about a reduction in service."

A number of departments, including police and fire, are holding out hope that federal grants will fill some holes in their budgets. The departments are also looking for ways to hold down costs. Recently, in a bid to reduce overtime costs, the Fire Department offered to have its dispatchers experiment with a four-day workweek.

Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez said it's too early in the process to start talking about layoffs. "There's other solutions that have got to be put on the table," he said.

Gatsas said he hopes to have aldermen on board by the time he proposes a budget toward the end of March. Instead of referring to his proposal as the mayor's budget, he said, he plans to call it a "city's budget."

"This is going to be as transparent a process as you will ever see," he said.
-
READERS' COMMENTS:

I know people hate taxes but the reality is NH has the second lowest tax rate in the country with Alaska being the first. The city departments for 3 years in a row now have been level funded, however bills keep going up. There really is no place left to cut in their budgets as the city departments have been scrambling for 3 years now to find cuts. And why are things so backwards the city departments received no raised for 7 to 9 years during the 90's when the economy was good and now that its bad they're finally getting some raises. I don't know what everyone has against city services but when you need a policeman I hope he's there for you. When you need the fire dept. I hope their there for you. When you need to get your children some books for their schooling or free movies for entertainment I hope the library is there for you.
- Joanne, Manchester

To Kevin in Portsmouth, Have you been in either of the public libraries in Manchester over the past year. Guess where people go when their budgets get lean. They go to the library. Circulation at both libraries has gone up 50% in the past year. Because people cut their internet services, purchasing books, their magazine subscriptions and renting movies in tough times. The place is a zoo almost every day but yeah cut those services and then where will people go to look for a job using the library's internet. Or get movies and books for themselves and their kids. The schools library's haven't been purchasing new books for over 10 years so students go there to use the internet and use the library's materials to do their reports. And let's not forget where all the homeless people go during the day when they get thrown out of the shelters. And there is another statistic that has shot up over the past year. People being homeless. Not to mention that compared to other cities the size of Manchester in the US alot much more money in their budgets to their public library's. Of course Manchester has a reputation for their high intellect, I mean look at our school system and how serious people are about educating the next generation and the funding they get.
- Cecil, Manchester

It's amazing how many people hate the fireifghters and want them laidoff...until their house catches fire or they have a medical emergency? Also we have some of the lowest taxes in the state with the most services provided, we should not be complaining.
- Annie, Manchester

It amazes me how just about every city and town in New Hampshire points to the budget increases caused by increases in personnel salaries and benefits and says they are beyond their control because the increases are mandated by the contract. I wonder who they think negotiated the contracts.
- Brian, Farmington

Peter:

Folks just come here to grumble and vent, to spew and spite.

Don't confuse them with the facts.

It's so off-topic.
- Gary, Manchester

Good for Mayor elect Gatsas! Now is the time to downsize city government. There's nothing I know of that says a city worker is guaranteed a job for life. I've seen 3 firefighters walking around inspecting buildings when one would suffice. The other 2 aren't needed. Fire stations were closed before while firefighters were busy cooking cabbage for the chief's annual dinner. Why can't they be closed again?
It's not the Mayor's job to micromanage each department. The department heads should find a way to make do and not resort to chicken little tactics like Fire Chief Burkish is doing. Sounds like a retirement party should be in his future.
At least Chief Mara sounds like he'll make an honest attempt to work with the Mayor. How about doing away with the horse patrol on the MPD? It's very expensive to board the horses, not to mention the expense of an F350 pickup and trailer. The horse patrol can be replaced by bicycle cops.
There's still too many Highway Dept workers from what I see around town.
Good luck Mayor Gatsas!
- Bill, Manchester

Peter Sorrentino-
I have read my tax bill, it's exactly the reason for my post....the city side needs to do their share of the cuts now, but using scare tactics is ridiculous and I am tired of it! Thanks for the math lesson but I am quite capable. No need to be rude, I am not an ignorant big mouth.
- Reisdent in Manchester, Manchester

Mr. Brooks: Please learn the difference between "affect" and "effect." I'm surprised you didn't learn this before J school.
- SW, Manchester

“Resident of Manchester” might try actually reading your property tax bill. This year’s bill showed that the mayor and aldermen charged us $9.27 for city services and $5.34 for education. On last year’s bill they charged us $8.05 for city services and $5.98 for education. Let me do the math for you… 12% reduction in taxes for schools and a 15% increase in city spending.

Manchester suffers from many residents with big mouths and no clue. One day they might realize that ignorance is not bliss.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

Anyone who complains that Mayor Guinta didn't do enough for the taxpayers are really going to miss him once he's gone. There are 13 democrats on the board and a republican mayor who authored two budgets with major tax increases.

In fact, the only true tax-fighter on the board will be Phil Greazzo, the lone republican and a freshman to boot. Good luck with that.
- Ryan, Hooksett

What do people think state government should do to encourage more businesses to come to New Hampshire?

What do people think city government should do to encourage more businesses to come to Manchester? The bigger our business tax base is the better able we will be to fund schools, the library, and other essential services?
- Ken Stremsky, Manchester, NH

goffstowns garbage trucks, have one person that drives and operates it, there is an arm on the side that picks up and dumps every barrel, instead of the 3 to 4 people per truck manchester has, perhaps installing these are devices on our trucks could create efficiency
- Jack, Manchester

Bill, maybe you should do some research before posting. Guinta DID stand up to his campaign promises- The only reason we have a tax cap passed is because of Mayor Guinta. The problem why our taxes still went up most years is because of the fact that he had only two republicans and one independent on the board with him. I for one will miss Mayor Guinta's tax fighting position and hope that Gatsas has learned something from Guinta as mayor and legislate similarly.
- Nathan, Manchester

Let's all hope Gatsas can actually do it this time - Guinta made promises he never kept and caved more then he stood up to the spenders and now he wants to do the same in Congress. I am sorry to say I voted for Guinta based on his hallow words. I voted for Ted this time and hope that this vote was not misplaced. One less firefighter per station-starting at the top will not put Manchester at risk - just get it done. All the fire and police in their positions based on some politican should go as well - only way they got on the job - Every department needs to trim 5% of current positions - and still we would have no problem. Time for the taxpayer to stand up!
- Bill, Manchester

NO PAY INCREASES! Roll back the previous raises...Most private sector employees have taken drastic cuts in pay, benefits and hours. Time for the public employees to do the same.
- John, Manchester

The Manchester Fire Department produces people like Betsi Devries. Do-not-too-much lifers who bleed the taxpayers dry. I say lay off the 20 but start at the top.
- Craig, Manchester, NH

Last year it was budget cuts for the schools..really??...I don't know anyone else but my taxes went UP again with the Dec bill. Whatever cuts there were, they didn't help my bottom line. Time for the City to look at it's budgets. Funny, the other Dept heads look at ALL line items, but the largest supporters of Democrats, the Fire Fighters, and they are screaming they will have to lay off 20...can't you cut somewhere else? Burkush - this is a pathetic knee jerk reaction to a request to review your budget and attempting to hold the City hostage with threats of layoffs and less safety.
Where is the money supposed to come from?
- Resident of Manchester, Manchester

Austin in Manchester,

You, Chief Mara and former Mayor Guinta have a spending solution to every problem which reflects a lack of innovation or at the very least creative thinking.

Crime has risen significantly in Manchester. Thanks to the stimulus Mara and Guinta wanted to place additonal officers on the streets knowing full well they could not be retained in the future without a significant budget increase.

never once was the root cause of the increase in crime addressed. Never once did mara or Guinta come up with a low cost sustainable alternative like getting the citizens of Manchester involved. Citzens can patrol thier own neighborhoods to supplement police patrol; Mara could start the State's first reserve police force with part time citizen volunteers. Police officers could increase education of the public on how to prevent and how to respond to crime in progress.

Those all require thought, involvement of the community and a LOT more work than just spending your and your neighbors' money.
- Michael Layon, Derry

If firefighters are layed off in our city the first one on the list should be Chief James Burkush (heck, at his salary it could save even more jobs). This man is obviously overpaid and underqualified when his first response to trimming his budget is a bad scare tactic. Anyone making a living knows you do not assume the sky is falling when you suddenly earn less; you simply decide what you can do without. So either the fire Chief really isn't qualified or he is trying to scare the board to get his way; either outcome shows very poor leadership. Chief Mara on the other hand should be commended. He exemplifies what all dept. heads need to do. Do not worry the citizens, and especially do not worry(his officers) your employees by throwing out some bogus number of layoffs to come before you can examine the figures and find other places to cut. None of us likes to go without, but a budget reduction across the board for EVERY city dept. must be done if we will ever control spending. Gatsas gets this, and hopefully the rest of the board will too (please put aside the party politics and reduce spoending).
- Brian, Manchester

City Services are needed even in a recession but we don't need to continue with 4 people on a truck if 2 will do. Why do we have to pay to have 2 stand around a watch. Same with garbage pickup - driver + one could do the same, sure maybe it would take a little longer, but, the trash is going no where. Maybe police on call would work- probably wouldn't take any longer to get them then it does now. Fair is Fair - enough politics - lets see the Alderman put the citizens first for a change.
- Bill, Manchester

Wait...IS this the same Ted Gatsas who pushed through a $6 million budget increase on the city side last year at the expense of cutting $ 6 million on the school side...

Teddy, whats in store for the schools this year????
- JimC, Ward2 Manchester

Hey Fortin, your pal Gatsas wrote the last two budgets that increased spending and taxes. Ted is going to leave his palooka pals at Highway alone but screw over the library and police department. Cut what shouldn't be cut, but leave the fat and happy good old boys alone; that's the Gatsas way!
- Ben, Manchester

You have to love the Firefighters union here in Manchester. While everyone is downplaying the reality of layoffs - even Alderman Lopez is effectively saying "let's just wait until we see what's what" - we have Chief Burkush getting out in front of the story to run the layoff flag up the flagpole and saying something like: "OMG! we're going to have layoffs left and right". It is no wonder why more and more people are suffering from chest pain these days.

Why wasn't Alderman O'Neil quoted for this article? He is a well known friend to the firefighters in this city. One would think his considered input on Chief Burkush's remarks would be valued... unless he is running away from the Chief's remarks.
- David R, Manchester

I agree with Mr. Tarr- Someone hold the phone here. When Mayor Guinta proposed tax cuts and zero percent tax increases, the biggest obstacle Guinta ran into was Alderman Gatsas. This past year, Guinta proposed a budget without a tax increase and good ol' Gatsas comes in and was the one responsible for giving us a tax increase.

I am willing to give Mayor Gatsas a chance and let hope hes half as fiscally conservative as Mayor Guinta, but his track record so far isn't too promising.
- Steve, Manchester, NH

Austin is right. Super Dave Mara's community policing unit is totally useless.good luck trying to get ahold of a community policing officer. These officers just sleep in the PAL building all day and sceem and scam for details. Hey Super Dave how about a little bit of oversight on these employees....better yet just lay these guys off
- stavros, manchester

teddy gatsas should lay off the city employees who do not live in the city and pay taxes.
- stavros, manchester

Since federal deficit spending took off under Bush's democrat congress, then skyrocketed under the Pelosi/Reid/Obama era, local governments have no choice but to cut back. That is why freedom lovers have been calling for smaller government but NOOOooo, the sheeple keep voting for the big spenders.
- Greg Salts, Manchester

OK OK - now the threats of "compromising public safety" start. Public sector employees need to live in the real world like thhe rest of us. Stop whining and make do with less, like the rest of us.
- DP, Manchester

Why'd the city sign a contract if they didn't want to give them raises?

I suppose if the economy was great and there was a surplus in the city, everyone would be ok with giving city employees more of a raise than was in the contract. Right?

In the real world, city services still need to be provided even in a recession.
- Brian, Claremont

Maybe the city workers are just like everyone else... subject to layoffs and paycuts. What a concept! There is nothing sacred about a city job. The unions should wake up to the fact that many Manchester residents cannot afford additional taxes to fund the scheduled pay raises and bloated budgets in many city departments due to layoffs and pay reductions of their own. Welcome to the real world. Stand firm Mayor Gatsas.
- Mary, Manchester

How about a more reasonable target, such as increasing the tax base by attracting businesses to fill all the empty store fronts in the city. Mayor-elect Gatsas: what do you have to attract potential tax paying businesses and citizens? Short-staffed fire, police, public works, and libraries? Failing schools? Your cut, cut, cut goal may look good in the newspaper headlines, but ultimately damages this city. Look at the Big Picture. Bolster your city departments; do not choke them.
- Kathy, Manchester

it's about time that department heads react with their brain rather than their mouth when asked to reduce expenses. and if the only thing they can think of for an answer is reduced personnel then let them be the first out the door. maybe they should get a job in private industry and learn about the real world.
- Robert, manchester

1 1/2% budget cut will equal about 20 firefighters + other department staff laid off? Interesting. One may want to look at the salaries of the public librarians and assistants, that is where a lot of wasted money always goes...
- Kevin, Portsmouth, NH

In the real world folks either have been laid off - unemployed or went with NO RAISE this past year. Why is that different for City workers, certainly not because they make less then the rest of us. 3% increase as of today, some folks would be happy with a job, or a 1% increase. Seems he is simply asking for half the raise back-sounds fair to me, but, as we know politics is not fair it is all about power and the ability to walk all over residents - just like congress!!
- Bill, Manchester

Nice bit of whining, Jeff. At least Gatsas is going to make an effort to get something done. What are you doing besides complaining?
- Bob V, Manchester

Break a Leg Ted you are almost totally surrounded by big spending goofballs who were against the Tax Cap, that should be a message for you that this gaggle big bucks spenders will see that all their buddies will keep their buddies good or bad. Bonne chance mon Ami.
- Richard L. Fortin, Manchester

Blame greedy city unions for demanding raises when private workers are getting laid off. The only way to keep jobs is to give back raises, but union bosses have seniority so that won't happen.
- Ray, Manchester

Mara says public safety won't be hurt? It's worse every day. Violent crime keeps going up. In just last week, a robbery-assault, purse snatches, two stabbings. We need more real patrol cops. The Wilson Street cops worked but we hear the Obama money is running out. Gatsas needs to force Mara to transfer kinda cops to be real cops on patrol.
- Austin, Manchester

Fire Chief Burkush says a 1½% cut would mean having to lay off 20 firefighters plus several other employees?? Even someone with basic math skills could see that doesn't remotely make sense.

We're at the beginning of the budget season again - time for the scare tactics to be pulled out AGAIN. This is what happens every year - any talk of any cut and we're told the sky is falling, the sky is falling.
- Ben, Manchester

If the cuts are not made, and the budget not trimmed, and the city has another tax increase; I can't afford to pay my property taxes now, what will I do? I'm not alone, all over the city home owners are broke, many have lost jobs, or are working at jobs that only pay 1/3 of what the former job paid. Check out the UL page of foreclosures. More and more people losing their homes, more unemployment.
- tommy, manchester,nh

Oh thank you Ted! You and your buddy Lopez were the frauds that caused the last budget increase and now you want a reduction. What a phony.
It won't be long until the cops and firemen and the rest of the hogs at the trough start with the "terrorist" tactic of scaring all of us over services. These folks make Al-Qaeda look like pikers.
- Mike Bodruk, Manchester

Like the Alderman elect will let that happen. Lets see over 90% Tax and spend Democrat. Even the Tax cap will be over ridden with the group of taxes the people of Manchester elected. The Mayor sets president the Board makes the rules. Gatas is nothing But a Deciding Vote. With only one Republican on the Board and Gatas with the voting record of a RINO. I don't see this Happening.

The people of the city wanted Change But elected a Democrat Board once again. They seem to think the Mayor's party is the control party. Look forward to another 2 years of the city keeping our change.
- Jeff, Manchester

Hold the phone, stop the press! When former Mayor Guinta stated such things, city departments, unions and even the teachers went crazy with anger. So how is our new Mayor Ted Gatsas going to ever get anything approved with the board having 13 Democrats? (many opposed to the spending cap) They also are the ones who approved raises for their city employee friends? Has he forgotten already that the aldermen can veto his budget with a 2/3 majority and by the looks of current levels, they have the majority to override anything he suggest. Guess his 1 1/2 cut to the budget is nothing more than words on a piece of paper. Good luck Mayor Gatsas, in 2010 and 2011, your going to need more than that just to get anything done that benefits the citizens of Manchester.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"Gatsas sets fast schedule for budgets"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, January 6, 2010

MANCHESTER – Aldermen and school board members yesterday discovered just how fast-paced the process of writing a new city budget will be under a Gatsas administration.

Mayor Ted Gatsas, fresh from his inauguration, revealed plans for weekly budget meetings over the next three months, culminating March 31 with the presentation -- and, Gatsas hopes, approval -- of a city budget proposal.

The mayor's staff handed out copies of the timeline at the two boards' organizational meetings. In the first of those meetings, the school board elected longtime Committeeman Dave Gelinas to be its new vice chairman. In the second, the aldermen picked Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez for a third term as board chairman.

Both votes were unanimous.

"I want to thank my colleagues," Lopez said afterward. "I assure you that I take my job very seriously and try to coordinate with the entire board."

Members of each board also learned what their committee assignments would be in the new two-year term. Among the aldermen, there was an across-the-board shuffling of chairmanships, with:

Jim Roy chairing Public Safety, Health and Traffic, Betsi DeVries chairing Bills on Second Reading, Bill Shea chairing Human Resources and Insurance, Russ Ouellette chairing Accounts, Enrollment and Revenue Administration, Dan O'Neil chairing Community Improvement, Ed Osborne chairing Lands and Buildings, and Mike Lopez chairing Administration and Information Systems.

Gatsas left most of last year's school board subcommittee chairmen in place, with a few exceptions. Gelinas will be chairman of Coordination and Mike DeBlasi will chair Student Conduct. John Avard lost his position as chairman of the Finance Committee, which the mayor has reimagined as a "committee of the whole," with himself as chairman.

Gatsas, meanwhile, announced that aldermanic committee meetings will now be subject to a fixed schedule, with each committee convening on a particular day of the month.

The mayor's budget timeline calls for 11 aldermanic meetings over the next three months. The first meeting will be held next Wednesday.

"I welcome the opportunity to start early," Alderman Roy said, "because this is going to be tougher than the last two years, which were extremely tough in and of themselves."

The two men picked for leadership positions, Lopez and Gelinas, share a common background. Both are Democrats with long histories in city politics.

Conservative members of the school board said it had long been clear to them that Gelinas had the vice chairmanship sewn up. One Republican member, John Avard, said he was glad to see the vote for Gelinas was unanimous.

"I think that speaks to the cooperation on the board, and I think that's very important," he said.

Donna Soucy, the Democratic committeeman who nominated Gelinas for the post, said Gelinas has long served with "great dignity and respect.

"Dave will bring a great deal of confidence and intellect and certainly a bipartisan spirit to this job," she said, "and I believe he will be a great leader for the board in the coming two years."
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Great. Gatsas names old hacks to chair all of the committees but stiffs new faces like Phil Greazzo and Patrick Arnold. More of the same old politics as usual from the good old boys.
- Ben, Manchester

Three months is a fast schedule? That's a quarter of a year.
- John, Manchester

Referring to the photo of Mayor Gatsas at the podium. You would think that someone in government, by now, would know how to display the American Flag correctly. When the American Flag is displayed with other flags, it is ALWAYS on the left when facing the flag. If it is among other flags, it is always higher than the rest.
- RayT, Barrington

i think its great that they will be finalizing the budget eary in case there does need to be lay offs or pink slips to school employees.

i have one suggestion however. why don't they do the school budget first instead of it being the last one presented. in the past the city side gets adequately funded and then when it gets time to do the school side they in effect say this is all the money we have left for the school side. and once that happens its the school side that gets short changed. never the city side.
- bill, manchester

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"NH city asks to exempt immigrant kids from tests"
Boston.com - AP - January 12, 2010

MANCHESTER, N.H. --Manchester school officials are asking for permission to exempt newly enrolled immigrant and refugee students from standardized tests that help determine whether schools meet federal standards.

Superintendent Tom Brennan and Mayor Ted Gatsas have asked the state Department of Education to give Manchester students learning English as a second language a waiver from a standardized test during their first two years in the district.

Brennan calls it a matter of fairness, both for the student and the district.

The New Hampshire Union Leader says they're also asking that "unschooled" immigrants and refugees be exempted from the test for an additional three years.

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"Gatsas' first cuts: Departments get started"
The New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester), Editorial, January 16, 2010

One week after Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas was inaugurated, the heads of five city departments laid out plans for trimming their budgets.

Gatsas ordered proposals for a 1.5 percent across-the-board cut, and four of the department heads did that. The other, Human Resources Director Jane Gile, offered a 3.3 percent cut.

That is, simply, stunning.

It is stunning that Gatsas has been able to get five department heads to trim their budgets with no public objection -- and in just his first week on the payroll. (We would say "on the job," but Gatsas has been working with city staff to find budget cuts since his election last November.)

These cuts came with none of the usual screams of bloody murder from department heads or union officials. Only one of the five department heads proposed a single layoff -- a part-time employee in the Office of Youth Services.

Gatsas called his ordered 1.5 percent cut a "starting point" for the budget, and it's an appropriate one. His approach also is appropriate and, so far, encouraging. More painful cuts might be coming, but for now it is good to see that the new mayor has been able to trim some spending amicably and cooperatively.
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READERS' COMMENTS:

Great place to start cuts is the Mayor's office that Guinta loaded up with hacks and do nothings.
- Leon, Manchester

Well then Mr. Tarr what say we get Aldermen voted in who will work with the Mayor and the people who agree with him. Personally, I see the trend arising by 'We the people' of voting in sensible politicians and less foolish 'personal gain' individuals. Remember... they all work for us!
- Tom T, Manchester, NH

This reader hates to wake up those who are dreaming of this becoming something more, however we all must remember the city charter gives the Aldermen veto power over the Mayor. As we have seen when former Mayor Frank Guinta purposed a zero tax increase and other cuts the aldermen snickered and laughed and then passed their own budget, not once but twice. And it increased taxes twice as well. So before we think all is rosey in City Hall, review the city charter and think again.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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"Tight budgets have nonprofits on edge"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, February 7, 2010

NINE THOUSAND dollars isn't a lot of money for a city as big as Manchester. To Richard Doran, though, it's a veritable budget-buster.

Doran runs a local nonprofit agency called the New Hampshire Minority Health Coalition, one of dozens of charitable organizations in the area that look to the city every year for thousands of dollars in grants.

This year, the city is clamming up. Mayor Ted Gatsas has recommended holding back a big chunk of the city's usual contributions to nonprofits, leaving Doran to contemplate a possible $9,000 hole in his budget.

"That's going to hurt us bad," Doran said.

The reasons behind the mayor's recommendation are part financial, part philosophical. Financially, of course, the city isn't as flush as it used to be, which is one reason why Gatsas' predecessor, Mayor Frank Guinta, decided a year ago the city would not be using local tax dollars to prop up area nonprofits.

More than that, though, Gatsas said he does not think it's the city's job to finance nonprofit agencies. It's just not what city homeowners pay taxes for, he said.

"I certainly believe the taxpayers of this community have the opportunity -- if they want to make contributions to nonprofits, they can do that," Gatsas said.

The city does still get buckets of grant money from Concord and Washington, which is one reason why even after Guinta cut off the pipeline supplying nonprofits with city tax dollars, the agencies did not have to go without. The other reason, according to the city's community improvement manager, Sam Maranto, is the city was able to tap into other accounts, like the city arts fund.

For a year, at least, the nonprofits were spared.

What's happened, though, is those other accounts have dried up. And though the supply of state and federal dollars hasn't fallen off, according to Maranto, the mayor has recommended the city keep more of that money for itself, rather than dole it out to nonprofits.

"The mayor's key consideration here was, 'I want to put a budget together that has minimal impact on the tax rate,'" Maranto said.

More than 20 local agencies would receive less money under the mayor's proposal than they did last year. That list includes the American Red Cross, the Boys and Girls Club, Child Health Services and New Hampshire Legal Assistance. A few agencies, such as the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center, would receive no money at all.

Dick Dunfey, who heads the Manchester Housing and Redevelopment Authority, was caught off guard last week when told Gatsas' proposal provides nothing for the agency's after-school tutoring and recreation programs. For years, the city has been supporting the programs with an annual contribution of $60,000.

"I certainly never contemplated going from 60 to zero," Dunfey said. He said the cut would "put the program in jeopardy, no doubt about it."

Doran's agency, the New Hampshire Minority Health Coalition, is slated to get $10,000 this year, compared with $19,000 in each of the past two years. The money helps pay for the agency's team of outreach workers who teach pregnant women -- most of them immigrants and refugees -- how to care for their child.

"Everybody's cutting right now. Cutting us," Doran said. "And the problem I'm having is, every time we think we're adjusting to what's been done, somebody else is cutting us."

Gatsas said he worked on his recommendations with Aldermen At-Large Mike Lopez and Dan O'Neil. None of the numbers will become final until the aldermen vote on them.

PERMISSION TO SPEAK FREELY: They asked for his opinion, and Tom Bowen gave it.

Bowen, the city's Water Works director, had two suggestions for the Task Force on Efficiencies and Consolidations.

Suggestion 1: Eliminate term limits for city commissioners.

Suggestion 2: Eliminate the city's new policy requiring department heads to live in Manchester.

"The residency requirement for Department Heads is not efficient," Bowen wrote in his response to a survey the task force sent out. "It has the potential to discourage highly qualified candidates from applying due to the financial burden particularly in the current housing market."

Aldermen approved the residency requirement last fall, largely at Gatsas' urging. Bowen, for the record, lives in Manchester.

CLOSE ENCOUNTER: Gatsas spent about three minutes in the company of President Obama last week.

The mayor was one of a handful of local and state officials who greeted Obama at the airport Tuesday, before the President made his way to Nashua. An Associated Press photographer snapped a photo of the two of them, shaking hands. Gatsas, wearing a beige trench coat, is smiling. The President is blinking.

Gatsas said he "jokingly" told the President he has asked Sen. Jeanne Shaheen "about getting money for some projects in Manchester."

He strained to remember Obama's response. "I think he said, 'Thank you very much,'" Gatsas said. All he remembers after that is the Secret Service grabbing Obama by the arm and leading him away.

NO JOKE: In case it wasn't clear, city Finance Officer Bill Sanders was most certainly not kidding when he suggested selling City Hall and moving to a vacant box store, like the former Circuit City on South Willow Street.

"I was perfectly serious," Sanders said.

Sanders wasn't saying the city should go ahead and put up a "For Sale" sign. Mainly, he said, he was trying to make a point, which was that the current City Hall complex makes it difficult for departments to work together.

Departments that ought to be side by side, he said, are instead far apart. Others aren't even in the building. Information Systems, for instance, is in the basement of the Merrimack Street fire station.

Sanders was serious enough about the idea that he told the Task Force on Efficiencies and Consolidations he believes the complex would generate more than enough money in a sale to cover the cost of a box store.

We checked with City Assessor David Cornell. City Hall, according to his records, is worth $3.3 million. The annex is worth an additional $2.4 million.

"I didn't know you got your real estate license," Alderman At-Large O'Neil told Sanders in the aldermanic chamber Wednesday night. The finance officer smiled bashfully.

"I've got a showing tomorrow," he said.
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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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Scott Brooks' City Hall: What are a few more bucks among friends?
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, March 28, 2010

The average homeowner in Manchester paid $4,239 in property taxes last year.

Is it too much to ask for a few bucks more?

Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez doesn't think so, as long as "a few" really means "a few." Eight dollars, maybe. Twenty, perhaps.

"Is there something wrong with that? No," Lopez said late last week, as he and other board members were helping Mayor Ted Gatsas put the finishing touches on this year's city budget proposal.

Lopez might not feel the same way if he thought taxpayers would be getting less for their money. Both he and Gatsas, though, say they won't.

"Services are not going to change in this city," the mayor said in an interview.

Gatsas will have plenty more to say tomorrow night, when he rolls out a fiscal 2011 budget proposal. The unveiling is slated for 7 p.m. at City Hall.

Those who have noticed the aldermen's tendency in recent weeks to vote on things right away, sans public input, can rest assured. A public hearing has been scheduled for April 7, also at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

The consensus among most of the aldermen we've spoken with has been that the budget will call for the smallest of tax increases, if it calls for one at all. At most, they said, the tax rate might jump 1 percent.

A few said they think a tax cut is possible, though Lopez, the board chairman, said that's unlikely.

Gatsas would only say the budget will not produce anything so large as last year's 2.9 percent tax increase, which cost the median homeowner about $118.

"It will be much less than that," the mayor said.

THE MAYOR'S proposal doesn't call for layoffs, but several departments are expecting to keep some positions vacant.

Public Works Director Kevin Sheppard said he is planning to maintain between 5 and 10 vacancies over the course of the year.

For the Police Department, the number of vacancies has been pegged at five. For the Fire Department, the number is seven.

Meanwhile, Human Resources Director Jane Gile said her department would still be short one key position: a chief negotiator to handle labor contracts and grievances. Gile has essentially been handling those responsibilities herself for the last two years, since the last guy to fill that position, Dave Hodgen, retired.

"Oh yeah. I'm feeling it," Gile said.

A COUPLE years ago, when the city slashed its marketing budget by two-thirds, we described what was left like this: It was enough to buy a Honda Civic, but not enough to get the model with the moon roof and alloy wheels.

Those days are looking pretty good now. Pretty soon, there might not be enough to buy a Segway.

The mayor's "working" budget proposal, distributed to the aldermen last week, cuts the marketing budget by 70 percent, leaving the Economic Development Office with just $5,700 to spend on ads and other efforts to promote the city.

"Everybody would like more resources," Economic Development Director Jay Minkarah said. "We understand the budget constraints we are operating under, and we're going to do our best to make it work."

Minkarah said his office will be buying fewer print advertisements and focusing more on Manchester's Web presence, especially on free social-networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.

His staff will be going to fewer trade shows, too. "We'll be staying closer to home," he said.

It could be worse for Minkarah. One alderman, Jim Roy, has made it clear he would prefer to eliminate the Economic Development Office altogether.

"We spend a lot of money on that department," Roy said last week, "and I don't see that we're getting any return."

YET ANOTHER contract sailed through the aldermanic chambers last week. As with the others, it was approved immediately, without public input or competition.

The contract is for a program providing city workers with substance-abuse counseling and crisis-intervention services. The city was providing those services in house, but officials recently learned the program director, Tom Jordan, and a counselor, Judy Cooper, were planning to retire over the next few months.

Now, because of the contract, Jordan and Cooper can retire, but they'll continue working for the city as consultants.

"Let me get this straight," Roy said. "The city employees are going to retire, they're going to get their pensions, and they're going to do the same job they were doing before they retired. That's correct?"

That's correct, he was told.

Alderman At-Large Dan O'Neil, who championed the deal, estimated the contract would save the city about $112,000.

O'Neil said he was concerned about losing Jordan and Cooper, who have 38 years of service to the city between them.

"I do not believe we have time to attempt to hire replacements for Tom or Judy," O'Neil wrote in a letter to the board, "nor do I think there is a great pool of EAP/Substance Abuse talent to draw from."

SCHOOL BOARD member John Avard said he's letting bygones be bygones after Gatsas exploded at him during a board meeting last Monday.

"I don't want to dwell on that," Avard said.

Avard said he suspects he "struck a raw nerve" when he told the mayor he didn't want West Side students to be "guinea pigs" for Gatsas' K-8 school plan. Gatsas responded angrily, saying, "You want to make that statement, you make that statement on your own time, not in this chamber."

"I don't think it was personal on his part. It certainly wasn't personal on my part," Avard said.

"Sometimes," he added, "you just have a bad day, I guess."

A SMALL but fierce campaign is under way to promote former Parks Director Chuck DePrima for the newly created position of city parks chief.

DePrima's fiancee, Samantha Appleton, director of marketing at Intown Manchester, has launched a Facebook page called "Support Chuck DePrima for Parks Division Head in Manchester." She created the page shortly after the aldermen voted to merge the Parks and Highway departments and eliminate DePrima's job.

The page says DePrima "has suffered needless and unfounded humiliation throughout this ordeal." It had 28 members, as of late Thursday.
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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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Scott Brooks has been covering Manchester politics since 2007. His column can be found every week in the New Hampshire Sunday News.
E-mail Scott Brooks at sbrooks@unionleader.com

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READERS' COMMENTS:

The city would be lucky to have Chuck DePrima take the new job as chief of parks & rec. I have known Chuck for 15 years as a co-worker, a friend, and as a department head. He is professional and has found a way to do more with less for several years now. While a member of both the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board for several years, I always found Chuck to work tirelessly and represent the city's interests as if they were his own.
- Todd D. Connors, Manchester, NH

Jim Roy needs to keep his mouth shut. that dept does a wonderful job. Isn't Alderman Jim Roy “Captain Corn Beef and Cabbage” of the fire dept?
- ricky, manchester

Jim Roy's comments are absurd. The economic development office is the only City Department that can grow the tax base and help facilitate new development and job creation.
- John, Manchester, NH

Dan,

Do you have any children of your own? If so, I would expect that you understand that pre-teens and teenagers generally wear what they choose to express themselves. I didn't make my children (ages 15, 15, 13, 13 and 10) wear the shirts. They chose to wear the shirts as an example of their right to freedom of expression. They, too, are declaring that they are not to be treated as guinea pigs. It's interesting to note, that one of the 15 year olds did not wear the shirt. The others chose to wear them on Wed. after being cornered all day Tues. about the UL article.

As far as throwing them into politics, that is being handled nicely by their fellow students, teachers, school administrators and others who regularly question them about the ongoings of the school board, or complain to them about decisions and rumors. They are further directly involved in the politics of this city, as are all the children of Manchester, who must deal with the results of our actions in government, for the good and for the bad.

I am certainly glad that you follow the ongoings of the school board closely enough to know of the causes I've championed, but you have failed to report the ones that involve the tightening of our curriculum, the inclusion of student representation, the levelling of courses at all grade levels, the restructuring to the weighted grade system, the opposition to the controversial changes to the grading and scaling system, the creation of the Coffee With the School Board program, as well as the Facebook forum "Ask the School Board", to gain input from students, teachers and parents, and much more. I agree with you, Dan, the items you chose to mention are small change and we have much more work to do.

Regarding the committee assignments, which has been brought up a few times, please rest assured that I support Mayor Gatsas, I believe that he is doing a good job as mayor and I harbor no ill will towards him for any reason. My opposition to the plan in question is about defending the students of the West Side and speaking up for my constituents, not about personalities.

If you would like to contact me further about your concerns, please do not hesitate to do so directly. I look forward to hearing more.

John Avard
BOSC Ward 10
- John Avard, Manchester

Message to citizens: If Mike Lopez doesn't think it is a big deal to raise the taxes by 1%, then send Lopez the bill for the additional 1% and let him pay it for you. If an elected official doesn't think it is a big deal, then they should personally pay the bill for all the taxpayers. After all, it really isn't a big deal...right?
What a horrible statement to make when it comes to the citizens of Manchester at a time of economic turmoil.
So, Lopez I ask that you pay my $8 - $20. Thanks, I appreciate it. My bill will be forwarded to you.
- Mike, Manchester

In my opinion there is a lot of poor decision making going on.

Once some one retires they shouldn't be allowed to work for the city as consultants, instead hire some one who needs the job.

Raising taxes by $20 is unacceptable after you all received a 2.9 increase last year.

We need to cut cost by doing away with unneeded services, or service that benefit small amounts of the community.

There are ways to cut the budget but no one wants to cut it, all these repairs that we need now should of been taken care of when we had the money.

Now that we don't have the money, we need to make cuts to the budget so we can make repairs, if we don't make repairs it will cost the tax payers more in the long run.

My question still is when are the aldermen going to give up their health benefits they receive from the city. It is unheard of, giving benefits to part time employees. Going to one or two meetings a week is part time and should not receive payed health benefits.
- james, Manchester

Alderman Lopez, there is something wrong with property taxes going up $8 to $20 per year. When will our property taxes start going down? Manchester is trying to be all things to all people - even in this depression. It can't afford to do that. It can't afford to be the state's welfare dumping ground. It can't be the state's preeminent Refugee Center - just because Manchester has public busses. Other communities need to shoulder a greater share of this burden.

Unlike President Obama and the federal government, Manchester cannot print more money in order to lower taxes. The city has "needs" and "wants". Right now the residents of the city can barely afford the "needs". There are more residents in the city than ever, earning fewer dollars than ever. To use a mortgage industry term, Manchester's property tax base might as well be upside-down.

Community Improvement Program ("wants"): Mr. Lopez, we can't afford right now to spend $500,000 on your beloved MCTV, or even MCAM for that matter. Make them (or the combined 'it') come before CIP, just like every other outside agency and charity asking for a handout. While we're on the subject of outside agencies and charities, why does Manchester charge outrageously high fees and expensive police details for fund raising events like bingo and Texas Hold'em? Outside agencies and charities wouldn't have to ask the city for as much money as they do from CIP if they were able to keep the lion's share of the money that they raise from such events. These agencies and charities end up holding their events at the seacoast and other small NH towns that have low permit fees and requirements - then they race back to ManchVegas asking for a CIP handout. It's almost like Manchester's Aldermen would rather its residents buy lottery tickets than to support local charities and keep the money in the community. Let the agencies and charities fundraise in Manchester and keep their fundraising monies.

Economic depression, unaffordable social services, city roads and buildings in need of repair, a declining tax base, punitive rules and fees - and Alderman Lopez you see nothing wrong with another $8 here and $20 there? The residents of Manchester can not afford your line of thinking.
- David R, Manchester

We ought to put more money into the Economic Development Office, not eliminate it. We should be going to trade shows all over the country recruiting businesses to our city, not staying local. Alderman Jim Roy has it all wrong if he wants to eliminate that office. Just look at all the new restaurants that have opened downtown, even in a down economy. Alderman Roy just lost my vote.
- Matt G., Manchester, NH

Where could you get more entertainment for your money than paying $70,000 to 14 aldermen for all the laughs and thrills that they can give us, it's better and bigger than Barnum and Baileys Greatest Show on Earth circus and his some wilder shows that only Siegfried and Roy can let us watch.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

A great example of everything wrong with municipal employment, government; two employees retire, get pensions which almost no one in the community will ever receive, and then they get to keep working as consultants. I guess the 20% unemployment isn't enough to maybe, just maybe, find someone or some two who can do the job, and need a job so their house is not foreclosed. But ... what was I thinking..
- tommy, manch nh

I agree and support Dr.Avard sometimes tough things need to be said, sorry that he is passionate? Sorry that he has the heart to stand up for the West side? Todays politicians are mostly cowards that are herded into their partisan stables. "Sorry No Go Along to Get Along Here"...
- Ernesto, Manchester

Manchester's primary problem is an influx of undesirables up from Lawrence and Lowell.

Why? Because even Taxachusetts slashed their welfare from five years to two, realizing that it had turned from a safety net into a hammock.

Ours is still five. We pay for drug dealers to come up to Manchester, live for free for five years, and expand their drug trade. We pay for layabouts to come up here and lay around for five years, drinking and breaking bottles and starting fires, standing on streetcorners with their hoodies over their hats scowling at motorists, and getting into fights.

And that's why Manchester is going downhill. Cut welfare, and they will no longer come.
- David Goss, Manchester

Avard had his elementary school children, not just one, wear "no guinea pigs" t-shirts to school. How many bad decisions can be represented in one action? Using and involving your children in your personal and political problems? Grow up, John. Get over yourself. The wonderful people on the West Side deserve someone better, someone less vindictive (wasn't appointed as school board finance committee chairman by Gatsas) and someone with a deeper and broader understanding of the true issues facing our schools and community in Manchester. He's proud to champion new school board rules regarding videos, postal stamp usage and now a side business in rodent t-shirt sales. John, these are small change and mostly petty efforts. You're taking the low road. Gatsas should have handled himself better, without question. But so should have you. Time to grow up. If you really think the students on the West Side, or anywhere in Manchester for that matter, are being treated inappropriately, then it's great to advocate for them. However, I think you need to ask yourself what are your real interests for being on the school board. A man who so carelessly and irresponsibly throws his juvenile children into city politics creates instant and great doubt in my mind that he has the capacity be a thoughtful, effective and productive leader in this city.
- Dan, Manchester

This column shows how out of touch long-time aldermen like Gatsas, Lopez and O'Neil are. They tell us we ought to be happy with "little" tax increases, but how much have taxes and fees gone up in the last 10 years? Not so little! And "I give anything to city workers" O'Neil's push for double-dipping generous pensions with cushy salaries for the same job is a crime. And crime went up when they showered our tax dollars on Mara's lame Bedford lawyer ideas, but nobody will tell him to fight crime instead of watching it. Nobody listens.
- Becca, Manchester

So that's why we gave city workers raises when the rest of us are hurting so bad. Roche bullied Gile. We need a pro!
- Ray, Manchester

There is a difference between not dwelling on the inappropriate reaction by the Mayor and continuing to stand up for the West side. Sounds to me like Avard would rather focus on the issues than on the personalities.
- Westsider, Manchester

If Avard doesnt want to dwell.... why did his kid wear a "no guinea pigs" shirt to school?
- hmmmm, Manchesta

Ridiculous....Why don't we eliminate the alderman's pay. We spend a lot of money on them and I don't see that we're getting any return. How about that Mr. Roy?
- Brian D, Manchester,NH

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Scott Brooks' City Hall: "Saving up for a rainy day, even when it's already pouring"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, April 3, 2010

A big story got buried last week, one that according to Mayor Ted Gatsas was way more important than any itty-bitty tax increase.

The story was that the city is planning to put $500,000 into its "rainy day" account. Gatsas the mayor didn't bother to mention this in his budget address Monday, but Theodore L. Gatsas, staff writer, would have played it big.

"It should have been in the first sentence," he said.

What makes it such a big deal, Gatsas says, is that few other U.S. cities are doing well enough in this wretched economy to tuck away cash for later.

Manchester is doing that well, the mayor says, and he suspects the credit-rating agencies will make good note of it.

"Bond counsel was thrilled to death that we were doing it," Gatsas said.

The fact that Manchester has $500,000 to stow away has a lot to do with the department heads' ability to manage their budgets. Fourteen city departments are projected to finish the year under budget. (We'll get back to that.)

Put it all together, and the city is on track to close out fiscal 2010 with a $1.7 million surplus, plus another $800,000, give or take, in other savings.

It's been a long time since the city had any money to put into the rainy-day fund. In the last two years, the aldermen have drained close to $5 million out of the account, leaving behind just a little more than $6.5 million.

Compared to what they've taken, the amount they plan to put back is small, to say the least. Gatsas, though, says he thinks the rating agencies will view the infusion so favorably that they'll raise the city's bond rating, now an already healthy AA.

City officials care a great deal about this sort of thing. A high rating gives the city a lot of latitude when it sets out to finance multi-million-dollar projects or make large purchases.

Guy Beloin, the city's assistant director of accounting and reporting, thinks Gatsas might be right when he says that by bolstering its rainy-day fund, the city can expect a higher bond rating.

"I would think so, especially in these times when it usually goes the other way around," he said.

SOME OF the thanks for Manchester's projected surplus has to go to Mother Nature.

The Highway Department got a break this winter. Fingers crossed, it should end up with $250,000 left in its snow-removal budget, according to Public Works director Kevin Sheppard.

It isn't just the snow totals that fell short of expectations. Oddly enough, trash volumes are down 3 to 5 percent, saving the city a fortune on garbage pickup and disposal.

Sheppard has a theory about that.

"It's definitely a reflection of the economy," he said. "People aren't replacing items."

The fire department deserves a bunch of the credit for this year's surplus, as well. For one thing, it pulled in a federal grant that promises to reimburse the city for at least $450,000 worth of new breathing apparatus.

For another, it has managed to under-spend its budget by a projected $267,000. This was in part because fuel costs came in lower than expected, but also, according to Chief James Burkush, because the department did an admirable job reducing overtime.

"We've had a good year," Burkush said.

ALDERMAN Ed Osborne was grinning Monday night when he got a look at the projected tax increase in Gatsas' budget.

"I was right," Osborne said.

Osborne predicted in February the city was headed for a small tax increase, somewhere between zero and 1 percent. The mayor's proposal called for a tax increase of .39 percent.

WELFARE COMMISSIONER Paul Martineau has gone on record criticizing former Mayor Frank Guinta before, but never as harshly as he did in an interview last week.

"I told somebody, I said, 'Hey, you know what? Gatsas in three months has done more than Guinta did in four years,'" Martineau told us.

The question had nothing to do with Guinta. In fact, we had just finished asking Martineau about Gatsas' budget proposal, which cuts $17,000 from the Welfare Department, and were getting ready to hang up when he started talking about the former mayor.

He contrasted Gatsas' proposal -- a realistic, responsible budget, according to Martineau -- with the ones Guinta proposed during his four-year tenure in the corner office. In four years, Guinta never proposed a tax increase.

In three of those years, the aldermen ended up raising taxes.

"Frank would let the aldermen hang," Martineau said. "He would throw it to the aldermen: 'Well, if there's a tax increase, it's their fault.' He wasn't realistic."

Martineau is a Democrat. He clashed with Guinta -- who like Gatsas, is a Republican -- last year, accusing the mayor of trying to cut the welfare budget without consulting him.

MANCHESTER Water Works is removing all traces of former city Water Commissioner Thomas Tessier, a few weeks after Tessier was sentenced to federal prison for bilking a client out of $2.3 million.

Director Tom Bowen recently had a staffer remove a photo of Tessier from a wall in the department's Lincoln Street offices. Bowen also asked someone to go to the water-treatment plant on Lake Shore Road and take down a plaque honoring Tessier.

"Tom pleaded guilty to a felony," Bowen said, "and we just didn't feel that it was appropriate to have the dedication up there."

GATSAS will declare April 16 to be Foursquare Day in the city of Manchester.

What's Foursquare? It's a Web site and phone app that lets people know where you like to spend your time. Sean Owen, president of the local marketing firm wedu, says it's a good way to promote local businesses.

Owen co-chaired Gatsas' mayoral campaign last year. The declaration was his idea.

THREE THOUSAND five hundred and four children in Manchester received a personally signed letter last month from the mayor congratulating them on making the honor roll.

And when we say personally signed, we mean personally signed. Gatsas' assistant, Carrie Perry, tells us it took the mayor several days to jot his signature on every one of those letters.

Read Scott Brooks' coverage of Manchester City Hall during the week in the New Hampshire Union Leader. E-mail him at sbrooks@unionleader.com
Scott Brooks has been covering Manchester politics since 2007. His column can be found every week in the New Hampshire Sunday News.


READERS' COMMENTS:

Nice job Mayor Gatsas and Chief Burkush! Kudos to the 14 department heads.

And thanks to the mid-Atlantic States for taking all our snow.

Martineaus criticism of Guinta is unfair. Just because Welfare and the Democrat Aldermen didn't like Guintas cuts doesn't make them irresponsible. Some of those Aldermen earned the moniker tax and spenders and deserve to be put out on their keisters.

The more appropriate response to Tessier's conviction is not to 'remove all traces' of his tenure. It's to remount his pictures & plaques over the primary clarifier at the sewer treament plant, or in the dirtiest, nastiest closet you can find, as a reminder to future fraudsters.

Good job to 3504 kids on honor roll!
- Jim, Manchester, Ward 9

People like Mindy and Mara praise Mara's kinda cops' "feel good" services, like answering their cell phones once in a while. But crime is UP because Mara wastes money on them. Keep up the GREAT work, patrol. We know who the real cops are. No one listens and Mara and Mindys fight us, but we got your back.
- Jon, Manchester

KUDOS! should go to the Highway Department for negotiating the fuel contracts for the City, which helped the Fire department save money in that respect.
Lets give credit where credit is due.
- Leslie, Manchester

Dear ray,

The Community police unit of the mpd is very important and they will NOT be going away any time soon. these guys are the elite officers of the mpd. I encourage you to go to a cp meeting or call them on their cell phones. If you have a problem these guy solve it asap. I would also suggest that you watch "ask the chief" tv show on ch 23. you can call the chief and ask him question on live tv. The chief actually got an award for his tv show. it is very informative.
- mindy, manchester

Schools, Fire, Highway all used our tax dollars well, but Police keep flushing tax dollars down the drain as crime goes UP. Will Gatsas step up and un-do the Guinta/Mara kinda cops "plan"? Transfer kinda cops back to patrol where they were. Twice last week cops in cruisers arrested guys, a tagger and a robber. Cops in cruisers catch criminals!
- Ray, Manchester

Nice to see an elected official tell it like it is. Yes, Martineau is a Dem, but he praises Gatsas, a Rep. His criticism of Guinta is just a fact known by hundreds in Manchester. Gatsas may be gruff, but Guinta was all bluff and no stuff.
- Ray, Manchester

Hey Robert
Honor roll means all A or B grades.

Those grades are supposed to be for above average work. So it seems to me that the number is about right.

Unless Manchester has become Lake Woebegone?
- Rich, Manchester

Well to the comment for those who reached the honor roll, nice job! Now on to the fact of the matter that 14,000 other children didn't make it. Guess that means we need to look at the way Mancheter teaches and work to get more children, young men and women on the honor rolls. Some may thing this isn't a big deal but to a student who has worked really hard to maintain grades to be on there, it is. So again, congrats to all those who made it, and hopefully we can see more on it as the school years come and go.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester

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Scott Brooks' City Hall: "Democrats already shining a light on Gatsas"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, April 11, 2010

THE DEMOCRATS have descended on City Hall.

Former state Rep. Mike Brunelle was there Tuesday night, loitering in the plaza with his back to the building and a cigarette in hand. Next to him was John Barriere, the party's local campaign coordinator. Kathy Sullivan was there, too, climbing the stairs to the aldermanic chambers.

The three of them were there to catch the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in action, which wouldn't be remarkable except for two things: One, party officials almost never come to city board meetings. And two, there was absolutely nothing even remotely interesting that night on the board's agenda.

The reason they were there, and the reason they've been showing up at pretty much all of the aldermanic and school board meetings in the last few weeks, is they've decided to start keeping a close eye on Mayor Ted Gatsas.

"We need to be there at the forefront, letting the people of Manchester know when he's doing things that are not good or transparent," said Brunelle, the state Democratic Party executive director and chairman of the Manchester Democrats.

Brunelle was going easy on Gatsas a month ago, saying he was reserving judgment on a new mayor. Now, he's starting to play rough, claiming Gatsas has been ramming proposals through the board without giving the public a chance to weigh in on them.

Sullivan, the former state Democratic Party chairman, has been making the same claim for weeks, pointing to recent votes on the Parks-Highway merger and the Verizon Wireless Arena management contract.

The argument is a tricky one for party leaders, given the fact that each of those measures was supported by Democratic aldermen. Sullivan acknowledged the point in a New Hampshire Union Leader op-ed last week, saying, "(The) failure of our elected officials to operate in the light of day crosses party lines."

Alderman Garth Corriveau says he sees what she means. "It's absolutely a fair criticism on the one hand to say, 'Let's slow it down and make things more transparent,'" he said.

"On the other side, what I'm encountering as a new Democratic alderman is also trying to get to work fixing city problems as quickly as possible. And I'm still trying to reconcile those two sort of competing aspects."

The last time the Democratic Party had a regular presence on the spectators' side of the aldermanic chambers was in early 2008, when Mayor Frank Guinta was toying with the idea of running for governor. The party dispatched a videographer to film him. Guinta didn't run, though, and the videographer disappeared.

Gatsas hasn't sent any signals about plans to run for higher office. He's only been mayor for four months. But Brunelle says he's seen enough to know he wants to keep close tabs on the mayor, and he plans to continue paying visits to the chambers, watching Gatsas and taking mental notes.

"The honeymoon's over," he said.

- - - - - - - -

Scool Committeeman Art Beaudry says he's planning to make a push for mandatory drug and alcohol testing for city teachers.

"It just seems like there's been a lot of issues with teachers lately doing off-the-wall things," Beaudry said. "I'm wondering if it has anything to do with drugs or alcohol."

It's a topical idea. Just a week and a half ago, a Hillside Middle School teacher was arrested for allegedly trying to sneak methadone pills into the state prison.

- - - - - - - -

Alderman At-Large Dan O'Neil wants an apology from the Catholic Diocese of Manchester, and he wants it addressed to the city Fire Department.

O'Neil laid into the diocese Tuesday, claiming officials there made it seem as though the Fire Department was to blame for the fact that St. Joseph Regional Junior High School was being relocated.

"That was misleading and irresponsible," O'Neil said.

Diocesan spokesman Kevin Donovan says it's true that the obligation to bring the school building in line with fire and life-safety codes was a factor in the decision to move the school. "But it was not at all the exclusive or sole reason for the announcement," he said.

Donovan said the diocese has tried to explain its reasoning in a letter to the mayor and fire chief. The letter went out before O'Neil went on the offensive.

- - - - - - - -

Maybe Gatsas has tired of beating up on Bob Backus.

Last week, the mayor did something nice for his former rival, the man he twice defeated in state Senate elections. He nominated Backus for a seat on the Conservation Commission.

The recommendation came from Backus' friend Ward 12 Alderman Patrick Arnold.

"I told him I had no problem. I thought Bob Backus would be a good fit there," Gatsas said.

- - - - - - - -

Who paid for all those letters the mayor mailed out to the city's honor-roll students a few weeks back?

"Gotta ask," former state Republican Party Chairman Fergus Cullen wrote in an e-mail last week. Cullen wanted to know if city taxpayers picked up the tab on that one.

"I just have a pet peeve about tax dollars being used for innocuous-sounding things that really amount to taxpayer funded self-promotion," he wrote.

In fact, taxpayers did play a part in the mailings, at least to the extent that there are tax dollars in the mayor's budget. That's where the money for the mailings came from.

Gatsas said it cost $105 to send out all 3,504 congratulatory letters, and he doesn't see why Cullen or anyone else should have a problem with that.

"Tell him to come to Manchester and stand on Hanover Street," the mayor said, "and I'll introduce him to some of the parents that said it was a great idea."
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Scott Brooks has been covering Manchester politics since 2007. His column can be found every week in the New Hampshire Sunday News.
E-mail Scott Brooks at sbrooks@unionleader.com
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"Gatsas endorses Mahoney for Congress in 1st District"
By TOM FAHEY, NH State House Bureau Chief, June 16, 2010

CONCORD – Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas today endorsed Sean Mahoney for Congress in the Republican primary for the 1st District seat.

In throwing his support to Mahoney, Gatsas bypassed former Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta, one of Mahoney's major rivals for the nomination.

Mahoney, a former Republican National Committeman, said he was "honored and humbled" by Gatsas' endorsement.

"He'll be a critical source of advice and counsel during this primary," he said. Gatsas will give a solid boost to his candidacy in the state's largest city and help put together a ward-by-ward organizing effort, Mahoney said.

"He's delivered fiscally conservative principles during his administration in Manchester. He's respected throughout the city, having been successful at the state level as Senate President and in the city as mayor and an alderman," Mahoney said.

The Mahoney camp plans to begin running a television ad tomorrow morning built around the Gatsas endorsement.

In the ad, Gatsas praises Mahoney as a fiscal conservative and Manchester business owner. Mahoney owns Millyard Communications, which publishes BusinessNH Magazine. "He's created jobs, he's driven and has a work ethic that is second to none," Gatsas says in the ad.

Mahoney resigned his national post this spring, angered over what he termed the national party's, "out of touch, free spending culture." He was a candidate for Congress in 2002, finishing third in an eight-person field, and ran an unsuccessful campaign for executive council in 2006.
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READERS' COMMENTS:
Supported Mayor Gatsas heavily in 09....Now I will work tirelessly for whomever runs against him! BAD MOVE TED!
GO GUINTA!
- Mike Pinard, Manchester, NH
This isn't politics. This is personal. There's never been any love lost between the two G's. Guinta will still be Mahoney and Gatsas is still doing a great job.
- Mark Touzin, Manchester, NH
Congragulations Sean on getting your first public supporter with Gatsas. It is fitting that you picked a Mayor who is a tax and spender, pro-choice, and might as well be a Democrat. Ted is Mayor because there was no good alternative to him here in Manchester. Frank Guinta was given a boost today with this endorsement as it proves the kind of Republican Sean Mahoney is- a RINO just like Ted Gatsas.
- James Toli, Manchester, NH
Gatsas can always be counted on to support one thing: HIMSELF... this endorsement means nothing but a few lost votes for Sean as this is one of the more transparent (passive-aggressive) moves of month...Frank jumped into this thing first, before the obvious Dem-backlash...he'll perform well in DC (where Ted can't present is tax-increase budgets---every budget he shoved under Guinta's nose was a tax increase vs. Franks 0% budgets---) Run Sean Run...or better yet, make a TV ad out of this and be the real fool
- marcel lessard, manchester
Does Sean Mahoney stand for anything? He certainly doesn't list his positions on the issues on his website.
Sean
Go back home to the JC Penny men's department and take back your spot on the rack with all the other empty suits.
- Chris, Merrimack
What does Teddie know about Frankie
- Rick, Manchester
This endorsement just cost me another $100 ! Just cut another check to Congressman elect Guinta !!
- Mike, Goffstown
Never trust Gatsas! That is why I voted for "no one " for Mayor last November. There wasn't going to be a replacement for Mayor Guinta but Gatsas will never measure up.
- Joan B, Manchester
these people would eat their young if they had to...go Bob Bestani...the only real choice to help turn around the cesspool in DC!
- Fred Leonard, Rochester, NH
To anyone who know Manchester politics, this isn't news. Guinta is a tax cutter and Gatsas has always been a spender. If I'm Mahoney, I would have done a little research and ask a few Manchester Republicans about their opinion of Ted and a majority would tell you that he is an angry man who is about as politically left as you can be and still call yourself a Republican. This solidifies Manchester area conservative Republicans behind anyone other than Mahoney.
- Craig Collins, Manchester
The prevailing opinion of the Manchester Boards of "Mayor" and Alderman is virtually NOTHING got done to advance and improve this city during Mayor Guinta's terms. So the Gatsas endorsement is not at all surprising. Personally I feel Carol Shea-Porter is about the nicest, most sincere person who wants to help the common man as I have ever seen or met in politics
- Greg Barrett, Manchester
We saw how much weight Ted Gatsas' endorsements have- He endorsed Terry Pfaff for the State Senate seat earlier this year in the Republican Primary over Sen. David Boutin and Boutin not only won the nomimation, but he beat Pfaff in every Manchester ward and town in the Senate district.
- Henry Manning, Manchester, New Hampshire
So the RINO Mayor of Manchester, Ted Gatsas endorses Sean Mahoney. My opinion- that helps Guinta. Gatsas might be Mayor, but anyone in or around Manchester knows that the only reason he was able to become Mayor was because Frank trailblazed through the Democratic Party and won in 2005 and again in 2007. Even though he's a "Republican," Pro-Choice Gatsas fought Guinta on every tax cut Frank proposed and the alternate budgets HE proposed were the eventual tax hikes Manchester residents felt.
Manchester conservatives loath Ted Gatsas and most Republicans only voted for him because he was the only choice against Democrats in the 09' race for Mayor. If Sean Mahoney wants to surround himself with liberal RINO's like Ted Gatsas and he thinks that's how to do well in Manchester, he has another thing coming.
- Dave Bernier, Manchester, NH
I seem to remember Ted Gatsas joining th Democrats against Frank and pushing for tax hikes instead of tax cuts. This is really not a surprise folks.
- Robert Belize, Manchester
Between Guinta and Mahoney, the GOP seems determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. As a registered independent, I will continue to support to only non-establishment candidate in the race, Bob Bestani. Furthermore, has any one taken Frank Guinta's voting record in the NH house and found anything in it which Carol Shea-Porker would not be proud of?
- Jim Kach, Madbury
Endorsements don't mean anything and surely Ted Gatsas endorsement is not meaningful at all!!! Those days are gone gents, that is why Independents are growing all the time. Sick and tired of cronyism....
- Jack Trumand, Middleton, NH
Terry Pfaff believes the Gatsas endorsement was instrumental in making him a state senator...
- Ryan, Hooksett
Great Move Ted, your not supporting your predecessor Frank Guinta says a lot about how the former mayor's non performance at City Hall affected the city. Frank should be use to this after all wasn't he the one who stabbed his mentor Jeb Bradley in the back when he ran for Congrfess the last time by supporting John Stephen ,and helped him lose his second primary. How's the knife feel now Frank when it's in you. isn't payback a b-------.
- Richard L. Fortin, Manchester
WOW! The incumbent Republican Mayor of a city backing someone other than his predecessor. There must be something we don't know about Guinta.
- Tim, Stratham
This says a lot! If Ted wants Sean over Frank it must be for a good reason!
Go Sean !
- John Lessard, Manchester

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"Mayor: City jobs at stake"
By BETH LAMONTAGNE HALL, New Hampshire Union Leader, November 13, 2010

MANCHESTER – The city's unions have headed to the negotiation table with Mayor Ted Gatsas to try to find cost-saving measures and prevent up to 300 layoffs that the mayor has threatened.

Union leaders did not say whether the city's unions would renegotiate aspects of their current contracts, but did say they were upset by the request, especially after Mayor Ted Gatsas pledged not to ask for further concessions when they agreed to put off a pay increase.

To close the projected $20 million budget gap next year, Gatsas has directed all city departments to cut their budgets by 8 percent, and he asked city unions to make medical benefit concessions. These concessions, he estimates, will save $2.4 million next year.

"We're still looking at his proposals," said Scott McGilvray, president of the Manchester Education Association. "He's the one who came to all the unions and asked them to make those concessions in return for a three-year contract. He said very clearly ... if we made these concessions last year he would not be coming back to open up the contracts, that he would be a man of his word."

"Reopening the contract, in our opinion, is buying into a bad precedent-setting practice," said Lt. Peter Bartlett, president of the Manchester Association of Police Supervisors. "If every time the city doesn't have their numbers correct when we sign on the dotted line, they can't come back to us."

Gatsas had an initial, informational meeting with city unions in late September to inform them of a projected $20 million budget increase heading into 2012. He proposed changes to negotiated health insurance benefits, including raises in premium costs and co-pays. If the unions did not agree to renegotiate these benefits, Gatsas told them, there could be up to 150 city employees and 150 school district employees laid off.

Gatsas was scheduled to meet with all city unions Friday afternoon to begin discussions.

In the spring of 2009, five of the city's unions, including teachers, police officers and firefighters, agreed to give up half of their cost-of-living adjustments in the next fiscal year in exchange for a three-year contract that included guaranteed raises the following two years.

"Gatsas told a couple of us in April or May (last year) that if you defer your raises for six months, it'll be a safety net where we won't be able to touch your health insurance," said Mike Roche, president of the United Steelworkers Local 8938, which represents Water Works employees.

"We did that with a promise of an extension of a three-year contract," said Bartlett. "We were also promised at that time that this wouldn't happen again."

Gatsas said the union heads fail to mention he also approached them when crafting the current budget, telling them he would not ask for concessions then but expected them to come back to him in September this year with concessions for future budgets. When they didn't, Gatsas said, he proposed changes to union medical benefits.

"If they have a better idea, I'd love to hear it," said Gatsas.

It was a far different economic climate when the 2009 contract was negotiated, said Gatsas, and since then the city's financial outlook has become more bleak.

But Bartlett said they relied on city financial projections that showed at the time their benefits were financially feasible.

"When we renegotiated this new extension to the pre-existing contract, we relied on the financial numbers that were brought forward (by) the city," said Bartlett. "Now we're being told we need to renegotiate this already settled contract to stave off layoffs."

Bartlett said his union is going over health insurance usage numbers, trying to determine why costs have skyrocketed and what the city and unions can do to bring down costs before raising rates and co-pays.

Ryan Cashin, president of the Manchester Professional Firefighters Association, said his members have been trying to reduce medical costs with the city since the spring and will continue throughout the budget process.

"Health insurance is a joint thing. It's not just their cost going up. It's our costs going up," said Cashin.

On the school side, McGilvray said the mayor should open discussions with the newly elected state legislative delegation to ensure the city gets its full state aid allotment.

"We don't need to speed this budget process up. We need to make sure all revenue sources and all supports are fully put into this budget," said McGilvray. "Don't spend your money before you know how much money you've got."

"(Gatsas has) done some fantastic things in his first years that have greatly impacted students ... but if it's all about the kids, he's got to make sure he's got the best teachers in front of those kids," said McGilvray. "If cutting 150 teachers is what he thinks is best, the public needs to have a conversation with him."
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READERS' COMMENTS:

The fact of the matter is the city employees work for the tax payer and it is up to the later to decide what level of services they want to pay for.

The employee has the right to accept concessions or not. Many people in the private sector have been told that wages and benefits were being cut but not one had a gun put to their heads and was forced to accept them.

It is all about choice it seems by reading this article that the Mayor can't project costs even one year ahead when he held out his hand and made a deal with the city's unions. Once you shake on a deal the deal is done.
- Jim, Raymond

Thank you taxpayers of Manchester. I am a city employee and decided that I am going to hire a limousine to take me to a fancy restaurant tonight and then to a fancy show afterward. I could not afford this if it were not for you and all that the politicians do for me. BTW if I get hurt tonight I will have to pay a small co-pay and get the rest for free. Again, thank you taxpayers!!
- Joshua, Manchester

Teddy The Terrible?
- Stephanie, Manchester

Mayor Gatsas your political plan had been exposed. You are not a man of your word it is that simple. You asked for concessions from the employees in 2009 and they gave them to you. The city signed off and now wants more? Shame on you! This city is being driven into the ground and you are the pilot.

Go ahead Teddy...Layoff 150 teachers, 150 Police, Fire, and City Employees and see how well your run for governor goes. If you can't manage one city, what in the world makes you think you can handle the state? I voted for you last time around and have come to realize it was one big mistake! Your meet and greets, open door policy, and photo op's are nothing more than political motivation for your further elections. Your interest is not the City of Manchester and is only about Teddy the great. Well Ted, you stink!
- Thomas, Manchester

Mayor Gatsas you have to be kidding...The Manchester Schools are among the worst in the state and the classrooms are already crowded. Where are you going to cut 150 teachers from an organization that has no fat left to cut? No wonder why I do not want my children in the Manchester system. We pay far too much in taxes not to have a good school to send our kids to. Police and fire cuts sound similarly stupid. Arsons and murders are overtaking the city and you want to cut? Mr. Mayor, cut administrative expenses and other ways, but layoffs to an already thin school, police and fire is not the way to go.
- Joe, Manchester

I just finished reading all of the comments to the Mayor's threat to cut city services and pay scales of workers. I tend to agree with one poster that Gatas and his alderman group need to lead by example -- give up your fringe benefits and 20% of your part-time salary and all of your expense reimbursements. That includes all city transportation benefits, too!
One observation that I make is that there is no consensus on what city services should be kept, diminished, and/or eliminated. That means the city really needs a master plan to determine the essential core services, how much they would cost, and how to pay for them. Having such a plan would make cuts easy to determine and accomplish. If on the list, then fully fund; if not on the list then make the cuts.
- Gary, Chichester

My raise this year was a joke, and I just signed up for next year's benefits through open enrollment, and my premiums andf out of pocket are going up again next year. Mayor Gatsas, can the 300 union employees NOW, and lay off another 100 for good measure. These hacks do not live in the real world.
- Frank, Manchester

Gatsas can threaten all he wants, but the unions are not opening contracts. They are willing to allow lay offs...that's right, WILLING, just like the tax payers are more than happy to see them laid off from what I'm reading. So if the unions and tax payers are fine with lay offs, will Gatsas be fine with the complaints of diminished services. Your community is only has good as the services provided. Trust me on this one, the mayor's threat will be ignored, let's see what he does now.
- Reality, Manchester

- Harry, Atkinson: What about the "poor", multi-millionaire investor, doesn't he deserve his 25% investment profit? Many of those cost reductions made at labor's expense and sacrifice are just to improve the "profit line" to entice more investors to help make the CEO types richer and richer. Kinda like a Ponzi scheme, yes?
- Gary, Chichester

When we were discussing the budget shortfall and my precarious financial situation(I am just hanging on), a city employee who I will not name said to me "Better get a second job" indicating his arrogance that taxes will simply be raised and the city employee is untouchable.

Well I applaud you Mayor Gatsas, time to make cuts. The arrogance of the city employee is astounding. The taxpayer has been abused enough.
- Craig, Manchester, NH

For the sake of accuracy, which seems not to be a priority of the Union Leader’s, but might be informative to some of its readers…

This article states that city unions agreed to cut up to half of their cost-of-living adjustments in exchange for a three-year contract that included guaranteed raises the following years. With regard to the teacher’s union, this is not accurate. They gave up more than half of their cost of living increase, and, much more importantly to saving the city money, took on a greater percentage every year for the next four years of healthcare insurance costs. Prior to that every year, when healthcare costs when up both teachers and the city payments when up. Now and for the next three years, every time healthcare costs go up the teachers will pay a greater share.

Over the past four yours the school budget has remained flat, while the state continued to increase its funding for schools by more than a few of million dollars a year every year for the past several years. To see that schools have costs taxpayers of Manchester less and less each year, all a Manchester resident has to do is look at the school portion of their tax bill. It has been going down. Manchester schools have been costing Manchester taxpayers less and less money each of the past several years.

Whether you rather believe the truth or the facts.… Once again, this year the taxes Manchester property owners pay for Manchester Schools are less than last year.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

The mayor is doing the right thing. Everyone including the unions need to realize that things in the city are going to get even worse when the state legislature begins cuts next year. Sacrifice is necessary. Although I would advocate for additional revenue such as the cash cow of expanded gaming the peoples choice was to elect those who would slash and cut waste and services. That decision must be respected.
- Greg Barrett, Manchester

Good luck trying to bust the unions, and forget about "re-opening" the union contracts. Ain't gonna happen, folks.

- Non Union Employee, Manchester

Well NUE all it takes to accomplish that is a piece of paper and a pen, then a leader with enough gumption to sign it. I wonder exactly how long it would take to fill union positions with non union workers looking for work. Well providing the unions don't burn the city to the ground like they do in other nations after they bankrupt their societies and hear those evil works the state is broke. The reply is often we are entitled to everything we want and screw the rest of you whose taxes pay me to work against your interests.

When I look at Europe and see what we are creating I can’t help but think the sooner it is done away with the less destruction we can expect from our own unions when the bucket finally drops. Get the unions out of government where they feed off their neighbor’s labor and let the neighbors prosper and not get held up for ransom. As our cities burn from the striking unions we can then watch the union firefighters refuse to put out the flames in support of their union brethren. On that day we will all see where the union loyalties are and it is not towards the tax paying private sector that funds them.
- Patriot, Salem

You can move to Goffstown as we have two rotaries that cost the tax payers over a milliion dollars during these hard economic times.
- Dan, Goffstown

Mayor, Make the necessary cuts. It won't be easy but the city will surive with less and will eventually be stronger in the future. Time for the unions to learn how the real world works.... can't spend more than you have. This is what happens when you cave into union demands.
- Allen, Manchester

Go ahead and lay off as many city workers as you want...I bet my meager pay check that those who are screaming that as well, will be the first the scream about their services. Whine bags. Life costs, so we pay taxes. Grow up, hitch up your britches people and do whatever you need to do to make a better community.
- Candi Wright, Portsmouth

Tea Party guy- sounds like you are just jealous of the cops. You are correct, age 45 is a dumb retirement age. I am thinking a plain 20 and out with the average highest 3 years that way it can get out faster and not deal with people like you.
- Jeff, Manchester

Teddy
We need you in Bedford. Our town manager is proposing a 4% raise for all non union employees on top of the $5.00 surcharge on motor vehicles he instituted last year. He is also the architect of a 3% increase in the proposed 2011 budget. The worst part is that we can't get rid of him because he is not an elected official. HELP!
- Zelmo, Bedford

Gee Mark from Manchester, again it sounds like the only one whining is you. What you fail to realize is that the unions have accepted changes to their health coverage in order to reduce costs to the city. You and others fail to see that presenting ones side of the story or presenting other options is not whining. Also, your perspective on history is totally off base. The air traffic controllers were on strike and they refused to return to work. Reagan may have fired them, but he was still dead wrong about the working conditions for those who were responsible for insuring the safety of air travelers as the changes of the ATCs work environment was changed to enhance said safety. Keep up the whining Mark, you are good at it.
- Jules, Manchester

Mr. Mayor,
Please, please, please negotiate into union contracts that each employee will receive an annual performance review and, in the event of layoffs, the poorest performers will be the first to go. It makes NO sense that the newest, and often the most productive employees, have to be laid-off first.
Also, go see "Waiting For Superman" and negotiate with the teachers for longer school days and school years. In combination with the worst teachers being let go, more classroom time would be hugely beneficial to the kids.
Lastly, eliminate police "details" (they drive up the cost of construction, keep another employee from doing that job and they inflate retirement costs); base retirement benefits on base bay rate only; and make it VERY difficuly for a supervisor to authorize overtime.
- jmh, manchester, manchester

1. Reorganize the school district
2. Move the school district under the city (what happened to the IT staff moving to the city? I still cant get on-line to do my job)
3. Layoff the staff and teachers that aren't doing their jobs. They are usually the ones that make the most money, complain the most, know how to work the system, etc.

The problem is, the unions do what is best for their members, not our children, and seniority handcuffs schools from making good personnel choices.
- Easy fix, MHT

bob duffy, manchester

If Gatsas actually has the guts to lay off police and fire, he would be deemed a hero around the state, so be careful what you wish for. People are tired of police and fire always threatening. Enough is enough. It is bad enough Manchester has its own issues with clown cops beating down a civilian at the Strange Brew, the last thing we need now is more cops threatening public safety because their over inflated $100,000 per year salaries are being cut. So Mr. Duffy, with all due respect, be careful what you wish for because if Gatsas does as he says, he will be deemed a hero to the taxpayer.
- Matt, Manchester

get rid of these loser city employees we the tax payers haxe had enough of your bull, fire all oif them stop the benefits stop the pay raises gatsas you will be elected in a landslide we love you ted dont cut pay get rid of the employees stop rthe madness, please
- ben spenard, manchester

Non Union Employee, Manchester

I hope you are #1 on the layoff list. I really hope you are the first one goe because your big mouth will have gotten you there. If you are so certain, post your name and the departmet you work for so the citizens who pay your salary know exactly who you are.

This isn't about anti city employees. It is about anti-pay hikes for city employees when times are tough. The departments that need to bear the brunt at police and fire as they are responsible for a massive portion of the city side budget. They will need to learn how to work harder with less. WE have grant funded positions in the police department which have been absorbed by the city. Those are the first positions that have to go. If an officer was hired on a grant and the grant is gone, then the officer hired with the grant funds needs to go. It is just the way of life right now.
- Bill, Manchester

I believe that the Mayor and the Chamber should be sitting down with the heads of local hospitals and the city's health care insurance providors to aggressively take on the cost side of this issue. These organizations need to begin to step up to the plate and work to slow the growth in health care for our community. Manxchester has amoung the highest costs of healthcare in the country yet the hospitals do not seem to be under any meaningful pressure to streamline, constrain or innovate. And our largest insurance player, Anthem, was recently identified as one of the least effecient (high overhead per dollar of reimbursement) the CEO's are very well compensated, the specialists live great lives and make big bucks, new building get built...where is the board leadership of these institutions...heading to the Ritz in Naqples to another board retreat???

Time to take on these very powerful and tone deaf institutions they are killing small business and tax payers!
- Michael, Manchester

Break the unions, especially the teachers' union, which is filthy and corrupt, and serves only to pay the leaders and keep bad teachers in place.

We can't afford it. And unless the unions are broken this way, they're going to be broken by a mob eventually.
- David Goss, Manchester

People are reacting as if the unions have given their employees $20,000 a year raises. That is for the top of the heap. That is not the deal for the working folks. Good health insurance was one great thing for city employees. Try teaching or any other public postition in Manchester and see what everyone is up against. I do not think you would begrudge this benefit. Maybe increase the emploee payment part a bit, but not only is it going up 240%, the quality of the coverage went rock bottom with it.
- Mo Mo, Raymon

Hey Mayor, Cant wait!! in 2yrs you will be the candidate from manchester that laid off all those cops and fireman. Good luck getting elected Gov with that following you around the state! Is it true you were the happiest guy in manchester when John Stephen lost to Lynch ?? Look on the bright side! i'm sure you'll be able to find a private sector job with one of you're developer buddies. If not,I heared there gonna be looking for baggers at the Gatsas family market basket on Elm.
- bob duffy, manchester

If the city budget is in trouble and their is a lack of funds to support the upcoming fiscal year, why doesn't Gatsas put off the construction of the new Highway/Police building? By doing this it was save the city millions of dollars. But then Gatsas won't have his name on the side of a building.

As for opening contracts. If you sign off on something then it is binding. Police Officers have to sign a 3 year agreament that they will not leave upon being hired. If they do leave, the city comes after them for payment for their training. So Mr. Mayor, you are saying employees must obey a contract they sign, but you don't.

Laying off Police Officers will only cause the crime rate to sky rocket in a city where crime is already on the rise. You will have less people to investigate the crimes, less police officers to respond to calls for help, and less Officers to take a proactive approach to preventing crime.

I guess if the Mayor lays off Officers, their will be no one to blame for the problems but Mayor.
- DMS, Manchester

I worked for Manchester Water Works for 7 years. They paid me $45,000 a year to essentialy (difficulty level) change ten light bulbs a day. Thats just the salary. Might be time for some of these guys to get a job.
- Matt L, Manchester

Dear Mr. Union
1) Everyone takes a 10% min pay cut
2) Everyone takes 40 hrs vacation time per month for next 12 months.
3) All sick time and personal time is eliminated
4)Cut all wasteful spending, even eliminate positions that overlap with other duties
5) Obtain a lower cost health care plan with higher co pays & higher deductibles.

This is what the dreaded private sector does. The company I work for has done all this in the past 10 yrs just to stay in business. Mean while, the public sector has been enjoying a generous increase in salaries & benefits at the taxpayers expense.

Parties over people, time for a dose or reality!
- Harry, Atkinson

If we could survive with 150 less teachers (and we would), then why in god's name do we have them to begin with??
- Ron, Manchester

Gary from Chichester is correct, because society has grown to become an entitlement state. Everything has to be done for me, me, me. People want all the services, but want it for nothing. I suggest cutting city welfare and get these corrupt city aldermen to give up their salaries, health benefits, and the freebies they get and expect when they walk through a door, all taken away. These leaches have been sucking our blood for too long. Besides, everyone tends to forget that the public sector employees are also property owners who pay property taxes, federal income taxes, they also buy services and goods that come from private sector employees. So don't count the public sector as getting a free ride. Also, whoever says there is a long line of people waiting to take over the city jobs, well there is none, at least not qualified applicants.
- J. Campbell, Manchester

Considering the unions had so much money to donate to democrat candidates during the last election I'd say they can afford cuts. The message I got was the unions were floating in money and had plenty of extra for politics it did not need to fund their workers.
- Patriot, Salem

City employees are also tax payers!!
- Dan, Manchester

But in essence, its like taking money from your left pocket and putting it in your right pocket. And not all city workers live in the city. You union people think concessions are where you go to get popcorn at a movie theatre.

And the people who approved a contract to give city workers election day off should be terminated. Especially seeing how they got Veterans Day off a week later.
- Fred F., Manchester

Wow. Private sector workers here sure are cranking up plenty of hate for the municipal folks, huh? Didn't hear this level of hate and jealosy when times were good in America, now did we?

Good luck trying to bust the unions, and forget about "re-opening" the union contracts. Ain't gonna happen, folks.

Time to suck it up, fellow taxpayers. Meet the obligations of those contracts that were fairly negotiated, or reduce frontline staff and roll with the reduction in services, bond ratings, and "quality" of education in Manchester schools.

But by all means, complain all you like here in the UL blog. It's apparently good therapy.

After penning heinous comments, be sure to return to reality. You ain't bustin' the unions, nor are you going to muscle the union bosses into re-opening contracts that were agreed to by (Oh My!) your elected officials.

Manchester can choose to reduce services by reducing city employees or suck up the realities in contracts inked in good faith. Have a great year!
- Non Union Employee, Manchester

- Jules, Manchester

The MFD, MPD and teachers are whiners. Every time someone dares to ask them to increase their co-pays or deductibles, they threaten public safety or they threaten to walk. I say enough. Let the teachers who don't want to pay ...walk away. Lay off police and fire and do exactly like Reagan did to the air traffic controllers: Fire them if they don't listen. We need to be firm here. THe taxpayers in Manchester can no longer accept the burden of massive increases. We in the private sector are not seeing pay increases yet police, fire, and teachers have. That is completely wrong. No more raises. A COLA freeze immediately and no pay increases. Increase deductibles on their insurance as well as their copays. That will be enough to save all the jobs and get them all in line with the private sector.
- Mark, Manchester

You think the Mayor of Wards One and Two is going to lay off 150 teachers? It's called posturing, folks. He throws out a grandiose, entirely unrealistic threat without the data and figures to back it up, and when it fails, he can blame everyone else but himself. This is for the 2011 budget, which is, lest we forget, an election year. Just Manchester politics as usual, Teabaggers.
- Really?, Manchester

I have read many comments about the MPD, MFD and teachers whining and complaining and yet there is nothing to support such claims. All I read that was costs have been going up and the mayor and the unions are both looking at ways to save the city money which is mutually beneficial. I love all this cyclical moaning from the general public. While the economy boomed for a decade, the MPD went without a contract or raises for seven years. The MFD and teachers had their raises frozen while the private sector saw double digit increases in pay. The lunatic fringe need to put things in perspective.
- Jules, Manchester

Gatas needs to start thinking more about the future instead of only today. Major layoffs in the city is a fix for today, not tomorrow. 150 teachers to be laid off to fix a budget problem for the year? What about 5 years down the road when there's 50 kids to a class room because we don't have enough teachers? Would you really want your kid in this environment for education?
Fire - this means taking pieces and/or stations out of service or 2 person crews to a piece. Fireighters have a life threatening job as it is. Why make it more of a safety hazard to them by running sub-par staffing? Shut down stations and see response times soar then you will be unhappy when your house burns to the ground living across the st from a vacant station.
Police - in an economy like this we need MORE police on the streets, not less. This should be common sense.
Highway dept. - let our streets deteriorate and there isn't a damn thing we can do about it because those workers will be bumped down to trash pickup due to seniority. Let's face it trash is THEIR priority. What about snow plowing also?
Schools should be this guys top priority and it's in last place with the number of layoffs he's talking about.
But forget all that. Who cares about all of these services when he just saved you $50 on your tax bill. Yay Teddy
- Kevin, Manchester

I have a better idea Ted. Why don't you get rid of those four brand new hybrid buses that are taking people free of charge from elm / granite all the way about a half mile to bridge / elm. Ya that was a great way to spend money.
- Bruno, manchester

I see what the city employee's health insurance covers. They have the best policy I have come across. No deductibles and no co-insurance and very low co-pay fees. Increase their deductibles to market levels and expect the to pay a portion of the fees.
- Medical Professional, Manchester

The mayor is on the right track. Hang in there. COLA??? Step increases??? We need merit based work environments. Otherwise the tail is wagging the dog.
- Raymond E Pinard, Northwood

Oh, poor union babies. When are you going to realize that in the real world, NO ONE gets the health insurance benefits, cost-of-living increases, paid holidays and vacations, early retirements with pensions, sick days, etc. that government unions get.

Yeah, you might pay property taxes too, but the private sector that pays the bulk of those same property taxes and your salaries and benefits, pays those taxes after shelling out alot more than 6% for their own health insurance (if they even have any).

Open your eyes and ears union cry-babies...the private sector cannot afford you and your extravagant benefits anymore.

Do you not realize what just happened in this past election? The people have spoken....government has gotten too big and too fat....and that includes you!
- Cathie S, Chester

My health care tabe went up 800%. Here were my choices. Take it or lose jobs. Hmmm. I took it. So to all city employees. Too bad for you. Take it, keep your jobs or walk the line.

As to the schools. Tough baby...tough. Pay the extra percentage, just like everybody in the private sector. Deal with it and stop the complaining. Teach the kids ad keep your jobs. Otherwise, look for aother career.
- Mike, Manchester

the joke of firefighters gained approximately 18% icreases in pay while the rest of the employees in the city didn't see near that much. For the firefighters or police to whine about money shows they deserve no respect from the public and they get treated the way they get treated.

We the tax payer can no longer absorb the "Union" bullying tactics. Enough is enough. No respect for the unions or their leaders in the city. I wo't pay my taxes of these idiots get icreases. I will hold my payment until I am absolutely forced to pay and I recommend everybody does the same.
- Ralph, Machester

Gatsas is a BLATANT liar! The economic times in 2009 were some of the worst we've seen in 50 years. He put a band-aid on things then, hoping things would turn around by now.

Well, it's taken longer than expected and now he wants to go back on his word. What a joke! Many of these departments have been making cuts for 4-5 years due to the constant fear of raising taxes. There comes a time when the tape ends and you can't make any more cuts. I think the city has reached that point. This is the perfect storm as taxes have been increased minimally the past 4 years, the current economic situation is bleak, and the rising health care costs go though the roof.

Go ahead and terminate the 300 employees! When the city's bond rating drops because crime is up, the streets are dirty, education is on the back seat, and Manchester becomes what it was in the early 1990's (a vacant Elm St, very little economic growth, and drug related homicides every few months)....then we can all thank Ted Gatsas!

I understand that no Mayor wants to raise taxes in an election year, but employee costs will always be rising, so there comes a time when it must be done. Unfortunately, failing to see that 4-5 years ago is what has put us in this position. I suspect that Gatsas is setting up the blame game so he can point the fingers at city employees when taxes increase! Nice leader we have in Manchester. He is far from a man of his word. Typical politician!
- CS, Manchester

Just like all the other slimy pols, he makes a lot of posturing, but in the end there will be no cuts, and to top it all of a new $45M bu is erected....... If this building can be built, then times aint that tough. So stay tuned and watch how slick little teddy avoids any cuts at all..... while saving face with the electorate at the same time.
- mark, hooksett

Karen B. It is people like you that are totally out of touch with reality. MPD has 10 open positions and after getting over 200 applicants four were hired. Of those four, two are not certified and have no experience and therefore will not be on the street for nearly a year. Quick math tells you that's 2% of all the applicants were qualified and can pass the background checks.

There may be a line down the street but rest assured there is not a line of qualified applicants. Do you want unqualified people protecting you at night, fighting a fire at your house, teaching your children? I think not.

Mayor Gatsas is a bully from the private sector who if he was still there would have walked into a meeting with his employees and said "your insurance rates are going up 300%, if you don't like it, quit". People like him are the exact reason unions were formed way back when.

And ruthie, trust me when i tell you, you can't "dump the unions" because the employees will not allow that to happen.
- Julio, Londonderry

Elections matter. And we just had an election. What is it the taxpayers said .. that they are overwhelmed by rising taxes. For too long, the city employees have enjoyed a standard of living far above those in the private sector. Time off for sick days, personal days, multiple holidays, paid details for cops, overtime and more overtime. Next time you see a cop talking on a cell phone when he/she is supposed to be directing traffic, ask yourself; how long do you supposed that employee would last in the private sector. Even Portsmouth, a liberal bastion if ever there was one, has curtailed the police details and saved itself well over $200,000 dollars so far. It really comes down to fairness; the man picking up the garbage should not be earning more than a private sector construction employee. The cops and firemen, as good as they are, should not be earning in excess of $100,000 dollars per year through the use of scam detail pay, excessive overtime, etc. And the city pension should not be a scam. City employees should not be allowed to jack up their pension in the last few years of work. And city employees should be kept on the job for a much longer time. Cops retiring at 45? That is nonsense. Manchester needs to take a hard look at what tasks need to be done, and who can do them at the most affordable cost to the taxpayers.. Elections have consequences!
- Tea Party Guy, Manchester, NH

Half of the COLA? That's what they all "gave up"? Are you people listening or seeing what the entire country is going through? Apparently not.

And the mayor is talking about laying off 300 employees. How many employees are there that he needs to talk about a layoff number that big?

One point though: for every city employee you lay off you must take 2 freeloaders off welfare, 3 if they are non citizens here legally and 4 if they are illegal aliens.

Having lived in Keene for well over 25 years, I have never, NEVER seen the city council or the school board level fund a budget from the previous year, let alone reduce spending!
- Melvin, Keene

Hey Insulted-Manchester... " to go from a present 6% contribution to your proposed 20% contribution is out of touch with reality. A 240% increase in my contributions, really???? NOT REALITY????

What do you think the private sector pays? 20% contribution (80% being bourne by taxpayers) is NOTHING compared to what most people pay. that's reality!!!

Quit your taxpayer funded benefit job, work for the private sector a few years, and then come back and tell me how you like a 20% cost share on your lucrative, cadillac benefit program...
- JRW, MAnchester

20 million short in the budget??? So where is the 45 million coming from to build the Gatsas municipal Taj Mahal??? 8% across the board budget cuts with 40 fewer cops on the beat they shouldn't need a new police station. Hey Gatsas where are your priorities buildings or services? Or is it going to be 8% across the board for all departments EXCEPT the police and give them a blank check like you did this year?
- Russell, Manchester

City employees are also tax payers!!
- Dan, Manchester

Where is Mr Tarr's comments? Don't they have free internet in jail?
- james, manchester

Insulted in Manchester, I don't find it hard to believe that a teacher would be on the boards whining about having to pay a whopping 20% (where's the sarcasm button) of their health care premiums. So sad.

I think it's time for the teachers to grab some reality. Their health care costs should be split 50/50 like most folks in the real world. Then there would be more money to spend on books and supplies etc. It's for the children, don't ya know.
- Ron Remillard, Manchester

The question yet to be asked is what type and level of public services does the public want? That question needs to be addressed BEFORE costs and taxes can be determined. Unfortunately, most towns and the state government have the process totally backwards in that they limit the amount of revenue and then try to pack as many services into that limited revenue as they can. The bottom-line result is that nothing gets done completely nor in a totally satisfactory manner.
I suggest that a poll be taken to determine what is wanted and how much of it. IE snow plowing every storm and every street verses just odd numbered streets and every third snow storm. Do streets with pot-holes bother you? How about cutting the mayor's and alderman's wages and benefits by 20%? Unions are not the problem, politicians are. They have yet to do their job effectively; the constant bickering proves the lack of job completion.
- Gary, Chichester

Mr. Mayor,

Please leave the contracts alone and immediately layoff 300 of the GUment workers... problem solved.
- John II, Manchester

Tough situations require leadership; and Mayor Gatsas is demonstrating this on behalf of the most important stakeholders...the taxpayers. Although the decision to lay-off workers and increase employee health costs is never popular; it's required to balance the budget. Wake up municipal and state employees to the reality that the majority of us corporate and business employees and managers face when our organizations encounter lean economic times. You can't expect to continue to place the burden on the taxpayers of Manchester for preservation of the status quo in today's economic environment. In short, "Get over it" and wake up to reality!
- Mike, Manchester

I fail to understand why unions think they are above everyone else. Only 6% for medical coverage??? Some people have to pay fully for coverage. Wake up and dump the unions. They are just too expensive now.
- Ruthie, Fremont

Gatsas broke his promise? Gatsas not a man of his word? Mr. McGilvray, wake up and smell the coffee.
- Not From The North End, Manchester

@Matt- you are right. There is no way we could find new employees to take those jobs in this economy, right?

@insulted- welcome to the real world. I am insulted that you think you are too good to be affected by this economy like the rest of us. My health insuance just went up a lot more than that, plus I have much, much higher deductibles, and copays and you expect me to continue paying your sweet deal? Who is the one out of touch with reality here?
- Cieth, Derry

Unions - they need to be gone!!!
Don't cut the police department. Crime is way too high for that choice.
- susan, meredith

I am in agreement with Mayor Gatsas, the taxpayer in the private sector has endured job losses, layoffs, pay cuts, no increases in cost-of-living raises and higher health care premiums. Yet, the city’s Union members feel insulted when the same issues are brought into their homes. Teachers: you basically have the only job, once you reach tenure, that gives you a guarantee to not to lose your job – it doesn’t matter if you are a good / bad teacher – job for life. To all the city’s Union members, if you don’t like the contract changes, quit. Believe me, there is a line down the street and around the corner of unemployed taxpayers hoping for a job that at least has health care options.

It baffles me in this economy that people currently employed are demanding changes not to happen when the economy changes. They’re all happy when the raises and bonuses come in a good economy but are in denial when the economy changes for the worse.

It’s not just Manchester, open your eyes and look around. As the Mayor said, "If they have a better idea, I'd love to hear it," said Gatsas” – he’s right!
- Karen B., Manchester

The Mayor wants the city employees to make medical concessions, yet all of the Aldermen get full medical benefits for their PART-TIME jobs. How about the Aldermen give up their medical benefits entirely and the Mayor make some concessions himself. Where could anyone who has a part-time job get FULL health insurance?
- Roger Gingras, Manchester

Mr Mayor,

I recently got a look at your proposal for the increased health premiums for the teachers. You must take us for idiots and your proposed increase is insulting. I understand that costs do increase, but to go from a present 6% contribution to your proposed 20% contribution is out of touch with reality. A 240% increase in my contributions, really???? Lets keep things in check Mr Mayor, and you did promise to leave our contract alone after last years concessions. I know you remember!!!!
- Insulted, Manchester

Go for it Mayor Gatsas, get out the scissors and start trimming and damn the torpedoes, spending has to be reduced and it should start at the highest levels and on down.
- Richard L. Fortin, Manchester

The Unions have got to realize that Taxpayers not only are fed up and disgusted but more importantly broke.
- Bob, Salem

Call his bluff and when things get worse ie: crime goes up, not enough fire fighters, not enough teachers in schools etc. it will be the mayor's fault.
- Matt, Nashua

Typical Ted Gatas, and you thought that he was going to be honest. He was like this as a Senator; all about Ted Gatas and how he looks in the end.
- George, Manchester

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"Gatsas offers options for millions in school cuts"
By BETH LAMONTAGNE HALL AND GARRY RAYNO, New Hampshire Union Leader, January 9, 2011

MANCHESTER – Mayor Ted Gatsas and Superintendent Thomas Brennan presented the school board Saturday with a stark budget outlook for 2012 and a list of proposed cuts that could mean deep teacher and administration layoffs and concessions in teacher benefits.

Gatsas also listed possible cost-saving measures that will not be considered, such as asking students to pay to play sports; eliminating athletics, JrROTC and arts programs; and axing student resource officer positions.

If all current school programs and staff remained in place next year, the budget would increase $11.4 million, which would translate into a 7 percent property tax increase. Include that with a projected budget shortfall on the city side, and Manchester residents would be poised to see an overall 12.7 percent tax increase next year if cuts and concessions were not made, said Gatsas.

Some board members objected to a flat-funded budget, saying it was not realistic.

Ward 2 member Joseph Briggs said the board should be discussing "a responsible budget" instead of what he called "a budget of atrophy."

"My concern is this budget does not include the investments we need in labs (and equipment) for computers, physics and chemistry. We are at the point you no longer can have a straight face and offer some of these courses," Briggs said.

Gatsas told board members that administrators were not making a budget proposal but were presenting preliminary data and seeking the board's suggestions. However, he said, he and Brennan agreed on the options for reductions.

Health care costs
In their proposal, Gatsas and Brennan suggested unionized school staff agree to increase their health insurance contributions from 5 percent to 20 percent and increase medical co-pays for a district savings of $6 million. This would mean teachers would see an increase in co-pays from $5 for a doctor visit to $20 and an increase in emergency room visits from $50 to $100.

Deep cuts to paraprofessional positions, many of which aid special needs students, were also proposed. The plan suggests cutting 200 of the district's 323 paraprofessionals for a savings of $6 million or reducing paraprofessional hours and eliminating benefits, which would save $5 million.

Other suggestions include eliminating all elementary school assistant principals for a savings of $1.1 million, phasing out 12 teaching positions vacated through retirement for a savings of $400,000 and transferring human resources and information technology services to the city side for a savings of $625,000. This last suggestion, consolidating school and city departments, has been an issue Gatsas has pushed as a cost-saving measure since becoming mayor.

Deepest cut
The deepest cut suggested would lay off 108 teachers, saving the city $5.4 million.

Gatsas made clear he was not asking the board to make all of these cuts, but offered them as potential options to open the discussion.

Brennan responded to several board members who objected to the proposals, saying "none of these are good. None. But you have to start somewhere."

Board members particularly objected to the proposed teacher layoffs, but appeared to embrace the proposal to reduce the paraprofessionals by 200 and replace them with 100 certified teachers, saving about $1.5 million.

Gatsas made clear his top priority was reducing the cost for health care.

"Health care benefits have to change, it's no longer sustainable," he told the board.

The school district business administrator, Karen DeFrancis, said benefits have grown from 35 percent of salary in fiscal 2008 to 43 percent in fiscal 2012.

But that change will require union approval, and board Vice Chairman David Gelinas said that "is a very big 'if.' If that change is not made, where are we going to go?"

Eliminating or reducing kindergarten and curtailing school athletics, arts, JrROTC, extracurricular activities and district partnerships with groups such as City Year are often places the board looks to for cuts, but they are not areas Gatsas said he would be willing to consider.

But several board members said they would rather see students pay to participate in athletics than lay off teachers or cut core programs.

Briggs blamed rising health care costs for "absorbing" budget increases.

Ward 9 board member Arthur Beaudry suggested the stipend for the building instructional leader should be eliminated before any teacher was laid off and also suggested reducing special education transportation costs -- which he said equal general transportation costs -- when looking to reduce spending.

Ward 4 board member Chris Herbert believes there would be adequate revenue for education if money was not diverted to cover city services. "The discussion needs to change. The finger is always pointed at us. Our schools are funded. What needs to be funded adequately is the city," Herbert said.

Other suggestions
Board members made many suggestions, including revisiting the academy proposal once touted for West High School. Gatsas said the city is close to winning state Department of Education approval for Manchester School of Technology to become a full-time program and is also negotiating to make West a charter school.

While Gatsas said he does not want to continue to use one-time money sources to pay operating expenses, he said there are two areas where money must be spent next year or it would have to be returned: $1.6 million from the federal Education Jobs Grant program and $555,000 in impact fees.

However, the city will have to cover $3.78 million for 42.5 positions that have been paid by stimulus and Title IIa money in the 2012 budget.

City and school officials have been aware of the looming budget shortfall, largely driven by the elimination of federal stimulus funds and an increase in staff salaries and benefits. According to school data, school salaries are expected to increase $8 million in 2012 and benefits to increase $4 million.

READERS' COMMENTS:

go ahead and cut everything, give me a massive tax increase and lay off city employees left and right, but dont you ever take away my chilli fest! i hope to see everybody in park for the chilli fest in september of 2011.
- chilli girl, manchester

I will say it again...we all need to share in the pain that is our budget shortfall. No one department should be so singled-out for massive cuts, like the mayor is suggesting with the schools. We need to see specific numbers for all city departments. And we need to see them splashed across the front page of the UL, just like today. I'm sick and tired of, year after year, opening up the paper and choking on my coffee, worried once again, about whether I'll be employed in the fall.
- MB, Manchester

In fairness, I wonder how many people know that the teachers did agree to revisit the contract in 2009 out of respect for budget concerns, and agreed to forego something like two thirds of last year's pay raise that was negotiated and agreed to by both parties. The small increase that was supposed to begin in September 2009 didn't start until almost the end of the school year. In exchange for that, a new 3 year contract was negotiated and agreed to by both parties Currently, we are in the first year of this new contract. The Mayor gave his word that if we did this for the city, the new contract would be honored for all of those 3 years.

Now, just one year later, the Mayor wants to reopen the contract yet again to take away from us. At what point does it end? Our union leadership has indicated that they will not agree to this and I fully agree with them. People like to blame the unions for all of the city's troubles, but I have to say that without them, teachers and other city workers wouldn't get a nickel. We certainly couldn't rely on the good intentions of the powers that be.
- ds, manchester

Give the Manchester School District its own taxing authority and watch it tax itself out of existence and back to being a department of the city.

The legislation has already been passed in Concord to allow it.

The City of Manchester actually is fairly efficient, as municipal governments go. Its portion of the property tax bill is reasonable. Why should employees of the city have to have their salaries and benefits made to suffer because of the MSD?

Let the MSD issue its own tax bills - with an $11 million increase and no real improvement to the quality of education being taught - and there will be a taxpayer revolt against the MSD by the residents.

The liberals on the BMA and BoSC don't want the MSD to have its own taxing authority because they already know that the MSD would tax itself out of existence.
- David R, Olympia WA, left Manch last May

According to the state’s website, the following towns’ people paid the following rates for property taxes:
town gov, town edu, state edu, county total
Manchester 9.28 5.41 2.16 0.96 17.81
Nashua 7.91 8.37 2.42 1.12 19.82
Salem 4.79 6.21 2.12 0.93 14.05

Manchester has 14.8 students per teacher. The state average is 12.3 Four districts have more students per teacher, over 160 districts have fewer.
Manchester teachers make an average of $50,998. The state average is 51,443, Nashua 54,121 and Salem 56,749.
Manchester spends 9,489.90 per students. The state average is 11,745.55. Data is not yet posted on the state website for other towns, but Manchester is consistently at the bottom.

Manchester pays much more in taxes for town government than any other city. Year after year Manchester seeks to find savings in schools, and not in the area in which they spend much more than any other city. I had hoped a businessman like Gatsas would do the people of Manchester right, by actually trying to save money were excesses are spent, but the clearly he is not. Too bad for Manchester.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester

Gatsas is right to go after health care costs. It is surprising city employees use so much of their health benefits, considering their low stress jobs, lots of time off and great perks. An increase in cost will help them re-evaluate their lives and perhaps take more interest in preventative health measures.
- Craig, Manchester, NH

Just curious why bone heads always say "lets cut at the top" guess what, if you cut at the top with the "bloated salaries" you are not going to get qualified people to fill those positions. You may want to think you are qualified but you are not, it takes years of experience and education.
- Edwardo, Manchester

The last thing we need is educated kids or fairly compensated teachers. Let's keep subsidizing big leaky oil companies and fighting illegal wars. Brilliant.
- Mike, Manchester

If the teachers' union was dissolved then there would be no union fees to pay and the money once taken from the teachers' salaries to pay the enormous union fees could be used to pay the increased cost of health care being proposed.
- misty, Manchester

Cut teachers, fire, highway people and cops but never ever take away the annual chilli fest in manch vegas! thanks teddy gatsas you are the best mayor ever!
- chilli man, manchester

Thank god I moved to bedford and dont have to deal with stupid manchester politics when it comes to my kids education.
- Katie, Bedford, formerly of manch vegas

I'm fortunate and very thankful to have a job because I realize many do not. I've been with the company I work for quite a few years and unlike the city because of the economy my company has not been able to hand out raises to anyone over the past few years. We all know the cost of living keeps going up and up, we all pay those increases too, the majority of us without the benefit of raises and we just make do without. Each year as our health care plan comes up for renewal we've seen significant increases on costs. They even switched healthcare providers offering cheaper rates for the same level of healthcare in an attempt to keep costs down. Like the city of Manchester our company adsorbed allot of the increases over the years instead of passing them on to their employees. However eventually we also had to start accepting some of the burden through increases in the co-pays and deductibles. The average teacher is paid more than I make per year and a good teacher is worth it, but I'm astounded to learn teachers only pay $5.00 for an office visit? The lowest co-pay I've ever enjoyed was $15.00 approximately 5 years ago. Currently I pay $25.00 for an office visit and $50.00 for referrals with $250.00 for an emergency room visit. As a working man I can empathize with what I know will undoubtedly be their position on this issue. But as a taxpayer I hope teachers will in like vein understand the majority of Manchester taxpayers cannot afford the magnitude of the tax increase proposed and make the sacrifices so many of us have had to make as well.
- Rob, Manchester

If you look at your Manchester tax bill at the division of what is spent on education in this city you will find a slice that has not increased. These are scare tactics that have been used by this mayor and former mayors in the past. How about the mayor negotiate with other city departments to look at the whole city budget. Instead of pontificating all the time he should do some research to see what will work.
Here's another great idea - take all that education money that goes into the general fund (like tuition money) and throw it where it belongs.
I was under the impression that the city was about to go through the accreditation process again and will need to work on maintaining and improving the curriculum. This alone should negate any talk of layoff. If kids can't get into college because the city can't figure out something in their budget then there is a much bigger problem going on in city hall. I think this problem can be solved and if there needs to be a small increase in my city taxes then I am willing to pay it. My neighboring towns are paying lots more than I am and I receive better services - fact. People should start paying more attention.
- john, manchester, nh

Dear CC,

I do pay for my healthcare and I do live in the real world!
- Teacher, Manchester

Teacher your commetn about the health benefits! I worked for the city, I had surgery and paid nothing for it, that was through Anthem.
- CC, Manchester

Yes they teach the kids. But, maybe the City should really look at what Mayor Gatsas is saying! The entire city should revamp their health care and their delivery of services. The days of living off the backs of the taxpayers needs to be revised. I worked in the school system, and although there are good teachers who really care, there are many who work the system in the system. Yes please! Increase the co-pay, everyone else working in this country have higher co-pays, this is a part of life. Lay offs? Sure, why not, that is also a reality of the world. Hey if they strike, maybe we'll save even more money! Trim the fat! In many instances Assistant Principals are becoming nothing more than faculty police! Crazy parents who won't parent their kids expect everything to be done for them, the schools have become gigantic babysitting services in many respects. I DO feel for teachers, but I also agree with Gatsas. I don't want my tax dollars increased so much that I won't be able to afford to live.
- CC, Manchester

I don't know why the school department doesn't offer an incentive for early retirement for top-of-the-scale teachers. They make twice as much as a new teacher.

If, say, $10,000 were to be offered as an incentive to retire, even factoring in that amount, it still means a $20,000 savings the first year, and then $30,000 for every following year that the new hire is working in place of the senior teacher. It might help to avoid the layoffs, which aren't really that productive as the new, lower paid teachers are always the first to go.
- dmanch, manchester

I agree with CC that Mayor Gatsas has presented an array of cost saving measures for the school district, some reasonable (an increase in medical co-pays and contributions), some utterly illogical. I am specifically referring to the proposal that 200 of the district's 323 paraprofessionals be cut. That's a two-thirds reduction! And while the school board "particularly objected to the proposed teacher layoffs," they "appeared to embrace the proposal to reduce the paraprofessional by 200." What a slap in the face to one of the most worthwhile group of employees in the school district. They support and assist our Special Ed/EH/LD students, as well as work side-by-side with ELL teachers, supporting, teaching and assimilating the largest ELL population in the state. I believe all departments will need to give a little , concede at least something, in order for us to properly fund our schools, but no one group should be decimated in order to do that. No one should "embrace" that idea.
- MB, Manchester

If the property tax increases, the end of Manchester will be right behind. As it is now, half the city is section 8 apartments. What middle class family would want to live in a city with a corrupt city hall, with city employees living it up with big pay and benefits at the expense of the few middle class residents. Look at Lawrence Mass .. is that what we want for Manchester? Rather than wring hands, get busy. Start with the city employee benefits; they far exceed those of the private sector employees. Cut the pension nonsense, cut out the fluff courses, or the feel good courses. Cut the cost of athletics.. enough already with all these sports. Cut the cop detail racket; just like Portsmouth has already done. Start contracting out work, as any business would do ... but for the sake of the residents let's end the talk of a tax increase.
- Tom, Manchester, NH

Much the same is about to happen in other NH School Districts. Unionized teachers and administration are going to have to pay/share more of the budgetary burden, if they wish to remain employed.

Plain & simple, with the economy spiraling downward, and fuel prices spiraling upward, the party is over and it is time to clean up the mess.
- Dan Lloyd, Kingston

As a teacher in Manchester, the health care numbers are not accurate. That is for Matthew Thornton Health Care which is the lesser of the plans. For Anthem we pay $15 for copay and $75 for emergency rooms.
- Teacher, Manchester, NH

The cuts should start at the top starting with the Superintendents $155 k plus position!!!!!!!!!!!
- Mr. Smith, Manchester

Sick System

It is no wonder why the teachers have a high rate of anti depressive prescription drug use(Anthem presentation to School Board). This will only increase!!

How many sick days are used up because of depressed staff - ohh lets not talk about that - sorry.......

Why is this not questioned??

The MSD has a sick system and with these proposed cuts and lack of support from the Central Office the system will just get worse.

Teachers are sick for good reasons - unruly kids - parents - Administration!

Just continue to play the blame game....
- Leo, Bedford

I love Chilli. Please dont cut out the World Cup of Chilli 2011 during the budget process Mr. Gatsas!
- Glenn, manchester

All department head who dont live here should loose their job.
- Dave, manch vegas

Get rid of special ed and that would save big time money. They should put all the special ed and behavioral problems kids at west high school and just get those kids ready for what life will be for them.
- Lets Get Real, manchester

Of course everyone is jumping straight to MY TAXES! Gatsos throws that out to scare people. Wake up board and do your own homework. Look at everyday needs. The city wastes a huge amount of money. You are driving the quality of your school district straight into the gutter. Again, you are going to attract the bottom of the crop of teachers and paras who cannot handle the growing number of parentless students. Sweep the schools and look at how many students should not even be in our district! We are bussing students through special ed services all over the city because their parents abuse the system. Put half day Kindergarten back and you will stop attracting low income babysitting. Have parents pay fines to the city for their negligence. How about that for a start in cost cutting? GET INTO THE SCHOOLS AND LOOK AND ASK QUESTIONS!!!
- AJ, MANCHESTER

I am waiting for the day that the property tax payers in Manchester stop whining. You get a huge amount of services and still pay much less than other neighboring cities and towns!
- Kathy, Raymond

Joe briggs is a cry baby. allways saying the teacher, police, fire, and highway employees should give back or change the existing contracts. No way Jose!

a contract is a contract and should not be opened or reopened at any time. when the contract expires, then and only then can the mayor and aldermen change things thru negoitations. Thats how it works JoJo.
- Peter, manchester

Here is the deal... If the school in fact does layoff 108 teachers, they will be out of compliance for classroom sizes. The other thing is that in order to follow student's IEP's, which the School District is required by law to do, they need to keep a large number of the paraprofessionals they intend to layoff. How come layoffs are being proposed when there is 42 million dollars sitting at the State earmarked for this exact purpose. Why is it that government money is never used for the purpose it is intended?
- Anonymous, Manchester

No one likes to see jobs lost, benefits cut, co-pays and deductibles increased, etc. However, they cannot go on infinitely, as has been the case for public sector employees during recent years when private sector employees are losing jobs, and/or having hours and benefits reduced. So to the public employees of Manchester, welcome not to 2011 but to 2008. The rest of us have been dealing with what you are facing for at least three years. Hopefully we can all get through it.
- John, Manchester

All these parents with "special needs" kids should be paying for these expensive services. I am sure the city could save money if special ed was cut from the school budget. Back in my day all the slow kids just sat in the back of the class room and played cards.
- Keith, Manchester, ward 7

Here goes uncle teddy putting on his song and dance. You ain't going to cut any city service. The aldermen are just going to block your budget and you people will stick us with another huge tax increase. stop the song and dance and give it to the tax payers straight!
- Robert G., North End

200 paras out 100 new teachers in! Who is kidding who. This will never happen-why even bring this up-dumb idea from dumb people.
Paras service the Special Ed population-if the students do not get services the district is breaking the law!DAHHHHHHH

Cut the administration - great idea - Cut the SRO's - These two ideas are just plain stupid. Go into the schools and see for yourself - these guys are out straight and cannot keep up with all the BS they have to contend with - Just put it on the Principals - they certainly can work a 20 hr day!

Where is Roche when we need him??
- Mike from Manch, Manchester(Dream land)

There should be a residency requirement for ALL city employees. Then these out of town bums would care about this city and actually give back to the community when needed. all these greedy bums need to do is pay a little more in medical copays and it would say our city millions and help out struggling homeowners. Most normal people pay the first 5k in medical copays. city employee are greedy "out of town" employees.
- Ashley, North End of Manchester

If the BMA need to cut employees to balance the budget they should start with the ones who dont live in the city and pay taxes here.
- Albert, Manchester, North End

uncle teddy is all bark and no bite, thus the chilli fest every year. i bet we get a 10% raise in property tax and no city services will be cut.

But if they have to cut some positions, let it be the school resource officer positions. those cop are pretty much useless and are never at the school anyways. Just look at hillside story this week.
- chris, manchester

I just want to know one thing.

Where does all the money for education go?

Top to bottom, from the Federal Government right down to the smallest towns in America.

Our property taxes always go up, and mostly do to Public Education.

So I ask again, where is the money going?
- Harry, Atkinson

Disgusting! This is a perfect example of why the teachers union needs to go! They don't want the teachers to have to pay a little more for their health care co-pays, but its ok for students and their families to have to pay a fee to play to play sports, when we already pay our fair share in property taxes to fund these schools and teachers salaries??? Oh, the poor students, this means we won't be able to buy more lab, computer equipment, etc., but oh gee, God forbid the teachers make any sacrifices when it comes to your sacred health insurance. Oh, I know you teachers will gripe and moan about how underpaid you are, but I highly doubt you chose teaching as a career because you thought you'd become a millionaire doing it. The union would rather stick it to every property tax payer in Manchester and every student, rather than agree to pay $15 more in co-pays for doctors visits or $50 more in emergency room visits? Like someone else said, at least the mayor is making suggestions...
- Charlotte, Manchester

How about eliminating the welfare department- imagine the millions that would be saved in ALL departments. How about reduce the number of "passengers" on the garbage trucks-other towns seem to do well with single drivers on their garbage trucks. Reduce the numbers on the police and fire departments. Its interesting that on the school side they receive millions in federal dollars that vaporize to offset the massive increases on the city side-- yet we still propose cuts on the school side!
- Shwabbo, MAnchester

Really, Manchester? Do you honestly feel like you're going to see an improvement in performance or a decrease in behavioral issues if you cut all of the paraprofessionals? Think about how many of your students will be headed for out of district placements! NOT a good idea! Teddy, go spend some time observing what paraprofessionals do day in and day out before you make a ridiculous recommendation like this.
- k, manchester

The times have long past when government workers make less then the private sector, thus the benefits they use to demand and get. Now for the most part pay is equal or better and it is time they all start paying what the rest of us pay for healthcare, if we can even afford it to begin with. Cut the perks - most folks have seen no raise the past two years and the layoffs are well beyond what is being asked. Personally, we would all be better off if the Unions and their well paid bosses just left-that is the real problem.
- Bill, Manchester

Gatsas needs to realize education isn't a business that can be downsized. Education requires more teachers across the country but especially in Manchester. This mayor is a farse...gone on any good walks lately Mr. Mayor?
- BB, Hooksett

My violin is fresh out of sympathy notes, you get what I can afford and thats it. How you manage it I don't care. It's called Reality 101.
- Jack Alex, Manchester

I just watched the school board meeting from last Wednesday. The "experts" Gatsas had in from Anthem told the board that increasing co-pays will not lower the cost of health care for the city. What's the story here? Funny how the UL never had an article about this. Of course throughout the presentation one thing was clear. Our mayor repeatedly stated "You can't tell me ....." He's right about that.
The real heat should be on the school administration for using the stimulis money to fill positions. They knew all along that this day was coming and did it anyways. They should be held accountable for the hole we're in now. Using money that they knew would dry up in two years was irresponsible on their part. I guess it's just easier to blame the unions instead.
- John, Manchester

This is much bigger than local municipalities trying to deal with rising expenses.The state needs to enact an income tax and a sales tax to spread the burden evenly.People on a fixed income are being taxed out of their homes.State pensions aren't being funded properly either.It's just too much to ask only homeowners to pay.
- State Worker, Claremont

I applaud the mayor to making suggestions and offering up his view but what about the fact that our school are still falling. I am in no way suggesting that we increase spending but what I am saying is why are we not paying for performance. We are not getting the value for the dollars that we are spending. Our students are being forced out into the market place lacking the skills they need. Forget the equipment the sports teams and the busses what about the fundamentals? Good highly educated families are choosing to move to Bedford, Hookset and Auburn over Manchester. We need a change at the top someone who can get things done and get things moving in the right direction.
- Joshua, Manchester

I dare these guys to pass a 13 percent tax increase onto us homeowners, that would just about be the end of democrats and unions once and for all.
- robert perrault, manchester

At least the Mayor is making suggestions that OK are not going to be popular with the teachers, schools, etc. BUT he is making a lot of sense in many ways. If anyone of you have been on the inside, as I have, looking inas a school employee, there IS a lot of waste, a LOT of non teaching going on, a LOT of babysitting going on, A LOT of failure! Yes, for every Failure there is a success story, but I am not going to have my property tax go up one iota for the freeloading non-parents who send their progeny to school who don't want to learn, the nonparent who don't pay property taxes and have their hand out all the time for a free ride. Wake up Manchester, they are all part of the problem we as taxpayers carry on our backs. Gatsas at least has the guts to propose something. Like, gee the poor city employee will actually have to pay what we regular folks already pay in our co-pays! Boo Hoo for you! Welcome to the real world, I can't afford ro pay for your healthcare as well as my own.
- CC, Manchester

It's very simple, the School Board members who object to the Mayor's proposal should come up with their proposal to achieve the same goal. Stop whining and bring in alternatives.
- Richard L. Fortin, Manchester

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"Gatsas, Herbert to vie for Manchester mayor"
By BETH LaMONTAGNE HALL, New Hampshire Union Leader, July 26, 2011

MANCHESTER — The slate of candidates for this fall's municipal election is set with a two-way race between Mayor Ted Gatsas and School Committee member Chris Herbert topping the ticket.

The city filing period closed on Friday with a flurry of last-minute candidates coming out to run for office. The filing period got off to a slow start, but more than 70 people submitted their declaration of candidacy papers on Thursday and Friday after a call for candidates went out from the City Clerk's Office.

Three citywide races and four ward races are headed to a primary vote Sept. 20. There are six candidates vying for the four general election ballot slots for alderman at-large, including sitting Aldermen At-Large Dan O'Neil and Mike Lopez. Ward 2 School Committee member Joe Briggs, state Rep. Will Infantine, local attorney Joseph Kelly Levasseur and Jeff Nyhan are also running for alderman at-large.

Last-minute filings in the Board of School Committee At-Large race give voters four candidates in the primary race: local education advocate Kathy Staub, former Alderman David Whiby, state Rep. Ross Terrio and Joshua Harwood.

Welfare commissioner is also a crowded race, with current Commissioner Paul Martineau running for a sixth term against former Deputy Welfare Commissioner Diane Guimond, former Alderman Peter Sullivan and Jane Davis.

Other primary races include the Ward 11 Alderman race between Alderman Russ Ouellette, Emily Sandblade and former School Committee member Eric Fischer; the Ward 12 Alderman race between Alderman Patrick Arnold, Mark Nadzan and Chad Alden; the Ward 5 School Committee race between state Rep. Ted Rokas, Robert Tarr and Tara Powell; and the Ward 8 School Committee race between Erika Connors, Bob Schiavoni and former state Rep. Michael Farley.

There are 13 races up for a primary vote in the moderator, selectman and ward clerk races as well.

Some of the city's current officials decided to run for public office again, but this time for a different seat.

Ward 8 School Committee member Tom Katsiantonis is running instead for alderman; Ward 2 Committee member Joe Briggs is running for alderman at-large; and Committee member At-Large Debra Langton Gagnon will run instead in Ward 2 for the seat being vacated by Briggs.

Both Ward 1 Alderman Joyce Craig and Ward 3 Alderman Patrick Long will head into the general election unopposed, essentially guaranteeing the two a seat on the board. School Committee members Sarah Ambrogi in Ward 1, Donna Soucy in Ward 6, Arthur Beaudry in Ward 9 and John Avard in Ward 10 are also running unopposed.

Ward 8 Alderman Betsi DeVries, School Committee member At-Large Kathy Kelley and Ward 5 committee member Kathryn Vaughn will not run for reelection.

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"Gatsas proposes 1.41 percent tax increase"
By BETH LaMONTAGNE HALL, New Hampshire Union Leader, March 22, 2012

MANCHESTER — The city will get road repairs, increased spending on public safety and a new fleet management department under Mayor Ted Gatsas' fiscal year 2013 budget. The budget also gives the city a 31-cent tax increase.

Gatsas called for a 1.41 percent tax increase during his presentation to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Board of School Committee and city department heads on Thursday. This puts next year's property tax rate at about $22.27 per thousand of valuation. It includes $133 million for city services and $150 million for the Manchester School District.

Investing in the future of the city was a major theme of Gatsas' address. Gatsas laid out his priorities by highlighting initiatives such as making Manchester School of Technology a full-time high school, increasing public safety staffing and funding infrastructure projects.

"We have made lasting improvements to our city infrastructure that future generations will be able to enjoy," said Gatsas. "But we can not take this success for granted. We must rise to the challenge and continue to work everyday toward a secure, sustainable future and we must be vigilant. This budget is a very important step in that process."

This is the first city budget restricted by the tax cap that was passed by the voters in 2009 and comes very close to the 1.47 percent increase limit. The board can spend another $85,000 before having to override the cap with a vote of 10 aldermen, but Gatsas urged the board not to do so.

"The budget before you this evening fully meets the obligations for the city and the schools," said Gatsas. "The 1.41 percent is both adequate and appropriate. We do not need to override the tax cap and I will not support any effort to do so."

Before Gatsas began his budget address, he asked the city to keep injured Manchester police officer Daniel Doherty in their prayers and then asked fora moment of silence. He thanked Catholic Medical Center – where Doherty was treated – for the staff's kindness toward Doherty's family and colleagues.

The aldermen have been debating increases in public safety since the summer and Gatsas' budget reflected that. It includes an increase for the Police Department, allowing Chief David Mara to not only prevent layoffs but hire another seven officers. This puts the sworn officer complement to 217, the highest it has been in three years. It also preserves firefighters who were recently rehired back from layoffs.

Gatsas' budget includes six layoffs in the Highway Department, far fewer than the more than 50 proposed last year. The mayor attributed this to the efforts made by city workers, the majority of whom have agreed to concessions in pay and health care contributions that has saved the city $2.8 million. The Highway Department unions are part of a small group that has not yet agreed to concessions.

"Throughout this process we have stood together, we have made choices together and we came to mutually beneficial agreements with the employees of this city and we did that together," said Gatsas. "The result of our resolve will without doubt make for a secure, sustainable future."

The bulk of the tax increase will go to the school district, which is facing a major budget shortfall and the possibility of laying off 161 employees. The school board asked for $152 million, the largest amount allowable under the tax cap according to school district officials. But Gatsas' budget is short that by $2 million, largely to account for a reduction in federal money coming to Manchester schools. This puts next year's school budget shortfall at $12 million.

Gatsas admitted this will be a difficult gap to bridge, but argued that school staff unions could cut that gap by $5 million by making health insurance concessions.

"That is savings that can be used to restore teaching and support staff positions – should layoffs occur -- and programming that will be cut," said Gatsas.

He also pointed to the more than $20 million in federal and state dollars Manchester schools receive to fund things such as the school lunch programs and programs for the poor. This is seldom considered by critics who say the district is underfunded, he said, calling that claim “a myth.”

The 2013 budget proposal also reflects the mayor's focus on improving infrastructure. Gatsas proposed spending nearly $3 million from other city departments to fund activities at the new municipal complex, including running a newly created fleet management department. He also proposed shifting half of the $3 million bond slated for vehicle replacement to repairing city roads. Other funds from the bond will go to buying new vehicles and repairing sidewalks along Elm Street and elsewhere in the city, he added.

The mayor's push for investing in infrastructure benefits from a $1.7 million surplus that's expected to be left over on June 30, the end of this fiscal year. Gatsas proposed using $1 million to prepay city retirement obligations, $435,000 for the city's new recycling bins and $250,000 for improvements to the Derryfield Country Club. Any additional funds, he said, will go to fixing the sidewalks along Elm Street.

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"Save teacher jobs, crowd tells Manchester aldermen"
By BETH LAMONTAGNE HALL, New Hampshire Union Leader, April 3, 2012

MANCHESTER — Now is not the time for more than 160 layoffs, dozens of parents and teachers told the Board of Aldermen Tuesday night.

“How is Manchester going to be competitive? Do we want to attract young families to the city?” asked parent Lenore Vaillancourt, one of a crowd of 200 that crammed into the Aldermanic Chambers, stood in the aisles and in the hallway outside.

All but one of the more than 70 people who spoke said Mayor Ted Gatsas' proposed school budget severely under-funds education.

“The Manchester School District is at the bottom of the list when it comes to (standardized test) scores and you want to decrease the budget?” Vaillancourt said. “The Manchester school system needs as much money as possible moving forward. Let's instead save some teachers ... instead of redesigning a public golf course.”

She was referring to the $250,000 Gatsas proposed for repairs to the Derryfield Country Club. The Derryfield — as well as $435,000 proposed for new recycling toters and money set aside for downtown sidewalks — were criticized by many who felt the money should go to saving teacher jobs.

Gatsas' budget includes $133 million for city services, $150 million for the Manchester School District and a 1.41 percent tax increase. On the city side, the layoffs are limited to six in the Highway Department and could be eliminated if the department unions make concessions. The budget also calls for hiring more police officers.

The school board is requesting $152 million, but Gatsas has proposed flat-funding the school district by allotting $150 million from the general fund. To stay within the tax cap, the Manchester School District must cut $10 million to $12 million in staffing and current programs. Gatsas has said an estimated $5 million could be saved through school union concessions.

But Ben Dick, president of the Manchester Education Association, said that school union contracts were voted on by both the school board and Board of Aldermen and should be honored.

“As we often do, tonight my colleagues and I are decked in red as a sign of solidarity,” said Dick. “I think black would have been a more appropriate choice because I believe we may be witnessing the death of education as we know it in the city of Manchester, and I don't say that lightly.”

Republican state Rep. Tammy Simmons was the only person who urged the aldermen to keep down spending.

“Again we're talking about how the schools are going to collapse unless we give them more even though they are dropping the number of students every year,” said Simmons. “People just can't afford to keep spending more money. We all know if the budget goes up, it comes out of taxpayer money.”

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Fergus Cullen: "Fast-track Patrick Arnold runs for mayor of Manchester"
By FERGUS CULLEN, NH Union Leader, August 1, 2013

QUICK: NAME the person Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas defeated in his re-election campaign two years ago. How about the candidate Gatsas beat to win the office originally, in 2009?

Patrick Arnold is determined that his mayoral campaign won’t become the answer to a future trivia question. Arnold is a two-term alderman from Ward 12 on the West Side, an attorney by trade and a new dad. He turns 30 this month and, earnest demeanor notwithstanding, he looks so young he must get carded if ordering a drink.

Arnold grew up in suburban Baltimore, attended parochial schools and contracted the political bug. He worked at the Baltimore County elections board for several years to pay his way through the University of Maryland Baltimore County. There he wrote his thesis on the political differences between Vermont and New Hampshire after doing some field research of sorts by coming to New Hampshire to campaign for liberal Vermonter Howard Dean before the 2004 presidential primary.

Used to Maryland’s machine-driven political system, Arnold observed that politics in New Hampshire is accessible to anyone with some talent and a willingness to work hard. He applied to Franklin Pierce Law Center and moved to Manchester in 2006.

Two years later – just meeting the residency requirement – Arnold ran for state rep as a Democrat in a politically competitive, eight-seat district. Arnold finished a respectable ninth out of 18 candidates, one spot short of getting elected.

The following year, 2009, Arnold graduated from Franklin Pierce and ran for alderman. His opponent for the open seat was Keith Hirschmann, a formidable political veteran with previous service as alderman and state legislator. Arnold won comfortably with 57 percent of the vote. Elected concurrently to fill a vacancy, Arnold was sworn in the next day, hours after being sworn into the New Hampshire Bar.

Along the way Arnold worked part time for the Campaign for Ratepayers Rights, which advocates for liberal energy and environmental policies and is led by Democratic activist Bob Backus. Arnold clerked at Backus’s Manchester law firm and now works there as a litigator, a relationship which accelerated the expansion of Arnold’s network among city Democrats.

It wasn’t long before Alderman Arnold butted heads with Mayor Gatsas over the development of Hackett Hill and other issues. Arnold annoyed Gatsas enough that in 2011, Gatsas actively campaigned for Arnold’s opponent, Mark Nadzan. Gatsas won Ward 12 by a three to one margin, his best ward in the city, but Arnold hung on to win re-election by 12 votes in a recount. That win gives Arnold some confidence from having beaten Gatsas before.

Arnold’s basic message is that Manchester can do better than it has under Gatsas. Past mayors could proudly point to construction of the Verizon Center and Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. Gatsas’s biggest economic development project is the new downtown Market Basket. Two-hundred classrooms have more students than state maximums, according to Arnold.

Arnold notes that centralization of power has characterized Gatsas’s administration, citing the mayor’s attempt to take over the city’s economic development office. “That makes it even more political. I don’t think you should have to have friends in the mayor’s office in order to open or expand a business,” Arnold says.

Gatsas’s “my way or the highway” leadership style will be an issue in the campaign. “His style bleeds into everything. If you’re not for his idea, you’re a public enemy. He belittles people and poisons relationships. Vitriol and personal attacks are a matter of form” for the incumbent, Arnold says.

Arnold’s critics say he’s too friendly with the city’s public employee unions, which supported him in his past campaigns and this one. Arnold points to his recent vote against putting the city’s tax cap back on the ballot as an example of him voting against the union position. Arnold offers a pragmatic straddle on the tax cap itself, saying the city’s voters have backed it twice and the mayor and aldermen have to work within its confines.

Gatsas was elected with 57 percent of the vote in 2009, defeating Mark Roy, and re-elected with just under 70 percent in 2011 over Chris Herbert. “No one is unbeatable,” Arnold says, shrugging dismissively.

Fergus Cullen, a freelance columnist, can be reached at fergus@ferguscullen.com and followed on Twitter @FergusCullen.

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"Manchester bond rating dips, but barely a ‘bump,’ Gatsas says"
By TIM BUCKLAND, New Hampshire Union Leader, August 4, 2013

MANCHESTER — Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the city’s credit ratings, partly blaming the imposition of the city’s tax cap.

The city’s general obligation rating was downgraded from Aa1, which is the credit rating company’s second-highest grade, to Aa2; the city schools’ revenue bonds went from Aa1 to Aa3.

The agency also factored in losses in the Recreation Fund, which it said includes operations from the McIntyre Ski Area, two ice arenas and the Derryfield golf course. The agency said the operations went from contributing to the city’s general fund to running at deficits in fiscal year 2012.

“Current and future revenue growth (is) limited due to the city’s local property tax cap, which limits the property tax levy increase to the three-year average of the consumer price index,” Moody’s wrote in an explanation letter that will be a topic of discussion at Tuesday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.

Mayor Ted Gatsas said the downgrade does not affect the city’s current loan obligations and would have a “miniscule” effect on future interest rates. He estimated that the impact on future borrowing could be about 10 basis points, which would mean that a loan that would have been given at 6 percent would instead have an interest rate of 6.1 percent.

According to Bankrate.com’s loan amortization calculator, a 10-year, $100,000 loan at 6.1 percent would mean increased costs of $602.40 over the life of a loan compared to the same amount and term at 6 percent.

“I don’t even know if I’d call this a bump in the road,” Gatsas said of the downgrade. “It’s not going to change the way we will run the city.”

Despite the credit rating downgrade, the agency upgraded the city’s outlook from negative to stable, taking note of budget surpluses from increased auto registrations and lower spending on snow plowing.

“The revision of the outlook to stable reflects our view that the city’s financial position will remain adequate over the near term, and incorporates our expectation that the city will manage financial operations reasonably well within the limited flexibility afforded by the property tax cap,” the agency’s report said. “The stable outlook also factors our view that property values will remain stagnant over the next 12 to 18 months, with limited additional declines over the near term.”

Gatsas said he believes the tax cap has not hindered the city’s operations.

“Even with the tax cap in place for the last three years, we’ve operated the city at a surplus,” he said. “I think, in running the city and managing the city, we’re doing fine.”

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"New economic chief nominated for Manchester, gets Mayor Gatsas’ nod"
By TIM BUCKLAND, New Hampshire Union Leader, September 3, 2013

MANCHESTER — William Craig, policy director for Gov. Maggie Hassan, was nominated at Tuesday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting to become the city’s next economic development director.

“I have the utmost confidence that Mr. Craig is going to perform the duties required of the position and, believe me, I know he’s going to work hard, being a lifelong member of the city of Manchester,” Mayor Ted Gatsas said. “I think he’s going to be an asset to us for an awfully long time.”

Craig’s father, former House Minority Leader Jim Craig of Manchester, was recently named state labor commissioner by Hassan.

Craig’s nomination will be taken up at the Oct. 1 full board meeting; eight aldermen will have to vote to approve it. Should he be confirmed, he would start in mid-October at an annual salary of $67,890.40, according to the Mayor’s Office.William Craig started as a legislative aide to Hassan while she was the state Senate President Pro Tem in January 2007, according to his resume. He also worked on her campaign for governor and on her transition team before being appointed policy director. He holds a law degree from Suffolk University Law School.

“Will Craig has been a trusted advisor and friend to me since my early days in the state Senate and has been a tremendous asset to the Office of the Governor in our efforts to create jobs and build a more innovative economic future,” Hassan said Tuesday night in a statement. “I am sorry to see him go, but he is incredibly well-suited to lead economic development efforts in Manchester, and the city is gaining a dedicated and highly qualified public servant. I wish him the very best in this exciting new role.”

Craig’s nomination comes after a series of events that saw the city’s Economic Development Office brought under the auspices of the Mayor’s Office in May, only to have aldermen reverse that decision last month, saying they wanted to avoid politicizing the office.

Gatsas had maintained that his office was well-suited to oversee the goals of job creation and bringing business to Manchester; he questioned the usefulness and expense of having an economic development chief.

Ward 3 Alderman Pat Long had originally backed the mayor’s position, but then came to advocate keeping the office intact, apparently in response to concerns raised by representatives of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and other members of the business community.

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Social Issues: "City 'losing ground' to poverty"
By Pat Grossmith, NH Union Leader, March 27, 2015

MANCHESTER — With a third of its residents living in poverty, children growing up in some Queen City neighborhoods face the kind of health and safety issues that make it harder for them to escape to something better.

City agencies and nonprofits need to combine resources to improve the health and housing needs of Manchester's most vulnerable population, those living in violent and impoverished neighborhoods in the center city, said Deputy Public Health Director Anna Thomas.

"We are losing ground every day," Thomas told about 100 people Wednesday at the 2015 annual Breakfast of NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire at Fratello's.

She spoke about the city's recently adopted Neighborhood Health Improvement Strategy, a 71-page report that takes a hard look at the ever-growing poverty level in the state's largest city and how it adversely affects the health of residents.

More than 32,000 of Manchester's estimated 109,000 residents live at some level of poverty, about the equivalent of the entire population of Coos County, according to the study. Of those 32,000, half of them live in center city neighborhoods, also known as the city's Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area, a designated area based on socioeconomic indicators.

And the city's fastest-growing population of poor, by age, is children under the age of 18. More than half of Manchester's school children are enrolled in free or reduced meals, Thomas said.

More than half

Fifty-four percent of school children — about 8,000 — qualify for free or reduced lunches; 90 percent of the 600 children at Beech Street School qualify.

About one in four children live at or below 100 percent of the poverty threshold. Based on American Community Survey estimates, nearly 2,500 Manchester children under the age of 18 are considered "very poor," living below 50 percent of the poverty threshold, which comes to about $11,000 a year for a family of four.

"It's what keeps me up at night — the growth of childhood poverty in Manchester," said Thomas.

Most of those affected live in areas of streets named for trees — Spruce, Cedar, Beech, etc. — near Central High School and the Henry Wilson School on the east side of the city. On the West Side, it’s the area around Granite Square and West High School.

These are areas where violence and crime are higher than in any other part of the city; where residents face a higher risk of lifelong poverty; where children suffer from elevated levels of lead and uncontrolled asthma; where back alleys are used as walkways because of busy streets and intersections with no crosswalks, according to Thomas and the report.

Children with elevated levels of lead in their blood are "really just a symptom of much larger problems, Thomas said.

Those living in these neighborhoods also are at twice the risk for coronary problems compared to those living in low-crime neighborhoods, according to the study.

Wrong way to solution

Thomas said those providing services to the impoverished in Manchester are doing what they can and are really working hard at it. But, she said, "We're going in the wrong direction."

Thomas said she's worked for 20 years in the city "and I am telling you, we absolutely have to do something different."

To try and reverse the trend — which Thomas said could take decades — a new program, funded with a grant, is about to begin at Beech Street and Bakersville schools, in which social workers will be brought in to address the high truancy rate.

High rate

Thomas said one in five students in the city's six Title 1 elementary schools have 10 or more unexcused absences each school year, but the city has only one truant officer working for the Manchester School District.

She said often, when a social worker goes to a home of a truant student, other problems are found that need to be addressed. That could be parents or guardians with alcohol or drug addictions, or with a mental health or other medical issues.

Hopefully, she said, residents in these areas will become involved in the project.

Thomas said another recommendation is to use neighborhood schools as community centers after hours, where residents can taken classes and other services can be provided.

Echoes of violence

Children who grow up in these violent neighborhoods are especially vulnerable, like those who witnessed police officer Dan Doherty being shot numerous times on the city's West Side in 2012, Thomas said.

Residents of the neighborhood where officer Michael Briggs was killed in 2006 still talk about the shooting as if it were yesterday, she said.

Thomas said another issue for Manchester is the single-parent household. Based on 2007-09 data (the most recent available), more than 40 percent of babies born in Manchester are to single mothers.

Two out of three low-income children are living with one parent. In addition, nearly half of all births are to mothers who have only a high school education or less.

According to the report, each year nearly 150 teenage girls give birth in Manchester, for a teen birth rate of 40.4 per 1000 births (among 15- to 19-year-olds), which is more than double New Hampshire’s statewide rate and nearly 14 percent higher than the national rate (2009 data) of 26.5 per 1,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Funding for the project was provided by the Lois G. Roy Dickerman Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and The Dartmouth Institute.

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"Homeless, like the center that serves them, seek lifeline"
By Mark Hayward, NH Union Leader, March 25, 2015

When it’s all said and done, maybe there will always be homeless people.

Even in the richest of places. Even when employers go begging for workers. Even if apartments are cheap and plentiful.

Maybe there will always be people like Scott, a jittery 27-year-old who says he’s been twice kicked out of a mental health residential treatment program and is now fighting the bureaucracy to get his disability check restored.

Or Gail, a middle-aged woman who expects to be banned from the New Horizons shelter because she hasn’t followed her social worker’s advice.

Or Paul, a 39-year-old who said he’s on the street since a falling out with his girlfriend.

This week, the three were among the dozens keeping warm at the Homeless Services Center, an effort that started five years ago when the city adopted a 10-year plan to end homelessness. The center was designed to do two things:

• Keep people out of downtown during the daytime.

• Provide a one-stop center for enough services — education, job placement, counseling, computer access and benefit checks.

Last month, the United Way said major funders had pulled out of the project and that its support checks, which amounted to $98,000 a year, would end in May. Sensing the lack of commitment, long-term director Jake King quit, and the center was expected to close sometime this spring.

The center has won a reprieve. This week, staff told guests it would be open weekdays for the foreseeable future. And word started to spread that churches were taking over the center.

Where man had failed, God will succeed, perhaps.

“We’re just trying to point a way out for them. We know God has not abandoned them,” said Craig Chevalier, who helped found Cafe 1269, a Christian coffeehouse on Hanover Street that welcomes the homeless. He said many churches are putting the final touches on new plans for the center.

About 100 to 125 people visit the center daily, and about 65 eat lunch there, said Richard Doyle, who now runs the center, on top of his full-time job as executive director of the sobriety-linked Helping Hands shelter.

“It’s like we’re invisible,” said Steve, who said he’s homeless because he devotes most of his disability check to his girlfriend, who has cancer. A stray dog gets more sympathy than a homeless person, he said.

“Why can’t we have the same faith and love for our common man?” he said.

When Chevalier talks about turnarounds, it isn’t just a job and apartment. It’s other things that social workers don’t measure in reports: a stable relationship, long-term sobriety and finding faith.

“In so many ways, there’s things that can happen for these people,” Chevalier said.

Some program changes at the Homeless Services Center can come as early as next month; an entire repurposing should be in place by July, Doyle said.

“There’s a lot of people who need religion to better themselves, to get off drugs,” said Paul Campbell, as he sat in the main waiting room of the center. “That’s not a negative at all.”

On a cold Monday morning, most of the center guests just wanted off the downward sleigh ride of single-digit temperatures. Even inside, they bundled up in winter coats and stocking caps. A few get around with canes. One uses a walker.

Some had gray hair and faces etched by age and cold weather. A young couple, barely out of their teen years, huddled close.

One middle-aged man, wrapped in a New England Patriots winter jacket and scarf, snored while a worker from Healthcare for the Homeless spoke about nutrition to an attentive crowd of about 50.

Except for when the nutrition talk took place, the main room looked like a nursing home ward. People quietly waited, their brains powered down like a laptop on low battery.

Most said they appreciated the center, but griped about some of the rules and murmured that drug use doesn’t end at the property line.

It’s warm. It’s safe. You can get your mail there. There’s a free lunch. There are computers to check email and look for jobs. You can take a shower. All sorts of human service agencies hold office hours there.

Both days I visited, the front desk manager stressed that drug or alcohol use is not tolerated, a message brought home by the discovery of two empty Budweiser cans in the men’s room.

Many of the center’s guest are addicts, Doyle said. But many also volunteer to do work — sweeping up, cleaning up after lunch, manning the front desk, writing letters to lawmakers protesting cuts to homeless programs.

It’s not surprising that the Homeless Services Center is going through another transformation. They’ve tried revisions in the past. A TV is gone, as are afternoon hours.

“They’re trying to make it so it’s not so comfortable, so you go out and do things,” said another homeless man, who said he’s trying to get on disability. “You can only do so much.”

At this point, the center is part of a daily circuit. Someone who’s on the street can stay at New Horizons for the night, then eat breakfast there. The Homeless Services Center opens after the shelter closes. It provides lunch and stays open until 1 p.m. Then, it’s Cafe 1269 for the afternoon. And at 4:30 p.m., New Horizons serves dinner.

To Doyle, it’s a question of making a tough life a little easier.

“It’s the right thing to do. That’s why we’re here,” he said.

“Three to five percent of the people have to be unemployed for this capitalist system to work,” he said. “The reality is that homelessness is part of the design of capitalism.”

Mark Hayward’s City Matters appears Thursdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader and UnionLeader.com. He can be reached at mhayward@unionleader.com.

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"Gatsas unveils budget proposal, says education is priority"
By Ted Siefer, New Hampshire Union Leader, March 31, 2015

MANCHESTER — Mayor Ted Gatsas presented his budget for next fiscal year on Tuesday, vowing to continue efforts to improve education, public safety and roads, despite a tight tax cap that limits new spending to about $2.6 million.

Gatsas said he allocated all of that additional money to the school district, for a total of $161 million, while the budget for the city was lowered to $143.5 million. For the current 2015 fiscal year, the city budget is $143.7 million.

"Every single additional dollar of revenue raised under the tax cap, and more, has been put toward education in the city of Manchester," Gatsas told the city and district officials who filled the City Hall chambers on Tuesday.

Gatsas' school budget for the 2016 fiscal year, which begins July 1, is $600,000 less than the tax cap budget proposed last week by Superintendent Debra Livingston. The school board voted to reject that budget as inadequate in favor of Livingston's preferred budget, which totals nearly $164.7 million.

The city is facing a 1.33 percent tax cap, its most restrictive since the cap, which is based on the rate of inflation, went into effect three years ago.

Gatsas said he believed that city departments would be able to operate "within the appropriation with no layoffs."

Gatsas also proposed the creation of an "Annual Road Replacement Fund," a five-year, $18 million plan to improve roads citywide. The money would come through new bonds.

"Maintenance of our city's infrastructure is paramount to our residents, businesses and to the vitality of our city," Gatsas said.

Addressing the school budget, Gatsas said he believed his proposed $600,000 reduction to Livingston's tax cap budget could be made up by tapping some of the district's reserve accounts, which he said total more than $1.6 million.

Livingston had indicated that even with her larger tax cap budget, salaries and benefits would have to be cut by $500,000 and up to 40 middle school classes would be overcrowded by state standards.

Several school board members attended the budget speech. After Gatsas' speech, several members offered the view that it could have been worse, given the restrictive tax cap.

"It's more than I expected," Ward 10 board member John Avard said.

Ward 1 Alderman Joyce Craig, who has led the crafting of budgets on the aldermanic board in past years, said the level of funding for public safety and schools was "a concern" for her.

Craig, who recently announced her candidacy for mayor, added that she had "no idea" if an override of the tax cap was a possibility this year.

Last year, the aldermen voted to override the tax cap for the first time since it went into effect.

In his speech, Gatsas said the city was poised to finish the current fiscal year with a $1.5 million surplus in its health care line. Gatsas said he wanted to split $1 million in surplus funds to lower taxes in the 2016 budget and to replenish rainy day reserves.

Despite the restrictive cap, Gatsas offered an upbeat assessment of new and ongoing initiatives and the city's economy. He pointed to the STEAM Ahead programs at Manchester High School West and in the elementary schools, and to the project, recently given final approval by the aldermen, to convert all of the city's streetlights to LED fixtures.

Gatsas said the project would result in brighter, safer lights and a 40 percent reduction in city utility bills.

"We are the first community in the state of New Hampshire to make this conversion, and now cities and towns across the state are looking to follow our lead," the mayor said.

Gatsas also pointed to signs of a rebounding local economy, such as a Burlington Coat Factory store going into the former Stop and Shop plaza, and ESPN Radio moving into the Elm Street storefront left vacant by the departure of Music & Arts.

The budget now goes to the aldermen, who will spend the coming weeks reviewing it and possibly devising an alternative budget. A public hearing will be scheduled as soon as next week.

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"Manchester police chief set to retire"
By Mark Hayward, New Hampshire Union Leader, May 11, 2015

David Mara, who has run the Manchester Police Department for almost seven years, announced to the rank and file on Monday that he will be leaving the job at the end of next month, the police chief confirmed.

“Yeah, I’m going to be leaving by June 30,” Mara told a reporter late Monday afternoon. But the police chief said he was busy with several matters and would say little else than to give a brief rundown of his career.

Mayor Ted Gatsas said he’s spoken to Mara about his departure and expects a formal letter from him.

“I think he’s done a great job for the city of Manchester. We worked very hard to make sure the citizens of our city are safe,” Gatsas said.

Gatsas said he doesn’t know the reasons for Mara’s departure, but the mayor said Mara wants to spend time with his family. Gatsas also believes that veteran officers have a strong incentive to consider retirement and avoid any potential reduction of retirement benefits.

Mara will also be eligible for a one-time $13,000 retirement incentive from the city if he retires before July 1.

Mara started with the Manchester Police Department in September 1986 as a patrolman. He attended law school at nights and earned his law degree in 1994.

He was a police captain in 2008, when he was the surprise choice of then Mayor Frank Guinta to become police chief. He initially oversaw a police crackdown on crime that was a response to the killing of Officer Michael Briggs.

But that was called into question in 2010, when four police officers beat up a patron at the Strange Brew. The city paid Christopher Micklovic $200,000, and the Attorney General said it was not the department’s finest hour.

Mara eventually played tough with errant cops. For example, he fired Sgt. Stephen Coco after news surfaced that Coco was involved in a hit-and-run that harmed two high school students.

He trumpeted community policing. He increased the number of minorities and women on the force. And he urged drug treatment to combat the city’s heroin epidemic, saying the city can’t arrest its way out of the epidemic.

Gatsas said he believes he will be able to fill the post before Mara’s departure. He said he will look to see if any internal candidates are interested in the chief's job before engaging in a nationwide search.

mhayward@unionleader.com

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"Vets challenge city's use of disability benefits as income"
Mark Hayward, NH Union Leader, May 23, 2015

MORE THAN 40 years ago, Armand Lavoie and Joey Francis Sr. fought an intractable, merciless enemy in the jungles of Southeast Asia.

This year, they’re facing a foe that will likely prove just as intractable and merciless — City Hall.

When the city sends out property-tax bills in about a month, the two Marine combat veterans will face astonishing increases. Lavoie anticipates that he’ll have to pay $3,300 in taxes, up from zero. Francis expects he’ll have to pay about $1,900, also up from zero.

The two disabled veterans — disabled combat veterans who enlisted to serve their country — are facing their first-ever property tax bills after the city rewrote the rules governing tax exemptions for the elderly and disabled.

Basically, the city made it easier for the elderly to qualify for an exemption (you could also call it a tax break) but harder for the disabled.

The cases of Francis and Lavoie are slightly different, but both have the same complaint. The city counts their veteran disability benefits as income when it considers if they get an exemption. Not even the federal government considers veteran disability benefits as income, they said.

“What they’re doing is not right,” said Francis, 69, who said he suffered shrapnel wounds from a grenade in 1968.

“We don’t pay (income) taxes. How can the city of Manchester consider (veteran disability payments) income if the IRS and federal government don’t?” said Lavoie, 64, whose knee was badly hurt when he fell out of a helicopter in 1969. Years later, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and awarded 100 percent disability status.

“They rewrote the rules to their benefit, that’s what they did,” Lavoie said.

Not exactly, the city says, and its officials map out a long explanation. The city has always counted veteran disability payments as income, according to Robert Gagne, chairman of the city assessors board.

But last year, aldermen drastically reduced the income limits that allowed any disabled person to qualify for an exemption. Before the change, someone who was disabled could report an income of $100,000 and receive an exemption; this year, a single person qualifies for an exemption only if he or she has $37,000 or less in annual income.

As disabled residents — whether veterans or not — Francis and Lavoie qualified for the tax break last year, but the lower income threshold disqualifies them this year.

The city spells out its reasonings in a June 2014 memo issued by the Board of Assessors. “Elderly and disabled exemptions and veterans’ credits ... increase the tax burden for all other taxpayers.”

Gagne said Manchester gave tax breaks to 560 disabled individuals before aldermen changed the limitations; Nashua gives tax breaks to 80.

Last June, aldermen voted unanimously to reduce the income limits for the disability exemption. They voted overwhelmingly to cut the exemption amount by 36 percent.

“I am not picking on anyone that is disabled, and I really feel for people who have a hardship and can’t afford their taxes, but unfortunately we have a lot of people in the city of Manchester ... that are falling on hard times, and they are still paying their taxes,” Alderman Bill Barry said at the time.

Even with the changes, most veterans still receive a tax credit of $400 every year. Disabled veterans likely get another $1,600 taken off their tax bill.

That’s why Francis is only paying about half of what his bill would be. Lavoie’s case is further complicated because he left the Marines with a discharge status of “general under honorable conditions.”

But state law says a veteran must have an honorable discharge to get a veteran tax credit.

Once again, there’s a double standard. Lavoie still qualifies for and receives veteran benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but the state says he doesn’t deserve a tax break.

“I left Vietnam, my head was all screwed up,” Lavoie said. He mentions one combat mission where he went unfed for 10 days and sleepless for six. Then there’s the guilt that he survived and his friends didn’t.

All contributed to Lavoie’s PTSD and symptoms of paranoia, violence and drug use. He had a couple fights; a psychiatric hospitalization. Although he completed his hitch, his discharge fell just short of honorable, he said.

Five years ago, Lavoie received his PTSD diagnosis, making him 100 percent disabled in the eyes of the Department of Veteran Affairs. That meant a big enough disability check — $3,285 a month — that allowed him to afford his modest home.

Both Lavoie and Francis said they can pay their upcoming property tax bills. But they maintain that it’s wrong to get socked with such a big increase. They said they’ve called their congressmen to no avail.

They said they’d like to hire a lawyer, but the city has its lawyers too.

My advice: Call your alderman or whoever’s running for mayor — this is an election year, after all — and let them know how you feel. For instance, Mayor Ted Gatsas said disability exemptions were out of whack in Manchester, but he’s concerned about the effect on combat veterans. “If their disability happened in the war, that’s something we can talk about,” he said.

To Lavoie, it’s a question of semantics. He compares his disability check to a payment an insurance company would send a victim of an automobile accident.

“It’s how you word things,” Lavoie said. “They call it income. I call it compensation. Look up the difference.”

Mark Hayward’s City Matters appears Saturdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader and on UnionLeader.com. He can be reached at mhayward@unionleader.com.

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"$250 million of city debt downgraded by Moody's"
Staff Report, NH Union Leader, May 30, 2015

MANCHESTER — More than $250 million of municipal debt was downgraded by Moody’s Investors Service this week.

They downgraded the rating to Aa3 from Aa2 the city’s $178.5 million of general obligation debt and lowered to A1 from Aa3 some $73.8 million in appropriation-backed school facility revenue bonds.

The downgrade for the larger portion “reflects the city’s challenged financial operations, resulting in reduced reserves that will stabilize in the near term, but will be pressured by the local tax cap in the future,” Moody’s announced. “The rating also incorporates elevated debt and pension liabilities as well as a sizeable and diverse tax base with average socioeconomic indicators.”

In providing an outlook, Moody’s wrote: “The stable outlook reflects our expectation that the city’s financial operations will stabilize over the near term given the override to the tax cap in fiscal 2015, which will enable the city to balance operations, but limit the ability to build reserves and liquidity.”

Moody’s also assigned a rating of Aa3 to $33.8 million in general obligation bonds expected to be sold June 17.

Generally, higher bond ratings generate lower borrowing costs.

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"Manchester issues first bonds since 2011"
By Ted Siefer, New Hampshire Union Leader, June 19, 2015

MANCHESTER — The city issued bonds earlier this month for the first time since 2011 to borrow nearly $40 million to pay for a wide range of projects, including a new drainage system at the Derryfield Country Club, school renovations and LED streetlights.

The latest bond issue comes after a credit rating agency last month raised concerns about the city’s “elevated” debt levels.

The scale of this month’s bond issue is comparable to but smaller than the last one in 2011, when the city bonded $43 million to build the Municipal Complex. The total bond issue then was $52.2 million and also included $6.4 million for school building renovations, according to city Finance Director Bill Sanders.

By contrast, the latest bond issue includes numerous smaller-scale projects approved over the last four years, as well as several years worth of payments to purchase city vehicles as part of the Mechanized Equipment Replacement fund.

The money sought through the bonds totals approximately $37.9 million. This does not include two projects bonded as part of the 2016 fiscal year budget: $6 million for the first phase of a five-year, $18 million road replacement fund and $5.8 million for a new citywide emergency radio system. Bonds for these projects will be issued when the city next goes to market, Sanders said.

Among the projects funded with the new bonds are: $5.8 million for the equipment replacement fund; $4.9 million for roadway improvements; $3.5 million for the drainage system and other upgrades at the Derryfield Country Club; $3.3 million to convert the city’s 9,000 streetlights to LEDs; and $2.4 million for the Hackett Hill fire station.

The school district’s bonds include: $5 million to eliminate open classrooms and other renovations at the Beech Street School; $3 million to expand the Manchester School of Technology; $2.8 million for technology and security improvements; and $900,000 for new school buses.

Most of the bonded projects were authorized since the tax cap went into effect. Unlike the budgets for the city and school district, the tax cap does not restrict how much money can be sought through bonding, except to the extent the bonds add to annual debt service.

Debt levels

Mayor Ted Gatsas has championed several of the major bond initiatives, including the vehicle and road replacement funds and the LED streetlight conversion. He stressed that the city’s debt levels remain within acceptable levels in the eyes of most bond rating agencies, and that there was no escaping the fact that city has major infrastructure needs.

“We live in a city that wasn’t built yesterday,” he said. “We’re in a city that will continue to be here long after a lot of us are gone. I’m sure if you look back 30 years ago at how much bonding was done, when you talk collectively, there were a lot of dollars.”

The city’s debt level is slightly below 12 percent of its budget, according to Sanders, which is at the upper end of the 8-12 percent range favored by rating agencies.

Moody’s Investor Service partly cited the city’s “elevated debt” level in its decision last month to downgrade the city’s credit rating to Aa3 from Aa2.

The lower rating could result in the city having to pay a higher interest rate on the bonds. Sanders said the rate for the latest issue hasn’t been determined and will depend on a bidding process.

The school district’s debt levels are slightly lower than the city’s.

Modest progress

The city has made modest progress in bringing down the level of debt service in its budget since 2012, when it totaled $18.2 million; in the 2015 fiscal year it was $17.6 million, and it’s projected to be $17.3 million in the 2016 budget year.

Even with the latest bond issue, Sanders said the city’s debt levels remain below 12 percent. While Manchester doesn’t have triple-A ratings, he noted the agencies have maintained double-A ratings, along with stable outlooks for the city.

Sanders also pointed out that a significant share of the city’s debt stems from the construction of the $43 million Municipal Complex, a project he supported.

While he would like to see the city’s debt level come down further, Sanders said rating agencies also recognize the value of investing in infrastructure. “Municipal rating agencies like to see this. It improves the community,” he said. “If you have a good explanation why you’re doing it now, the rating agencies look for that judgment, that process.”

tsiefer@unionleader.com

Manchester's bonds

Major city and school projects bonded or authorized as of June 2015:

CITY PROJECTS
• $5.8 million: vehicle replacement
• $4.9 million: roadway projects
• $3.5 million: drainage system, improvements at the Derryfield Country Club
• $3.3 million: conversion of the city's 9,000 streetlights to LED fixtures
• $2.4 million: Hackett Hill fire station

SCHOOL PROJECTS
• $5 million: elimination of open classrooms at Beech Street School
• $3 million: renovation, expansion at Manchester School of Technology
• $2.8 million: technology, security improvements
• $900,000: school bus replacement

New bonds authorized as part of 2016 fiscal year budget but not yet issued:
• $6 million: phase one of five-year $18 million road replacement fund
• $5.8 million: replacement of citywide emergency radio system

Total bond issue in June 2015: $37.9 million
Total bonds authorized as of June 2015: $49.7 million

Source: Manchester Finance Department

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"Manchester mayor steps down as top negotiator"
By Ted Siefer, New Hampshire Union Leader, June 11, 2015

MANCHESTER — Mayor Ted Gatsas on Wednesday relinquished his role as the lead negotiator with the city’s unions, after a majority of aldermen the night before voted against tentative contract agreements.

In a letter to Alderman-at-Large Dan O’Neil, the chairman of the board of aldermen, Gatsas said he was giving his “official notice” that he would no longer “be taking part in union negotiations.” He recommended that O’Neil set up a special committee of three aldermen to take over as the city’s representative in the talks.

The developments make it unlikely that agreements will be reached on labor contracts for the vast majority of city employees, including police and firefighters, before the current ones expire at the end of this month. This would essentially result in a pay freeze for the employees until new agreements are reached, while the current terms of their health insurance would also remain in place.

Gatsas’ decision to step down as negotiator was criticized by Ward 1 Alderman Joyce Craig, who is also a candidate for mayor.

“I think the letter from the mayor is an example of his inability to find solutions for the city,” Craig said. “He asked for this authority, and we gave it to him, and when it didn’t go his way, he quit. And now we’ll have to work together to find a solution under a compressed timeline.”

Gatsas defended his work as lead negotiator and his decision to give up the post after the preliminary agreement was rejected.

“I worked very hard on it,” he said. “If I bring a tentative agreement and it’s not accepted, it’s up to the aldermen to find a different way. Maybe Alderman Craig should sit at the negotiating table.”

Gatsas declined to comment on the proposed agreement itself because it was only discussed in nonpublic session on Tuesday.

The session began immediately after the board had voted to adopt final budgets for the city and school district that total $305 million. Neither budget allocates any additional money over the current year for adjustments in employee salaries and health insurance as a result of new contracts. The teachers union, which has been working without a contract for two years, is voting this week on whether to ratify a tentative agreement.

According to several sources, the tentative agreements considered Tuesday were reached with two municipal unions, but the city’s finance director expressed concerns that they would be very costly if the same terms were sought by all unions, as is often the case in contract negotiations.

O’Neil, who has generally enjoyed the backing of city unions, said he didn’t agree with everything in the preliminary agreements, but that he “would’ve supported them.”

He added that he was “disappointed” in Gatsas’ decision to step down as negotiator, but that he recognized that he had “put a lot of time into it.”

O’Neil said he may propose a one-year extension of the current contracts in order to allow more time to deal with the contentious issues of health care and salaries, as well as the question of whether to hire a professional negotiator, as the city has in the past. O’Neil said he was concerned about the prospect of having many city employees working under expired contracts.

“I do get concerned about morale. We’re asking our police, our firefighters, to put their lives on the line every day,” he said. “It’s human nature, when people don’t feel good about how they’re treated as employees, it affects their performance, whether in the public sector or private.”

The other at-large alderman, Joe Kelly Levasseur, took a dimmer view of the agreements negotiated by Gatsas, indicating that they were too generous and politically motivated.

“He gave us contracts that benefited employees and not the taxpayers, and now that the board refused to vote for them, he’s going to turn around and hope the city employees get mad at Joyce Craig,” Levasseur said.

tsiefer@unionleader.com

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EDITORIAL - "A city budget: Another spending cap win"
NH Union Leader, June 13, 2015

Last year, Manchester aldermen voted to override the city's tax-and-spending cap because, they said, the need was dire. The city's property tax rate rose by 3.99 percent. This year, they passed a budget that keeps spending within the cap. It is a city election year, after all.

Last year's override was facilitated in large part by the lack of cash reserves. The city had generated a $2.5 million budget surplus the year before, but aldermen spent it over the objections of Mayor Ted Gatsas.

This year, the school district was allowed to access $1 million in surplus funds it had available. Next year? Who knows?

In the $305 million city budget, $161 million goes to the school district and $144 million to city departments. The spending increase is only 1.33 percent, which falls within the cap.No doubt some, if not most, aldermen would have preferred to spend much more. But the voter-approved cap served as an effective deterrent. No one wanted to run for re-election this fall having voted for two consecutive cap overrides. Another win for the cap — and the voters who have repeatedly approved it.

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"Homeless Services Center in Manchester to close doors"
By Mark Hayward, New Hampshire Union Leader, June 16, 2015

MANCHESTER — The Manchester Homeless Services Center — the one-stop location designed for homeless to find shelter, lunch and social services during the daytime — will close at the end of June, despite last-minute hopes it would be rescued, officials said Monday.

The last day of operation will be June 29 [2015].

Several people interviewed at the center Monday said they enjoyed the meal, free laundry, shower, mailing address and computer room that the Center offered. They predicted they will spend more time on the street and in city parks.

“It’s a shame they’re closing this place. There’s a lot of reputable people who depend on this place,” said John Grady, 51. He said he can’t work because of back injuries and is awaiting approval for Social Security disablity. His wife is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. He said they live outside in a tent on the West Side.

Shawn Dionne said the center was safe, and he enjoyed the shower and free lunch.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s going to be rough in the beginning,” he said.

Opened five years ago, the Center was a focal point of then Mayor Frank Guinta’s 10 year plan to end homelessness in the city.

Many foundations and agencies — including Granite United Way, the City of Manchester, Helping Hands and Catholic Charities — provided funds or help to keep it running.

But private foundations cut funding earlier this year, prompting others to pull out. The shelter cut back to three days a week and closed early at 1 p.m.

About 70 people now visit the Center on a daily basis, said Brian Jones, an office manager. This past winter, officials put the census at twice that.

Granite United Way pledged to keep the operation funded until May 1, and in late March there was a last-ditch flurry to find other sources — such as churches — to keep it in operation.

But Rich Doyle said nothing materialized, and Helping Hands, a sobriety-linked shelter that owns the building, is repurposing the space.

“Helping Hands can’t do it alone,” he said.

Meanwhile, area churches are working together to develop a faith-based program that would provide many of services now provided by the Services Center, said Craig Chevalier, co-founder of Cafe 1269, a downtown coffee house that provides faith-based services to the homeless.

He said the churches respect the services that the Center provides, but his group wants it to be Christian based. Cafe 1269, which is located on Hanover Street, has been open for six years; last Sunday, it served 148 lunches.

“To not keep them alive — but to have them live — is what we want to see happen,” Chevalier said.

mhayward@unionleader.com

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"Manchester mayor to push for drug court today"
By Paul Feely, New Hampshire Union Leader, June 22, 2015

MANCHESTER — Mayor Ted Gatsas and other city officials are planning to make their case this morning before the leaders of the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation to fund a drug court, which would direct addicts who commit low-level crimes into treatment rather than jail, during a public hearing on the county budget.

The public hearing will take place at 10 a.m. today in the Bouchard Building at the Goffstown County Complex, 329 Mast Road in Goffstown.

The delegation’s 22-member executive committee, comprising state representatives from towns and cities in Hillsborough County, earlier this month rejected spending nearly $450,000 for the drug court as part of its budget for Fiscal Year 2016.

Gatsas said he intends to offer testimony on the severity of the drug problem both in the Queen City and surrounding towns, and request the county use some of a $5 million surplus to fund a drug court.

“There is no question there is a significant need for a drug court to fight the addiction problem we are seeing,” said Gatsas on Sunday. “This is an epidemic, not just in our city, but across the county, our state and the country.”

The full county delegation, consisting of 123 members, must approve the final budget following the public hearing. The county delegation is scheduled to meet again Tuesday at 6 p.m., back in the Bouchard Building in Goffstown, to approve the budget.

“I and a lot of others intend to be there Tuesday night as well,” said Gatsas.

Gatsas said he expects New Hampshire Superior Court Chief Justice Tina Nadeau to be among those testifying during today’s public hearing.

“I also expect there will be a lot of mothers who have gone through this with their children, drug counselors, anyone who can speak to the level of need we have for a drug court like this,” said Gatsas.

Earlier this month, the city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to send a letter to the entire delegation urging them to provide funding for the drug court. City aldermen recently passed a final $305 million budget for Fiscal Year 2016 that included debate on — but ultimately left out — funds to launch a drug court.

During budget discussions Ward 1 Alderman Joyce Craig outlined an ‘alternate budget,’ suggesting that $120,500 in contingency funds be used to help fund a drug court in the city. Gatsas opposed the idea, saying such a budget vote could affect efforts to lobby Hillsborough County’s legislative delegation to fund the court with some of the $5 million in surplus funds found in the county budget. Such courts are now operating in several counties in the state, with the goal of placing drug addicts in treatment rather than jail.

A majority of aldermen ended up voting against Craig’s motion to use the funds for a drug court.

The state’s first drug court began operations 10 years ago in Strafford County. Officials there credit the program with reducing the recidivism rate among graduates to 22 percent, compared to a national recidivism rate among drug offenders of about 67 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The Strafford County program was initially funded through federal grants, but its annual budget of about $380,000 now comes almost entirely from the county.

Drug courts are currently operating in Nashua, and Cheshire, Grafton, Rockingham and Strafford Counties. Most receive some, if not nearly all, funding from county governments, which also pay for county attorneys, corrections and sheriffs departments.

The chairman of the Hillsborough delegation’s executive committee, Manchester Republican Rep. Larry Gagne, previously told the New Hampshire Union Leader the county “can’t afford” adding a drug court to its budget.

Gatsas said when an individual is arrested on drug charges, they are placed on probation, and usually “end up back in custody and using again without some type of intervention.”

“We’ve got to make them see the need for this court, not just for Manchester but all the surrounding communities,” said Gatsas.

pfeely@unionleader.com

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"Drug court battle between Manchester, county not over"
By Ted Siefer, New Hampshire Union Leader, June 4, 2015

MANCHESTER — Mayor Ted Gatsas and other city officials are decrying a vote last week by the leaders of the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation against the city’s request to fund a drug court, which would direct addicts who commit low-level crimes into treatment rather than jail.

The delegation’s 22-member executive committee, which is made up of state representatives from towns and cities in the county, rejected spending approximately $450,000 for the drug court as part of its budget for the coming fiscal year.

Gatsas said he and Ward 3 Alderman Pat Long spoke with members of the delegation ahead of the vote to convey the severity of the drug problem both in the city and surrounding towns. They had argued that the county could use a portion of its $5 million surplus to fund the drug court.

“I would think the biggest city in the state, that probably pays the largest county tax, would certainly get a better reception than it did,” Gatsas said on Wednesday. “This is an epidemic, not just in Manchester, but in the state of New Hampshire and in the whole country.”

The full county delegation, made up of 123 members, still must approve the final budget.

On Tuesday, the city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to send a letter to the entire delegation urging them to provide funding for the drug court, and Gatsas and Long plan to meet with members next week.

Drug courts are now in operation in Nashua, and in Cheshire, Grafton, Rockingham and Strafford Counties. Most are partially, if not almost entirely, paid for by county governments, which are responsible for funding county attorneys, corrections and sheriffs departments.

The chairman of the Hillsborough delegation’s executive committee, Manchester Republican Rep. Larry Gagne, said the county “can’t afford” adding a drug court to its budget.

“The sheriff’s department, corrections, have what I consider a bare-bones budget. To add another $450,000 to the budget would increase the tax rate, and my first job is to keep more of the taxpayers’ money in their own wallets,” Gagne said.

Asked if he felt drugs were largely a Manchester problem, Gagne said: “I don’t know if it’s a Manchester problem or not. It’s centered in Manchester because we’re the biggest city and do have a sizable problem. However, I don’t think it should be the county’s problem. (The city) should reach out for state funding or go to the feds.”

The state’s first drug court was established a decade ago in Strafford County. Officials there credit the program with reducing the recidivism rate among graduates to 22 percent. This compares to a national recidivism rate among drug offenders of about 67 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

“When somebody is addicted, they’re chemically dependent on the substance,” said Alex Casale, director of the drug court program in Strafford County and state coordinator for alternative sentencing programs. “Putting them in jail removes them from the public for a period of time, but when they come out, they’re still chemically dependent, and they go back to their old lifestyle. That’s why you see recidivism.”

The Strafford County program was initially funded through federal grants, but its annual budget of about $380,000 now comes almost entirely from the county, according to Casale.

Alderman Long said it was shortsighted for representatives in more suburban and rural areas to think the drug problem was confined to Manchester.

“Let’s say I’m in Weare, and my home was broken into twice, and I was told it was related to drugs,” he said. “I’m going to go to a public hearing and say we have to do something about this addiction issue ... The underlying curse is the addiction.”

tsiefer@unionleader.com

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"Funding for proposed Manchester drug court rejected"
The New Hampshire Union Leader, June 23, 2015

A vote by Hillsborough Country representatives to establish a drug court in Manchester failed Tuesday night, with 39 representative in favor of the court and 44 opposed.

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"Manchester mayor vetoes teacher contract"
By Paul Feely (pfeely@unionleader.com) - New Hampshire Union Leader, August 4, 2015

MANCHESTER — Mayor Ted Gatsas vetoed the ratification of a three-year contract with Manchester teachers Tuesday night, following a 7-3 vote by aldermen to approve the deal.

Gatsas cited financial reports provided by city Finance Director Bill Sanders, showing deficits over $700,000 in both fiscal years 2017 and 2018.

“At this time, based on these factors, I have concluded the city cannot afford to ratify this agreement,” Gatsas said.

The aldermen voted to ratify the contract on an initial vote of 7-3. Voting for the contract were Dan O'Neil, Bill Barry, Tom Katsiantonis, Garth Corriveau, Joyce Craig, Pat Long, and Tony Sapienza. Norman Gamache was unable to attend the meeting for medical reasons.

Opposed were Jim Roy, Keith Hirschmann and Joe Kelly Levasseur, with Barbara Shaw and Ron Ludwig abstaining.

Both Shaw and Ludwig cited opinions they received from City Solicitor Tom Clark that they consider recusing themselves from voting, due to having relatives that work for the schools. Ludwig’s wife is a teacher in the Manchester schools, while Shaw has a daughter who is a teacher.

Alderman At-Large Dan O'Neil motioned for an override, which failed to garner enough votes. The result was the same 7-3 vote in favor of an override, with Ludwig and Shaw again abstaining.

The aldermanic chambers were filled with members of the Manchester Education Association, many dressed in red T-shirts with “MEA” written on them.

Several members of the Board of School Committee offered support for the contract prior to the vote.

“I encourage you to vote to ratify this contract,” said school board member Katie DesRochers, Ward 11. “The teachers have been without a contract for three years, and it’s time they have a contract. The negotiating committee worked on this for several months, and came forward with what I feel is an equitable solution.”

“I was on the negotiating committee, and I see it as a fiscally responsible contract,” said Connie Van Houten, Ward 12 school board member.

“I believe this is the best contract we will be able to get,” said Ross Terrio, Ward 2 school board member. “It’s not perfect, but it does help by getting the teachers to pick up some of the health care costs, and it does help us avoid the Cadillac tax.”

“Both sides of the table had to make concessions,” said Mark Wilburn, a teacher at the Beech Street School. “The power of negotiating is found somewhere in the middle.”

When the aldermen got their first look at the contract last month, it received preliminary approval on a 7-4 vote — after an initial 8-4 vote was challenged by Ward 4 Alderman Jim Roy, who felt Ward 2 Alderman Ludwig’s vote in favor of the contract shouldn’t count, because Ludwig’s wife is a teacher.

Tuesday night, both Ludwig and Shaw agreed that while they feel the charter language on this topic should be changed, they would not vote on the contract.

“In my opinion, this is nothing but a way for those who can’t get elected to suppress those who can,” Ludwig said.

According to an analysis of the contract by Sanders, the contract will save the school district $298,000 the first year, but cost about $1.8 million in each of the next two years. According to Sanders’ figures, the contract would create a deficit of $785,862 in fiscal year 2017 and $703,862 in fiscal year 2018.

“Even with projected city estimated property taxes applied to the school deficit across those years, there is still a projected deficit of $382,727 in FY ‘17 and $425,724 in FY ‘18,” Gatsas said. “Even if we apply 100 percent of the additional property tax available from the city to the schools in each of the fiscal years, a shortfall remains.”

The contract would have given teachers a 7 percent pay raise next year, the first raise that group would have seen in three years.

“At the very heart of this discussion, and as Mr. Sanders has shown in his explanation, is the tax cap,” Gatsas said. “Regardless of any individual’s personal opinion about the tax cap, favorable or not, it is the law of the city. In 2010, 2012 and in 2014 I took an oath, as the elected mayor, to uphold the city charter — tax cap included.”

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"Manchester teachers' contract OK'd by aldermen, overriding mayor's veto"
By Paul Feely, New Hampshire Union Leader, September 1, 2015

MANCHESTER — City teachers will open the 2015-16 school year today with a new three-year contract, after the Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Tuesday night to ratify a deal and successfully overrode a veto by Mayor Ted Gatsas.

The vote, which was not on the scheduled agenda for the meeting, came after Alderman Pat Long called for a reconsideration of the three-year deal with the Manchester Education Association. The board approved the deal last month, but it was vetoed by Gatsas.

Tuesday night's vote was 10-3 to ratify the contract, with aldermen Dan O'Neil, Garth Corriveau, Tony Sapienza, Long, Ron Ludwig, Joyce Craig, Norman Gamache, William Barry, Barbara Shaw and Tony Katsiantonis voting in favor of the deal. Opposed were Bill Shea, Jim Roy and Joe Kelly Levasseur. Keith Hirschmann abstained.

Gatsas vetoed the contract, saying once again he would not violate the city's tax cap.

"It's clear that it's an election year," Gatsas said. "It's unfortunate and disappointing that this discussion has become embroiled in election-year politics. But, just because it's an election year doesn't give me, the mayor, a free pass to succumb to difficult choices. Just because there's an election doesn't give me, the mayor, a free pass to make the easy choice — over the right choice. There's a word for this, and it's not leadership."

Alderman O'Neil moved to override Gatsas' veto, with Craig seconding the motion.

The override was successful on an 11-2 vote, with O'Neil, Corriveau, Sapienza, Long, Ludwig, Craig, Gamache, Barry, Shaw, Katsiantonis and Levasseur in favor, Shea and Roy opposed and Hirschmann once again abstaining.

Prior to the meeting, hundreds of MEA members protested outside City Hall, walking up and down Elm Street chanting, "What do we want? A contract. When do we want it? Now!"

After the vote, both levels of City Hall erupted in cheers, with hundreds of MEA members yelling and clapping in support. The cheers continued outside City Hall after the group left the meeting.

Last month, Gatsas vetoed the contract, citing deficits in excess of $700,000 he said the deal would create in fiscal year 2017 and fiscal 2018.

Gatsas told MEA members Tuesday night he believes they are deserving of a raise, adding: "However, I have to take all factors into consideration."

"In the city there are 13 city unions that are without a long-term contract," the mayor said. "The policemen are without a long-term contract. The firefighters are without a long-term contract. The highway workers are without a long-term contract. Right now, over 1,100 employees on the city-side are frozen in their steps and benefits."

Before he vetoed the contract, he told aldermen he "cannot support a contract that I know will require an override of the tax cap or cause unimaginable alternatives."

Last month, aldermen voted to ratify the contract on an initial vote of 7-3. Both Shaw and Ludwig recused themselves from voting on the contract, citing opinions they received from City Solicitor Tom Clark. Ludwig's wife is a teacher in the Manchester schools; Shaw has a daughter who is also a teacher.

Tuesday night, Ludwig and Shaw said they had reconsidered their decisions.

"I believe the residents of Ward 2 voted for me overwhelmingly," said Ludwig. "It's hard for me to go against the rule of the charter, but I'm going to do so tonight."

"I feel strongly this is a fair deal," said Shaw. "My daughter has been out of my house for 18 years. I represent the people of Ward 9 when I sit in this chair, not my family."

Alderman Roy asked for a legal opinion on what impact, if any, their decision to vote on the contract could have down the road.

"If the vote were to be challenged, the ability for an alderman to have a valid vote based on the conflicts included in the charter, their vote could be called into question," said City Solicitor Tom Arnold. "And the validity of the vote of the entire board could be called into question."

pfeely@unionleader.com

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"Joyce Craig wins Primary Nomination And To Face Mayor Gatsas In Mayoral Election"
By NH Labor News, September 15, 2015

MANCHESTER - This evening, Alderman Joyce Craig released the following statement on tonight's municipal primary results.

"Tonight, after six years of failed leadership, growing crime and drug addition, and failing schools, the majority of voters in Manchester said they are ready for a change in the Mayor’s Office," said Craig. "While Mayor Gatsas may have outspent our campaign, we clearly outworked him – beating him outright in his home ward – and we will continue to outwork him in the general election campaign. Since beginning our campaign, we’ve made over 20,000 calls and knocked on over 13,000 doors talking to voters about our vision for a better Manchester.

"I want to thank all of my supporters – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – who joined me in saying tonight to Ted Gatsas that we want change in Manchester, and with your help, and your energy, we will beat Gatsas and begin to build a brighter economic future for our city."

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley released the following statement on Joyce Craig’s Manchester mayoral nomination:

"The overwhelming majority of Manchester voters sent a message loud and clear tonight: after ten years of worsening schools and increasing crime under Frank Guinta and Teddy Gatsas’ failed leadership, it’s long past time to bring change to Manchester’s corner office."

"As an alderman, school board member, and mom, Joyce Craig has proven that she’s exactly the leader we need to defeat Gatsas and build a safer and brighter economic future for Manchester.”

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"Manchester residents 'want solutions,' Gatsas says in fourth inaugural address"
By Paul Feely, New Hampshire Union Leader, January 5, 2016

MANCHESTER — When people leave politics, partisanship and personality at the door, “there isn’t anything that we can’t accomplish,” Mayor Ted Gatsas said Tuesday as he was sworn in to serve a fourth term as the 47th mayor of the Queen City.

Gatsas took his oath of office, administered by Manchester Chief of Police Nick Willard, during inaugural ceremonies held at the Palace Theatre. Then the mayor told a large gathering of friends, family and an array of state and local officials that city residents believe “in the possibility of tomorrow being better than today.”

“My fellow colleagues the citizens of Manchester want solutions,” said Gatsas, “They want to live in a community where they can inspire and be inspired. We have proved it can happen and I am committed to making sure it never stops.”

In his address, titled “Inspiration,” Gatsas referenced four areas where Manchester has made significant gains over the last six years — infrastructure, public safety, economic development and city services.

Gatsas announced that over the next 60 days, prior to the mayor’s budget being presented, he will ask city departments to convene working groups around each of those four areas. The goal is to bring to the aldermen near-term goals — items that can be accomplished in the next year — mid-term goals, possible over a two- to three-year time frame, and long-term goals, achievable over five years.

Gatsas also referenced several highlights achieved by city schools throughout his tenure as mayor.

“The Manchester School of Technology is a crowning achievement of this district,” said Gatsas. “We will continue to grow the school of technology and the programming, and provide the resources necessary because it is making a difference in your life and the lives of those that will follow you.”

Members of the Manchester School of Technology’s first graduating class served as ushers for the inaugural ceremonies.

Gatsas announced a new excellence awards initiative in the school district to recognize and celebrate progress.

“We will develop new public-private partnerships with area businesses to reward our schools with such things as new technology, building upgrades and staff development,” said Gatsas. “I am excited about bringing this program forward for the 2016/2017 school year and look forward to a district-wide and community-wide celebration of our achievements.”

Gatsas discussed strides made in public safety, such as increasing the number of officers in the police department.

“But as we all know, our next fight when it comes to public safety is taking on the heroin and opioid epidemic,” Gatsas said.

He added: “Our emergency responders are on the front lines and they are doing their very best. However, if we are to end the epidemic, we must work to make our emergency responders our last line of defense, and we do this by making treatment and rehabilitation easily accessible and readily available.”

While concluding his remarks, Gatsas reflected on the recent opening of the Families in Transition Family Place Resource Center and Shelter. The Lake Avenue center is the first homeless shelter for families and children in the state.

“This project represents all that can be good and great when city government, the community and the private sector work together,” he said.

Besides the mayor, the 28 members of the boards of aldermen and school committee were sworn in, as well as Welfare Commissioner Paul Martineau.

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"Manchester aldermen override Gatsas veto of contract with police"
By Paul Feely, New Hampshire Union Leader, November 15, 2016

MANCHESTER — On Tuesday, for the second time in a month, city aldermen voted to approve a new three-year deal with police supervisors. And for the second time in a month, the deal was vetoed by Mayor Ted Gatsas.

This time around, aldermen had the votes to override that veto.

Mayor Ted Gatsas originally vetoed the three-year contract with the Manchester Association of Police Supervisors (MPAS) on Oct. 18, after aldermen approved the contract on a 9-4 vote.

On Tuesday, board members approved the contract on a 10-4 vote, with Aldermen Kevin Cavanaugh, Ron Ludwig, Chris Herbert, Nick Pappas, Dan O’Neil, Barbara Shaw, Bill Barry, Normand Gamache, Tom Katsiantonis and Keith Hirschmann in favor. Aldermen Pat Long, Tony Sapienza, Joseph Kelly Levasseur and Bill Shea were opposed.

Gatsas again vetoed the contract Tuesday night, with O’Neil making a motion to override. The motion passed on a 10-4 vote, with no aldermen changing their votes from the initial motion, and the 10 votes needed to override were achieved.

The contract is projected to increase salaries by more than $800,000 over the next three years.

The contract includes a one percent salary increase in fiscal year 2017, retroactive to July 1, 2016, and three percent salary hikes effective July 1, 2017, and July 1, 2018.

Gatsas said he vetoed the deal because he believes it would be “impossible” to afford without overriding the city’s tax cap.

“I have the utmost respect and admiration for the work that you do to keep this city safe day in and day out,” said Gatsas when issuing his veto. “Every day each of you goes above and beyond for the citizens of Manchester and it is noticed and appreciated. Just as I always do with these agreements I have to ask myself two questions: First, how do we afford this contract? Second, how do we afford this contract and everything else? And, again, unless you override the tax cap it’s impossible. It can’t be done.”

Similar to the new three-year deal reached with city patrolmen over the summer, the MPAS contract included severance pay of $10,000 to any member with 20 years of service, 10 of which are with the city of Manchester. The contract also includes a critical incident pay of an additional $40 per week effective Jan. 1, 2017. That amount jumps to $50 per week effective Jan. 1, 2018.

The contract specifies the benefit is included in recognition of “increasingly hazardous working conditions, including the proliferation of violence against police officers, the increased frequency of critical incidents,” and the heroin epidemic.

According to a financial analysis of the contract provided to aldermen prior to the Oct. 18 vote, the financial impact of the deal in fiscal year 2017 is projected at $149,046. The financial hit becomes much bigger in Fiscal year 2018 at $368,753, and an additional $307,717 in fiscal year 2019.

pfeely@unionleader.com

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"Phantom tax cut: Manchester homeowners pay more"
NH Union Leader, Editorial, November 16, 2016

As expected, Manchester’s property tax rate will drop slightly next year.

As expected, most property taxpayers will end up paying more anyway.

Aldermen overrode the city’s budget cap and a veto by Mayor Ted Gatsas, arguing that rising property values would allow them to increase spending faster than inflation, without raising taxes. Of course, that money still has to come from city home and business owners.

Union Leader reporter Paul Feely crunched the numbers in his latest City Hall column. The city’s property tax base has increased by 5 percent since 2011. Without spending increases, a homeowner’s increased assessment would have been offset by a cut in the tax rate. The property tax bill wouldn’t have changed.

Aldermen masked a tax increase under the cover of property revaluations. City Assessor Bob Gagne says most, if not all, homeowners will end up paying more than last year.

By spending much of the increase in property tax revenue, aldermen are trying to take credit for a tax cut, when it’s really a tax increase.

Higher property values are a sign of economic growth, but higher property tax assessments don’t put cash in the pockets of homeowners to pay a higher tax bill. It is not the tax rate that matters. It is the amount of tax owed. Trying to take credit for a phantom tax cut is a cruel joke.

Manchester homeowners are paying more to feed the spending habits of Manchester aldermen.

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"Report: Number of homeless in NH declines"
By Mark Hayward, New Hampshire Union Leader, December 16, 2016

The number of homeless in New Hampshire tumbled this year, four counties experiencing a drop in homeless populations of a third or more, according to a 2016 tally from the New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness.

The report — found at UnionLeader.com — said that homelessness fell over the last two years in all subcategories, such as families, veterans and chronic homeless.

And the reduction touched all counties of the state except Cheshire County, where the number of homeless grew by about 3 percent, which represents three people.

While some of this progress may be due to the continued economic recovery,” the report reads, “homeless service providers have worked tirelessly to implement new programs and initiatives that have housed hundreds of homeless.”

The largest homeless shelter in Manchester, New Horizons, experienced a drop off over the year too. But New Horizons director Charlie Sherman criticized the data in the report. It is based on a single day survey that takes place in January.

“They look where they expect (the homeless will be). It’s kind of a crapshoot,” Sherman said. Its average count this year was 60, versus 85 the previous year. He also said the average stay at the shelter is down by 10 days, to 26.

Like the Coalition report, Sherman said one of the biggest challenges is the high cost of housing in the area.

He said some clients at New Horizons are on government programs such as Social Security disability, but cannot afford an apartment.

Other findings of the report:

• Hillsborough County saw its population of long-term, or chronic, homeless people fall by 55 percent over the last two years, to 69.

• Coos County had no homeless families in the count, while Hillsborough had 313.

• The number of homeless veterans statewide was 123.

• Unsheltered homeless — those in emergency shelters, a tent or a dangerous building — fell 64 percent over the last two years, to 143.

The report said quick help for people who find themselves recently homeless is critical to prevent complications associated with long-term homelessness.

mhayward@unionleader.com

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bw1u4tuUje88M3NVd241WDZhdmc/view

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“Manchester tax cap number set at 1.2 percent”
By Paul Feely, New Hampshire Union Leader, January 19, 2017

MANCHESTER — The city and school budgets for the next fiscal year can increase by a maximum of 1.2 percent.

The city’s finance director on Wednesday announced the official tax cap number, which is based on the three-year average change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Also on Wednesday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its CPI statistics for 2016.

The cap is slightly less restrictive than last year’s rate of 1 percent.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased by 3 percent in December, putting the final increase over the last 12 months at 2.1 percent.

Combine that with the 2014 CPI-U figure of .80 percent, and .70 percent in 2015, and the three-year average used in preparation for the FY 2018 budget comes in at 1.2 percent.

The tax cap controls the amount of property tax revenues the city can raise in the budget. Under the city charter, the mayor must propose a city budget within the tax cap limitations. The charter gives aldermen the ability to override the cap

Last year, Mayor Ted Gatsas proposed budgets of $143.8 million for the city and $162.7 million for the school district. Gatsas has said that the next budget will be extremely challenging.

“This will put a lot of pressure on the aldermen who went overboard on police contracts,” said Alderman At Large Joseph Kelly Levasseur after the CPI numbers were released Wednesday. “They either lay off city employees, teachers, or vote for a major override of the tax cap in an election year. It will be interesting to watch.”

Gatsas is scheduled to present his FY 2018 budget on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. — approximately six weeks before he is required to do so under a timeline detailed in the City Charter.

“As you are well aware, we are faced with many obstacles in FY 2018, and it is my hope that we can use this extra time to find solutions together,” Gatsas told city aldermen Tuesday.

Manchester operates under a cap on property taxes established by a voter-approved amendment to the city charter. Generally referred to as a tax cap, the charter provision limits the total amount of money raised from property taxes rather than the tax rate itself. The cap limits the city’s tax revenue to the average increase in the federal consumer price index, or CPI , during the three previous calendar years, plus the value of new construction.

The cap applies to both the increase in the size of the city budgets and the increase in the property tax rate; however the property rate cannot be established unilaterally by the city. State revenue officials determine the rate in the fall, months after the start of the new fiscal year. It is based on a number of factors the city can’t control.

In November, the state Department of Revenue Administration certified the Manchester tax rate at $23.14 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation, down from the $23.44 rate set the prior year, a decrease of 1.3 percent.

According to an expenditure and revenue forecast presented by Sanders to city aldermen Tuesday night, as of Jan. 17 the current projected General Fund operating deficit for FY 2017 is $647,000. The deficit is comprised of a revenue surplus of $295,000, and an expenditure deficit of $942,000 - largely due to budget overruns in the police and fire departments.

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“Craig announces run for mayor, bashes Gatsas”
The NH Union Leader, Staff report, March 16, 2017

Former Manchester Alderman Joyce Craig announced Thursday she will run for mayor of Manchester, and immediately launched an attack on incumbent Ted Gatsas.

Gatsas, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for governor last year, narrowly defeated Craig in the last mayoral election.

"For eight years, under Mayor Gatsas, we've seen our city stumble from crisis to crisis," Craig said in the announcement. "We need a new mayor with vision and energy."

Gatsas did not have an immediate comment when reached by phone Thursday morning.

Craig, a Democrat, cited her time as a Ward 1 alderman, working to lower the tax rate, improving roads, investing in schools, and putting more police officers on the street. She is a former school board member who is a self-employed property manager.

Gatsas has not said if he will run again. Voters will decide the Queen City’s next mayor this fall.

Craig began her public service in 2007 when she ran for and won a seat on the Board of School Committee. In 2009, Craig won a seat as Ward One Alderman. Joyce and her husband, Michael Craig, an attorney, have three children.

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“Manchester aldermen reject proposal to subject Gatsas to investigation”
By Kevin Landrigan, New Hampshire Union Leader, July 18, 2017

MANCHESTER — Mayor Ted Gatsas won a political vote of confidence of sorts Tuesday night when the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted overwhelmingly to reject subjecting Gatsas to an investigation by the city conduct board for his handling of a 2015 rape of a student at Manchester High School West.

By an 8-2 count, aldermen voted to place on file — the equivalent of tossing into the dumpster — the request for an investigation from longtime former Alderman Bill Cashin, who two years ago was campaign co-chairman for Gatsas’ political rival for mayor, Joyce Craig.

Cashin had asked that the conduct panel probe whether Gatsas violated the city charter by interfering with the operation of the police and school departments in their investigation of the 2015 rape of a female student in a hallway at West.

In his letter, Cashin accused Gatsas of violating the city charter on four counts, and asked that if the conduct board found Gatsas guilty of the alleged charter violations the matter be forwarded to the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Unit for further investigation.

Alderman-at-Large Joseph Kelly Levasseur said the charges had no basis.

Levasseur was particularly upset at the claim Gatsas engaged in a cover-up of the entire matter so that the rape incident would not jeopardize his last reelection bid that he won narrowly over Craig in November 2015.

“I guess I would just throw this in the garbage and laugh about it, but when it comes from an alderman who served for 32 years here it would make me question his senility given the ridiculous nature of these allegations,” Levasseur said

Gatsas would be unable to erase the stain of being brought under investigation, Levasseur continued.

“So we send this to a conduct board and the other side gets to put out fliers saying the mayor is under investigation and nobody gets to recover from that scrutiny,” Levasseur said.

Alderman Tommy Katsiantonis, a registered Democrat, defended Gatsas, a prominent Republican.

“I know this mayor very well; I know he cares about kids and he would never do anything like that to win an election,” Katsiantonis said.

Alderman-at-Large Dan O’Neil defended the allegations.

“There was a lack of notification to the parents of West High students, a lack of communication to the residents as a whole and a lack of concern for the victim,” O’Neil said.

Levasseur made the motion to put the Cashin complaint on file and was joined in supporting that move to sideline the matter by Ward 2 Alderman Ron Ludwig, Ward 3 Alderman Patrick Long, Ward 4 Alderman Christopher Herbert, Ward 5 Alderman Anthony Sapienza, Ward 7 Alderman William P. Shea, Ward 8 Alderman Katsiantonis, Ward 9 Alderman Barbara E. Shaw, Ward 10 Alderman Bill Barry and Ward 12 Alderman Keith Hirschmann.

Ward 1 Alderman Kevin Cavanaugh and O’Neil were the only two to oppose that move.

Gatsas had no comment about the matter during the near hour-long debate aldermen had on the matter.

When it was first raised, Gatsas called on Craig to cease trying to use the rape incident as a political weapon against him.

After the New Hampshire Union Leader first reported on the conviction against the student who had raped the female student, Craig criticized Gatsas’ handling of the matter.

Several aldermen who did not want Gatsas to be investigated nonetheless said they were shocked and deeply troubled by how the school, police and city administrators had kept the rape a closely-held secret. Members of the school board were told about it in an email, but parents and the public were never informed until Hillsborough County Attorney Dennis Hogan announced the conviction of the rapist.

“It was also troubling that no one from the city reached out to the victim and asked how she was doing,” Alderman Barry said. “We were never told a rape had occurred in our city.”

klandrigan@unionleader.com

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“Gatsas files suit, saying critics defamed him with rape cover-up charges”
By Kevin Landrigan, New Hampshire Union Leader, July 20, 2017

MANCHESTER — Mayor Ted Gatsas filed a lawsuit seeking damages that charges a longtime former alderman and a persistent critic with defaming him with the accusation that Gatsas engineered a cover-up of a West High School rape so he could narrowly win reelection in 2015.

The suit brought in Hillsborough County Superior Court North accuses ex-Alderman Bill Cashin and critic Jon Hopwood of committing “actual malice” by lodging accusations against Gatsas even though they know them to be false.

“I will fight for my integrity and that is what I intend to do,” Gatsas said during a telephone interview.

“I think that it is past time that people can just walk around and say whatever they want about public officials even though they are untrue.’’

The suit was launched eight days ago but only came to light after Manchester Alderman-at-Large Joseph Kelly Levasseur revealed its existence on his Facebook page early Wednesday morning.

Levasseur said at the close of the Manchester aldermanic meeting late Tuesday that Gatsas should sue his accusers and that he would represent Gatsas for free if he did.

After the meeting, Gatsas confirmed that he quietly walked up to Levasseur and privately told him of the lawsuit.

Cashin and Hopwood co-authored a four-count complaint calling upon the aldermen to refer Gatsas to the city’s conduct board for an investigation of the charges.

They asked that the conduct panel probe whether Gatsas violated the city charter by interfering with the operation of the police and school departments in their investigation of the 2015 rape of a female student in a hallway at West.

In his letter, Cashin and Hopwood accused Gatsas of violating the city charter on four counts, and asked that if the conduct board found Gatsas guilty of the alleged charter violations the matter be forwarded to the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Unit for further investigation.

The aldermen voted Tuesday, 8-2, to set the complaint aside.

Several aldermen vouched for Gatsas and said many school, police and city officials all made mistakes in judgment by not alerting parents or the community at large about the West High rape.

Gatsas and others have noted Cashin was a co-chairman of Craig’s 2015 campaign.

“First I’d like to thank the member of the Board of Aldermen for seeing the complaint for what it is, a cheap political stunt. It is the lowest form of politics and Joyce Craig should have condemned the act,” Gatsas said.

For her part, Craig has sharply criticized Gatsas for failing to disclose the rape until after Hillsborough County Attorney Dennis Hogan announced the conviction of the West High student for the rape.

Concord lawyer and longtime state Senate legal counsel Rich Lehmann filed the nine-page lawsuit July 12 on Gatsas’ behalf and said the accusations went well beyond the bare-knuckled infighting that marks politics today.

“Mr. Gatsas is perfectly aware that criticism of public officials like him may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials, and that the occasionally erroneous statement is inevitable,” Lehmann wrote in the lawsuit.

“While the plaintiff (Gatsas) is unfazed by, and indeed welcomes, the ordinary and sometimes heated public criticism that comes with public responsibility, the defendants’ conduct exceeds the bounds of public decency.

“In nearly every jurisdiction in the United States, including New Hampshire, knowingly made false allegations of criminal activity constitute defamation per se.”

Legally, Gatsas is a public figure which means to prove defamation the statements need not only be false to be liable in court but they have to have been made knowing they were false and that they were also brought with “actual malice.”

Here’s one statement in the Cashin-Hopwood complaint the lawsuit said was actionable.

“It is apparent that the reason Mayor Gatsas covered up the West Side rape was to get reelected in 2015; just as it is apparent his false statements of June 2017 were made with the intent to get reelected again,” the statement reads.

Lehmann said that’s well beyond fair comment of someone who is publicly well-known.

“The defendants published these statements with actual malice, that is, with knowledge that these statements were false, or with reckless disregard of whether they were false or not,” the suit reads.

Cashin had not seen the complaint and declined comment until he had.

Hopwood could not be reached but went to his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon to declare that he was “mowing the lawn” so the process server hired to deliver the lawsuit could easily find him.

“@MayorTedGatsas Time to resign,” Hopwood posted Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, Hopwood mocked Gatsas’ defense of the allegations against him.

“Joe Louis quote 4 Mayor Gatsas who “welcomed” investigation of his handling of rape. “You can run but you can’t hide,” Hopwood added on Twitter.

Lehmann said in the suit that after more than 20 years serving in state and local office, Gatsas is used to being a target for attack from his critics.

“As such, he is accustomed to public criticism and the rough and tumble of politics,” the suit said.

“However, there are limits to the malicious and false lies intended to impugn a person’s character that can be launched. The defendants far out-stepped those bounds.”

klandrigan@unionleader.com

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“Lawyer: Gatsas takes risk, opens himself up to questioning with suit”
By Mark Hayward, New Hampshire Union Leader, July 21, 2017

MANCHESTER — By filing a politically charged lawsuit against two adversaries, Mayor Ted Gatsas opens himself up to the possibility of being questioned under oath about the 2015 rape at Manchester High School West during the heat of his reelection campaign, according to a First Amendment lawyer.

Sensitive material — from campaign memos to personal emails to texts — would all be open to discovery, which is the traditional exchange of information that occurs before a lawsuit goes to trial, said William Chapman, who practices media law for the Concord firm of Orr and Reno.

And once lawyers receive the information and have the depositions transcribed, they would be free to file the material in court, which makes it public, he said.

“I would think they would be after everything they could get. They would want to cast as wide a net as possible,” said Chapman, who has represented local, regional and national media.

On July 12, Gatsas said he filed a defamation suit against two political adversaries — former Alderman Bill Cashin and political gadfly Jon Hopwood. Earlier this month, both had filed papers at City Hall, asking that the city Conduct Board be impaneled to investigate whether Gatsas covered up the 2015 rape at West High School.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen rejected their request on Tuesday.

When asked about a deposition, Gatsas said he has nothing to hide.

“This is not about politics, this is about my integrity,” said Gatsas. He said the Cashin-Hopwood letter was politically motivated. “I’m still waiting for Joyce Craig to condemn it,” Gatsas said.

According to court rules, once Cashin and Hopwood answer Gatsas’ claims, Gatsas would have to turn over any proof of his claims to their lawyers in 30 days.

A judge eventually schedules a status conference, and the exchange of information is discussed, Chapman said. Chapman said further discovery, including depositions, usually takes place within 90 days. Also likely to be deposed: Police Chief Nick Willard and former Assistant Superintendent David Ryan, who have said they spoke with Gatsas about the rape.

“It’s certainly not something I would be keen to talk about if I was in the heat of a mayoral race,” said Democratic Party spokesman Wyatt Ronan. He said state Democrats did not work with Cashin and Hopwood before they filed the Conduct Board complaint, but he acknowledged alerting media of subsequent developments.

Cashin said he has yet to be served with the lawsuit. He said he is trying to find a lawyer to take his case. No one has offered to pay his legal bills, he said.

“We’re not taking it lightly,” Cashin said. “When you find yourself in a position like this, you’re concerned.”

Meanwhile, city Democratic Party chairman Ryan Mahoney filed a complaint with Attorney General Gordon MacDonald about a recent survey Gatsas mailed to Manchester residents.

An accompanying letter and return envelope identify the material as Gastas campaign material. But the sender envelope and survey contain no such disclosure.

“The survey could easily be interpreted to be an official survey by the Mayor of Manchester, as it is entitled “2017 City of Manchester Mayor’s Survey”, and states that it is being conducted by “Mayor Theodore Gatsas-City of Manchester,” reads the complaint, filed by Ryan Mahoney, chair of the Manchester City Democrats.

Gatsas campaign manager Ross Berry called the complaint a “sad political stunt by Joyce Craig and her tax raising allies.”

“The disclaimer is clearly printed inside the mailer, the front of the envelope says it is not prepared with taxpayers dollars, and the return envelope clearly says Gatsas for Mayor,” Berry said.

mhayward@unionleader.com

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“Congrats to Craig: Manchester’s next mayor”
NH Union Leader, Editorial, November 8, 2017

Congratulations to Manchester Mayor-elect Joyce Craig, and all the winning candidates in Tuesday’s municipal and special elections across New Hampshire.

Sincere thanks and appreciation to Mayor Ted Gatsas, for his eight years leading the Queen City, and to all the candidates who ran for office this fall. Our democracy requires concerned citizens to step forward, though not all of them will win.

Gatsas actually received 500 more votes than two years ago, but Craig was able to bring 2,000 more voters to the polls in the rematch. Such Democratic enthusiasm should worry Republicans heading into the 2018 midterms elections.

Craig takes over a city full of both promise and problems. She’ll be serving with some fresh faces.

Tim Baines defeated aldermanic board chairman Pat Long by just six votes in Ward 3. John Cataldo will take over in Ward 8.

Voters created some turnover on the school board, defeating three incumbents.

It will be up to these boards to hold Craig to her promise to “respect the tax cap.” Every mayor must present a budget that stays under the cap, but it is the aldermen and school board members who will determine if Craig’s final budget lives within the means of Manchester taxpayers.

Both boards need to stop the petty bickering that often takes over meetings, and begin to hold their members accountable to the city charter.

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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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Our nation's leaders!

Our nation's leaders!
President Bush with both John McCain & Barack Obama - 9/25/2008.

Massachusetts & Big Dig: Big hike in tolls for Pike looming (9/26/2008).

Massachusetts & Big Dig: Big hike in tolls for Pike looming (9/26/2008).
$5 rise at tunnels is one possibility $1 jump posed for elsewhere.

Mary E Carey

Mary E Carey
My FAVORITE Journalist EVER!

9/11/2008 - A Show of Unity!

9/11/2008 - A Show of Unity!
John McCain and Barack Obama appeared together at ground zero in New York City - September 11, 2008.

John McCain...

John McCain...
...has all but abandoned the positions on taxes, torture and immigration. (A cartoon by Dan Wasserman. September 2008).

Dan Wasserman

Dan Wasserman
The deregulated chickens come home to roost... in all our pocketbooks. September 2008.

Sarah Palin's phobia

Sarah Palin's phobia
A scripted candidate! (A cartoon by Dan Wasserman).

Dan Wasserman

Dan Wasserman
Family FInances - September, 2008.

Mark E. Roy

Mark E. Roy
Ward 1 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Theodore “Ted” L. Gatsas

Theodore “Ted” L. Gatsas
Ward 2 Alderman (& NH State Senator) for Manchester, NH (2008).

Peter M. Sullivan

Peter M. Sullivan
Ward 3 (downtown) Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Jim Roy

Jim Roy
Ward 4 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Ed Osborne

Ed Osborne
Ward 5 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Real R. Pinard

Real R. Pinard
Ward 6 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

William P. Shea

William P. Shea
Ward 7 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Betsi DeVries

Betsi DeVries
Ward 8 Alder-woman (& NH State Senator) for Manchester, NH (2008).

Michael Garrity

Michael Garrity
Ward 9 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

George Smith

George Smith
Ward 10 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Russ Ouellette

Russ Ouellette
Ward 11 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Kelleigh (Domaingue) Murphy

Kelleigh (Domaingue) Murphy
Ward 12 Alder-woman for Manchester, NH (2008).

“Mike” Lopez

“Mike” Lopez
At-Large Alderman for Manchester, NH. (2008).

Daniel P. O’Neil

Daniel P. O’Neil
At-Large Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Sarah Palin for Vice President.

Sarah Palin for Vice President.
Republican John McCain made the surprise pick of Alaska's governor Sarah Palin as his running mate today, August 29, 2008.

U.S. Representative John Olver, D-Amherst, Massachusetts.

U.S. Representative John Olver, D-Amherst, Massachusetts.
Congressman Olver said the country has spent well over a half-trillion dollars on the war in Iraq while the situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate. 8/25/08.

Ed O'Reilly for US Senate in Massachusetts!

Ed O'Reilly for US Senate in Massachusetts!
John Kerry's 9/2008 challenger in the Democratic Primary.

Shays' Rebellion

Shays' Rebellion
In a tax revolt, Massachusetts farmers fought back during Shays' Rebellion in the mid-1780s after The American Revolutionary War.

Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore
Actress. "The Big Lebowski" is one of my favorite movies. I also like "The Fugitive", too.

Rinaldo Del Gallo III & "Superman"

Rinaldo Del Gallo III & "Superman"
Go to: http://www.berkshirefatherhood.com/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=699&cntnt01returnid=69

"Income chasm widening in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts"

"Income chasm widening in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts"
The gap between rich and poor has widened substantially in Massachusetts over the past two decades. (8/15/2008).

Dan "Bureaucrat" Bosley

Dan "Bureaucrat" Bosley
"The Bosley Amendment": To create tax loopholes for the wealthiest corporate interests in Massachusetts!

John Edwards and...

John Edwards and...
...Rielle Hunter. WHO CARES?!

Rep. Edward J. Markey

Rep. Edward J. Markey
He wants online-privacy legislation. Some Web Firms Say They Track Behavior Without Explicit Consent.

Cindy Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan
She gained fame with her antiwar vigil outside the Bush ranch.

Olympics kick off in Beijing

Olympics kick off in Beijing
Go USA!

Exxon Mobil 2Q profit sets US record, shares fall

Exxon Mobil 2Q profit sets US record, shares fall
In this May 1, 2008, file photo, a customer pumps gas at an Exxon station in Middleton, Mass. Exxon Mobil Corp. reported second-quarter earnings of $11.68 billion Thursday, July 31, the biggest quarterly profit ever by any U.S. corporation, but the results were well short of Wall Street expectations and its shares fell as markets opened. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole, File) 7/31/2008.

Onota Lake 'Sea Serpent'

Onota Lake 'Sea Serpent'
Some kind of monster on Onota Lake. Five-year-old Tyler Smith rides a 'sea serpent' on Onota Lake in Pittsfield, Mass. The 'monster,' fashioned by Smith's grandfather, first appeared over July 4 weekend. (Photo courtesy of Ron Smith). 7/30/2008.

Al Gore, Jr.

Al Gore, Jr.
Al Gore issues challenge on energy

The Norman Rockwell Museum

The Norman Rockwell Museum
Stockbridge, Massachusetts

"Big Dig"

"Big Dig"
Boston's financially wasteful pork barrel project!

"Big Dig"

"Big Dig"
Boston's pork barrel public works project cost 50 times more than the original price!

Mary E Carey

Mary E Carey
My favorite journalist EVER!

U.S. Rep. John Olver, state Sen. Stan Rosenberg and Selectwomen Stephanie O'Keeffe and Alisa Brewer

U.S. Rep. John Olver, state Sen. Stan Rosenberg and Selectwomen Stephanie O'Keeffe and Alisa Brewer
Note: Photo from Mary E Carey's Blog.

Tanglewood

Tanglewood
Boston Symphony Orchestra music director James Levine.

Google

Google
Chagall

Jimmy Ruberto

Jimmy Ruberto
Faces multiple persecutions under the Massachusetts "Ethics" conflict of interest laws.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
Obama vows $500m in faith-based aid.

John McCain

John McCain
He is with his wife, Cindy, who were both met by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe (right) upon arriving in Cartagena.

Daniel Duquette

Daniel Duquette
Sold Mayor James M. Ruberto of Pittsfield two tickets to the 2004 World Series at face value.

Hillary & Barack in Unity, NH - 6/27/2008

Hillary & Barack in Unity, NH - 6/27/2008
Clinton tells Obama, crowd in Unity, N.H.: 'We are one party'

John Forbes Kerry

John Forbes Kerry
Wanna-be Prez?

WALL-E

WALL-E
"out of this World"

Crisis in the Congo - Ben Affleck

Crisis in the Congo - Ben Affleck
http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/popup?id=5057139&contentIndex=1&page=1&start=false - http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/story?id=5234555&page=1

Jeanne Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen
NH's Democratic returning candidate for U.S. Senate

"Wall-E"

"Wall-E"
a cool robot

Ed O'Reilly

Ed O'Reilly
www.edoreilly.com

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
World Champions - 2008

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
J.D. Drew gets the same welcome whenever he visits the City of Brotherly Love: "Booooooo!"; Drew has been vilified in Philadelphia since refusing to sign with the Phillies after they drafted him in 1997...

Joe Kelly Levasseur & Joe Briggs

Joe Kelly Levasseur & Joe Briggs
www.2joes.org

NH Union Leader

NH Union Leader
Editorial Cartoon

Celtics - World Champions!

Celtics - World Champions!
www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_18_08_front_pages/ - www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_17_08_finals_game_6/ - www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_17_08_celebration/ - www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_15_08_celtics_championships/

"The Nation"

"The Nation"
A "Liberal" weekly political news magazine. Katrina vanden Heuvel.

TV - PBS: NOW

TV - PBS: NOW
http://www.pbs.org/now

The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone
List of Twilight Zone episodes - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Twilight_Zone_episodes

Equality for ALL Marriages

Equality for ALL Marriages
I, Jonathan Melle, am a supporter of same sex marriages.

Kobe Bryant leads his time to a Game 5 victory.

Kobe Bryant leads his time to a Game 5 victory.
L.A. Lakers holds on for the win to force Game 6 at Boston

Mohawk Trail

Mohawk Trail
The 'Hail to the Sunrise' statue in Charlemont is a well-known and easily recognized landmark on the Mohawk Trail. The trail once boasted several souvenir shops, some with motels and restaurants. Now only four remain. (Caroline Bonnivier / Berkshire Eagle Staff).

NASA - June 14, 2008

NASA - June 14, 2008
Space Shuttle Discovery returns to Earth.

Go Celtics! Game # 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

Go Celtics! Game # 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals.
Boston took a 20-second timeout, and the Celtics ran off four more points (including this incredible Erving-esque layup from Ray Allen) to build the lead to five points with just 2:10 remaining. Reeling, the Lakers took a full timeout to try to regain their momentum.

Sal DiMasi

Sal DiMasi
Speaker of the Massachusetts State House of Representatives

Kelly Ayotte - Attorney General of New Hampshire

Kelly Ayotte - Attorney General of New Hampshire
http://doj.nh.gov/

John Kerry

John Kerry
He does not like grassroots democracy & being challenged in the 2008 Massachusetts Democratic Party Primary for re-election.

Tim Murray

Tim Murray
Corrupt Lt. Gov. of Massachusetts, 2007 - 2013.

North Adams, Massachusetts

North Adams, Massachusetts
downtown

Howie Carr

Howie Carr
Political Satirist on Massachusetts Corruption/Politics

Polar Bear

Polar Bear
Global Warming

Elizabeth Warren - Web-Site Links

Elizabeth Warren - Web-Site Links
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Warren & http://www.creditslips.org/creditslips/WarrenAuthor.html

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren
Consumer Crusader

Leon Powe

Leon Powe
Celtics forward Leon Powe finished a fast break with a dunk.

Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett reacted during the game.

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo finished a first half fast break with a dunk.

Teamwork

Teamwork
Los Angeles Lakers teammates help Pau Gasol (16) from the floor in the second quarter.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant took a shot in the first half of Game 2.

Kendrick Perkins

Kendrick Perkins
Kendrick Perkins (right) backed down Lamar Odom (left) during first half action.

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
The Boston Symphony Orchestra performed the national anthem prior to Game 2.

K.G.!

K.G.!
Garnett reacted to a hard dunk in the first quarter.

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce reacted after hitting a three upon his return to the game since leaving with an injury.

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
Kobe Bryant (left) and Paul Pierce (right) squared off in the second half of the game.

James Taylor

James Taylor
Sings National Anthem at Celtics Game.

John Forbes Kerry & Deval Patrick

John Forbes Kerry & Deval Patrick
Attended Celtics Game.

Greats of the NBA: Dr. J, Bill Russell, & Kareem!

Greats of the NBA: Dr. J, Bill Russell, & Kareem!
Attend Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis
The actor (left) and his date were in the crowd before the Celtics game.

John Kerry

John Kerry
Golddigger attends Celtics game

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton
Ends her 2008 bid for Democratic Party nomination

Nonnie Burnes

Nonnie Burnes
Massachusetts Insurance Commish & former Judge

Jones Library

Jones Library
Amherst, Massachusetts

Barack Obama & Hillary Clinton

Barack Obama & Hillary Clinton
2008 Democratic Primary

"US vs Exxon and Halliburton"

"US vs Exxon and Halliburton"
U.S. Senator John Sununu took more than $220,000 from big oil.

Jeanne Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen
4- U.S. Senate - 2008

William Pignatelli

William Pignatelli
Hack Rep. "Smitty" with Lynne Blake

Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke
Federal Reserve Chairman

Gazettenet.com

Gazettenet.com
www.gazettenet.com/beta/

Boys' & Girls' Club

Boys' & Girls' Club
Melville Street, Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Denis Guyer

Denis Guyer
Dalton State Representative

The Berkshire Eagle

The Berkshire Eagle
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Carmen Massimiano

Carmen Massimiano
Williams College - May 2008

Larry Bird & Magic Johnson

Larry Bird & Magic Johnson
www.boston.com/lifestyle/gallery/when_the_celtics_were_cool/

Regressive Taxation! via State Lotteries

Regressive Taxation! via State Lotteries
New Massachusetts state lottery game hits $600 million in sales!

Andrea Nuciforo

Andrea Nuciforo
"Luciforo"

John Barrett III

John Barrett III
Long-time Mayor of North Adams Massachusetts

Shine On

Shine On

Elmo

Elmo
cool!

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce kissed the Eastern Conference trophy. 5/30/2008. AP Photo.

Kevin Garnett & Richard Hamilton

Kevin Garnett & Richard Hamilton
Kevin Garnett (left) talked to Pistons guard Richard Hamilton (right) after the Celtics' victory in Game 6. 5/30/2008. Reuters Photo.

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce showed his team colors as the Celtics closed out the Pistons in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. 5/30/2008. Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis.

Joseph Kelly Levasseur

Joseph Kelly Levasseur
One of my favorite politicians!

Mary E Carey

Mary E Carey
In the Big Apple: NYC! She is the coolest!

Guyer & Kerry

Guyer & Kerry
My 2nd least favorite picture EVER!

Mary Carey

Mary Carey
My favorite journalist EVER!

Nuciforo & Ruberto

Nuciforo & Ruberto
My least favorite picture EVER!

Jeanne Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen
U.S. Senate - 2008

NH Fisher Cats

NH Fisher Cats
AA Baseball - Toronto Blue Jays affiliate

Manchester, NH

Manchester, NH
Police Patch

Michael Briggs

Michael Briggs
#83 - We will never forget

Michael "Stix" Addison

Michael "Stix" Addison
http://unionleader.com/channel.aspx/News?channel=2af17ff4-f73b-4c44-9f51-092e828e1131

Charlie Gibson

Charlie Gibson
ABC News anchor

Scott McClellan

Scott McClellan
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/scott_mcclellan/index.html?inline=nyt-per

Boise, Idaho

Boise, Idaho
Downtown Boise Idaho

John Forbes Kerry

John Forbes Kerry
Legislative Hearing in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, BCC, on Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson
My favorite classical U.S. President!

NH Governor John Lynch

NH Governor John Lynch
Higher Taxes, Higher Tolls

Paul Hodes

Paul Hodes
My favorite Congressman!

Portland Sea Dogs

Portland Sea Dogs
AA Red Sox

New York

New York
Magnet

Massachusetts

Massachusetts
Magnet

New Hampshire

New Hampshire
Magnet

New Hampshire

New Hampshire
Button

Carmen Massimiano

Carmen Massimiano
"Luciforo" tried to send me to Carmen's Jail during the Spring & Summer of 1998.

Kay Khan - Massachusetts State Representative

Kay Khan - Massachusetts State Representative
www.openmass.org/members/show/174

Luciforo

Luciforo
Andrea F Nuciforo II

B-Eagle

B-Eagle
Pittsfield's monopoly/only daily newspaper

Jon Lester - Go Red Sox!

Jon Lester - Go Red Sox!
A Red Sox No Hitter on 5/19/2008!

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Dustin Pedroia & Manny Ramirez

U.S. Flag

U.S. Flag
God Bless America!

Jonathan Melle's Blog

Jonathan Melle's Blog
Hello, Everyone!

Molly Bish

Molly Bish
We will never forget!

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
Celtics guard Rajon Rondo listens to some advice from Celtics head coach Doc Rivers in the first half.

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
Celtics forward Kevin Garnett and Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace embrace at the end of the game.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon calls for the ball as he charges toward first base. Papelbon made the out en route to picking up his 14th save of the season.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka throws to Royals David DeJesus during the first inning.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka delivers a pitch to Royals second baseman Mark Grudzielanek during the second inning.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew is welcomed to home plate by teammates Mike Lowell (left), Kevin Youkilis (2nd left) and Manny Ramirez after he hit a grand slam in the second inning.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell crosses the plate after hitting a grand slam during the sixth inning. Teammates Manny Ramirez and Jacoby Ellsbury scored on the play. The Red Sox went on to win 11-8 to complete a four-game sweep and perfect homestand.

JD Drew - Go Red Sox

JD Drew - Go Red Sox
www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/gallery/05_22_08_sox_royals/

Thank you for serving; God Bless America!

Thank you for serving; God Bless America!
Master Sgt. Kara B. Stackpole, of Westfield, holds her daughter, Samantha, upon her return today to Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee. She is one of the 38 members of the 439th Aeromedical Staging Squadron who returned after a 4-month deployment in Iraq. Photo by Dave Roback / The Republican.

Kathi-Anne Reinstein

Kathi-Anne Reinstein
www.openmass.org/members/show/175

Ted Kennedy

Ted Kennedy
Tragic diagnosis: Get well Senator!

Google doodle - Jonathan Melle Internet search

Google doodle - Jonathan Melle Internet search
http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en&q=jonathan+melle+blogurl:http://jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/&ie=UTF-8

John Forbes Kerry

John Forbes Kerry
Billionaire U.S. Senator gives address to MCLA graduates in North Adams, Massachusetts in mid-May 2008

Andrea Nuciforo

Andrea Nuciforo
"Luciforo"

A Red Sox Fan in Paris, France

A Red Sox Fan in Paris, France
Go Red Sox!

Rinaldo Del Gallo III

Rinaldo Del Gallo III
Interviewed on local TV

Andrea Nuciforo

Andrea Nuciforo
Luciforo!

John Adams

John Adams
#2 U.S. President

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I stood under a tree on the afternoon of May 9, 2008, on the foregrounds of the NH State House - www.websitetoolbox.com/tool/post/nhinsider/vpost?id=2967773

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Inside the front lobby of the NH State House

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Bill Clinton campaign memorabilia

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Liberty Bell & NH State House

Jon Keller

Jon Keller
Boston based political analyst

Jon Keller

Jon Keller
Boston based political analyst

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Franklin Pierce Statue #14 U.S. President

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
NH State House

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Stop the War NOW!

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
"Mr. Melle, tear down this Blog!"

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I stood next to a JFK photo

Jonathan Levine, Publisher

Jonathan Levine, Publisher
The Pittsfield Gazette Online

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I made rabbit ears with John & George

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I made antenna ears with John & George

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I impersonated Howard Dean

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
mock-voting

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
pretty ladies -/- Go to: http://www.wgir.com/cc-common/cc_photopop20.html?eventID=28541&pagecontent=&pagenum=4 - Go to: http://current.com/items/88807921_veterans_should_come_first_not_last# - http://www.mcam23.com/cgi-bin/cutter.cgi?c_function=STREAM?c_feature=EDIT?dir_catagory=10MorningRadio?dir_folder=2JoesClips?dir_file=JonathanMelle-090308? -

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Go Red Sox! Me at Fenway Park

Mary E. Carey

Mary E. Carey
My favorite journalist! Her voice sings for the Voiceless. -/- Go to: http://aboutamherst.blogspot.com/search?q=melle -/- Go to: http://ongeicocaveman.blogspot.com/search?q=melle

Velvet Jesus

Velvet Jesus
Mary Carey blogs about my political writings. This is a picture of Jesus from her childhood home in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. -//- "How Can I Keep From Singing" : My life goes on in endless song / Above Earth's lamentations, / I hear the real, though far-off hymn / That hails a new creation. / / Through all the tumult and the strife / I hear its music ringing, / It sounds an echo in my soul. / How can I keep from singing? / / Whey tyrants tremble in their fear / And hear their death knell ringing, / When friends rejoice both far and near / How can I keep from singing? / / In prison cell and dungeon vile / Our thoughts to them are winging / When friends by shame are undefiled / How can I keep from singing?

www.truthdig.com

www.truthdig.com
www.truthdig.com

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Concord NH

The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post
http://fundrace.huffingtonpost.com/neighbors.php?type=loc&newest=1&addr=&zip=01201&search=Search

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
smiles & beer

Jonathan Lothrop

Jonathan Lothrop
A Pittsfield City Councilor

Michael L. Ward

Michael L. Ward
A Pittsfield City Councilor

Peter Marchetti - Pittsfield's City Councilor at Large

Peter Marchetti - Pittsfield's City Councilor at Large
Pete always sides with the wealthy's political interests.

Gerald Lee - Pittsfield's City Council Prez

Gerald Lee - Pittsfield's City Council Prez
Gerald Lee told me that I am a Social Problem; Lee executes a top-down system of governance.

Matt Kerwood - Pittsfield's Councilor at Large

Matt Kerwood - Pittsfield's Councilor at Large
Kerwood poured coffee drinks for Jane Swift

Louis Costi

Louis Costi
Pittsfield City Councilor

Lewis Markham

Lewis Markham
Pittsfield City Councilor

Kevin Sherman - Pittsfield City Councilor

Kevin Sherman - Pittsfield City Councilor
Sherman ran for Southern Berkshire State Rep against Smitty Pignatelli; Sherman is a good guy.

Anthony Maffuccio

Anthony Maffuccio
Pittsfield City Councilor

Linda Tyer

Linda Tyer
Pittsfield City Councilor

Daniel Bianchi

Daniel Bianchi
A Pittsfield City Councilor

The Democratic Donkey

The Democratic Donkey
Democratic Party Symbol

Paramount

Paramount
What is Paramount to you?

NH's Congresswoman

NH's Congresswoman
Carol Shea-Porter, Democrat

Sam Adams Beer

Sam Adams Beer
Boston Lager

Ratatouille

Ratatouille
Disney Animation

Ruberto Details Plans for Success - January 07, 2008

Ruberto Details Plans for Success - January 07, 2008
"Luciforo" swears in Mayor Ruberto. Pittsfield Politics at its very worst: 2 INSIDER POWERBROKERS! Where is Carmen Massimiano? He must be off to the side.

Abe

Abe
Lincoln

Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime
Leader of the Autobots

Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime
1984 Autobot Transformer Leader

Cleanup Agreements - GE & Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites

Cleanup Agreements - GE & Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/cleanupagreement.html

GE/Housatonic River Site: Introduction

GE/Housatonic River Site: Introduction
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/

GE/Housatonic River Site - Reports

GE/Housatonic River Site - Reports
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/thesite/opca-reports.html

US EPA - Contact - Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites

US EPA - Contact -  Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/contactinfo.html

GE Corporate Logo - Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites

GE Corporate Logo - Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/index.html

Commonwealth Connector

Commonwealth Connector
Commonwealth Care

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Healthcare Reform

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Healthcare Reform

Network Health Forward - A Commonwealth Care Plan

Network Health Forward - A Commonwealth Care Plan
Massachusetts Health Reform

Network Health Together: A MassHealth Plan - Commonwealth Care

Network Health Together: A MassHealth Plan - Commonwealth Care
Massachusetts Health Reform

www.network-health.org

www.network-health.org
Massachusetts Health Reform

Neighborhood Health Plan - Commonwealth Care

Neighborhood Health Plan - Commonwealth Care
Massachusetts Health Reform

Fallon Community Health Plan - Commonwealth Care

Fallon Community Health Plan - Commonwealth Care
Massachusetts Health Reform

BMC HealthNet Plan

BMC HealthNet Plan
Massachusetts Health Reform

Massachusetts Health Reform

Massachusetts Health Reform
Eligibility Chart: 2007

Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare

Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare
Massachusetts Health Reform

Business Peaks

Business Peaks
Voodoo Economics

Laffer Curve - Corporate Elite

Laffer Curve - Corporate Elite
Reagonomics: Supply Side

Corporate Elite Propaganda

Corporate Elite Propaganda
Mock Liberal Democratic Socialism Thinking

Real Estate Blues

Real Estate Blues
www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/2008/0316/

PEACE

PEACE
End ALL Wars!

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech
Norman Rockwell's World War II artwork depicting America's values

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
A young Abe Lincoln

RACHEL KAPRIELIAN

RACHEL KAPRIELIAN
www.openmass.org/members/show/218 - www.rachelkaprielian.com

Jennifer M. Callahan - Massachusetts State Representative

Jennifer M. Callahan - Massachusetts State Representative
www.openmass.org/members/show/164 - www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/05/04/legislator_describes_threat_as_unnerving/

Human Rights for ALL Peoples!

Human Rights for ALL Peoples!
My #1 Political Belief!

Anne Frank

Anne Frank
Amsterdam, Netherlands, Europe

A young woman Hillary supporter

A young woman Hillary supporter
This excellent picture captures a youth's excitement

Hillary Clinton with Natalie Portman

Hillary Clinton with Natalie Portman
My favorite Actress!

Alan Chartock

Alan Chartock
WAMC public radio in Albany, NY; Political columnist who writes about Berkshire County area politics; Strong supporter for Human Rights for ALL Peoples

OpenCongress.Org

OpenCongress.Org
This web-site uses some of my Blog postings

OpenMass.org

OpenMass.org
This web-site uses some of my blog postings!

Shannon O'Brien

Shannon O'Brien
One of my favorite politicians! She stands for the People first!

The Massachusetts State House

The Massachusetts State House
"The Almighty Golden Dome" - www.masslegislature.tv -

Sara Hathaway

Sara Hathaway
Former Mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.
A corrupt Pol who tried to put me in Jail

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.
Another view of Pittsfield's inbred, multigenerational political prince. Luciforo!

Luciforo

Luciforo
Nuciforo's nickname

"Andy" Nuciforo

"Andy" Nuciforo
Luciforo!

Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer)

Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer)
Nuciforo's henchman! Nuciforo tried to send me to Carmen's Jail

Andrea Nuciforo Jr

Andrea Nuciforo Jr
Shhh! Luciforo's other job is working as a private attorney defending wealthy Boston-area corporate insurance companies

Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer) Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr.

Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer) Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr.
Nuciforo tried to send me to Carmen's Jail! Carmen sits with the Congressman, John Olver

Congressman John Olver

Congressman John Olver
Nuciforo's envy

The Dome of the U.S. Capitol

The Dome of the U.S. Capitol
Our Beacon of American Democracy

Nuciforo's architect

Nuciforo's architect
Mary O'Brien in red with scarf

Sara Hathaway (www.brynmawr.edu)

Sara Hathaway (www.brynmawr.edu)
Former-Mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts; Nuciforo intimidated her, along with another woman, from running in a democratic state election in the Spring of 2006!

Andrea F. Nuciforo II

Andrea F. Nuciforo II
Pittsfield Politics

Berkshire County Republican Association

Berkshire County Republican Association
Go to: www.fcgop.blogspot.com

Denis Guyer

Denis Guyer
Dalton State Representative

John Forbes Kerry & Denis Guyer

John Forbes Kerry & Denis Guyer
U.S. Senator & State Representative

John Kerry

John Kerry
Endorses Barack Obama for Prez then visits Berkshire County

Dan Bosley

Dan Bosley
A Bureaucrat impostering as a Legislator!

Ben Downing

Ben Downing
Berkshire State Senator

Christopher N Speranzo

Christopher N Speranzo
Pittsfield's ANOINTED State Representative

Peter J. Larkin

Peter J. Larkin
Corrupt Lobbyist

GE - Peter Larkin's best friend!

GE - Peter Larkin's best friend!
GE's FRAUDULENT Consent Decree with Pittsfield, Massachusetts, will end up KILLING many innocent school children & other local residents!

GE's CEO Jack Welch

GE's CEO Jack Welch
The Corporate System's Corporate Elite's King

Economics: Where Supply meets Demand

Economics: Where Supply meets Demand
Equilibrium

GE & Pittsfield, Massachusetts

GE & Pittsfield, Massachusetts
In 2007, GE sold its Plastics Division to a Saudi company. Now all that is left over by GE are its toxic PCB pollutants that cause cancer in many Pittsfield residents.

Mayor James M Ruberto

Mayor James M Ruberto
A small-time pol chooses to serve the corporate elite & other elites over the people.

Governor Deval Patrick

Governor Deval Patrick
Deval shakes hands with Mayors in Berkshire County

Deval Patrick

Deval Patrick
Governor of Massachusetts

Pittsfield High School

Pittsfield High School
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Sara Hathaway

Sara Hathaway
Pittsfield's former Mayor

Rinaldo Del Gallo III

Rinaldo Del Gallo III
Pittsfield Attorney focusing on Father's Rights Probate Court Legal Issues, & Local Politician and Political Observer

Rinaldo Del Gallo III

Rinaldo Del Gallo III
Very Intelligent Political Activists in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Rinaldo Del Gallo, III, Esq. is the spokesperson of the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition. He has been practicing family law and has been a member of the Massachusetts bar since 1996.

Mayor Ed Reilly

Mayor Ed Reilly
He supports Mayor Ruberto & works as a municipal Attorney. As Mayor, he backed Bill Weld for Governor in 1994, despite being a Democrat. He was joined by Carmen Massimiano & John Barrett III, the long-standing Mayor of North Adams.

Manchester, NH Mayor Frank Guinta

Manchester, NH Mayor Frank Guinta
Cuts Dental Care for Public School Children-in-Need

Manchester, NH City Hall

Manchester, NH City Hall
My new hometown - view from Hanover St. intersection with Elm St.

Manchester NH City Democrats

Manchester NH City Democrats
Go Dems!

2008 Democratic Candidates for U.S. Prez

2008 Democratic Candidates for U.S. Prez
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, John Edwards

NH State House Dome

NH State House Dome
Concord, NH

Donna Walto

Donna Walto
Pittsfield Politician -- She strongly opposes Mayor Jim Ruberto's elitist tenure.

Elmo

Elmo
Who doesn't LOVE Elmo?

Hillary Clinton for U.S. President!

Hillary Clinton for U.S. President!
Hillary is for Children. She is my choice in 2008.

The White House in 1800

The White House in 1800
Home of our Presidents of the United States

John Adams

John Adams
2nd President of the USA

Hillary Clinton stands with John Edwards and Joe Biden

Hillary Clinton stands with John Edwards and Joe Biden
Hillary is my choice for U.S. President!

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton
Former President Bill Clinton speaks at the Radisson in Manchester NH 11/16/2007

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
U.S. Senator & Candidate for President

Pittsfield's 3 Women City Councillors - 2004

Pittsfield's 3 Women City Councillors - 2004
Linda Tyer, Pam Malumphy, Tricia Farley-Bouvier

Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts
My friend Brian Merzbach reviews baseball parks around the nation.

The Corporate Elite: Rational Incentives for only the wealthy

The Corporate Elite: Rational Incentives for only the wealthy
The Elites double their $ every 6 to 8 years, while the "have-nots" double their $ every generation (or 24 years). Good bye Middle Class!

George Will

George Will
The human satellite voice for the Corporate Elite

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren
The Anti-George Will; Harvard Law School Professor; The Corporate Elite's Worst Nightmare

The Flag of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

The Flag of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
I was born and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts

State Senator Stan Rosenberg

State Senator Stan Rosenberg
Democratic State Senator from Amherst, Massachusetts -/- Anti-Stan Rosenberg Blog: rosenbergwatch.blogspot.com

Ellen Story

Ellen Story
Amherst Massachusetts' State Representative

Teen Pregnancy in Pittsfield, Mass.

Teen Pregnancy in Pittsfield, Mass.
Books are being written on Pittsfield's high teen pregancy rates! What some intellectuals do NOT understand about the issue is that TEEN PREGNANCIES in Pittsfield double the statewide average by design - Perverse Incentives!

NH Governor John Lynch

NH Governor John Lynch
Supports $30 Scratch Tickets and other forms of regressive taxation. Another Pol that only serves his Corporate Elite Masters instead of the People!

U.S. Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter

U.S. Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter
The first woman whom the People of New Hampshire have voted in to serve in U.S. Congress

U.S. Congressman Paul Hodes

U.S. Congressman Paul Hodes
A good man who wants to bring progressive changes to Capitol Hill!

Paul Hodes for U.S. Congress

Paul Hodes for U.S. Congress
New Hampshire's finest!

Darth Vader

Darth Vader
Star Wars

Dick Cheney & George W. Bush

Dick Cheney & George W. Bush
The Gruesome Two-some! Stop the Neo-Cons' fascism! End the Iraq War NOW!

WAROPOLY

WAROPOLY
The Inequity of Globalism

Bushopoly!

Bushopoly!
The Corporate Elite have redesigned "The System" to enrich themselves at the expense of the people, masses, have-nots, poor & middle-class families

George W. Bush with Karl Rove

George W. Bush with Karl Rove
Rove was a political strategist with extraordinary influence within the Bush II White House

2008's Republican Prez-field

2008's Republican Prez-field
John McCain, Alan Keyes, Rudy Guiliani, Duncan Hunter, Mike Huckabee, WILLARD Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Ron Paul

Fall in New England

Fall in New England
Autumn is my favorite season

Picturing America

Picturing America
picturingamerica.neh.gov

Winter Weather Map

Winter Weather Map
3:45PM EST 3-Dec-07

Norman Rockwell Painting

Norman Rockwell Painting
Thanksgiving

Norman Rockwell Painting

Norman Rockwell Painting
Depiction of American Values in mid-20th Century America

Larry Bird #33

Larry Bird #33
My favorite basketball player of my childhood

Boston Celtics Basketball - 2007-2008

Boston Celtics Basketball - 2007-2008
Kevin Garnett hugs James Posey

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
All heart! Awesome basketball star for The Boston Celtics.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady
Go Patriots!

Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch
Owner of Fox News - CORPORATE ELITE!

George Stephanopolous

George Stephanopolous
A Corporate Elite Political News Analyst

Robert Redford

Robert Redford
Starred in the movie "Lions for Lambs"

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep
Plays a jaded journalist with integrity in the movie "Lions for Lambs"

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise plays the Neo-Con D.C. Pol purely indoctrinated by the Corporate Elite's political agenda in the Middle East

CHARLIZE THERON

CHARLIZE THERON
"I want to say I've never been surrounded by so many fake breasts, but I went to the Academy Awards."

Amherst Town Library

Amherst Town Library
Amherst, NH - www.amherstlibrary.org

Manchester NH Library

Manchester NH Library
I use the library's automated timed 1-hour-per-day Internet computers to post on my Blog - www.manchester.lib.nh.us

Manchester NH's Palace Theater

Manchester NH's Palace Theater
Manchester NH decided to restore its Palace Theater

Pittsfield's Palace Theater

Pittsfield's Palace Theater
Pittsfield tore down this landmark on North Street in favor of a parking lot

Pleasant Street Theater

Pleasant Street Theater
Amherst, Massachusetts

William "Shitty" Pignatelli

William "Shitty" Pignatelli
A top down & banal State House Pol from Lenox Massachusetts -- A GOOD MAN!

The CIA & Mind Control

The CIA & Mind Control
Did the CIA murder people by proxy assassins?

Skull & Bones

Skull & Bones
Yale's Elite

ImpeachBush.org

ImpeachBush.org
I believe President Bush should be IMPEACHED because he is waging an illegal and immoral war against Iraq!

Bob Feuer drumming for U.S. Congress v John Olver in 2008

Bob Feuer drumming for U.S. Congress v John Olver in 2008
www.blog.bobfeuer.us

Abe Lincoln

Abe Lincoln
The 16th President of the USA

Power

Power
Peace

Global Warming Mock Giant Thermometer

Global Warming Mock Giant Thermometer
A member of Green Peace activist sets up a giant thermometer as a symbol of global warming during their campaign in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2007. World leaders launch marathon negotiations Monday on how to fight global warming, which left unchecked could cause devastating sea level rises, send millions further into poverty and lead to the mass extinction of plants and animals.

combat global warming...

combat global warming...
...or risk economic and environmental disaster caused by rising temperatures

www.climatecrisiscoalition.org

www.climatecrisiscoalition.org
P.O. Box 125, South Lee, MA 01260, (413) 243-5665, tstokes@kyotoandbeyond.org, www.kyotoandbeyond.org

3 Democratic presidentional candidates

3 Democratic presidentional candidates
Democratic presidential candidates former senator John Edwards (from right) and Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd before the National Public Radio debate yesterday (12/4/2007).

The UN Seal

The UN Seal
An archaic & bureaucratic post WW2 top-down, non-democratic institution that also stands for some good governance values

Superman

Superman
One of my favorite childhood heroes and movies

Web-Site on toxic toys

Web-Site on toxic toys
www.healthytoys.org

Batman

Batman
One of my favorite super-heroes

Deval Patrick & Denis Guyer

Deval Patrick & Denis Guyer
Massachusetts' Governor stands with Dalton's State Rep. Denis E. Guyer.

Bill Cosby & Denis Guyer

Bill Cosby & Denis Guyer
TV Star Bill Cosby stands with Denis E. Guyer

Denis Guyer with his supporters

Denis Guyer with his supporters
Dalton State Representative

Denis Guyer goes to college

Denis Guyer goes to college
Dalton State Representative

Peter Marchetti

Peter Marchetti
He is my second cousin. Pete Marchetti favors MONEY, not fairness!

Matt Barron & Denis Guyer with couple

Matt Barron & Denis Guyer with couple
Matt Barron plays DIRTY politics against his opponents!

Nat Karns

Nat Karns
Top-Down Executive Director of the ELITIST Berkshire Regional Planning Commission

Human Rights for All Peoples & people

Human Rights for All Peoples & people
Stop Anti-Semitism

Massachusetts State Treasurer Tim Cahill

Massachusetts State Treasurer Tim Cahill
State House, Room 227, Boston, MA 02133, 617-367-6900, www.mass.gov/treasury/

Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley

Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley
1350 Main Street, Springfield, MA 01103, 413-784-1240 / McCormick Building, One Asburton Place, Boston, MA 02108, 617-727-4765 / marthacoakley.com / www.ago.state.ma.us

Bush v. Gore: December 12, 2007, was the seventh anniversary, the 5-4 Supreme Court decision...

Bush v. Gore: December 12, 2007, was the seventh anniversary, the 5-4 Supreme Court decision...
www.takebackthecourt.org - A political billboard near my downtown apartment in Manchester, NH

Marc Murgo

Marc Murgo
An old friend of mine from Pittsfield

Downtown Manchester, NH

Downtown Manchester, NH
www.newhampshire.com/nh-towns/manchester.aspx

Marisa Tomei

Marisa Tomei
Movie Actress

Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities (MCHC)

Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities (MCHC)
www.masschc.org/issue.php

Mike Firestone & Anna Weisfeiler

Mike Firestone & Anna Weisfeiler
Mike Firestone works in Manchester NH for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign

James Pindell

James Pindell
Covers NH Primary Politcs for The Boston Globe

U.S. History - Declaration

U.S. History - Declaration
A 19th century engraving shows Benjamin Franklin, left, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Philip Livingston and Roger Sherman at work on the Declaration of Independence.

Boston Globe Photos of the Week - www.boston.com/bostonglobe/gallery/

Boston Globe Photos of the Week - www.boston.com/bostonglobe/gallery/
Sybregje Palenstijn (left), who plays Sarah Godbertson at Plimouth Plantation, taught visitors how to roast a turkey on a spit. The plantation often sees a large influx of visitors during the holiday season.

Chris Hodgkins

Chris Hodgkins
Another special interest Berkshire Pol who could not hold his "WATER" on Beacon Hill's State House!

The Big Dig - 15 tons of concrete fell from a tunnel ceiling onto Milena Del Valle's car.

The Big Dig - 15 tons of concrete fell from a tunnel ceiling onto Milena Del Valle's car.
Most of Boston's Big Dig highway remains closed, after a woman was crushed when 15 tons of concrete fell from a tunnel ceiling onto her car. (ABC News)

Jane Swift

Jane Swift
Former Acting Governor of Massachusetts & Berkshire State Senator

Paul Cellucci

Paul Cellucci
Former Massachusetts Governor

William Floyd Weld

William Floyd Weld
$80 Million Trust Fund Former Governor of Massachusetts

Mike Dukakis

Mike Dukakis
Former Governor of Massachusetts

Mary E. Carey

Mary E. Carey
Amherst, Massachusetts, Journalist and Blogger

Caveman

Caveman
www.ongeicocaveman.blogspot.com

Peter G. Arlos

Peter G. Arlos
"The biggest challenge Pittsfield faces is putting its fiscal house in order. The problem is that doing so requires structural changes in local government, many of which I have advocated for years, but which officials do not have the will to implement. Fiscal responsibility requires more than shifting funds from one department to another. Raising taxes and fees and cutting services are not the answer. Structural changes in the way services are delivered and greater productivity are the answer, and without these changes the city's fiscal crisis will not be solved."

James M. Ruberto

James M. Ruberto
"Pittsfield's biggest challenge is to find common ground for a better future. The city is at a crossroads. On one hand, our quality of life is challenged. On the other hand, some important building blocks are in place that could be a strong foundation for our community. Pittsfield needs to unite for the good of its future. The city needs an experienced businessman and a consensus builder who will invite the people to hold him accountable."

Matt Kerwood

Matt Kerwood
Pittsfield's Councilor-At-Large. Go to: extras.berkshireeagle.com/NeBe/profiles/12.htm

Gerald M. Lee

Gerald M. Lee
Pittsfield's City Council Prez. Top-down governance of the first order!

Mary Carey

Mary Carey
Mary with student

Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox
Jonathan Papelbon celebrates with Jason Varitek

Free Bernard Baran!

Free Bernard Baran!
www.freebaran.org

Political Intelligence

Political Intelligence
Capitol Hill

Sherwood Guernsey II

Sherwood Guernsey II
Wealthy Williamstown Political Activist & Pittsfield Attorney

Mary Carey 2

Mary Carey 2
California Pol & porn star

Pittsfield's Good Old Boy Network - Political Machine!

Pittsfield's Good Old Boy Network - Political Machine!
Andy "Luciforo" swears in Jimmy Ruberto for the returning Mayor's 3rd term

Berkshire Grown

Berkshire Grown
www.berkshiregrown.org

Rambo

Rambo

The Mount was built in 1902 & was home to Edith Wharton (1862-1937) from 1903 to 1908.

The Mount was built in 1902 & was home to Edith Wharton (1862-1937) from 1903 to 1908.
The Mount, the historic home in Lenox of famed American novelist Edith Wharton, is facing foreclosure.