Got this one

Corriveau out of mayoral race

Alderman Garth Corriveau will announce this afternoon that he will not be a candidate for mayor this fall, but will instead run for re-election for his Ward 6 seat.

“In recent weeks I have heard from residents throughout Manchester about how I can best serve our city in the next two years. Their response, support and encouragement have been heartening and humbling,” said the first-term alderman. “Although many metrics indicate that a campaign for higher office very well may be successful, the most important factor to me was hearing from several Ward 6 residents of all political parties who expressed their hope that I seek reelection as their alderman. Upon careful reflection with them, my family and friends, it is time to end the political speculation and get to work.” Continue reading

Scoop of lemons

When Alderman Garth Corriveau gave this scoop to another reporter, I was miffed. I’m the one and only Manchester City Hall reporter. These are things I should get. Well, Corriveau made it up to me (as you’ll see in a later post) and the initial scoopage gave me a little extra gumption to stick my neck out and do some actual analysis. Lemons into lemonade, as they say.

Corriveau in ‘exploratory’ mode on mayoral run

ALDERMAN Garth Corriveau teased the local media last week with hints about a possible run for mayor. Now in the “exploratory” mode, he’s talking to political players both inside and outside of Manchester looking for advice on his next move. This despite Corriveau being well-positioned for reelection to his Ward 6 seat, as are the other Democratic aldermen who have announced intentions to run. No one has announced a run against Corriveau yet, either, which could mean an easy skate to a second term and a solid foundation for higher political office.

Here’s another thing for Corriveau — or whichever Democrat steps up to the plate — to consider. The corner office on the third floor of City Hall is Mayor Ted Gatsas’ to lose.

Gatsas lent himself $25,000 for his reelection campaign last quarter. About half of that has already been spent for campaign work by the politically savvy marketing company wedu. There’s also a fund-raiser scheduled for Gatsas on June 16 at St. George’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral.
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True professionals, turf wars and band nerds

I really slammed School Committee member Chris Herbert in this column, a move that would have put me on the banned-for-life list of most public officials I used to cover in Southern Maine. But Herbert didn’t take it personally. He is a professional and has continued to answer my calls and questions without making me feel like a heel.

That’s more than I can say for myself, who still holds a grudge against those nasty commenters who frequented my column in the early days of my tenure.

And then I talk about the battle over the school driveway and my first public admission in Manchester that yes, indeed, I played in band.

City, school officials sparring over $2 million

THE BATTLE OVER the school district budget has come down to a $2 million question: Will the aldermen support the $150 million budget put forward by Mayor Ted Gatsas and Superintendent of Schools Thomas Brennan, or will they go with the Board of School Committee’s $152 million budget?

As the aldermen mull their decision, nine school board members decided to give their city-side counterparts a little nudge. In a letter sent last week, these committee members argue that the mayor’s budget goes too far and cuts too deep. They say their $152 million proposal is responsible, has fewer layoffs and would allow the district to meet the needs of students and its federal education mandates.
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You can always tell when the School Board meets

Because my column is super loaded with school items the following Sunday. Enjoy the minutia of standardized testing and the like.

Schools still shoulder ‘need improvement’ burden

SCHOOL IN NEED of improvement. It’s a label Mayor Ted Gatsas has sworn to banish from the city, but as another year passes, it still hangs over the heads of those in the district.

The New Hampshire Department of Education recently released the statewide 2010-11 Adequate Yearly Progress results, and Manchester again saw its schools slapped with the “in need of improvement” label.

A look across the state shows Manchester schools are not alone. Continue reading

CITY HALL: Gatsas budget plan now in aldermen’s hands

With such deep cuts in this year’s budget, I was surprised by the subtle response from the aldermen and tried to capture their mild reaction. There was also the small but avid partisan response, which shows party folks are slowly gathering strength for this fall’s city elections. And then there were the horses…

CITY HALL: Gatsas budget plan now in aldermen’s hands

Sunday, March 27, 2011

FOR MORE THAN six months, elected officials have been talking about falling off the budget cliff. Last Tuesday, Mayor Ted Gatsas brought the city’s toes to the edge of the precipice.

Whether to follow through with the mayor’s proposal — which comes with 250 layoffs and an $18.41-per-$1,000 tax rate — is now in the hands of the aldermen.

Since the mayor’s address, the reaction from the aldermen has been muted. There are a few neighborhood interests to push back into the budget, but otherwise the board is waiting for the moving parts — such as city unions, state funding, public support — to lock into place. Continue reading

The Mayor’s Budget

The unveiling of the “The Mayor’s Budget” is a big event in Manchester. About 70 people showed up to the event, most of them union reps and city department heads. It is also televised on the local cable access station. The mayor prepares a formal speech, the aldermen listen and then everyone goes home. It’s has sort of a State of the City kind of feel.

With the help of an advance meeting with Mayor Ted Gatsas that day, I was able to do a straight story on what was in the budget and then a reax piece on the major cuts all by deadline. Both are below, which garnered about 150 total comments in the days after.

Mayor says budget brings pains and gains

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

MANCHESTER — Whether you live in the city, work in the city or go to school in the city, Mayor Ted Gatsas made clear on Tuesday night that pain from Manchester’s budget will be felt by everyone.

Gatsas presented a $180 million budget for fiscal year 2012 that calls for laying off 50 city employees, 200 school district support staff and leaving 81 city positions unfilled. It also calls for laying off eight library staffers and closing the West Side Library Branch to save $250,000. (See story, Page B1.)

The taxpayers will in turn see a 3.37 percent tax hike. If no cuts are made, Gatsas said, taxes will go up 12.75 percent.

“There is not a realistic scenario that doesn’t come with significant sacrifice,” said Gatsas. “Sacrifice, that while very painful for most, is required to avoid bankrupting this city and driving taxpayers out.” Continue reading