A race is pretty boring without an opponent

Despite all my efforts here, I was unable to goad any of the people mentioned into running. I really, really wish more attention was paid to my mention of the all-male mayoral review, but it barely garnered a peep. So it goes. I also love the placard story, that I got to use the word “Manchvegas” and I got a counter-punch from a normally quiet public figure in the column.

With Corriveau out, who will run against Gatsas?

ALDERMAN Garth Corriveau decided against a run for mayor. Now what?

“I know there are others that are talking about it and talking about it behind the scenes,” said Manchester City Democratic Chairman Mike Brunelle. “There are still qualified people out there who are thinking about stepping up to the plate and challenging (Mayor) Ted Gatsas.”

So the wait continues.

There’s been plenty of talk about where to find a formidable challenger to Gatsas. Some suggest recruiting an experienced Democrat who has stepped back from the spotlight lately; Manchester attorneys Bob Backus and Tom Donovan are such Democrats. Continue reading

Manchester teachers say no to health care concessions

Budget follow-up with the awesome reporting help of Mark Hayward.

Manchester teachers say health care concessions off the table in budget fight

Thursday, March 3, 2011

MANCHESTER – Junking the plan of Mayor Ted Gatsas, the Manchester school board is backing a proposed budget that spends more than the mayor wants to, limits layoffs of paraprofessionals but ends with a $2.5 million question mark.

Meanwhile, a teachers’ union official said concessions on health care are off the table, and teachers are ready for layoffs if that turns out to be the case. Scott McGilvray, president of the Manchester Education Association, said teachers already agreed to four years of health-care concessions in 2009.

“We’re already ahead of everyone else (in givebacks), yet they come after teachers time and time again,” said McGilvray, whose union represents 1,200 teachers. Continue reading

School budget talks go past midnight

For the first time since I started at the Union Leader, the meeting went past deadline and I had to do a (late) follow-up. Here’s the first part.

Wrangling continues on city school budget

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

MANCHESTER – As discussion continued into the wee hours, the Board of School Committee was stalled over whether to lay off staff to make up a budget shortfall.

At one point, committee members tried to balance next year’s $10 million budget shortfall by eliminating 12 retiring teacher positions, asking for $2.4 million more from the city and using $3 million in one-time money.

Four hours into Monday night’s meeting, the board agreed to request a $152 million budget for the 2012 fiscal year, but were short $2.5 million to cover all programs and positions. Attempts to fill the hole by reducing vacant staff positions and 79 paraprofessionals failed. Sensing an impasse, Committee member Mike DeBlasi suggested the board bring its budget to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen pledging to fill the gap with cuts in salaries, either by laying off teachers, administrators or paraprofessionals. Continue reading

City Hall column: budget burnout

My fatigue with the budget is showing a little in this week’s column. But a two week vacation should fix that. Just one week to go.

Budget storm fizzles as Gatsas gets some sun

Feb. 27, 2011

Every time the mayor leaves the country, a storm kicks up.

A powerful nor’easter swept through New England in February 2010, knocking out power, closing schools and sending tree limbs crashing through roofs. The newly inaugurated Mayor Ted Gatsas was on vacation when the storm hit. Via the city website, he urged residents without power to seek shelter at the Cashin Senior Center.

February 2011 brought a different kind of storm, again rearing up while the mayor was in Aruba. This one proved to be little more than a quick, mid-budget squall. Continue reading

No major budget action from school board

After all the drama over meeting while the mayor was away, nothing happened.

No major budget action from school board

Friday, Feb. 25, 2011

MANCHESTER – The Board of School Committee had scheduled a special meeting to hash out the details of the 2012 school budget, but it was called to a close before any major decisions were made.

Ten of the board’s 15 members attended Thursday’s budget workshop meeting, enough to constitute a quorum, but when the board started taking votes on what line items to include in the final budget, Committee members Tom Katsiantonis and Mike DeBlasi walked out. Both said they were uncomfortable making budget decisions without more members present. Continue reading