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Paul Feely's City Hall: Overruling vice chair opens Pandora's Box, warns school board member

May 26. 2018 10:34PM

With city schools and municipal offices closed Monday in observance of Memorial Day, school board members will meet Tuesday night with the issue of student representation on the new Ad Hoc Committee on Students Voice on School Board - or lack of it, as far as members of Young Organizers United (YOU) are concerned - on the agenda.

As reported last week, the list announced by school board Vice Chair Art Beaudry of those appointed to serve on the committee did not contain a single member of YOU, part of the Granite State Organizing Project, despite years of effort by members to secure a seat at the table during school board meetings. The committee does include four high school students - one student from each city high school - but none are YOU members.

Committeeman David Scannell of Ward 2 believes the vice chair has the authority to appoint all special committees "unless otherwise directed by the Board of School Committee," and intends to ask the board to vote to include a YOU member on the ad hoc committee.

"Clearly, the board has the authority to overrule the vice chair's appointments to special committees," Scannell said.

Not so fast, says committeeman Ross Terrio of Ward 7.

"I read this rule differently," writes Terrio in an email to board members ahead of Tuesday's session.

Terrio points out the vice chair has the authority to appoint all special committees, and while a majority of the school board can take this power away from the vice chair if it chooses - or in certain instances can appoint a special committee by a vote of the full board - he views this as a "forward looking rule."

"Once a special committee has been selected the vice chair has exercised his/her authority, and the BOSC will abide by that decision," writes Terrio. "I don't think we can retroactively take this power away from him, rather, the BOSC must act before the committee has been appointed."

Terrio compares the situation to the prohibition on "ex post facto" laws contained in the U.S. Constitution to support the position that the country's rules can't be changed after the event has occurred to second guess a prior decision.

He also cautions against overruling Beaudry's committee appointments because, he warns, "it will open up Pandora's Box."

"I and several other members were disappointed by the mayor's appointments to standing committees, but we graciously accepted the outcome of her decisions," writes Terrio. "If the proposed action were to go through, it would also be appropriate for the BOSC to second guess the mayor's appointments and vote to change them as well."

Terrio also states he doesn't think it's appropriate to have partisan, political organizations like the Granite State Organizing Project (GSOP) operating in, and recruiting students from, city schools.

"This board was upset that the NRA donated money to our schools - a donation that came without any indoctrination on their part," writes Terrio. "We don't allow the NRA or the John Birch Society the freedom to operate in our schools - why do we allow GSOP to do this? If we are to be consistent and avoid the appearance of being hypocritical, then we shouldn't allow any partisan political group such as the GSOP carte blanche to operate in our schools."

Late last week, Mayor Joyce Craig said she is hopeful an amicable solution regarding YOU membership on the committee can be reached.

"Members of the YOU program have worked hard to get student representation on the board and I applaud their efforts," said Craig in a statement. "My hope is that our board will rectify this issue and work together to include them in the process going forward."

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On the heels of a trip to the State House in Concord to receive a New Hampshire Union Leader Hero Award, the members of Manchester Fire's Rescue Company 1 - Nik McCulloch, T.J. Burkush, Nick Poulin and Lt. Matt Lamothe - were at City Hall last Tuesday to receive a proclamation prior to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.

The four were honored for their actions last August when they dragged a 59-year-old man out of his home at 244 Pennsylvania St., where his bedroom had caught fire.

Prior to the ceremony, Manchester Assistant Fire Chief Richard McGahey said the accolades the crew has received in recent weeks are well deserved.

"I was actually there," said McGarry. "It was a great rescue. The rescue guys happened to be clearing another call nearby when the call cane in and they got there quickly. They did a phenomenal job."

McGarry said the same group was also involved in the rescue of a puppy from a sewer pipe on the West Side.

The 20-month-old black Lab puppy, named Sookie, was out for a walk with its owner in Wolfe Park when it broke free from its collar and got away. Sookie was approximately 10 feet into a nearby sewer pipe, and refused to come out when called or tempted with food.

Members of Rescue 1 capped the end of a hose line, filled it, and pushed it and Sookie through the pipe and out the other end.

"We never know who or what might be involved," said McGahey. "When a call comes in, we'll respond. We'll do whatever we have to do to get a rescue done. It's the nature of our job. We have top notch guys."

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Anyone interested in helping to create a community garden adjacent to Parkside Middle School is invited to attend a meeting May 30 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the Parkside Middle School library, 75 Parkside Ave.

The proposal for a garden grew out of an idea proposed by city resident Janine Woodworth, as a project idea for Neighborworks Southern New Hampshire. Woodworth said she has the support of Parkside Principal Forrest Ransdell and the Parent Teacher Group at the school. She has also been in contact with the local aldermen and school board members.

Paul Feely is the City Hall reporter for the Union Leader and Sunday News. Reach him at

City Hall Manchester

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