Six Manchester aldermen voted very late one recent night that they were prepared to override the city's newly enacted tax cap in order to get the city teachers' union to agree to amend its contract. A few days later, the union voted to reject contract concessions that would have saved more than 100 teachers' jobs.
Coincidence? We doubt it.
With six aldermanic votes in its pocket, the teachers' union can now concentrate its fire on picking off four more votes (10 would be needed to override a veto), plus trying to turn the tax cap into a bogeyman. The cap, by the way, was dismissively derided by Ward 2 Alderman Ron Ludwig as something “passed by a couple thousand people on a rainy Tuesday.''
The remaining aldermen and the taxpayers can now expect tales of the pain, torture, and deprivation that will surely ensue in Manchester's schools if they don't receive a lot more money than was offered in the budget of the mean, old mayor, Ted Gatsas.
But here is the thing: The mayor's budget did not cut the city's funding of schools. It gave the school district the same amount of money, $150 million, that it received last budget.
This is still a required reduction in overall spending (of some $10 million to $12 million). Why? Because of a $2 million federal funds cut, plus automatic salary increases, cost-of-living hikes, pension contributions, and step raises in the union contract, along with increased health insurance costs.
It was the health costs that the mayor had targeted in his teacher union proposal, the same kind of proposal that other city unions had accepted in order to keep their union “brothers'' in jobs. But the teachers' union has thumbed its nose at its own, and now it and the aldermanic six can try to convince the voters that it is the voters' fault.
“We have to do what's right,'' Ludwig proclaimed at the midnight vote. “I'm going to call out people in a roll call vote to see if they have the will to override this foolishness.''
We think the voters know who are the fools here. In addition to Ludwig, they are Aldermen Dan O'Neil, Garth Corriveau, Joyce Craig, Patrick Arnold and Barbara Shaw.