Ted Siefer's City Hall: Summer time, and the runnin' for office ain't easy
It's late summer in an off-year for city elections, so you wouldn't expect a whole lot of politicking to be going on at City Hall - or much of any activity for that matter.
However, eight aldermen and school board members are busy running to keep or capture seats in the state Legislature this November.
Four are incumbent state representatives: school committee member Ted Rokas, and aldermen Tom Katsiantonis, Barbara Shaw and Pat Long.
School committee member Roy Shoults is running as a Republican for the Hillsborough 43rd District representative seat, challenging incumbent Republican and pro-life activist Kathleen Souza.
Then there are the two school committee members running against each other for state senator, Donna Soucy and Art Beaudry. More on this race later.
The boldest campaign is arguably being waged by Alderman and state Rep. Phil Greazzo, a relative political newcomer, against Democratic Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, a seven-term state senator and former state representative, executive councilor and Manchester school board member.
Greazzo, known as a libertarian-minded Republican, has put D'Allesandro plainly in his sights. He's holding a fund-raiser this week at KC's Rib Shack that will be a Hawaiian-themed 'Lou-Out.'
'Lou says he's been in elected office for more than 40 years. I'm 42. He's been in office as long as I've been alive. That's too long. That's something I'm hearing from a lot of people I'm talking to,' Greazzo said, adding, 'Lou has been a paid employee with taxpayer dollars his whole career. I'm a small-business owner.'
D'Allesandro, it should be noted, won the 2010 election for Senate District 20, which includes four Manchester wards and Goffstown, by only a narrow margin.
The senator brushed off Greazzo's strong words.
'Phil can do anything he wants. Compare my record to his,' said D'Allesandro, who has been a teacher, coach and college president, primarily at Catholic and private schools. 'I run to be a public servant, to do good things for this city, state and hopefully my country. I've got a long track record, on the school board, in both houses. ... All my children went through Manchester public schools.'
Greazzo also took aim at D'Allesandro's sizable campaign account, which tops $200,000. He raised questions about out-of-state donations and about expenses related to the senator's birthday celebrations; the one in 2010 cost more than $3,000, according his disclosure forms.
D'Allesandro called such questions 'nonsense.' He said the $3,000 came from campaign coffers to pay for a combination fundraiser-birthday party.
Greazzo, for his part, has $3,720 in his campaign account.
The other Manchester Senate race, for Hillsborough District 18, is a three-way race involving Soucy, the Democrat Party pick, Beaudry, who is running as an independent, and Republican Rep. J. Gail Barry.
Beaudry said his status as an independent distinguishes him from his rivals. He's one of only a handful of independent candidates running for legislative seats this year.
'I think one candidate is way to the right and the other is too far to the left. I want to work with both parties. My allegiance is going to be to the people,' Beaudry said.
Without party support, Beaudry is taking a do-it-yourself approach to campaigning and fundraising. To wit, he'll be having a fundraiser at Theo's Restaurant the evening of Sept. 13.
Soucy did not return a call in time to have comments included in this column.
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There is one city election, of course: for the Ward 11 alderman seat vacated by Russell Ouellette.
The rhetoric has been tame among the four candidates, and this represents a departure from last year's elections, when city Democrats labeled several candidates in city races 'free-staters.' That would include Emily Sandblade, who is the city GOP committee's favorite for the Ward 11 seat.
Sandblade was the runner-up to Ouellette in the 2011 election.
The Free State Project has as its goal bringing some 20,000 people to New Hampshire dedicated to ideals of personal liberty and limited government.
Sandblade said she was inspired by the movement when she came to the state years ago, but she doesn't have an association with the group.
She said she related to principles that are common to New Hampshire as a state.
'Personally, I like New Hampshire because I like the premises it's built on. I like what people stand for. People are friendly, they tend to work pretty hard. They tend be family-oriented and they have sense of history,' said Sandblade, a software engineer by profession.
The other candidates in the race who will square off in the primary Sept. 11 are Normand Gamache, Eric Fischer and Armand Forest.
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A man organizes a Facebook group dedicated to uniting Manchester natives the world over - and all he wants is a T-shirt with the official city seal on it.
No can do, an aldermen's committee said last week.
Peter Baker, who lives in West Hurley, N.Y., made the request via Alderman Barbara Shaw. He's the creator and moderator of the Facebook group 'Things I remember growing up in Manchester,' which now counts some 4,600 members.
Baker, a proud graduate of Webster Elementary School, Class of '57, said several dozen members of the group expressed an interest in 'getting away from their keyboards' and having a get-together, the real-life kind.
He wants to print T-shirts with the city seal on them to commemorate the event, which he is planning for September 2013. The T-shirts would be sold at cost, not for profit, he said.
However, as Deputy City Solicitor Tom Arnold explained to the Committee on Administration/Information Systems last week, such a use of the seal would violate Chapter 11 of the city ordinances.
'No persons shall manufacture, sell or expose for sale ... any article of merchandise ... (with) any attached representation or likeness of the seal,' says the abridged version.
Rules are rules, the committee decided.
The aldermen agreed, however, that the city would reach out to Baker to make other suggestions for his T-shirt.
Perhaps a profile of the City Hall building, proposed City Clerk Matt Normand.
Baker said he'd be disappointed if he couldn't use the seal, but he's willing to consider alternatives. 'We're not going to shoot ourselves in the foot,' he said.
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There are a lot of tax deadbeats out there. This much was clear at an aldermen's hearing last week. What to do about them is another matter.
Property owners in the city owed $33,900 as of Aug. 13, according to the summary of accounts at least 90 days overdue, which was presented at the Committee on Accounts, Enrollment and Revenue Administration on Tuesday.
In many cases, those in arrears own multiple properties in the city.
The problem, explained city Planning Director Leon LaFreniere, is that the city lost its ability to place liens on properties for enforcement actions because of a state law passed two years ago.
Inspectors can make property visits, and there's Housing Court, but because of the court system's budget problems, such cases often get bumped, LaFreniere said.
'Hopefully, we'll get (the ability to place liens) back there when there's a Legislature more likely to support it,' LaFreniere said.
'Let's hope so,' said Alderman Patrick Arnold.
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Ted Siefer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @tbsreporter..