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January 06. 2014 9:37PM

It’s inauguration day for Manchester’s city, school officials

MANCHESTER — Today is inauguration day, when the city’s newly elected — and reelected — officials will be sworn in, the mayor will lay out his priorities, and the aldermanic and school boards will choose their own leaders.

The biennial event, to begin at the Palace Theatre at 11 a.m., will be largely ceremonial; however, the school board will consider major changes to how it conducts its business.

Following Mayor Ted Gatsas’ inaugural speech, the aldermen and school board will hold their organizational meetings at City Hall, where committee assignments will be made and board chairmen elected.

In addition, the boards will consider any changes to their rules of order.

The school board will consider a slate of changes proposed by Dave Wihby, the at-large school board representative who is the likely frontrunner to be elected the board’s new vice chairman. The post is the second most powerful on the school board after the mayor, who serves as its chairman.

The 27-page document is aimed at bringing the school board’s administrative rules in line with those of the aldermen. Wihby’s proposal would make the mayor the parliamentarian for school board meetings, giving him or her the ability to end debate and move for votes on motions.

The new rules also aim to streamline the process by which proposals pass through committees before a final vote. If a majority of the board desires to take action on an item immediately, without referring it to committee, it can vote to do so.

“Nothing gets done, that’s what I’ve heard from people,” Wihby said. “The idea is to try to move the process faster, to get things done rather than have stalemate... The fighting has to stop, so everyone is working together rather than on their own agenda.”

Ward 9 school board member Art Beaudry, one of its more outspoken members, has proposed his own slate of changes, focusing on strengthening the powers of the committees.

Beaudry did not return a call for comment on Monday.

Mayor Gatsas said he was supportive of the changes proposed by Wihby. “I think it makes it a lot easier to function,” he said.

The aldermen’s organizational meeting will likely be less eventful, with the current chairman, Alderman-At-Large Dan O’Neil, expected to win reelection.

Gatsas said his speech would focus on the city’s strengths, as well as its fiscal challenges. “I think anybody who doesn’t realize that by now hasn’t been listening the last three months,” he said, referring to the budgetary woes.

A portion of the costs of the inaugural ceremony, such as the breakfast, flowers and programs, are being paid for out of the mayor’s campaign account.
tsiefer@unionleader.com


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