If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
That old proverb is expected to play out this week at Tuesday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting with Alderman At Large Joe Kelly Levasseur promising to once again raise the topic of making the school district a city department.
Word is his effort may have a bit more support this time around than in previous attempts.
In April 2017 Levasseur made a motion to put a question on the November municipal election ballot that, if passed, would have put aldermen in charge of school finances.
That motion initially passed, with Levasseur and aldermen Dan O’Neil, Bill Shea, Barbara Shaw, Normand Gamache and Keith Hirschmann, along with former aldermen Pat Long and Tom Katsiantonis,in favor, and Chris Herbert, Tony Sapienza, Bill Barry and Kevin Cavanaugh opposed.
Former Ward 2 Alderman Ron Ludwig was absent from the meeting and the Ward 6 seat was vacant at the time after Nick Pappas resigned.
But a few weeks later aldermen voted to reconsider their earlier vote and ultimately rejected Levasseur’s original motion.
Levasseur feels there would be better supervision and oversight of the school district if it were a city department.
“I have tried at least four times to get this back on the ballot and been shot down by the aldermen from getting it on the ballot each time,” Levasseur said. “However, there seems to be some votes there this time that haven’t been there in the past.”
Twenty years ago a declaratory judgment was handed down after the school district filed a petition to determine if it was a city department. According to Judge Joseph Nadeau‘s ruling, the “school district functions as a substantially independent governmental entity” and it was not a city department, and not under the control of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
In 2001, voters passed by a 4,000-vote majority a city charter amendment changing the school district to a city department. That amendment was later struck down by the courts, which ruled that it violated state law. The Legislature changed the law in 2003, but attempts to hold another charter vote have foundered — such as in 2011, when aldermen voted against scheduling a required public hearing that would put the issue back before voters, essentially killing it.
How will things play out this time? We should know more Tuesday night.
Developer Peter Flotz of Bedford Lot Venture LLC reports his firm successfully agreed to terms on a construction loan with Salem Five Bank, allowing the long-awaited Millyard hotel project to finally get underway.
The project will put a 126-room Tru by Hilton hotel with a parking garage near North Commercial and Spring streets.
Flotz said his firm has signed a construction contract with Harvey Construction and expects to give them notice to proceed early this week.
“We anticipate starting work on site in February and should be open July 1, 2020,” Flotz said.
Two weeks ago this space mentioned two possible candidates mulling a potential run for mayor: Ward 12 Alderman Keith Hirschmann and former Republican state representative and Ward 9 resident Victoria Sullivan.
You can cross Hirschmann off that list. Hirschmann, the owner of alarm company SecurityNet, said late last week he has decided against a run for the corner office at City Hall.
“After giving careful consideration to a run for mayor of Manchester it is not the time, as my business interests are my main focus now and for the next few years,” Hirschmann said in a statement. “I love my city and will continue to serve as alderman, and will be able to serve the taxpayers and my business clients in that capacity.”
At week’s end Sullivan said she had yet to make a final decision, but was “strongly considering it and leaning towards a run.” No timetable was given for when she will announce her intentions.
As for the current mayor, Joyce Craig said again last week she is focused on crafting a municipal budget for Fiscal Year 2020 and not quite ready for any type of a reelection campaign announcement.
Craig likely won’t make her intentions known until after presenting her budget sometime in March. But the former Ward 1 alderman and school board member has to be feeling good after seeing the larger-than-expected turnout last week at a party at To Share Brewing Company on Union St., where more than 100 people gathered to celebrate her first year in office.
“It gave everyone a good opportunity to get people together and talk about what we’ve accomplished in our first year in office, and talk about the progress we’ve made together as a city,” Craig said.
Craig said BAE Systems’ expansion to the Queen City, the planned renovation of the Rex Theatre, and improvements in education are just some of the items she receives positive feedback on from the community.
“People are excited to see it continue,” Craig said.
Craig said she chose To Share Brewing to host the celebration because it is a “good example” of another local business succeeding in the Queen City.
“They chose Manchester as the place they wanted to be,” Craig said.
Craig is scheduled to deliver her 2019 “State of the City” address to members of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Feb. 13, from 7:30–9 a.m. at Fratello’s Italian Grille, 155 Dow St. in Manchester. According to the Chamber’s website, the event is already sold out.
Manchester Proud — a citizens’ coalition committed to uniting the Queen City behind an aspirational vision for its school system — will host a student listening session on Tuesday from 5–6 p.m. at Manchester Community College.
According to organizers, listening sessions are grouped by audience segment so they can gather feedback and categorically submit it for future planning.
This listening session is geared toward high school students in the Manchester school district. “This is an opportunity for you to have a voice in the process of designing a plan for Manchester schools, a process that will impact your everyday experience,” organizers wrote in an advertisement for the session.
RSVP to email@example.com
Manchester Proud is also looking for applicants for its Community Planning Group.
“In order to ensure that the new strategic plan is truly by and for our community, it is essential that the planning process be guided by the people of Manchester. With this in mind, we are accepting applications for the Community Planning Group”, said Barry Brensinger, coordinator with Manchester Proud.
Brensinger encourages anyone who lives and works in the Queen City to apply. Organizers say the Community Planning Group is designed to be “reflective of Manchester schools,” including a student population in which 40 percent are children of color.
To apply, visit ManchesterProud.org and click on the teal Community Planning Group Application button. All applications must be submitted by Tuesday.
“We recognize the importance of having a very inclusive group, which is consistent with Manchester Proud’s role as a community movement,” Brensinger said.
Brensinger added his group plans to announce the formation of a selection committee consisting of an educator, representatives from the United Way and Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, as well as minorities. This selection committee will review and select members of the Community Planning Group.
“In order to ensure objective representation of the community and authenticity, the selection community who will review these applications will be 100% composed of community representatives,” said Brensinger in a release. “Manchester Proud Council members will help support the process, but will not serve on the selection committee or participate in the selection process.”
One last item of note: City Hall will be lit blue and red tonight in support of the New England Patriots as they take on the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.