Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig says she appreciates the work of InTown Manchester over the years. But she just doesn’t seem to know what that work might be or how it was paid for.
In the wake of news that the city has abruptly called it quits with the longtime downtown improvement entity, that its books are in the red, and that its director has quit, the mayor issued this astounding statement:
“I was made aware of the fact there has been virtually no oversight of funds or what services were being provided with the funds allocated.”
This from the chief executive who just campaigned for reelection boasting of her management skills and promising to build on “the progress we’ve made.” So how is it that, post-election, she doesn’t know much about an entity that has existed for more than 20 years and is enabled by the city to tax downtown properties?
Craig reminds us of Sgt. Schultz from the Hogan’s Heroes TV series of old. Schultz saw nothing, heard nothing, and at least once proclaimed, “I did not even get up this morning!”
There remain many unanswered questions, notwithstanding Craig’s confusing statements. Why did she and the aldermen go into “nonpublic session” about InTown before the city solicitor in effect killed the entity? Are the aldermen also claiming they didn’t know about InTown? They have their own member, Alderman Pat Long, on the InTown board. Might the audit critical of InTown have been made public before the election?
InTown’s board chairman bravely says it is committed to continue to provide services to the downtown business district. We don’t see how that’s possible without the city’s backing.
One thing is clear: Beware the next new or improved government-backed program that Sgt. Craig springs on Manchester, be it shiny new trains, expensive new high school buildings, or even so much as a new ice cream stand. She will endorse it, until she doesn’t.