January 26, 2006


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Manchester Publisher's Note: City government gets wackier
By†Jody Reese

Last week, pizzeria owner and attorney Joe Levasseur video taped seven aldermen meeting at a union hall.

The cityís other paper reported that Levasseur hired a private eye to watch newly elected Ward 3 Alderman Pat Long, who incidentally beat out Levasseur for that post. Levasseur tells a slightly different story, saying instead that the dick was a friend and worked for free and that they werenít spying on Long, just keeping an eye on the union meeting hall.

Now newly elected mayor Frank Guinta is looking into whether or not the seven aldermen (Democrats Mark Roy, Long, Betsi DeVries, George Smith, Armand Forest, Dan OíNeil and Mike Lopez) broke some sort of meeting laws by getting together in secret. For themselves the Dems say the whole thing is nothing more that the ranting of Levasseur and that they had the right to meet as a group and talk about non-city business. In this case the subject they say they were discussing was Ward 7 Alderman DeVries' run for state senate against Republican Andy Martel.

All this is just weird. Spying, or at the very least keeping tabs on aldermen, is just insane. Surely Levasseur can find a more interesting pastime or better yet put his free time into volunteering for a local charity.

On the other hand, the seven Dems need to have their political senses checked to see if they still have a pulse. Meeting in secret at a union hall? Why not just hand Levasseur compromising pictures? Oh wait, they did.

The argument can be made that the seven aldermen have all the right in the world to meet and see how they can help DeVries run for senate, but whatís right and what'ssmart are two very different things.

There is already too much distrust in city government, too much blame, too much politics. Itís silly to imagine city government becoming truly non-partisan, but overt partisanship should be discouraged. Parties are bad for democracy and bad for city government. They encourage people to first think about party and then think about the city they should be serving.

Give Guinta a chance; Guinta, grow up

In the spirit of trying to create a better city, city Democrats should ease up a bit on newly elected Mayor Guinta. Whether they like it or not, he is now the mayor and is going to be running city government for the next two years.

The Democrats on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen should give Guinta enough space to craft his own administration, budget and set of new priorities. There is a large enough group of Democrats (11 of the 14) that they can block any move they think is too extreme.

Itís true that Guinta hasnít helped matters by choosing committee chairmanships that snub many of the long-serving Democrats. That was a mistake. Guinta should have himself reached out and chosen more Democrats.

But the Democrats are in such a dominant position now in city government that they can afford to give a little.

Itís very important that the Board and Mayor and Aldermen doesnít devolve into a political fistfight for the next two years. Manchesterís growth is a key point and we donít want it sidelined by petty party politics.

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