November 2, 2006


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Manchester Publisher's Note: Less mud, more action
By†Jody Reese

It took less than a week for the nonpartisan cooperation after Manchester police officer Michael Briggsí murder to wear off.

First it was Governor John Lynch and his ó real or perceived ó snub of Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta. Lynch held a press conference about crime here and didnít invite the mayor. Guinta responded by blasting Lynch for not doing enough to help Manchester deal with the rise in crime. Not to be outdone, the city Democrats held a press conference the next day criticizing Guinta for politicizing the murder of Briggs. They then proceeded to politicize the death, as well. A meeting between Lynch and Guinta to discuss crime-fighting here was canceled by Lynchís people.

Sometimes itís hard to not stand back and wonder if this is some sort of schoolyard joke. Adults shouldnít be quite such big weenies.

Unfortunately, lost in all this childishness is the murder of a Manchester police officer and the continued challenge of reducing crime in Manchester.

Before Republicans and Democrats started throwing mud, things did seem like they were moving in the right direction, if only months too late. Guinta announced a six-part plan last week that included some great ideas for both short- and long-term crime fighting.

On the short-term side, he wanted to increase the police force by 10 additional officers, make it harder for those accused of violent crimes to get bail and continue with more patrols in key east side neighborhoods. Just as important, Guinta said, was improving the behavior of city school students, solving the problems of bad housing and making sure kids have a safe place to go after school.

For all the hubbub about Massachusetts people coming to Manchester to commit crimes, the reality is that most of our crime problems are home-grown. It was good to see Guinta recognize that and offer solutions.

The six-part plan didnít include a lot of specifics but that is understandable given how complicated the problems of crime are and that several agencies, nonprofits and the aldermen are needed to solved these problems.

Now comes the hard part: putting the plan into action. For that to happen, Guinta will need the support of the school board, the aldermen and state government. Heís not off to a good start with the tit-for-tat political back-and-forth that has gone on for the past few days. Aldermen have said that they didnít know about the six-part plan until it was announced publicly. While I sympathize with the mayorís frustration at being left out of a press conference, he should have handled the slight in a closed-door meeting with Lynch and used it to bring the Manchester aldermen and school board members on board with his plan.

Itís not too late for Guinta, Lynch and the aldermen to put their political dreams behind them and focus on us people and making our city a better place to live, play and work. I know itís a lot to ask of politicians to act in our best interest first, but what the heck, we can ask, canít we?.