Gate City Musings: Where have you been up to, Mayor?
Gate City Musings, a column on City Hall happenings and other Nashua items, is published every other Monday. It is written by a veteran political observer whose identity is known to the editors but who wishes to remain anonymous, and breathing.
What's going on in City Hall that's such big secret?
Why does our city's CEO feel she is exempt from the right-to-know law when it comes to her public travels?
When someone runs unopposed for the highest elected position in the state's second largest city, does arrogance come into play when the local media wants to know what she does with her time?
When the city attorney, who is appointed by and answers directly to the mayor and no one else, is asked whether his boss's actions fall under the state's right-to-know law, does one honestly think that his legal opinion would not favor his employer?
Does "stonewalling" the media make for a transparent government?
Does the mayor need two people to keep her "internal" and "external" schedules?
These questions and many more are surfacing since our duly-elected mayor decided to keep her public schedule private and away from the inquisitive reporters and electorate.
In talking with City Hall officials and those close to City Hall insiders, Musings learned that no other administration in the city's recent history has taken the position that the mayor's whereabouts as she travels the city, the state and the nation is no one's business but hers.
Granted, Musings' interest in Gate City government can be measured in months and years rather than decades, nevertheless this interest came about after a long yearning for transparent and open government. Couple this with "insider information" provided by those really close to City Hall who feel the same way, hopefully you will get the message that actions and dealings in secret should have no place here in Nashua.
To say that two City Hall employees are needed to keep the mayor's inside and outside schedules is absolutely ridiculous.
What's going on with our Board of Education and its attempt (or lack of an attempt) to keep an athletic director? Are the high school athletic programs and its host of coaches and assistant coaches so screwed up that they can't keep a director? The answer, of course, is no.
Maybe it's about time the "Bored" of Education gives a director a three- or four-year contract and, barring any misdeeds or malfeasance, makes certain the director honors the commitment. Musings wonders if this is too much to ask of the board that is now getting around to making certain our schools are safe.
Will wonders never cease at City Hall? Now we find that the former non-union community development director walked out of City Hall with a $25,000 parting city gift for banked sick and vacation days. Whatever happened to "use it or lose it" policy most private sector employees have to live with?
This is reminiscent of a former mayor who strode out of City Hall with a $22,000 reward of taxpayers' money for unused vacation and sick time. How many times have we learned about teachers, firemen and police officials retiring with huge sums of money for benefits they should have used?
Wake up mayor and Board of Aldermen. Do something legislatively to eliminate this raid on the city treasury.
Main St. Rumblings ... Musings has learned that there has been some discussion at one of the Little City Halls (the one featuring sandwiches named after sports figures) about a petition to change the city charter eliminating a full-time mayor and allowing the naming of a professional city manager. Musings will follow this closely. Also heard was the gossip that yet another prominent city department head may be leaving not for greener pastures or retirement but for "personal reasons." Will the merry-go-round never stop?
Suggestion for Aldermen Lori Wilshire, June Caron, Diane Sheehan and Paul Chasse: Stop being anti-veteran. One doesn't get many votes come election time by not respecting the valuable service rendered by those who served.
A strong pat on the back to the mayor and Public Works Commission as well as the superintendent of the city's wastewater treatment plant for continuing the upgrades to this facility. Nashua has one of the finest treatment facilities in the Northeast thanks to a forward-thinking city government.
Remember ... if you have a subject, complaint or praise about what our city officials are up to or you have a suggestion for "kudos," email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Musings would love to hear from you.