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Joan Porter: Paul Martineau has been an excellent welfare commissioner in Manchester

October 29. 2013 5:51PM

Paul Martineau, a Wake Forest graduate and a captain in the U.S. Army, applied to Manchester’s voters for the job of Welfare Commissioner six terms ago. The voters hired him – six times — and he has kept his promises.

To blame Paul Martineau for his salary and to make that a reason not to vote for him is as ludicrous as firing a good employee simply because she or he makes too much money. Each of us has applied for a job and accepted the terms of employment, including salary. Normally, whether one is in the private or public sector, one is given raises over time. Have you refused a raise when your employer gave one?

Paul Martineau’s predecessor went before the Human Resources Committee and convinced them that this position belonged in the classified system rather than leaving the salary at a set rate, similar to the mayor’s. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved this request. Thus, the position of Welfare Commissioner became part of the Yarger Decker system — prior to Paul Martineau’s employment. He was not part of that decision. (I believe this should be an appointed department head position and classified within the payroll system.)

Paul Martineau took over the welfare office at a time when morale was at an all-time low. He gave the employees respect, support and encouragement. When he took office, the Queen City Motel was the beneficiary of large amounts of welfare money. Martineau put a stop to that. In fact, he discovered that the city was wrongfully paying rooms and meals taxes (approximately $36,000) and not only put a stop to that but got reimbursement from the state.

Martineau has also saved the city money by vetting those who do not qualify for welfare, by seeking reimbursement from those who are able to reimburse the city and by combining and eliminating positions within the office to reduce expenses. He has been a watchdog for our money, keeping our taxes down while providing emergency assistance as appropriate to those who qualify.

Background checks are done according to statute, and applications are vetted to extend aid to those who are truly in need. Vetting requires caseworkers to do extensive research.

Do you understand what city welfare is, or isn’t? City welfare is not an ongoing, continuous paycheck to someone who does not have income. City welfare does not issue food stamps. This is not the department you go to as soon as you lose your job. Many people are confused on this subject.

This quote from the Welfare Department explains the mission: “The Welfare Department provides emergency assistance to individuals and families who lack adequate resources. We are facilitators in that we direct the less fortunate citizens to relief agencies, i.e., federal, state, non-profit, etc. therefore reducing the burden on our departmental budget and the Manchester taxpayers. We strive to promote self-reliance and independence in all we serve so they may become productive citizens.”

The department also maintains a limited food pantry that is supplied entirely by donations of food and money, most of which comes from city employees during special events.

On Nov. 5, my husband and I will be voting for Paul Martineau for Welfare Commissioner, and we will ask our friends and family to do the same. I hope that you will join me in thanking Paul Martineau for a job well done. We have proof of his ability to balance helping those who are truly in need with watching the taxpayers’ pocketbook. He deserves our support. He has earned it.

Joan Porter lives in Manchester.

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