I would like to take this moment to address some things that lately have come up for discussion. I would like to share my views, opinions and thoughts on the matter if I may.
By now you may be aware that I filed a complaint with the City of Manchester over several Aldermen who I felt have decided to make choices not in the best interest of our city. I filed my complaint on Friday, September 4 at City Hall.
First let me say this is not about them versus us, or me being a anti-teacher or anti-union kind of guy. Let me also point out that I alone decided to take a stand, to speak out against what I felt was a poor choice made by our elected officials. No one asked me to do this. No one directed me on how to do this. I used my knowledge, experience and understanding of our laws to put forth my complaint.
Secondly, this is about principles, the values we teach our children, the rights and wrongs. When you make a bad choice, tell the truth and don’t lie. If you did a wrong, work to make corrections, right the wrong that you made. Those are the principles I am referring to.
The same goes for our elected officials. When we elect someone to represent us on the local, state or national level, we expect them to be honest, open and trustworthy. When they take office they take an oath to do just that. Now, we know not everyone will be that way and thus, this is why we have laws, regulations and charters to hold them accountable for their actions should those actions not be within the best interest of the public at large.
As it is for the City of Manchester, we have enacted a City Charter that has rules and policies that our elected officials must follow. By doing so it keeps our local government as honest, transparent and open as possible. It allows us as the citizens to challenge a vote, a decision or choice they make.
You may ask yourself: How much does it cost to file a complaint? Who overseas these complaints? What cost to the taxpayers is there? To answer the first one it cost nothing. Simply type out your complaint you may have against an elected official or even a city department and file it with the City Clerk’s Office. Once filed it will be reviewed by the Mayor and then on to either a committee, board or the full Board of Mayor and Aldermen for discussion and resolve. As for cost to the taxpayer? It depends if the complaint filed must be taken to a district court to oversee the matter. Most times complaints can be easily corrected or dismissed depending on the outcome of who at our local government oversees it.
In the case of my complaint, I have filed it against Aldermen Long, Alderman Ludwig, Alderman Shaw and Alderman Gamache, all of whom I feel allegedly acted not in the best interest of the public during a recent Board of Aldermen meeting.
The first part of the complaint was against Alderman Long, who I felt didn’t allow the pubic at large to weigh in on the “motion to reconsider the teacher’s three year contract.” Expediting it through the Board of Mayor and Aldermen left no considerable time for pubic comment or debate. Thus, I felt he allegedly violated the City Charter Section 9.01 where it clearly states, “Honest government, ethical conduct, the avoidance of conflicts of interest and public perception.”
My complaint followed with the other aforementioned Aldermen above, where as it is alleged that they violated the City Charter Section 9.03e. It is stated in the charter: “(e) Conflict of interest. No city official shall participate in the decision-making process of any matter in which the official or a member of the official’s immediate family has a direct personal or financial interest. Any official who believes such an interest exists shall disclose such interest and shall not participate in the matter further.”
Alderman Ludwig’s wife is a teacher employed by the Manchester School Distinct. The same can be said for Alderman Shaw and Alderman Gamache, who both have daughters employed by the Manchester School District. Thus there is an alleged conflict of interest as the City Charter states. I say “allegedly” because it is up to the Conduct Board who oversees the City Charter to make the ruling if they did in fact violate the City Charter and voted where they should have not done so as I mentioned. So as it stands now, the complaint has been filed, it will be reviewed by the Mayor and then presented to the Conduct Board for review, discussion and final decision on the matter.
What the outcome will be is up to the Conduct Board. We will have to wait for that decision when they are scheduled to meet– no date has yet been determined for that.
I hope this will help clear up some confusion as to why I filed a compliant and why it is important to not be afraid to speak out when something or someone might be in the wrong. Only we as citizens of our city, state and nation can hold our elected officials accountable for their actions. If we do nothing, then things are likely to get worse, and our quality of life and freedoms suffer.
Robert Tarr is currently seeking office as Alderman-At-Large for the City of Manchester, and will be on the ballot for the September 15 primary election.