Manchester’s birthday party: We had our cake but couldn’t eat it

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Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.


Uneaten birthday cake featuring the city’s seal. Photo/Glenn Ouellette

The cake for Manchester’s 172nd birthday celebration was not allowed to be served at City Hall in the Aldermanic Chambers, yet food was served there just last week, and other times, as well.

Even though permission was given by vote of an Aldermanic Committee and by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, as we followed the permit process, yet the cake was taken out of the chambers and set on a table not to be opened or used as part of the celebration at City Hall.

So I served it to the homeless at the Sunday Breakfast and the homeless shelter. After all that trouble of getting permission from the BMA to frost the cake with the city seal, so not to break the spirit of the law, and then not be allowed to serve it. The cake was moved from the Chambers to the hallway on a table. We just wanted to show it as a part of the celebration. We were told the box of cake had to stay in the hallway and not to be opened.

Shame on our government for not allowing a good thing to happen as planned by the Citizens Committee on Economic Development, and permitted by the board. What did they fear? If an overdose or a rape took place there, it would be all over the news making Manchester look bad, but a group of citizens organizing a city birthday event to show its pride that there is still good to be had in this city seem to fear the positive attention. Well, no way – too much control and resistance to let good things happen, and not enough restraint on enforcing the laws that protect the citizens of the Queen City from the criminals.

It’s hard to create positive change when our leaders fear it. How does Manchester solve its real problems when having a birthday celebration can’t even go on without restraints? They shut down parts of city parks and the services they provide to our citizens who pay for them, giving an indication to the criminals that they rule – and so they keep coming into our city to do more harm. That’s not leadership.

They should be embracing such a celebration by its citizens, as crowds only tend to discourage the criminals to act, and keeps them away.

“Our tomorrow must be better than today, as we move Manchester Forward.”

Beg to differ? Agree to disagree? Send submissions to The Soapbox to, subject line, The Soapbox.

Glenn RJ Ouellette is a longtime city resident and faithful attendee as city meetings. He has run for mayor three times and hosts Ouellette At Large, a program on Manchester Public Television. He recently helped establish the Citizens Committee on Economic Development. This is his third run for mayor. Visit his campaign website here.

Editor’s Note: June 5, 2018: We’ve heard from the Mayor’s office in response to Ouellette’s op/ed, and for the record, they say that Ouellette was told by the Clerk’s office when the event was moved inside that cake could be served outside the Aldermanic Chamber, just not inside it (which was the procedure for the recent ice cream social). He was informed “far in advance”  about this policy, and according to Lauren Smith, Policy and Strategic Outreach Director for Mayor Craig, “he never brought it up to the Mayor or I when we saw him that day.” The mayor attended the event and read a proclamation.