Discourteous alderman should be reprimanded

To the editor:

I am a native of Manchester and a property manager in the Millyard for the last 16 years. I have been very involved in the upgrading of the Millyard and Downtown Manchester, both through my job and through my being a director of Intown Manchester.

With great interest, I attended the recent Aldermanic Lands and Buildings Committee hearing to determine what recommendation would be made to the full board of mayor and aldermen regarding the responses to the city’s request for proposal with respect to the Seal Tanning and Granite Street parking lots and Phillipe Cote Street. This city-owned property was being offered for sale, subject to certain conditions which included redevelopment of historic property, in the immediate area.

Two responses were received. A working committee, appointed by the city, reviewed the responses, interviewed the two groups involved and made a unanimous recommendation to the committee, which recommendation provided for the badly-needed renovation of the Pandora Building at 88 Commercial St., which abuts the parking lots and the street.

The recommendation was presented by Jay Minkarah, the city’s own director of economic development. As Mr. Minkarah was making his presentation, and before he was finished, he was interrupted by one of the aldermen, who would not let him finish and insisted on hijacking the entire discussion to follow his own agenda.

That alderman went on, not only discourteously, but in a nasty and needlessly aggressive manner, to dispute the entire basis for the recommendation. He would ask questions, interrupt before the answer was completed, ignore the factual information provided him, misconstrue data and concepts and generally, in my opinion, disgraced the role of a public official trying to do his best for his city.

He very deliberately ignored the careful and reasoned presentation by another alderman, who had been part of the working committee and had supported its findings, which undercut virtually every one of the specious arguments that had been made in the negative.

In part of his rant, the alderman questioned the integrity of Dean Kamen’s group and their development partner, while insisting that the other bidder, another large developer in the area, was more likely to produce better results.

He totally ignored the fact that the development of the Millyard into what it is today would not have occurred without the commitment of Mr. Kamen, the enormous resources he has poured, and continues to pour, into the Millyard and the area and the huge risk he took in being the first to recognize what the Millyard could become.

Mr. Kamen, who has followed through with each of his commitments over more than 20 years of activity, was accorded not even the minimal recognition of honoring his agreements, which has always been the case with respect to Millyard redevelopment, including many improvements that helped the Millyard as a whole.

In general, our public employees should be treated with respect for the job they do. They should not be subject to public humiliation and criticism, when there is no reasonable foundation for either. Members of the public making presentations to the city, or generally dealing with the city, should be treated with courtesy, respect and common decency by each and every member of the city government, elected or otherwise.

Every other public official, including those with the Police Department, the Fire Department and the Building Department, with whom I have had many business dealings over the years, has followed this principle very clearly. This is a reasonable standard of conduct, even for an elected official concerned with politics rather than good government practices.

It is my opinion that Alderman Gatsas, the offending elected official in this case, failed to heed this standard, should be publicly reprimanded by his peers, and his conduct disowned by them.

Ralph P. Sidore

Categories: Cook on Concord