Frank Guinta, the Republican mayor of Manchester, has lately been threatening to run for governor. His Honor, who is still 30-something and has just begun his second term as mayor, might do better to wait a while.
For one thing, if Guinta were to run this year, he would have to run on the same day that Gov. John Lynch will almost certainly be running for his third term. Granted, the state has some spending problems, thanks in part to Lynch's overly generous budget of a year ago. We still haven't solved the school funding issue. And Lynch has done some strange things in the past year, like signing the bill establishing civil unions for same-sex couples and supporting the repeal of the parental notification law. Despite all that, his approval ratings are still threatening the ozone layer, and most governors in New Hampshire get not only a second but also a third term if they want it.
Now, Guinta won re-election last year, boasting of not only a balanced budget, but also a surplus. And so I asked His Honor if, considering that the city now has all the money it needs and more, it wouldn't be a good idea to repeal the doubling of the fine for being parked in front of an expired meter that the Board of Mayor and Aldermen enacted some half a dozen years ago. It went from a $5 to $10 fine in one fell swoop. I don't recall the mayor's exact answer, but I believe it was ambiguous.
I have received many parking tickets over the years, and being a man of limited means, I believe a $5 fine is plenty stiff enough. But never mind me. Think of the visitor who comes to Manchester, perhaps for an evening event at our Verizon Wireless Arena. Said visitor may be blissfully unaware that Manchester, alone among New Hampshire municipalities, requires money for its meters after nightfall, when most of the traffic is gone. Let us say the visitor has dinner at one of our many fine downtown restaurants and enjoys both the food and service and believes he has received good value for his money. He returns to his vehicle, only to find that meal has cost $10 more than he thought it did, thanks to the ticket on his windshield. What does he say?
I don't know, but if I wrote what I would say in that situation, this magazine would never publish it. But given my convenient location, I have the option of walking to most places in Manchester. But I think our hypothetical visitor from out of town might shake the dust of Manchester off his feet and never return. And here is the bad news for Guinta: He might be tempted to work for and/or contribute to some candidate in the Republican gubernatorial primary who is not the mayor of Manchester.
But why blame Guinta? After all, he wasn't mayor when that fine was doubled. No, he was the alderman from Ward 3 and he did not oppose it. Therefore a pox upon him and his reserved parking place, too.
Besides, state Senator Joe Kenney of the northern Lakes Region town of Wakefield is seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination. Sen. Kenney appears to be a fiscal conservative, is a U.S. Marine Lieutenant Colonel who has served in both the Gulf War and the current Iraq war and he has never doubled the parking fines in Manchester. And he never endorsed Rudolph Giuliani for president. (Guinta did.) Besides, Kenney has a fine name.
Even if he does spell it wrong. NH
Writer Jack Kenny has recently become a dedicated Queen City pedestrian.
This article appears in the April 2008 issue of New Hampshire Magazine