John Avard, Ward Ten’s representative on the Manchester Board of the School Committee (BOSC), criticized the New Hampshire Union Leader‘s endorsement of Rich Girard, the talk show host who is running as an at-large candidate to the BOSC. The endorsement was entitled “Girard for school board: Transparency is the key.”
Posting on his Facebook page, Avard ripped the Union Leader for claiming that Girard was a champion for transparency in government. Avard charged that Girard, acting behind the legal shelter of transparency, has abused the right-to-know (RTK) law to further his own political agenda and for purposes of self-publicity.
Rather than being a hero of open government, Girard is more akin to Gladys Kravitz, Avard believes. Kravitz was the busy body neighbor of Samantha Stevens on the TV series Bewitched, who was always snooping on her neighbor. Avard believes that Girard’s aim is to gain information from “fishing expeditions” to “embarrass or manipulate city officials” and to promote himself and his Girard at Large radio show.
Girard has targeted the Manchester School District (MSD) and Superintendent Debra Livingston with a steady barrage of inquiries over the past three years, accounting for the vast majority of all information requests to the District. “Since October 12, 2012, members of the Superintendent’s team (including the Superintendent) have fielded a total of 166 Right-to-Know requests, exchanges, or responses from Richard Girard,” Avard wrote. “It is estimated that as much as 70% of all RTK requests received by the school district are from this one individual. That leaves the balance of 30% to be split up between all other media outlets, citizens, lobbyists and BOSC members.”
Avard slammed Girard for the cost of his fishing expeditions. “The time, money and energy spent satisfying his excessive requests comes directly out of the limited funds that should be spent in the classroom improving education.”
He then went on to address the future financial damage Rich Girard might cause the MSD. “…[T]he school district and Richard Girard himself may soon be at the center of a serious legal battle thanks to his digging for information and his loose lips.”
For months, Manchester has been roiled by rumors that the resignations of three BOSC members were the result of the leaking of confidential documents related to a federal civil rights lawsuit brought against the MSD by the U.S. Office of Civil Rights. The case remains under seal, which means that it is forbidden for any party privy to information on the case from revealing it.
Apparently, certain former BOSC members were only too willing to share information, and Rich Girard may have been a conduit of that information. Reportedly, Girard revealed the name of the student who was at the center of the lawsuit, which was illegal as the student was a minor. Girard reported leaked information despite legal proscriptions against doing so.
Many observers believe that Girard’s behavior was not only reckless but malicious. The MSD and Girard reportedly soon will be hit with a lawsuit related to the leaking of the confidential information. The legal costs to the City of Manchester could be staggering.
Avard concluded his post with a mention of the “Little Mel” sexting scandal, in which Girard attempted to seduce a young woman with borderline personality disorder and a history of online exhibitionism. The attempted seduction, which the young woman exposed, came after Girard groomed her as a social media “spy” to keep tabs on his perceived enemies, including Alderman-at-Large Joseph Kelly Levasseur.
“Richard Girard is not a hero for transparency, he is an overly self-righteous political hack who wastes everyone’s time and money to promote himself,” Avard wrote. “Add that to his lurid sex scandal with a mentally vulnerable young lady last year and he is the very last person we should ever bring to the school committee.”