The following story was published in today's Union Leader. It is the latest in a thread that's been reported on over the past week or so. It's about Ma and Pa's kitchen, a locally-owned pizza shop located downtown, near the corner of Elm St. (Manchester's "Main" street) and Lake Ave. It's in a great location, right across the street from the Verizon Wireless Arena. I've never eaten there, but I'm told the pizza is good.
Anyway, the situation that I'm referring to from the stories that have been published up until now has to do with an agreement that Ma and Pa's had to sell pizza to the Manchester school district. What is happening is that the school board has told the owners of Ma and Pa's, Ronald and Alice White, to stop shipping pizzas to the schools effective tomorrow until December 11, when the school board is to meet and vote on whether or not they will have the contract to supply pizza to the schools.
What's the big deal, you may ask? It's only pizza. However, the issue at hand is that the White's both have criminal records, and Doug Kruse, the school district's finance chairman, has voiced his concern over this. His words were, to the effect of, "if you can't trust them with the small stuff, you'll never be able to trust them with the big stuff." Manchester's Superintendent of Schools, Michael Ludwell, apparently agreed with his finance chairman and sent the White's a cease-and-desist letter. The letter was dated on the day the Union Leader published the story about the Whites' background.
Now you may ask yourself why I am taking the time to talk about pizza. Well, for one thing, I like pizza; I believe it is part of the four main food groups: sugar, caffeine, pizza, and burgers. And on a serious note, I am not sure that either the Union Leader or the Manchester School District is being completely fair. The School District has said that they haven't severed their relationship with the White's; they have merely suspended it. On the other hand, the White's have likely invested a considerable amount of capital into what they need to do this, so they have money sitting out with their vendors and suppliers that they may never get back. Because of the actions of the School District, they have likely put the White's into a precarious financial position that, depending on the vote of the Board, could hurt them long-term.
As for the Union Leader, I respect and support their right to publish their newspaper. I read it regularly, and while I don't always agree with the political content, I think they do a good job, in terms of fairness and accuracy. However, by making the White's past public, they may have contributed to what could become, as I said, a precarious situation for them.
I realize court records are public, and I also realize that if there is something that the public needs to be made aware of for the good of the community, then that needs to happen. In the case of sex offenders, convicted murderers, or any other high-profile convicted criminal, this especially true. However, the White's are none of these. Sure, they made mistakes. Big enough to get them both criminal convictions, and in Ronald's case, prison time. And if their actions, with respect to this business dealing, turn out to be consistent with their past, then they should be dealt with at that time. Not before. At this time, they are both paying restitution in addition to trying to make a living. They should be given the opportunity to make that living for themselves.