By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Executive Councilor Ted Gatsas said he would never go to the Kentucky Derby until he had a horse in it.
This weekend, the Manchester Republican will be there to see Vekoma, his three-year-old horse, being ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano in the run for the roses.
At the Governor and Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, the council wished Gatsas and Vekoma good luck.
The horse was bred in Kentucky and just won the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland.
Gatsas and his brother own the mount with R A Stables of New York. It was purchased for $130,000 and is now valued at $3 million.
Gov. Chris Sununu said that while he won’t be doing any wagering, he wished the horse with New Hampshire ties “the best of luck.”
Executive Councilor Andru Volinski, D-Concord, offered the first best wishes for a wonderful derby.
Gatsas said he has a good feeling about his chances, noting that the horse is being ridden by one of the finest jockeys in the country. Castellano has had 12 starts at the Kentucky Derby including last year, when he came in third on his mount, “Audible.”
What does an administrative assistant get per hour in this state?
It’s $150 an hour if you work for an actuarial company hired by the state for help with its Medicaid services.
Gatsas said that is not your typical wage for that position in New Hampshire and said he wanted the contract to be re-bid.
The Manchester Republican talked about the “audacity” of the payment schedule for the contractor which ranges from that to $600 an hour.
The company is Milliman Inc. of Brookfield, Wisconsin.
The council did not agree to Gatsas’s request, but the counselor gave Commissioner of Health and Human Services Jeffrey A. Meyers the “clear message” that he wants a competitive rebid process when the contract expires.
This was a contract extension request and Meyers said this company does very specialized work and is available in the middle of the night to deal with issues that he may have.
“I realize we are paying a premium, but we are getting excellent work,” Meyers told Gatsas, the council and Gov. Chris Sununu Wednesday during the regular council meeting.
If the council did not approve the extension to 2021 rather than concluding this June, Meyers said it would leave him without an actuary. The contract is not to exceed $10.3 million.
Visitors meet the governor
The Executive Council Meeting hosted a number of groups Wednesday including the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire. The council honored state employees’ charitable campaign which raised $333,000 last year for the United Way. In the past 24 years, state employees have contributed over $7 million.
May was designated as New Hampshire Building Safety Month with the 2019 slogan, “No code. No Confidence.”
Mount Washington Valley officials were honored for the Stay and Thrive initiative which is focusing on retaining youths in the valley.
The council also approved an opioid dashboard, which will help the state Division of Public Health Services track and evaluate performance on the state’s opioid crisis.
The council agreed to enter into an agreement with Deloitte Consulting LLP of Concord to provide a Business Intelligence solution, with specific functionality to surround the creation of an opioid dashboard.
The contract is for $2,270,549 with 100 percent of the money coming from federal funds.
The council also agreed to an amendment to an existing contract with the Foundation for Healthy Communities of Concord for “the provision of assistance and support for the 13 New Hampshire small rural hospitals in order to implement activities provided annually by the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program Grant.”
This will increase the price by $77,357 from $493,691 to $571,048 for the contract which is effective through May 2011 with federal funds as well.