Gilford police now at full force - Two detectives added, second SRO duty to be shared by several officers


GILFORD — A unanimous board of selectmen agreed last night that the police department can move forward with having one full-time school resource officer in the school district and adding a third detective.

To supplement the lack of the second SRO, Police Chief Bean Burpee said that officers and supervisors on day shifts will spend time at the schools as part of their routine assignments, especially during opening and closing times when traffic is heavy and during special events.

"Officers will stop by, visit classrooms and eat lunch with the students whenever possible," he said, adding that the overall police presence at the schools will be about the same as it is now.

"I was an SRO for four years," said Bean Burpee continued. "I remain committed to the program."

During the past two years, the department has had one full-time SRO and one officer who was a detective, an SRO two or three days a week, and the DARE officer. Bean Burpee explained to the board he felt the DARE officer was being pulled in too many directions. With the change, she will be assigned to the detective bureau permanently but will keep her DARE certification up to date so she can assist the full-time SRO/DARE officer as needed.

He also told the board he is advertising in house for a third detective now that he has successfully hired an 18th officer, which is a position added to the department about three years ago. Until now, the department had been operating with one open position because of staff turnover.

Bean Burpee said the number of thefts, drug cases and other felonies has risen dramatically over the past five years, emphasizing that in 2012 the department handled 139 felonies and so far this year they have already handled 49, which is about a 70 percent increase.

"The (bureau of criminal investigations) is barely holding its head above water," he said.

He said detectives are responsible for investigating many misdemeanors, all felonies, all referrals to the Division of Children, Youth and Families, and with working with the Belknap County Attorney to process criminal cases for indictment.

Selectman Gus Benavides said the town has had a long history of having two full-time SROs in the school and it was at the behest of the Gilford School Board.

"The priority has to be balancing the need to have our children protected (and) hear the needs of the families while (being aware of) your staff needs," he said.
Benavides said that he was amenable to the idea but warned that if there was any push back from the parents the selectmen might have to revisit the decision.

Bean Burpee said he was also concerned about push back from crime victims. He said he and Superintendent Kent Hemingway have discussed the change and said he will make stopping by the schools without the SRO that day part of an officer's routine duties.

Rubens challenges Ayotte, calls himself the ‘insurgent’ candidate for US Senate


BELMONT — Speaking to the the Belknap County Republican Committee this week, Jim Rubens, who is challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte in the Republican primary, described himself as an "insurgent" candidate this week.

In a mercurial political career that has careened between both ends of the spectrum for more than two decades, insurgency has been the the persistent theme of Rubens' political persona. A Dartmouth graduate and Hanover businessman, he backed Ross Perot's independent bid for the presidency in 1992 and a year later as a "radical centrist," teamed with Democrats Arnie Arnesen and John Rauh in an ephemeral third party initiative.

In 1994, Rubens, running as Republican, whipped the sitting president of the New Hampshire Senate in the GOP primary and won the first of two terms in the Senate, where he contributed to the deregulation of electricity generation and the passage of official ballot voting (SB-2). Leaving the Senate, he ran for governor in 1998, but finished a close second in the Republican primary. Two years later his bid to return to the Senate fell short.

For much of the next decade Rubens was best known as the leader of the Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling as well as a consultant with the Union of Concern Scientists and spokesman for the Carbon Coalition who championed a carbon tax to counter climate change as well as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. However, when Rubens ran for the United States Senate in 2014 signed the pledge hawked by Americans for Prosperity to oppose a carbon tax and instead called for end to all federal energy subsidies while making campaign finance reform this top priority.

After losing his first bid for the Senate, when Scott Brown won the GOP primary by a two-to-one margin, Rubens, who endorsed Donald Trump soon after the last ballots were cast in he New Hampshire Presidential Primary, is now seeking to outflank Ayotte from the right.

"We are the conservative party," Rubens told the county Republicans, referring to the anger and frustration of rank-and-file Republican voters, which has fuel the popularity of insurgent candidates. He said that the Senate race between Ayotte and Democrat Maggie Hassan "offers no choice" and proclaimed "I'm giving you a choice of an insurgent, grassroots candidate."

Repeatedly referring to "crony capitalism," Rubens called for "pro-American trade deals, fixing the tax code and sunsetting federal regulations. He favors closing the borders, building a wall and denying work permits and citizenship to illegal immigrants while deporting all those who have committed felonies.

Rubens dubbed Ayotte "a cheerleader" for Hillary Clinton's "failed policy of national building that has led to more chaos and less security" and advocated "cutting off money to terrorists" by withholding support for countries like Saudi Arabia and Turkey that promote and facilitate terrorism.

Scolding Ayotte for "adding $1.1 trillion to the national debt by voting for budget bills and raising the debt ceiling, Rubens warned "the clock has run out, we're at the end of the craziness" and said he would chart "a glide path to fiscal sanity."

Questioned about climate change, Rubens replied that he favored a free market in energy, without subsidies or regulations, claiming that "if global warming is a problem, it will solve it and if it isn't jobs will be created by exporting energy technology."

Rubens has been endorsed by Stark 360, a political action committee headed by Aaron Day, who as chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus backed Rubens when he ran for the Senate in 2014. In announcing the endorsement, Day said if Rubens loses the primary, Stark 360 will support the independent candidacy of Andrew Hemingway in the general election. Hemingway of Bristol finished second in the GOP gubernatorial primary in 2014.

Rich Ashooh promises Republicans he’ll ‘never lie to you’ in run for Congress

BELMONT — "I love my country, I love my state and I love my kids," Rich Ashooh told members of the Belknap County Republican Committee this week, explaining his decision to make his second bid for 1st district congressional seat.

In 2010, Ashooh ran a strong third among eight candidates in the GOP primary won by Frank Guinta, who after losing the seat to Democrat Carol Shea-Porter in 2012 regained it 2014 and is seeking re-election this year.

Born and raised in Manchester and a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, Ashooh brings an extensive resume to the race. He worked in the offices of two United States Senators — Gordon Humphrey and Warren Rudman — from whom he said he took a keen sense of the value of fiscal responsibility and discipline and the dangers of deficit spending and excessive debt.

Returning to New Hampshire, he served as a senior executive at BAE Systems, an aerospace manufacturer and the state's largest employer, where he oversaw the firm's relationships with federal and state government. During his tenure, he represented the company as a director of numerous business associations, including the New Hampshire Business and Industry Association and New England Council, and served on a steering committee of the National Association of Manufacturers.

At the same time, Ashooh has contributed his time to numerous educational and charitable organizations as a trustee of the University System of New Hampshire and Franklin Pierce University as well as a director of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and New Hampshire Public Television.

Most recently, Ashooh served as interim executive director of the Warren. B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Service at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, a position he relinquished to run for Congress. In an election season overshadowed by outsiders and insurgents, Ashooh boasts a record of professional experience, civic engagement and charitable service.

Ashooh began by taking aim at President Obama, who he said was "ill-suited to be commander-in chief." In particular, he said that the president was not trusted by either our military leaders or our closest allies and called the nuclear accord with Iran "disastrous." Nor, he said, was the president capable of restoring economic growth or dealing with unforeseen events.

Ashooh told his fellow Republicans that fiscal and economic policy would be among his highest priorities as a congressman.

"It's not just the deficits and the debt," he said, "but a culture of debt," which he said was fostered and encouraged by government policies. Tax policy, he called "outrageous," adding that he would apply himself to reforming the tax code.

Describing Obamacare as "a disaster," Ashooh said that while Republicans have called for its repeal they have failed to offer an alternative. "We have to be positive," he said.

Asked how he differed from Guinta, Ashooh replied by referring to his business experience, which would prepare him to tackle not only fiscal and economic issues but also challenges to national security, including the threat of terrorism. Then, alluding obliquely to the financial cloud over Guinta's first campaign, he took a page from the book of Jimmy Carter and said, "I'll never lie to you."

Together with Guinta and Ashooh, Pam Tucker of Greenland, who is serving her fourth term in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, is also vying for the Republican nomination in the 1st Congressional District.