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From Dixville Notch to Nashua, N.H. 'Rebellion' marches in name of 'Granny D'

BELMONT — Some two dozen members of the New Hampshire Rebellion, a group which is walking its way from Dixville Notch to Nashua in support of campaign finance reform, set out from the Belmont Park and Ride lot in Sunday morning's snowstorm on the ninth day of their journey across the state,
Led by the Dr. Lawrence Lessig, Harvard constitutional law professor, the organization started its walk in early January while paying tribute to the legacy of New Hampshire's Doris Haddock, better known as "Granny D", whose 14-month cross-country walk which started on New Year's Day, 1999, brought national recognition to her and her cause when she arrived in Washington, D.C. in 2000..
The 185-mile walk, which covers about 13 miles a day, will wrap up this Friday in Nashua with a birthday celebration for Haddock, a Laconia native who died in 2010 shortly after her 100th birthday.
''We're taking up the fight by continuing Granny D's walk,'' said Lessig, who stated the march will continue the next two years and into the New Hampshire Primary in 2016, during which every presidential candidate at every event in New Hampshire will be asked the same question. ''How are you going to end the system of corruption in Washington?''
Lessig says ''we're not talking about people who are corrupt. We're talking about a system which is corrupt. That's what polls show people think about what's wrong with campaign financing and we want to build support to change that system..''
He says that New Hampshire, due its having the first in the nation primary and with a record of being fiercely independent, also is one of the only states in the country that has an express right to revolution in its Constitution.
''That puts New Hampshire in a unique position to restore integrity, transparency and responsibility to a broken and corrupt political system,'' says Lessig, who points out that the Supreme Court's Citizen United decision has opened the floodgates for anonymous political contributions.
Among those joining the march was Olivia Zink of Franklin, who says she was inspired by the march and wanted to help out by taking part. She is the program director for the Coalition for Open Democracy, which is headquartered in Concord.
Also marching was Dan Weeks of Nashua, who attended Con-Val High School in Peterborough and says that a visit Granny D made at his high school where she talked about campaign finance reform left a lasting impression on him,
''I've always wanted to do something which could have an impact for the better on people's lives since that time and I see this at that kind of opportunity,'' Weeks said.
Yet another marcher was 58-year-old Cornelia Sargent of Claremont, who has been blind since she was 21 and still manages to run the Porter Sergeant Publishing Company put of her home. She told her fellow marchers not to worry about her and that if they thought she needed any help or guidance along the slippery highway all they would have to do was touch her right shoulder from behind to give directions.
Also lending his support, although unable due to his knees to walk long distances, was State Rep. Leigh Webb of Franklin, who said that he was heartened to see such a good turnout in bad weather and was looking forward to marchers returning and keeping the issue alive during the state's presidential primary.

CAPTIONS:Cuts Sugged granny d, 1,2,3

NH Rebellion marchers walk along Rte. 106 en route from Belmont to Canterbury Shaker Village as part of statewide walk to call attention to campaign finance reform. About two dozen marched during Sunday's snowstorm. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Harvard College Professor Dr. Lawrence Lessig talks with NH Rebellion volunteer Dan Weeks of Nashua, State Rep. Leigh Webb of Franklin and volunteer Alex Mazzola (holding sign) of Boulder, Colorado, prior to Sunday's march from the Belmont Park and Ride to Canterbury Shaker Village as part of campaign finance reform drive. (Roger Amsden photo The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 12:59

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When should RV be taxed as a home? Forrester tackles issue

CONCORD — Legislation sponsored by Senator Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) intended to dispel confusion about the taxation of recreational vehicles received a favorable reception from the Senate Ways and Means Committee last week.

"We have a crazy quilt of inconsistent treatment of recreational vehicles across the state," Forrester said. "Temporary and portable recreational vehicles were never meant to be taxed as real property and this bill would clarify that policy."

The confusion arose in the wake of two court decisions. In 1999, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that a truck trailer could be assessed and taxed as buildings "if by its use it:  (1) is intended to be more or less permanent, not a temporary structure;  (2) is more or less completely enclosed;  (3) is used as a dwelling, storehouse, or shelter;  and (4) is intended to remain stationary."

Two years later the Belknap County Superior Court applied this standard to eight trailers at the Hack-Ma-Tack Campground at The Weirs, when the City of Laconia taxed eight trailers on their property as buildings. When the owners of the campground refused to identify the owners of the trailers, the city billed them directly.

The owners of the campground, echoed by the New Hampshire Campground Association, contended that because the trailers, which remained on their axles with inflated tires, were intended for seasonal use, they were not taxable as buildings. The city countered that since the trailers were left at the campground year after year and embellished with decks, sheds and landscaping but not registered, they qualified as buildings, resembling summer camps more than traveling campers.

On the strength of the court decisions, the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) urged municipalities to apply the criteria strictly. Some did, but others did not.

Forrester said that she received calls from campground owners and municipal officials in different communities troubled by the inconsistent application of the law. In particular, she found that recreational vehicles parked at the 117 campgrounds in the state were treated differently by different municipal assessors. Some are taxed as real property while others are not. Some municipalities bill the owners of the recreational vehicles while others bill the owners of the campgrounds.

"I met with representatives of the campground owners as well as with officials from DRA to try to get some consistency," Forrester said.

Senate Bill 333 exempts recreational vehicles, as defined by statute, that do not remain in any one town, city or incorporated place for more than 45 days, unless stored or placed on a rented campsite, from property taxation. The statutory definition of a recreational vehicle includes motor homes, vans, pickup campers and tent trailers as well as recreational trailers of 400 square feet or less. The bill stipulates that recreational vehicles shall be deemed personal, not real, property and not liable to property taxation.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the bill last week and will reconvene the hearing today.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 01:57

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Police charge Laconia man with rape

LACONIA — A Batchelder Street man is facing one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault (rape) after his arrest for an incident reported on January 17.

Police said officers responded to Lakes Region General Hospital and received the complaint.

Police charge Fatmir Gasi, 52, of 72 Batchelder St. used physical force to overcome his victim. They described the relationship between Gasi and his alleged victim as acquaintances.

Gazi refused bail and is being held at the Belknap County House of Corrections. He is scheduled for a video arraignment this morning.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 01:44

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Sen. Ayotte to speak & answer questions in Laconia on Wed. morning

LACONIA – U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte is holding a town hall meeting tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the VFW on 142 Court Street.

Ayotte will provide and update on the nation's fiscal situation and take questions from the audience.

Wednesday's forum is part of a series of town hall meetings Ayotte is holding throughout the year.

"New Hampshire citizens are rightly concerned about the fiscal conditions of our condition of our country, and I look forward to hearing directly from Belknap County residents and updating them of my efforts to put America on a fiscally sustainable path," said Senator Ayotte, a member of the Senate Budget Committee.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 01:37

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