Today's issue is whether the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for the Boston Marathon bombing, delayed already, should be moved out of Boston.
How can a former president of the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (me) say such a thing? How could any decent liberal deny this young man, presumed innocent until proved guilty, after all, his constitutional claim to fairness in the courtroom?
Boston deserves a trial because it went through hell, and in our system, rather than resolving hellish disputes on the streets, they are supposed to be resolved in court.
Jury selection has been taking place over the past 17 days, with Judge George O'Toole giving broad way to the attorneys' rights to argue their points. So far, it is reported that only 61 jurors have qualified out of a pool of 1,373 people, with about two-thirds of potential jurors reporting that they were personally affected by the crime in question.
It is a hardship to serve on a jury. It can be inconvenient, boring, expensive and tedious. And yet we each do it because it is one of the most important things a citizen can do. Sitting on a capital case, you're not a chess piece on the board. The men and women, the players who ultimately will determine Tsarnaev's fate, may not be his peers in most senses, but they are his constitutional peers, and it is their judgment he must face and accept.
A defendant has a right to a trial by jury. He is being represented by federal public defender Judith Mizner. Because this case has taken on such notoriety, the federal government's team will be led by smart lawyers who play by the rules and have the press watching their every step.
Not so for many who have committed, or have been alleged to have committed, heinous crimes. The system is overloaded. Judges are too busy; courts are full; clerks are overwhelmed. You can't dump all of society's problems on the courts to solve. Defendants are bounced around the system, assigned inadequate counsel and never given the opportunity to force the government to make its case. Tsarnaev will have that opportunity.
But no defendant has a right to a perfect trial, much less in a perfect locale. I'm not sure anyone could find a capable juror who had never heard of the Boston Marathon bomber, but it doesn't matter. He came here, he stayed here, he went to school here, and he allegedly murdered people here. He has no right to leave.
Communities need rituals to bind them together. There is much more that binds us together as Bostonians than the Red Sox. But at its core, the people of Boston shared in their grief and are entitled to have their say in the place where it happened. Watching it on TV is not the same. The bombing was covered heavily everywhere, and so, I hope, will be the trial. For if the trial gives a window into how a civilized society deals with those who cannot and will not act in a civilized fashion, then at least we will have one lesson out of the rubble.
(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
We are off to a slow start in 2015 with just 50 single family residential home sales in January in the twelve communities covered in this Lakes Region real estate market report. The average sales price came in at $311,220 and the median price point was $220,000. In January 2014 there were 56 transactions at an average price of $347,736 and a median price point of $215,000. I don't expect February to be a banner sales month, either, given the amount of snow and cold we have had to contend with.
Drive by just about any house this winter and you'll see huge icicles hanging from the eaves. And while some folks welcome the ice on the lakes to enable winter sports like ice fishing and snowmobiling, ice on your roof isn't greeted with the same enthusiasm. You obviously run the risk of a big chuck of ice falling on your head, but you are also likely to have water dripping inside your home from the formation of ice dams along the edge of your roof.
Ice dams are formed when snow melts up higher on your roof and the water runs down toward the colder eave area and freezes. This constant melt and freeze action eventually will build up something akin to the Hoover Dam on your eaves. If your roof was any flatter you could probably float a small paddle boat up there when the snow melts. Obviously, your shingles are layered and prevent water from leaking in when it rains as the water just runs off. But when this flow is blocked by ice, the water seeps back up underneath the shingles causing that sinking feeling you get when you see water dripping on your flat screen TV in the living room.
The cause of the uneven melting of snow is generally caused by heat loss from the home above warmer areas in the center. Obviously, the unheated eaves are much colder. So the idea is to make your attic space the same temperature as the eaves. There are a bunch of steps you can take to keep your attic cooler and prevent heat loss from your home. Obviously, this will help save you getting ice dam headaches but also saves you money on heating your home!
The first step is to see if you need just a little more insulation in the attic. More is always better, but check with a local insulation contractor to see what they recommend. It may be as simple as rolling out another layer of insulation or blowing some more in. You may also need better ventilation in the attic to get rid of the little bit of heat that is in there. There needs to be a good flow of cold air in through your soffit vents and out through the ridge vent. There should be baffles in between your rafters at your eaves to insure insulation is not pushed down blocking this air flow.
You should also install an insulated hatch cover over the top of your attic access stairway or opening. Even old style recessed lighting cans can cause plumes of heat that warm areas of the roof enough to cause uneven melting. There are newer recessed lights on the market now that can be insulated in order to prevent that. If you have HVAC ducts running through your attic those need to be well insulated and any bathroom exhaust fans should be ventilated through the wall or roof rather than out through the eaves. You'd be surprised how many times we see a bathroom exhaust fan just vented into the attic space instead of to the outside. This can also cause a serious mold issue.
Some home owners that just can't correct the problem install heat tape along the areas that are prone to problems. That generally will work well but you have to have it installed before it freezes. Once there is a dam, you'd say "Damn, it's too late."
You can stop a leak by taking a box fan into the attic and blowing cold air in the area of the leak. They say it works like a charm and will stop the dripping within minutes, but you have to be able to get to the area that's the culprit and sometimes you just can't. Roof raking the edge of your roof can help, but as I found out it can also cause dams a little further up on the roof. Kind of like shooting yourself in the foot, dam it. Often times, we rednecks tend to want to go out there and start chopping away at the ice with an ax or other heavy instrument of destruction. That seems like the appropriate thing to do when water is dripping through your ceiling onto your pool table, but this often can lead to roof damage and shingle repairs. You have got to be careful and a man on a ladder with an ax might not fall into that category.
One sexy remedy would be to fill your wife's (or your girl friend's) old panty hose with calcium chloride ice melter (not rock salt) and form a long tube that you lay perpendicular to the edge of your roof . It eventually will create a channel through your miniature Hoover Dam and drain any water that backs up on your roof. I am proud to say that this year I have a very sexy roof! We'll see how it works...
Pease feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others.
Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 2/14/15. Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.
Last Updated on Friday, 20 February 2015 07:33
Recently I filed a late bill to stop an attempt by Governor Hassan to raid funds appropriated for nursing homes. I, along with many of my constituents and colleagues, are adamantly opposed to this theft of Medicaid dollars.
As you may have heard, the N.H. Department of Health & Human Services faces a deficit of $58 million and there is an appropriate effort to fix this over-spending problem. However, I believe the governor made a grave error in attempting to correct this deficit on the backs of our private and county nursing homes.
During a meeting of the Fiscal Committee, the commissioner of Health & Human Services (HHS) set forth a plan to balance the end of Fiscal Year 2015 that included taking $7 million from the nursing homes. The commissioner confirmed that the governor knew and approved of this cut. This plan leaves no doubt as to where Medicaid nursing home residents fit in the governor's list of priorities.
In District 2, that means nearly a $700,000 reduction in funding in one private and three county nursing homes. For the Grafton County Nursing Home alone, the cut will mean nearly $277,000 in funds. In Coos County (Coos Berlin, Coos West Stewartstown, St. Vincent De Paul, and Morrison) the cut amounts to $272,000.
When we passed the state budget in 2013, we made some difficult choices. We budgeted funds that we thought reasonably could be designated for Medicaid payments to nursing homes. We also included a budget footnote that required all funds assigned for nursing homes actually be spent on nursing homes.
Now the governor is saying that she has the authority to change the law and spend those funds dedicated to Medicaid nursing home residents. She is trying to do exactly what the footnote says she cannot. When we asked during the Fiscal Committee meeting by what authority did the governor believe she could ignore budget law, we were advised that the Attorney General believes she has the authority. We requested that opinion in writing and, to date, regardless of repeated requests, have not been provided with the opinion.
The most fundamental principle of our government is that the legislature's job is to make the laws and the governor's job is to faithfully execute the laws. With a legislature made up of 424 members, New Hampshire has the most highly representative state government in the country. It would be a bitter irony if New Hampshire, of all places, were to allow one person the power to decide what legislative decisions will be executed and what legislative decisions will be ignored.
I am also disturbed by the manner in which this plan was revealed to the Legislature. Although the letter detailing the commissioner's plan was dated January 15, it was not hand-delivered to the legislative Fiscal Committee until the night of January 20, just three days before the committee met. Another irony, when you consider that in the same week, the governor applauded the final report of her own Commission on "Innovation, Efficiency, and Transparency in State Government."
The impact of this raid on the nursing homes could mean a reduction in jobs and/or a downshift to the taxpayers as these homes try to make up for the loss of funds—and the nursing home folks are speaking out.
To express their outrage, the Sisters of the Holly Cross Nursing Home and residents from other nursing homes (some wheelchair bound) made a trip to Concord to talk with the press and the governor. While the press did spend time hearing from nursing home staff, residents, family members, and administrators, the governor would not. Just another indication of where our frailest senior citizens fit in the governor's priorities.
Among some of the letters I received, one nursing home staff member wrote, "I do this, along with my coworkers because our seniors are essential. Because I, along with every other long term care health care worker recognize the value and worth of those that we have been entrusted to care for, apparently more so than Governor Hassan. She should be ashamed of herself. I'm baffled that our governor feels that she is above the law and that she can steal $7 million from our seniors."
The Legislature has been calling on the governor to get DHHS spending under control for nearly a year. Instead of doing that, the governor now wants to unilaterally override the decisions made by the Legislature and pass the problem down to nursing home residents and employees. They are not the ones who caused the budget problems at DHHS, and they should not be the ones forced to suffer the consequences of the governor's failure to control spending.
I encourage you to call your county commissioners, legislators, and the governor, and ask them to support my bill that will assure funding to the nursing homes is maintained.
(Meredith Republican Jeanie Forrester represents District 2 in the N.H. Senate.)
Last Updated on Thursday, 19 February 2015 11:37
Today, we stand at a critical juncture. Our country's economy continues to strengthen — and in many respects, New Hampshire remains ahead of the curve.
In December, our unemployment rate dropped to 4 percent, the seventh lowest in the country and the lowest in New England, and our private sector has recovered all of the jobs lost in the recession.
We lead the nation in many measures, and our economic potential is strong, but respected economists and public policy experts say there are warning signs ahead: Our population is aging, and in-migration is slowing.
Our ability to address these trends as quickly as we might like is impeded by a number of challenges — the recession, tax law changes and resulting loss in revenue, and lawsuits that needed to be addressed in order for us to move forward.
But we must build on the bipartisan progress of the last two years with responsible, strategic investments in order to keep our economy moving in the right direction.
To achieve that goal, I have presented a fiscally responsible, balanced budget to the Legislature for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 — with no income or sales tax.
It is a budget that helps expand opportunity for middle-class families, supports job-creating businesses, encourages innovation and aims to attract and retain more young people here in New Hampshire.
It keeps total spending increases to 6.4 percent, well below the historical average, and it is balanced honestly and responsibly, assuming conservative revenue growth and transitioning away from budgeting gimmicks that mislead the public about what we can truly afford to do.
To help develop an even stronger workforce and hold down the cost of higher education, this budget increases funds for our university and community college systems, with our community colleges indicating that they will be able to once again lower tuition.
The budget also increases state aid to local schools, advances efforts to modernize STEM education, invests in business incubators, increases travel and tourism promotion, and will help us develop a workforce recruitment strategy.
We also know that our businesses need a healthy workforce in order to grow and thrive. Last year, we came together across party lines to pass a historic health care expansion plan that is helping to reduce health care cost-shifting onto families and businesses, strengthen the health of our workforce and boost our economy.
Because of our expansion plan, more than 34,000 hard-working Granite Staters now have the health and economic security that comes with quality, affordable health coverage, and this budget provides for the reauthorization of our bipartisan expansion plan.
The budget also maintains our state's commitment to revitalizing mental health services and strengthens treatment and prevention efforts to address the state's serious heroin and opioid challenges.
And to help set the stage for a new generation of economic growth, the capital budget includes funding for the environmental and engineering work required to move forward with bringing commuter rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester – a critical project that will support our businesses and help keep young people in our state.
To invest in these priorities, this budget focuses on making state government more innovative and efficient, merging state agencies and creating the position of a chief operating officer to work across state agencies to drive process and efficiency improvements.
And this proposal makes modest adjustments to ensure sufficient revenue to make strategic investments, including increasing the cigarette tax, closing tax loopholes, and allowing Keno and self-service lottery terminals.
It also increases the vehicle registration fee to address our Highway Fund challenges, which, if we take no further action, will leave us with the untenable choice of leaving our roads unplowed, cutting state police, or eliminating aid to fix local roads and bridges.
The revenue changes included in this proposal will not diminish New Hampshire's standing as having one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation, and my commitment to veto a sales or income tax remains firm.
The young people and innovative businesses we hope to attract and keep here in New Hampshire appreciate our low-tax environment, which we must maintain. They are also looking for good schools, affordable higher education, modern transportation options, workforce opportunities, and safe, healthy communities, and they will not sacrifice these priorities, which will drive our economic growth for decades to come.
As we work to finalize this budget together, it will as always require difficult choices and shared sacrifices. And it will require building on the ideas and perspectives of Democrats, Republicans and independents to reach new solutions.
I stand ready to work with any member of either party who is willing to bring constructive, long-term ideas to the table so we can continue investing in critical priorities. Together, we can expand middle-class opportunity, support job-creating businesses, encourage innovation and keep our economy moving forward. Together, New Hampshire will thrive.
(Democrat Maggie Hassan of Exeter is serving her second term as governor of New Hampshire.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 February 2015 09:19
There were just five waterfront transactions on Winnipesaukee in January at an average sales price of $1.084 million and median price point of $899,000. The highest sale of the new year so far was at 76 Veasey Shore in Meredith. This custom, shingle clad New England "cottage" was built in 2006 and has 4,202 square feet of amazing, high quality living space. There are four ensuites including the first floor master with its own fireplace, four and a half baths, a wonderful chef's kitchen with high end appliances, an elegant living room with coffered ceilings and wainscoting, and a second floor upstairs family room. The oversize windows bring in the amazing views of the lake and make the house sunny and bright. Outside there is a wonderful porch and patio from which to survey the lake, the 237 feet of frontage, and the lush landscaping that make this 5 acre estate so special and private. At the water's edge there's a large U-Shaped dock and on the way down the drive there's a detached three car garage with guest quarters above. Plenty of space for all the toys and guests. This home was first offered back in 2009 for $2,999,999 and was relisted this year by Nicole Watkins of Berkshire BHHS Verani Realty in Moultonborough for $2.149 million and sold in 113 days for $2.119 million. The property is currently assessed at $1.785 million.
Next down on the dollar scale is the home at 72 Varney Point Road Left in Gilford. This 2446 square foot, three bedroom, three bath contemporary home was built in 1998. It features beautiful cherry floors and lots of built-ins, a remodeled kitchen with granite countertop and stainless appliances, a great living room with beamed ceilings and fireplace with gas insert, library, and a second floor office. Of course there are great long range views from this location. The home sits on a third acre lot with 100' of frontage and a U-shaped dock accommodating three boats. This property was listed at $1.479 million and sold for $1.25 million after 152 days on the market. It is currently assessed for $1,231,900. This property was listed by Melanie Roy Tripp of Coldwell Banker RB in Laconia.
The median price sale was represented by 33 Lovejoy Lane in Meredith. This home has 4,646 square feet of living space, three bedrooms (plus plenty of additional sleeping spaces), three and a half baths and was built in 1987. There's a large living room with a gas fireplace, a family room with bar area and pool table, a first floor master with cathedral ceilings and a fireplace, a tasteful eat in kitchen plus a separate summer kitchen. Outside there are expansive views from the large deck, 147' of waterfront, a perched beach, thirty foot dock, and swim raft. This home was first offered back in 2011 at $1.49 million. It was re-listed in 2013 for $1.078 million, reduced to $899,000, and sold for $899,000. The current tax assessed value is $1.019 million. This property was listed by Henry Buletti of Meredith Neck Realty.
There were no waterfront sales on Winnisquam in January.
Pease feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. This report was prepared using the NNEREN MLS system as of 2/10/15. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.
Last Updated on Friday, 13 February 2015 08:26