James Pindell - After poor primary turnout, it's time to move date

I saw a children's map of the United States recently that I am afraid might not that accurate. Along with the names and borders of states there we also icons representing that particular state's accepted brand.

For Georgia there were peaches. For Indiana, a race car. For New Hampshire, there was a ballot box. It should be a point of pride for Granite Staters that our state is known as an icon for American politics. With the most citizen of legislatures, our spring town hall meetings, and our first-in-the-nation presidential primary, it makes sense that our political culture stands out. But as this past week showed there is a flaw to this line of thinking. Our dirty little secret is that when it comes to our other primary — the non-presidential kind — our democracy isn't so participatory. The good news is that there is something we can do about it that isn't just pie-in-the-sky thinking.

Less than one of out five voters went to the ballot on Tuesday to pick Republican and Democratic nominees for U.S. Senate and governor all the way down to county commissioner. (Keep in mind this ratio is just among registered voters. The voter turnout rate is actually much lower when you include all adults, many of whom aren't registered to vote.) You might see this turnout as pathetic. But it is actually the third highest turnout in state history that we have had on the Republican side, which had most of the contested primaries this year.

Henniker, we have a problem.

The good news is that this is the rare example where amending a law might fix the problem. In 1979, when the New Hampshire Legislature last looked into the date of the state primary, deemed it to be on the second Tuesday in September.

The result is that most of the heavy campaigning takes place in August, when much of the state is tuned out on summer vacation or busy making a buck on summer tourists. In the closing days of the primary, the state's mindset in on going back to school.

This could change if the Legislature decided to simply follow the route of most other states move the primary to something like late May or June. At this date, it is less likely that the primary election will take a back seat to other concerns. This year's primary date was the latest in the country.

In fact, our primary date is so late that it impacts the general election in November as well. This year there are only eight weeks between the September primary and the November election. Tactically, this gives a huge, unfair advantage to incumbents.

Take, for example, the state's 1st Congressional district seat. Republican Frank Guita only had $187,000 in his campaign account just days before the primary and likely spent most of it just to win, leaving him broke. His Democratic opponent, incumbent Carol Shea-Porter, didn't have a primary and was sitting on nearly six times the campaign cash. It is good for democracy that challengers like Guinta have no time to replenish campaign funds to compete with incumbents?

There will be those who will reject moving up the primary date to before the summer. I asked former U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg about it this week and wants to keep the primary where it is simply for tradition. I have also heard some rightly point out that with just a 2-year term for governor and Congress moving up the primary will mean more campaigning and less governing.There is also an argument to be made that it will mean campaigns will be more expensive, but that is harder to prove.

However, these factors need to be weighed against the concern of getting more people to vote. We are New Hampshire after all, and the ballot box is the very thing that puts us on the map.

(James Pindell covers New Hampshire politics for WMUR-TV. You can follow his breaking news and analysis at WMUR.com/politicalscoop.)

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Bob Meade - Wouldn't it be nice if . . .

— politics wasn't a career but a gift of service to the nation?
— people wrote letters to make their argument and not to make an enemy?
— you could believe what elected officials said?
— people respected every job, no matter how humble or how grand, as essential to our civilization?
— the need for the word "condescension" never needed to be created?
— the word "choice" was never thought of as an end of life option?
— we respected people for what they did with the gifts, talents, they were given?
— people could drink alcohol in moderation, and not become addicted to it?
— decisions of our politicians were made for the good of the country, not for political reasons?
— integrity and honesty were virtues sought by everyone, including politicians?
— we didn't have to watch another two months of political "attack ads"?
— spousal abuse never made the headlines . . . because it never happened?
— every company could have an owner like Arthur T.? He showed every manager/executive in the world what happens when employees are treated fairly, and with respect.
— everyone gave their best effort in school, on the job, or at home, every day?
— we really did judge people on the "content of their character"?
— "race" was never used as a shield against legitimate criticism?
— people recognized that God gave each of them two ears to listen, but only one mouth to talk . . . probably for good reason?
— people realized that Thomas Jefferson was right when he said he believed in luck, and found that the harder he worked, the more luck he had?
— academic tenure was replaced with a merit system based on performance?
— all Federal regulations had to be approved by the Congress and signed into law by the President, and then be subject to review by the Courts to ensure the regulations constitutionality?
— the unborn child could have a guardian ad litem to protect its right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness?
— those calling for "proportionality" in matters of war would recognize that proportionality automatically declares the most populous force the winner?
— those who deny the existence of God would try to live their life without trying to deny others their religious beliefs?
— teachers/educators didn't impose their will on issues, especially life or death issues, which should be made by the child's parents?
— the media accurately reported the news and didn't choose sides in the political arena?
— dress codes were the norm in all school settings?
— if teachers' unions and politicians didn't work against the establishment and operation of Charter Schools?
— courtesy was routinely practiced by drivers"?
— there were more multi-children families?
— houses of worship had overflowing congregations?
— automobile ads weren't deceptive and the unreadable "fine print" wasn't buried on some back page?
— politicians would advertise why we should vote for them, instead of why we shouldn't vote for the other person?
— legislatures at the state and Federal levels had to have a "super majority" to pass any tax increase?
— all taxes were date limited, so that every legislator and executive would have to be accountable?
— people realized that virtually every tax dollar collected at the local, State, and Federal levels, emanated from some business enterprise?
— people understood that every "benefit" paid, and every local, State, and Federal employee's wages and benefits, every "grant", and every military cost, was paid for out of those taxes that emanated from those business enterprises?
— we defended our sovereignty?
— people in the middle east would acknowledge Israel's right to exist?
— the Palestinian Arabs would sign U.N. resolution 181?
— people understood how world demographic changes will be the cause for wars?
— our Executive Branch respected the separation of powers?
— politicians didn't "divide" the citizenry, pitting one group against another for political purposes?
— more people would recognize the wonders of organizations like the Salvation Army and Goodwill, and support them as they do their good works for others?
— we held people accountable for the wrongs done by the IRS and the Veteran's Administration?
— instead of continuing to blame our country for its past sin of slavery, we recognize that 630,000 people died to right that wrong?
— we understood the overwhelming numbers of people in the world who are in poverty, and recognize that we can't fix all those problems by bringing people here, we need to send our skills and knowledge to those areas and teach and help them elevate their standard of life.
— Marine Sgt. Tamoorisi came home?

There are many other things we can think of that would be "nice" . . . you probably can think of a number of things, too. Think about it and add your "wouldn't it be nice if" things to the list.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)


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Susan Estrich - The measles are back

No, it's not a rock group. You're lucky if you can't remember. It's a disease that was gone, and now it's back. So, by the way, is whooping cough, another dreaded childhood disease that had been effectively wiped out.

Every child is supposed to be immunized before they start kindergarten. Children with medical issues, such as a weakened immune system, are entitled to medical exemptions. These children, along with family members who cannot be vaccinated, depend on the rest of the community to protect them. According to accepted public health standards, "herd immunity" requires that 92 percent of the students in the classroom be vaccinated. By vaccinating our own children, we protect them — and those children who cannot be vaccinated and might face the worst outcomes if they were to fall sick.

While all states require certain vaccinations, parents who claim that vaccinations are against their "personal beliefs" are entitled to exemptions. The number of parents seeking such exemptions has doubled in the past seven years, and, according to an analysis by the Los Angeles Times, the rates — and dangers — are actually greatest in private schools and many of the wealthiest public school districts.

In the Santa Monica-Malibu (Calif.) Unified School District, for example, the exemption rate is nearly 15 percent. In the Montecito district in Santa Barbara, more than 27 percent of the parents are claiming it is against their personal beliefs to vaccinate. Among private schools in California, nearly 25 percent of the kindergartens are reporting vaccination rates that put them below the 92 percent rate. In some cases, literally half of the students aren't getting vaccinated. Ten percent of the public school kindergartens surveyed reported that "herd immunity" no longer protects their students.

Parents who don't vaccinate their otherwise healthy children claim that they are protecting their children's health. I have yet to find a reputable doctor or public health expert who agrees. Measles and pertussis are potentially serious illnesses, even for healthy children. And they can be deadly for children and family members who cannot be vaccinated, already have compromised immune systems or are being treated for cancers — in short, for people who depend on the community to keep them safe.
Not vaccinating your child is both dangerous and selfish.

This is not a religious issue, at least not for the overwhelming majority of California residents who opt out of vaccination. The most dangerous schools in the state are schools populated by parents who think they know better than public health officials and, in making that mistake, are exposing not only their own children, but also their most vulnerable classmates and family members, as well as teachers and staff, to potentially deadly threats.

A few years ago, it was very "fashionable" to believe that vaccinations caused autism. I say "fashionable" because there was never one ounce of scientific proof establishing any such connection, and yet you could turn on your television and see the topic being debated as if it were one about which reasonable authorities could disagree. Reasonable authorities could not disagree. The so-called studies suggesting a link to autism were thoroughly and totally discredited. And yet the trend continues.

The number of measles cases in America reached a 20-year high last year. A preventable disease is back. California is facing a whooping cough epidemic this year.

Of course, parents should be able to raise their children as they please. I'm not one who thinks we need the state to tell us what our kids can eat for lunch or what size sodas they can buy. But vaccinations are another matter. Personal choice should not extend to exposing children to unacceptable and unnecessary risks — particularly when those being exposed are the most vulnerable among us, who have no choice.

(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.)

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Sanborn — Winni waterfront sales report August 2014

There were 17 sales on Lake Winnipesaukee in August 2014 at an average price of $1,144,029 and a median price of $899,000. There were seven sales over the magic million dollar mark. That's pretty good but not as good as last August when there were 23 transactions at an average sales price of $732,396. For the first eight months of the year there have been 80 sales on Winnipesaukee with a total sales volume of $85.91 million and an average sales price of $1.074 million compared to 85 sales for the same period in 2013 where the total sales volume was $74.86 million and the average price came in at $800,752. So in a nutshell, this year the higher priced homes are selling a little better.

The biggest sale on Winni in August was at 8 Foxwood Way in Tuftonboro. This sale was really about the lot which was 98.6 acres with 822 feet of frontage! However, one must not overlook the two 1935 vintage lodges. One has four bedrooms, a great room with cathedral ceilings, the requisite floor to ceiling fire place, wood paneling, and a sun room looking out at the lake. The other lodge sits back in the trees and has a separate bunkhouse with sunken living room for the rowdy guests. There is an over the water boat house, a U-shaped crib dock, and a three car garage for all the motorized equipment you might have. This property was represented by Randy Parker of Maxfield Real Estate back in May of 2013 at $4.5 million and sold for $3.7 million after 438 days on the market.

The mid priced sale was at 5 Deepwater Point in Moultonborough. This 3,015 square foot, three bedroom, three bath, contemporary was built in 1998 and was meticulously maintained and very well appointed. This is one of those properties that has a true lake home feel when you walk in. It features a beautiful great room with a stone wood burning fireplace, wood floors, and cathedral ceiling, country kitchen with cherry cabinetry, granite counter tops, and stainless appliances, first floor master, and family room in the walk out lower level. The home sits in a .69 acre lot with lush landscaping, mature perennial gardens, and stone walkways. There is 93' of sandy frontage with a large deep water dock that provides ample room for all the toys. This home was first listed in May of 2013 for $975,000, then re-listed with Ricker Miller of BHHS Verani in Moultonborough in May of 2014 for $899,900, and sold for full price in 36 days. This property is currently assessed for $600,300.

The lowest price sale for the month is a really cute 1985 vintage, 979 square foot, two bedroom, one and a half bath camp at 992 Rattlesnake Island in Alton. The property even has an additional bunkhouse where Uncle Zeke can stay when he shows up unexpectedly. This cottage sits on a .78 acre lot with 100' of frontage with a breakwater and dock. There's a waterside deck that provides a great sitting area to take in the 180 degree views. This property was first listed in Sept 2013 for $309,000, re-listed this year with Nancy DePorter of Maxfield Real Estate for $309,000 and sold for $305,000. It is currently assessed at $307,500. Uncle Zeke must be real happy.

There was only one sale on Winnisquam in August and that was in Tilton at 32 Hill Road. This 1920s vintage lake home feels like stepping back in time but it has been tastefully remodeled over the years. It has three bedrooms, two baths, a charming living room with stone fireplace, a nice country kitchen with large pantry, and an old fashioned front porch (or is it back porch?) looking out at the lake. While there is only 20' of frontage on this .39 acre lot it provides access to a great dock and the calm waters of a no wake zone. This home was on and off the market since 2007 when it was first was listed for $499,000. It was listed this spring by Michelle Heally of BHHS Verani out of Londondery for $369,900 and sold for $375,000 after 11 days on the market. It is currently assessed for $238,900.

Please 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 was compiled using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System as of 9/09/14. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012

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Froma Harrop - Casinos just aren't the answer

The video for the Bruce Springsteen song "Atlantic City" opens with a scene of the grand Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel imploding into a pile of dust. That was almost 40 years ago. The Traymore Hotel and other grand hotels were leveled in much the same spectacular fashion.

In their place rose glass boxes and concrete hulks to house new casinos. The Atlantic City dream was to fill New Jersey state coffers with gambling gold.

At the time, Nevada held a monopoly on casinos. The plan was to turn Atlantic City into a Las Vegas East drawing rollers — high and low — preferably from other tax jurisdictions. But that dream went bad all around.

At least four Atlantic City casinos are closing this year, in part because of intense competition from newer gaming establishments in nearby Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Another problem for casinos nationally is the tough economy for their core market — blue-collar and middle-income workers.

Casino revenues in New Jersey are down 44 percent from their 2006 high, but the business is rough everywhere. The huge Harrah's in Tunica, Mississippi, has also shut its doors.

The casino business is now in the advanced "cannibalizing" stage as competitors eat what's left of each other's lunch. By "competitors," we mean both the casinos and the states relying on their revenues.

Atlantic City's special tragedy is what was traded for the casino fantasy. Nowadays cities run entire visitor campaigns around the sort of fabulous old architecture Atlantic City so easily discarded. Imagine what today's entrepreneurs could have done with a mythical beach resort smack in between New York and Washington!

Casino lust persists, but the argument has changed. Casinos are rarely portrayed as a font of tax revenues from out-of-state pockets. In most of the country, casino customers are increasingly locals who would have spent their spare dollars at local restaurants, theaters and other entertainment venues.

The new sales pitch for casinos rings more of desperation: If the state's working class is going to be milked by gaming conglomerates and the states that tax them, better that the milking take place at home than in a neighboring state.

Some states have valiantly managed to hold the line. Nebraska, for example, does not allow full-fledged casinos even though Iowa has placed three in Council Bluffs, right across the Missouri River from Omaha. (Iowa's gambling tax revenues are also falling.)
Massachusetts seems to be succumbing and is now involved in an odd negotiation with Mohegan Sun, an Indian casino operator applying to build an outlet near Boston. Mohegan Sun already has a big-league casino in eastern Connecticut, not far from the state border. Massachusetts wants a promise that it will not entice the state's high-stakes gamblers to its flagship in Connecticut (where casino taxes are lower). Mohegan Sun has yet to agree.

The statesmen running New Jersey now figure: If casinos aren't making it in South Jersey, perhaps the solution is casinos in North Jersey. How about putting them "somewhere in the swamps of Jersey" — a Springsteen reference to the Meadowlands?

The Meadowlands sit a mere 9 miles west of Manhattan, a casino-free zone. New York state, however, seems to have its own plans. It is now considering several industrial-strength casinos just north of New York City (and, for that matter, the New Jersey state line).

Jersey's casino boosters seem undeterred. A North Jersey state senator — mindful of South Jersey's fear of new competition — recently ventured that a couple of big casinos in his part of the state "could produce in excess of $1 billion over 10 years to be reinvested in Atlantic City."

Sure. If you say so.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

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