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Congressman Frank Guinta - The war on manufacturing jobs, middle-class families & energy costs

Our state enjoys a rich environmental heritage with the tourism industry serving as a cornerstone of our economy — contributing $318 million in federal, state and local revenue while supporting over 24,385 seasonal and full-time jobs. From our state's pristine ski resorts to White Mountain National Forest to our beautiful coastline, we are known for our natural beauty and the industries which support and strengthen it.

Like you, I understand the importance of preserving our lands and water resources to provide our state with a steady source of good-paying jobs and local revenue. In fact, last month I joined my House colleagues in sending a bipartisan letter to the Appropriations Committee urging them to secure funding for the Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF supports public land conservation and ensures access to outdoor recreation opportunities for Granite Staters and tourists.

Similarly, I signed onto a letter urging the Appropriations Committee to invest directly in the New England region's coastal communities by supporting funding for the National Estuary Program, which is instrumental in protecting our coastal environments, sustaining coastal economics and jobs.

Unfortunately, our state is experiencing manufacturing job losses and skyrocketing energy costs due to the heavy hand of government intervention. A safe environment and a healthy economy are not mutually exclusive ends; however, increasing and ever-changing government regulations lead to the suffocation of our manufacturing sector and heavy financial burdens on the middle-class and energy producing plants.

As regulations increase, the cost of doing business also increases. In an effort to remain or become profitable, manufactures have a choice of passing this cost along to its consumers, increasing energy rates, firing workers to reduce payroll costs or shutting down their plans entirely.

All four situations occurred in New Hampshire.

Just this past year, Granite State businesses and families experienced sky-rocketing energy costs which resulted in a loss of business and jobs growth. For example, last November, Liberty Utilities doubled its rates from 7.7 cents per kilowatt hour to 15.4 cents resulting in a monthly average increase from $110 to $162 for the average household's monthly energy bill.

Who can afford this 47 percent cost increase?

Likewise, approximately 500,000 Granite State homes and businesses experienced a 6 percent rate increase for Public Service of New Hampshire in the beginning of January due to a ruling by the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission.

And, just last year, five power plants announced their anticipated closures in the coming years resulting in the loss of more than 3,000 megawatts of energy. These closures come at a heavy price. Not only do we lose a massive amount of energy; but, we also lose the hundreds of jobs that come with it.

These dramatic increases hurts those living on fixed incomes the most, as they are ill equipped to deal with fluctuating prices. With a population that is older than the national average, and with many living paycheck to paycheck — or reliant on Social Security alone — this is deeply troubling to New Hampshire.

In addition to affecting our state's existing businesses, the shock rate associated with increasing electricity rates also deters out-of-state companies from relocating to New Hampshire. This results in missed opportunities for thousands of new jobs, increased competition; and, therefore, reduced energy costs.

Our state needs real results, and we need them now.

New Hampshire is estimated to lose 3,452 manufacturing jobs by 2023. That means almost 3,500 Granite State individuals will be without a stable paycheck to support themselves and their families. We simply cannot afford to continue down this path. You and your family deserve better.
You deserve an all-of-the-above energy approach that responsibly explores and utilizes our own natural resources and supports renewable energy sources. You deserve a more robust infrastructure to strengthen and support new energy projects and jobs. And, you deserve a market free from cap-and-trade policies which picks winners and losers, decreases market competition and therefore, gouges energy costs for Granite State households.
Higher costs for consumers, fewer manufacturing jobs, and more regulations are a death knell for an economy like ours accustomed to leading the New England region out of recessions.

Until we are able to find the happy medium between our regulatory environment and our ability to attract businesses and individuals, we will continue to experience a sluggish economy with less take home pay and little hope for economic expansion.

(Manchester Republican Frank Guinta represents New Hampshire's First Congressional District in Washington, D.C.)

Last Updated on Friday, 17 April 2015 09:51

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Sanborn — Real estate is local

There were 56 residential home sales in March in the twelve communities covered by this market report. The average sales price came in at $284,323 and the median price point was $202,500. Last March there were 62 transactions at an average sales price of $271,231. For the first quarter of the year there were 146 sales at an average of $284,766 with a median price point of an even $200,000. For the first quarter of 2014 there were 171 sales at an average of $316,900 with a median price of $204,910. So that's a 15 percent drop in the total number of sales so far this year and a 10 percent drop in the average sales price. There were also 171 sales in the first quarter of 2013 but the average price was much lower at $224,659.

So what gives? If you read the article in last Sunday's Union Leader it said things are heating up in the Southern N.H. real estate market. The key word there is "southern." There seems to be a line just around Concord where the market changes from hot to maybe lukewarm at best. Homes are selling quickly and with multiple offers in the Manchester and Seacoast areas and their inventory level is down considerably. The article states that REALTOR.com rated the Nashua-Manchester Market as the 11th hottest in the country. I suspect there was no mention of the Weirs-Lakeport market anywhere. Real estate is very local, so what you read about in one area does not necessarily apply in another.

Even at the local level, there are always communities and neighborhoods that are more desirable and where homes will sell quicker. Take Long Bay and South Down in Laconia, for example. Property always sells there and the listings generally bring more than assessed values which bucks the trend lately in many towns. Real estate truly is all about location, location, location.

As far as the condo market goes, there were 29 sales our communities in both the first quarter of this year as well as last. The average sales price for the first quarter this year was $201,507 and last year it was $149,615. Last year 8 of the 29 sales were over $200,000 and this year 11 were over the $200,000 mark thereby bumping the average sales price up a bit.

But there is some good news for this area as well. Interest rates are still very low. Freddie Mac stated that the rates across the nation on a 30 year fixed loan average 3.66 percent versus 4.34 percent 12 months ago. That helps give first time buyers that little bit extra purchasing power they may need to get into a home.
The other good news is that spring is really, truly, finally here. You can't help think that the horrible winter we have had has contributed somewhat to the lack luster sales so far this year. And, it truly feels like the number of showings and properties going pending have picked up over the past several weeks. A check on the properties that are currently under contract reveals that there are over 175 properties for a total of $62 million in the pipeline. That will help as we go into our busy season.

But the really great news is that the Lakes Region of N.H. will always be an extremely desirable place to live. Our lakes and mountains provide recreational experiences and a relaxed lifestyle that is unmatched anywhere else in the Northeast. That's why so many people choose to buy a vacation home or retire here. So while our real estate market is not as hot as some areas, we've got a lot going for us and I fully expect that we'll have a great summer sales season.

P​ease 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 4/16/15. ​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, 17 April 2015 06:25

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Bob Meade - Take your pick: do you want the issue or the solution? (FOR USE TUESDAY, APRIL 14)

Politics, as we observe that process today, seems to have little to do with "conducting the people's business". It has more to do with dividing the populace into voting blocs, pitting one against the other. Solutions to problems aren't sought; they're manipulated into a continuum of festering sores. Those sores always intended to be "the other guy's fault". Personal accountability? Fuggedaboudit!

Politicians "milk" serious issues for their own benefit. All too often, there is no desire to find an amicable solution to a problem simply because keeping an issue festering is used to achieve some political gain. One such issue that keeps getting its fires stoked is that of police departments being targeted as "racists". No matter what the job, there will always be some people who perform admirably while some of their co-workers are marginal at best. Life is a series of "bell curves" where no matter what the job, the top 10 percent or 20 percentwill perform over and above expectations. In the center of that bell, will be 60 percent to 80 percent of the workers who perform normally and meet basic job expectations. At the bottom of the bell curve, that other 10 percent to 20 percent, are those who fail to meet the basic, acceptable standards.

It doesn't matter if you are measuring police, automobile mechanics, sales people, managers, teachers or students, engineers or computer geeks, or any other number of jobs . . . within that job classification's pool of workers, there will be a natural bell curve.

In what is now commonly referred to as the Ferguson case, and in spite of the findings in the long awaited Justice Department report which absolved Officer Wilson of any wrong-doing, politicians have done little to honestly and accurately identify the race relations problem, and its causes, and to take constructive action within the community to develop worthwhile solutions . . . the issue is being kept alive and it is festering.

If we don't honestly address the root cause of problems in our communities, how can we expect to fix them? For example, the FBI has determined that the 10 most dangerous cities in America are: Camden, NJ, Flint, MI, Detroit, MI, Oakland, CA, St. Louis, MO, Cleveland, OH, Gary, IN, Newark, NJ, Bridgeport, CT, and Birmingham, AL. These 10 cities share many of the same characteristics. First, their high school dropout rates are terrible. The worst is St. Louis where only 45.9 percent of those who enter the ninth grade ultimately graduate; well below their Missouri State average of 85 percent. Other cities aren't much better with a number of them graduating between 48 percent to 58 percent of their students, with their state's overall graduation rates being from 23 percent to 35 percent higher.

In each of these cities, the white population is in the minority. The lowest percentage is in Detroit, where only 7.8 percent of the population is white. Gary is next at 10.7 percent, followed by Camden at 17.6 percent. On the high end, 43.5 percent of the St. Louis population is white, followed by Flint at 35.7 percent and Cleveland at 33.4 percent.

Median household and poverty levels follow the same patterns. Oakland has the highest median income at $52,583, followed by Bridgeport at $41,050. Both of these cities are in the middle of fairly affluent surroundings. However, at the other end of the spectrum we find that Camden's median income is only $25,791, followed by Cleveland at $26,217, Detroit at $26,325, and Gary at $26,885.

If we truly want to fix the racial problems that exist in our country today, we have to be willing to honestly identify those problems in order to develop the appropriate solutions to them. Having a third of a city's population living in poverty is unacceptable. Spending the money to educate our young people and wind up having half of them not even get a basic high school diploma, is unacceptable. Building ghettos of sameness that lack hope for something better, is unacceptable.

There is no easy answer, but using police as a scapegoat does nothing to overcome the fundamental problems that must be corrected. The Urban Institute (http://www.urban.org/publications/306620.html) has identified these four items as the "current indictment" against the welfare system, and wants to see them addressed openly and honestly:

— It does not provide sufficient state flexibility.

— It does not encourage work.

— It is responsible for the breakdown of the family, especially for a rising tide of out-of-wedlock births.

— It has done little to reduce poverty, especially among children.

These items, and the issue of obtaining a basic education and becoming personally responsible, must be addressed in the communities in which the problems exist. Scapegoating only gives license to grow the problems even larger.

It is time to stop pitting one group against the other for political gains.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

Last Updated on Monday, 13 April 2015 08:33

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Sanborn – Winni Waterfront Sales Report – March 2015

March kind of went out like a lion with nine waterfront sales on Winnipesaukee, but also was a little bit like a lamb as there were no sales over the million dollar mark. The average sales price for the month was just $686,667 and the median price point was $815,000. This brings our total sales for the first quarter of 2015 to a total of 20 sales which equals the 20 sales in the same period of 2014, but the average sales price fell from $947,658 to $816,450.

The entry level sale was a cute five room, two bedroom, 960 square foot log cabin at 3 Mink Island in Gilford. This cabin was built in 1984 and sits on a .92 acre lot with 100' of easterly facing frontage. There's a 40' aluminum crank up dock and a sandy bottom so you don't stub your toes in the water. It sounds like the perfect weekend retreat. This property was listed originally at $399,000, but was reduced down to $299,000, and then sold for $275,000 after 1,102 days on the market. It is currently assessed at $297,810.

The property representing the median price point was at 160 and 165 Minge Cove Road in Alton. The three bedroom main home was built in 1960 and sits on a .65 acre lot with 100' of frontage. The home is nicely built and has cathedral ceilings, lots of custom built-ins, a great fireplace, and a wood stove in the lower level family room. More important, though, are the spectacular views and boathouse! There's also a two bedroom guest apartment across the street over a three car garage The homes are at the end of Minge Cove Rd so there's plenty of privacy. This property was listed at $895,000 and sold for $815,000 after 396 days on the market. It is currently appraised at $821,800.

The highest sale for the month was at 331 Trask Side Rd in Alton. This a charming 1992 vintage, contemporary cape style home that has three bedrooms, two baths, an open floor plan with a 25' x 16' living and dining area, custom kitchen with large built in pantry, skylights, a large wrap around deck, and a screened porch. The full unfinished walk out basement is ready for future expansion. There is a detached two car garage for the toys. You gotta have that! The house sits on a beautifully landscaped .5 acre lot with meandering pathways through gardens and shrubbery. There is 170' of westerly facing frontage and a u-shaped dock for that new Formula. This property was originally listed at $1.15 million, was reduced to $995,000, and sold for $960,000 after 216 days on the market. This property is currently assessed at $822,500. A pretty sweet property!

There was one sale on Winnisquam in March at 27 Lower Bay Road in Sanbornton. This 1,876 square foot, three bedroom, two bath cottage was built in 1960 and is constructed of masonry which is a little unusual on the waterfront. The home has two large stone fireplaces, a large family room, wood accents throughout, a new deck, and a detached two car garage with a one bedroom apartment above. The house sits on a .52 acre lot with 1,200' of beautiful sandy frontage. It was offered at $494,500 and sold for $471,500 after only nine days on the market. It is assessed at $430,500.

P​ease 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 4/09/15. ​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, 10 April 2015 07:54

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Susan Estrich - Bathroom wars (still) FOR SATURDAY, APRIL 11

More than 30 years ago, conservatives managed to defeat the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, which would have added "sex" to the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection, by frightening women into believing that it would outlaw separate bathrooms for men and women. In the years since, the courts have effectively done what Congress couldn't, prohibiting discrimination in virtually every aspect of American life — except, of course, bathrooms, which never were really at issue.

Then, as now, most establishments provide separate facilities for men and women. Those that don't — airplanes being the most familiar example — provide "restrooms" that can be used by both sexes. In addition, "family restrooms" have sprung up so that anxious mothers of little boys no longer have to choose between dragging our sons into the ladies' room ("I'm not a lady," my son used to complain) and sending them alone into men's rooms and then patrolling the exit.

I thought the bathroom wars were over, but I was wrong.

Where should a fourth-grader who is biologically a boy but identifies as a girl go to the bathroom?

In Stafford, Va., the school board, reacting to outraged parents, recently overturned the decision of a local elementary school that would have allowed the fourth-grader to use the girls' room. According to news reports, parents were afraid that letting this child use the girls' room would invite predators to prey on vulnerable children. "We have now opened the door for any predatory individual — student, teacher or anyone in between — within our school system to claim the gender identity to enter the restroom or locker room of the opposite sex to prey upon our children behind closed doors," one parent reportedly claimed. At the meeting, a man who identified himself as the girl's father said he once agreed with such views, until his child changed his mind. "She's a very special person. I only implore of all of us as we move forward that we don't trade understanding for fear and that we don't trade misconceptions for hate."

No such luck in Stafford, where the local board voted 6-0 to force his daughter to use the boys' room.

Letting a fourth-grader who identifies as a girl use the girls' room will not lead predators to prey upon our children. In debates like this one, the fictitious would-be predators are almost always gay. (Remember the debates about barring gays from teaching, even though all of the evidence showed heterosexual abuse to be a far greater problem.) I suppose it could be seen as a step toward equality that at least here the would-be predators have to be heterosexual. One step forward, a dozen steps back.

Is it worth pointing out that girls' rooms provide individual stalls? Or that teachers use their own bathrooms? Or that most schools don't allow "anyone in between" teachers and students to enter school buildings?

Many of us grew up in a world that we thought was divided very simply between girls and boys. But we were wrong. The experts can explain it better than I, but some children are born with the "wrong" bodies. I can't begin to imagine just how difficult and painful that can be. But school should be a safe place. If other girls — or more likely their parents — aren't comfortable with that, then they need to learn some valuable lessons, not let ignorance reign, as it did in Stafford.

Equality demands respect for individual differences. If anything is an invitation to abuse, it is forcing a child who thinks of herself as a girl and dresses as a girl and holds herself out as a girl to use the boys' room.

(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 Friday, 10 April 2015 06:54

Hits: 302

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