Published DateTo the editor,
At the recent Belknap County Convention, the representatives voted 11-6 to repeal the commissioners' budget recommendation and instead adopt its own budget, made up largely of payroll cuts. Personally I was not surprised by the outcome of the vote since the Republicans hold the majority and part of their ideology is to reduce government.
What bothered me most wasn't the vote. It was the reaction of a select few in attendance who applauded this vote. I'm not sure if these people knew what they were clapping about? I assumed they did. I don't believe the fact that people who are about to lose their job, wages, and benefits therefore is something to be applauding about, do you?
I also do not understand the reasoning behind these cuts from the convention? During previous convention meetings, many of the Republicans in attendance continue to say "if the people in Belknap County are struggling then so should county employees."
It has been said that "speculation is a poor form of politics." In case these individuals forgot the recession was five years ago and I'm not sure where they are getting their "struggling" facts from? It is well-known that personal income can be a good indicator of an economy expanding. According to the census.gov website over the past three years the median household income for Belknap County has increased from $60,734 to $62,436, yet people can't afford an average increase of $25 out of a $1,700. Another interesting fact from this site was the poverty level for the county increased from 9.3 to 10.4 percent. It's estimated that Belknap County has 60,288 residents (census.gov) so of those residents 6,250 live in poverty. Are these the struggling people the delegation is referencing? For some reason I doubt that. As I did not hear any of these legislators mention an increase in poverty, nor any attempts to combat it!
Instead it appears as if this delegation is bent on taking over complete control of the county, to the point of removing line item authority from the elected commissioners. Why? The whole point of having a convention and commissioners is to make sure our county government maintains accountability and transparency. Where is the accountability and transparency when one political party has taken over all the authority and predetermines what they are to do in private meetings behind closed doors? Theoretically they answer to no one! Sure one can say, "they have to answer to the voters" but do enough people really pay attention? I'd question that, as some of these elected officials appear to be out of their league and unqualified to represent the public.
Going forward I challenge the character, leadership and integrity of some members from this delegation, to write policy that benefits our entire county. So far I have not seen or heard of one piece of legislation that will make our county better. Instead we have seen a majority determined to take power and control, implement sequestration and austerity measures that are proven not to work. Look at Europe over the past five years. Many countries there implemented austerity measures and it sent them into a double-dip recession. If we are still in a recession, as many reps on the delegation believe we are austerity is not the answer!
I'll close with a quote from a friend I recently had in conversation, "There's an old but true saying; 'When you're in a ditch, don't keep digging."