To The Daily Sun,
As summer comes to a close and the new school year descends upon us, I have become acutely aware that I have yet to write a very well deserved thank you to our community!
As a former chair of the Laconia Middle School PTO (Fall 2010-Summer 2013) I had the wonderful opportunity to work alongside many amazing parents, teachers and staff, administrators, students, community members and businesses.
There are so many people to thank it is hard to know where to begin. However the first thank you must go to the LMS parents and grandparents — whether it was attending our monthly meetings, various presentations, providing innumerable baked goods, chaperoning a variety of events (including middle school dances), helping in the Care Closet, decorating for events, organizing fundraisers and the list goes on. No matter what the request, parents and grandparents always came through in a big way for the children. Thank you.
To the teachers, staff and administration, your support of the LMS PTO and your students has been incredible. I had the privilege to work alongside numerous teachers, all of whom were willing to dedicate their time and energy to better the school and the students. I wish to thank a select few teachers who were particularity involved in the PTO's endeavors while I was chair. Thank you to Mrs. Steckert our PTO teacher liaison, Ms. Sims (Student Council advisor) and Ms. Columb and Mr. Schneberger (National Junior Honor Society advisor) who were always willing to collaborate with PTO whether it be for our first annual semi-formal dance, or LMS Rock-a-thon or Red Ribbon Week just to name a few. Mr. Theman, Ms. Stefanik and Mr. Clay, what would the middle school dances be without the three of you? The support of the guidance counselors, Mrs. Babcock and Mr. Schneberger, our school nurse Mrs. Reynolds, and Diane Oulette supervisor of LMS kitchen all in numerous ways helped the PTO to grow and thrive. The staff, Sue Dore, Katie Whitney, Dawn Emond, Betsy Jacobson and Deb Williams who, among many other things, sent e-mails, printed flyers and kept the calendar straight as the PTO planned events. I certainly cannot forget to thank the maintenance team that so willingly set up, and cleaned up after many an event, and may I add always did so with a smile. The administrative team Mr. Ennis, Mrs. Sottak, former principal Mr. McCollum and current principal Mr. Johnson, I do not know how each of you managed to be at so many school events to support LMS, but you did. Thank you for showing your support and dedication both during the school day and at numerous after school activities. Furthermore, it was not unusual to see our retired or current superintendent, Mr. Champlin and Mrs. Forsten, respectively support the LMS PTO events for the children and their families.
So many community members, local organizations and businesses even in these challenging times gave so generously of their resources and time. Although there are too many to list individually, there are a few that deserve recognition for consistently and wholeheartedly supporting our schools and children: The Laconia Police Department — Chief Adams, Officer Orton, Lt. Lessard and Detective Noyes; Patrick's Pub and Eatery; Lakes Region Santa Fund and Better Together.
Finally, I cannot forget to mention the children themselves! We should be very proud of the youth at LMS. So often today, the media can portray youth as uninvolved, uncaring and self-centered. That was not my experience! Whether it was babysitting younger children at the PTO meetings, helping to set up for Teacher and Staff Appreciation Breakfast, working the bake sale tables, decorating at events, helping out at the Bow Wow Fest, caroling at local nursing homes, or fundraising for friends in need, the students were always eagerly helping out with a good attitude and a beaming smile. I found the children to be respectful, caring, helpful, funny, engaging and overall a very talented and enthusiastic group of children. As our celebratory cakes at LMS say, 'LMS is the Best!'
Before having the opportunity to chair LMS PTO I believed Laconia to be a special community and one that cared deeply for its youth, now I know that to be true! Like all other communities, we have our issues and problems to solve! However, unlike many other communities Laconia's treasure is in the enormous number of people, organizations and businesses that truly care, get involved, and make a positive difference in the life of so many children, and their community at large! Way to go Laconia, keep doing great things!
Chair of LMS PTO 2010-2013
Last Updated on Friday, 13 September 2013 11:50
To The Daily Sun,
Oh, the holier-than-thou letters sent in to say how wonderful Bob Kingsbury was! Really, they made me laugh. Try to remember that he ran for office 16 times and was elected once — when everyone was mad at the Democrats! And the letter from Josh Youssef — determined to have violated the Provisions for Purity of Elections by the Attorney General — oh yes, Josh was just appalled! So many appalled self- righteous people.
I will never forget sitting next to Bob Kingsbury at a legislative breakfast. He told me that he knew how to solve the problem of battered/abused women in Laconia. He wanted every woman who filed an order of protection to be given a gun by the state of N.H. He really believed that was a good thing.
Mr. Kingsbury was also the man who told the Belknap County Convention that research he'd been conducting for the last 16 years had led him to believe that kindergarten programs lead to higher crime rates. He sponsored a failed effort to tie future state legislation to the Magna Carta. He tried to push a bill partially ending the direct election of U.S. senators.
So yes, Mr Kingsbury always comported himself as a gentleman and his service to our country was exemplary. The end.
Last Updated on Friday, 13 September 2013 11:45
To The Daily Sun,
Some wondered if anyone with Bob Kingsbury's ideas should serve in public office. It is true that some of Bob's ideas seem anachronistic, and many are rare in our times. But the abandonment of these ideas, the ideas which enabled America's greatness and unimagined prosperity for most Americans, has led to many of today's problems.
Many liberal/progressive politicians think they know how others should live, how they should think, and what they should be allowed to say. To gain power they deceive the public because they often intend to govern against the people's wishes and best interests (e.g., Obamacare). And all too often politicians use their positions for their own personal gain.
Bob believed in honesty, in fulfilling his promises, in the rule of law equally applied, and in constitutionally limited government. Bob believed that the purpose of American government is to empower the people, not to empower government, and certainly not to empower and enrich politicians.
Unfortunately the proven ideas that Bob advocated have been increasingly abandoned since WWII as progressive promises of government benevolence have lured many voters. The result of progressive policies is loss of jobs, opportunities, wealth and freedom; increased crime, enormous government waste, a poor, but costly, education system, an increasing number of Americans unnecessarily trapped in poverty, and the immoral passing of our huge national debt to future generations who will suffer because of our gullibility and selfishness.
Liberal and progressive politicians and their friends have gained power, and often wealth, by promoting the idea that everyone deserves to live well as a result of other people's hard work. But everywhere their enticing ideas have been tried, they reduce the jobs, opportunities, wealth, and freedom for most people... just as they are doing here.
Combat taught Bob Kingsbury the high cost of liberty. Bob lived the military motto, "Duty, Honor, Country." Bob advocated for the time-tested principles that result in better lives for Americans: Constitutionally limited government, rule of law, private property rights, capitalism, and morality. Our country, our prosperity, and freedom here and abroad depend on more people and more politicians fighting for and re-implementing these principles.
Bob Kingbury faithfully served his country in war and in peace. He is a great example for the rest of us. He will be missed.
Last Updated on Friday, 13 September 2013 11:41
Here's how the Obama folks have been starting to spin Syria. The president made a credible threat to use military force in Syria. At the same time, he worked behind the scenes to get Russia's Vladimir Putin to push Bashir al-Assad to give up chemical weapons.
These two seemingly discordant initiatives, brilliantly coordinated, combined to produce a process to eliminate Assad's chemical weapons without even a shot being fired across the bow.
Of course, every bit of this is false. Only the most credulous Obama fans are fooled.
Back on Aug. 20, 2012, in response to an intelligent question from NBC's Chuck Todd, the president said that the use of chemical weapons by Syria would be a "red line" that would "change my calculus."
That's a threat to go to war. As the Washington Post's Walter Pincus points out, once a president declares a red line, he should be prepared to back it up. He should order military contingency plans, consult with members of Congress and seek support from foreign governments.
There is no evidence that Obama did any of these things in a serious or sustained way in the 366 days between his red-line statement and the use of chemical weapons in the suburbs of Damascus — not even after British and French intelligence reported the use of chemical weapons last spring.
Then during the week of Aug. 26-30, leaks poured out from the administration that Obama would order air strikes in Syria, but only little ones. Regime change was off the table.
On Friday night before the Labor Day weekend, Obama suddenly decided, during a walk in the White House grounds, to seek congressional approval.
Were any soundings taken of congressional opinion before that decision? It doesn't seem likely.
Even the slightest pulse-taking would have suggested that getting majority approval would be difficult in a House of Representatives where most Republicans mistrust the president and most Democrats are congenitally dovish.
Especially when public opinion strongly opposed any military intervention.
Attempts to propitiate Democrats by stressing that air strikes would be only a pinprick inevitably repelled Republicans willing to support only measures that would weaken or dislodge the Assad regime.
After Labor Day, as media vote counts started showing a majority of House members voting or leaning no, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, who accompanied Obama on his Friday night walk, was still predicting that the administration would prevail. That was either insincere or delusional.
The claim that the Russians agreed to push Syria on chemical weapons only because Obama threatened to use force requires a belief they thought he would do so after an adverse congressional vote. Not likely.
Nor is it likely that John Kerry's statement in his Monday press conference in London that the attack could be avoided if Syria submitted to international inspections was part of a calculated strategy. Kerry's next words were, "But he isn't about to do it, and it can't be done, obviously."
Kerry was winging it, and so was Obama when he spoke favorably of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's offer to push Syria to give up its poison gas.
So the president's Wednesday night speech included words supporting military action and other words explaining that it wasn't necessary.
It can be argued that Obama's decision to hold off on air strikes and negotiate with the Russians is better for the United States in the short run than the other two alternatives on offer — ineffective air strikes or a landslide repudiation of the commander in chief by Congress.
But in the long run, it's a terrible setback for America.
Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger muscled the Soviet Union out of Middle East diplomacy back in 1973. In the 40 years since, American presidents have kept the Russians out.
Now they're back in. A nation with a declining population, a weakened military and an economy propped up only by oil and gas exports has suddenly made itself the key interlocutor in the region.
Obama has allowed this even though it's obvious that effective disarmament is impossible in a nation riven by civil war and ruled by a regime with every incentive and inclination to lie and conceal.
The negotiations and any fig-leaf inspection process can be dragged out for weeks, months and years, as Saddam Hussein demonstrated.
Obama said he hoped to degrade Syria's chemical weapons program. Instead he has degraded his own — and America's — credibility.
(Syndicated columnist Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
To The Daily Sun,
First, I want to make it clear that I am writing this as a single member of the Board of Selectman. My opinions expressed in this letter should in no way be interpreted as representing those of anyone else on the board individually or as the view of the board as a whole.
The Board of Selectmen, relative to whether or not there was cause to remove two elected planning board members from office, conducted a public hearing recently. There was much uproar about the process of how that hearing came about and very little about the actual conduct of the two members in question. That was certainly unfortunate and by anyone's standards it could have been handled better. However, in this case the conduct occurred entirely in the public eye, recorded on video and recorded in the official minutes of the meeting. Neither I, nor anyone else had to rely on some anonymous complaint to determine whether or not the actions of the members actually took place. This was conduct, which occurred, in an open hearing for a Conditional Use Permit, conduct that was not refuted in any way by one of the members during their hearing.
The focus should have been and should be on the conduct of the two Planning Board members during the public hearing for the Bear's Nest application. This was for a lookout tower that had been constructed without any building permit, and was in violation of two portions of the Zoning Ordinance. During that hearing, both members stated repeatedly and emphatically that it was their opinion that the application before them failed to meet one or more of the required criteria necessary for approval. One member voted "no" on three of the required criteria, but then choose to vote for the application's approval. That member continued to state that they felt the application was in violation of the ordinance but that it was a "has been", referring to the fact that the building already existed. When questioned further about changing their mind, their statement was "I didn't change my mind, I changed my vote". In other words, they still felt that the application was in violation of the ordinance, but were voting for its approval anyway.
The second member in question also felt that the application did not meet the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance and stated so repeatedly during the hearing. He also stated at the beginning of the hearing "If I may, I do not think in any way the fact that something has already been built should affect our decision at all". Yet when it came time to actually vote and weigh in on whether or not the applicant had met the criteria, he refused to vote on one of the criteria and then abstained on another. When questioned by fellow board members about that conduct he stated, "I abstained on those two, um, for the reason that there is a reality here... the alternative really is to deny it and the effect of that would be to either require that it be moved or taken down or some other, or maybe we go to court for six months or a year...". He followed that with, "I guess in further, to further my thoughts on the thing. I think that the board ought to very carefully consider what happens if we say no. I don't like being held, to have my feet held to the fire." When that member was asked why he didn't just vote then on those two criteria he responded, "Because I am not going to say that I believe that they passed, that they met those two criteria." In other words, much like the member mentioned above, this member also did not feel that the necessary criteria had been met, yet they then proceeded to make the motion to approve the application and voted for it in the end.
The issue at hand is this: members of our land-use boards are not there to do what they think is in the best interest of the public or the voters. Their duty is to protect the public interest as embodied in the zoning ordinance. This is a very important distinction! The overall integrity of our zoning ordinance is an invisible party to every case and part of their function is to protect its interests! The question that should be asked in every case is, "Could we allow EVERYBODY whose property is in these same circumstances to do the same thing, and still preserve the integrity of the zoning ordinance?" In this particular case, we have two Planning Board members who repeatedly stated that this application did not meet the requirements of our zoning ordinance, but still failed to protect it by voting accordingly! There should have been no consideration given as to the possible consequences of their particular vote, whether in the affirmative or negative, other than would their decision uphold the integrity of the zoning ordinance. It shouldn't have mattered how deep they perceived the applicant's pockets to be, or how impressive the applicant's attorney was in presenting their case, or the perceived threat of a lawsuit if the application was denied, all that should have mattered was whether the applicant met the requirements of the zoning ordinance. In this case these two members felt that the applicant had fallen short but would not or could not do their duty and uphold our zoning ordinance.
At the end of the day, I believe that the conduct of these two Planning Board members dealt a serious blow to the integrity of our zoning ordinance. In doing so, I also believe that damage was done to the credibility of any enforcement attempts in the future regarding our zoning ordinance. It has been stated by some that we as a Board of Selectmen should have challenged the Planning Board's decision in Superior Court. It is my opinion that if these two Planning Board members had done their duty that would not have been necessary, nor would it have addressed the much more serious issue. It is one thing for our land-use board members to faithfully apply our zoning ordinance, make a judgment call on any given application as to whether or not it meets the required criteria and then vote accordingly. In those cases one might still disagree with their decision, but they will have followed the law and applied it to the best of their ability. If however, we have members who will not vote to uphold our zoning ordinance even when they think and publicly state that it would be violated by a particular application, then what is the point of having a zoning ordinance in the first place?
Jonathan W. Tolman
Selectman, Town of Moultonborough
Last Updated on Friday, 13 September 2013 01:54