To The Daily Sun,
To the public, in response to Mr. Hunter Taylor's story:
There are a lot of half-truths, stories and outright fabrications being published about the current governmental crisis in Belknap County. Many so-called experts, armchair observers and political commentators are coming out of the woodwork to pile on and create more confusion, and foster ill will for their own purposes. The fact that the local newspapers publish these stories and opinions, without regard to their truthfulness, does not make them true.
Here's what you should know: The crisis discussed in Mr. Taylor's letter was created when the executive committee of the Belknap County Delegation (Rep. Frank Tilton, the chairman of the executive committee) refused a timely meeting with the commissioners to address transfer requests.
Rep. Tilton was well aware that the commissioners had requested a date for a meeting that they could all attend. Any statement to the contrary is simply not true. Rep. Tilton likes to convene meetings without regard to any one's schedule but his own. The commissioners request was denied, as most are. Rep. Tilton and his committee held the meeting, knowing the commissioners would not be present, just so they could be criticized openly. A future date was not even set at that time.
While waiting for the executive committee to meet and discuss transfers, the county department heads were prevented from making life-safety purchases (medical needs of inmates and the care of nursing home residents). This was considered a crisis by the commissioners and administrators. The total of all transfers necessary to get through the year was calculated to be in excess of $600,000. When asked to add the most urgent line item transfers being sought, the total came to $455,000. The dollar amounts were not the issue at hand, the bookkeeping entries are now what dictates if needs are met or not. The $10,000 turned out to be enough (after a half hour of publicly berating the staff) to provide for prescription medications for inmates over a weekend. To suggest that $10,000 was all that was really needed is disingenuous at best.
This county is currently under court order to stop over-expending on an individual line item basis. What this means is that the day-to-day operations of the county, traditionally the responsibility of the elected county commissioners, is now in the hands of Mr. Tilton and his group. This is not the way any other governmental agency operates. The legislative body does not have line-item control for good reason. It's impossible to react to changing situations the way a governing body is required to. Do you go back to a town meeting if you need to use the office supply money for snow plow repair? When you add to that challenge, a legislative body that is too busy to deal with the needs of the county (or are they just unwilling?) things start becoming chaotic and dangerous. Such is the current state of affairs in Belknap County.
When the health insurance company returned premiums a choice was offered to every municipality: A check or a "contribution holiday". Belknap County eventually chose the contribution holiday, which was reflected as a discount on the invoice. This came at just the right time to allow the county to fund its contractual health care obligations through the end of the year without violating the court order or violating the labor contracts we have with our employees. The executive committee seems to be angry because the county is able to continue operating without compromising the budget. This issue was no secret. A very public lawsuit caused the return and within a week of the county receiving its portion, the executive committee was already angry and flinging accusations of wrongdoing.
To help with Mr. Taylor's demonstration of line-item control, let's say the manager of a department realizes that he won't need to spend as much money on payroll as he thought (someone retired), but a vehicle broke down and there's not enough left in that line item to pay the bill. Since the recent court order, the manager cannot repair the vehicle until Rep. Tilton convenes a meeting, berates the staff for failing to predict all of this 18 months ago, accuses the commissioners of keeping it secret, and then, in good faith, approves an interdepartmental line item transfer. Don't forget that we're not talking about spending more money, just spending the money where it is most needed.
Here's another example: A water pipe bursts in the basement of the courthouse. The maintenance and repair line item is already spent, but there's a surplus in the janitorial supplies line item. While the water runs, the department manager has to request a transfer. Rep. Tilton will schedule a meeting (if he's not angry about something else), and the executive committee will consider the issue. Hopefully, they'll agree that it makes sense to spend the money on something other than its intended plan under certain circumstances, dictated by the daily changes that occur in the operation of any business. Only then can a plumber be called. As anyone inclined to look can see, this kind of micromanagement was never intended to be the way county government should be run. And despite what Mr. Tilton or anyone else might say, this is not the way it ever was.
If you want to know what's happening at the county on a daily basis, you need to participate more often than once a month. You also need to have dialogue — where one person talks and the other listens, then you switch roles. This way you learn that sometimes you don't have all the information. So, did the commission plan to use this contribution holiday as an opportunity to avoid violating the court order, the labor contracts, and to avoid spending more than the delegation voted...YES, that was the plan.
(We have since decided to ask the executive committee to do the right thing and make transfers.) That is our job; to exercise our managerial rights to facilitate the operation of the county. The accounting practices of the county are open and transparent to anyone who cares to take a look. There are no secrets, no schemes, or sleights of hand. The commissioners meet in public every other Wednesday evening. The administrative staff is available to answer questions, explain reports, or talk about the operation at any time. You are welcome to call, email, or stop by.
Regarding Mr. Taylor's respect issues, the commissioners and the executive committee are equals. Both bodies are made up of elected officials with separate and distinct functions. One does not lord over the other. They have separate responsibilities. Neither has oversight responsibility over the other. The executive committee should not attempt to govern the organization, as they are now doing, and the commissioners cannot raise and appropriate taxes. The current attempts at micromanagement render the operation of an otherwise efficient and effective operation chaotic, cumbersome and dangerously ineffective.
Belknap County Commissioners
Last Updated on Monday, 20 October 2014 08:35
To The Daily Sun,
I am the wife of a Belknap County Nursing Home resident. I depend heavily on the nurses, aides, and support workers who care for my husband, and on the county commissioners who monitor the nursing home and its dedicated staff.
Dave Pollak has taken the trouble to familiarize himself with this facility, and I have confidence in his ability to oversee the needs here. Please support Dave Pollak for Belknap County Commissioner.
Last Updated on Monday, 20 October 2014 08:23
To The Daily Sun,
I've been told under no uncertain terms by law enforcement leadership that our medical marijuana law is all about legalization and that there is no medicinal value to cannabis. Witness the effects of its use by a cancer patient and you'll see the truth.
Our children have easier access to cannabis and other, more dangerous drugs, than they do to hard liquor. That tells me that we're not doing it right. Allowing the black market to regulate who has access to cannabis is what is happening right now and dealers often have cocaine, heroin and other substances for sale. If there is a "gateway," it's the dealer who provides it.
It's time to take a conservative approach on this issue. We could easily reduce the size of government and spending by simply re-staking our position on the "drug war." Reduce the size of our prisons and give people access to treatment rather than destroying lives and paying for incarceration and we will move in a direction that will bolster our economy and help restore our faith in government.
NH State Representative
Carroll County District 8
Last Updated on Monday, 20 October 2014 08:15
To The Daily Sun,
To a thoughtless person with no heart,
On Sunday morning, September 28 at 8:30-8:45 a.m. I was just going out to my yard with my 5-year-old great-granddaughter so she could play for a while. Her 2-year-old dog "Koko" sneaked out the door and ran across the front lawn chasing something and I called to her but she did not listen. As I walked down the driveway to try and get her to come back up, she ran out onto Route 140 and a car struck and killed her.
The person who hit her never stopped or came back to see if all was alight. What really upset me is the fact that I have this child who saw what happened to her dog. She stood in the driveway crying unconditionally because she had seen what happened. She does not understand how a person could be like that.
I would like the person to get in touch with The Laconia Daily Sun and apologize to this little girl. Koko was her best friend and buddy.
Have a heart please. Olivia misses her friend.
Eileen R. Longo
Last Updated on Monday, 20 October 2014 08:09
To The Daily Sun,
On September 16, President Obama publicly addressed the Ebola outbreak that was ravaging three Western African nations at that time. In his comments the president called for worldwide coordination to fight the disease while proclaiming the chances of an outbreak in the United States "very low." Recent events in Texas have rendered the president's prediction ephemerally inaccurate.
We now have two confirmed cases of the disease in Texas among health care professionals who cared for a deceased Ebola patient, Thomas Duncan, and health authorities in Dallas are tracking more than 120 people who may have had contact with that victim and the diseased workers. The president has not ordered any travel restrictions with the Western African countries where the disease has killed more than 4,000 people, including more than 200 health care workers.
Travelers are asked questions at the gate and temperatures are taken. This protocol is deemed prophylactic even though we don't know if Ebola can be spread by those who are currently asymptomatic. The disease has a 21-day incubation period, we do seem to know that much. The government tells us via its director of the Center for Disease Control that travel restrictions or a ban would be ineffective in controlling the disease, using an unconvincing excuse that we would not be able to get aid to those countries if we restricted travel, an assertion patently incredible on its face. That comes from a man who can't tell you scientifically if the disease can be transmitted through coughing or sneezing.
I wonder if Mr. Duncan would have infected anyone in Dallas if he had been questioned more carefully before entering the country (he had actual physical contact with an Ebola victim in Africa before flying here), or if he had been quarantined prior to traveling?
In slightly less recent times we have seen the ineffectiveness of our government at controlling the outbreak of TB, the entero virus, and other communicable diseases that have been transmitted through our southern border, largely due to intentionally lax border security and the subsequent relocation of tens of thousands of illegal aliens to all 50 states by the INS, ironically a division of the Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Homeland Security doesn't seem to be terribly effective at having control over who comes into our country and federal authority doesn't seem to be much interested in trying and deporting those who have no right to be here in the first place. I wonder if that might be because the leadership in both the Democrat and Republican parties seemed hell bent on passing an amnesty bill a mere eight weeks ago, in spite of the fact that more than 60 percent of our citizens are against such preferential treatment for illegal aliens?
The executive branch of the federal government has the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security at its command to protect U.S. citizens from the deleterious effects of pathogens that could harm us, illegal aliens who have no right to be here under federal statute, and otherwise legal travelers who are infected with deadly disease.
We taxpayers expend multiple tens of billions of dollars to fund their operations. The employees of these agencies get all sorts of bonuses and other benefits that we in the private sector can only dream of. Yet it is remarkable how reluctant each department seems about doing its job. I wonder if that might be a reflection of the fact that our Commander in Chief doesn't seem much interested in his constitutional duty to "take care that the
laws be faithfully executed..."?
Perhaps we taxpayers should have all of this in mind when we go to the polls on Nov. 4.
Last Updated on Monday, 20 October 2014 07:58