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Candidates have a right not be be shouted down by protestors

To The Daily Sun,

As an infrequent commentator to this paper, I have consistently defended the First Amendment right of free speech.

I have supported the U. S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, which confirmed a 35-year-old precedent that the inherent worth of speech to inform the public does not depend on the identity of the speaker, whether corporation, union, association or individual.

Today we see protest groups trying to shut down another person's rights to free speech, whether a conservative-oriented speaker, Ben Shapiro, at a public university in California, or candidates for the president of the United States in Seattle (Bernie Sanders) and Chicago (Donald Trump). This is clearly wrong and a violation of our constitutional rights.

Protesters have a First Amendment right to protest a speaker but they do not have a First Amendment right to halt another person's exercise of his or her rights of free speech and expression.

Am I missing something here? It seems that those who protest another person's rights of free speech are invariably the liberals or progressives. What do they have to fear? Is it a position or thought which they vehemently disagree? As I have said previously: The foundation of the First Amendment is that it protects and promotes the free exchange of ideas regardless of source and however personally disagreeable one may find the content of the speech. As frequently stated, the solution is more free speech rather than less.

Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and others have the right to free speech and not to be shouted down to the exclusion of speaking by those who disagree with the person, ideology or another cause, like University of Illinois Chicago students or Black Lives Matter.

Those on every political spectrum who support this suppression of free speech are anathema to our constitutional rights and freedoms.

Richard R. Gerken


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We're at a point where Laconia's tax cap forula is limiting services

To The Daily Sun,

I am writing City Council members as a concerned resident and taxpayer of our city. My wife and I grew up in this great city and are proud products of the Laconia school system. Our families have lived here for generations. After leaving Laconia to go to college, we returned and purchased a house because we believe that our city is a great place to raise a family.

When I talk to people in Laconia, particularly those with children in schools in light of a significant cut to the school budget, I cannot help but to be concerned about the future of our city. Though the impending school cuts that are being discussed are of great concern to the parents of school-aged children and others, this challenge appears to be rooted in deeper budgetary and economic problems.

The future renovations to the Colonial Theater and opening of new restaurants in town have the potential to help revitalize downtown. The River Walk and the newly renovated Piscopo Block are also developments that could have a positive impact on the economy on our city. However, the services a city provides are also critical in attracting businesses.

The quality of public services are often a major consideration for people moving into a community or staying in one. Community services such as the police, fire, welfare and social services, hospitals, our schools and others help sustain our city's residents, but investing in them with adequate funding is also an investment in the future. Decisions on funding services have far-reaching implications on Laconia's image and property values for current and prospective business owners, potential home buyers, and homeowners.

Because the city of Laconia is the county seat and an urban compact, our city is a destination for people in need of services. We have seen a tremendous increase in low-income and subsidized housing built in the last decade. While these services are valuable and important, the developments in our city raises questions about plans for the future. Is there a short- and long-term plans for economic revitalization for Laconia? Without these plans, I worry about the future of our city.

We are at a point where our current tax cap formula is limiting services. If city counselors vote to spend below the cap and take money from contingency funds, our budgets will be further strained, threatening the viability in some departments and the schools. This paints a very bleak picture of things to come if changes are not made soon.

Before us is a great opportunity and responsibility to remedy this situation for our future of Laconia. Revisions to the tax cap formula are necessary. If they are not made, the future of the city that we love and our children are at stake.

Aaron Jones


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