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'Unaffiliated' parents need to get involved in ACS strategic planning

To The Daily Sun,

I am writing this as an Alton Central School parent in the hope of making sure that the other ACS parents are aware that there is an ACS Strategic Planning initiative underway. At an August 8, 2013, Alton Central School Board "workshop", much of the mid-term plans for ACS, including any renovations to the school buildings, was delegated to the created "strategic planning committee". They also voted to hire an external meeting facilitator, from another town, for a few thousand dollars. This planning committee was to consist of around 24 members consisting of: teachers, staff, administration, parents, community officials and community officers. At the workshop there was even a commitment of sorts that the first two meetings of this committee, with at least 24 members, would take place before September 2013. That, for reasons never disclosed, happened.
I, having attended the entire August workshop, volunteered to be on the committee. The first two meetings of this committee took place on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. As far as I can see, I was the only unaffiliated parent on the committee. I have yet to be able to obtain a list of all those who actually attended the meetings. Yes, from what I could see there were four other parents, but they all work for the school. I could be wrong, but a parent who is on the ACS payroll is likely to have different priorities and concerns than parents who are strictly parents. Plus, with every single member of the ACS administration and a school board member present, I am sure that they have to be very circumspect in what they say and do as committee members.
It just doesn't seem right that there is only one unaffiliated parent on the committee — when ironically the #1 objective discussed at the meetings seem to be "improving school-community relations"!
There is another meeting scheduled for Nov. 20. The timings of these meetings is not conducive for most parents. My husband and I addressed this, obviously unsuccessfully, at the workshop and tried to get them scheduled for hours that would work better for most parents.
I urge all ACS parents to make an effort to somehow get involved in this committee. What gets decided by this committee will get used in early 2014 when issues such as building renovation comes up. So please take this as a heads-up.

Deanna Gurugé
Alton

Last Updated on Monday, 11 November 2013 09:59

Hits: 175

Information isn't 'factual' just because you read it on the Internet

To The Daily Sun,

Recently in this forum, we were greeted with another of Earle's fairy tales — not to be confused with a Grimm's Fairy Tales. In this most recent episode, Earle defends his birther friends by claiming President Obama "used fraud to get into the colleges he attended by claiming to be a foreign student." We can be assured that this information is factual because Earle relied on a conservative blog/e-mail he received from "reliable sources."

Being the skeptic that I am, especially as it relates to Earle, I researched his most recent allegations. It appears this particular lie was initiated based on comments made by Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, when speaking to a group of local Republicans, he stated that the president MAY have told college admissions officers that he had been born in Kenya in order to receive special perks. Bennett later said that his comments were being "misconstrued" and he was "hinging" his statement on the word "IF." Of course, this misinformation is all the birthers needed to create a lie and cast doubt.

Unlike Earle, I'm reluctant to believe these reports without proof, and once again, unlike Earle, I hesitate to rely on the accuracy of others. "Nuf said."

Over the years, contributors have provided Earle with numerous Fox News lies, but for the sake of brevity I will limit mine to one, and the most obvious — their slogan, "Fair and Balanced." Fox only became "Fair and Balanced" when the Supreme Court in Florida said it was perfectly legal for them to misinform and lie to the public. Never trust a network that continually tries to convince you how "Fair and Balanced" they are.

It's unfortunate that once again I have to respond to Meade's letter, in which he responds with a filtered version of what he thinks I said, and manufactures a version of what he says I wrote. I never offered an apology to Mr. Jones, as Meade suggests, because I didn't feel an apology was warranted. That having been said, it is disheartening to me the way Meade has used Mr. Jones in his petty attacks to my credibility, motives, and my character. An apology, to Mr. Jones, is in order for the crass way in which Meade has manipulated reality and tried to legitimize his gross misrepresentations of facts.

L. J. Siden
Gilmanton

Last Updated on Monday, 11 November 2013 09:52

Hits: 172

Ask your representatives to support expanding Mediciad in N.H.

To The Daily Sun,
The N.H. Legislature is meeting this week in Special Session to consider alternative plans by which the state could expand its Medicaid program. This is a critical conversation.
Since the Affordable Care Act anticipated the expansion of Medicaid in all states, the failure to do so impacts one portion of the population very significantly.
Without expansion of N.H.'s Medicaid program, individuals with incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level will not have access to health insurance. In N.H., that means about 37,000 individuals with incomes of less than $11,000 annually.
This is the very population that stands to benefit the most from Medicaid's benefits. Without expansion, these individuals will continue to rely on the emergency rooms for health care and will, because of cost, avoid preventative measures that could prevent more serious medical conditions.
Please contact your Belknap County state representatives and senators and urge them to support a Medicaid expansion solution that includes the most vulnerable and needy citizens in our state!
Kate Miller, Chair

Belknap County Democrats

Meredith

Last Updated on Monday, 11 November 2013 09:48

Hits: 162

None of the suggestions made my ad hoc committee are viable

To The Daily Sun,
In a recent letter to the editor of The Sun, I learned that Bob Greemore, Mike Sylvia and Dick Burchell, Dave DeVoy and George Hurt were meeting "in an effort to catalog possible solutions to the issues surrounding the county jail." Of the five people mentioned, only Bob Greemore has ever even attended a county jail planning meeting. Only Dave DeVoy has ever attended a County Commission meeting, and that was only when he was running for commissioner. With that in mind, I question exactly what makes these five "knowledgeable about the jail." Touring the jail is quite different than understanding how the jail operates and what factors must be considered when discussing repairs to or the replacement of the jail.

Apparently, we can all agree that there are serious problems with the current jail. This includes the need to ease overcrowding, continue to provide beneficial programs, and deal with the deficiencies in the existing facility, including the mechanical systems. This agreement should ordinarily form the basis for a reasonable discussion about how to best craft a responsible, long-term and economically viable solution to our criminal justice system in Belknap County. Instead of having a reasonable discussion, however, these five men choose to announce their intentions and make their proposals in a letter to the editor. Their approach does nothing to advance dialog, but it does avoid the necessity of supporting their position with facts, or answering critical questions that may legitimately arise in a discussion. This suggests that their actions are merely political, and not directed at resolving the problems we face.

The County Commission, county administrators, sheriff, corrections department and our consultants, health professionals, concerned citizens, the county attorney, restorative justice department, defense bar, judges and a host of others have been working on our criminal justice issues, including the jail and house of corrections, for over four years. We have developed a wealth of information, data and input that we are happy to discuss and share. I once again invite
anyone who is interested to come and participate. As always, I include the members of our delegation in this invitation.

I must comment on the allegation that I have not fulfilled my obligation to inspect the jail and report to the Attorney General's office. Had anyone asked me personally, I would have said that as far as the inspections taking place is concerned, I absolutely have. I have inspected the jail, taken people on tours of the jail and have visited the jail regularly, and certainly more than required by NH RSA 30-B:12. Letters regarding the annual visits have not always been filed.
This has been corrected. If anyone wants to discuss this further, call or come to a meeting. I'm happy to discuss it or answer any questions you may have.

As for the specific recommendations of this ad hoc committee, I believe that the authors know that none of their suggestions are really viable. There is no analysis of the staffing requirements, classification restrictions, transportation, food, medical, laundry or other required services that impact the housing of inmates. I'm sure also that at least Rep. Greemore and Mr. DeVoy are aware of the reasons why use of the state school property is not an available option
and I'm sure that they are aware of the position that the people of Laconia have taken about the use of that property for housing prisoners. To say that we have not given serious thought or consideration to alternatives is simply not accurate. That process is a major part of our jail planning process. Likewise, we have asked citizens as well as representatives to participate in the process. We consider taxpayers, and "John Q. Public" to be stakeholders: our current
committee includes members of the public and we invite and welcome the participation of anyone interested in moving this process forward and engaging in the process with an open mind.

There is nothing new in the "options" in this letter to the editor, and having ad hoc meetings out of the public eye to discuss such an important issue does nothing to advance the ball. If these five people really want to be part of the solution, they should come forward and add their voices to the already ongoing discussion. Perhaps they don't feel that they can be persuasive, or perhaps they are afraid of being persuaded. I don't know which it is because they only seem to speak in letters to the editor. That is not my chosen method of communication when doing the county's business, and I don't think it is the appropriate forum.

The jail planning committee will next met on November 19 at the county complex. Please feel free to attend, voice your opinions or concerns, and we will be happy to answer any of your questions.
Edward D. Philpot, Jr.
Belknap County Commissioner

Laconia

Last Updated on Monday, 11 November 2013 09:44

Hits: 200

Gilford selectmen handling situation responsibly; give them time

To The Daily Sun,

The Laconia Daily Sun has run at least two recent news stories assessing the costs to the Town of Gilford and it would seem attempting to get more specific details on what the basis is for two Gilford police officers to have been placed on administrative leave. While it is probably the job of a newspaper to pursue these lines of inquiry, some of the taxpayers who elect our selectmen to properly investigate and deal with these kinds of issues feel that they have acted most responsibly and probably in the long term, specifically in the taxpayer's interests in this particular, still unknown matter. The selectmen of Gilford are not just new on the job. They in fact have the previous experience in dealing with matters relating to our town employees and whether there have been instances of violations in social responsibility in the work place.

In the past we have had our assistant town administrator acting at that time as temporary administrator from our service untimely ripped and perhaps "poached" by the county commissioners. There was no interruption in the town's heartbeat in that case and another capable town employee stepped in for the weeks it took to find and hire another town administrator, who has so far served very capably and it would seem in tune with the selectmen's general views and objectives. The town also replaced the town's recreational director a few years ago as well and he has also proved to be a very capable fellow. The town has lost several others to recent retirements including a superintendent of schools, a couple principals, and now a DPW Chief. The town continues to demonstrate the ability to attract and keep excellent talent as replacements.

In the past the town has found that it can cost the taxpayers money if someone on our payroll ends up needing removal from a position for having been found not to be working in accordance with the directives and preferences of the duly-elected selectmen or the standards of a job description. We currently find in Nashua a news story that one of the state's leading political journalists — Political Director James Pindell of WMUR news — has termed in one of his columns a "Public Soap Opera". The mayor and the police chief there seem to be at odds as to whether one, the other or both have acted inappropriately in PUBLIC remarks they have made. In one case some remarks about a collective bargaining agreement and then another as to questioning a persons character and motivations. Our selectmen are also meeting of late in private sessions, not just to discuss the Police Department issues but also to discuss a pending collective bargaining agreement. It is hardly expected that collective bargaining in GOOD FAITH can be conducted in the newspapers and other news media.

Our elected selectmen go to great pains as do their respective department chiefs to find and hire the best talent they can get to serve our town. You cannot hire such a person and then suddenly decide they are not what they were when you hired them. You do not readily admit to mistakes in personnel decisions as generally if an employee is found deficient you are first inclined to try and work with that employee and get them on the straighter course and apply some positive motivational schemes. In any case, if an employee is not amendable to a positive change they may need to be disciplined or let go. Most of our taxpayers are not amenable with this, what might be dirty laundry, being turned into salacious grist for the news media to get scoops on or sell papers and advertising with. It is our town's experience and that of our selectmen that such may cause actual damage beyond what is reasonable to an employee and end with the town having additional expenses to the taxpayers for what may end up as valid enhancements to a severance package. Maybe The Sun could get us more up to speed on the "Public Soap Opera" in Nashua and leave our Gilford selectman to continue in private sessions to sort out these issues. There is an agenda schedule posted at each meeting and the Selectmen are in fact making it clear in those agendas that they are working quite diligently on sorting out these issues to EVERYONE'S best interest. They are in this case doing exactly what we have elected them to do.

Timothy Sullivan

Gilford

Last Updated on Monday, 11 November 2013 09:39

Hits: 169

 
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