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In truth, county spending will go up $1.5 million — 5.7%

To The Daily Sun,

It is interesting to observe that the Belmont Selectboard has chosen to characterize passage of the county budget as a "battle waging in the press." The county delegation has not used its time or county resources buying space in the local newspaper to characterize its actions. Instead, what you have been reading is an attack by the press and those unhappy with some aspect of the county budget fostered by the press in order to move papers.

Please understand The Laconia Daily Sun has declined to print the side by side comparison of the 2016 actual spending versus the commissioners' proposed budget versus the delegation's appropriation unless I pay for advertising space, an action which was not a public service. My impression is it was self-serving bullying an action to which they are entitled. It also fosters use of cherry-picked facts for furtherance of a disagreement, which is good for circulation.

To address your statement that "...the delegation made significant cuts to the corrections portion of the budget...," let me observe that the actual spending by Belknap County in fiscal year 2016 for the Corrections Department was $3,481,101. The budget passed by the delegation for fiscal year 2017 appropriates $3,814,227. The budget for the Corrections Department was increased by $333,126, or about 9.56 percent. It is my hope this helps you understand what something about the source of your inquiry.

With respect to your statement that the cuts to the corrections portion of the budget "... will impact the new facility...," this is misinformation. The new facility, currently under construction, was funded last year. Its completion, which is expected late in Q3 (third quarter) or early in Q4, is not impacted by the operating budget of the Corrections Department. Those are separate funding items. The funding for the new facility was put into place in the 2016 county budget and is not an issue in the 2017 budget. The only activity will be changing from a construction type loan to permanent bonding once the facility is complete.

Your statement that the cuts to the corrections portion of the budget will "... potentially impact the Sheriff's Department..." too is misinformation. The Sheriff's Department is a separate department with its own budget.
To try to put into perspective what you may have heard, the total actual spending by Belknap County in fiscal year 2016 was $26,002,876. The appropriated budget for fiscal year 2017 is $27,487,463. That is a one year increase of $1,484,587, or about 5.7 percent. The delegation considered the prior history of county's actual spending, the commissioners' proposed budget, the presentations by the departments and we projected expected needs moving forward.

Finding the balance in the county budget is a difficult exercise. The delegation put in place a budget that is respectful of the requested spending levels, the functions of the county, the people served and the taxpayers' ability to pay. I would have included a copy of the budget comparison so you could assess the information you have gotten in context but the paper previously declined to print it.

The delegation also passed a motion giving the county commissioners the ability to control spending within each department without coming back to the delegation for permission to do so. The commissioners have the ability to set spending in each department as they so choose, up to the departmental total. The operation of the county is not part of the authority of the delegation. The delegation is responsible for appropriation of monies but little else short of malfeasance by county officials. Responsibility for operation of the county falls to the elected commissioners. Should they choose to behave irresponsibly it will be unfortunate.

It is my belief the unspecified information source you relied on in generation of your letter is painting a picture to elicit a response from you. My questions to you are: Was the information you received complete and correct? Are any threatened actions reasonable and likely? Is your request that the delegation further increase the county budget reasoned and reasonable?

Please understand this is only my personal response to what I read today, not a response by the county delegation.

State Rep. Marc Abear


(Editor's note: Due to a misunderstanding in our office as to what constitutes a "spread sheet," Rep. Abear's request for publication as a letter to the editor was denied. Below is the "table" he requested the newspaper print. The single sentence that proceeded it read as follows: "The voters and tax payers of Belknap County have been treated to a one-sided war in the local newspaper. The question should be: Is there a reason for concern or not? Below are the numbers. Please review them and judge for yourself.")

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E. Scott Cracraft - The blame game

Americans love paying the "blame game." As a society, since we cannot seem to take responsibility for our own actions, we look for a scapegoat to blame. Now, many Americans are asking themselves: "what went wrong last November? How did we elect a mean, narcissistic, misogynist, sociopath to the White House when all the polls said he would not win?

Actually, not one person or thing is to blame for Donald Trump's election. There is a lot of responsibility to go around for this obscenity. This writer is certainly not blameless. He often asks himself what he could have done differently to help a different turnout. Perhaps many of us progressive, to avoid the "intolerant liberal" label often place on us, were too "nice" and tried to be too tolerant when the nation was faced with all the lies and disinformation. Perhaps we should have said more loudly and firmly: "your ignorance is NOT as good as our knowledge." Shamefully, we are all to blame as a nation, a culture, and society for this indecency.

Of course, it is easy to blame Mr. Trump and his sycophants. But, when one thinks about it, no one can really blame a candidate and his or her supporters wanting to win an election. This is what politicians do. Of course, we can place a lot of responsibility on the right-wing media, who helped to confuse issues and to promote "big lies" in a way that would have made Dr. Josef Goebbels proud. Still, the responsibility does not stop with the right wing, the racists, the homophobes, the sexists, and the conservative religious.

Nor, should we blame the Russians too much. They wanted to influence our election. While this writer finds the idea repugnant, he also remembers that his own nation has spent millions of dollars over the years to influence foreign elections and to help overthrown elected governments we do not like. Perhaps judging too much would he hypocritical.

What about the DNC and last year's Democratic convention? The Democrats misread the American people. The people wanted an "outsider" and the GOP certainly got that in the form of Trump. The Democrats had an outsider with political experience in Bernie. Bernie might well have been able to beat Trump but instead the Democrats picked a member of the political establishment who either had "dirt" on her or at least was an easier target than Bernie for the mudslingers.

Then, there were the progressives who felt too "pure" to vote for Hillary and voted for a third party or wrote someone in. One can understand their feelings but the reality in America is one of the two parties is going to win, especially at the state and federal. Even Bernie recognized this reality.

And, we cannot forget the Democrats who assumed Hillary was going to win and so could not get off their rear ends to vote. The same is true of those who did not like Hillary but who voted for Trump thinking Hillary would win. Now, these voters regret voting for Trump. Of course, they were tricked by a lot of hateful propaganda. Many Trump voters, including those who are recipients of welfare, Social Security, disability benefits and other programs, ignorantly voted against their own best interests. After all, the key "red" states where Trump and other Republicans won are among the poorest states in the nation.

Still, the Trump movement succeeded in getting these people to ignore their own socio-economic class interests and vote for in the interests of the rich by playing the tried and true method of "divide and conquer," by playing the race, fear, immigrant and religious cards. Perhaps the most blame should be placed on the corporate interests who helped fund Trump.

Finally, it would be unfair not to place blame on our education system, especially when it comes to such disciplines as civics, history, and the social sciences. People are not informed voters. An average native-born American high school system probably could not pass the citizenship test required of naturalized citizens.

While there is plenty of blame to go around, perhaps we should now unite behind the effort to resist and remove this psychopathic imposter.

(E. Scott Cracraft lives in Gilford.)

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