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M'borough selectmen seem determined to limit citizen input

To The Daily Sun
It was extremely troubling to see the Moultonborough Board of Selectmen go forward with the Town's 2017 statutory Budget and Warrant Hearing on February 9, after a 9+ inch snow storm where many of the towns roads were unplowed and citizens were unable to attend and present their views on the budget and 17 warrant articles.

While the chair perfunctorily raised the possibility of postponing or leaving the hearing open, the board unanimously decided that as Friday, Feb. 10 was the last day to notice another hearing (pursuant to RSA 32:5) and the unidentified printer had to have the warrant by the following Monday, "they had to hold the hearing". Of course, had the board the foresight to have noticed a contingent alternative snow date (as other town boards have done), or found a printer
who would not take some 4+ weeks to print the warrant, the hearing to approve a $7,500,000+ budget could easily have been postponed or left open for voters to properly comment.

Apparently, this board has totally forgotten that there is an important difference between a public "meeting" and a public "hearing." At a public meeting, the board is there to conduct its business and may not be required to accept public comment. However, a public "hearing" is for the government entity to obtain and consider public testimony on a noticed matter and to seriously consider such testimony before approving a proposal such as a budget or
enactment of a new law. The intent is to have a board consider the testimony before voting to accept or modify the proposal. What transpired on February 9 failed to meet those requirements, as much of the public could not attend.

I would hope that this action, combined with the Selectboard's recent policy amendment to board policy #33B,4 (mislabeled as Policy # 3 on the town web site), which further limits citizen comments to no more than three minutes during public comment periods, is not a harbinger of even further limitations on the public's input. These actions, after the selectmen's 2016 elimination of the "initial" public comment period at board meetings, represents a significant limitation on public comment and input. It foretells a dangerous pattern of governance by the board without citizen input, and an effort to stifle criticism.

Eric Taussig


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Alton voters shouldn't be forced to enter a Catholic Church

To The Daily Sun,

The Alton Board of Selectmen, despite public objection, has decided to hold the March 2017 public voting at St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church. Apparently, the separation between church and state has little meaning in Alton.

I can easily imagine people of other religious faiths staying home this voting season because they may object to having to enter a Catholic Church in order to exercise their constitutional rights. I asked myself if I would enter a temple or mosque in order to vote. I am not certain. I know it would give me pause for concern.

The ridiculousness of the Alton Board of Selectmen's decision in selecting the Catholic Church as a polling place is easily noticed in the fact that Alton residents, not that many years ago, paid $28 million to construct Prospect Mountain High School. One of the big selling points for the residents (was that) the school would be used for voting.

If even one voter stays home, refusing to vote because of the Alton selectmen's ridiculous and unnecessary decision to hold public elections at St Katharine Drexel Church, I say shame on the selectmen.

Jeffrey Clay


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