To The Daily Sun,
While most people don't express publicly their views on city matters, particularly the budget, I know they do care how we, the city councilors, spend their money. Not just the amount but on what we spend it for.
People do care about their taxes going up, and people who rent, do care about rent increases and where that rent money goes. It is important that all citizens are considered when making decisions with their money and that is why we have a diversified council. We have had lawyers, bankers, CEOs, Realtors, farmers, workers, and retired people over the years and it is their duty to consider not only their constituents, but all the people of Laconia when it comes to spending their money. It affects every person.
Being one of those retired, ordinary people, I am in and about the city every day, visiting local stores and meeting people I know as well as people continually coming up to me and expressing their thoughts and giving me their support, so it was very disappointing that no one appeared at the public hearing on June 22.
There are items that might need to be cut, and again there are issues that need to be funded that are not in the budget. The safety and well-being of all of us rests with our great Police Department which at present is very overworked but still doing a great job in trying to keep crime and drug problems down so that we may walk about our city with a sense of security. I am supporting the hiring of a full-time or part-time officer to help in this endeavor. It is not in the present budget.
The School Department budget is $1 million more than last year. I advocate cutting this $60,000. I am also advocating other cuts in the city budget so we can reduce the projected tax rate increase of 31 cents to 25 cents or less.
Regarding the Fire Department, we accepted a grant from the federal government for four firefighters that would pay for their salaries, health insurance and retirement, etc., to the tune of over $600,000 for two years. In the budget there is a five-week salary-and-benefits line for these firefighters as their term will expire before the end of the budget year. We would save $32,000 by cutting this line. To continue employing the four firefighters that were funded by a grant, it will cost the city close to $400,000 per year more in next year's budget and every year thereafter. Grants are great until they run out. We were not committed to retaining them and in fact, the council originally rejected the grant for this reason.
I also advocate cutting some of the WOW trail's $15,000, simply because just a few months ago, we gave them $400,000 from TIF funds. Cutting $25,000 from Court Street Study was also recommended, but these funds can come from the TIF fund, not the budget.
There are some other minor cuts and some increased revenue that should get us to at least the 25 cent tax rate figure and allow us to do something with the Police Department's needs.
When doing the budget, you can't just look at the present year. You have to be looking ahead to the next year and the year after. Are we going to be able to afford an additional $400,000 for the four firefighters hired because of grant funds? Are we making progress to avoid the Cadillac tax coming because of the Affordable Care Act. What effect will the Belknap County Prison have on Laconia next year or the year after? Not only will it be significant in itself, but the new prison will require additional personnel and that figure will be substantial.
Ward 4 City Councilor
Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 July 2014 10:43
Every four years, at some point in the presidential campaign, one candidate says something that leads the other to accuse him (or her) of challenging his (or her) patriotism, and then we have a 48-hour spat over who called who unpatriotic, and then we go back to the usual political game in which talking heads viciously attack each other 24/7.
Does Barack Obama love America? Of course he does. Does he hate white people? No. Did George W. Bush hate America? Of course he didn't. Both men have made mistakes. Who in that job has not?
On the Fourth of July, we put on our flag pins or fly flags on our front lawns and celebrate the miracle of democracy.
Is Congress made up of a bunch of greedy fools? No. It is, in my experience, made up of men and women more talented than most, who end up playing a game that most of them did not dream of playing when they were growing up and dreaming of going to Washington, D.C.
Does the Supreme Court (whose popularity rating has reached an all-time low) comprise a bunch of political hacks who just cast their votes based on who put them there? Actually, no. They have very different views and ideologies, but these men and women work unbelievably hard to do what they believe is right, and while I fundamentally disagree with them some of the time, no serious student of the Supreme Court would ever agree with the more foolish criticisms hurled at the justices by folks who often know nothing about how the court works.
We take it for granted that our institutions are stable, or we would never dare abuse them as we do. If our right to vote were in jeopardy, we would vote.
If the government really were corrupt, in the way the screamers suggest, we would come together and throw the bums out. We mostly re-elect our members of Congress every two years (and I will regret greatly not being able to vote once again for my congressman Henry Waxman, who has been an amazing public servant) because most of them, when they aren't stuck endlessly raising money or fighting off challenges, try to do what they think is best for their constituents and this country, however much you or I might disagree with their judgment on that.
That old saying about democracy being a terribly flawed system except that every other system is so much worse is true, and it is also true that we are the luckiest people in the world to be able to take as much for granted as we do.
But taking things for granted can go too far, and one day a year is not enough to right what has become an increasingly ugly tone to the political discourse in this country. The fact that we have the freedom to attack our leaders and institutions without risk of being arrested or censored does not mean anything should go in political discourse. The fact that the Internet allows people to say things anonymously that they would never dare say otherwise does not mean their words are not dangerous or destructive.
We are a great country facing difficult challenges, and we don't all agree on the way to deal with them. But we agree on far more than we disagree on, and we share a fundamental love of country that should, at the end of the day, and does, when things get bad enough, transcend our differences. It is too bad it takes a disaster, or the Fourth of July, for us to call on that strength.
(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)
Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 July 2014 10:16
To The Daily Sun,
After last weeks Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case. both sides are all excited and cheering or booing as relates to their position, but with a little more perspective neither has much to get excited about, it seems to me.
As for the anti-abortion right, the ruling appears to be a very narrow application win. Only relatively small businesses with few stockholders who can show definitively that they hold strong religious beliefs can opt out of the requirements to provide even limited birth control to women employees. This will not be applicable to big outfits like Walmart or Fortune 500 companies. Still, as far as they are concerned, it's better then the other way around.
Seems to me the pro-abortion left gets the better of the whole thing because they can and are now selling this as proof of the phony "war on women" and why not?
Actually, it's the only issue they can run on. They can't run on the sluggish economy, too many middle class families are falling off that standard. Poor workers' wages are stagnant, and the vast majority of new jobs are minimum wage and/or part-time. Sure, the rich are doing well or better then well, but still that doesn't help us.
Dems can't run on foreign affairs success because there has been no notable success. Sure Osama bin Laden is dead, but al-Qaeda is alive and very well, killing and terrorizing in record numbers.
Then there are the scandals, or as Obama calls them "the phony scandals." Readers don't think they are phony though. Gun-running to drug cartels, our ambassador and three others killed in Benghazi and the President and Company lying about it, Obamacare proven to be another political lie, the roll out foul up, the VA scandal where our sick vets have been left to die, not to forget the IRS targeting the president's political enemies. Heck it just goes on and on and no way the Dems want to talk about any of that.
Nope, they will talk about the phony "war on women," make personal attacks on Republican candidates and supporters, getting nastier and nastier as they get unceasingly desperate.
So folks, better be ready to duck as the mud begins to fly in the next 17 weeks. Remember the Dems are desperate.
Last Updated on Monday, 07 July 2014 10:18
To The Daily Sun,
It was with interest and amusement that I read about Matthew Murphy's (executive director for Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire) opposition to the exorbitant 4-cent per gallon of gasoline tax increase. Although he did express it as a 23 percent increase in the state's gas tax, his percent number plays to the game of "voodoo math."
For example, a letter to the editor in another local weekly stated, "The increase in the gas tax to 22.2 cents per gallon is completely unreasonable." Note the use of the larger number of the total tax (22.2 cents) and not the low number of the raise (4 cents). Readers may construe the 22.2 cents to be the actual increase in the present tax. "Voodoo math!"
Surprisingly enough the numbers can be manipulated in a myriad of ways, but Mr. Murphy and the letter writer presented the raise as an unreasonable and irresponsible action by a reckless (innuendo: liberal) governor that would devastate the pocketbooks of our citizens. Of course, another way of looking at this would be to calculate the percentage increase based on the actual cost of a gallon of gasoline. (Hmm! 4 cents on a $3.50 per gallon of gasoline becomes a 1.4 percent raise, certainly less than the use of the 23 percent). Or one could consider that this is the first raise in the tax since 1991, which would calculate to a 4 cent increase over 23 years. (Hmm! This calculates to a 0.17 cent increase per gallon per year, and would amount to a raise of 1 cent per gallon over five years).
Since New Hampshire still has the lowest gasoline tax of the New England states and is ranked as 41st lowest in the U.S., the rise of 4 cents per gallon really can't be judged as outrageous, unless one wants to compare the ranking to state aid to education. (Hmm! New Hampshire is 50th and it's not even close to 49th). An estimate (and that is all it can be due to different citizens' driving habits and choices of gas guzzling vehicles) of 18 gallons consumed per week would calculate to be a (Hmm! 4 cents for 18 gallons) 72 cents per week. Okay, double it to 36 gallons because you are behind the wheel a lot, and it then cleans your pockets of $1.44 per week — less than a can of your favorite beverage. The bottom line of $1.44 per week for 52 weeks is $74.88 per year.
The point of this entire dissertation is that the numbers can be manipulated up and down, depending on the use of 23, 22.2, 4, 1.4, or 0.17; and of numbers or percentages. And due to your personal agenda/political persuasion. Yeah, I know, you're not the average, but then again, 'It's the singer, not the song!"
Frank M. Weeks
Gilmanton Iron Works
Last Updated on Monday, 07 July 2014 10:14
To The Daily Sun,
When an industrial wind company representative comments about only seeing the same familiar faces at meetings of concerned citizens and when a corporate lawyer for an industrial wind company mentions personal lawsuits possibly occurring against individual town officials when supporting opinions of their constituents, is it time to up the ante?
When five towns vote "no" to big wind projects in their region, is that a strong enough statement for Big Wind to get the message that they should not come to our towns?
When, additionally, four towns vote for Rights Based Ordinances against wind industry in their towns, is that enough for Big Wind to get the message?
When the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club), SPNHF (Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests), LRCT (Lakes Region Land Trust), NLRA (Newfound Lake Region Association), regional summer camps, business groups and tourist-based businesses all express their continued support for opposition by the towns to Big Wind, is that enough to be heard?
When New Hampshire state legislators, over the past two years, created bills and measures to look at the fine-tuning of industrial wind project siting and the structure of state Site Evaluation Committee, is that enough?
Big Wind industry still won't listen, and is in denial about the winds of change in these five New Hampshire towns and the surrounding region. Be prepared.
Hundreds of people feel the need to express their outrage in person, because the wind industry won't listen. Threats to local officials about lawsuits do not sit well with voters. The importance of our rural way of life, and the quiet beauty contained here, matters. The clarity of our streams and lakes, the overall health of our wildlife and human population, the aesthetics and the attraction of this area to tourists is far more important to voters in our region than the dollars going out of state in the form of electricity not needed for New Hampshire consumption, and far far more important than our state resources being used to go out of the country as profits for a Portuguese company.
Enough already. We shall be heard.
Last Updated on Monday, 07 July 2014 10:07