To The Daily Sun
Some questions about the proposed Winnisquam Regional School District teachers' contract:
Our school board must do a better job keeping us (taxpayers) informed about goings-on in the district. The front page article highlighting the tentative WRSD teachers contract negotiations left a great many questions unanswered. Since we would all benefit hearing directly from the "horses mouth," I am hoping that the board chairman, Mike Gagne, will directly answer the following questions:
1. What reason(s) does the WRSD school board have for requiring taxpayers to allocate more money for district salary and benefits?
2. What evidence do you have that WRSD has a difficult time filling teaching positions that justifies this agreement?
3. What evidence do you have supporting the idea that we have a hard time retaining teachers BECAUSE of salary?
4. Do we have difficulty filling some positions more than others, and if so, why not tailor a contract solution that addresses that specific challenge?
5. Does the board feel our teachers are staying employed too long and is that why we need a $6,000 incentive to retiring teachers?
6. Did the board do a cost-benefit analysis replacing higher-paid experienced teachers with lower-paid learning teachers?
7. And finally, assuming you don't have the data, why did you agree to a contract that takes more money from the district's taxpayers?
These are just a few of the questions taxpayers might consider important as they await their tax bill calculations and the district meeting.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 December 2013 10:56
To The Daily Sun,
I recently listened to the first airing of the Belknap County Delegation's discussion of the 2014 Belknap County budget. (The delegation consists of elected state reps, majority Republican and is chaired by Rep. Colette Worsman-R.) Most of the hour showed differences of opinion on using or not the subcommittee process of the past. Rep. David Huot-D supports the subcommittee process, and when a motion was made he clarified that the wording included "may or may not include subcommittees." This clarification was needed because Chair Worsman, calling for the vote, asserted that it could just include "no subcommittees."
She so clearly wants to hasten on to the cuts, that Rep. Ian Raymond-D said, "We need to have subcommittee meetings to give the department heads a chance to plead their case before the executioner's axe comes down on their department budgets."
I sympathize with our hard working county department heads, for Worsman, sitting in charge, seems the classic tyrant, a la Alice in Wonderland's awful queen.
This same Republican majority once before cut, cut, cut the state budget, shifting those costs to the counties and towns. Still powerful in the county budget process, they now insist on cutting funds needed for adequate services to our citizenry, including: correctional facility, county attorney's office, human services department, registry of deeds, youth services, nursing home, and our sheriff''s department. Also auxiliary agencies: Cooperative Extension, Conservation District, Economic Development Council, Genesis, Community Action Programs, and Lakes Child Advocacy.
One newspaper reports that our county's credit rating is now the lowest it's ever been, after last year's budget cuts.
We need moderate people to serve our county, sensible representatives. "To serve" certainly is a special phrase and an important role requiring good judgment skills. Rather than have our county stunted to the detriment of our citizenry, it could be supported and thrive, with moderate representatives at the helm.
Lynn Rudmin Chong
Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 December 2013 10:52
To The Daily Sun,
In order to understand how we got to where we are today from being a nation in which Christianity exerted a central influence, you need to understand a peculiarity about our American culture. I outlined in my last letter (11/30/13) the process that caused the influence of Christianity on our culture to be weakened, but the push that began the actual severing of that influence depended upon a quirk in American culture that you might not notice if you've never experienced life in another culture. The Frenchman and historian Alexis de Tocqueville toured the U.S. in 1831. As a result of this visit, Tocqueville wrote the now famous historical work, "Democracy in America". In this commentary on our then fledgling nation, one of the things he notices is that though we in America have by constitutional guarantee freedom of speech, in our culture we draw a circle around what is acceptable speech and any speech that falls outside of that circle is ridiculed and not taken seriously. Please stop and ponder this phenomenon for a few moments, for once the truth, by consensus, is removed from the center of that circle; a nation so constituted is in trouble.
Another thing that deserves some serious contemplation is the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. When I first started paying attention to political thought one of the first constitutional controversies that I was made aware of was the question as to if the free exercise clause of the 1st Amendment was to be interpreted broadly or narrowly. The establishment clause and the free exercise clause together read: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". Just by the hermeneutics of these two clauses it is the establishment clause that should be narrow in its application for it states specifically that this restriction is for Congress. Congress is the branch of our federal government that writes legislation, therefore it would seem permissible to conclude that its intent was to forbid our federal government from interfering with religion. More then that I'm afraid is to try to fashion it's meaning to suit ones own opinion. On the other hand, the free exercise clause hermeneutically is broad. Again this is for Congress, our federal lawmakers. Clearly this amendment was to keep the federal government out of religion, not just religious opinion either for the clause specifically states that Congress shall not interfere with the "free exercise of religion". With the matter stated so clearly in the amendment itself the only restriction the federal government should be allowed to place on the free exercise of religion is if a religion engages in an activity that is without controversy wrong like murder and stealing, etc. Then for the court to apply the establishment clause (Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion) through the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, to the states — which the court has been doing since 1947, which is a whole other letter — the equal protection clause says, "nor shall any state"... "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.", is to run afoul of the 9th Amendment which reads, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." If I am not mistaken up until this time the people had retained the right to the free exercise of religion. For the more local the government, the more closely the government reflects the will of the people and consequently unless these state and local governments are free to work these religious issues out themselves there is no free exercise of religion, not in the public sphere. And in effect, holding to the application of these amendments in this manner, to borrow an allegory from George Washington, has been to create a tool to remove the threads of religious piety from the fabric of our nation.
The 1962 Supreme Court case of Abington School District v Schempp (this case was an application of the principle discussed above), the case in which the Warren court ruled that state sponsored school prayer was "unconstitutional", on the pretext of protecting the minority from the tyranny of the majority, for as it was, a student could be excused from the Bible recitation in question, in school with a note from his parents. No one was forced against his will to participate in them. If there had been forced participation, I believe the exercise would have been in violation of the free exercise clause, here the court would have had legitimate constitutional authority to intervene through the equal protection clause, and the opinion of the court does lip service to this view, but then turns around and hamstrings the state and local governments with adherence to the establishment clause which they had no constitutional authority to do. The 9th Amendment forbids it. The objection was that those who did not participate in these exercises would be made to feel like outsiders, not part of the group. Please, no matter what the consensus is, to what is true, someone is going to feel like an outsider. Please let us now go back to Tocqueville's observation of acceptable speech. For in our culture there is going to be a circle drawn around acceptable speech. What the Warren Court did in banning these Scripture readings from our public schools was to insure that Scripture reading would be outside of what would be acceptable speech for the generations to come. What the court decreed was that Christians were to be the outsiders in our schools, even were they held a majority. I find it hard to believe that these judges — eight of them voted to ban these Scripture readings — did not know what they were doing, for Tocqueville's Democracy in America would be standard reading for someone studying law. This I believe was the main thrust of a stroke to sever the influence of Christianity and consequently God from our culture. Also you might note that Supreme Court justices are quite likely to have spent many years in the school system heavily influence by secular-humanism that I talked about in my last letter.
If God and the publishers are willing I will bring this back to Duncan v State of New Hampshire in my next submission.
Last Updated on Monday, 16 December 2013 11:13
To The Daily Sun,
Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend the memorial service for Ray Burton at Plymouth State University. Kudos to the university for arranging such a wonderful tribute to Ray! He would have been so pleased and honored to see so many Republicans and Democrats in one room together.
From the president of the university to one of Ray's interns, every speaker had their own unique perspective, but the theme throughout was a continuous acknowledgement of Ray's commitment to the people of the North Country, District 1, and the entire state. He set a standard of excellence that all public servants should strive to achieve.
Ray was a mentor and a friend to me and to so many others — he will be sorely missed, but not surely not forgotten.
Senator Jeanie Forrester
N.H. State Senate, District 2
Last Updated on Monday, 16 December 2013 10:56
To The Daily Sun,
You can be conservative, liberal or in between, religious, spiritual, agnostic or atheist, of any race or nationality, able bodied or disabled, but if you are breathing, you cannot deny that we need to treat our children better. You can be for or against welfare, guns, war, the government, more regulations, taxes, GMO or higher minimum wage but how can you be against the children? When you see a child being abused and psychologically damaged by any other human being, how can you look away? If we send children into the future without a foundation of security and respect for each other and a
healthy, undamaged brain, how can we ever expect to solve our political, social and economic problems? Our world is full of damaged children now grown, who we have to support, carry, keep and tamp down. How could you not want to deliver our children, intact, into adulthood?
You can change the world, one act of courage at a time. If you see something, dig deep and say something. Find your courage to protect our young. They are ours, not his or hers. Do not look away. The abuse that occurs every day to our young human beings is way out of balance, and still we look away. We say dont get involved. We say its not worth putting yourself through that. We say there is nothing we can do. We say look away and dont disrupt your life. There is a mass culture of looking away and that needs to change, now. I ask you to take a step, any step that feels right to you to help stabilize the lives of our children, and evolve. We can do this. That is my Christmas wish.
Last Updated on Monday, 16 December 2013 10:54