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
Last Updated on Monday, 11 November 2013 09:44
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.
Last Updated on Monday, 11 November 2013 09:39
It has become fairly well known that President Obama's administration has the fewest advisors with business experience of any president in memory. Currently, only 8 percent of his advisors have a background in business, as compared to around 50 percent for most of his predecessors; Democrat or Republican. Why is this important? To explain why, we need to distinguish between running a business and running a government program.
In business, the job of the entire management staff, from the president of the company right on down to the first level of supervision, is to "prevent things from happening that you don't want to happen". For example, when a business, or a department within a business, develops its business plan, it will identify the aim or goal of each project. The manager will define what will be considered a success. The manager and his or her staff then set forth a number of assumptions, things they believe will happen if their efforts are successful. However, they don't stop there. They then put a value on each of those assumptions and assess the impact if one or many or all fail to take effect as planned. In this process, the group usually is able to prioritize the achievability of each assumption. They can generally tell which are certain to complete successfully, which have at least a 50 percent chance of being on target, and which ones have lower odds of success and will require that extra effort to achieve.
As the staff develops the assumptions, it also identifies what the benefit from each will mean to the overall plan. For example, a sales plan might well include how much new revenue will result if that assumption comes to pass. A manufacturing benefit might be an increase in productivity, getting the same or more product output with less resources. The result of the planning process is that management can assess the resource and other costs necessary to achieve the "best case", "worst case", and "most likely" scenarios. Is the benefit to be achieved worth the cost necessary for that achievement.
The rigor in the planning process allows the staff to develop three looks at what might happen. The "best case" of those looks is that all assumptions will be met and the highest level of achievement will be attained. The "worst case" will result if many of the assumptions, especially the most critical ones, are not met. And, the third is the "most likely" plan, the one that has weighed the assumptions most likely to come to fruition and the benefits to be derived. Management may view the plan and see that the cost of achieving the best case scenarios is unacceptable because the difference/margin between what is achieved and what it cost for that achievement is simply too small to take the risk.
Why go through that rigorous effort and then not take on that project? Because management is charged with preventing things from happening that you don't want to happen and the first thing a business does not want to happen is to not make a profit. And that's the difference between business and government.
There are a number of government departments, bureaucracies, that have never achieved the goals for which they were established. If they were a business, they would have been shown to not have reached their primary goal, that is, to spend less to achieve the results than the benefits derived from what they achieved.
What we find in government is that failure to achieve often means a department getting even more funds, but the people who provided those funds still not getting the achievement or benefits that were to be expected. What is of even more concern is that the departments, such as Energy and Education have never achieved their goals but have ever increasingly been rewarded with a greater level of taxpayer funding with which they have built an even larger bureaucracy. And we've all seen television reports of those underachieving departments spending enormous sums of money on "team building" niceties; learning line dancing, making a "Patton" movie spoof, and so on.
The latest case of government failure has been the attempt at implementation of the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare". The results are inexcusable. No businesses would have so heavily advertised for people to contact them in order to sell them a product, without having had the call center and computer systems pre-tested for volume and content many times as the system development progressed. Prior to cut-over, management would have been assured that every aspect worked properly. Businesses don't want to spend huge sums of money to get customers to contact them, and then not be prepared to professionally process the customer request. Companies that have failed to meet that test, are probably no longer in business.
In the case of the Affordable Care Act cut-over, it appears that there was some last minute system testing, and the systems failed miserably. That didn't stop the President or HHS from going forward as, it appears, the customer's (you and me) inconvenience or anxiety doesn't matter . . . just send more tax dollars so they can continue to make the bureaucracy bigger.
(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)
Last Updated on Monday, 11 November 2013 09:34
To The Daily Sun,
And to the Anti-Lakemont Cooperative Group at Briarcrest Estates:
As a resident of Briarcrest Estates and a Lakemont Co-op member, I am responding to the Anti-Lakemont Cooperative Group at Briarcrest Estates sheet on, "Why they think Hometown America should buy Briarcrest" that was handed out at their informational meeting for residents on October 24. I am not speaking for the Lakemont Cooperative Board and/or other members. I will try to answer your 10 points of interest point-by-point.
What we all have to remember is that Maple Holding and Redevelopment, LLC (a Florida Limited Liability Company), is the business entity that is offering the purchase and sales A=agreement to Mr. Mooney, not Hometown America, although Maple Holding and Redevelopment, LLC, is a company owned by Hometown America. In a letter dated September 26, 2013, HA says they "will be the primary owner as well as manager of the property". So who exactly is going to own and run Briarcrest? Please note the name of the company on the purchase and sales A=agreement: Maple HOLDING and REDEVELOPMENT, a LIMITED LIABILITY Company. If this doesn't give you some clue to what their planning to do with Briarcrest Estates, I don't know what else to say, except read on....
— "Hometown America only buys and manages top tier manufactured home parks." Maybe yes, but what happened to those parks that didn't measure up? They may be sold again and again and again, each time probably having their rents go upward and the maintenance go downward. What if Briarcrest Estates doesn't fit into their "business strategy"? At any time, MH&R or any owner can sell the park with sixty days notice (NH RSA 205A).
_ "They currently own over 41 communities in 11 states." The number of communities you own doesn't make you better. It is the quality that is important.
— "Owning and managing manufactured communities on an experienced and professional level is what HA does." Here in Briarcrest, we have people with experience in banking, owning/running a business, financial matters (CPAs, city councilwoman, etc.), and just about any other category of business we would need.
— "They (HA) have deep pockets and will be able to invest more into our communities and add amenities." Again, I would refer you to the pro forma/spreadsheet that has been prepared to show you that within just a few years we would have the necessary monies to invest in the community and add amenities (this is in addition to the "rainy day" fund). Although I don't know what more you could ask for here in Briarcrest Estates — a pool? tennis courts?
— "All of HA's communities have lawn mowing and plowing done by management." Did you know that Mr. Mooney has said that he charges Briarcrest Estates approximately $60,000 per year for snow plowing AND $60,000 per year for lawn mowing? The Co-op Interim Board has already sought out and received quotes from local companies for these services at lower prices. As a group/community we have a lot of buying power! Maybe we could even lower our heating costs if we bargained as a group.
— "Positive feedback on HA management practices." Co-op members have also heard directly from people at other MH&R and/or HA communities that MH&R and/or HA does NOT do a good job managing their communities. Guess it depends on who you talk to.
— "Hometown America will NOT make the community a no-dog park." As far as I know, Lakemont Co-op has no plans to forbid dogs in the park. Under Mark Mooney's Briarcrest Estates Park Rules and Regulations that are in effect now: "V. Pets: Pets are permitted only at the discretion of the park owner. Pet owners must observe the following guidelines: 1. The pet is a house type pet and will be kept indoors at all times, except during walking periods. 2. When outdoors, the pet will be kept on a leash and in the presence of its custodian. 3. Pets may not be kept outside. Pets must be attended at all times. 4. Pet owners are required to clean up after their pet and keep the pet quiet and unobtrusive to their neighbors. 5. Dogs larger than lap size are not permitted." This is the only mention I can find in the Rules & Regulations about dogs and the Co-op has said it will follow the Rules & Regulations already in place unless it is brought up before the Co-op Board and membership for a majority (51 percent) vote.
— "Hometown America will be honoring our leases and therefore only raising the rent once a year based on the same parameters stated in our leases." The Co-op has also said they would honor all 241 leases in their Purchase and Sales agreement that Mr. Mooney refuses to accept, the same as MH&R and/or HA. Actually, HA has stated that "all existing leases and terms outlined in those leases will be recognized by Hometown." What is the difference between "honor" and "recognized"? Semantics? NH RSA 205A permits increases in lot rents with a 60-day notice, so effectively, your lot rent could change every two months if an owner so desires.
— "They have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau." I assume "They" means Hometown America. That is the BBB rating for the sum total of communities they own, as the HA corporation headquartered in Chicago. But is it for each individual park/community in the city/town, county, and state where they are located under the many different limited liability companies that are under the umbrella of HA? No.
— Complaints lodged against HA: Several of the complaints were lodged by about five different people who were hired as a manager of a HA park. They said they were given no training, no backup, just dropped into place with nothing to go by — sink or swim. Other complaints were from residents/tenants of HA parks/communities mostly about not being able to sell their homes because HA had not kept up the grounds and/or there were too many rental units* in the park. And those were not the only complaints we could find on the Internet! How many homeowners in their parks want to say something but are afraid to because of retribution? How many homeowners are in fear of retribution in your organization? Quite a few from what I heard at the meeting.
(* "Rental Units" meaning that the homeowners had to rent because they could not sell their homes due to the reputation of their park.)
Please people, look at this as taking control of your future! Don't let someone in Chicago determine the future of Briarcrest Estates! Keep everything local — from the Co-op Board members to the Co-op members to the local services we hire. If you want to sit back and do nothing that's your option, but let us help keep everything local, financially and otherwise. Nobody in Briarcrest is going to get rich if the Co-op buys and runs the park, but other people will make money if you allow Maple Holding and Redevelopment, LLC and/or Hometown America to buy OUR park. If the Lakemont Cooperative is allowed to purchase Briarcrest Estates, ALL the money will stay here (locally) and we can all make Briarcrest an even better place to live!
Last Updated on Saturday, 09 November 2013 12:01
To The Daily Sun,
At a recent meeting, the town administrator advised the Sanbornton Selectobard that $245,498 dollars from the unreserved fund was available to offset the 2013 town tax rate. Selectmen Ober made a motion to do so. The motion passed unanimously.
It's nice to see that those funds were not used for some other, new town project.
Thanks Selectmen Ober!
Last Updated on Friday, 08 November 2013 11:51