To The Daily Sun,
And to the Briarcrest Estates Anti-Lakemont Co-op Homeowners Group:
Thank you for the invitation to your meeting of Thursday, October 24 at the Briarcrest Estates Community Center — an offer I couldn't refuse -— where you proposed to inform and discuss the matter of a petition to intervene in the litigation brought by Mark Mooney, owner of Briarcrest Estates, in Belknap County Superior Court, against Lakemont Cooperative, Inc. that wishes to purchase Briarcrest Estates. In your invitation you mention hiring attorney Philip McLaughlin to prepare and present this petition to the court, saying the overwhelming majority of the homeowners in Briarcrest Estates oppose the purchase of said park by the Lakemont Cooperative. Atty. Mclaughlin was quite precise and to the point about how this procedure (and his role in it) was to be done, explaining that the anti-co-op group would not be a party to the litigation but only wanted to "be a witness" for Mark Mooney. And from what I heard afterward, you got at least 107 other homeowners to sign your petition — assuming one vote per household.
Did anyone of your group come to the Lakemont Cooperative open meeting on September 27 at the Gilford Community Church to see the ROC-NH "Pro Forma" (tentative spreadsheet) as to the financial viability of the Co-op? You would have been able to see that we have the numbers worked out to run the park in the black (at a profit) from the very first year of co-op management, progressing to after the eighth year, where rents might be held in place while still making a profit. You are welcome to the co-op's open membership meetings to ask questions, but to vote on co-op business you must join the co-op at $25 per household, which is refundable if the co-op does not complete the purchase of the park.
I would like to address the "items of discontent" or "Why We Are Against the Co-op Buying Briarcrest" sheets that you passed out at the beginning of the meeting — point by-point. It was two pages of misinformation which I strongly disagree with as a member of the co-op.
One of the first things you have to do is take off a substantial percentage of your lot rent equal to the amount of profit that Mr. Mooney makes on each lot rent payment. Then you can see where we have room to manage the lot rents to pay all expenses and make a profit. Remember, no one can stay in business without making a profit, even a non-profit such as the Lakemont Cooperative. All profit monies are turned right around and put back into the park — usually into accounts for future capital projects just as any business should do..
— First point: there are two loans — one from the Community Loan Fund and one from a local bank — adding up to $10,000,000 not two $10,000,000 loans. One will mature in 30 years and the other in 40 years and at that time they will be reconstructed so as to eliminate any balloon payments. No individual homeowner will be in any way legally responsible for either of these loans, in default or otherwise. Most banks would rather work with the business entity (such as Lakemont Co-op) than buy it themselves or let the loan go into default. According to the "Pro Forma" (spreadsheet) that ROC-NH has prepared in cooperation with the co-op, a default scenario is not possible. And, there are at least three local banks vying for our business for which we can negotiate the percentage rate.
— Next two points: Yes, the co-op will probably hire a manager to oversee the park, office and daily operations but this person will be under direct control of the board. The salary of this person is already figured into the pro forma/spreadsheet, as are the contracts for lawn mowing, a financial manager (i.e. a CPA) and snow removal (at lower prices than Mr. Mooney is charging now). As for trash removal, Mr. Mooney has backed us into a corner by making a serious mistake this past summer on payments, but remember, all contracts can be renegotiated. Mr. Mooney has told the Lakemont Co-op that expenses for snow plowing and lawn mowing are approximately $60,000 per year each or about $5,000 per month for 12 months or about $21 per household per month.
— Next point: Yes the board positions are voluntary and non-paid. The present board members are "interim" board members until the co-op buys the park. A new board will be elected after the purchase of the park, then the interim board members can run again for the new board if they so desire. The new board will probably will have a one-year term limits which is the usual amount of time that board members serve in almost all businesses. These people on the interim board are exceptional people and have been doing an exceptional job for the co-op's due diligence part of the purchase and sales agreement. They have also signed a Board of Directors Code of Ethics.
We have 241 homes in this park and at an average of 1.5 people per household (and probably more), that means we have 361 people that would probably be able to be on the board's various positions. Can they be impartial and unbiased? Yes, when it comes to running the park for the good of all the tenants. The idea of a board running a business is very old and has worked more than it has not worked. Everyone of us has worked for a business and/or owned a business and that includes those of you who were stay-at-home Moms, so we all have something special to contribute.
— Next point: The majority rules! Fifty-one percent of the membership is need for a vote to pass in the co-op after the purchase of the park. The EXCEPTION being in the Pre-Acquisition Phase — then "one-third of the entire membership shall constitute a quorum at a membership meeting" (quoting Co-op Pre-Acquisition Bylaws).
— Next point: Not enough money? The reason you make a profit every year is to build up a fund to cover any unforeseen contingencies: lower rental income, unexpected infrastructure problems, etc. This scenario was also built into the pro forma/spreadsheet.
— Next point: ROC-NH will probably come to the first few board meetings to make sure the co-op is on the right track, but then unless requested by the board, they will not come. They will be paid a consultation fee which was built into the pro forma/spreadsheet.
— Next point: Membership fees. A membership fee has been discussed but no amount has been set. If a membership fee is to be required of all homeowners, it could be paid in a lump sum or in installments (as yet to be determined). This scenario probably will not happen until after the purchase of the park by the co-op, if at all..
— Next point: Monthly expenses AND emergency infrastructure expenses. I have answered this in previous points. A certain amount of each lot rent every month goes into a capital reserve fund (a "rainy day" fund). This is built into the pro forma/spreadsheet.
I'll stop here and write another letter referring to your second page of misinformation on Hometown America.
Yes, it is a shame that this issue has divided the residents of Briarcrest Estates because to my mind the best way to go is with the co-op — we are your neighbors, we have the expertise or can get outside local help to manage the park the way it has been run for many years giving you the quality and continuity of management you want. The fear tactics and and lies have not come from the co-op members — all you have to do is read NH RSA 205-A to learn what a park owner can and can not do, as in giving 60-day notice for rent increases, 18-month expulsion notice, etc — just about every scenario is covered by this law.
Dont forget this is my home and my future, too.
Last Updated on Thursday, 31 October 2013 11:17
To The Daily Sun,
An open letter to Laconia voters:
With all do respect to the many fine people who have served as mayor over the years I have been thinking a lot recently about the four who have served since we began electing mayors by popular vote in 1991. The list includes Paul Fitzgerald (two terms), Matt Lahey (three terms), Mark Fraser (two terms), Matt Lahey again (two more terms) and Mike Seymour (two terms).
That's a darn impressive list. They all have had their individual styles and we might not have agreed with every position they took on issues of the day but we knew they were smart, knowledgeable, capable people and we were comfortable having them at the helm. We knew they were competent to analyze any situation that arose and would help to craft a sensible, reasonable solution. And we knew that when one of us had to represent the entire city — say at a meeting with the governor or leaders of the Legislature, they were up to the task.
On Tuesday, Nov. 5 we add the next name to the list. And I ask that you think about previous mayors and weigh the two current candidates against that standard. I do not pretend that I am the most qualified person we could possibly pick. But a number of people who I would have personally have been happy to vote for were just not in a position to serve at this time and I decided to step forward.
I do believe that my overall knowledge of city government, my demonstrated commitment to community service and my record of accomplishment in private business make me the most qualified person whose name will be on the ballot for mayor in 2013. And I ask for your support in my effort to "Keep Laconia Moving" in a positive direction. It would be an honor to have your vote.
Last Updated on Thursday, 31 October 2013 11:11
To The Daily Sun,
I am writing to you about a concern that I feel many Lakes Region residents have, and it is the concern about the deteriorating condition of the Hathaway House in Lakeport. With the recent window and asbestos removal, the situation appears to be even grimmer than first thought. It makes many of us wonder if it is a precursor to the owner applying for a demolition permit. Yet, this house has an interesting history and is a structure that should be preserved. Its fascinating history began with the first owner, Samuel Clement Clark, who was a distinguished local lawyer. He served as a member of the state Legislature and also assistant clerk to the House of Representatives. He envisioned running for governor, however, this was never executed.
The c.1870 house is thought to be one of the oldest structures in eastern Lakeport. Since the time it was built, the Hathaway House has not only been the home of distinguished individuals but also many local businesses. After staying in the family for some time after Samuel's death, the house became a place of business, beginning with Constance and Richard St. Clair's "Hathaway House" clothing store. Other businesses that have called the Hathaway House their home include Florence Cummins Real Estate Inc., and most recently, Star Gaze Spa and Pool.
In recent years, the Hathaway House has fallen into disrepair, is currently on the real estate market, and its future is uncertain. I recently got involved with Laconia's Heritage Commission, and from discussions with its members, I have learned the importance of this structure. I think it has a lot of potential, and should it continue to deteriorate or be demolished, it would be a great loss to the Lakes Region. It is one of the structures that defines Laconia, and still has the potential to contribute to Laconia's local economy as it has in the past.
Nevertheless, there is a way for concerned Laconia residents to take action. The Heritage Commission has created a petition and is seeking signatures from Laconia residents who are concerned about the future of this property. The purpose of the petition is to request "immediate and definitive action to preserve the Hathaway/Clark house" from the Laconia City Council and also to "urge Cafua Management of Dunkin' Donuts, owners of the Hathaway House, to live up to its original agreements concerning this property." By showing how many people in the city care about "The Pink Lady," the petition has the potential to bring about change.
Last Updated on Thursday, 31 October 2013 11:03
To The Daily Sun,
On Tuesday, Oct. 29, frequent letter-writer Steve Earle, challenged ". . . any liberal to give readers an example of a lie told by Fox News." I have no aspirations to liberalism, but if he will accept a response from a fellow writer, I would like to give it a shot.
On Oct. 11, Sean Hannity invited three couples to tell his audience how the Affordable Care Act (ACA or ObamaCare) adversely affected their lives. Hannity said, "These are the stories that the media refuses to cover."
The stories the couples told, however, seemed at odds with ACA provisions. Consequently, fact checkers investigated. What follows is from the work of one of them, Eric Stern. He independently interviewed each couple and conducted cost comparison analyses.
Their claims: They said they could not grow their business. They had to keep employees in part-time status and take other steps to reduce ACA-associated costs.
The truth: Their construction business has four employees. The ACA imposes no cost, no insurance requirements (absolutely none) on any business with less than 50 employees. There is one and only one requirement for such a small business. It must notify employees the insurance exchange (healthcare.gov) exists.
Background: The male quit his job (which provided health benefits) a few years ago to start his own business. The couple are now paying $1,100 a month ($13,200 a year) for health insurance. The policy has a $2,500 per person deductible and does not cover one of their two children. The female has a pre-existing condition that would cost another $600 a month to insure. That would bring their total cost to $1,700 a month or $20,400 annually (still with no coverage for the second child).
Their claims: The couple's insurer notified them it will terminate their policy and replaced it with an ACA-compliant policy. The insurer also said it was shrinking its provider network. This might mean the couple would have to change physicians. This shows Obama lied when he said people could keep existing policies and medical providers.
The truths: The couple are correct. Obama assurances regarding continuity of coverage and provider access were not true. The president's apologists can try to sugarcoat that, but lie seems a fair characterization. This is where Hannity left it. Obama and ObamaCare came out looking bad. While it is difficult to make excuses for the president, the impression ACA is also bad is flat out wrong in this case. If the couple had done its homework, it would have found a policy on the health exchange for about $7,600. (This assumes the couple does not smoke and makes too much to qualify for a subsidy.)
This policy offers this family multiple advantages:
— More than a 60 percent reduction in premium costs;
— Coverage for all family members;
— Coverage for the female's preexisting condition; and
— A cap on out-of-pocket expenses. (As noted above, the couple's current policy carries a $2,500 per-person deductible. Under ACA, $2,500 is the maximum deductible for a family. That is a potential savings of $5,000 plus whatever it would cost them to obtain medical services for their uninsured child.)
Background: The male is self-employed. The insurer is swapping the couple's existing plan for an ACA-compliant policy. The premium for their current policy is $800 a month ($9,600 annually).
Their Claims: Their agent told them the replacement policy would cost 50 to 75 percent more. It will contain provisions (e.g., maternity, pediatric and prenatal care) they do not need, but must buy.
The Truths: This couple could buy a comparable policy on the exchange for less than $310 a month ($3,700 a year). The savings would exceed 60 percent. Yes, the policy would cover things they do not need or want. Every policy does.
A few personal observations:
Hannity/Fox exploited the ignorance of people so blinded by their hatred of ObamaCare (and probably Obama), they refused to do even the most rudimentary research into their personal situation. Nonetheless, their flagrant disregard for assessment and fact qualified them to speak with authority to a national audience.
Conservatives, more than liberals, should be outraged. The picture Fox painted is of catastrophe unfolding. Perhaps it is. (The rollout can hardly reassure supporters.) Yet, an unfiltered, unquestioned presentation of ignorance and hatred as evidence strengthens no case.
Specifically in this example:
— We see a family explaining how ACA undermined their business when ACA could not possibly affect that business;
— We see two families complaining about increased cost when even the most rudimentary inquiry would reveal substantial savings — upward of 60 percent in both cases; and
— We see three families not conveying personal stories — as Hannity asserted — but adapting and repeating what they think others have said.
If Mr. Earle does not think this is lying, perhaps he could explain what is.
Last Updated on Thursday, 31 October 2013 11:00
To The Daily Sun,
I read the piece in Wednesday's Sun with amusement and concern. Of course it would be cheaper to care for inmates with Medicaid as opposed to real insurance because that is cost shifting the actual costs onto the hospitals, providers, and ultimately patients with insurance. This is a Ponzi scheme to make the books look better without any real savings. Prisoners are not good patients in many cases. Taking care of them brings extra problems with increased risk of lawsuit, active non-compliance with recommended care and other issues. If the state tries to make this change, I would predict they will find many doors closed to these patients in the medical community, adding further costs to the bottom line. This is not a good or fair idea and should be rejected.
John M. Grobman MD
Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 October 2013 09:45