Altruism & self interest both mandate we assist on Ebola front

To The Daily Sun,

Have you noticed that when Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the CDC, is asked if the safety protocols are adequate, he responds by explaining the mechanics of Ebola transmission and does so in a manner that does not consider the possibility of incomplete knowledge of all aspects of Ebola transmission. It has only been studied since the 1970s. Dr. Frieden's confidence that there will not be a significant outbreak in the United States is appreciated in light of today's poll that suggests one-third of our local hospitals do not have the necessary equipment and 86 percent have had no training, or protocol they can immediately access.

Consider four failures of our policy and CDC protocols which recently exposed hundreds, perhaps thousands of Americans to this disease.

1. A foreign patient was tested but not identified as positive at the airport in Monrovia, Liberia.

2. This same patient lied on a health form at the airport.

3. A Texas hospital staff failed to diagnose Ebola even when the patient cited the symptoms, and told them he just arrived from Liberia.

4. A parent of exposed children decided to ignore the CDC's instructions and sent the exposed children to school. In these instances the CDC protocols and related national policies relied upon the notions that people always tell the truth, people always following CDC instructions, hospital personnel always function perfectly, and a patently inadequate airport-administered test for Ebola is good enough. Of course none of these things are true thus the overall policy outcome: The detection of an Ebola-infected immigrant failed at every level.

As astonishing as these failures are, there is an even greater concern. News reports lead us to understand that experts in the relevant CDC protocols, with every incentive to strictly adhere to these protocols, while working in a hospital environment, albeit in Western Africa, have contracted Ebola. In sum, the question is not whether the protocols are failing. Whether due to protocol inadequacies themselves or unaccounted for human failings, these protocols have already failed.

In risk-management terms, the risk — as currently understood — is the probable death of all Americans afflicted. Given this assumption, is it not reasonable to assume that our national policies and CDC protocols be reasonably robust? If so, is it reasonable to assume that these national policies and protocols not be based upon assumptions such as: 1. We already know everything relative to Ebola transmission; 2. A demonstrably deficient airport-administered test is good enough; 3. Foreign nationals will forego leaving their country for vastly improved treatment rather than lie about exposure; 4. Hospital staffs always function perfectly, and 5. Unsupervised exposed people will always following CDC instructions?

As this issue attains purchase in public discourse, positions have begun to polarize. I have noted that people who even question the confirmed weaknesses of our present Ebola containment strategy are called "alarmist," "a nut," "should be ashamed of himself," and is only "scaring people."

Predictably, bureaucrats will defend their turf. Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the CDC, while failing to recognize the widely reported weaknesses of CDC protocols, has conjured up all of his border control and international relations expertise to assert that "We can not close our borders" to this disease, (as England and France have done), and we can not "isolate" the inflicted countries.

The problem with these absolutist mutually exclusive options presented by Dr. Frieden is that they are false choices. They represent extreme notions that retard applied critical thinking and genuine problem solving. To assert that we should not minimize the number of Ebola afflicted immigrants because we cannot identify every Ebola afflicted immigrant is nonsensical. The very core of epidemiology is that the benefit of limiting the number of afflicted patients includes the minimization of the number of future patients.

Likewise, it is as obvious that altruistic motives as well as American self interest, mandates that we assist Ebola afflicted countries. Only Dr. Frieden's straw-man argument speaks to the irrational possibility of "isolating" Ebola afflicted countries.

Rather than utilize television interviews to defend the obvious inadequate current CDC protocols and related immigration positions beyond his area of expertise, Dr. Frieden needs to immediately grasp the reality of the demonstrated frailties of the protocols within his area of responsibility.

Next, Dr. Frieden needs to focus the CDC's efforts on the epidemiological aspects of these flaws as rapidly and efficiently as possible. To accomplish this Dr. Frieden needs to understand that any protocol that anticipates that every policy element will always work perfectly is not grounded in reality. People lie and will often fail to follow CDC instructions, well intended screening tests still need to be reliable, and well intended hospital staffs are not infallible.

Accepting this, and understanding the risk, Dr. Frieden needs to depart from minimally effective superficial protocols. America needs a defense in depth emphasizing closely supervised redundant procedures that collectively minimize the potential death of American citizens from Ebola--even if one or more elements of the protocol fail due to human or institutional mistakes. Continued flat-earth debates that defend the current failed CDC protocols, as well as irrelevant straw man arguments is a myopic waste of valuable effort and time.

I hope that Dr. Frieden needs to rise above these tactics quickly or eventually be remembered for providing less than optimal service to America when his leadership was required.

Michael D. Breen, Ph.D.


  • Category: Letters
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Join us for the Oct. 20 meeting of Lakes Region Food Network

To The Daily Sun,

The past few months have been a very busy time for the Lakes Region Food Network (LRFN.) I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the many community partners who have worked with us on some of our projects. Without this network of community involvement none of these great projects and events could have taken place.

The Veggie Round-up Project's Farmers' Market Coupon Program provided $20 in coupons each month from June to September, for 20 families participating in the Women, Infant, and Children's Nutrition Clinic. The support of Susan Wnuk and her staff was critical to the success of this program, which enabled young families in our area to access fresh fruits and vegetables from our local farmers. Our cool graphic for this program was created by Larry Frates, who also did caricatures in the Savor the Season tent in July as a fund-raiser. All the funding for this program was through community member contributions, including a wonderful fund-raising breakfast held by Laconia Local Eatery. We also extend thanks to all of the farmers who accepted the coupons each month, and who grew all the delicious produce purchased by the families.

Savor the Season was a market-based food demonstration project, hosted by local chefs, and funded through a grant from the New England Grassroots Environment Fund. The Laconia Main Street Marketplace graciously donated a booth space for the entire market season. Our promotional materials were developed by Craig McKeon, who I know did not charge us for all the time he spent developing our beautiful poster.

Guest chefs included Kevin Halligan of Local Eatery, Ana Gourlay from Sunflower Natural Foods, Leslie Judice from Tavern 27, Rachael Burklund of Laconia Village Bakery, Brenda Carey from the UNH Cooperative Extension Service, and Elizabeth White from LRGHealthcare. Their wonderful offerings were enjoyed by numerous market goers, and the recipes can be accessed by visiting (click on the first post on the right which will direct you to the Savor the Season page.)

Dick Christopher was a regular support person at the food demonstrations, helping to set up, serve food, and break down the booth. In August a fresh food collection was held, conducted by young folks from The Christ Life Food Pantry with assistance from Christine St. Clair, Belknap County Conservation District's Gleaning Coordinator.

Finally, a wonderful children's activity day was coordinated by Tammy Levesque from the Lakes Region HEAL program, which was greatly enjoyed by the youngsters who visited the market that day. Additional thanks go to my fellow farmers in the Full Basket Co-op, who helped set up the tent each week and gave me the ability to support the Savor the Season events during the market.

Our third initiative was a regional conversation about our local food system and the development of a NH Food Strategy, one of many such conversations being held around the state. LRFN hosted the event in collaboration with the GROW Lakes Region grant planning committee and the UNH Sustainability Institute. Kate Bishop-Hamel (GROW Lakes Region) and Jessica Boynton (Sustainability Institute) were key partners in organizing this event, which brought together people working in different aspects of the local food system. Together the group identified resource people and organizations working on food-related problems, and brainstormed strategies and ideas that would serve to strengthen our food system both locally and statewide. Connie and Dick Mitchell were gracious hosts at Pitman's Freight Room, while Kevin Halligan from Local Eatery served up a delicious local food breakfast. And, of course, what would a breakfast meeting be without great coffee roasted right here in Laconia by Woodshed Coffee Roasting Company.

Additional thanks go to the Laconia Daily Sun for publishing all of our notices and letters, without which it would have been much more difficult to let people know about our activities, and to the North Country Resource Conservation and Development Area Council which serves as the fiscal agent for LRFN.

Finally, much appreciation to the participants in the LRFN monthly meetings who helped guide the development of these projects – Aaron Lichtenberg, Keith Descoteaux, Dick Christopher, Janet Simmon, Rick DeMark, Lisa Morin, Tammy Levesque, Cris Reuffert, Susan Wnuk, and Kelly McAdam. If you would like to join us, our next meeting is on Monday, October 20 at 9 a.m., at the UNH Cooperative Extension Service office, 635 Main Street, Laconia. For more information about LRFN, visit our website at

Karen Barker

Lakes Region Food Network


  • Category: Letters
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Delegation leadership has reached new low in irresponsibility

To The Daily Sun,

I am writing to alert readers to the poor behavior of members of the Belknap County Delegation, led by Reps. Colette Worsman and Frank Tilton. Two weeks ago there was yet another public showdown between the delegation and the County Commissioners at an emergency meeting that should not have been necessary.

The meeting was called to approve line item transfers to cover operating expenses of county government, including the nursing home, the prison, the sheriff's office and administration. Since a court ruling in August, any line item transfer that exceeds $300 must be approved by the delegation. So, in order to avoid a shutdown of essential county operations, this meeting was called.

Ultimately, all but one of the line-item transfers were approved, preventing a complete shutdown. But this did not come before drastic measures needed to be taken the weekend prior to the meeting. The jail was in lockdown and the nursing home was short-staffed, potentially placing some of our most vulnerable citizens in harm's way.

Our delegation leadership has reached a new low in their continued irresponsibility to those who have entrusted them to govern our county, the people. Frank Tilton and the rest of the Belknap Delegation once again let ideology trump their duty to look out for public safety. They have allowed their long-running feud with the commissioners to cloud their judgment. This time the childishness and political games went too far.

Please join me in calling on the Belknap County Delegation's Executive Committee to cut the foolish games and get back to the business of governing our county sensibly and with some modicum of integrity. I am certain we can all make them understand that we don't approve of their tactics when we cast our ballots on Election Day.

Peter R. Brunette

  • Category: Letters
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Why has Fire Department name been taken off Lakeport station?

To The Daily Sun,

Recently I posed a question about the missing "L" in the name on the Lakeport Fire Station.
The lettering on the building originally read "Laconia Fire Department" with "Lakeport Fire Station" underneath it.
The "L" was missing for months and I questioned why it couldn't be replaced.
The response I saw was extreme. All of the letters were removed from the building which is still used by the Fire Department.
Why was it necessary to do this?

Gordon D. King

  • Category: Letters
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Misleading transfers for hundreds of thousands is inexcusable

To The Daily Sun,

I have yet to see some type of justification on the behalf of the county commission. Maybe I have missed it, I have been wrong before. I have also learned to keep my mouth closed in those situations. . .  Hmmmm?? There could be a perfectly good reason for for needing huge sums of money or else the county will "shutdown." If there is, I would love to hear the explanation of such events.

To take roughly $230,000 from 100 line items doesn't sound right at all. I would like to hear a simple explanation and there is one. Instead we are getting a "dog and pony show."
I can provide a simple explanation with a few simple definitions.

1. Tax — Charge against a citizens person or property of activity for the support of government.

2. Budget — A sum of money allocated for a particular purpose.

3. Dereliction — Willful negligence.

4. Duty — Work that you are obliged to perform for moral or legal reasons.

You can piece them together how you see fit. The commission is railroading through a budget and transfers that please them as they see fit. It is not "their" budget to spend as they please. It is the county's and the commission had been given the time and resources to create a budget that would meet the needs of the nursing home and the jail. This is just a fiasco and blaming the people who are putting their reputations on the line to keep them honest is not going to end it.

Ridiculous analogies about vacations and clothes dryers have no bearing on what goes on in most households. Some people have to choose between heat OR food because getting both isn't an option. That being said, I could care less if inmates don't get TVs or cable paid for by the government. You can bet that there is money budgeted for that in the $25 million price tag.

Make a budget and stick to it. Moving a few thousand dollars to make it work is one thing. Misleading transfers for hundreds of thousands is absurd and inexcusable.

Andrew J. Weeks


  • Category: Letters
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