To The Daily Sun:
The power struggle continues between the commissioners and the Belknap County Convention. On Friday, Mr. Philpot (commissioner for Sanbornton, New Hampton, Laconia) defended the work of the commission for budgeting responsibly without tax increases. This is flagrantly inaccurate.
The budget process: appropriations less projected revenues (including draw down on the fund balance) equals taxes to be Raised. The commissioners presented their Proposed FY 13 Budget to the Convention with a NINE percent increase in taxes to be raised!
Mr. Philpot, you can state now whatever you want but that doesn't change what you handed over to the convention — and I am sure every one of the 18 state reps remembers — that NINE percent increase in taxes to be raised.
When State Rep. Frank Tilton from Laconia, which has a tax cap, questioned you on why you significantly reduced the use of the fund balance for FY 13, your answer was "we can increase it by a million dollars. We can have that discussion."
It was your responsibility to hand over a proposed budget that could be reviewed and approved by the convention, not one that could be discussed. This wasn't a collective bargaining agreement. Had you applied better judgment on that proposed budget submission, the taxes to be raised would have been minimal and the budget probably would have sailed through the process to completion.
Many of the state representatives were newly elected and were facing a NINE percent increase in taxes as the first decision they had to make. It's easy to see the resistance that you encountered. You created the rift, not the "bad people" you spoke of on last week.
Last Updated on Monday, 22 July 2013 10:09
To The Daily Sun,
Headline writers have a job to do and that is to grab readers' attention. Those who write headlines for the Laconia Daily Sun usually accomplish that goal.
But often, as was the case last week, the headlines miss the true story. The context in which Commissioner Philpot made his comments about the Belknap County Convention was part of a conversation in which he was discussing, at a public meeting with fellow Democrats, the damage being done to the relationship finally achieved between the commissioners and county employees. He contended that the votes taken and the views expressed by some members of the Belknap County Convention were doing "bad things" to the county in terms of undermining trust and interfering with employee-employer agreements. In fact, Commissioner Philpot apologized at the time for his characterization of those members while at the same time applauding the work of his fellow commissioners, who are recognized as members of the Republican party.
It is Commissioner Philpot's view, shared by many in Belknap County, that the majority votes taken by the convention are not in the best interests of this County. He chose to express that view during an open meeting covered by the press.
It is instructive to see how different papers report the same event. The Laconia Citizen's headline, "County Democrats Look to 2014 Elections", tells a different story. But doesn't the Sun's headline compel readership?
Everyone is simply doing his or her job here. Commissioner Philpot was issuing a warning based on his perception of the machinations of county government. The reporters were covering the story and trying to get people to read their version. The GOP chairman was defending his constituency; those who look at the issues through a different lens.
Isn't that what is great about a free press and a free society? Now it is up to each and every one of us to come to our own conclusions and act accordingly based on the information we have learned.
I thank everyone involved for taking an active role in this lively and informative debate.
Kate Miller, Chair
Belknap County Democratic Committee
Last Updated on Monday, 22 July 2013 10:05
There are over 115,000 veterans living in New Hampshire. The federal government has many programs that address their issues and needs. Some of them deal with pension benefits, and a large number of them address a variety of medical issues including, the affects of Agent Orange on Viet Nam veterans, asbestos related mesothelioma, ionizing radiation on Atomic Vets, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), etc . What follows are some highlights of benefit programs that may be available to you, or someone you know. Resources will be included so that the reader may have a contact and telephone number if they think they may be eligible for one of the programs. Please be aware that what follows is not an end all, it is a bit of information that can put a person in touch with the appropriate resource.
Veteran's pensions — Normally, veteran's believe that they must have served 20 or more years to qualify for a veteran's pension. In most cases that is true, but, depending on the veteran's income and when he/she was in the service, it may be possible to receive a monthly pension.
These pensions are non taxable and are available to veterans who were on active duty for a period of 90 days or more, with at least one day being during a time of war. (Those periods are from Dec. 7, 1941 through Dec. 31, 1946, (WWII), from June 27, 1950 through Jan. 31, 1955, (Korea), and from Aug. 5, 1964* through May 7, 1975, (VietNam era). (* Feb. 28, 1961 for those who served in the Republic of Viet Nam.)
If the veteran's annual income is $29,402 or less ($35,284 if married), and if the veteran served during time of war (not necessarily in combat), he/she may be eligible for a pension. If qualified, the surviving spouse may also continue to receive a pension. There is also the potential to receive additional pension money for what is called "aid and attendance", when the person is essentially home bound, or resides in a nursing home. The veteran's surviving spouse is also eligible for these benefits, but at a reduced amount.
Veteran's health care — Most veteran's understand that service related injuries or illnesses may qualify them for VA medical care. However, there are also cases where medical care can be provided to veterans, even for non service related medical problems. The VA has a number of "priority classifications" and each person who qualifies for medical care is assigned a priority number. The level of priority dictates the level of care that can be provided. Some veteran's may be eligible for complete health care services, including surgery, hospitalization, medicines, hearing aids, etc. Others may qualify for less complete coverage but still qualify for medicines and other services. If you think you may qualify for any of these services, you may contact the local VA Service Officer (603-524-3960) or LRGHealthcare's Vet Link manager (603-524-3211) for guidance.
The Veteran's Home in Tilton is an excellent residential facility that serves veterans with varying needs, including dementia and alzheimer's disease. The care provided has been highly praised by residents and families of those in the home. It is always filled to capacity and (caregivers or) those who think they may need the care the home offers, should consider filing an application to see if they qualify so that they can be put on the waiting list for admission. (603-527-4400)
Burial service benefits — All veterans are entitled to burial service benefits that include an honor guard at the time of burial, including taps being played, and an American flag being draped on the veteran's coffin and then folded properly and being presented to the surviving spouse or child. A modest sum is also paid by the VA to help defray the cost of the burial. It is a standard arrangement for the honor guard requests to be handled by the funeral director — just make sure to request it.
There is a beautiful veteran's cemetery and chapel in Boscowan that is available for veterans and their spouses to be interred. (Boscowan Veteran's Cemetery 603-796-2026)
While there is no veteran's hospital in New Hampshire, there are facilities in Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont. In some cases, local hospitals are certified and may serve veterans who qualify for medical care, but prior approval is needed before entering a non-VA facility. Questions in this regard can be directed to the VA Service Officer (603-524-3960) or the LRGH Vet Link manager (603-524-3211).
The Director of the State Veterans Council is located at 275 Chestnut St. in Manchester (03101-2411). The telephone number is 603-624-9230 or, toll free at 800-622-9230. If the veteran, spouse, or caregiver has any questions not noted in the above information, they can direct their inquiry to the council.
(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)
Last Updated on Monday, 22 July 2013 10:01
To The Daily Sun,
Dear Mr. Philpot:
What a disgraceful display of arrogance in the article on the front page of The Daily Sun describing the Belknap County Delegation as "bad people looking to do bad things"! You have gone too far with the rhetoric by attempting to smear the good names of people who have been tasked with working towards a balanced budget for the county. In case you haven't been in the "real world" lately, look around you and you'll see all of the people in our county struggling to get by while you sit with the other commissioners attempting to find new and different ways to hike the budget and taxes all at the same time.
From the sound of the article, it seems as if you may have stayed at the party too long and need to move over for someone who can think clearly and make informed decisions for the county. In the the meantime, you owe the delegation a HUGE apology.
Gilmanton Iron Works
Last Updated on Friday, 19 July 2013 11:51
To The Daily Sun,
With the debate on guns and gun control running hot here in the United States, we have something to learn from this saga. On July 22, 2011, Anders Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian, went on a shooting rampage on Utøya, an island in a fjord some 24 miles northwest of Oslo. Camped on the island in an annual youth encampment were some 600 young people, mostly teens. The carnage was 69 killed and 33 wounded by gunfire plus many more injured in the panic-driven scramble by the trapped teens to avoid being shot. Brevik had earlier set off a powerful 2100 pound car bomb in the government quarter of Oslo, killing 8 and injuring 209.
The details of all this are well known as Breivik had been forthcoming on the details involved both before and during his trial. His motives are fully explained in a 1,500-page political manifesto he wrote and e-mailed to hundreds of people prior to the event.
An hour-and-a-half after the bombing, Breivik, dressed as a police officer and armed with a semiautomatic rifle and pistol plus a bag full of loaded magazines for his weapons, boarded a small ferry for the short 600 meter crossing from the mainland to the 26-acre wooded island. He attempted to convince Monica Boesei, the camp manager, that he was there to ensure that the campers were secure in the wake of the Oslo bombing. Boesei, however, was suspicious and walked away to summon the camp security guard, off-duty police officer Trond Berntsen. Breivik followed her close behind. Berntsen, with his 10-year-old son beside him, saw them coming and knew right away from his many years as a police officer that this scene was wrong — he must have, because he practically threw his son into the bushes to get him out of the way (this saved his son's life). As Berntsen confronted the armed intruder, Breivik shot him in the head and then gunned down a fleeing Monica Boesei. Breivik then shot both twice in the head.
Here we come to the lesson of this letter. Trond Berntsen was NOT ARMED. There were ZERO guns on the isolated island except for those in the hands of the perpetrator. You anti-gun folks that want to ban all guns and prevent them from being anywhere near children should like this idea. Some 600 young people in camp, almost all of them teens, were WITHOUT ARMED PROTECTION. But I wonder why our own president and vice president have an army of hired guns to protect them and their families, but openly campaign to restrict "We the People" from protecting ourselves and our families. Berntsen, being an off-duty police officer, in this instance was not allowed to have a gun. So here we have a "gun free zone" so popular with anti-gun supporters. Most police officers in Norway at that time worked unarmed, carrying weapons only with permission in special circumstances. Officers in police cars were allowed unloaded weapons with ammunition accessible, but in locked boxes.
In my opinion, this is what should have and could have happened on Utøya. Berntsen should have been allowed to be armed. He was an experienced police officer who knew how to handle firearms and who instinctively sensed the danger and would have confronted Breivik WEAPON against WEAPON. This was the ONLY chance that could have saved all the innocent lives lost on the island. If an armed Berntsen could have stopped Breivik at this point, NOT ONE of the young people on that island would have perished. NOT ONE. In fact, I believe there should have been MORE than one ARMED security guard on that island.
As it was, Anders Breivik spent the next hour-and-a-half unmolested methodically gunning down nearly everyone he could find, even shooting at those attempting to flee by swimming. In my opinion, it was a disgrace not to have armed protection for these young people and a disgrace for civil authority to take so long to get together armed intervention. What was it that finally stopped Anders Breivik? When an officer finally showed up with a GUN, he lay down his arms and surrendered. Breivik had enough ammunition and the declared and admitted resolve to have killed everyone.
The 2012 annual youth encampment was subsequently cancelled, but the camp was resumed this July at another site on land along the same fjord. But this time the youth were protected by armed police patrols. Since gun control is such a sensitive subject now, I expect this letter to bring forth both support and opposition from the right and the left, respectively. Bring it on.
George E. Brunstad
Last Updated on Friday, 19 July 2013 11:49