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No. of county employees has gone down but pay has gone way up

To the editor,
Many citizens have questioned why the Belknap County Delegation has made an issue of the 2013 county budget that is only a few percentage points higher than in 2009. Well, it's not about just the overall spending; it's about where it is being spent and why it is being spent. In fact, over the past few years the county commissioners have done an admirable job controlling spending and maintaining almost level budgets. But, they have let spending on salaries climb dramatically.
First, let's look at the number of county employees. In 2009 there were 208 full time, and 26 part time employees. In 2013 there will be 171 full time, and 46 part time employees. For the sake of comparison we need to convert these numbers to full time equivalents (FTE) based on part time employees working 30 hours per week (some may work less). Although an approximation, this will give a more accurate picture of how employment has changed. At 30 hours a week, 26 part time employees would equal 19.5 FTE and 46 part time convert to 34.5 FTE. Addition will show 227.5 FTE in 2009, and 205.5 FTE in 2013. In summary, since 2009 the county work force has decreased by the equivalent of 22 full time employees.
The county commissioners have been saying that the county payroll has remained essentially flat, up only eight percent in four years. That is true, but what is also true is that we are now paying 22 fewer employees, about 11 percent fewer than we were paying in 2009. If you adjust today's payroll to account for the reduced number of employees you will see that the payroll has increased almost exactly 20 percent. That is, county pay has been going up at about five percent each of the last four years, during a time when most of our citizens, both working and retired, have seen almost no increases at all. I do not intend to imply that all county employees have benefited equally from these 5 percent per year increases. Indeed, the additional payroll may have been expressly focused on segments of the employees, but it remains that the county taxpayers are paying for some fairly large increases in payroll. So, that is the way I see the situation and why I, and much of the county delegation, has tried to draw a line in the sand.
Another point to ponder: Although we have only glimpsed the top flag on an approaching ship (a $45 million jail and its attendant staff of more than 25 new employees) please keep in mind that those new employees will start at these newly increased wage levels, adding at least two million dollars to the annual budget, and that will be on top of the roughly two million in yearly payments on the bond. If I may continue my maritime analogy, to change the direction of a large ship requires small navigational adjustments well before you get close to shore.
Rep. Herb Vadney
Belknap District 2
Gilford-Meredith

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 February 2013 00:55

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Belmont pressured McDonoughs into selling their building at a loss

To the editor,
We are writing in response to the front page article about Bill and Carolyn McDonough and the Town of Belmont. My family and my relatives have lived in the Lakes Region for more than 100 years. Whoever wrote the article should be ashamed of themselves. The article was twisted so as to insult and criticize the McDonoughs. They ran multiple local restaurants and always treated people fairly. Bill McDonough is over 80 years old and never seeks to file lawsuits. He and his family have been generous and kind and big supporters of the Lakes Region community. They always sought to avoid expensive legal proceedings. 
In this situation, it is the Town of Belmont that is in the wrong. The McDonoughs purchased a property on the town "green" and the town began to notify tenants and costumers that they were moving the road and changing the location of the road and the parking. Many tenants would not want the location if they did not have the road frontage, location, and parking. Obviously, as owners, the town plans damaged the McDonoughs, they repeatedly sought to resolve it directly with the town and just got the run-around.
Indeed, we understand the town is the one that involved lawyers long before the McDonough's did. Town lawyers started pressuring the McDonough's to "cave in".
After having a vacant building for years because of all this mess, the McDonoughs finally sold to the town, at a reduced price, far below the price it was worth, and listed in your article ($300,000).
These folks are retired and this building was critical to their retirement. Only after numerous efforts to settle it cooperatively did they resort to lawsuit, and now the town is stonewalling and apparently leaking false information of the press. It would have been nice if your paper connected both sides to get the straight story.
Let's give the locals a break and sympathize with them when the town damages them, not tarnish them with inaccurate and misleading reporting.
Andy Pannagio
Alexandria
(Editor's note: The article Mr. Pannaglo was published on Dec. 21, 2012. In it, reporter Gail Ober noted that town voters authorized selectmen to pay no more than $250,000 for the property. The $300,000 number was noted in reference to a 2008 warrant article regarding the same building that was defeated.)

Last Updated on Saturday, 02 February 2013 01:28

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The prison industrial complex is alive and doing well in U.S.A.

To the editor,
One would think that the civil Rights Reform of the 60s eliminated most of the discrimination against blacks and minorities. One would be wrong in thinking so. Michelle Alexander's new book "The New Jim Crow" makes an impressive case showing how the U.S. criminal justice system uses the so called "War on Drugs" to continue the use of new and old forms of discrimination.
In 1973, the National Advisory Commission on criminal justice standards and goals of the justice department stated that there is overwhelming evidence that prisons and jails create crime rather than prevent it and recommended no further construction of adult facilities. Of course the U.S. went in the exact opposite direction as they embarked on an "unprecedented in human history expansion of its prison system".
As with guns, one only has to follow the money. Fortune 500 companies (too numerous to mention here) are invested in "prison labor". The potential profit of the prison labor boom has encouraged U.S. corporate society to move their production forces into American prisons — and why not? The lowest prison wage is .17 an hour! This is a nifty profit since these companies turn around and sell their products to the U.S. government — i.e. the taxpayers — at premium prices.
The U.S. has 5 percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's prisons. According to the ACLU, the U.S. imprisons more people per capita than any nation in the world — including Russia, China and Iran. Enter private prisons for profit. A system outlawed in Israel in 2009 because these prisons for profit severely violated the prisoners' basic human rights. Again, Michelle Alexander: "The majority of young black men are 'warehoused in prisons' because their labor is no longer needed in today's globalized economy. Labeled as 'felons' they are permanently trapped as second class citizens."
Dead center in all this profit making is the Correction Corporation of America (CCA). They along with the GEO, another for profit prison company, get 40 percent of their revenue from federal source — namely we the taxpayers. The CCA has reached out to 48 states as part of a $250-million plan to own existing prisons and manage their operations. In return CCA wants a 20 year contract and assurances that the state will keep the prisons at least 90 percent full. The CCA is also a major player in the conservative organization known as ALEX, the American Legislative Exchange Council. One has to wonder why these conservative groups want to privatize industries such as defense, schools, prisons and hand them over to their largest donors? Oh, I think I just answered my own question.
Immigration convictions in record numbers are fueling corporate profits. Private prisons spend $45 million on lobbying and rake in 5 billion for immigrant detention alone. The prison industrial complex is alive and well and we're all paying for it. In the words of an astute observer on the national scene: "Every prison we build becomes a lasting monument to greed and fear and political cowardice that is now prevalent in this society".
George Maloof
Plymouth

Last Updated on Saturday, 02 February 2013 01:23

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Please don't try to get by by fixing up really old snow machines

To the editor,
Last year on January 22, 2012 Robert "Bobbo" Horn was the first one killed in a snowmobile accident in the state of New Hampshire. There is a message that Bobby would have told all you snowmobilers if he could. Working on an old sled, making due with old parts and rigging it to get it to run is not worth it because anything can go wrong.
There are a lot of riders out there that are making due because of the economy is bad; they have to get by with what they have and are unable to afford the right expensive parts and professional costs to fix them correctly. Even though Bobby was a boat motor, dirt bike and jeep mechanic, his mistake was getting by. As much as he knew, and after replacing all the fuel lines, the carburetor cable stuck wide open on the carburetor end, not at the fuel handle and cost him his life — unexpectedly and within a second. The lesson is, don't get by fixing up really old machines because you can never do enough to them to be safe. A mistake like that can cost you your life on any vehicle.
Kerren Horne
Laconia

Last Updated on Saturday, 02 February 2013 01:18

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Desire for secrecy is behind actions of Belknap Commissioners

To the editor,
Recent Letters to the Editor show a substantial amount of misinformation. For example, one writer (Friday, Jan. 25 - Andrew Sanborn) is unaware that it is necessary that the powers of government are split three ways, Legislative, Executive and Judicial. The split in governmental powers is necessary because there are examples of the adage, that power corrupts. Therefore in American government, not only are governmental powers split, it is vitally important the splits be maintained.
Secondly the fears that Andrew Sanborn lists about the legislative trampling on the executive do not exist.
Under the three way split of government, the job of the executive at all three levels of government is to do as they are told, and in every case it is the Legislative Branch that tells the Executive Branch "what to do:" Even the job of our Chief Executive, the President of the United States — his job is to do as he is told by the Legislative Branch, the Congress.
Another writer, Dorothy Piquado (also in the Friday Jan. 25 Daily Sun) is unaware that the County Convention is on immediate call by the County Commissioners (RSA 24:14-a) to make supplemental changes in the budget at the request of the County Commissioners, in a public meeting to which the public has been invited.
At the county level; the County Convention is required by law to pass a line-item budget. Without their line item okay, no money can be spent at the county level. Should changes become necessary the County Convention is immediately and easily available to act on the changes such as might be requested by the County Commissioners; but every meeting of the County Convention must be advertised some days in advance of the time it is held, and the public is kept informed of all the actions that the County Delegation did take at any of their meetings.
However, while every meeting of the County Convention is required by law to be public, not so-with the County Commissioners. I do not recall ever having seen any newspaper ads that state the date or the agenda , or that the public is invited to attend, the next meeting of the County Commissioners. Secrecy therefore seems to be the reason; for the County Commissioners to demand to be able to transfer money from one account to another without involving the County Convention. Secrecy in government, secrecy in government in and of itself, secrecy is wrong.
In my opinion, the current crop of County Commissioners demand, to have the personal power to be able to transfer county money, in secret, from one part of the approved county budget, to something not approved, and without holding a fully advertised public hearing (as it would be, if done through the easily accessible, and readily available County Convention). Secrecy in handling county money is wrong.
Robert Kingsbury
Laconia

Last Updated on Saturday, 02 February 2013 01:12

Hits: 396

 
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