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Do not vote for Democrats or Republicans; vote for Libertarians

To the editor,
Yes, Bob Meade is correct. As anyone who is not part of their team can see, the executive branch of the current administration in Washington is out of control. But his January 22 column falls short of its potential because like so many others it recognizes the problem but has no clue to the solution.
Surely he knows a few letters (or a few thousand letters) or a few protests will not halt the Obama socialists gradual dismantling of the U.S. Constitution.
The solution is, has been, and will remain in the voting booth. Do NOT vote for Democrats.
That, however, is not to say that you should vote for Republicans. They are no better. Perhaps with their burgeoning militant theocracy they are even more immediately dangerous to our freedom.
The corrupt entrenched self-serving establishment is leading us to ruin.
If people would vote Libertarian that would get the attention of the crooks and despots as they are voted out of office.
David M. Zebuhr
Gilford

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 01:38

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We should not accept further Delphi-style facilitation in WRSD

To the editor,
"Diverse" and "nuance." You, editor Ed Engler, co-chair of Lakes Region Listens, are reported to have used those words in praise of Wednesday's "community conversation" about whether or not to implement all-day kindergarten in the Winnisquam Regional School District.
I would use these words: diversion and nonsensical. How else to describe the misapplication of Delphi-style group facilitation to a yes/no question? The agenda we were given at the beginning of the meeting clearly stated the topic for the evening: "Should the Winnisquam Regional School District begin offering 5-year-olds a full day kindergarten program?" This question is instantly recognizable as a warrant article voted down at last year's annual school district meeting. Yet here it was again, up for discussion at the behest of the school board. It wouldn't take a cynic to see this retreaded idea as an effort to divert attention away from the many real problems we face in this district.
The board and administration may have been pleased to read that we had a "healthy conversation," and "how nuanced the positions are, in terms of it not being a black or white issue." But this is utter nonsense. Diverse and nuanced opinions only matter when groups discuss open-ended questions, exploring a range of possible solutions to address a specific problem. But we had no problem statement; neither the board nor the administration had bothered to create one. At my table — with four public school employees and three "civilians," plus the facilitator — we began to create our own. But we couldn't know on what issue or issues we should focus. Without leadership providing guidance on the biggest challenges facing the district, we could only guess. All we knew for certain was that someone in a leadership position didn't like the answer on kindergarten we gave them last year.
An informal poll of Wednesday's participants revealed that no minds were changed. A vote on the issue before the meeting would have yielded the same result as a vote held after our diverse and nuanced conversations. Why should anyone have expected a different outcome? No relevant learning materials on the topic were available at the meeting, just a "fact sheet" that provided unhelpful nuggets such as the fact that 84 percent of public schools in southern states offer full day kindergarten. A fact, yes, but hardly relevant to whether we should do so in Winnisquam. It's no surprise that we came and went with our opinions intact.
We had been told that our school board would decide whether or not to bring this issue for another vote based on the Lakes Region Listens report of this meeting. Except — the board blinked. Less than 24 hours before the long-planned "community discussion," the board voted unanimously to withdraw support for the proposed warrant article. The reason given was apparently "economic." But what had really changed?
We can't know what was going on in the minds of board members (the meeting minutes dedicate far more space to the all-consuming chocolate milk crisis than to this $300,000 warrant article), but it is not difficult to believe that, after raising the issue publicly, some on the board didn't want to be put in the position of voting "no" after receiving the Lakes Region Listens report. Even a true believer in the cause of all-day kindergarten should see that this group facilitation approach was useful only as a shield, buffering the board from the direct voice of the people. The board could be reasonably certain that the report would favor all-day kindergarten, giving them an excuse for revisiting a decision we had made just 10 months before. That's what Delphi does.
And that's why we should not accept further Delphi-style facilitation in the Winnisquam district. We should expect our district leaders to assess and prioritize the challenges we face. We should demand that they create problem statements addressing our challenges, and then ask for direct community input in open meetings. At last year's district meeting I suggested a couple such problem statements, and I did so again in print and in e-mails to the board. If they don't believe, as I do, that low proficiency in reading by too many of our middle school children is an issue we should discuss, or that having our high school ranked 63 out of 82 schools in math is a problem we could brainstorm, they could just look to the recent survey of high school students, teachers, and parents (posted on the high school web site) to find plenty of other challenges that we must address if we hope to improve our schools.
The road to solutions starts with creating a problem statement that focuses on a definable issue. It must be unambiguous and devoid of assumptions. It can't be a simple yes / no question about a specific program. That first step is the responsibility of the leadership team we've hired or voted into office. Then, if they want diverse and nuanced opinions that matter, they need to take the next step down that road: they need to listen — directly, in open session — to a variety of opinions. We don't need outside facilitation. We need leadership.
Ken Gorrell
Northfield

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 01:31

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I plan to keep $5-$10 in cash close by for small, local purchases

To the editor,
I just wanted to write in in support of the "small business" letter sent in by John from his local business, "My Coffee House", requesting us to keep $5 or $10 close by for our local small purchases. I for one plan do just that, to help keep our hard earned money in our community. I think the credit cards get enough, don't you?
Janine Page
Another small business owner
Laconia

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 01:06

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NRA has same view of 2nd Amendment as Supreme Court does

To the editor,
Another day and lo and behold another anti-gun/NRA rant that is long on rhetoric and short on facts. Mr. Maloof of Plymouth made a lot of statements in Wednesday's letter but didn't back them up with any facts, which I find to be a common occurrence when people from the anti-gun crowd submit letters to this paper. I am going to take the liberty to make a statement that I can't prove and that is, if these people weren't rallying against firearms they would find another issue du jour to vent their pent-up anger on.
First off let me say factually that firearms don't last forever because if they did there would be no market for antique firearms that is booming at this time. Secondly, I doubt if Mr. Maloof still drives his first car or pedals his first bike. Also,think of all the new tools that come to market on almost a daily basis. I could go on and on but I think you get the drift. Another non-fact in his letter was seeing assault weapons of all kinds on the streets. What an idiotic statement! When are you people going to learn what an assault rifle is before making these statements that show your ignorance of the subject that you are writing about.
"Don't think for a minute that the NRA doesn't get a cut from every firearm sold" Mr. Maloof's words. Where's the beef? Please fax the proof of that statement to The Sun so that it can be published for everyone to see. Does the NRA get donations from the gun industry? Yes they do, just as Obama gets political donations from the NEA (teachers) and other unions. The bulk of the donations from the gun industry go to finance the firearms safety courses which the NRA sponsors all over the country. Where does the NEA's money go?
He also states "way over a million of us have been killed by their products since the Kennedy assassination." Again, all noise and no facts. I think if you included the Vietnam War and other battles since JFK's assassination, the number would still be well below his.
" So it's never been the right to keep and bear arms and maintaining a state militia aka negro slave patrols." What the heck is he talking about? He claims the NRA has a distorted view of the 2nd Amendment and a hunter's right to kill four legged creatures and for children to attend school without being riddled by assault rifles. (See 2nd. paragraph.) The NRA has the same view of the 2nd Amendment as the Supreme Court does.
So Mr. Maloof, if you can back up your statements with facts I will gladly retract all of mine. In the meantime I suggest you sit down with someone and discuss your penchant for maligning the truth which you seem to be proficient at. You certainly could use the help. Oh, by the way, I hope you have a large supply of chicken wings to protect yourself with in case of a home invasion.
Dave Schwotzer
Meredith

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 01:03

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8.9% increase comes after 5 years of level funded county taxes

To the editor,
The Belknap County Commissioners have remained silent, generally preferring to discuss these issues in open public meetings, but at some point the correct information must be provided to those who are unable to attend the meetings.
Each year the commissioners prepare a recommended budget, based on the knowledge and experience of the professionals who are hired or elected to manage their departments and to provide county services. This budget is presented to the delegation with the expectation that it will be thoroughly reviewed, challenged, and revised. It is further expected that the delegation will take the time to learn about county operations and the costs and challenges associated with providing these particular public services. From the beginning stages of budget preparation (departmental requests) and through every revision, the impact on taxes is the primary concern. At the point in the process where the commissioners receive the departmental requests, mid–late September, every discussion regarding the budget is held in open, public meetings. There are minutes posted on the county's website, usually reporters are present, and some are televised on public access tv. The commissioners encourage public participation at every meeting.
It is always difficult when each biennium, a new delegation is elected and one of their first tasks is to appropriate a county budget. Often they have no prior knowledge of county operations, very little time to devote to attending county meetings, and all of the state's issues on their plate to contend with. So yes, it is concerning when a brand new delegation makes it's first order of business to exert it's statutory right to restrict the governing body's ability to transfer any funds from department to department. For many years past delegations have allowed commissioners to use their discretion up to $10,000 for transfers of this nature. There has been no problem, concern, or even a question asked about this process.
The commissioners spend all year planning, forecasting, and monitoring the budget. They encourage employees to reduce spending where they can, consolidate, cooperate, and conserve. They also acknowledge the employees for the work they do on behalf of the 65,000 residents of the county, who only become aware of these services when something goes very wrong for them or their families. All of this goes on all year long, with little to no input or involvement by the delegation. Every year the commissioners request, invite, and encourage delegation participation at meetings, on committees, and in consultation regarding the impacts of their work in Concord on the county's property tax payers.
This year's 8.9 percent tax increase comes after five years of level funded or decreased county taxes. No elected body wants to be the one to allow for an increase, however, this is a trend that cannot continue without significant impact on county operations and therefore county services. An operation of this size and responsibility, with approximately $30 million dollars coming in and $30 million dollars going out, with over 200 employees providing public services, requires general personnel, finance, and administrative oversight and accountability. In addition to an elected governing body to provide policy direction, long range planning and stewardship over taxpayer money and property. All of this depends upon a legislative body to appropriate responsible funding.
With tighter revenue and expense budgets, comes reduced undesignated fund balance. The ability to maintain a stable fund balance at a reasonable level has long been recognized as a governmental accounting best practice. For many years the county has maintained a stable level of fund balance, while continuing to hold the tax rate level. We have been able to make significant infrastructure improvements, implement energy efficiency strategies, reduce the county's workforce by 37 full time employees, and are well into a very public planning process for a new community corrections facility and jail. As the fund balance deteriorates, our ability to plan for controlled, stable, necessary tax increases is diminished, along with our credit rating. We believe that this is the point (after five years) at which a tax increase at the county level is finally unavoidable.
At this delegation's insistence that county taxes shall not increase under their watch, the commissioners have gone back to the drawing board and identified the areas of least impact to the provision of services. This will not be without sacrifice by the county employees and will certainly slow the progress of some programs. The commissioner's initial recommended budget increase would have cost an average homeowner approximately $25 in 2013. The majority of the delegation has chosen to pass that entire cost onto 200 of their constituents who happen to be county employees at a rate of approximately $2,000 each in 2013.
The Belknap County Board of Commissioners
John H. Thomas
Stephen H. Nedeau
Edward D. Philpot, Jr.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 00:58

Hits: 406

 
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