To The Daily Sun,
For those who listened to my radio program yesterday here is a brief report. My Ward 5 City Councilor Bob Hamel, a loyal listener, stopped by the WEZS studio to respond to some of my comments. Mayor Engler and city councilors are encouraged to participate when there is something changing at city hall affecting the citizens of Laconia. Following with a another 30 minute discussion in the parking lot, Bob and I were dissecting the City Charter Amendments that will be presented to the voters of Laconia at the November 4 election. I sense that city government threw seven amendments on the table and the council okayed them. Bob says there are some he will not vote for on 11/4. After explaining why my opposition to the most blatant change — where as it has been for decades, that any registered voter can write in a name on a ballot that has only person seeking a seat on the council, school board, and mayor. Once I explained what this council has done, there is a feeling that Bob understands me, especially when it might be Bob — and me!
Taxpayers of Laconia, the city with a voter-approved tax cap, might like to know where our Democrat and Republican State Representatives/candidates stand on the City Council to taking money from schools, fire, road repair to fund what started as a $43 million, then $32 million, and now a $7 MILLION loan to repair/rebuild the county jail, which is too much to keep us within the spending limits. Will the city council asks each candidate that question with an invitation to do this before the election. We are not looking for a campaign speech, just answers, please.
In the meantime, we have one candidate for our county commissioner seat who has worked diligently on following our county government for several years now, that is Dave Devoy. His challenger Mr. Pollack, unknown to me, will not offer an honest answer to what he must know by now!
Last Updated on Friday, 26 September 2014 07:35
To The Daily Sun,
I would like to take this time to thank the District 4 voters for your support in the primary. I will continue to work conscientiously while addressing forthcoming issues as your representative in Concord. Your confidence in me is appreciated.
Rep. Dennis Fields
Last Updated on Friday, 26 September 2014 07:32
We know from the childhood song that Old McDonald had a farm — but e-i-e-i-o — look who's got his farm now!
It's groups like American Farmland and Farmland Partners. These aren't dirt farmers wearing overalls and brogans, but Wall Street hucksters in Armani suits and Gucci loafers. The latest fast-buck fad for high-roller investment trusts, hedge funds and venture capital speculators is "farming." Not that these dude ranch dandies are actually plowing and planting. No, no — these are soft-hands people, buying up farmlands with billions of rich investors' dollars, and then tilling the tax laws and threshing the farmers who do the real cultivation.
For example, American Farmland Company — which owns 16 farms — is a combine of the largest real estate empire in New York City, two Florida sugar barons, a wealth management outfit, and the real estate brokerage arm of insurance giant Prudential. None of these nouveau sodbusters has a speck of dirt under its fingernails, but they've figured out how to work the land without touching it and still harvest a sweet profit. The founder of this scheme says, "It's like gold, but better, because there is this cash flow."
Cash flow? Yes, farmers are charged rent to till the Wall Streeters' land. Then the financiers get a prime cut of any profits from the crops that the farmers produce. Also, the combine is set up as a real estate investment trust, providing an enormous tax break for the Wall Street plowboys. And, of course, there's the mega-pay the moneyed elites will reap when they convert their scheme into securities for sale on the stock exchange.
The rich few get richer, farmers are turned into tenant laborers, and the farms are switched to high-profit crops that require heavy pesticide dosages and soak up scarce water resources. What a deal!
The fact of the matter is that gabillionaires who invest in hedge funds generally have the ethical and aesthetic sensibilities of dirt clods. They don't care whether the fund managers put their money into toxic derivatives or skunk pelt futures — as long as the investment pays a super-fat return. But since Wall Street's 2008 crash revealed that so many of these investment schemes were based on nothing more than financial cobwebs and fairy dust, some of the clods began seeking hedge funds that would put their money into something more tangible and down to earth. And this is how Wall Street discovered dirt. More specifically, farmland.
Such money handlers as BlackRock (the world's largest asset manager) and multi-billionaire money manager George Soros now offer big pieces of America's heartland as an asset that faraway super-rich penthouse dwellers can own and till for mega profits. As a result, ag professors report that their farmbelt conferences on land economics — which have normally drawn an audience of farmers and local farm lenders — are dominated these days by Wall Street speculators. Moreover, seminars on investing in American farmland are being held in such financial centers as Dubai and Singapore.
But this Wall Street land rush is as flimsy as the debt-derivatives fad proved to be, for it's not based on economic realities. While crop prices are at record highs today, the painful historic record is that they will plummet tomorrow, destroying the cash flow that makes the hedge fund investment in land work. Then, of course, the gabillionaires will rush to shed their overalls. But — who will line up to buy the land? Certainly not real farmers, who can't afford the inflated Wall Street price. And especially not young people who want to farm, but find it hard to locate affordable land. America desperately needs this next generation of food producers, yet we're letting Wall Street speculators literally wall the land they need. To learn more, contact the National Young Farmers Coalition: www.youngfarmers.org.
(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
To The Daily Sun,
I would like to say thank you to Margaret DeSisto for having the courage to write her letter posted in The Sun on Tuesday, Sept. 23. The tone of her message reveals how fed up she is with the approach the leaders in our community have taken toward a situation that has multiple life safety issues and has a devastating rippling effect on the general public. I agree with what she has to say.
I applaud Mrs. DeSisto for speaking up and including all the names and numbers of the council members and other city officials. Not long ago, I wrote to my councilor with some similar concerns. Three weeks later, I had to call the councilor to get a response, and I was told that these were touchy subjects. Yes, they are, that is why I wrote to you. I was born and raised in this city and even though I left for college and for careers, I noticed the difference when I returned just seven years later.
There is an attitude here where certain types of people think they are a bad-ass and that the rules do not apply to them. There are too many rednecks, criminals, frauds (this includes some of our community leaders) and one can just feel the tension in the air just running errands around town.
Unfortunately (for most of us not working for a public or non-profit enterprise), the county is a community service-based region. That means a large percentage of people will be receiving public assistance or considered transients or homeless people. Obviously, this directly affects economics as these "needy" people need to be subsidized. Look at all the budget shortfalls or just look at the staggering figure that approximately 60 percent of the public school students receive free or reduced price lunch. That is an appalling amount and the county should be trying to reduce that figure, not encourage it. This has definitely created an entitlement attitude and people move here from other states because we are so service oriented to these folks.
Concord, Rochester and Laconia are prime locations. Methadone addicts just need to go get their drink in Concord each day and then go home and veg out and find mischief with all their free time on their hands. Someone close to us had information on a heroin dealer in town, but the police would not even return a call after three attempts by this person. They gave up, no doubt since they were already in fear.
These same "needy" people are causing an inconvenience to everyone who wants to do the right thing and live a peaceful life. These "needy" people live among us and we see it every day. They are your neighbors, your brother-in-law, a friend of a friend, etc., etc.
What is really saddening to me is that these people are my fellow Americans. The problem is that no one does anything about it. Nobody getting free stuff is dumb enough to do something to jeopardize that free stuff. A good example is the apartment building recently condemned on Main Street in Concord, in plain view of the state's Capitol. There it is hiding in plain view. No one reports it because they don't want to rock their own boat and not be on the freebie parade of life.
Many of the employees working for agencies that provide services to these "needy" people know their clients are drug abusers, cheaters, crooks, using their kid's disability not to work, etc., but do not do anything because of retaliation from the agency or they just turn a blind eye. If a client of one of these agencies commits murder, dies in a fire or is involved with causing a major motor vehicle accident it is swept under the rug and then city buries the evidence and withholds that information from the public. All the while the taxpayers are paying for the services in the first place.
I find it quite contradictory of the agency mission statement to help make productive citizens that are independent and give back to the community. That's a laugh. I also know this firsthand from working as a maintenance technician for local non-profits. Oh, the stories I could tell you. Our leaders seem to think they are above the law, hell-bent on their own agenda, all the while enabling these issues to accumulate.
My neighborhood in the South End and particularly my street recently, is a microcosm of our society and sounds eerily similar to what Mrs. DeSisto has to endure. I invite anyone to come spend the day and see what really goes on. I have only noticed these happenings because of a sudden illness in which I am unable to work or drive a car anymore. As I go through the process of applying for the benefits that I worked all my life contributing to, I am being scrutinized and I amazed at how intelligent these "needy" people are to be able to complete all the documentation on their own.
Personally, I do not feel safe either. Not on my property, my neighborhood or most of the city.
Unfortunately, our concerns tend to fall on deaf ears, and I am not sure how to resolve that. I do know that if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. It is past time for people to be held accountable and accept responsibility for their actions.
We all have a choice in what we do. I hate to be negative, but we have some serious issues to address. I wish the good people could get together and take back our community and our country. Thanks for reading and I hope you truly give some thought to the best direction for the community to go forward. We need to do what is best for all, not just some.
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 September 2014 10:52
To The Daily Sun,
The Belknap County Commissioners and Representatives Frank Tilton, chair of the executive committee of the state reps's delegation, and Rep. Collette Worsman, chair of the delegation itself, were in court again on Tuesday. The commissioners had asked Rep. Tilton to schedule a meeting this week to approve budget transfers that were needed immediately.
According to the jail superintendent, nursing home administrator, and the sheriff, the county will not be able to pay some employees on Friday if the transfers are not approved. Staffing levels at the nursing home, jail, and dispatch center would fall to dangerous levels. Nonetheless, Rep. Tilton refused to schedule the meeting saying he had already scheduled a meeting for the following Monday. Facing an emergency situation, the commissioners returned to Judge O'Neil for help.
It is important to know that the commissioners have not over-spent the budget. The money is available but it's in the wrong "lines." Just like at home, when you budget money for a vacation and the dryer quits. You move the money you need from the vacation "line" to the dryer "line." There is plenty of money in the nursing home budget for full-time nurses but they haven't been able to hire enough full-time nurses for full coverage as they had anticipated when they prepared the budget. Instead they've hired part-timers to cover. Problem is, they don't have enough money in the part time salary "line" and would like to transfer money, as they have done as standard practice in the past, from the full-time "line" to cover it. But they are now legally prohibited from doing so by the injunction sought by these same two representatives. Either the commissioners risk being in contempt of court by moving the money, or they risk damage to the important institutions they manage.
If Reps. Tilton and Worsman want to take over management of the county from the duly elected commissioners, then they have to meet. It is as simple as that. The refusal to meet is not only self-defeating, it puts the residents of our nursing home, the inmates, and the staff in both institutions at unacceptable risk. What are the local police chiefs going to say when the county dispatch center closes over the weekend and they have to be their own dispatchers? Will we be able to call them at home?
This is one of the reasons New Hampshire counties are run by commissioners. It just takes two to make a decision, but the executive committee needs a quorum. Why were our two reps willing to spend five hours in court on Tuesday to argue that they shouldn't have a two-hour meeting on Thursday? What did the reps achieve by wasting a day of work for the county's department heads, administrator, and finance director. Who pays these attorneys? Where does the money come from for all this unnecessary legal wrangling?
Rep. Tilton lost his race for county commissioner in 2008 but still wants to run the county, apparently. He should do as Rep. Burchell has done and run for the commission.
Candidate for Belknap County Commission
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 September 2014 10:48