To The Daily Sun,
Two years ago, the Belknap County Commissioners tried to foist on Belknap County residents a new 5-star jail. This jail not only had a $42 million price tag, but it would increase, not reduce, operating costs. The proposal would double the current jail costs and significantly increase county taxes for every Belknap County property owner.
Fortunately the Republican-led Belknap County Delegation refused to be railroaded into a quick decision and required further investigation into our county's jail situation. While the commissioners and Democrats reacted viciously to the Delegation's requirement for further investigation, investigating further was a wise decision.
Investigation revealed that there are ways to quickly reduce costs and jail crowding. Belknap County's electronic bracelet program allows early release and monitoring of inmates who are not a threat to society or themselves. This program reduces costs, helps relieve crowding at the jail, and provides a better way for qualified inmates to return to society.
The superintendent of jails indicated that, if there were another supervisor, about 15 additional inmates were candidates for the bracelet program. The Republican-led County Delegation funded, but the commissioners refused to hire, another bracelet program supervisor. Apparently the commissioners prefer to not address the jail problem if they don't get the solution they want.
Investigation of the prison situation has resulted in public discussion and alternative proposals. More recently the County Commissioners have suggested that an acceptable prison could probably be built for under $30 million.
In a Sept. 2 letter, Hunter Taylor of Alton, tells how Sullivan County achieved excellent results for about $7 million, after rejecting a proposed $45 million jail.
Although they were much maligned for refusing to rubber-stamp the commissioners' original proposal, the Republicans on the County Delegation appear to have saved taxpayers at least $12 million in building expenses and significant annual operational savings. If a solution like that in Sullivan County can be found for our jail problem, better results will be achieved while saving taxpayers lots of their hard-earned money.
For the best results for prison and other questions, we need wise and principled people as county commissioners and in the County Delegation (composed of Belknap County state representatives). We need to elect Dave Devoy and Dick Burchell to replace the current commissioners.
We need to re-elect the state representatives who refused to be railroaded by the commissioners and special interests, or elect people similarly committed to fully and openly investigating problems.
For state representatives from Meredith and Gilford, I support, and recommend that people vote on Sept. 9 for: Herb Vadney, George Hurt, Russ Dumais, and Glen Aldrich.
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 September 2014 10:00
To The Daily Sun,
I am asking for your support to remain a county commissioner for another two years. Although the last two years have been much more publicized than in the past, it has largely been over one consistent issue: A change in the form of county government that allows for a governing body to manage the business of the county while a legislative body determines how much it will cost with no responsibility for those decisions.
I have worked hard to maintain the system of check and balance as it has existed for the last 18 years that I have been involved in it. During the past four years, I have worked hard to ensure that all public meetings have been open and broadcast to the public with opportunity to speak at these meetings. You have a right to be part of this dialogue.
There is a radical group of legislators who gained a majority position in our Belknap County Convention and have used it to try to impose partisan politics at a local level in New Hampshire. Town and county government have not been subjected to this level of politics, and it is a shame to watch it happening.
These candidates win office by assuring reduced taxes, but do not care about the implications and government services that will be impacted. They have no intention of being around to be held accountable for their actions.
It is important to pay close attention to the information relayed to you by Representative Burchell. His actions do not always match his words. It is not realistic to present solutions to problems when you have not bothered to learn anything about the organization.
County government is uniquely positioned to serve the people in ways that a bigger and smaller system may not be able to as effectively or efficiently. I am interested in working through any barriers that exist to find new ways to provide services to the people who need them to make Belknap County a safe and desirable place to live and work.
Look at your county tax bill. It is no accident that the operating budget is lower than 2008 budget.
Rep. Burchell stated, "That is because of the stimulus dollars." Wrong again. The stimulus money cannot be used for operational budget items. I have worked hard in the last four years along with the other commissioners and administration to operate the county business as close to a corporate model as possible and will continue to do so.
I would like to address some of the points Representative Burchell's campaign group have been promoting. (He is one of the radical legislators who continues to make efforts to change county government by eliminating the board that is elected by you to manage the county in the same way selectmen manage a town).
a) The county does not need to pay another professional negotiator, as proposed by Rep. Burchell, to negotiate our collective bargaining agreements. County administrative staff members have specialized training to do this on behalf of the commissioners. The commissioners authorize and are responsible for all negotiations.
The commissioners are elected by the people to work on their behalf. The convention (state representatives) is responsible for appropriating funding for the implementation of the agreements. It is interesting to note that a fourth bargaining unit has been formed by employees in direct response to Rep. Burchell's threats to reduce wages and benefits to county employees.
b) Rep. Burchell and his group on the convention have been rude, discourteous, humiliating, and very offensive to the county employees. He has consistently spoken highly of the employees, but then voted and acted in ways that demonstrate contempt. Two years ago they made it very clear that the employees pay and benefits were a main target. In fact, they refused to provide funding for employee contractual obligations thereby putting the county in legal jeopardy.
c) Employee compensation levels, including administration positions, are evaluated annually. Funding has not allowed for increases since January 2012. Comparisons of pay and benefits with other positions with similar levels of responsibility, educational requirements, and job experience in similar localities are frequently analyzed and balanced with the needs of the county. The process is far superior to the process attempted by Rep. Burchell's group, where they arbitrarily decide to reduce one individual's salary and refused to state any reason for doing so. This was without any performance evaluation or knowledge of the duties and responsibility of that particular position. If this is how he intends to manage, employee morale will certainly diminish.
d) The county has never operated more efficiently. The consistent reductions in appropriations have encouraged more efficiency. This has not always resulted in more effectiveness, but Rep. Burchell has never inquired about effectiveness of county services, only the cost.
e) I have continuously upheld the statutes governing county operations. Rep. Burchell's group attempted to change the law by introducing legislation that would have taken the commissioners' authority and transfer it to the convention. Those pieces of legislation were soundly defeated by their committee of "peers" who listened to the testimony and imagined it being applied to their own counties. None of them thought it was a good idea.
f) Finally, the jail planning process. This is still in process and with continued evaluation and analysis we will arrive at the best possible solution for Belknap County and all of its taxpayers and the criminal justice system that must operate within it. I have always supported an open and inclusive process every step of way and continue to do so.
Please vote in the all-important primary election on Sept. 9. I ask for the opportunity to again serve you as your County Commissioner.
Belknap County Commissioner
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 September 2014 09:53
To The Daily Sun,
Talk about revisionist history, Marty Valengavich in his letter on Thursday engaged in just that. His old tried and true left wing, blame-Bush narrative, which has been debunked by so many writers including myself several times makes not the least difference to true believers like Marty.
Just the other day or two ago another writer here gave a web address that lets anyone who cares to see and listen to all the prominent Democrats during the Clintion administration, including he himself, telling the American people that Saddam Hussein indeed had WMD. Of course that doesn't matter to Marty, it's just not in the left's talking points. So once again I invite Marty and everyone else who loves to distort history and facts to spend a few moments and look it up.
Just think Marty, you have the chance to prove me wrong on this, but I'm not worried because even if you watched and listened to these visions from the past it wouldn't make the least difference to you, not one of the approved talking points.
Now, as for me blaming all you pesky liberals, I believe the point was you share the responsibility for Iraq. So why not man up and stop acting like a bunch of adolescents trying to pass the blame onto someone else?
Congrats on the "A" for your poster — nice counter point. But let's take note again of that pesky thing called history. Throughout human history, I am unaware of any pacifist nation, people, tribe or what have you, that made out very well. Can you give me a relevant example of such? There have always been aggressors willing to take advantage of the weak and indecisive. Pacifists invite aggressors like chickens invite chicken hawks and being strong and willing to confront evil does not make a person or nation an aggressor. This nation throughout the twentieth century has stood up for freedom and human rights and yes we have used military force when deemed necessary. If we had not you and I would likely be living under the heal of some tyrant and human rights would be nonexistent.
So why not be straight with readers and stop the political inspired spin.
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 September 2014 09:40
To The Daily Sun,
On Tuesday, my ballot in the Primary will be cast for candidates who display intelligence, commitment, and independent thought irrespective of politics. Andrew Hemingway is such a candidate, and I'm pleased to offer my support to him.
My perspective of Andrew is that of someone who served on the Bristol Board of Selectmen when he chaired the Budget Committee. I have also chaired Bristol's Budget Committee and represented the people of Grafton County as a state representative. I am very familiar with local and state government. Lastly, I'm a small-business owner; Shackett's Store is in its 70th consecutive year on Newfound Lake.
When Bristol adopted the town manager law, all of Bristol's commissions — and the wisdom of the commissioners — were gone overnight, leaving five selectmen and a newly constituted Budget Committee to fill the void. It was a time of great change and uncertainty.
Andrew Hemingway was the chair of the Budget Committee, and as the selectman member of the committee, I worked very closely with him. As a public official, Andrew led with integrity, fiscal responsibility, professionalism, and maturity. He made us on the Selectboard look good, by listening to our recommendations and delivering a budget that was reduced by half a million dollars, but maintained town services. We selectmen reduced the tax rate to historic lows, and stabilized them, because of the budgets that Andrew and his committee presented.
Andrew bridged, what had been, a huge chasm of trust between prior budget committees and the Board of Selectmen. I know he will accomplish the same when it comes to helping the folks in Concord get it right, regardless of whether there's a "D" or an "R" after their names.
Andrew's opponent in the primary, I honestly know nothing about, except what little I've read on the Internet and seen on the commercials that are beginning to take over the airwaves. I understand he hasn't lived in New Hampshire very long, except on paper and weekends for all but the past two years.
He has no experience in New Hampshire government at any level. From my vantage point as an elected official, I can tell you that no matter how easy it may look when you're running, if you end up in office, you still have to know what you're doing. I honestly worry that big business corporate know-how isn't necessarily a good predictor of success in New Hampshire governance. We know this from past experience, don't we?
I urge you look into the actual record of accomplishment of both candidates in the GOP gubernatorial primary. If you're like me, the choice is clear as a bell: Andrew Hemingway.
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 September 2014 09:30
To The Daily Sun,
Okay ... so we know that in one of the worst decisions, the Supreme Court said that corporations, secretive PACs, and the uber-wealthy with the deepest of pockets can contribute unlimited amounts to political campaigns.
So we know that those in Congress who have absolutely no moral compass will accept those monies from companies and individuals and that from then on they are beholden to their new masters (not to us the voters).
So we know that Eric Cantor has just confirmed our worst nightmares about cashing in on his so-called "public service" to lobby and to influence-peddle.
So we know that our democracy has been changed from "one-person, one vote" to "one dollar, one vote."
Okay, so we know. Now, what are we going to do about it?
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 September 2014 09:23