To The Daily Sun,
Much discussion and controversy has surrounded our county jail in recent months. As a candidate for state representative from Laconia I decided to visit this facility and tour the inside.
The jail is made up of a "hodge-podge" of several additions constructed over the years, making it a difficult place to process and house inmates. The jail was not designed for women, but about two dozen women are housed there — in the gymnasium. The jail was not designed for the mentally ill or drug and alcohol patients. The present jail does not meet the needs of housing the current population and providing space for essential rehabilitation programs.
One of the positive aspects of the jail's policies is to provide programs and activities to help ensure that inmates will not return. For example a GED is required of all inmates who have not graduated from high school. The jail does not simply "house" inmates. Programs are in place to rehabilitate inmates and make them useful in society.
The Belknap County correctional facility does not meet codes and standards that are available to make the facility safe and efficient. For example, this old facility does not meet nationally recognized standards for correctional facilities. It does not meet fire safety codes. As a former New Hampshire State Fire Marshal, it was my job to enforce the Life Safety Code. My consulting practice also focused on understanding and interpreting this major fire code. Special chapters in the Life Safety Code are devoted to detention and correctional occupancies. Our jail does not meet these provisions.
Also, the facility does not meet the provisions of the ADA — Americans with Disabilities Act.
A major problem with not meeting known codes and standards is that should something happen, Belknap County could be sued and might have to pay large amounts of money.
All of New Hampshire's county jails, with the exception of Belknap and Coos counties, have up-to-date, modern correctional facilities. Other counties have addressed and solved this problem. Why haven't we?
To me an obvious problem exists with our current jail facility. It should be easily addressed and discussed with an acceptable solution arrived at.
The question is clear and with a common-sense approach a solution should be easily reached. Of course, this would require that all commissioners and the convention truly understand the problems with the jail facility and are willing to solve the problem.
I would urge any new county commissioners and delegation members who have not seen this building to tour the jail to see for themselves the conditions of this facility before government work begins in January 2015. Superintendent Ward is more than happy to give tours.
Knowledge and cooperation are the keys to his current dilemma. I would like to promote this climate and help solve the jail issue.
Dr. Thomas Dawson
Candidate for State Representative
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 August 2014 11:10
To The Daily Sun,
It's that time again. Welcome to another edition of Tea Party Potty Tricks brought to you by the Center for the Study of Absurdity. As you know, we here at the center dutifully strive to keep the highest quality of stupid in the news. As a famous Jedi Knight once said, "the crazy is strong in this one".
First up is this week's Lord of the Flies prize winner. In a discussion on the minimum wage workers who would like a reasonable living wage, Fox business analyst Charles Payne lectured you lowly American workers, saying, "You are stuck in this because somehow you were born with deficiencies that you'll only have a certain skill set, the minimum skill set." If you think that is sick, consider Stephen Steinlight, senior analyst for the conservative Center for Immigration Studies. Speaking to members of the Highlands Tea Party Steinlight said, "We all know, if there ever was a president that deserved to be impeached, it's this guy, alright? ... And I wouldn't stop. I would think being hung, drawn, and quartered is probably too good for him". Murica! Freedumb!
From the Twilight Zone of the Walking Dead cometh Right Wing Christian broadcasters this week. You want deficiencies? We got 'em. Wildman Pastor Rick Wiles is pleased that Ebola has emerged because, he says, "Ebola could solve America's problems with atheism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography and abortion." No kidding. Wiles notes that having the blood of Jesus on you will protect you. Of course it will, Rick.
Neo-Confederate Pastor Kevin Swanson claims that "radical socialists and communists helped launch the Republican Party and put Lincoln in the White House." This is the same fruitcake that said buying Girl Scout cookies promotes lebianism.
What is an edition of potty tricks without Michele Bachmann? Incomplete! Over on the Pastor Lars Larson's show, Ms. Bachman went on her usual wild-eyed blabberfest by calling for Obama's impeachment and then saying impeachment talk was a plot by Democrats to "help Democrat's electoral chances in the fall." House Speaker John Boehner has said the same thing after suing the president. It's a nefarious plot.
Want more senselessness? Boehner is suing the prez because of his use of executive action but as recently as a week ago, he demanded that the prez take executive action on the child immigrant crisis because the Congress couldn't do their job and is now on vacation. That is rich. His suit against Obama is because he used an executive order to delay Obamacare's employer mandate. This is not The Onion, folks, it's Bobby Jingal's Party of Stupid (his words).
Unfortunately, ignorance and absurdity is not always hilarious. As you all know, the Israeli-Gaza situation is deeply troubling. Hamas keeps shooting rockets at Israel like psychos and Israel has killed a thousand civilians, including reckless bombing of some schools and even a hospital. Hamas is nuts. But recently some Israeli officials have joined them in another episode of "Who Left The Bag of Idiots Open?" In an Arutz Sheva op-ed, Israeli Deputy Speaker Moshe Feiglin made a case for ethnic cleansing in Gaza. Adding fuel to the madness, The Daily Sabah reported Ayelet Shaked of the far-right Jewish Home Party called for the slaughter of Palestinian mothers who give birth to "little snakes." After calling for killing them all and demolishing every house, she added, "They are all our enemies and their blood should be on our hands. This also applies to the mothers of the dead terrorists." Moms, too. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan asked, "What is the difference between this mentality and Hitler's?" There is none, sir. In other Middle Eastern matters, actor James Woods claimed on his Twitter feed that Obama released the leader of ISIS in 2009. Nope, that was Bush in 2004.
Those with eyes to see and noses to smell have always known the right-wing Benghazi conspiracy letters from Steve Earle, Tony Boutin, Don Ewing, and Russ Wiles were all spastic gushes of right-wing propaganda from start to finish. The ghost of Joseph Goebbels looks down on them with pride.
But listen, we here at the Center for the Study of Absurdity think they deserve a special prize for their heroic time-wasting effort to spread the lies of Fox News and its junkies. The Republican-led House Committee on Benghazi has now just quietly concluded "that no one was deliberately misled, no military assets were withheld and no stand-down order (to U.S. forces) was given." Shucks, boys, you got it all wrong — again.
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 August 2014 11:06
To The Daily Sun,
I was pleased to read in last week's Laconia Daily Sun that state Sen. Andrew Hosmer had attended a Laconia City Council meeting to update the mayor and councilors about what was happening in Concord.
I appreciate Sen. Hosmer's ability to work across party lines and do what's in the best interest of his constituents. His common sense, bipartisan approach to problem solving saved the City of Laconia, and all of us taxpayers, $200,000.
Thank you Sen. Hosmer and I look forward to you serving another term.
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 August 2014 10:56
To The Daily Sun,
After reading Bob Greemore's letter to the editor in the Saturday, Aug. 9, Sun I have to say he nailed it when stating that Michael Kitch was very biased in his writing about the conflicts between the commission and the county delegation. This is not an unusual occurrence when you consider that 90 percent plus of people in the news media today are registered Democrats. You have to wonder what is taught in journalism school today. It certainly isn't reporting the facts no matter what your personal feelings are on an issue.
I also agree with Rep. Greemore's assessment of the commission, with good reason. First let's go back to Obama's "shovel ready stimulus plan." The commissioners spent over a half million dollars of the grant they received on refurbishing their offices and meeting room and had a gym erected for their use, plus almost $18,000 was spent on signage. This money was spent while the roof on the nursing home wing was leaking and while they watched the jail deteriorate. When questioned about the use of the money, Deb Shackett answered with an evasiveness that wasn't an answer at all. Keep in mind the commissioners also wanted to spend a large amount of money on bulletproof glass for their offices. The way they've conducted themselves I can understand why.
They attached themselves to the Ricci-Greene proposal for the jail at the jaw-dropping price of $42.6 million. This is a company that stated that almost nobody accepts their first proposal. My question is: "Why the heck do you present it?" Commissioner Philpot has stated that they had no intention of going with that plan. Yeah, right. If the members of the convention, along with the public, hadn't intervened the construction would be ongoing at this time. Administrator Deb Shackett while, exiting a meeting, stated, "We're going to get our jail." I guess with her it's personal.
Now let's move on to legal decisions this commission has made. They filed a lawsuit against the Register of Deeds in an attempt to force her to deposit the receipts from her office into the general fund, which is clearly against state law. They lost. The only reason I can come up with for this move is so they could play with the money during the month until it had to be paid to the state. They also filed suit against the convention, again to gain more power which by law wasn't theirs. They lost again. Now keep in mind that Commissioner Philpot is a practicing attorney and the lawsuit against the convention was brought with the assistance of a retired judge. They had to know they were wrong going in. Another law they disregarded was making annual reports to the N.H. Attorney General on conditions at the jail as required by law. He must be proud of his fellow attorney.
Sheriff Wiggin, in a letter to the editor, stated that he feels competent to offer an informed opinion on the jail, and I agree with that statement. I also understand that he wants the best possible working conditions for the staff at the jail. The problem(s) I have is the concern that a lot of people involved in this issue have for the inmates. Before you send out your hate mail let me say I don't want the county to bring back chain gangs and bread and water diets etc. Remember these people broke the law and the last I knew jails were supposed to be a form of punishment and not a tuition-free college.
I read where the commission voted to apply for a grant for poetry reading for the inmates. Weren't there any grants for Zumba and yoga? They said it was a way for them to cope with their anger, loss, sadness, loneliness, grief and frustration. Gee, I thought that was what jail was supposed to cause so that they wouldn't want to come back. The saying comes to mind, "I can do that sentence standing on my head." We shouldn't be fostering that mindset.
Let's elect pragmatic people to the commission who will use federal guidelines for prisons as their objective while keeping the taxpayers of the county as their first priority. If this means breaking off with Ricci-Greene, so be it. Sometimes you have to cut your losses and move on.
To the residents of Laconia I say, "You're going to shoulder the largest tax burden of this jail so when you vote vote your pocketbook and do your homework." I also think it's time for a new administrator who won't let personality guide her/his decisions and I would hope the new commission will seriously consider that move.
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 August 2014 10:53
To The Daily Sun,
Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a very moving ceremony at our Statehouse in Concord.
Our state representative from Meredith and Gilford, Lisa DiMartino, was among the honorees by the Governor's Commission on Disability. Lisa was recognized as the legislator most dedicated to the issues facing the differently-abled community. We are lucky to have such a tireless and principled legislator representing Meredith and Gilford and this special population in Concord.
As I looked around the room and as I listened to honorees' stories, I pinched myself at my own good fortune. A random accident, an unforeseen health outcome; all of us could see our lives or that of someone we hold dear change in an instant.
I credit Lisa, all the honorees, and many of those in attendance at this ceremony for their boundless energy on behalf of loved one, those in their care or those to whom they provide opportunities.
And I congratulate Lisa on a very deserved recognition.
Kate Miller, Chair
Belknap County Democrats
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 August 2014 09:22