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Teachers' contract will not 'bust' tax cap; modest override needed

To The Daily Sun,
I am writing in response to the front page article in Wednesday's edition of The Laconia Daily Sun on the Laconia teachers' contract and my comments relating to this contract. I read the headlines and accompanying article with dismay and a feeling of betrayal, as they took a statement that I made out of context and made it appear that this was the focus of my comments.

The headlines to this article were reminiscent of the sensational headlines that one might see on the cover of the New York Post and both the headlines and lead-in to the article made it appear that I was threatening the current City Council in an attempt to bully them into overriding the tax cap. This was not the case. I made no "promise" of November opponents and was merely responding to a question posed during a telephone conversation with a Sun reporter about what would likely happen if the council did not approve the override and agree to place the referendum on the ballot. The article also omitted my next statement to this reporter, which was that the City Council had shown a willingness to invest in the city's future in the past and I believed that they would do the right thing by approving a modest override and letting the voters decide the issue in November. Despite this fact, The Sun chose to run a headline that was provocative, and which it knew would boost that day's readership, rather than reporting on the real focus of my comments, which were relegated to page 11.

With regard to the portion of the main headline about "busting" the city tax cap, this made it appear that a massive override would be needed, which is far from the truth. As also noted on page 11, towards the end of the article, with the substantial cuts from the district's budget that are being proposed, the override amount would, at most, be a few hundred thousand dollars.

Laconia faces serious issues and we need to engage in a real debate over the city's future, its priorities, and how we fund necessary services. Running provocative headlines and focusing articles on out of context statements that are sure to prompt emotional reactions may move papers, but it does not serve the best interests of the city. This has not been my experience with The Laconia Daily Sun in the past and I sincerely hope that this was an aberration and not a sign of what is to be expected from The Sun in the future.

Michael Persson

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