Linda Hamrick - Neglect of Great Danes could have been prevented

When The Humane Society of the United States entered a mansion in Wolfeboro on June 16 in collaboration with the Wolfeboro Police Department and representatives from the Conway Area Humane Society and Pope Memorial SPCA, what we found was appalling and even somewhat unimaginable.
Animal waste covered the walls and floors, the smell of ammonia overwhelmed our Animal Rescue Team, and 84 Great Danes had been trapped inside, living in a place entirely unfit for them or any other living creature. This situation could have been alleviated much sooner or avoided altogether if New Hampshire had stronger commercial dog breeding laws on the books.

Under existing law, breeders are licensed with the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture if he/she sells 50 individual puppies or 10 litters in one year. This allows many high-volume breeders to escape any regulatory oversight. The outpouring of support from the community has been tremendous — the area’s humane groups, law enforcement, veterinary community and others are helping to care for these dogs. However, if the Granite State is to take the lessons from this case seriously, the state must work to prevent it from happening again and dedicate resources to ensure regulations are consistently enforced and that the requirements to breed dogs commercially are strengthened to prevent situations from ever reaching this level of cruelty.

The HSUS, which is absorbing 100 percent of the costs to rehabilitate and care for these Great Danes through the duration of the criminal investigation, expects costs to reach the hundreds of thousands. But why must we and our supporters cover these costs at all?

Under current law, the costs to care for animals in investigations rests with the town in which the neglect occurs, in this case, the town of Wolfeboro and, by extension, its taxpayers. And since New Hampshire towns can’t possibly cover tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of expenses required to care for animals in cases like these, humane organizations — like The HSUS and our state’s non-profit animal shelters — are placed in the difficult position of absorbing the costs to care for them or make the agonizing decision to not intervene.

We need a new system that both protects the rights of defendants and ensures costs do not fall to taxpayers and non-profits to absorb. Caring for animals presents a unique challenge in our criminal justice system and a creative solution is necessary to address it. Other states are taking steps to fix this problem and New Hampshire lawmakers can learn from what’s working elsewhere.

The first step is to upgrade New Hampshire’s commercial breeding regulations and shift to a system in which the number of breeding females at a facility — not the number of puppies sold — is the bar by which these operations are regulated. This will allow state officials to identify the need for registration and inspection on-site, rather than the lengthy process to track down paperwork.

The state must also increase resources allocated to the Department of Agriculture to ensure adequate staffing for enforcement. New Hampshire has a paltry number of staff to inspect and regulate commercial breeders, especially compared to our neighbors in Maine, which dedicates an entire department to the regulation and protection of companion animals.

Further, the state must work to pass a comprehensive cost of animal care law. Responsibility for costs associated with caring for animals seized in a cruelty investigation should fall on the person charged, with due process and provided that there is probable cause of the evidence.

We need not reinvent the wheel on either issue. The Governor’s Commission on the Humane Treatment of Animals is already charged with finding solutions to the exorbitant costs to care for animals in cruelty cases and to promote legislation to ensure the safety and welfare of domestic animals in the Granite State.

The time is now for the Commission, the governor and state legislators to come together to work on solutions to address these issues and to combat the inhumane treatment of dogs in puppy mills.

(Linday Hamrick is the New Hampshire state director for The Humane Society of the United States.)

  • Written by Edward Engler
  • Category: Columns
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Jim Hightower - 'Amazing results' ?

What's the matter with these people? The Trumpsters in the White House and Congress, I mean.

Start with The Donald himself, a guy who can't pass a mirror without casting an adoring eye at his own reflection. What is it about him that requires the top officials of his government to humiliate themselves publically in the White House cabinet room, making them try to outdo each other in a groveling worship-a-thon of praise for this magnificence? And what's wrong with his cabinet members? One after another, the vice president, chief of staff, Treasury secretary, secretary of State and all the other supposedly-powerful luminaries of the government of the United States of America were called upon in June's televised cabinet session to say their name, then meekly offer their smarmiest praise of Trump's integrity, agenda and manly leadership. This spectacle of forced adulation of "The Leader" was so eerily insane that even North Korea's Kim Jong Un would've been too embarrassed to orchestrate it!

Yet Trump went even further in his flight from reality. Not satiated by the string of superlatives from his cabinet of sycophants, he resorted to stroking his own ego, opening with the fanciful claim that Americans are "seeing amazing results" from his presidency. Shifting into overdrive, the chief proclaimed that "never has there been a president — (except maybe) FDR, who's passed more legislation, who's done more things than what we've done."

Uh... no, Mr. President... not actually, not even close. I realize you don't "believe" in facts, but here's one to sober you up: The Trump White House has produced no major legislation. Zero.

You're right, however, that we Americans are seeing truly "amazing results" from your six months on the job: We're amazed that in such a short time your so-called presidency is mired in conflicts of interest, constitutional quagmires, erratic behavior, ideological arrogance, tweeted ignorance, lame policy proposals and — let's admit the obvious — your own incompetence. If President Trump and his apologista in Congress wonder why they're consistently getting such miserable job approval ratings from the public, they should take a deep breath, hold their noses, and actually look at the god-awful policies they're pursuing.

For example, they're intentionally pushing a Draconian health care scheme that would cause widespread suffering for non-rich Americans and even deaths, while also slipping another tax giveaway of nearly a trillion dollars to corporations and wealthy investors. It's so ugly that Trump, who originally said he was "100 percent behind this," now calls the bill "mean."

And the one widely-popular idea that Trump promised — a trillion-dollar investment to create good jobs for repairing America's collapsing infrastructure — has turned into a scam. His actual proposal is to give $800 million in tax credits to Wall Street investors, hoping they'll put money into infrastructure projects. It's like promising to feed the oats to horses, hoping they'll pass through some seeds for the birds to peck out.

Also, remember his promise to crack down on Wall Street greed heads? Now, he and Congress are pushing a bill to coddle the banksters by removing consumer protections that restrict Wall Street greed.

But he is creating new jobs for 4,000 lucky Americans. In Afghanistan. The 16-year war there has been an interminable, unequivocal disaster for the U.S. and our troops. But rather than being a commander-in-chief, Trump has washed his hands of that presidential responsibility, becoming a wimpy delegator-in-chief by handing off responsibility to the military brass. They're now shipping 4,000 more troops into a hellish war the American people do not support.

The greatest, overriding failure of Trump and Congressional leaders is that they have no vision, no big ideas, no moxie and no understanding of grassroots people's democratic idealism. Saying "Make America Great" over and over again is easy. Any gasbag can say it. But doing it takes real leadership, and the people now in charge just can't measure up. Sad.

(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".)

  • Written by Edward Engler
  • Category: Columns
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Bob Meade - Anarchy, it's headed your way

In the Nov. 22, 2016, issue of The Laconia Daily Sun, I wrote an article entitled "Sovereignty or anarchy." I defined anarchy as a chaotic situation, absent of any formal system of government, and asked that you take a few minutes and think about what your life, and the life of each of your loved ones, would be like if we were to become anarchistic. No rules or laws to follow. No “legal” right or wrong so no police or military for protection. No right of ownership. What you gained through your labor can be confiscated by others through their strength or cunning. No taxes to pay for public schools, or police, or maintenance of roads and buildings. And on and on we watch as tribalism forms as people band together for self-protection. People become hunter-gatherers and their time is spent trying to defend or keep their bounty. Chaos in every sense! Fear abounds.

Earlier, in the April 22 issue, I wrote about the history of impeachment and how it almost destroyed England as each incoming political party took vengeance against its predecessor. It didn’t matter if the impeachment was justified, a simple majority could inflict its “punishment.”

Since the Presidential election, many on the left, including Secretary Clinton, have formed what they are calling “The Resistance,” a compact intended to oust President Trump by any means possible. They have phonied up their claims that the newly elected president colluded with Russia in order to defeat Ms. Clinton. Their rhetoric and outrage continues to rise even though over eight months of investigation by the FBI, and House of Representatives and Senate panels, have failed to provide any evidence that any such collusion occurred.

We watch on a daily basis as Democrat congressmen and congresswomen call for the president’s impeachment. No data is provided to support their desire but, as often happens, they believe that raising their voices louder is a substitute for their failure to present factual information. Shamefully, former Secretary Clinton is casting blame on any and all . . . except herself, of course. Those in government, what are now being called the “deep state,” have been engaged in gathering and making public, information they believe will be detrimental to the president and his staff. And, sadly, much of the press corps has chosen to carry the banner for those wishing to oust the president. Some of the so-called news programs allow guests to spew unfounded self-serving rhetoric without ever questioning the basis for their opinions or asking for facts.

These attitudes and events have served as the fuel for riots that have taken place all across the country. Academia has become rife with intolerance. Students with “right” leaning political views are being intimidated and attacked. Buildings are being set on fire, cars overturned, windows smashed, and people are being beaten with clubs while leaders tell security and police units to stand down. People with right-leaning political views are threatened and prevented from speaking at public institutions . . . while some professors at those institutions speak openly on national television about their unwillingness to even allow a differing viewpoint to be expressed. And, more recently, we have groups on campuses demanding conditions such as having all white students leave campus for a period of time, or providing black students with separate living facilities, and various groups demanding “safe” spaces, and on and on and on.

Yesterday (June 14), a deranged gunman shot over 50 bullets at a group of Republican congressmen who were training to play a charity baseball game against a group of Democrat congressmen. Four of those in the Republican’s party were wounded and two are in critical condition. The shooter was killed by security police. Evidence shows that his motivation was that he did not “like” President Trump, and therefore did not like Republicans. Before dismissing the shooter as a crazy man, take a few moments to reflect on this deadly anarchistic event . . .

— Secretary Clinton lost an election she was supposed to win by a landslide. She is blaming everyone but herself. She declared herself part of the “Resistance.”

— In deflecting the reasons for her loss, Russia’s hacking was blamed . . . and then President Trump was said to have colluded with the Russians.

— A sycophantic and compliant press carried the Russia banner for Clinton even though no evidence has yet to be shown that President Trump or his team was in any way involved.

— Democrat members of the House of Representatives and the Senate have called for the president’s impeachment without providing a single bit of evidence that would warrant it.

— Press coverage has continued to amplify all of the above.

The net result of all this is that many left-leaning followers feel justified in taking whatever actions they want . . . whether justified or legal be damned. Will Mrs. Clinton, or her supporters, or Democrat congressmen and women, or senators, or the sycophantic press feel any sense of guilt or remorse for the attempted murders that took place? Will they feel sorry for the pain and suffering of the men who are in critical condition? All because they don’t “like” President Trump.

The future of our country is in peril. Anarchy awaits — it’s up to those on the left.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident. He may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

  • Written by Edward Engler
  • Category: Columns
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Gretchen Gandini - Gorgeous homes & recreation trails can and do co-exist

I was enjoying a glass of wine on a deck overlooking Paugus Bay when I first learned that the executive boards of South Down Shores and Long Bay had filed suit against the State of New Hampshire to block the WOW Trail. A group of seasonal South Down Shores residents, interested in learning more about the WOW Trail project, had taken it upon themselves to become more informed and welcomed me and my husband to their lovely lakeside home. It was a great opportunity for me to hear their questions and concerns and clear up some misinformation.

For example, I was able to share with them that this project was conceptualized by the City of Laconia and the Lakes Region Planning Commission well before their homes were built, and that South Down Shores and Long Bay developer John Davidson himself stated that a public bicycle path being a part of the project was a condition of its development. They asked if an alternative route (not along the lakeshore) had ever been considered and I was able to explain that, as recently as February, we had suggested an alternative route through their property for consideration, but that this alternative route had been rejected by their executive board. I was able to explain that safety concerns regarding the trail are not supported by law enforcement and that, in fact, former Laconia Police Department Chiefs Mike Moyer and Chris Adams, and current Chief Matt Canfield, are all WOW Trail users themselves, and have all publicly stated that it has improved the sections of the city where it has been built.

Even more, I came to appreciate why this project may cause such concern for those of you who own land that abuts the state-owned right-of-way. I recognize that you’ve become accustomed to the property’s limited use. Some have manicured lawns, gardens, Adirondack chairs, etc. very close to or in the state-owned right of way. For others, the tracks are behind your homes, but you fear that your quiet neighborhoods will suddenly not be so quiet anymore if this bicycle path is built.

That said, I also ask you to consider what benefit a regional bicycle path might bring to your neighborhoods. Imagine being able to hop on bikes and safely travel with your children or grandchildren to Weirs Beach and Meredith or to downtown Laconia, all while enjoying fresh air and avoiding summer vehicle traffic. Or think of how spectacular a long, lakeside walk or run to Weirs Beach or Meredith would be without having to negotiate a busy Elm Street or Parade Road. Look no further than Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard to understand how recreation-centric communities that have implemented comprehensive bike trail systems have experienced enhanced quality of life for residents and improved the tourism experience for visitors. Gorgeous homes and recreation paths can and do co-exist quite nicely in communities around the country.

It seems to me that whether it is the WOW Trail, or any other project that aims to showcase our beautiful City on the Lakes and bring economic development to the Lakes Region, that we all come to the table ready to listen and learn. Let's assume some good faith in each other, ask the difficult questions, present objective, factual information, and work together to find resolutions that will make innovative projects a reality.

If you have concerns about the WOW Trail’s continued development in your neighborhood and you’d like to talk, I welcome you to contact me. I’d love to hear your questions, concerns and thoughts. My e-mail address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and my phone number 603-520-8952. I look forward to hearing from you.

(Gretchen Gandini is executive director of the WOW Trail.)

 

  • Written by Mike Mortensen
  • Category: Columns
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Froma Harrop - France finds the 'radical middle'

When historians recount the downward spiral of Trumpian populism, they may very well start in France. As in the U.S., voters were crying for radical change. The French had a Trumpish option in nativist right-winger Marine Le Pen and, over at the far left, an old-school Trotskyist.

But French voters gave victory instead to a man of the radical middle, Emmanuel Macron. Not everyone loves Macon's pro-business, pro-globalist program, but he is a mold breaker and definitely not crazy. And boy, do they love the young French president's jabs at Donald Trump. Macron easily wields the weapon of mockery and delights in turning it on Trump.

Some will recall their first encounter in Brussels, when Macron gripped Trump's hand in a prolonged and aggressive manner. After Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris accord on global warming, Macron cheerfully invited American climate researchers to come to France and work on publicly funded projects.

During the French campaign, Russia backed Macron's chief opponent, Le Pen. The leader of the far-right National Front promised to take France out of the EU. (Breaking up Western unity is high on Vladimir Putin's wish list.) Trump showered Le Pen with praise.

When the Kremlin reportedly hacked the Macron campaign in an obvious attempt to hurt the pro-Europe candidate, French voters rose up in defiance. In a later news conference with Putin, Macron dispensed with any Trump-style servility toward the Russian leader. Rather, he accused Russia of spreading "lying propaganda" — and he did it to Putin's face.

Perhaps French voters are tougher or better-informed than many of their American counterparts. Or they've had ample time to witness the lunacy emanating from the White House and decided to pass.

And to hammer home the point that France's electorate is ready for something that's different but sane, it is evidently giving Macron's party, En Marche! (In Motion!), a commanding victory in the parliamentary elections. (The runoff vote Sunday will determine the size.)

Macron is a true original. At age 39, he is the youngest French president in history. His campaigners went door to door looking for votes, something common in the U.S. but not in France. He founded En Marche! barely a year ago, and it's already trouncing the established parties. He's married to a woman almost 25 years his senior.

More importantly, Macron may very well have saved the European Union from breaking up. Britain's move to leave the 28-nation union shook it to the core. So has the growth of nationalist movements complaining of lost sovereignty under the EU yoke.

Few have illusions of the task ahead. The EU is undoubtedly burdened by a lumbering bureaucracy. France is littered with shuttered factories and has been jolted by mass immigration. And if any country has a justified fear of Islam-inspired terrorism, it is France.

Macron vows to change labor laws that make firing someone a prohibitive expense — and backs other reforms designed to help business. But he has no intention to dismantle France's superb health care system, rated best in the world, and he's a staunch backer of the Paris agreement.

The far-left candidate refused to endorse him, even against Le Pen. But the voters did, and enthusiastically.

There's a message here for Trump opponents, Republicans as well as Democrats and independents. The public may be hungry to coalesce around an unapologetic centrist with a fresh approach. In our two-party system, third parties have a problematic history of playing the spoiler. But a major party could cut its fringes loose and lunge for the middle.

If there's ever been a time for a radical center to take hold in this country, it's now. France has shown the possibilities.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

  • Written by Edward Engler
  • Category: Columns
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