Guest Blogs

Tuesday
Dec052006

Merrimack needs to steward the will of the voters

by Bill Boyd

The Board of Selectman's recent decision to refund $500,000 back to the Merrimack taxpayer certainly is laudable, but hardly noteworthy. It seems to me that the Board's attitude toward rate relief is predicated on what emanates from the mind and mouth of Selectman Dave McCray. Certainly, if style over substance dictated town governance, then not much would ever get accomplished in Merrimack. As a new resident of Merrimack, this reality just doesn't escape me; it troubles me.

The reality began with the advisory warrant, which Selectman McCray championed and the voters overwhelmingly approved in 2002. It culminated when the voters comfortably reelected McCray over Bernie Rousseau this past April. Clearly, the voters are sending a specific message to the Board's majority about which direction Merrimack should travel. More importantly, the community, by ballot and by warrant, will continue to promote local control as the means by which we govern. This is the message the majority needs to realize.

Merrimack's identity, as a quiet, bucolic New Hampshire town, is changing and major decisions such as the town charter, property revaluations, Industrial Drive and the Harclos property site will, most certainly, dominate the town's agenda for 2006. Promoting growth, expanding the tax base and developing our local economy needs to be done in a thoughtful and collegial manner that still retains the character and charm of our community while embracing the progress and growth occurring in Merrimack. It goes without saying that if the Board cannot steward the will of the voters in 2002, who will steward the community in 2006 when change and progress hit us head on?

In the end, the majority needs to embrace Selectman McCray as an agent of change. They also need to further embody the will of the voters by returning $1.3 million in surplus. The majority will have their rainy day fund at $2 million and can position our community positively towards the growth developing. Certainly, Selectman McCray needs to continue his passionate advocacy for the taxpayer while channeling his emotions towards public policy not personality. Too often in politics, personal invective permeates the perspective when disagreements occur. There is no reason why the Board cannot agree to disagree professionally. Lastly, the Board is a steward of the community?s trust. Stewardship is about preserving community and putting people first above politics and personality.

Friday
Dec012006

Going Old-Line to On-Line, Advice to Mayor Frank Guinta

by Bill Boyd

Mayor Guinta should make a greater commitment to E-government and "one-stop shopping" by expanding their on-line capability and making the city's website more user-friendly.

Currently, there are some requests that can be ordered online; other requests require the citizen to download the form and mail it in. Mayor Guinta should look to expand its online opportunities so that city transactions are seamless and paperless. The ability to download forms should continue to be made available for those not comfortable transmitting information online, however, the transformation should be made so that the citizens of Manchester and its employers can transact with the city from their own home or work "on-line" instead of "in-line" at City Hall.

Using newer technolgies, business and companies can submit applications and permit requests and pay for them online. Homeowners and members of the general public could be able to view tax cards and assessor maps as well. If someone wanted a copy of their tax card or the lot on an assessor's map, they could pay for it online and print it off of their home computer. In this same vein, Mayor Guinta should maximize the city's usage of technology to allow car registrations, tax payments, and parking tickets to be paid online as well. Newer technolgies shouldn't be limited to its citizenry, though; Manchester should also use technology for e-commerce purposes like vendor payments, bids and proposals, and online procurement.

The bottom line? Transactions will be faster. Staff will spend less time dealing with the minuitia of purchasing and more time being responsive to their job requirements. Departmental costs for postage, printing and paper will be lower. The city's overall purchasing function will be easier to manage and most likely allow the city to purchase items at the lowest price possible. Ultimately, department heads can manage their budgets more efficiently which is the bottom line that Mayor Guinta is seeking to accomplish.

One investment that, over time, would create an efficiency is bringing laptop technology into the Aldermanic Chambers. Initially, the idea that each alderman should have a laptop to conduct municipal business was laudible, but political unfeasible as long as Manchester's children didn't have access to that same technology. The Union Leader was quick to take Alderman Roy to task and rightly so. However, there is no reason why the chambers couldn't be equipped with laptops at each seat with WiFi capability.

As previously stated, the Agenda items could be downloaded into the laptop via email and that information would be at the individual's fingertips. The aldermen would have access in the aldermanic chamber to review the materials and, at the same time, could also be available to meet with constituents on issues affecting them in the ward or citywide. The aldermanic committees would benefit as well.

With WiFi capacity, reporters (and members of the general public) equipped with laptops could have access to the agenda as well. Reporters would have the added benefit of being able to type their story and transmitting it back to their editor. With these factors, a multimedia component could be added to the chamber as well allowing members of the general public, without the benefit of a laptop, to follow along with the multimedia display.

Manchester has moved from being an old-line city with an old-world economy to a new-line city with a new-world economy. Mayor Guinta represents what is new and growing about Manchester. E-government represents even better opportunities for its citizens and its businesses, and hopefully, Mayor Guinta will embrace and unlock the efficiencies e-government can bring to Manchester.

Thursday
Nov232006

ENVIRONMENTALISM MIRRORS SOCIALISM

by John Clark  Peterborough NH

At first glance there does not appear to be a connection between  Environmentalism and  Socialism, however after even a basic analysis the "commonality" becomes apparent.

The primary objectives of Socialism are "Control of the Means of Production", and the "Re-distribution of Wealth". These being accomplished under a "Central Government" to the detriment of individual rights and freedom of choice. Socialism is the Far Left wing of Democracy.

The primary objectives of Environmentalism are " Control of the Use of Land", and the "Re-distribution of Land Ownership", also to the detriment of individual rights and freedom of choice. Environmentalism is the Far Left wing of Conservationism.

What Socialism is to Democracy, so is Environmentalism  to Conservationism.

Both are synomymous with restriction of individual rights and freedoms, both posit the premise that the "State, and/or Local Government" can make better decisions than individuals or private businesses. 

Both originate and have their "Power Base" in the same psuedo-intellectual, upper-middle class of our society.  

Whilst Socialism is essentially more of a "National" issue, the same is not true of Environmentalism. Take a good look at your local Land Use Ordinances, Building Codes, Planning Boards and all of the various Commissions, Committees, etc which control our Towns. Most are "appointed" by elected Officials. Many "local" elections do not generate very large turn-outs and so become relatively easy targets for "activist" factions with a cohesive Local, National, and even International, agenda.

The large population centers, of which there are only a few in our particular State, are not really affected as much as smaller Towns of which we have MANY. In the name of "preserving our country way of life" and "protecting the environment for future generations", we face mandated Lot sizes of 1,3,5 and 10 acres, residential sprinkler systems, excessive wetland clearances and "building style review", to name just a few restrictive measures we deal with on a daily basis. We tend to accept these Regulations blindly since they are recommended by representatives we expect to be "looking out" for our common interests. 

The people who settled our the land and built our Towns did a pretty good job of keeping them compact and picturesque. They built to emphasize the features of the countryside, along the rivers, hugging the hillsides, among the trees. the house lots were small and neighborly. The regulations demanding huge Lots, and up to 100 foot set-backs from rivers, do NOT "reduce urban sprawl" they ENHANCE it !  Furthermore, such things tend to increase the house prices to a point where "normal working people" can no longer afford to participate in the American Dream of "home ownership" -- Part of the reverse logic of Environmental philosophy.

Social Engineering is very much a part of Environmental activism. Fortunately the main proponents of this activism are fairly easy to identify. Conversation becomes the "give-away". their  interminable pronouncements are almost always started with  "Our Studies absolutely prove -----",  or "The Best Science states ----".

Frequent rallying points are "Open Space" and residential pollution, with "houses bring children, and children mean added schools, so your taxes will go up" ! 

As a primary Objective, Environmental activists wish to control Land Use, using local Ordinances and Building / Zoning Regulations.

ONLY local "citizen" participation can preserve our way of life and the heritage of our children.  

Having read this "Primer" your next step should be to attend your local Town Board and Committee Meetings, usually held in the Town House, to find out what is happening in the name of the "Environment". Local Government is where Your Lifestyle, Your personal Liberty and Your Freedom of Choice are subject to the most insidious attack. Awareness is the first step, Please take that step. GET INVOLVED  !!

Friday
Nov172006

A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD

By Edward Mosca

Was the 2006 election a realignment of the New Hampshire political landscape or just an aberration? The answer is: it depends.

If the Democrats overreach and pass an income or sales tax, then the Democrat majorities in the Statehouse certainly will disappear in 2008. The voters overwhelmingly rejected an income tax in 2002, and there is no reason whatsoever to believe that, since then, they’ve changed their minds about new taxes.

What has changed, however, is that the Democrats finally understand that taxes are the proverbial third rail of New Hampshire politics. The Arnie Arnesens and Mark Fernalds have been benched in favor of John Lynch, whose theme-song since the 2004 election has been "we will not have a sales or income tax." In 2006, many of the Governor’s fellow Democrats joined the chorus. Given the success of this strategy, it’s reasonable to assume that the Democrats will not propose new taxes in the near future.

The Republicans, therefore, hold their fate in their own hands. Early indications are not promising. Senate President Ted Gatsas has been selected by Republican state senators to continue as their leader for the next two years.

Gatsas is the quintessential “same-but-less” Republican. Consider his education plan, which was rejected by the State Supreme Court this past September. There are no substantive differences between it and the Lynch plan. Both are merely “targeted aid” plans like the Augenblick plan similarly rejected by the State Supreme Court in the 1997 Claremont II decision. Neither contains any new approaches to reforming public education.

There also are no substantive differences between the Gatsas approach to health care and the Lynch approach. Both are based on the antediluvian assumption that increased government regulation of the current system will make health insurance more accessible and affordable.

So, on the three major issues upon which state elections turn –taxes, education and healthcare– Republican state senators will offer an echo, not a choice, over the next two years. Republican state representatives have yet to elect their leaders. But they suffer from the same paucity of ideas as their senate colleagues. At this point, then, it appears that the 2008 election will be a rerun of the 2006 election.

Republican legislators will spend the next two years governing like Democrats and then make the 2008 election just about the income tax, which once again will keep the base home, the independents turned off and the Democrats in control.

While Iraq, phone-jamming, and the incompetence and selfishness of the party’s leaders contributed to the “thumpin” the State GOP received in 2006, voters will still need a reason to vote Republican in 2008. “No income tax” is not enough when the Democrats are singing the same tune, but in addition and unlike the Republicans, claim they will reform education and healthcare and better protect the environment. So how did the State GOP become so intellectually enervated?

The income tax has been a double-edged sword for Republicans. As long as the Democrat message to voters was that they were a bunch of knaves too ignorant to understand that they would benefit from new taxes, especially an income tax, Republicans cruised to victory. But these easy victories allowed Republicans to ignore other issues important to the voters. As a result, today there is no Republican plan for education, the environment or health care.

Some GOP conservatives see no need for such plans. For example, some prominent conservatives have formed a PAC called the New Hampshire Coalition, in order to promote traditional Republican themes such as local control, limited spending and low taxes. I think this misreads the State’s political climate. While the electorate continues to oppose new taxes, it does not oppose activist government. It wants government to address matters such as education, health care and the environment.

Many commentators have opined that the federal elections were a repudiation of Republicanism, not of conservativism. I think this assessment applies equally to the state elections in New Hampshire since the State GOP certainly did not run on a conservative platform. The challenge for GOP conservatives is twofold: they must develop conservative policies that address the issues that concern the people of New Hampshire and they must get the party on board.

The second part will be the hard part. Many of the leaders of the State GOP oppose an income tax not as part of a philosophy of governance, but for exactly the same reason the Democrats now oppose it –merely to win elections.

Friday
Nov102006

Election fraud in NM and WA

Ladies and gentlemen, I have an announcement. There is a crisis afoot in American democracy. It is not a crisis to do with the American electorate disengaging from the electoral process. It is not a crisis to do with a two-party system that looks bizarre to so many in the world.

It is, in fact, a crisis to do with clean and fair elections. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. In at least two of our states, our elections have become as dirty and fraud-ridden as elections are in many third world countries. And we need to stop it. Now.

Democrats in New Mexico and Washington have now proven themselves to be thugs and hypocrites who have absolutely zero interest in clean, fair elections.

We, as the party that stands for ballot integrity, the party that believes in ensuring free and fair elections by requiring voter ID, so that no one who is not entitled to vote can vote, and so no one votes twice, need to stand up and put a stop to this. Whereas many years ago, Democrats lost votes due to unfair voting practices in Southern states, today it is Republican and independent voters whose rights are being violated in these two states, and probably countless others across the US, due to outright efforts to rig elections by partisan officials whose remits unfortunately (for us) involve ballot distribution and ballot counting.

Though I generally do not favor federal intervention in state matters, when election-rigging is alleged to be taking place and the allegation looks reasonable, when voters are in effect being denied their Constitutional rights, when the Voting Rights Act (so hugely touted by Democrats as an essential piece of legislation) is being violated, we have no choice but to demand that the Feds move in and prevent crooked partisan officials from delivering the result that they, and not voters, want. It's our democracy, damn it, and if we don't protect it, who will?

Read the rest here: http://www.gopprogress.com/story/2006/11/9/105819/440


Liz Mair
Editor, WWW.GOPPROGRESS.COM