Richard Barnes

A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government. – Thomas Jefferson



Higher Priced Tolls But Are They Needed

As Merrimack continues it's fight with the state over the unfairness of tolls Gov. Lynch came out backing an toll increase which in the case of some of the current toll locations would result in a 100% increase over what you would currently pay.  I guess this is what you get when the state government goes on a spending spree like drunken sailors increasing the budget by 17.5%.

But does the state really need all this extra money for the highway department?  Let's take a look at a point raised in a Union Leader article found HERE.

"A new report from the Legislative Budget Assistant's office finds that 62 percent of the gasoline taxes collected by the state is spent on things other than roads."

So only 38% of the money collected from the gas tax goes toward roads (this includes state and local, if you take out local only 17% is used for state roads). 

And yet the state finds the need to collect tolls from motorists on top of this and they are claiming the highway department is running into a funding crisis?  Well no wonder!  More then half the money never makes it to where it was meant to go in the first place.

I would now like to draw your attention to Article 6-a of the NH Constitution:

[Art.] 6-a. [Use of Certain Revenues Restricted to Highways.] All revenue in excess of the necessary cost of collection and administration accruing to the state from registration fees, operators’ licenses, gasoline road tolls or any other special charges or taxes with respect to the operation of motor vehicles or the sale or consumption of motor vehicle fuels shall be appropriated and used exclusively for the construction, reconstruction and maintenance of public highways within this state, including the supervision of traffic thereon and payment of the interest and principal of obligations incurred for said purposes; and no part of such revenues shall, by transfer of funds or otherwise, be diverted to any other purpose whatsoever.

It's things like this that make you go hmmmm....


Watch What You Say to The Press

Maybe it was my article from September 12th expressing my disappointment with the Union Leader's front page from the 11th or maybe it was their attempt to build up a story to be more sensational then it really was but in today's paper I was butchered.

I was called by a reporter at the Union Leader regarding last Thursday's events in Merrimack which ended in the result of the chairman of the Merrimack town Council being removed as chair.  During the call I stated that there were phone calls being made before the meeting suggesting people show up to support the idea of removing Dave as chair over his actions.  I knew this was true as I know people who received the calls, however the calls were being made to my knowledge by one person.  I gave the reporter the person's name and suggested they contact him.  Further into the conversation Dave's political "enemies" came up.  Again, it is well known that Dave is often on different political sides with a number of people and often seen campaigning either against or supporting opposing candidates with a number of political candidates.  I mentioned the previous selectmen chair who had a number of public disagreements with Dave as well as members of the school board also known to disagree with Dave on occasion.   From this, the Union Leader wrote as if it were me saying it, that a "rudimentary telephone tree was set up to draw his opponents" then listing the past Selectmen Chair and the school board as his opponents.  This seems to imply that I believed the school board not only to be in on the decision to remove him as chair but also were involved in calling people which isn't the case.

I wish this was the first time I had been either taken out of context or had things printed not quite as they really were but unfortunately it isn't so.  A while back when I ran for School Board I came in 3rd out of 4 people.  It was a close race and the two women who won turned out to be very good members of the school board.  During the race, I was lumped together with one of the two women running and viewed as running mates while the previous school chairman was lumped with the other.  We never officially created the two sides but never the less that's how the race was broken down.  After the election I was at an after party to hear the results.  The woman viewed as my running mate was also there.  She won, the other woman running came in second winning the second seat.  I however lost coming in third but I did beat the out going chairman.  A reporter also from the Union Leader came up to me asking me my feelings about losing.  Clearly I was sad in that I didn't win but I commented that I did like the two women who won.  While I was talking to the reporter someone came up to me and said not to feel too bad as I was able to beat out the chairman who'd served on the school board the previous 10 years.  I nodded and agreed that yes I guess that does count for something, I beat the chairman and that's what matters.  I said this back to the person in the bar and I said it more to cheer myself up after losing the election but what was quoted in the paper?  Not me saying the two women who won were good choices... nope.  Me saying I beat the chair and that's what matters.

So be very careful of what you say to reporters folks.  Not only that watch what you even say when they are around as you never know how they will use your words or which words for that matter they will choose to use.


Merrimack Town Council Fireworks

In Merrimack political issues are never simple and this week proved this once again.

In a shocking turn of events Dave McCray was voted out as chairman of the town council.   The reason given was "inappropriate behavior".  Dave is someone everyone in town knows to be passionate and in some cases tempered.  This was well known when the other members of the council voted him in as the chairman.

As the past few weeks progressed this was slowly building as a result of the heated discussions surrounding the land for the Merrimack Court house.  In a non public meeting the council voted 3 to 2 with 1 absent and 1 abstain that they would not donate the land to the state for a new court house.  One of those who voted not to donate said afterwards that she felt she did not have enough information at the time to make a vote.  Dave McCray claimed the selectmen (the town was recently chartered hence the change from Selectmen to Council) had always agreed they would lease the land and he disagreed with the idea to donate the land.

Soon after, members of the past selectmen Dick Hinch and Chuck Mower came out insisting Dave was lying saying the idea was always to donate the land.  This I think helped cause decention in the council and helped feed the fires of disagreement as now in reading that argument it would have appeared the newer council members may not have been given all the information.

Dick Hinch however had sent a letter to the state in January 2006 (reprinted in full in this weeks Merrimack Journal) from the Selectmen that backed up what Dave was saying and completely went against what both he and Chuck Mower claimed in the Union Leader.  Here's an excerpt from that letter:

To that end, the Board of Selectmen is committed to securing and designating a minimum of two (2) acres of land that can, in turn, be leased to the State of New Hampshire for the construction of a new Merrimack District Court. We must trust that the appropriate State officials will view this commitment letter as a gesture of partnership to ensure the expeditious construction of a new facility.
On behalf of the entire Board, I thank you for your time and consideration in reviewing this request.

I understand Dave's concern as if the town donates the land vs leases it, Merrimack could eventually open up the door in the future for the state to turn around and use the land for something else.  I'm sure though that the town could put stipulations on such a donation in that if the state stopped using it for a court house ownership would revert to the town.

Any rate, over the past couple weeks of discussing this issue tempers rose and there was some behind the scene fighting between Dave and other council members.  Leading to last night during which a 4 to 1 with 2 abstains vote removed Dave as the chairman.  The council also voted to donate 1/2 acre to the state for the court house reverting the earlier vote with Dave continuing to contest the idea.

I don't know if donating vs lease was the right idea.  Heck for all I know Merrimack may have been better off letter Bedford donate their land.  I do know however that this issue blew up far beyond what it should have and allowed members to get far more heated with each other then was called for.  I'm sure there is more to their disagreements then just this one issue as anyone who has ever followed politics knows that political discussions lead to disagreements.  It's their very nature.  I'm also fairly sure that this story hasn't ended here either with the new court house or with the dynamics of the Merrimack Council.  One thing is for sure though... I will have plenty to write about!


Disappointed with the Union Leader

Yesterday my wife and I happened to glance at the Union Leader and were a bit shocked by it's front page.  Yesterday marked the 6th anniversary of 9-11.  We still have boots on the ground over seas with troops dying on a nearly daily basis.  Throughout the state memorial services were held in honor of those who died and those continuing to die on our behalf.  Even the flip side of the coin had news in that several of the 9-11 conspiracy groups choose yesterday to have their own memorials or protests.  So in all of what is going on I would expect the major papers of NH to lead with a story somewhat related to the events going on, what did Union Leader lead with?  A story about a high school kid upset because the school doesn't want her to use a picture with a flower in her hands due to their no prop policy.

I'm sure this is a major story for that little girl and her family but front page news on the anniversary of 9-11?  Shame on the editors of the Union Leader! 


Ed Brown's Dwindling Support

Ed Brown as many of you may recall was convicted for tax evasion.  During the first part of his trial he argued that there was no law requiring him to pay income tax and even said he would agree to pay if the courts would show him the law.  They never did.  He was found guilty, along with his wife and both sentenced to 5 years in prison.  You can read my original take here.

I have been following the Ed Brown story, as he is still held up in his home and recent events have me questioning whether Ed is truly nuts or if he is going out of his way to try to open himself up to an insanity defense once he is brought in.  Aside from some of the wacky comments that have been made in by Ed both in the news and on the ineternet he has gone above and beyond what I though capable of him.

Just this week I've learned of his "murder list" which is comprised of about 50 names of people Ed feels should be murdered.  The site this list was mentioned on is currently down, should it come back up I will supply a link.

When you start taking this approach, I'm sorry but you lose ANY support from reasonable people.  When Ed argued that he should be shown the law, that was a reasonable request.  The courts were wrong to not sit him down and show him the law and if the law did not exist then he had a valid argument.  But all valid points are lost once you turn to the idea of violence and push your supporters to kill on your behalf.

 So is Ed really out of his mind or is he simply trying to copy a insanity defense?  Or was this list simply a rumor of someone trying to help diminish any support Ed has in order to make it easier for the police to eventually move in and arrest him?