Monday, August 29, 2016

Katy Burns: Buh-bye, Bill O’Brien

Arguably the worst House Speaker and Legislator in NH modern times. The damage of those two year is still being felt. It's what happens when you put ideology ahead of good old common sense.  Perhaps a precursor to what a Trump Presidency has to offer? )

Katy Burns: Buh-bye, Bill O’Brien

By KATY BURNS Monitor columnist Sunday, August 28, 2016 

It’s satisfyingly appropriate that former New Hampshire House of Representatives speaker and right-wing ideologue and general scold Bill O’Brien, along with his ragged band of sore losers, is apparently leaving the public spotlight in a fittingly ignoble manner – by stiffing their landlord. Certainly one can draw that conclusion from an orange eviction notice posted at least briefly on the office door of the so-called Republican Majority Caucus across from the State House. According to court documents filed by the group’s landlord and unearthed by enterprising Monitor reporter Allie Morris several weeks ago, the Caucus – formed by O’Brien and supporters after they failed to take control of the House about 16 months ago – was more than $7,800 in arrears on rent, having stopped paying last December. Seems

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Final CIPC Rankings and Recommended 2017-2022 Program

The program spreadsheet ( too large to post) can be found here on the Town website. It  is important to note a few things. Firstly, that the CIPC only reviewed the 2017 Capital requests in detail. There are place holders for out years for potential requests.  Secondly, the CIPC is an advisory committee. Depending upon the TA's recommendations and then what the BoS decide during the upcoming budget cycle will determine what goes to Town Meeting next March.
Many thanks to CIPC Chair Jordan Prouty and the entire committee of dedicated volunteers.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Additional Information on Carroll County Executive Committee

I heard via email from Commissioner Babson who offered some additional information and was in attendance at the recent delegation meeting.
Carroll County is the only county where the entire delegation is the actual Executive Committee. Representative's Umberger (r)Cordelli (r), Avelini (r) ,McConkey (r) and McCarthy (r) are another  "executive committee" whose sole purpose is to approve line item budget transfers. 

From the December 7th 2015 Delegation minutes (my highlights):
Executive Committee Funding Transfer Procedures Rep. Umberger read the procedure into the record: 
1. The County Administrator shall forward all intra-departmental funding transfer requests over $1,000 to the Chairman
2. The County Administrator shall forward all inter-departmental funding transfer requests to the Chairman. 
3. The Chairman will distribute the requests to the other members of the Executive Committee. 
4. Once each month the Executive Committee will meet to determine whether or not to approve the transfers. 
5. Three members of the Executive Committee will constitute a quorum. 
6. Executive Committee members will be paid mileage for attendance at the meetings that do not coincide with Delegation meetings.
7. The Executive Committee may meet in Concord on House session days or whenever a minimum of three members are available. 
Rep. Ticehurst pointed out that the delegation previously passed a motion that the whole delegation serves as the executive committee. Therefore, according to law, the entire delegation must approve line item transfers. Rep. Umberger pointed out that the delegation passed a subsequent motion to appoint a five-member executive committee to handle line-item transfers.

Chairperson Umberger is no stranger to violations of the Right to Know law. At the delegation meeting on October 19th 2015 ,the minutes state ( my highlights): "Rep. Ticehurst said she would like to receive notice of line item under consideration. She also asked for a list of all transfers to date. Rep. Umberger said the three-member committee makes decisions via email discussion. She agreed to forward the transfer requests to anyone who would like to be included. The size of the executive committee will be increased to five members. Seeing no objection, Rep. Cordelli and Rep. Avellani will be added to the committee."
It would seem that a quorum of this Jr. executive committee had somehow communicated about the additional agenda topics as the members seemed prepared to discuss it. Chairperson Umberger should follow her own procedures and not allow "pet" issues to be on the table when the entire delegation is unaware of it.
When this Jr. executive committee met and the discussion went from the brief discussion of the line item transfers and then to the audit and finally the flower garden, commissioner Babson had enough. "I walked out when the discussion of the flower garden came up because I had had enough of the "executive committees" shenanigans."
Lastly, he had this to say about his time as a county commissioner: " It is a sore point with me that people keep saying the "commissioners did this or that" when I was not even in  office.  Very few people know of the changes or good things that I have done for the county since I was sworn in. For instance I was the one that discovered no audits had been done. I paid for my salary for the two years with just two errors I found in bills from hospitals.  I instituted a system that assured that bank accounts got balanced which was not happening.  There are other things but not as significant as those mentioned."

Friday, August 26, 2016

Moultonboro Hires Public Works Director

"Select Board Chairman Christopher Shipp announced today that Christopher Theriault of Epsom, New Hampshire has been hired as Moultonborough’s Director of Public Works filling the open position vacated by Scott Kinmond. Chris will begin work for the Town on Monday August 29th and will be officially introduced to the Community at the next regular Select Board meeting on September 1st.
Chairman Shipp noted, “the Select Board is fortunate to find a qualified individual like Chris. He will be an excellent fit for the Town’s Public Works Department having extensive municipal and private business experience.”
Chris is a graduate of Wentworth Institute of Technology with a B.S. in Civil Engineering; has several certifications and is a licensed designer of subsurface sewage disposal systems. Chris most recently worked for the City of Concord, NH for the past four years as an Engineering Technician with project management responsibility for a number of roadway design and construction projects.
Chris and his family will be relocating to the Moultonborough area in the future.
Please join us in welcoming Chris to Moultonborough."

Carroll County Delegation Executive Commitee at Odds with County Administration.

The long standing feud by some members of the Republican led County Delegation with the county commissioners continues. The delegation executive committee met on August 22nd (video here) with the only agenda item to approve a line item transfer for the nursing home, but clearly there was another agenda: a push for a forensic audit and a long discussion on the issue, despite the fact that there was not a quorum of the entire delegation presents. As Commissioner Babson said numerous time through the meeting, the only agenda item he was aware of was the line item transfer and this discussion started by Chair Karen Umberger was improper.  More on that later in this post.

Some members of the delegation are pushing for a complete and expensive forensic audit while the commissioners have opted for a much less expensive focused audit to answer some specific questions.
The delegation has budgeted $139,000 for a forensic audit with the final cost still not known. The commissioners approved a focused audit to answer specific questions. If the auditor found any evidence of fraud or malfeasance, a forensic audit would be recommended.

 Rep. Cordelli clearly believes that there has been some type of fraud over the years, despite statements from the NH DRA who performed an unprecedented review of the county operations last year found no evidence that there was any fraud. They did find that certain accounting procedures and internal controls were not in place and corrective measures were recommended. According to county administrator Ken Robichaud and finance director Charles Stuart, those issues have been addressed and proper internal controls and policies have been put in place and implemented. It is important to note that both men were hired in 2015 well after the budget meltdown. At the time, Carroll County was the only county in NH without an administrator.

At present, audits have been completed through 2015 and procedures as recommended by DRA and the auditors have been implemented. The commissioners want to spend a sensible amount of money to answer the most pertinent questions about the shortfalls rather than add another $120,000 to already burdened taxpayers. If anything untoward is found by the auditor, it would trigger a forensic audit. It is a logical and sensible approach and will provide the answers needed to move the county forward.

Unfortunately, the situation is at an impasse. If the delegation does not approve the $20,000 requested by the commissioners, there will be no focused audit, The commissioners will not approve conducting a forensic audit and some members of the delegation are threatening legal action ( more tax dollars), to force them to do so. So here we are, just about back where we started.

Back now to the delegation executive committee " discussion." There is a primary coming up on September 13th and the "question" posed by the committee was whether to keep the current scheduled delegation meeting in October or schedule a " special" meeting right after labor day ( and before the primary) . Representatives Cordelli, Umberger an McConkey have been the most vocal critics of the commissioners and have been instrumental in my opinion in getting us to this current impasse.

Commissioner Babson was correct to question why the audit was being discussed at a meeting to make a line item transfer, While no decisions were being made, the full delegation did not have the benefit of participating.The members of the executive committee present obviously discussed this unannounced agenda before the meeting and were intent on bringing it up. While not illegal under the the Right to Know law, it does speak to how the Chair and executive committee do business. If they had announced to the entire delegation ( and the public) that this was going to be discussed, perhaps they may have attended the meeting as well as members of the public to weigh in on the issue.

I support the commissioner's proposal for a $20,000 focused audit saving taxpayers about $120,000 and still answering the mot burning questions about the county finances, particularly around the nursing home. There really is no evidence of fraud so the push by Cordelli to find a culprit needs to stop. The delegation should approve the funds as requested , get the answers and move on. It is a sensible approach and in the unlikely event of finding illegal activity, then a basis for a forensic audit would be evident.
I would urge the delegation to approve the commissioner's plan so that we can finally bring it to a conclusion. I would also urge the delegation members not present to raise the issue with the executive committee about what should and should not occur at executive committee meetings

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

When Will the Misinformation about Regional Planning Commissions and Master Plans Stop?

Granite State Future (GSF) has been written about numerous times previously on this blog. A Granite State Future was a 3-year (2012-2014) community-based program starting with a public dialogue about what we want for the future of our communities, our regions, and our state. The output of the project are nine regional plans, one for each of the nine regional planning commissions. Ours is the Lakes Regional Planning Commission. The Lakes Region Plan can be found here.
Earlier today I saw an email promoting  a bogus Granite State Future website, warning readers of the dangers of regional planning and master plans. The email  said in part:
1 - "Granite State Future", the regional plan for NH, was to be a 3-year program. Even if the efforts by NH's 9 regional planning commissions have subsided, the ideas they were promoting live on in your towns' master plans. Only YOU have the power to stop them at the town level at your town/school meetings, planning, and zoning sessions.
Stop what exactly? Progress? Planning for the future? 

GSF was indeed a 3-year program. The plans were developed and written in three years. It is critical to understand (and not omit), that under RSA 36:47 (I), each of the nine regional planning commissions is required to prepare a comprehensive master plan for the development of the region within its jurisdiction. These regional development plans must be renewed and readopted every 5 years.

Right here in Moultonboro, we are in the process of our Master Plan update and three chapters ( Vision, Land Use and Transportation) will be ready for public hearings later this year. The language used in the email above, suggest that Master Plans in general ought to be rejected and stopped. "Only YOU have the power to stop them ." I ask again, stop what exactly? The work of the public that provided input and participated in our Master Plan process over the past three years?  "YOU" have always been a part of the process. Moultonboro residents already have control over their planning process, their master plan and their zoning. It is disturbing that some people and groups just won’t bury this dead horse and keep trying to scare people with information that  is utterly and completely bogus. 
We need to keep NH moving forward, not backward. I urge you to reject those people, candidates  and groups that seek to do the opposite. 

CIPC 2017-2022 Working Documents

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hypocrisy and a Double Standard?

Food for thought....

In 2007, when Congress asked the Bush administration for emails surrounding the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales revealed that many of the emails requested could not be produced because they were sent on a non-government email server.  The officials had used the private domain, a server run by the Republican National Committee. Two years later, it was revealed that 22 million emails were deleted, which was considered by some to be a violation of the Presidential Records Act. The 2007 White House was under investigation and they potentially tampered with evidence and violated the law.

In July of this year, we had Donald Trump, a Presidential candidate of a major party that has five children with three different women which was ignored by the media. Would a woman running for President with five children from three different men have been equally ignored?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Concord Becoming More Diverse.

Another good opinion piece in today's Concord Monitor about the positives of the influx of greater than 2,700 immigrants, nearly 7% of the population into the fabric of Concord.
The Immigrant Integration Initiative  is four of our New Hampshire cities, Concord, Manchester, Laconia and Nashua, working together to create welcoming communities. Instead of fear and angst, Concord has welcomed them. As the article states " Our new neighbors are working, they are running small businesses and buying homes, they are paying taxes, studying in schools and colleges. Some are our doctors. Some are working in New Hampshire’s growing high-tech sector. Many are U.S. citizens.

Our Turn: Welcome Concord’s immigrants

Concord is a much more culturally diverse city than it was just a few short years ago. As Concord has welcomed new neighbors from around the world, we all enjoy a new richness of experience and opportunity right here in the state capital. Today, more than 2,700 immigrants and refugees – or about 7 percent of the city’s population – call Concord home. Nearly 20 organizations and agencies in Concord are working to connect our new neighbors to their community – from providing support as they develop and launch new businesses to helping them navigate the maze of new cultural norms and systems. And local business leaders are hiring newcomers for their skills and dedication. Concord’s mayor and city council recently passed a resolution forming the city’s commitment to welcoming immigrants and integrating them fully into the social and civic fabric of the city’s neighborhoods and community at large. Concord is doing so as part of the national Welcoming America movement, which supports communities in welcoming immigrants and building prosperity and opportunity for all. We commend the mayor and council for this forward-looking vision, and for their efforts that have already made Concord richer – culturally and economically – by integrating our newest neighbors. Welcoming newcomers is not only the neighborly thing to do, it’s an economic imperative. As our population ages and its growth remains flat or declining, immigrants are critical to our state’s economic vitality. Welcoming them makes sense. Our new neighbors are working, they are running small businesses and buying homes, they are paying taxes, studying in schools and colleges. Some are our doctors. Some are working in New Hampshire’s growing high-tech sector. Many are U.S. citizens.
Concord, like so many other New Hampshire communities, grew out of many cultures, and its future prosperity depends on welcoming immigrants and helping them to reach their full potential. Concord is one of four New Hampshire cities (along with Nashua, Manchester and Laconia) participating in the Immigrant Integration Initiative. In each community, city government and community leaders are creating a culture of inclusion, making sure that immigrants and refugees are welcomed and connected. We’d like to thank the Concord city council and Mayor Bouley for their efforts to make Concord a welcoming city. We would encourage everyone in Concord to learn more by visiting Get involved in the great work happening in your community to build a stronger future for all.
 (Eva Costillo is director of Welcoming New Hampshire. Dr. Yvonne Goldsberry is president of the Endowment for Health. Richard Ober is president and CEO of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.)

CIPC Wraps up WIth Public Hearing Thursday

The CIPC 2017-2022 program recommendations to the BoS and public hearing will be this Thursday at 7pm at Town Hall.