Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Heritage Commission Speaks Out to Preserve Town Owned Taylor Property. Focusing on Four Priority Properties.

Words do matter. At last weeks BoS meeting, members of the Heritage Commission reminded us of that fact. I just watched the December 22nd BoS worksession about the Taylor property, as it was referenced a number of times by Mark Borrin who spoke in favor of slowing down the process and getting much more information before making a decision on the disposition of the property.  I have to agree that the BoS discussion on December 22nd would be concerning to anyone interested in preserving the building. However, the video is not the official position of the BoS, the minutes we approved are:
Taylor Property: After discussion, the Board agreed by Unanimous Consensus not to sell the property, to develop ideas for use of the land as a park and open space, and hold a public hearing in April regarding selling, preserving, or razing the building. 

That may not bring comfort to those that feel passionately about not razing the building, but that was my intent when I spoke of going through a number of channels before we ever got to the point of voting whether or not to raze the building.
What many people probably don't realize is that what you see from the road that is cleared, is only about half of the acreage. There is almost 2.5 acres in the back bordering the school property that is heavily wooded. Even with the Taylor building in its current location, there is a lot of useable land for a park and green. That is important information to be clear about as it moves forward. I did suggest and the BoS agreed, that funds be found this year to engage a landscape architect to draw a conceptual picture of what a park with the existing Taylor property could look like.

I believe we can find a middle ground and make improvements to the village that will greatly enhance its curb appeal. The Heritage Commission spoke of possible grant funding to help with a possible project and that would certainly be factored into any decisions the town makes.

There are four buildings in the village that the Heritage Commission is focusing on in the near term: the Taylor property, the Grange Hall, the Country Fare building ( which was recently purchased by the New Woodshed family under the name BP Corner,LLC ) and finally the old school house/ State Police barracks now owned by the Methodist church.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Candidates Night and Selectboard Roundtable Worksession

The Moultonboro Candidates Night will be held on March 5th at the Lions Club at 6:30pm. Snow date is March 12th, same time and venue.
The event is co-sponsored by the Moultonboro Lions Club and the Moultonboro Parent Teachers Association and will be moderated by Town Moderator Harry Blood.

Tomorrow evening at 6:30 pm in Town Hall, the Moultonboro BoS will host a first ever round table worksession with selectmen representatives of most neighboring towns. A broad range of subjects of mutual interest is expected to be discussed by the boards. This is a first step in developing some synergy between the towns to begin to work together for the common good.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Sample Ballots/Absentee Ballots, But Where Have the Voters Gone?

Ballot day is March 14th and the polls will be open from 7am to 7pm. If you can't get to the polls, you can get an absentee ballot from the Town Clerk.
I put the following together to see what the turnout has been the past 10 years. One trend is obvious: SB2 ( and the charter commission) on the ballot and the numbers go way up. Without either on the ballot, turnout was rather poor.
The average turnout in non-SB2/Charter years was 785.



I checked back  to 1990 ( a census year), and 1121 votes were cast on March 13, 1990. The 1990 Census showed we had 2,966 residents so about 38% voted. Compare that to 4032 in 2010 ( another census year) when just 20% voted. What happened?

This year there are only two contested races, BoS and School Board and one race, Planning Board, with only one candidate for two seats.

When I first ran for office here in 2012, I did it for a few reasons. Firstly, volunteers are what local government is all about and I wanted to do my part.  Secondly, its easy to be vocal and complain about the job the people in the front are doing, but its meaningless without also being willing to be one of those people in the front.
A message to those that complain the loudest about nearly every decision the BoS makes (and even some we didn't, and always think they have a better way to do things, or are more knowledgeable on just about any issue,  I don't see your name on the ballot for any office.
The three of us below running for two BoS seats have all spent a lot of time as volunteers on behalf of our town. I have worked on boards with both my opponents, and while we don't always agree on things, I do know that they genuinely care about Moultonboro as I do, and have worked very hard and diligently when in office to do the best job possible. I expect that they would say the same about me.
Thank you to all those running for offices this year, incumbents and new comers ( there are a few) and best of luck at the polls.

As always, this blog will post any candidate statements for any office.


"If you don't vote, you don't count." - Vernon Dahmer



 








































Friday, February 17, 2017

Be Careful What You Wish For

A recent NH Supreme Court decision on a case regarding alteration of a petitioned warrant article during a Deerfield NH Deliberative session, determined that altering the intent of a warrant article was allowed so long as it doesn't change the subject matter.
The warrant articles in question, proposed making the police chief and welfare director elected, instead of appointed. They were amended at the deliberate session to say: “Shall we express an advisory view that the position … be an appointed position, as it is at the present time?”
The court in its ruling stated that "..we conclude that RSA 40:13, IV(c) prohibits only amendments that eliminate a warrant article’s textual subject matter, not amendments that may change the intent or purpose sought to be achieved by the article’s drafters,”
Deerfield is an SB2 town and according to the NH Municipal Association,  "The Court decided that the statute was intended to prohibit warrant articles from being amended in a manner that eliminates their subject matter entirely, thereby making it impossible for voters at the second session to determine what the article is about. Although these amendments substantially changed the original articles, the subject matter—the welfare director and police chief positions—remained the same. "
The NHMA " Practice Pointer" states that  "Deliberative session amendments to warrant articles in an SB2 town may substantially change a warrant article, provided the subject matter is not effectively eliminated. This means that, as long as the subject matter remains the same, the intent of the article may be changed by amendment." Does this apply to traditional town meeting? Doesn't seem so and moderators all over NH may be challenged this town meeting season to rule on similar amendments.

Why am I writing this? There is some movement afoot to amend one of the petitioned warrant articles at the coming town meeting to " To see if the town will vote to direct the governing body to continue to plow private roads as has been, and is the present practice."  Presumably, this possible amendment will be proposed for ARTICLE 16 "To see if the Town will vote to rescind and repeal Board of Selectmen Policy Number 2 establishing recommendations for so called “private roads”."
The Town Moderator will have to make a determination as to whether it changes the subject matter or the Legislative body can overrule his decision. 

No way to know what will happen or the outcome, but I want to focus on a scenario that may actually increase the likelihood of ending the town plowing of private roads. 
Lets say that the article is successfully amended and passes. Can it be enforced? No. We can't enforce warrant articles that are not legal. The opinion of many attorneys including our own,  is that towns can't use public money for private benefit.
If this were to be challenged in court, it is possible that it could backfire and the town could be ordered to discontinue the practice.
We are already plowing private roads, have budgeted funds for 2017, and have stated repeatedly we are not going to discontinue doing so and are seeking a legislative solution. Why muddy the waters?




Thursday, February 16, 2017

Town Statement Regarding Plowing of Private Roads

"Having consulted with our town attorney, it is our understanding that the law does not allow for the use of public funds to pay for plowing private roadways. This is also the opinion of the attorney for Laconia, which is also investigating the issue. The Board is actively exploring current statutory options that may be available, and, in cooperation with the City of Laconia's attorney, the legal staff at the NHMA and others, the possibility of seeking the creation of new legislation that may permit the use of funds for such a purpose under certain circumstances."

Two out of Three of Our State Representatives Vote on Behalf of Local Taxpayers. Rep. Cordelli Didn't

As a follow up to " On Behalf of Moultonboro taxpayer",  I'm happy to report that HB 413 passed the NH House overwhelmingly today 267 to 83. Rep. Crawford and Rep. Marsh voted Yea. Rep. Cordelli voted Nay.
The downshifting of retirement contributions began in 2009 when state contributions were reduced from 35% to 30% and finally in 2011, reforms to the public pension system eliminated entirely the state’s share of retirement contributions. That property tax increase cost Moultonboro taxpayers about  $900,000.
So why would one of our three Representatives vote against a bill that would reduce our property taxes and reduce downshifting of state obligations?
Rep. Thomas Southworth (d) Strafford had this to say in a letter in Fosters.com: "Many legislators have signed pledges with outside groups to reduce state government and revenue regardless of the consequences for NH residents. These groups, such as Americans for Prosperity, track the votes and rate representatives negatively if they vote the "wrong" way." 
Americans for Prosperity gave Cordelli a 100% A+ rating.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Former Chief Justice of the NH Supreme Court, John Broderick, to Speak at MA

Former Chief Justice of the NH Supreme Court, John Broderick, to Speak at MA
In the spring of 2016, School Board member, Richard R. Brown, Special Education Director, Ryan Marsh, new MSD School Psychologist, Heather Nelson, and Superintendent, Sue Noyes, were privileged to join a cadre of people from across NH at the capitol for the formal launch of the Change Direction National Campaign.  New Hampshire was the first launch in the nation, and we heard from all our congressional representatives in DC and Judge Broderick.  Change Direction New Hampshire is part of a national initiative designed to change the culture of mental health in America.  

Since that first meeting, I have had the privilege of hearing Judge Broderick speak on three different occasions; each time had been both moving and enlightening.  When he spoke to the Lakes Region Superintendent’s at the January meeting, he said, “This campaign is the most important thing I’ve done in my life, and it is the last thing I thought I would do.  It was not my plan to be there.  Since April of last year, in the state, I’ve driven over 9,000 miles.  I’m here today to ask for your help.  It doesn’t matter what I think or what I would like to see happen, it matters what you think and what you are willing to do   Turn pain into purpose.”  Judge Broderik’s message was powerful, and he has made himself and support materials available to our School Districts, our students, and families. 

On Friday, February 17th, at 10:30 a.m., Moultonborough Academy will host Justice Broderick. The event will be held in the Moultonborough Community Auditorium on the campus of Moultonborough Academy and will be followed by a brief Q&A. We hope that many parents and community members will join our school community for this event.  This event has been coordinated by MA students, Mackenzie Wright and Savannah Keyes as a project for their Health Science class.
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Justice Broderick will be discussing The Change Direction Initiative, which is a collection of concerned citizens, nonprofit leaders, and leaders from the private sector who have come together to change the culture in America about mental health, mental illness, and wellness. This initiative was inspired by the discussion at the White House National Conference on Mental Health in 2013, which came on the heels of the Newtown, Conn. tragedy. 

For more information, please visit 
www.changedirection.org/nh/

Monday, February 13, 2017

How Did They Vote?

 The NH General Court website has a lot of useful information.  Following links for those interested in learning more about what is happening at the State House:

Home Page ( scroll down for committee hearing calendar)

House Calendars and Journals

Bill Status Search

Members Email

Most interesting to me, is how our representatives voted. The following link will take you to all the roll call votes in each session. There have been four session this year to date.

NH House roll call votes.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

NH Budget (un) Balanced Educationally Speaking

Governor Sununu presented his budget this week and for the most part, it was positively received. It has a ways to go yet before it is finalized, but a few things stand out.
He has committed to fund full day kindergarten, but with a few  caveats: the $9 million budgeted will be targeted to the most needy school districts, and will only cover 50% of the state’s per-pupil grant for kindergarten students. 

 In the same budget, increased funding of $15 million is being proposed for NH charter schools. There are 24 charter schools in NH with 2,985 total students.( NH DOE). Just seven charter schools offer kindergarten and have just 108 students overall.

Based on last year’s traditional public school kindergarten enrollment numbers ( 9,127 per NH DOE), giving full adequacy grants to all districts with full day kindergarten would cost $14,5 million.
(NH public schools have 177,84 total students enrolled in 2016.)

This is a crystal clear example of diverting much needed funding away from our traditional public schools in favor of a tiny group of schools. Providing 2,985 students $15 million instead of fully funding all  9,127 kindergarten students for an additional $6.5 million is illogical and  strikes me as the Governor playing to the ideological base that got him nominated and elected. 
The cry for " education freedom" will cost us on our property tax bills  as they continue to nudge the camels nose under the tent. 




Incompetence is not the norm.

Town Policy # 1, Private Roads has been in effect since 1992 and reviewed in 2006. It states in part private subdivision roads of more then three lots will be provided with snow removal and sanding as per the Town budget. Three lots or less are considered to be driveways and will not receive snow removal and sanding services will not be provided.

Further, the policy states that the roads must meet minimum specifications as outlined in the Moultonborough subdivision regulations  ( Found here page 22 Section 7.2.)
Policy # 1 is not mentioned or referenced in the Subdivision Regulations. It doesn't need to be. The Subdivision Regulations in part, govern the construction of new subdivision roads and only the Planning Board has authority to apply them.  Policy # 1 merely outlines which private roads qualify to be plowed and will be funded by the Town budget under the authority of the Selectmen. Its really not that complicated.

To rephrase a portion of a  recent email and as to why this post was written in the first place: "Incompetence is not the norm,  nor do we volunteer data nor information, that is then demonstrated to be false, or  fail to comprehend the questions, or provide the town stance on issues, with no authority to do so. "

Hurling insults and attempting to demean hardworking and very competent Town employees as well as  many volunteer elected board members is inappropriate and insulting.