Forum, May 16: ‘Old White America’

Tuesday, May 16, 2017
‘Old White America’

As I turned to the opinion page last Thursday, I was surprised to read John G. Lewis’ letter to the editor (“Reasons for School Choice,” May 11, 2017), which was nakedly racist. He lamented the demise of “old white America” that consisted of wealthy, white, northern European Protestants, and praised so-called school choice as a mechanism through which its remaining members can “congregate with who (they) want” — presumably other rich, white, northern European Protestants.

I’m not naive enough to believe similar sentiments are not shared by many people in this country. My surprise arises from the author’s willingness to not just reveal but advocate for such transparent bigotry. Fellow readers, do not simply look away from such casual displays of discrimination but join me in condemning them.

Scott Pauls


Focus on Care for Mentally Ill

As a compassionate and concerned citizen I am deeply disturbed by the editorial “Strained Relations” (Valley News, May 11, 2017) which portrayed the staffing situation at New Hampshire Hospital as a legal battle between Dartmouth-Hitchcock and the State of New Hampshire. Governor Sununu was quoted: “We’ve been paying for psychiatrists who haven’t been there.” This focus on a contractual disagreement obscures the issue that should be our main concern: The quality of patient care at the N.H. State Hospital — is it adequate and has it been compromised? We should be far more concerned about our neighbors who need psychiatric care getting the treatment they need, than curious about “inside baseball being played.”

“NH Senate OKs Plans for Psych Beds” (Valley News, May 12, 2017) further highlights our need to focus thoughtful energy and resources on this vulnerable and often stigmatized population. “In March a (daily N.H.) average of 46 adults and four children” in acute psychiatric crisis were boarded in emergency rooms waiting for treatment. What if one of the four was your beloved child? What if one of the 46 was your spouse or sibling? We would not tolerate this lack of care if the crisis was medical in nature, why do we tolerate this for psychiatric care? We need to be mindful that a society will be judged by its care of the weak and vulnerable, and that we all have a moral and ethical responsibility to ensure the safe and proper care of our neighbors in need.

Lisa I. Palmer, RN


Statewide Negotiation Makes Sense

What is causing the budget impasse in Montpelier is the Vermont National Education Association (VTNEA) and their legislative supporters’ insistence that negotiations for teachers’ health benefits take place at the local level rather than statewide. At the local level, the VT-NEA, with its staff of highly-paid, trained negotiators, have a decided advantage compared to volunteer school board members. It is understandable why they and their legislative allies are loath to give that up and willing to fight so hard. The nonsense of this actually being about collective bargaining itself is becoming clearer each day as facts like how some years ago Democratic Speaker of the House Ralph Wright, a teacher and union activist, supported statewide collective bargaining for health benefits because he knew this was both fairer and provided some cost containment.

The nonsense about timing is also becoming clearer. The opportunity to take advantage of a unique situation to make significant savings is now and the governor is correct to push the issue. With already high property taxes, fees, and sales taxes, legislators need to decide on this critical issue who they really represent: the VTNEA or the people of Vermont.

John Freitag

South Strafford

A Special Ballot for Students?

The New Hampshire Legislature is considering a change to the voter eligibility law, but are they thinking of the 21st or the 18th century? The 2008 election and the recent Hanover election provide examples of where change is needed.

In 2008 it appears many Dartmouth College students voted for Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, as if by a straight ballot. Did they really care who filled the county and state offices, or did they just want to vote for president? Along with others, they elected one of their own as county treasurer, as I recall. This student cost the taxpayers money through losses they caused.

Recently students voted in a Hanover election that contained a zoning issue they cared about.

It can be argued that students shouldn’t vote here because they have no long term stake. They have to move on, and they can vote by absentee ballot in their “home” state. I did this while in the Navy. However, they may have no intention in returning to the place where they were raised, or the last place they voted, and have no real stake there either.

These students and others may really only want to vote for president and vice president. Why not accommodate them? Create a voter class “U.S. Residents, transient.” They would be handed a ballot that had all the offices except president and vice president crossed out by the election officials. A special ballot would not be needed.

Howard Shaffer


A Nice, Short Bus Ride

Kudos to the Valley News for publishing the recent photo of Dartmouth College students boarding “One of several chartered buses on the campus in Hanover,” according to the caption. “Buses brought undergraduates from Webster Avenue, the ‘fraternity row’ to the polls at Hanover High.” (“Hanover Sees High Turnout: Petition Article Draws Student Votes,” May 10, 2017)

Charter buses to carry college students a distance of 1.2 miles from one side of downtown Hanover to the other, how nice.

Fred Pond


Role in a ‘Partisan Farce’

The New Hampshire press has reported that a prominent citizen of our state has accepted appointment to the Administration’s Task Force on Voter Fraud.

Our long time Secretary of State, William Gardner, makes a serious mistake by joining this partisan farce. He risks his own established reputation by giving stature to an effort that is designed to prove the lie that some 3 million people voted illegally in the Presidential election. He uses his status as a Democrat to give non-partisan credibility to a panel whose work product has already been determined. He should not be found anywhere near this reprehensible business. Because he is, ultimately he may negatively impact both the voting rights of his fellow Granite Staters, and the historical claims of our state to hold the first-in-the-nation primary.

Peter Hoe Burling

Cornish The writer is a former member of the Democratic National Committee and the N.H. Legislature.

Gauging Marijuana’s Dangers

This is my opinion about marijuana legalization. First, I’ve always believed that laws only exist to protect people from each other, not themselves. If someone wants to put a foreign substance into their body, that’s OK with me, unless it has the capacity to negatively affect me or others. Then our society should either ban it or regulate it.

That said, everyone who’s honest knows that marijuana use impairs the normal functioning of the human mind, causing impaired judgment, which can lead to auto accidents and other events with great negative affects.

And marijuana’s use does indeed increase the possible use of other drugs, in that if it feels good to the user, they then begin to wonder if harder drugs would do the same. This impaired thinking can be greater on younger minds which haven’t fully developed.

Alcohol also causes impairment. But society has determined how to measure the amount of impairment, and provides penalties for misuse and the consequences of it. I don’t think there is yet an understanding of the scale of impairment which marijuana may cause, nor any method to measure it. Lacking that, how can allowable degrees of use be determined, or penalties decided for misuse? And how can they be enforced without a way of measurement?

So I think that Gov. Scott is right in saying legalization should be held off until those parameters can be determined, and hope that he sticks to his opinion by vetoing the currently proposed bill.

And how can our legislature propose legalizing this drug, while at the same time be considering raising the legal smoking age to save on enforcement costs and to try to cut down on underage use? I’d like to hear how they rationalize that.

Stephen Raymond


A Classy Lacrosse Team

I have been involved in lacrosse for well over 50 years, coaching mostly at the high school level. While I have had the good fortune to work with many young men of outstanding character, this spring, assisting Ryan Gardner and Rick Hughes (both Hanover grads) with the Hanover Boys Lacrosse team, has been an exceptional pleasure. The nearly 30 young men on the team have been and are models of good sportsmanship and strong character. They are coachable, eager to learn and to improve, extremely hard-working, they play with passion, are resilient, and above all, are very good as teammates. Of particular importance to me is that they compete and play the game in a way that honors the Native Americans who first played what was for them a very sacred game.

Credit Ryan and Rick for creating such a positive and purposeful culture within this team, the parents for their 15 or more years of support and guidance, but mostly, kudos to these student-athletes who, every day, demonstrate the essential values we want young people to embrace and to practice. I feel very honored to be associated with this very high-class program and group of young men.

Jim Wilson