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Forum, March 7: Neighbors, and a Nation, Divided


Monday, March 06, 2017
A Nation Divided, Neighbors Too

It was so discouraging to hear that an acquaintance of mine has a neighbor who will no longer speak with her. Their cordial relationship apparently ended abruptly when my friend told her neighbor she’d voted for Donald Trump. Some will say, curtly perhaps: “I don’t blame her, he’s not my president.” Supporters of Trump, on the other hand, might react with anger, or shrug this off as, “probably just another Bernie-worshipper.”

Have our elected representatives, and “we the people,” regardless of party affiliation, become no better than the prison warden in the movie Cool Hand Luke? Intransigent on every issue, perpetually dissatisfied until and unless, like Luke, those with whom we disagree are prostrate in the dirt, hearing only the words: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate!”

Can one side or the other really be absolute in their correctness, and possess an unassailable high ground? Please, say no! Whether one is a devout follower of Rachel Maddow or Sean Hannity, can we change the channel occasionally and at least try to listen and hear each other above the rhetoric?

John Brighton

Hanover

Look West, Forum Writer

Peter Hoe Burling of Cornish asked a few questions in the Forum on Feb. 28 (“Questions About Guns,” Feb. 28). Might I be so bold as to suggest that he need only look to the west a bit, and he might to find his answers?

Vermont has never required any kind of permit for concealed carry, open carry, or carry of any kind of firearms, and is among the safest of places in the country. Assuming that New Hampshire citizens are generally of similar, reasonable temperament (and in my experience, they seem to be) one might expect there will be few shootouts at the local convenience store in New Hampshire because of the relaxed requirement.

Law-abiding gun owners are a very sensible lot, as evidenced by the marked lack of such shootouts in Vermont.

It seems that better results come from punishing bad behavior than from attempting to prevent crime by regulating law-abiding citizens. Do criminals abide by concealed carry permit requirements? There is no evidence that placing onerous regulations on law-abiding citizens does anything to protect anyone. If such were the case, Chicago would be as safe as Mayberry. I have heard it is not.

Ernie Amsden

Royalton

A Good Choice in Haverhill

Haverhill town voters are fortunate this year because they will soon have a chance to put an effective new selectman on the board — Fred Garofalo .

Garofalo is hard working and intelligent, an experienced fellow with pragmatic common sense — his personal record is of level-headed achievement. He looks to solve problems, not create them.

He’s a resident of North Haverhill and his current challenges include the responsibility of being a department head in a nearby town. That task involves being effective in the challenges of New Hampshire municipal budgeting, being familiar with and following state laws and regulations, and working with adjacent towns and state agencies to resolve issues and explore opportunities.

He also likes woodworking and hiking and is real good at both of those activities.

Garofalo says, “As a plant engineer, and in leading teams and committees at work, I learned you can’t fix things unless you listen to what’s happening from the people directly affected, and learn everything you can about possible solutions. Sometimes those solutions aren’t easy or popular decisions but I always try to make the best ones I can.”

He’s one of three people running for a three-year term this year on voting day Tuesday, March l4. Adding Garofalo to that governing board would be adding thoughtful effective leadership applied to town situations that certainly require it.

Robert Roudebush

North Haverhill

Radio on the Move

On behalf of staff and programmers at all-volunteer Royalton Community Radio (RCR), I would like to thank Catamount Solar of Randolph for awarding us a grant dedicated to building a mobile studio stage.

We hope to “mobilize” this community outreach project by late spring/early summer for the 16 towns of the Upper White River watershed that make up our local service area. RCR plans to participate in many of the special events/festivals/celebrations that dot our vibrant community by providing live remote broadcasts and entertainment.

If your community is planning something special during the warmer months, please contact Free Vermont Radio at folkbloke@gmail.com to get community radio onboard.

RCR/WFVR-LP can be heard 24/7 locally at 96.5 FM and online at www.wfvr.org.

Todd Tyson

President, Royalton Community Radio

Royalton

Community Service Is Worth It

I was a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in Central America 36 years ago. I am now a member of the National Returned Peace Corps Volunteer organization and they send out regular emails. This is from the most recent: “On February 17, 2017 the New York Times reported that the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) may be among the federal programs being considered for elimination in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget. As a federal agency, CNCS is the nation’s largest grant-maker in support of service and volunteering. They manage AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, the Social Innovation Fund and the Volunteer Generation Fund. AmeriCorps alone engages more than 75,000 men and women in intensive service each year at more than 21,000 locations including nonprofits, schools, public agencies and community and faith-based groups across the country.”

The email goes on to urge returned PCVs to participate in various ways to prevent the loss of these programs that strengthen the social fabric of our culture.

It occurred to me that other people in our communities would be interested in having actual names of programs that are threatened. In fact, there might be people in our communities who have benefited from these programs. Please pass on this information.

Nancy Brittain

White River Junction

Choice, or Erosion of Society?

On Feb. 23, the New Hampshire Senate passed SB-8, allowing small towns without public schools in the upper grades to pay private-school tuition for students with residents’ tax dollars, a school voucher program. I can accept the idea that a community without a full K-12 public school district may choose to have the option of helping send its students to a private school if they desire, since this is, in my view, an appropriate exercise of local control of education and locally raised taxes.

But what concerns me is part of what Sen. Ruth Ward is quoted as saying in regards to the passage of this bill: “This bill is one step closer to allowing parents and local school boards to choose the education that best fits the needs of their students.” This statement seems to suggest a greater plan for school vouchers in New Hampshire. Is Sen. Ward suggesting the possibility of a school voucher program for private schools in districts with K-12 public schools? This, in my view, is an inappropriate exercise of local control of education and locally raised taxes.

Article 3 of the New Hampshire State Constitution Bill of Rights reminds us, “When men enter into a state of society, they surrender up some of their natural rights to that society, in order to ensure the protection of others; and, without such an equivalent, the surrender is void.” My children graduated from Stevens High School, but near the end of March I will pay my full property tax bill and expect that part of it will go toward supporting the Claremont School District. I also expect that part of my taxes will go toward maintaining roads and streets I’ve never driven on in the time that I’ve lived in Claremont.

The idea of taking taxpayer money from a public school system to fund students’ attendance at private schools seems to be in opposition to the New Hampshire State Constitution, and may, as the latter part of Article 3 suggests, lead to erosion of our society. I hope this is not Sen. Ward’s intention.

Brendan Armstrong

Claremont