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Letter: Keep Pure Democracy in Cornish

Keep Democracy Pure in Cornish

To the Editor:

Cornish has long prided itself on its New England spirit, which is in evidence every March at the School District Meeting and Town Meeting. Over the years, residents have gathered to discuss, debate and vote on the school and town budgets, along with any number of other issues. The five or so hours on the same Saturday and Tuesday in March have produced many moments when responsible, creative and generous citizens have shared information and ideas that have solved problems in the best interests of the school and town.

A warrant article by petition on this year’s ballot asks residents to consider adopting SB2 for Cornish, thus changing the tradition of a School District Meeting on the first Saturday after the first Tuesday in March in favor of a deliberative session in either January or February and all-day voting with no discussion three weeks later.

The petitioners argue that a deliberative session is just the same as a School District Meeting. We would disagree. Claremont’s deliberative session this year garnered 20 voters — many fewer than the 200 to 300 who attend a School District Meeting in Cornish. Data from towns that have SB2 show a marked reduction in deliberative meeting attendance, thus reducing the quality of the debate. Why would we want to go with a system that appears to limit rather than encourage voters being more informed?

A deliberative session is not a School District Meeting where discussion, debate and voting occur on the same day when the exchange of information is fresh in everyone’s mind. It is not a social gathering place that school and town meetings have become in small New England towns.

Cornish has crucial, critical issues facing it having to do with decreased school populations and increased costs per pupil. We are not alone in the Upper Valley in dealing with such issues. The future is uncertain, but our resolve to continue our tradition of collaboratively creating the best solutions must remain. We need to continue the School District Meeting format, the purest form of direct participatory democracy, where thoughtful, careful deliberation and discussion of the future direction of our school and informed voting can take place.

Susan Chandler

Cornish

Kenney Is Out of Touch

To the Editor:

I have one question for New Hampshire Executive Council candidate Joe Kenney: How can you promise to advocate equally for all of us as a member of the council when you don’t see us as equals?

In the state Senate, Kenney consistently opposed equal rights for our friends and family members in the LGBT community. He voted against equal marriage rights, against civil unions and even against fair adoption rights. In this, as on many other issues, Kenney is radically out of touch, even by the metrics of today’s Republican Party.

Kenney supported a 2004 law that would have prevented New Hampshire businesses and government from recognizing any relationship of any kind between gay and lesbian couples. Kenney was willing to strip LGBT couples of all recognition for purposes of health and survivor benefits and medical power of attorney even when these couples were legally married in neighboring states.

We’ve had this conversation, Mr. Kenney. New Hampshire always comes down on the side of equality and the fair treatment of its citizens by its government.

In 2009, I was proud to stand with the large majority of New Hampshire citizens in the pursuit of equal rights for all Granite Staters. We were the first state in the country to legalize marriage equality without a court fight or veto. We attained this historic accomplishment as we do all things successfully: by working together. Since that time, the law has received broader support. Repeal efforts in the Statehouse were blocked even with a Republican super-majority in 2011. Across both parties we recognize that discrimination and intolerance hurts our communities and our state.

This makes the possibility that Joe Kenney could become the next executive councilor all the more troubling. Mr. Kenney’s record reveals his willingness to discriminate and take us backward on critical issues of justice and fairness. The promise of freedom and the ability to pursue one’s American dream will be fulfilled only when every couple is recognized equally in the eyes of the law.

Looking at Joe Kenney’s record, it is clear he cannot be our advocate.

David Pierce

New Hampshire State Senator

Lebanon

Hanover, Remember to Vote

To the Editor:

This is directed to my friends and neighbors in Hanover who support Mike Cryans in the, special election for District 1 Executive Councilor on Tuesday. Unlike most towns in District 1, Hanover will not be holding its Town Meeting or voting on town or school district budgets on March 11. The sole question on Hanover’s March 11 ballot will be choosing the District 1 executive councilor. Since the residents of the other towns in the district will be having Town Meetings and will be voting on town and school district budgets, they will have multiple reasons to come out and vote. Hanover will have only one. This situation could lead to Hanover being substantially under-represented in this crucial election. A couple of numbers: This past Tuesday, March 4, the turnout for the Hanover School District elections was just shy of 800. In 2012 (presidential year), the total number of Hanover voters in the District 1 Executive Council election was 5,997. In 2010 (off-year), it was 4,051. It is probably unrealistic to hope that we could reach even the 2010 turnout. My fear is that Hanover’s turnout could be closer to last Tuesday’s numbers than to those of 2010 or 2012. Mike Cryans, clearly the best-qualified successor to his friend Ray Burton, deserves better from us. Please urge your friends and neighbors to come out and vote for Mike.

John Chamberlin

Hanover

Road Agent Explains Budget

To the Editor:

I would like to set the record straight. In “Full Plate for Voters in Cornish” (March 3), Becky Flynn, who is the wife of Dan Flynn, a former road agent and a current contender for the position, is quoted as saying that her husband would “like to try to save the town some money again, and try to keep the budget back in order because from what we see . . . it’s gone over quite a bit this year.”

I feel she is misinformed. The reason that my budget shows that it was overspent by $83,554 is because of the summer storm that caused extensive damage and road closures. As of this week, the town has received reimbursement of $81,731.06 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for expenses related to that storm. If this amount of money is factored in, the budget was, in fact, underspent by $27,269 this past year had we not had the July 2013 storm. When you consider that FEMA only reimburses 75 percent of the money needed for repairs, the town spent approximately $109,000 of unanticipated money because of the storm.

I would like to thank everyone for their support over the past three years. The job of road agent is more of an administrative job. In my many years knowing Wayne Gray and working on many job sites with him, I believe he is the right man for the job.

For the past three years, I have worked closely with the Board of Selectmen. At times this could be a bit of a struggle. I do think it might be a good time for change. Therefore, I am in full support of Dale Lawrence for the board. In all my years dealing with any questions at the Cornish Elementary School, she has been very helpful.

Kyle Witty

Road Agent

Cornish

Mascoma Voters Need Options

To the Editor:

I’m writing in response to the editorial supporting the Mascoma high school renovation (“Mascoma’s School Vote,” March 6). I’ve heard it said that this is a crucial vote for our children’s future, and I agree. How we vote will send a strong message about what sort of society we wish to have. But there is a crucial piece missing from this discussion: While the danger of losing accreditation is very real, as are the defects in the building, the renovation is not the only solution to that problem. For a tenth of the price, or less, the defects could be repaired, and the accreditation would no longer be at risk.

The School Board has steadfastly refused to give voters that option. Don’t we deserve to have the choice to decide if the building should be repaired, rather than expanded? The School Board wants one thing, and does not care to give the voters any other options. It is playing politics with our children’s future. This vote is very much about that future, and I don’t want my children growing up in a district where such dirty tricks are accepted practice. Please join me in voting “No,” and demanding that the School Board give us real options in the future. Please show our children how a civilized society behaves.

Joe Brown

Grafton

The Value of Mascoma Renovation

To the Editor:

I’d like to address some of the objections to the Mascoma High School renovation proposal:

“We don’t need the additional space because enrollment is falling.” Much of the new space would be for updated science rooms; classrooms for teachers who have none; and classes such as music that operate in noisy, nonfunctional areas. These upgrades are sorely needed whether enrollment rises or not. And it is certain that falling enrollment is due not just to demographics, but to young families moving from the district. We need to attract and keep families who will be involved in the schools as well as in town affairs, or we will have dying communities.

“The auditorium is a luxury.” Teacher and student time is wasted by the conflicts in sharing the current gym/auditorium between sports events and music and theater performances. Think the performing and visual arts are not important? The performing arts provide similar learning benefits to sports: teamwork, good sportsmanship, confidence in performing publicly — all valuable for future endeavors. And the visual arts foster numerous skills sought by employers: creativity, inventiveness, problem-solving, focus and dedication, to name a few.

“We can’t afford it.” When will we break the cycle? How can we not afford better education, which leads to better jobs and more people able to pay their taxes? That’s what we should be working toward, so we are not constantly trying to fill our community needs on the backs of those who are struggling but are creating citizens who can attain good jobs and contribute to their towns. The renovation won’t by itself magically create better education, but it will attract better teachers and families passionate about their children’s education, and those are important factors in educational achievement. I urge Mascoma School District voters to vote “Yes” on Article 4 on Tuesday.

Becky Powell

Enfield

Mike Cryans Is One of Us

To the Editor:

I hope you will join the thousands of Democrats, independents and Republicans voting for Michael Cryans in the special election on Tuesday to fill Ray Burton’s seat on the New Hampshire Executive Council. There is no one better suited to succeed Ray Burton than Mike Cryans, a Hanover Democrat and a native of Littleton. A lifelong resident of New Hampshire, Mike has served as a Grafton County commissioner for the past 17 years. Most of that time he worked closely with Ray Burton, whose family recently endorsed Mike over his Republican opponent.

Mike is hardworking and committed to community and the best interest of his constituents in New Hampshire communities. As executive councilor, Mike’s focus will be on investing in the economy, protecting taxpayers and strengthening the middle class — the same priorities he had as a county commissioner. Mike will be there for us and, like Ray, he understands the importance of being available to his constituents — always following up in a timely manner.

Mike opposes the Northern Pass and will fight to improve our roads and infrastructure in the most cost-efficient way. As a former teacher, Mike understands that a successful economy starts in the classroom. He will fight to reinvest in our schools, so that our students receive the education they deserve. During his years serving the people of Grafton County, he delivered real success by working with members of both parties.

The District 1 executive councilor not only approves state contracts, but represents the voice of all towns spanning seven counties within half the state’s land mass. I believe that Mike Cryans is the best candidate to continue Ray Burton’s commitment and service to the working families of northern New Hampshire. He is one of us and will do an excellent job representing our interests in Concord.

Carol Perera Weingeist

Hanover

Gun-Rights Rally in Montpelier

To the Editor:

There will be a rally put on by the nonprofit group Gun Owners of Vermont on the steps of the Statehouse in Montpelier tomorrow (March 9) from 12 to 3 p.m. This is a pro-firearm event opposing all proposed anti-gun and ammunition legislation. (A reminder that firearms are prohibited on state capital grounds.) I am attending because of anti-gun and ammunition bills currently proposed in Montpelier, and think that all citizens interested in preserving their firearm rights should be there to show their opposition.

Vermont is a great state that has very few gun laws and very little firearm-related crimes. That being said, there is no need for any new firearm laws. New gun laws would only affect law-abiding citizens, not criminals and would not make Vermont safer, as some would have you believe. For further information, go to www.gunownersofvermont.org or visit their Facebook page.

Jason M. Knapp

Randolph