Forum, Oct. 28: The Elections; People, Pets and Disease; The Expense of Solar Power

Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Vote, and Be Informed About It

To the Editor:

It has been over 70 years, but I can still see him sitting in his rocker over the hot air grate with a wool blanket covering his lap while disapprovingly watching his mischievous great-granddaughter. In his day, he was known as Mr. Republican. His brother had gone off to fight in the Civil War and had returned in a casket. His distant cousin was a Republican president. It was to his house that my grandfather and his two sons went to live after the death of my grandmother. It was here that my father was immersed in government and politics in a family that has been involved in state and local governments since arriving in 1630.

Politics was always a subject at our dinner table. My father’s oft-repeated lament was that people knew the names and stats of professional ballplayers, but did not know the names or records of the politicians whose decisions affected our lives. My mother would tell us of her brother-in-law who repeated frequently in his old age that he liked the Republicans because they gave us Social Security. Not too many years ago, a reporter wrote of his visit to the Mt. Vernon dump and interviewed people about their impressions of New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O’Brien, also from Mt. Vernon. One young man said he really didn’t follow politics. How sad. How tragic for our country. How could he not know Bill O’Brien’s actions when he was constantly in the news?

Be an informed voter.

Joan Garipay


The Expense of Solar Power

To the Editor:

I attended Solarize Hanover at the high school recently, an event put on by many well-intended neighbors. To fight global warming from CO2 emissions, they recommend rooftop photovoltaic solar panels for electricity that our utility company, Liberty, would otherwise generate from natural gas. An investment of $20,000 for a 5 kilowatt-peak-power PV system would “net” 6,000 kilowatt-hours per year of electricity. At about 15 cents per kwh otherwise paid to Liberty, this saves the homeowner $900. Solarize Hanover claims an investment payback of 7-12 years. This is only possible through extensive subsidies. Almost half of the $20,000 is recovered by tax credits, placing that cost on to other citizen taxpayers.

Other Liberty utility customers also provide a subsidy because of “net” metering. On sunny days the PV solar panels generate 5 kw of power for a few mid-day hours, but the average household consumption is only about 1 kw, so roughly 80 percent of the power is sent back to Liberty, which is required to buy it at a 15 cents per kwh rate. This raises Liberty’s costs, because it would normally buy cheaper electricity from hydro, nuclear or natural gas generators at about 5 cents per kwh. This raises rates Liberty must charge other customers. This other-customer subsidy is roughly $480 per year.

CO2 emissions saved by avoiding burning natural gas for electricity are 333 grams per kwh, so each such Solarize Hanover home reduces emissions by two metric tons of CO2 per year. World CO2 emissions from coal-fired generation of electricity are 10 billion metric tons a year and are expected to double as developing nations prosper.

Robert Hargraves


Two Years Comes Too Soon

To the Editor:

I am writing to express my frustration with Vermont’s need for elections every two years.

My frustration comes from several different areas; they are:

∎ Our elected officials need to continually spend their time either raising money for their next campaign or posturing for it.

∎  Issues aren’t given enough time to significantly develop or mature, nor are solutions.

∎ Primary voting is seemingly at an all-time low. We rarely know who is running. Parties have difficulty finding folks to run.

∎ We spend a lot of money on a process that few seem to participate in and which seems to have no significant impact. Incumbents rarely lose in Vermont. Why don’t we save that money and funnel it to the needy?

If these arguments of relevance and money are not enough to persuade, consider the situation of Peter Diamondstone. He has been running for office since the ’60s. Every two years. After so much service to the state and his constituents, doesn’t he deserve a break? Let him rest up for four years before he has to get on the campaign trail again.

Lawrence McLiverty


What I Said About Transformation

To the Editor:

In a recent article about my race for re-election to serve Windsor 4-1 in the Vermont House (“Respectful Rivals Vie For Windsor 4-1 Seat,” Oct. 24), I was quoted as saying that Vermont being the first state to implement transformative policies was not a bad thing, and the citation followed a reference to education spending. I was in fact referring to health care reform, and how this country’s health insurance system is unsustainable and inefficient. In the absence of a federal solution to bring the economics of American health care up to the standards of other developed nations, state legislatures have a responsibility to explore universal coverage options to improve access, equity, cost containment and outcomes.

I was not suggesting that Vermont’s over-reliance on property tax is a good thing, and my record of voting for education finance reform for the past two years is clear on that issue.

Vermont is at a critical juncture as we endeavor to transform and improve our education and health care systems, among others. I have listened to the needs and suggestions of my constituency and carried these into my collaborative work with other lawmakers. Making laws and shifting state policy is an arduous process, and many good ideas take years to percolate to fruition. Progress is made in Montpelier not just with good ideas alone or aggressive challenging of the status quo, but in productive working relationships with members from all parties, with committee chairs, caucus leadership and administration officials. I have cultivated these relationships for the past three years and have earned the respect and trust of my colleagues, successfully presenting and defending landmark legislation on the House floor. As one of the youngest legislators in Vermont and one not afraid to rock the majority boat, my positions are noted and have influence.

When the legislative session begins in January, we will have little time to spare with Vermonters expecting action and results. I’m ready to go and hope you’ll send me back to work on your behalf for another two years. You can contact me anytime at or 234-9125.

Rep. Teo Zagar


A Candidate Who Will Seek Facts

To the Editor:

I have known John Freitag for about 30 years as an employee at Newton School when I was principal and on the recreation board for the town of Strafford. He is at times a very argumentative person and can cause some irritation. However, I have found that over the years that John will provide us with a representative who is very transparent, willing to listen, and above all will demand and learn the facts before casting his vote.

Single-payer insurance: what will it cover, how much will it save and above all, what it will do to communities? If you want someone who isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions and keep asking until he receives a satisfactory answer, then John is your person.

If you want someone who will keep you informed on the bills that matter, then John is your person. John will work very hard to try to find solutions to the many problems facing Vermont.

Robert Murray

South Strafford

Relative Health of People, Pets

To the Editor:

Scabies reported at a local hospital, polio, pertussis, influenza, Ebola, etc. It appears that our pets have less of a chance of contracting a communicable disease than we do!

Tim Bowen


Ski Area Is Large Enough

To the Editor:

Does it make sense to enlarge the existing area of skiing on Mt. Sunapee State Park? MSR, owner of CNL Lifestyle Properties, is putting forth this proposal. We must take a deeper look at the future of using Mt. Sunapee State Park as a skiing mountain.

According to research, winter tourism and skiing are trending downward. This is due to a decrease in the average days of snow cover, shorter snow seasons and warmer temperatures. Ninety percent of resorts are dependent on snowmaking. Snowmaking needs cold enough nights, yet “With nighttime minimum temperatures warming at a faster rate than daytime maximum temperatures, it is uncertain as to what extent snowmaking will last as an adaptation strategy” (Climate Impacts on the Winter Tourism Economy in the United States — December 2012 by E. Burakowski and M. Magnusson).

Furthermore, artificial snow is four times denser, five times harder and heavier than natural snow, and makes soil erosion easier and delays seasonal defrost. In Vermont, ski resorts produce 25 percent of pollutants (Journal of Applied Ecology 2005).

Skiing is a costly industry, getting more expensive to operate and more costly to consumers. “To put it bluntly, within our lifetime, researchers say only 34 ski areas across the entire Northeast will be viable. With snowy winters no longer the norm, Northeastern ski areas will lose $3.2 billion in annual revenue over the next 40 years. ( “A Snowball’s Chance: As global temperatures rise, the New England ski industry is in danger of totally melting away — and sooner than you think.” January 2014 by M. Kahn, Boston Globe).

We need to take a deeper look at the long-term future of Mt. Sunapee State Park. Do we want to see Mt. Sunapee as the beauty that she is — leaving it for the future enjoyment by all of the people of this great state.

Sue Russell

Newbury, N.H.

Thoughts From a Non-Candidate

To the Editor:

My name will not be on the ballot on Nov. 4, which leads me to reflect upon some of the issues that came before me during my time in Concord, and which votes were the most critical to the quality of life for people in Lebanon and in New Hampshire.

This past spring we passed Medicaid expansion, one of the most important health care initiatives in the history of the state, enabling low-income individuals aged 19-64 to access health care coverage for the first time ever.

Under the governor’s leadership, a compromise was reached to allow people covered by this program to eventually access the private insurance marketplace. In just five weeks, over 20,000 people signed up for Medicaid coverage.

The cost of the program is covered 100 percent by the federal government for the first three years and then eventually the costs are covered 90 percent by the federal government.

This a good deal for our state and, more importantly, for individuals who have never been able to have their chronic diseases or mental health issues or addiction treated ­— except in the emergency room, at enormous cost to all of us.

If you truly believe that health care coverage is a right, not a privilege, this legislation is something you should protect with your heart and soul, especially if you work in the health care sector.

You need to know that the compromise language in the Medicaid expansion legislation allows this program to disappear in 2016 unless the Legislature votes otherwise.

It is imperative that you ask your local state candidates for the House and the Senate about their support for Medicaid expansion.

By and large, it is the Democratic candidates that have been in full support of Medicaid expansion and will ensure its survival.

Vote on Nov. 4. Vote for access to health care for your friends, neighbors and your patients.

Rep. Laurie Harding

Grafton 13, Lebanon

A Better Choice In District 8

To the Editor:

District 8 is facing a clear choice between Rep. Linda Tanner and Jerry Little for replacing retiring Bob O’Dell in the New Hampshire State Senate.

For the last 23 years of his career, Jerry Little, the Republican candidate, was the president and public relations director of the New Hampshire Bankers Association, a lobbying group for the banking industry. In a recent interview with the Keene Sentinel, Mr. Little listed his occupation as “retired.” In opening statements at debates, Mr. Little describes how he worked for minimum wage during his teenage years and his volunteer work in recent years. He conveniently omits his decades of lobbying our elected officials for banks, an industry that has failed the American public more profoundly than any other business. Is he not proud of his past record and chosen profession?

According to Mr. Little’s Federal Election Commission filings, the majority of his support is from his fellow bankers outside of his district. This isn’t surprising since he lobbied for them for so many years. It does, however, show how little in common he has with the average working person.

The other choice for state senator is Linda Tanner, our current representative in the New Hampshire House for District 9. Prior to representing our district, Ms. Tanner taught for 35 years at Kearsage Regional High School. Rep.Tanner never hides what she did for her career.

Rep. Tanner has a record of rebuilding New Hampshire by working across the aisle without supporting broad-based taxes. Do we want to go back to the failed policies of the past Republican Legislature? Please get out and vote on Tuesday, Nov. 4. Our choice is clear. Ms. Tanner has a history of representing the interests of the working class, while Mr. Little has a 23-year history of representing banking interests.

Jerry Karr


The Truth About Scott Brown

To the Editor:

Scott Brown’s campaign has been pushing falsehoods and playing on people’s fears as a carpetbagger who is trying to take a foothold in New Hampshire. Most recently, he has been attacking Senator Shaheen for her energy policy, saying that she would raise prices by supporting an increase to the natural gas tax. This has been proven by independent fact-checkers to be false.

The people of New Hampshire know the truth about our Senator Shaheen and that she puts New Hampshire first.

Scott Brown has no credibility to stand on, and he has come up with his own disastrous energy plan that would leave us Granite Staters with a higher energy bill. He wants to export as much natural gas as possible. The U.S. Energy Information Administration found that doing this would increase prices here at home.

Having moved here from Massachusetts recently, Brown has tried to sell himself as one of us, but his position of cutting funding from the New Hampshire low-income heating assistance program would take away heating from tens of thousands of Granite State families.

We need someone like Jeanne Shaheen who is tried and true and who will work for our best interests.

Carol Perera Weingeist


Vermont Needs a New Governor

To the Editor:

Do you think Peter Shumlin deserves another term as our governor? His mercenary, fast-talking property purchase was highly irregular. He offered $58,000 for a house and 17 acres originally appraised at more than $200,000. The only thing that stopped the deal from going through was the victim’s children taking it to the media.

This is below the dignity of the governorship. I don’t care how many floods he can try to fall back on in his TV ads.

We can do better. Scott Milne will be a breath of fresh air. Scott Milne is a successful businessman, honest and sincere, and of high character. He is aware of the problems of high education taxes, high property taxes and job opportunities needed for growth. Scott Milne is a man of integrity, intelligence and transparency, bringing respectability back to the office of the governor of the State of Vermont.

Letitia H. Rydjeski


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