Forum, Jan. 13: Strengthen protections for Canaan Historic District

Published: 1/12/2021 10:00:06 PM
Modified: 1/12/2021 10:00:03 PM
Strengthen protections for Canaan Historic District

Kudos to Chairman John Bergeron and the Canaan Planning Board for developing a proposed zoning ordinance, as recommended by the town attorney, that would further strengthen the existing protections the Canaan Historic District enjoys (“Planning board mulls creating historic district,” Jan. 9).

The district is one of the undisputed jewels of the Upper Valley; the graceful old homes, sweeping westerly views and proximity to Canaan Street Lake warrant particular protection in a town where no zoning, for some, is a strange point of pride. Zoning is one way to help protect property values and attract business, but I digress.

Canaan residents, please vote to pass this important protection to keep our beautiful historic district intact as a special place of pride in our town and this region.



Many were disenfranchised by New Hampshire House rules

I have registered a formal protest with New Hampshire House Speaker Sherman Packard concerning the manner in which the proceedings of the New Hampshire House of Representatives were conducted on Jan. 6.

House leadership’s refusal to accede to the many requests for virtual access to the proceedings was an affront to petitioners and arguably constitutes an abuse of power. It resulted not only in the disenfranchisement of the petitioning representatives, but also in the effective disenfranchisement of the constituents they represent.

Despite the positive affirmation by the New Hampshire Supreme Court of the House’s ability to meet virtually, in whole or in part, incoming leadership refused to provide virtual access to the Jan. 6 House session to those who were unable to attend as a result of either disability or health status during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I, and others, made every effort to be present for the session virtually and to represent my constituents to my fullest capability in keeping with the Supreme Court’s determination, but although we were able to both hear and see the proceedings online, we were denied the critical ability to have our voices heard in debate or to vote on the matters before the House. The fact that the New Hampshire Senate conducted its proceedings entirely virtually on the same day stands in the sharpest contrast to the House proceedings.

The House majority’s rejection of a proposed amendment to the rules at the Jan. 6 session, which would have formalized the ability of the House to meet virtually, constitutes a further affront and an abrogation of the right of the affected representatives to fulfill their duties under the New Hampshire Constitution.

I have asked Speaker Packard to reconsider this erroneous strategy and to act in accordance with the affirmative opinion of the New Hampshire Supreme Court by providing full virtual access to the proceedings of the House to all duly elected representatives irrespective of disability or health status.



The writer represents the Sullivan 1 district in the New Hampshire House.

Mob genie is out of the bottle

The obscene behavior of the Trumpist mob at the Capitol building was yet another reminder that ideas that aren’t allowed to be expressed via speech will be expressed by less benign means, and that tolerance for a resort to those means by some will lead to a resort to them by others.

The mob genie never goes back in the bottle quietly.

If the election had tilted in favor of Donald Trump, I believe virtually every Democrat would have supported incessant challenges to the result, and Hillary Clinton would be only one of millions stridently urging Joe Biden not to concede victory. There is no question in my mind that violent demonstrations would have begun immediately, would have been nationwide and would still be happening.

The Democrats can pretend otherwise all they like, but thanks largely to them a post-election era of good feeling, or even of restrained hostility and resentment, was never in the cards.



Is it a ‘conspiracy theory’ or responsible skepticism?

It is strange to hear prominent voices like author and activist Rebecca Solnit, a columnist for The Guardian, call for critical thinking in our public schools while simultaneously envisioning “a society inoculated against conspiracy theories.”

Solnit pines for “a citizenship equipped with critical thinking skills,” while comparing conspiracy theorists to “hucksters” with “delusions.” Only a certain criticality of thought, Solnit seems to suggest, is appropriate, while anything inconsonant with accepted forms of analysis and judgment is delusionary.

We are capable of falling in love with questionable narratives. We also know, however, that conspiracies do exist — Watergate? COINTELPRO? Enron? — and that we have been misled by the media, the government and other ostensibly credible sources before. The theories that stem from salient events and patterns are not always reckless and uninformed, but instead a part of necessary skepticism.

So, maybe before discarding someone’s speculation by labeling it a “conspiracy theory,” we should start by assuming that such a thinker is being responsibly skeptical.

As the speaker and author Charles Eisenstein points out, “ ‘Conspiracy theory’ has become a term of political invective, used to disparage any view that diverges from mainstream beliefs.”

Why should events or issues create a question vacuum, free of inquiry and discussion? Does the act of posing valid questions necessarily equate to misinforming? Are we so deeply pickled in fear that we’ve allowed our discernment to atrophy?

Solnit, a vociferous advocate of climate justice, racial equity, gender parity and other important issues, was also one of the bold defenders of Edward Snowden.

“Someday,” Solnit wrote in an open letter to Snowden published in The Nation (July 2013), “you may be regarded as … someone who refused to fit in, to bow down, to make a system work that shouldn’t work.” But, did Solnit forget that what Snowden exposed was a real conspiracy by the National Security Agency to spy on the American public?

Perhaps most perplexing is when deep thinkers such as Solnit diminish the possibility that conspiracies exist.



Political parties must end their greed and selfishness

Now that the Democratic Party has taken control of our national legislature, my hope is that its members don’t simply ram through every liberal idea that sounds good, but listen to their conservative counterparts’ concerns.

The failure of politicians to do so is what has caused all the political unrest of the last 20 years — the simple greed of each party to have to have its own way, instead of seeking compromise for what is in the best interest of the majority.

Maybe they can all stop acting like grade-school children and more like educated adults. If not, and if they continue the current practice of greed and selfishness, our country’s downhill slide will continue, to the detriment of our children’s future.

I should say that I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican but a moderate who tries to look at both sides of an issue before making a decision. And after all the events of our recent elections, I can’t say I’m hopeful going into our new administration, but have more of a wait-and-see attitude. Let’s hope for the best.



The swamp is alive and well

A recent analysis by Sludge Magazine of COVID-19 bailout programs authorized by the CARES Act found that 18 congressional Republicans and one Libertarian received $21.7 million in loans for 38 businesses with which they are associated.

Nine Democrats received $6.1 million for 11 of their own businesses.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, with a combined net worth of $34.4 million, are connected to a loan of $417,700 to Foremost Maritime Inc., owned by the Chao family.

Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., with a net worth $10.9 million, is tied to a loan of $1.1 million that went to her husband’s law firm, Lowey Dannenberg P.C.

Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., net worth $73.9 million and the fourth-richest member of Congress, received $2.8 million in loans for four of his 27 companies.

The Washington Post quoted Ashley Harrington, federal advocacy director and senior counsel for the Center for Responsible Lending, as saying, “The fee structure initially incentivized loans to larger businesses because banks could bring in larger fees from those firms.”

A “blanket approval” allowed members of Congress and their families to receive Paycheck Protection Program funds. Congress waived any conflict-of-interest review process for its members.

The swamp is alive and well, teeming with self-serving members of Congress, hiding behind the skirts of appearing to help us common folk.

Maybe at the midterm elections we can clean out more of this mess in Congress.

How about some new rules under the Biden administration: Congress members cannot benefit from this kind of program, they can’t own stocks and they aren’t allowed to make money off the taxpayers.


South Strafford

Joe Biden’s Cabinet picks
are a wonderful change

Forum contributor Jeff Lehmann recently decried the diverse background of President-elect (yay!) Joe Biden’s Cabinet picks as “identity politics” and a “high-minded cover for using race, gender and sexual preference in place of experience and merit” (“Biden fills his Cabinet by employing identity politics,” Dec. 31). Biden’s picks seem to me a wonderful change from the commonality of Donald Trump’s Cabinet, whose members were characterized by an almost total absence of experience in the areas they should have led in, no concern for our country’s welfare and reputation in the areas they oversaw, and a gross and demonstrated lack of merit before they resigned or were fired or indicted.

Yes, Biden has changed the criteria for selecting members of his Cabinet and other important positions. He proudly declares his choices are designed to “make his administration look more like America.” One can label this “identity politics ... in place of experience and merit,” but I haven’t seen much of either experience or merit since President Barack Obama’s time.

It’s hard to imagine that even closet Trump supporters aren’t looking forward to better leadership in our country in 2021.



Donald Trump’s great work will be remembered forever

President Donald Trump left the country in such great shape as President-elect Joe Biden comes into office.

The economy? Great! The COVID-19 response and the vaccination rollout? Who could ask for better? Our relationships with our allies? No doubts in their minds that we’re the leader of the Free World.

Our relationships with enemies who troll our social media and hack our business and governmental data? Super great. They’re disappointed they won’t have four more years to work with Trump.

Our handling of climate change and the environment in general? He’ll be remembered for generations.

The respect he engendered for the rule of law? His supporters were busting down the doors of the Capitol to show it. Our love of country? Stars and bars forever. Let’s rename all of our military bases after secessionists and traitors.

Our commitment to democracy and the idea that every citizen should vote? Seriously, who made that one up? Such a silly idea.

From Day 1 of his presidency, Trump’s only thought was how to make our country better, his only wish to bring us together. His thoughtful, heartfelt and compassionate concern for the weak and vulnerable is undoubtedly one of the reasons he ranks as he does on the list of great presidents.

I am profoundly moved as he leaves office. In the words of the great patriots who supported Richard Nixon through thick and thin, all I can say is, “America: Love it or leave it.” Truly, I wish him the best of luck finding a country to take him in.


White River Junction

Prominent signs show a defiance of American decency

I live in this beautiful town that for the last four years has been defiled by prominent signs pledging allegiance to the most dangerous scoundrel and collection of similarly amoral enablers ever to misrule this country. Even today, these cultish signs remain in place, grotesque symbols in defiance of long-standing American decency.

Neither sedition nor inciting violent insurrection leading to multiple deaths are enough to weaken this continuing visible support of lawless white supremacy.

To what do I have to look forward to now, Confederate flags on Main Street? Swastikas?



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