Sunday, December 30, 2007

Canvassing

The Dennis Kucinich campaign called the house today ... 10 days before the New Hampshire primary and the Kucinich campaign is finally getting around to calling voters. Yikes. Oh gosh Dennis, you really should have started this months ago. Similar to the Gravel supporter hiring canvassers, it is almost too late to just start gearing up your campaign here. He also just opened an office on Main Street.

Obama canvassers were walking the neighborhood this afternoon, obviously following up on the three other times they have been through the neighborhood. I guess you can't be too cautious about outcomes, especially when Hillary is co-opting your message.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Political phone calls in Concord

Well, we're getting them. And if we don't answer the phone, they keep calling back! That is the price of living in New Hampshire during primary season. It is also the price of being a good voter: The campaigns really want to know where your head is at. My wife stated earlier today: I'm so sick of these calls! I'll be happy when this election is over!!
In some ways, I kinda have to agree with her a bit. I love following and writing about politics. But this primary campaign has been too damn long. I truly hope, as I have been saying privately to some people, that there are brokered conventions for both major parties this year. While I would like the New Hampshire primary to be over already, I don't want the nomination process to be over on Feb. 6. If it is, it will spell doom for the voters. I really do think that voters in the other states should have a role in picking the nominees just like they used to in the old days and just like we have here in New Hampshire.
Remember the 1984 campaign? Walter Mondale and Gary Hart were duking it out all the way to the end - "California, here I come ..." "Where's the beef?" ... the nightly news actually had clips of speeches from around the different primaries.
How about 1976? While I was only 11, I remember it well. I recall my dad and his then-girlfriend dragging me around to Fred Harris events. I recall seeing Jimmy Carter, Fred Harris, Birch Bayh, and another guy, he's slipping my mind, on a new program called "Good Morning America." The top four Iowa Caucus candidates were featured on the program that morning. Later, Brown and Frank Church jumped in and tried to derail Carter but it was too little, too late [For you youngins out there, read Jules Witcover's book, "Marathon: The Pursuit of the Presidency 1972-1976," a great overview of that campaign]. I was just a boy at the time but I was already starting to become a junkie.
Even in 1992, the primary at least lasted until early April, when the late Paul Tsongas jumped back into the primary to derail Jerry Brown and save Bill Clinton's ass.
To this day, I can't help but think about that race and all the reform we could have had if Brown had won. We could have had a single-payer health care system back then. Instead, Hillary fritted it all away with her secret health care meetings and in swept the Republican Congress. Sigh. I think about all of the money that has transferred from my pocket to some health insurance company because that stupid woman and her foolish husband fritted away a health care MANDATE by voters. I could have probably paid for half a small starter house with all the money I have spent on insurance over the last 14-plus years. Yeah, "I trust Hillary ... she loves children ..." Ugh.
Now those were primaries.
Anyhow, back to the political phone calls. The two numbers we've been getting calls from are 603-371-2283 and 603-236-7581. The first one was a woman who asked me two questions: 1) Will you be voting in the New Hampshire Primary [Yes] and 2) Who will you be voting for ["I'm not interested in sharing that information with you"].
"Oh, OK, I'll put you down as 'undecided.'"
"No, I'm not undecided. I'm just not going to tell you who I am voting for."
She thanked me for my time and hung up.
After that call, I Googled the number and it looks like it is the Hillary Clinton campaign calling according to several other people who have been called by the number. Well, good, I thought to myself, I told them last time I wasn't voting for Hillary but not this time! Previously, the Clinton campaign called from their own phone system. Now, it appears, they are hiring the phones out.
About 15 minutes later, the phone rang again [my wife is clearly irked now].
This time, another woman asked four questions: First, she asked me if I will voting in the Democratic primary [Yes, probably]. Then she asks me if I have favorable or unfavorable feelings about the top three candidates: Clinton [unfavorable], Obama [favorable], and Edwards [favorable].
I then asked, "You're only going to ask me about those three candidates?"
"I'll be asking about the others later."
OK.
In the upcoming primary, which of the following Democrats do you plan on voting for?
I answer where I'm leaning, noting that she forgot to list former Sen. Mike Gravel.
She asks, If your first choice was no longer running, which of the following would you vote for?
I answer that question, throwing her a curve ball, heh, heh.
Oh, she said. She then thanked me for the call and hung up.
Again, I go to the computer and look up the number. It is rumored to be owned by Meyer Teleservices, a Democratic political firm out of Minnesota. Interestingly, the company's Web site notes that they are "employee-owned" - so they probably aren't with Hillary - and they even offer people the opportunity to opt-out of their phone system. They also claim to regularly buy the Do Not Call List. I wonder which candidate they were calling for. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Quick media notes

Today, around 2:30 p.m., I heard an AFSCME radio spot on WBZ 1030 out of Boston attacking Obama's health care plan and using the 15 million people uninsured figure. However, there was no mention of John Edwards in the spot like there was in the mailer.
But the question begs to be asked: Why is AFSCME spending its radio money in Boston? While WBZ has a ton of New Hampshire listeners, is that money well-spent considering how expensive their ads are? Wouldn't that money be better spent on New Hampshire radio stations, including those news talk stations? ... Well, OK, there are only a handful of those. And, of course, if you are trying to reach voters who are going to cast votes for Obama, they probably aren't listening to many of the AM stations in New Hampshire since most of them are rightwing talk stations.

Also, I heard a new Teachers Union radio spot supporting Hillary Clinton on WGIR-AM late this afternoon. It included the voices of three New Hampshire teachers, all women, proclaiming, "I trust Hillary," and "We need change and Hillary has the experience to bring it," among other prepackaged slogans. The ad ran towards the end of "The Rush Limbaugh Show" so it was effectively placed and whatever money was spent on that ad was money well-spent ... Not! How many Democratic primary voters and teachers were listening to the 'boob's substitute host this afternoon? That's right, close to none. Who is doing the media buying for these unions? Do they know anything about New Hampshire? S'heesh!

Then, I happened to be flipping through the FM side of the dial, and I stopped on NHPR. At the top of the 4 p.m. news, Xenia Piaseckyj read two news headlines. The second was about an incident in the Hillsborough County prison. The first sounded like script from the AP about the Concord Monitor's anti-endorsement of Mitt Romney from Sunday's newspaper.
I thought for a second, It's Wednesday afternoon and the anti-endorsement made headlines nationally on Saturday night and through Sunday. Why are they talking about this on Wednesday, four days after the story broke!?! Is there not any other news they could be reading? Then, at the end of the story, there was a short bit about the full-page of letters reacting to the anti-endorsement [it was close to a full page but not quite]. And then I thought, Ah, another day to bash Romney. Boy, this story sure has gotten its legs, eh?
But, at the same time, the story is more than four days old. I know it is a slow news week. But is there really nothing else to read during the 4 p.m. hour? With all their news staff, they couldn't hunt down a few state stories today? If not, that's a pretty sad state of affairs.

Speaking of the almost full-page worth of letters reacting to the Romney anti-endorsement, I must congratulate the Concord Monitor, specifically for publishing the following letter from Evan Whipps of Hopkinton:
On Nov. 19, the Monitor gave Romney the thumbs up in an editorial called "Romney has a good grasp of nation's problems." Now they're doing something unprecedented by strongly urging people not to vote for Romney. What has changed? Is the Concord Monitor flip-flopping?
Most of my readers will note that I posted this point four days ago. And, frankly, it isn't like the Monitor doesn't allow criticism of its coverage or editorial positions in the newspaper. It does. But, to basically allow a letter writer to call you a hypocrite? Well, that's pretty impressive.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A tale of two editorials

The Concord Monitor got a bit of national play today after offering a scathing non-endorsement of former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney: ["Romney should not be the next president"].
But what is so confusing is that just a month ago, another editorial seemed to commend him for understanding the nation's problems: ["Romney has good grasp of nation's problems"].
While the first editorial didn't endorse Romney, it seemed to say, Hey, he gets it. The second, well, it says he has no record and insinuates he is a phony. So, which is it?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Buried, again!

Oh man. Another dumping of snow. That's three in less than two weeks. I don't think I have seen snow like this in quite a long time. Certainly not in recent years. Well, many of us wished for a White Christmas ... and we are getting just that!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Next print edition ...

We are preparing for another print run, probably in the middle of January, so if you are interested in running an ad or contributing something for the print edition, please do let us know. We have a bunch of good stuff planned for the next edition so stay tuned!

Also, a quick thank you to all our regular readers and some of the new readers who have found our site in the past few weeks. We appreciate you checking us out.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

$1.2M for NHPR building

I found out earlier this week that the WEVO/NHPR building on North Main Street in Concord is going for $1.2 million, according to a realtor familiar with the property. There have been some nibbles on the property, but nothing solid yet.
The property is assessed at $1,218,300, according to the city's online assessment database, so the asking price is slightly below the assessed value [and I'm sure there is some wiggle room on the sale price too, considering the network already has the other property lined up]. NHPR purchased the building in 1990 for $735,000.
A lot of people have been wondering what is taking so long for the transfer to the new facility, which was supposed to happen earlier this year [Even some employees, I hear, are wondering why it is taking so long].
The new facility will have a space large enough to host presidential primary events and debates with a live audience ... but the primary is almost over. It looks like they missed that goal. Let's hope, for their sake and ours, the New Hampshire primary still exists in 2012 so that they can use the room. Although, they can host all kinds of events in the room so it will probably work out fine.
As I said in a previous post, the current property on North Main Street is a great location, although the driveway to the back parking lot is a bit funky. A potential buyer also cannot really put a dollar value on having its front door sign seen by literally thousands of people going through the extremely busy intersection of N. Main, I-393, and Route 3. It would be the most looked at billboard in town [Speaking of billboards, I wonder if you could build one on the roof of the building and charge a fee. That would help a business pay for the mortgage right there]. Also, with so many non-profits in the city and the need for more commercial real estate taxes, one could hope the building would be sold to a for-profit entity, in order to yield more in tax revenue for the city.
Meanwhile, the begging continues. This week I received another letter from the network, a standard holiday mailer which all non-profits do this time of the year, asking for money. Then, on Thursday, an NHPR Extra notice was sent out, again, asking for money, with a couple of programming notes. The postal mailer is probably the fifth or sixth one I have received this year. But I must ask, does anyone else long for the days when the begging for public radio and television was done just a few times a year instead of all the time? It seems like the fundraising never ends. I understand the need for fundraising, I got my start in non-profit/community radio. But the constant mantra of fundraising is a turnoff.
Interestingly, I took a look at the city's database assessment system to see what the building is appraised at but I couldn't find the property listed in either parcel look up or street listing [I went to parcel look up first and when that didn't work, I tried street listing. Nothing came up for Main Street which is a tad odd].

Update: I figured it out. You can't put periods [.] on the end of N. Main St. or North Main St. You must search N MAIN ST in order to get anything. Damn, that was a good waste of 15 minutes.

BURIED!

We are buried with snow here right now. I think this is probably the most snow Concord has had before a new year in quite a long time.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Talk cancelled

Due to the snow, the talk by Jon Gilbert Fox and Ernest Hebert at Gibson's Bookstore has been rescheduled for Monday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Council approves Rules Committee report

The Concord City Council Monday night approved the Rules Committee report unanimously despite efforts by Rick Watrous to stop the action.
Rogers, before the meeting, issued a counter memo of her own, an attempt to deflect many of the provable allegations Watrous forwarded to the council.
Her counter memo was shockingly laced with double-speak and unpublishable personal attacks against Watrous - the modus operandi of this crowd - instead of openly and honestly countering the points with facts.
And, interestingly enough, Rogers admits in the memo that she had weekend use of the CCTV studios, a key point to one of Watrous' counts, a count rejected by the committee after a subcommittee reviewed records at CCTV.
Rogers wrote:
"I have taped shows on Saturdays since the inception of my show 'Vito's Pet Family'. The show is taped on Saturdays due to the nature of the show with numerous animal 'guests' that respond better to having less human stimuli than exist during weekday hours ..."
Again, this comes back to Watrous' point: Weekend use of the studios has never been available to ordinary people during this time period - only board members and Rogers. This use was later acknowledged and corrected by CCTV [of course, only after Watrous complained]. All fact, all provable, and now, Rogers, in her own counter memo, states it herself.
Not only that, it also leads back to his response to the Rules Committee report last week that either, 1) records presented by former at-large City Councilor and CCTV employee Doris Ballard to the subcommittee were incomplete, since they allegedly showed no use of the studios on weekends by Rogers or anyone else, or 2) the subcommittee was deliberately misled by Ballard.
Rogers admits to weekend use; CCTV records show no such use, allegedly, since they won't release the documents to the public or press. Does anyone NOT see the problem here? Come on!
The Rules Committee - or some committee - needs to look at all this. Either CCTV doesn't have its records straight or its employees are hiding records from investigative committees which supposedly never meet to look at records it is investigating [Yeah, and that one came from a Superior Court judge no less, hilarious].
This admission by Rogers alone, puts the entire Rules Committee report, just approved by the council at Rogers' urging, in complete conflict with truth and fact.
Amazing, isn't it? What a friggin' mess.
There's more, but I want to let this sit for a bit. I have offered Rick space on this site to submit something if he likes. I would offer the space to Rogers - but I fear she will just continue to use personal attacks against people instead of actually addressing the issues. She can always email something if she likes.
As I have said before, we are not going to allow derogatory comments to be issued on this site. OurConcord.com is about news, information, and opinion. We are about exposing problems and solving them.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Is Rogers trying to bury the cable media access center investigation on the way out the door?

On Monday night, the Concord City Council could potentially bury complaints, once again, about the non-profit organization that runs the community's cable media access center [CCTV, now known as ConcordTV], through a simple voice vote.
Outgoing City Councilor Katherine Rogers, who is also the chairwoman of the Rules Committee, has submitted a four page report about hearings the committee has undertaken to address conflict of interest charges, charter violations, and other issues forwarded by Rick Watrous, the access center's former executive director. The report is listed as a "Consent Report" item, meaning that the council can either accept or reject the item, with no public input.
Speculation is high that the report will be approved by the Council and the matter will not be discussed.
But bubbling under the surface of this Consent Report - issued before Rogers steps down from the Council after an unsuccessful bid for Mayor - are more charges which have surfaced in the case, including other charter violations, at least one accusation of concealing or tampering with records, and accusations that witnesses before the committee provided false information, which helped guide the committee to reject 11 of the 12 counts forwarded by Watrous.
A charter violation charge could also be leveled against Rogers for her role in having the police investigate Watrous after he submitted a document to the Rules Committee which reportedly disproved testimony forwarded by ConcordTV's Outreach and Development Director Doris Ballard, a former at-large Concord City Councilor.

'Two years of foot-dragging'
On Saturday, in an effort to get the Council to shelve the report and gain a fair and impartial hearing of the issues, Watrous sent out email to councilors urging them to reject the report because of its problems and other outstanding issues.
In the email, Watrous stated that Rogers "should have never been allowed to direct this investigation," due to the fact that she is a producer and host on ConcordTV and had allegedly been granted special access to the station's studios which the public has not received, one of Watrous' charges.
"[She is even] the self-proclaimed 'creator' of CCTV (as heard during her recent mayoral campaign)," he wrote.
Watrous stated that Rogers presided over the meetings in violation of city rules even after acknowledging these conflicts of interest. He also accused her of "deliberately misdirect[ing] the investigation to cover-up wrongdoing by CCTV and city officials." Watrous noted that the Council and public had also been misinformed about the matter.
"On May 16, to avoid a CCTV investigation by the administration, [Rogers] told the council that the rules subcommittee had met. According to the city clerk and the Merrimack [County] Superior Court, the rules subcommittee had not met. Since being formed in Sept. 2006 the rules subcommittee has never met."
Watrous also alleged that Rogers falsely stated to the Council that he was "allowed to speak to the rules committee on several occasions" when in fact he was only allowed to speak once. A written request to respond to issues raised by ConcordTV staff and board members was denied by the committee.
Watrous also raised the issue of the police investigation: "Rogers abused her authority by causing me to be the subject of an unmerited Concord police investigation because - upon her request - I submitted a public document to the rules committee."
"This document proved that city councilor/CCTV employee Doris Ballard had provided false testimony to the rules committee about her CCTV employment, yet in February Ballard was the person the rules subcommittee relied on for evidence as to the nonpublic weekend use," he wrote.
According to ConcordTV and rules subcommittee, there is no evidence of non-public weekend use but documented evidence exists, including use by Rogers, he wrote. Either CCTV staff or the rules subcommittee concealed evidence, Watrous wrote.
Watrous also stated that the Rules Committee based some of their rulings on a purported "Attorney General's opinion" that there was no merit to the allegations. Despite several requests, Rogers has failed to produce this purported AG opinion, he wrote.
Lastly, the Rules Committee has yet to vote on the count that there was a conflict of interest when the position of Outreach/Development Director was created for Ballard in 2003 while she was an at-large Councilor and two of her council colleagues were on the CCTV board.
The count was held over for action "until further notice," Rogers' report states.
Watrous also requested that other councilors with connections to ConcordTV - specifically Ward 6 Councilor Allen Bennett, who is a board member for the channels, and Ward 2 Councilor William Stetson, who was the treasurer of the board during the time that the alleged misconduct took place - recuse themselves from speaking or voting on the matter.

The report's conclusions
In Rogers' report, she outlines decisions made by the Rules Committee based on the evidence which was allowed to be presented.
Of the 12 points in the report, one still remains open, whether or not it was a conflict of interest for Ballard to have a position created for her at CCTV while she was a sitting councilor and while two other councilors sat on the board and probably approved of the hire.
Three others were ruled as not under the jurisdiction of the Rules Committee. Those issues were: Whether or not having council members serve on the CCTV board assured that CCTV has operated in an efficient and responsible manner; Whether or not taxpayers were getting their money's from CCTV when considering the fact that about half as many programs were produced in FY2004 and FY2005 [More than $400,000 from the city] than in FY2001 [Funding: $60,000]; Whether a Right-to-Know request made for information regarding the city's current no-bid contracts and a request for a list of corporations which the city does business with that have city councilors appointed to their boards.
The latter request was rejected by city administration who reportedly stated, "No such list exist and the city has no obligation under the provisions of 91A to gather such information for you," according to the report.
But one has to wonder, Why doesn't the city have a list and why shouldn't someone be able to ask for that information? As well, why shouldn't city administration know such information and be able to provide it to a taxpayer or voter, when requested? And shouldn't city officials know this information in order to keep any conflicts from occurring?
While Watrous doesn't admit as such, the first two questions were probably rhetorical since most people know that the cable media access center is not being run efficiently and having councilors serving on the board of ConcordTV has not guaranteed efficiency. In fact, one could easily surmise that the exact opposite has occurred.
Decisions were reached on another eight points.
The Rules Committee decided that there was no conflict of interest or violation of city charter when two city councilors, who were also board members of CCTV, voted to table a petition submitted by 30 residents requesting that some other entity other than CCTV be allowed to operate the city's media access center. Those city councilors, Keith Allberg, who no longer serves, and Bennett, were allowed to speak and vote to table the petition thus quashing a petition that raised a contract issue about their own corporation.
According to the report, "[t]he Committee unanimously voted that based on the Attorney General's opinion as well as the fact that neither Councilor Allberg or Councilor Bennett had any financial gain."
However, despite numerous requests for a copy of "the Attorney General's opinion," no one from the Rules Committee or the city can produce such a document. In a May 18, 2007 email, City Clerk Janice Bonefant confirmed that no such document existed in the Rules Committee file.
Later, During the May 29 Rules Committee meeting, St. Hilaire stated that the AG's opinion came from a conversation he had with someone in that office several months before. St. Hilaire never revealed who that person was and nothing in writing was produced for anyone else. Rogers later told the meeting, Mr. Watrous prefers it in writing, we'll get it in writing. However, the document has still not been produced.
So, where is the Attorney General's supposed opinion that the committee based its ruling on?
Interestingly, this petition remains tabled almost three years later.
The Rules Committee decided that there was no conflict of interest or violation of city charter when two city councilors, who were also board members of CCTV, sat in on a non-public session on Feb. 14, 2005, to discuss contract negotiations with CCTV. A Right-to-Know request for the minutes of that meeting was rejected by the city administration. Later, it was released but there was not much in it.
Essentially, the committee is saying that it is OK for councilors who sit on boards of organizations doing business with the city to not recuse themselves for contract negotiations with said organizations. They are also saying that it is OK for this information to be kept from the public even after the contracts have been approved even though the law states otherwise [Minutes from nonpublic sessions can only be kept secret if two-thirds of the members vote that disclosure of the information would a) have an adverse affect on the reputation of a person; b) would render the proposed action ineffective; c) pertains to preparation of emergency functions. Obviously, a contract with a cable media access center fits none of the above].
The next point concerned private use of the cable media access center on weekends by board members and their friends between 2003 and 2005. The private use of the facility, Watrous suggested, was a violation of Chapter 54 of the City Charter and went against the mission statement, written policies, and the contract CCTV has with the city.
According to the report, Councilor Dan St. Hilaire, who is also a county attorney, said he found "no abnormalities or misuse of the property."
And yet, there are documents printed from CCTV's on Web site during this period showing weekend use by board members and others. There is also a letter from then-Executive Director Steve Budkiewicz admitting that the studio was used during this time period and that because of Watrous' efforts to expose the problem, the private use of the facility would end.
Where did this documentation go and why was it not shown to the subcommittee? Can CCTV not keep track of its records? Who is minding the store and why doesn't the council seem to care? As stated before, Watrous' efforts to submit this proof debunking what Ballard showed St. Hilaire was rejected by the committee. Why would they reject proof that they received false information or that records may have been tampered with?
Two other counts concerned violations of Council Rule 6A and whether or not Ballard, as a former councilor, was in violation of the rule.
The first dealt with the following: In January 2004, Mayor Mike Donovan appointed then-Councilor Ballard to be chairwoman of the city's Communications Committee. But since Ballard was an employee of an entity which received 98 percent of its money from the city, and the Communications Committee sometimes dealt with city/CCTV matters, this would seem a violation of the rule. The rule states, "No Councilor shall introduce, speak on or vote on any motion, ordinance, resolution or issue in which he/she has an interest, direct or indirect, apart from his/her own compensation as Councilor." Involvement in this committee which dealt with CCTV issues should be seen as a violation of this rule. However, the committee rejected this count.
Another dealt with Ballard's post-Council tenure: After resigning from the council, Ballard attended Information Technology Advisory Committee [ITAC] meetings in August and September 2005 when CCTV's contract was discussed. Another provision of Rule 6A states: "Within one year after leaving office, no former Councilor shall appear before the City Council or any board or commission of the city on a matter for which he/she is compensated." Since Ballard was an employee of CCTV and the contract was being discussed, her appearance at contract meetings would violate this rule. However, the committee rejected this count.
Improper direction of the city staff was raised as an issue because former City Manager Duncan Ballantyne participated in an on-air fundraiser for CCTV in April 2005 at the same time that three councilors, his bosses, were either employed or on the board of CCTV. The committee report rejected this count stating, "city staff may appear on fundraising events."
After raising all of these points, Watrous stated that it points to a worrisome situation: "All of this points to the inherent questions raised when there is a no-bid contract with a corporation that is directed by/or employs city councilors. Are there other instances of questionable relationships between the Council and corporations with which the City does business?"
The committee stated there was no questionable relationship and St. Hilaire suggested that Watrous should pursue the matter in court if he felt there was a problem.
Lastly, Watrous raised the issue of conflict of interest in actions made by board members, specifically Bennett's actions during both council and ITAC meetings to consider offers from other entities to bid to run the cable media access center and to continue to keep CCTV records from the public and press. Bennett, as a CCTV board member and councilor, voting and initiating these things, would be in conflict. But the committee rejected this count as well.

Is the report a 'white-wash'?
For just an innocent bystander, this all might seem like a big mess ... and this does not even touch the issue of the fraudulent police investigation Rogers perpetrated against Watrous for having documents he legally obtained.
Watrous rightly concludes that the report is probably a "white-wash." But the larger point is this: Imagine for a moment if it were you involved in such a case. What would you want the councilors to do? Would you want them to give you a fair hearing or allow you to be attacked and maligned for years because you present evidence which shows that people are acting wrongly? And how does this match up with the supposed open government reputation Rogers has tried to suggest she has? It is open government - unless her friends or her silly dog show is involved - and then it is closed.
Clearly, the Rules Committee has been misguided. Only a fool could not see that. And Rogers should never have been allowed to investigate this matter. She and the committee's actions to not allow Watrous - or anyone else - to respond to the testimony with counter evidence proving that the violations had occurred and that the committee may have been lied to, are unconscionable and irresponsible. These decisions, which may have been swayed by false information forwarded by the same people the Rules Committee were supposed to investigate, need to be reevaluated, with the new information included.
The findings in this report as well as the lack of action on other charges leveled by Watrous and other residents, could only make someone wonder if sitting councilors, previous councilors, and the city's administration are above the law or at the very least, exempt from oversight.
What is also most interesting about this case is the fact that few want to acknowledge that crimes may have occurred and serious problems continue to exist with how ConcordTV is being run, including now, an accusation that records may have been concealed or tampered with along with the false information charge. How can any organization which can't keep its records straight be allowed to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds for a no-bid contract?
Clearly, most public officials would like this to all go away. But one has to wonder, When does this community and its council decide to take the time to fix the problems, so everyone can move on?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Shocker: Q-Dogs leaving town!

The Concord Monitor has the story here: ["Quarry Dogs planning to leave town"].
Of course, is it really that shocking? The underlying point is this: At $830 per home game, that's basically $20k per year just for the field use. And that is a ridiculous amount of money to be charging. I can't believe that this is what it costs to use the field but if it is, it is something that should be looked at. It is one thing to say that such-and-such costs a bit of money. But, balance that out with the fact that the Q-Dogs were an inexpensive evening of fun for local residents. That is a priceless thing. Granted, some can make the case that because the Q-Dogs are owned by a for-profit group, it shouldn't get a break on the cost of doing business.
Hmm. Let's think about that one for a sec. Take the money it would take to keep the Q-Dogs in Concord, as a safe, non-alcoholic location for games to take our children, and compare it to the millions spent on a parking garage that no one is using, never mind paying to use. Which is the better value? Compare the cost to some of the money the city is wasting in other departments and it is safe to say that the public would get more bang for its buck subsidizing the Quarry Dogs games with a discounted field fee than a lot of other things in town.

'Lights of Life'

For those people who have never been downtown during the VNA's "Lights of Life" event, you are really missing out. Check it out at 7 p.m. at Merrimack County Savings Bank, at 89 N. Main St. The entire downtown will be lit up with candles in all the windows. It really is a spectacular event to enjoy.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Gladstone from NPR's 'On The Media' coming to Concord Dec. 10

I, unfortunately, won't be able to attend this event. But it is one of the shows I used to love listening to on WBUR:

Brooke Gladstone, co-host and managing editor of National Public Radio's "On The Media" program will discuss the media's influence on the outcome of the New Hampshire primary on Monday, Dec. 10, at 6 p.m. at the New Hampshire Historical Historical Society's Library in Concord. NHPR's Executive Editor, Jon Greenberg, will interview Gladstone about her experience observing the Presidential Primaries through the lens of the media. This event is free and open to the public but seating is limited.
"On the Media offers critique and analysis of the media and the role it plays in society. This analysis is especially relevant in New Hampshire during the primaries, and we feel it is important that this insight is shared with the people of the Granite State. It is not often that the media shines a light on itself, and this will be an opportunity to learn how media watchers like Brooke dissect the primaries and their role in them," said NHPR President and CEO Betsy Gardella.
For one hour a week, "On the Media" lifts the veil from the process of making media, especially news media, because it's through that lens that we literally see the world and the world sees us.
As NPR's first media correspondent, Gladstone has examined the coverage of race, science, and politics, and reported on media mergers, advertising trends, and journalism's evolving ethics. During her time at NPR she has edited several award-winning reports and was the recipient of a Peabody Award, an Overseas Press Club Award, and an Ohio State Award, among other honors. On The Media has also been recognized for excellence including a 2001 Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Feature Reporting.
"On The Media" is heard on NHPR Saturdays at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m.
Submitted by Tara Mahady of NHPR.

Friends to hold Christmas Party Dec. 9

The Friends of Forgotten Children second annual Christmas Party will be held on Sunday, Dec. 9 at the non-profit's location at 224 Bog Road. Santa will make two appearances: One at 10 a.m. and another at 1 p.m.
Last year, more than 100 children from low and struggling middle class families came to see Santa and received a gift from him. Ten middle school students from Peterborough will be assisting the Friends prepare for Santa's visit as a community service project.
For more information about the event, to volunteer, or if you need assistance, call Alice Blodgett at 753-4801.
The Friends of Forgotten Children is a 501c3 public charity. The org accepts small and large donations of food and non-food items, including new toys and clean and serviceable clothing for all ages, as well as monetary donations. Contributions are tax deductible.
Submitted by Bill Dearborn, executive director of The Friends.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

$72k!

The Concord Boys & Girls Club Auction raised more than $72,000 tonight, with even more money expected in after a last minute matching grant was offered by the friends of the late Ed Lambert, a local coach. Nice work by everyone, raising a ton of money for the Club and breaking last year's fund-raising total.

J-Dawg shaved!

WTPL-FM's Jason "J-Dawg" Arsenault had his head shaved during the Concord Boys & Girls Club Auction after $400 in pledges came in challenging him to do it. And, he did it. :-) Good job J-Dawg and, it doesn't look that bad.

'NHPR static'

That's the title of a letter in my local newspaper today by a local guy named Sean Chandler: ["NHPR static"]. I don't know him, but because Chandler makes so many interesting points, I think I will post the entire letter [sue me for copyright infringement, if you must]:

Citizens of New Hampshire appear to getting mixed "signals" from the management of NHPR.

Recently the Concord Monitor reported on the public radio station's efforts to expand its broadcast to several communities across the state ("NHPR files to broaden reach," Local & State page, Nov. 28). Meanwhile the fundraising drives continue unabated due to reported shortfalls in past drives.

Why is it then that almost a year after NHPR purchased 20,000 square feet of prime commercial office space in the remodeled 2 Pillsbury St. location at a cost of more than $2 million, the management of the organization is unable to provide an exact date as to when they plan to move to this new location? This shell office space sits unoccupied and unused while the radio station tries to raise more and more public and private money. How is it that broadcast expansion efforts are aggressively pursued while this new location sits idle?

The citizens of this state deserve detailed answers as to what is happening with public money.

There is, interestingly enough, a large Premiere Properties sign up in front of NHPR's current location on North Main Street in Concord. Maybe Chandler missed that. It just went up a day or two ago. It would be ideal space for another media company and is probably going for a pretty penny.
Technically, NHPR's isn't really public money in the truest sense. Sure, the public has donated money. And it is "public" radio, allegedly. But, technically, public money is government money or money which should be accessible to the public ... the city, state, and federal budgets, the local cable media access center which is funded directly by the municipality, as examples, stuff like that. There is some government money going to NHPR programming but that is indirect. Government money goes into the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and then goes into paying for some of the programming that airs on NHPR. I don't believe, although I don't know for sure, that they get money directly from the state or federal government.
Once you donate or give your money away to some other entity, it is no longer yours as a member of the public. It is then technically private money and they can do what they want with it. That is why they have directors and boards overseeing the money to make sure it is being spent or managed wisely. When those people fail to do their jobs, well, that is another story. And yeah, I agree that there should be some sort of oversight of the overseers, especially with non-profits, in my humble view. I have seen enough corruption over the years to agree with that position entirely.
Having said all that, Mr. Chandler does ask a good question: What are they doing with the money? And, to continue with that theme, What are the officers and board of directors of NHPR doing to ensure that the money is being spent wisely? One has to wonder.
I recall meeting a young woman about two years ago who was on the Community Advisory Board for NHPR. She lived in Goffstown or Weare, I forget which, and was an Amy Goodman fan. She originally was noticed by management after complaining that NHPR refused to put "Democracy Now" on the air. I guess she complained enough that they put her on the board. She had a lot to say about the lack of oversight and seemed like the kind of person I would want on a community advisory board. Not long after having breakfast with me, she said she was going to move to Chicago to be with her boyfriend who was in hotel management, if I recall correctly.
A little perusing on the NHPR site did yield some information but it is incomplete.
First, the Web page with the Board of Trustees information, lists the last meeting as Oct. 24. No other future meetings are listed. So, someone like Chandler can't really go to a meeting and ask about what is going on because there are no future meetings listed. Some readers in our community will recognize some of the names on the board: Barbara J. Couch, Martha V. Cunningham, Katharine Eneguess, Deanna S. Howard, Priscilla E. Kimball, Robert E. MacLeod, Martha Macomber, Sylvia M. McBeth, Patrick F. McGee, Ann McLane Kuster, Janet Prince, Michael D. Redmond, Stephen Reno, Marshall G. Rowe, and John F. Swope. It might be worth touching base with those people about what is going on but I doubt it.
NHPR's financial information is posted online for 2005 and 2006. However, when clicking on the PDF for 2006 [http://www.nhpr.org/node/FY2006_finalaudit.pdf], it leads back to a page featuring Laura Knoy's interview with Barack Obama and a feature on the 2007 municipal election cycle. Oops.
The 2006 income tax returns are available, showing that NHPR raised more than $4.7 million in 2006. They spent $2.7 million on program expenses, $520k on management and general expenses, and a whopping $842k on fund-raising. I guess to spend almost a million to make five isn't so bad but it seems like a lot to me. That left about $709k in the bank, along with $2.5 million in "net assets and fund balances at the beginning of the year." So, at the beginning of 2007, the network was sitting on more than $3.2 million in assets. Wow. So, what is taking them so long to move into the new building again?
Getting back to another of Chandler's point though is why is NHPR trying to buy up a slew of LPFMs when they haven't moved into the new building? And, when looking at NHPR's reception guide [here: http://www.nhpr.org/node/12198], one has to wonder about why they need to get these FMs or whether ordinary folks in the Granite State community should have access to them instead of NHPR. The LPFMs aren't there for huge public radio chains with $5 million budgets ... they are supposed to be there for amateur people interested in creating truly public radio stations like WSCA-LP 106.1-FM.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Comcast flack responds ...

I meant to comment on this earlier but I spaced it: ["Viewers first"]. Yeah, I too was a bit shocked when I first read this letter in Saturday's Concord Monitor because it is supposed to be one of those "clarifying letters" by a corporate mucky-muck trying to defend terrible decisions.
First, McLaughlin writes:
The decision to move C-SPAN2 to our digital lineup was made after careful deliberation and with a tangible benefit to our customers foremost in mind.
"Careful deliberation"? With whom? No one contacted me. Did anyone contact you? The "tangible" benefit is that they get to charge MORE to people who want the C-Span channels - channels which should be on every cable system, free of charge. I would bet that if polled a lot of people would list the C-Span channels at the top of their list for access choices.

McLaughlin also writes:
C-SPAN2 remains available to every Comcast customer.
Well, no it does really. It does remain "available" to people willing to pay a lot more money than you used to have to pay to get it, just to keep an eye on the "Congress critters." That doesn't seem fair, does it? And, it doesn't seem like a good "tangible" decision with any "benefit" to anyone except Comcast. At the same time, we pay for three Spanish language channels and four shopping channels which we never use. Ala carte can not happen fast enough! Bring it on.
Update: I found this interesting site allowing people to choose what they cable bill would be if customers were allowed to make ala carte choices: ["HowCableShouldBe.com"]. According to my choices, I could get expanded cable for about $15 per month ... instead of the $60 Comcast was previously charging me!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cool things to do this week

Thursday, Nov. 29, from 4 to 8 p.m., presidential candidates will be at the Capitol Center for the Arts to talk about arts funding as part of the ArtsVoteNH effort. No word yet on who will show up but most of the candidates, if not all, have been invited.

"The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley" will be held at the Capitol Center for the Arts on Friday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m.

On Sunday, Dec. 2, at 3 p.m., fiddle player and poet Dudley Laufman will be calling some tunes and reading poetry from his new book, "Walking Sticks," at Gibson's Bookstore on South Main Street.

It's Auction time again: The Concord Boys & Girls Club will be holding its holiday auction from 1 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, on Comcast cable channels 6 and 22. Let's see if they can break the $70k mark this year!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fez-tival of Trees!


One of the greatest things to do in Concord during the holiday season is to visit the Bektash Temple's Fez-tival of Trees. This year, as you can see above, they had a ton of very impressive trees that were being raffled off. The Bektash Temple is located at 189 Pembroke Road on the Heights.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Friends prepare for Thanksgiving


Pictured, Alice Blodgett, left, and students from Southern New Hampshire University prepared Thanksgiving baskets this week at the Friends of Forgotten Children in Penacook.

Friends of Forgotten Children (FOFC) has sponsored and is completing their first coordinated Thanksgiving Food Basket Program for Concord and surrounding communities.
Volunteers from Southern New Hampshire University, Bishop Brady High School, Concord Loyal Order of the Moose #1374, Wal-Mart and other community volunteers put together almost 350 food baskets and distributed them to seniors and those in need without transportation.
Associated Grocers of Pembroke supplemented the donated turkeys with fruits, vegetables, and cranberry sauce which is enabling almost 350 families to enjoy a complete Thanksgiving dinner.
While picking up her food basket at Friends of Forgotten Children’s 224 Bog Road location, one woman broke into tears while thanking the volunteers for helping her.
“Nobody else would help me, thank you so much,” she said through her tears.

With the closure of the New Hampshire Help Line who used to maintain the list of those in need, FOFC assumed the role of collecting applications for Thanksgiving food baskets. The Unitarian Universalist and Latter Day Saints Churches took 115 of the names collected by FOFC to fill boxes and deliver them. Several other local churches made up food boxes that were combined with turkeys donated by Eastern Propane, Precision Finishing/Spectrum, F.L. Merrill Construction and other businesses.
Alice Blodgett, FOFC’s President of the Board of Directors, said “Thanksgiving Food Baskets are a big undertaking for us, and it has been a huge success this year because of the volunteers and donors. For those who believe they’re only giving a little are actually giving back a lot, because it enables us to help so many more people."
“It did my heart good to see one homeless gentleman volunteering his time today to help others in need,” she said.

Friends of Forgotten Children is a 501 (c) (3) public charity located at 224 Bog Road.
They happily accept small and large donations of food and non-food items, clean and serviceable clothing for all ages and new toys as well as monetary contributions. Contributions are tax deductible. Friends of Forgotten Children can be reached at 753-4801.
Submitted by William Dearborn, FOFC Executive Director.

Thanksgiving snow!


Snow fell in areas across Southern New Hampshire, including Concord.

Congratulations Peggy Senter!

Peggy Senter of the Concord Community Music School was named Citizen of the Year by the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce. Congratulations Peggy!

Strange orange sky ...

Did anyone else see the strange orange sky this morning rising over Concord? It was weird and a bit unnerving. Also, for the first time, I really noticed how loud the traffic is on I-93. It was roaring this morning. Maybe I just didn't notice how loud it was before. But, it is loud.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cool things to do this week ...

Citizen of the Year Dinner
The Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce will be holding its 88th annual Citizen of the Year dinner at the Grappone Conference Center on Monday, Nov. 19 at 5:15 p.m. Time Magazine's Mark Halperin will be the keynote speaker. For more information, go to http://www.concordnhchamber.com/.

Meet Dennis Kucinich Tuesday

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, will be signing copies of his book, "The Courage to Survive," at Gibson's Bookstore on South Main Street at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 20. I've read some good things about the book and how he talks about the difficulty growing up. I won't be able to go but I hope some people are able to go.

Celebrate Franklin Pierce's birthday Friday
The New Hampshire Historical Society at 30 Park St. in Concord will be hosting a b-day party for President Franklin Pierce on Friday, Nov. 23, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pierce was born on Nov. 23, 1804. Cake will be served and author Peter Wallner, the library's director, will talk and also sign books. While there, the Historical Society suggests viewing "New Hampshire: A Proven Primary Tradition," an exhibition about the primary. The event is free and open to the public.
For more information, call 228-6688 or go to nhhistory.org.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Around Concord

A new quarterly magazine arrived in the mailbox today. Around Concord is a 60-plus page glossy magazine published by former radio guy Brit Johnson and edited by Deborah Thompson. The mag has a similar feel to New Hampshire Magazine. "Holiday Elegance" is the theme of the first edition. It features some holiday gift ideas, a piece on the Butters gourmet food store downtown, renovating downtown buildings, and some tips on Nordic skiing. There are some calendar events listed in the back and a slew of fancy ads. Subscriptions are $20 per year. Nice job guys, congratulations.

School administration reaching out to residents

Christine Rath, Superintendent of the Concord School District, sent a letter out to residents of the city inviting them to participate in three task forces to work on issues relating to the elementary school facilities master plan proposal. One committee will deal with what is being called "ed specs," specifically, "educational programs that could take place within the new or renovated facility." A second group will study how existing buildings could be used in the future if they are no longer schools. And the third group will study the costs of building new schools or renovating the older ones. The letter notes that this group will "research construction and operating costs, review the district's current and future debt and explore funding options." This group will also look at building and maintaining "green" schools in the future.
An organizational meeting will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 4 p.m. Anyone interested in serving on the committees can call Jane Murray at 225-0811 or email: jmurr@csd.k12.nh.us.

Rate card now available

We are in the process of planning the next print edition of OurConcord.com. We have also created a rate card with pricing information for advertising. Prices start at just $50 and you'll get a free Web display ad as a bonus. For more information, email ourconcord@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A couple of quick things worth mentioning

I recently started receiving alerts from WMUR-TV News and they are helpful if you are a busy person trying to keep track of news going on in the state.
This story, about the Grappone Conference Center in Concord, which aired in the last day or so, struck me as an interesting one: ["Primary Shuffle Causes Problems for Local Hotels"]. There is a video clip of the segment at the link too. There will be a ton of stories produced about the primary. This was an interesting angle for a reporter to take a look at.

I was not the only person who saw this great editorial in the Concord Monitor on Tuesday: ["Put C-SPAN2 back in basic cable package"]. The editorial nails the issue right on the head: Cable customers need - and deserve - ala carte choices and all the C-SPAN channels should be on the Basic service.
But technically, the editorial is not quite correct.
The "basic" package does not offer C-SPAN or C-SPAN 2 as part of its service and never has. The "standard" package does - at about $35 to $40 more per month than Basic. And Comcast in Concord only offers C-SPAN 3 on Channel 249, or the most expensive subscription service. Since these channels are free of charge there is no reason why every single customer with cable should not be receiving the channels as part of the Basic package.
Instead of getting the C-SPAN channels on Basic service, subscribers get useless channels - like three, yes THREE Spanish channels and four shopping channels. What a waste. One has to wonder how many actual Spanish speaking families with cable are there in lily white Concord - compared to the number of families who might not be able to afford the Standard or higher packages but want C-SPAN.
And this doesn't even touch upon the fact that the national news channels are not available on the Basic package either. They are only available on the Standard package. This means that basic news and information which should be available to the maximum amount of people is not. It is being kept from people who can't afford - or choose not to pay - the Standard service price. But that is why we need ala carte options: So we can pay for what we want and not have to pay for what we don't want.
I too have complained to Comcast about this - repeatedly - to no avail. But, the clock is ticking for Comcast and other companies who don't listen - and respect - their customers.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Election aftermath

Editor's Note: Due to work deadlines and other projects, I'm getting to this a little late. But I still think there are some things worth writing about concerning the 2007 Concord municipal elections. So here it is. Consider this a Sunday newspaper aftermath column ... on Saturday.

Tuesday elections in Concord may have marked a new era in municipal politics both in the way candidates spent money and the level of turnout needed to win elected office. At the same time, the more things change, the more they stay the same. But the ability for change in the future, is now more prevalent than ever, based on the number of new faces appearing on the city's political scene.
Municipal elections, for the most part, have become pretty sleepy affairs here, especially when compared to the past. Gone are the rough and tumble days when this was a lunch bucket city of Reagan Democrats who would fight and elbow their way around Rockefeller Republicans to get things done. Lawyers, people connected to state employment, a handful of "creative economy" types and commuters to jobs in the southern part of the state [and Massachusetts], have become the mainstays of the city's populace.
Concord, and its neighborhoods, have become a bit more transient too, with apartments housing more short term residents [i.e. non-voters] than ever before [a little less than 28,000 registered voters in a city of more than 43,000 ... and growing]. There is more diversity here, especially when looking at economics: From clerks in low wage jobs, single parents trying to make ends meet without cars, and others, like those attending small colleges like the Franklin Pierce Law Center. The latter, of course, noticeably changing the makeup of Wards 4 and 5 in a big way.
Gone are the days when the local newspaper, the Concord Monitor, had an office downtown and delivered huge newspapers in the afternoon. Down to a circulation of less than 9,000, according to the 2005 bureau statistics, it still remains the city's strongest news source but it isn't the same as it used to be. Gone are the days when the local radio station, WKXL, was live most of the time, played music, and had a news staff chasing fires, car accidents and stories around the city. The current owner has tried to replicate the old days but it is not quite the same as it was in the past. There is some television news. WMUR-TV, Channel 9, is still the strongest for-profit television station in the state and still covers Concord with serious political news and whenever there is a big crime story. There have been attempts to gain some traction with new TV signals, but both efforts failed: Concord's Channel 21 runs syndicated cable and Derry's 50 has refocused its direction on Massachusetts.
These changes in demographics and media have changed the way the city views things in a big way. As well, as we have all seen in society, it is getting harder and harder to communicate and stay in touch with the people around you even as technology is making communication easier. We often don't know our neighbors [Or, we do, and we don't want to know them, another topic entirely].
Of course, this isn't an anomaly to Concord. It is happening everywhere in America. But it is affecting the city's electoral process and how the city does business. Right now, there is a power vacuum and a small amount of people seem to have the most influence in Concord's strong city manager, strong school superintendent system. This might change when the few new voices are added to the council and school board in the wake of Tuesday's elections. But, at the same time, it probably won't change.

Money becomes an issue
The amount of money spent clearly played a small role in the outcome of at least the city side of the election. But, in some ways, name recognition seems to have played a bigger role in getting elected in 2007.

In the mayor's race, a lot of money was raised and spent, big money at least by Concord's standards. Even outgoing Mayor Mike Donovan, in a Monitor article, worried that all the money being thrown around would scare ordinary people away from running for the position. While his point is a good one, the reality is that ordinary folks have limited opportunities to run and win any of these seats as it is now, with or without the money. Ordinary folks seem to have been scared away from the process long ago. The number of unchallenged seats each year comes close to proving that theory.
The latest campaign finance filings at the city clerk's office, filed on Oct. 30, show that Bouley raised more than $5,800 to Rogers' almost $4,800. Bouley spent less than $2,000 at this point in the race while Rogers had spent more than $4,200 [the final campaign filings are due to the clerk by Nov. 20, and that paperwork should yield some interesting figures].
Both Bouley and Rogers spent their money on standard campaign expenses - signs, printing, postage or direct mail, and in the case of Rogers, electronic phone calls to voters. Bouley also had newspaper ads in the Monitor. Both campaigns repeatedly mailed full-color postcards to voters, with Bouley targeting general households and Rogers addressing some of her mail directly to female voters. The municipal unions also bought a half page ad in the Monitor right before the election, to promote their endorsed slate [Two of their endorsed candidates, Rep. Steve Shurtleff, who ran at-large council, and Dick Patten in Ward 8, won. Two out of four ain't bad].
From the field, at least a few voters were annoyed by phone calls from Rogers. There was a rumor that Bouley, after hearing from some of those voters in the field, canceled a planned last minute electronic calling effort. We also heard from a few "good" voters who said they had not heard from the Rogers campaign, either by phone or mail. These voters were both male and female, leading one to speculate that Rogers' effort may not have been as complete as it needed to be [the results also lead to this conclusion].
"Good" voters, in the business, are voters who vote in every election possible. Campaigns target these voters with information because they are almost guaranteed to vote. If a campaign has even more resources, it then targets the not so good voters, by age, gender, neighborhood, or other category, in order to influence and prod them into getting out to vote. In the aftermath of an election, an analyst can speculate on what drove voters to the polls based on a campaign's GOTV effort and the issues raised in the race by candidates.
Interestingly, neither Bouley nor Rogers had very strong GOTV operations although both seemed organized enough for the kind of campaigns Concord is used to. While they had people at the polls holding signs, neither campaign seemed to be checking the turnout. A campaign with a really good field operation will call or go door-to-door to interview voters about their personal preferences before the election. This poll rates the voter on a scale of 1 to 4, "1" meaning they are voting with you while "4" means the voter is against your candidate. This information is marked on a voter's list and tabulated by hand in small races or by computer in larger races. Poll checkers are at the polls on Election Day marking the names of voters off the list as they go into the polls. The lists are then checked a number of times during the day to keep track of who has voted and who hasn't. Between noon and 3 p.m., phone calls are made to remind a candidate's 1s and 2s that they need to get out and vote [hence the name, GOTV, get out the vote]. A good field operation will know by 5 p.m. if they have won the election or not. Neither candidate seemed to have that on Election Day so they didn't really know what the results would be until they got the printouts at the clerk's office [a telephone survey poll did surface to some voters around the city but neither candidate publicly admitted to purchasing the poll. Some speculate that Bouley's lobbying partner, Mike Denehy, may have authorized the poll, but no one knows for sure].

In the at-large race, most of the candidates spent their own money to finance their races, according to campaign finance filings.
Shurtleff, who won one of the at-large seats, spent the most, more than $1,700. Incumbent Mark Coen, who won the other at-large seat, spent a little more than $300. Merwyn Bagan spent about $400. And Al "Tinker" Foy raised $100 in donations and spent more than $1,500 on his effort. Trisha Dionne, who initially ran at-large but then shifted gears to an unsuccessful write-in campaign in Ward 4, spent $50 before changing races. Stacey Catucci listed no expenditures before Oct. 30. Both Bagan and Foy filed their Nov. 20 forms early, so their financial information indicates a finalized tally.
The four "serious," for lack of a better term, at-large candidates all spent money on signs and some other form of printing, with Shurtleff and Foy sending out mass mailers, according to expense reports. Shurtleff seems to have targeted good voters, since a number of people who consider themselves "good" voters commented on receiving his postcard. Foy spent more than $1,300 on a mailer but it is unknown how he chose to target voters. Since Foy forwarded a more conservative platform than most of the other candidates, he may have targeted Republican or elderly voters or may have even just mailed to neighborhoods where people knew him, in the hope that he would bring them out to vote. Whatever the strategy, it did not work, since Foy came in fourth.
One could speculate that had Bagan spent money on a mass mailer, he might have pulled off a win. A little more than 400 votes separated him and second place finisher Coen, granted, a popular incumbent for all of his long-time work in the community. While Bagan did receive the endorsement of the municipal unions, he probably would have benefited from the push a mailer could have brought to his effort.

In the ward races, even though there was little competition, some candidates spent money.
Of the reports filed, Dionne spent the most - $310. Fred Keach, who ran unopposed for the Ward 10 seat, spent $180. Ward 2 Councilor Bill Stetson received $50 in donations and spent $28. Ward 7 Councilor Keith Nyhan spent $105, mostly on food for an event promoting Bouley's campaign. No other candidates reported expenses as of Oct. 30.
Interestingly, Dionne received 775 votes in her at-large race, 103 in Ward 4, and then another 49 votes as a write-in candidate [to incumbent Councilor Dick Lemieux's 399].
Financial data from the school board candidates was not readily available and from what some candidates have reported, the filing requirements are not as strict as the council side of the race. When that data is available, it will be posted.

Lost opportunities
Clearly, the lack of candidates for the ward races is a sad testament to the state of city politics. As noted by Donovan, with large amounts of money getting thrown around, it is impossible for ordinary folks to run a major citywide campaign.
But running on the ward level is an entirely different story. For a few hundred dollars, as shown by some of the candidates in ward races, a good campaign can be organized.
Imagine, if you will, if Dionne had always run for the Ward 4 seat instead of changing her mind in the middle of the at-large race. A registered "undeclared," meaning independent, with the backing of the municipal unions, she might have waged a better battle against Lemieux. Or, at the very least, she could have forced Lemieux to run a campaign on why he should be reelected, which is just as important a procedure. There are more than 1,200 registered independents in Ward 4 and Dionne could have tapped into those voters, as well as Democrats and Republicans, and waged a better campaign. She may not have won in the end. But the outreach and media coverage could have increased voter turnout in the ward to more than the 19 percent who did show up.
Look at Catucci, who realistically had no chance of winning against four better known candidates in the at-large race. She had no Web site, no literature, and no available form of communicating with voters [no available email and her phone number is unpublished and inaccessible to potential supporters]. But she elevated some interesting ideas during the campaign so much so that the Monitor editorial board suggested she consider staying active [the Monitor, as we have seen, does not throw gifts like that to people very often]. As a Republican from Ward 2, she could have challenged Stetson and run a competent campaign. There are more than 600 registered Republicans in Ward 2. Stetson garnered 268 votes in his race against the blanks. Do the math. There was [or is] potential there. Stetson, a former firefighter, would have probably received backing from the unions as he did in 2005 when he ran against two people for the open seat. But that does not mean that it would have been impossible to win against him. Some of the candidates backed by the municipal unions lost.
In fact, looking at the number of voters in each ward who blanked the incumbent - meaning the voters did not vote for the incumbent but left the ballot blank - there is built in ground to wage competitive races in the future. In half the city's wards, more than 20 percent of voters left the ballot blank: Ward 2 - 21 percent blanked the vote; Ward 3 - 20 percent; Ward 5 - 28 percent; Ward 6 - 22 percent; and Ward 10 - 25 percent.
While a high percentage of blanks does not guarantee a win for challengers, it does point to a potential base of voters who are unhappy. A challenger might be able to count on those votes for support. One has to wonder, for example, what would have happened if Foy spent $1,300 trying unseat Ward 7 Councilor Keith Nyhan. What if Bagan, a well-known figure in the city, ran against Ward 5's Rob Werner? Would their efforts have been more successful? Would the challengers have yielded higher turnout rates in those wards? Would the challengers have won?
Note the Ward 8 race between Patten and Ray LaCasse: 499 votes cast with only 17 blanks. When given choices, voters choose one of the candidates. At the same time, turnout in that ward was only 21.6 percent - one of the higher turnouts but not the highest. The South End's Ward 7 and Bouley's home ward, Ward 10, as well as Ward 3 and 5, had the highest turnout. All four had uncontested ward races.

An interesting potential case study
Flipping over to the school board side, one could really create an interesting case study from this race, if you could land the grant funding to do it.
Concord is in the process of potentially unprecedented change in the makeup of its elementary schools. Earlier in the year, school officials released a tentative plan to consolidate the city's eight elementary schools into five. A number of factors went into the plan's creation. Elementary school enrollment has dropped as fewer people in the city have children and when they do have them, they have fewer than previous families. A number of the schools, while historic, are in need of major structural repairs. With more schools, it is more difficult to share the department's resources. Many students, like the ones at Walker Elementary, are not getting the same education at newer, better-staffed schools, like Beaver Meadow Elementary.
After the release of the plan, the school department revealed that it had spent millions of dollars to purchase a number of private homes around Kimball Elementary at market rate - at a time when housing values are starting to plummet and eminent domain takings remain an option for the department if the plan moved forward. This piqued the interest of not only budget hawks and conservatives, but supporters of the smaller neighborhood schools, who all sensed the tentative plan was a done deal. Consolidating the elementary schools also became the biggest issue of the campaign.
Adding to all of this potential instability and change was the fact that three school board seats were up for reelection with only one candidate deciding to run for reelection. As the filing deadline opened, few candidates emerged to run for the three seats. A number of media outlets did stories about the lack of candidates and, as the filing period closed, eight candidates filed to run for the seat. One candidate, Tim Patoine, who is also a part-time school bus driver, dropped out because he might have to relinquish his job if elected [He remained on the ballot and received 521 votes].
Of the seven candidates left, most were against the consolidation plan. The four male candidates left in the race favored renovating the older schools; two of the three female candidates, Laura Bonk and Jennifer Patterson, were non-committal but leaning towards the consolidation plan. Incumbent Megan DeVorsey backed the consolidation plan.
Most of the candidates had some political experience in the city. Rosano, a Republican who has lived in the city for more than five decades, ran unsuccessfully for state representative in 2006. Watrous, a 20-plus year resident, ran unsuccessfully for the Ward 7 city council in 2005. DeVorsey was the incumbent asking for another term. Jennifer Patterson, while not previously elected to any office, worked at the Attorney General's office for a number of years before deciding to become a stay-at-home mom. Ralph Willette and Eric Williams were relative unknowns. As was Bonk who, having just moved into town in July from Allenstown, ran unsuccessfully for state representative there in 2004.
It was clearly anyone's game. But a handful of activists and a newspaper editorial board may have influenced enough people to turn a certain way.

Was it really A Better Choice?
In the middle of the campaign, a small group of activists attempting to stop the elementary school consolidation plan launched an effort to have the buildings named to an endangered building list and later, actively backed a number of candidates.
But their efforts clearly backfired.
On Oct. 16, a group calling themselves "A Better Choice" [ABC] nominated the Dewey, Rumford, Kimball, Walker, Dame, Conant and Eastman elementary school buildings, as a group, to the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance's "Seven to Save" list. The effort, activists were quoted as saying, was a hope that the consolidation plan would be reexamined.
Members of the group wrote letters to the editor in support of their cause and later, candidates they decided to endorse.
One of the members, Charlie Russell, an attorney and local Democratic activist, bought a $200 radio buy on WKXL. The ads, the only municipal ads bought for any of the races, aired on the Monday before the election and on Election Day. The ads ridiculed DeVorsey for supporting the elementary school consolidation plan and elevated Willette and Williams as supporters of neighborhood schools. Rosano and Watrous, two other neighborhood schools supporters, were not mentioned in the ad and were not approached by the group about getting support, according to sources.
The negative ad probably did not have much bearing on the race because few people actually listen to WKXL. According to Arbitron, the company which does biannual polling of radio listeners in the Lakes Region/Concord market [#169], on any given weekday, WKXL has around 600 to 700 potential listeners in the region - not the city. The station fell off the Top 30 12-plus Arbitrend survey - the generic survey given away for free on the Web - back in the Fall of 2004. Since that time, the station's listenership has plummeted. While the bulk of the station's listeners are 55 plus, probably good voters, and living in Concord, no one knows where they actually live unless you spend $4,800 on the data. While it is easy to assume that few people heard the ad, the actual number is a complete unknown.
However later, on Election Day, another name popped up on literature and homemade signs produced by ABC. No, it wasn't Rosano or Watrous. It was Patterson - a consolidation plan supporter. So, essentially, Russell and others added another name to the list of endorsed candidates who did not support their position. How foolish was that?
As it turned out, quite foolish: the three consolidation plan candidates won, with Patterson topping the ticket and DeVorsey, the incumbent targeted by Russell's ads, easily winning reelection. The third candidate to win was Bonk, the candidate no one knew. The closest candidate ABC had to actually winning was Watrous - the same candidate the group ignored - who lost by a meager 128 votes. If just a handful of Willette's and Williams' votes in each of the city's wards had gone to Watrous, there would be at least one vote on the board for a reexamination. Russell did not return an email request to discuss this issue.

The media's influence
Before the election, we took a short look at the media's influence in the municipal races and delved into the lack of coverage and what seemed like better coverage for Rogers in the mayoral race. As the results showed, the news side of the Monitor's operation was unable to help the doomed Rogers campaign [although they would probably reject the previous analysis suggesting that they were influential].
However, the editorial side, some of whom also work on the news side, not unlike other newspapers in the world, clearly had a definitive influence over at least one race, the race for school board.
The Monitor issued a number of endorsements in the week before the election, including on the city side, Bouley, Shurtleff and Coen, Lemieux; and on the school side, Bonk, DeVorsey, and Patterson, all of whom won. The Monitor abandoned their long time Town Crier contributor, Patten, and endorsed his opponent, Ray LaCasse. But Patten won easily.
However, the most surprising of all the endorsements was Bonk and it clearly made the difference. As was later noted in a post-election article, "School board gets 2 new faces," reporter Melanie Asmar wrote:
"Bonk ran a frugal campaign; she had a $50 budget and spent $42, mostly on printing fliers. The night before the election, she bought a piece of foam board and her only campaign sign, which was handmade."
In a world of modern and serious campaigns, how did a woman no one knew, who just moved to town a few months before, who knew very few people, who spent so little money, end up winning against better known, better financed, and more active candidates? You already know the answer to that one. The Monitor endorsement clearly buoyed Bonk into the board seat and there really is no other explanation for the shocking and surprising win.
Future candidates can learn from this but the message might not be the best one to hear: You really need to figure out a way to get the Monitor endorsement. It isn't a guaranteed win, but it clearly doesn't hurt. And, if you don't get it, well, you better really get out there and hustle or else you are not going to win.

So, what does this all mean?
It is hard to really grasp any definitive results from the election beyond the clear and easy answers: Bouley ran a very good race and people were turned off by his opponent; name recognition trumps money in council and school board races; the Monitor is still a viable news source and can still influence and sway hundreds of voters in the city to vote for candidates who might not be the best choices. Those are a few things.
But the larger and more important point is this: These are your elections. These are your candidates. We need to have voter participation as high as it can be in order to make sure that everyone has his say. As we all know, it's the local elections which are the important ones. It's the local elections which have the greatest affect on our lives.

Polly's Think Pink Radio-Thon nets $37k

New Hampshire radio stations, including many available in Concord, raised more than $37k in funds for breast cancer research on Thursday with a radiothon. Polly's Think Pink Radio-Thon, in honor of Pauline Robbins, a DJ from the Upper Valley, was thrown together in a matter of days but was quite successful. The stations involved included Nassau Broadcasting, Koor Communications, Dartmouth Broadcasting and Great Eastern Radio. Congratulations to all involved!

Concord Monitor launches new Web site

The Concord Monitor relaunched its Web site this morning reformatting it into a more user-friendly and, frankly, impressive site. "The news you need now" is the new motto, with a look similar to some of the revamps done by the Boston Globe and other national daily newspapers.
The Monitor's new site is better organized and more accessible than the previous one, with softer edges and text. It is easier to find features, organized on the left hand side of the page.
The site features a Most Read article list, a cute new trend in the business these days, along with blog feeds, a focus on the New Hampshire primary boldly placed in the middle of the homepage, AP video [along with the text the site has always had], and AccuWeather forecast information on the right hand side of the page. Another useful feature is the town-by-town map. Readers who want ultra local news, briefs, or event listings, can click on the map and then click on their town, and poof, there is the information that is available for that town.
Nice job indeed.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Editor's Note

A quick editor's note: I welcome interaction here but I won't allow anonymous posts or comments that might be derogatory towards people [especially non-public figures] without being able to prove the allegations. In the last 24 hours, I did not allow posts which made accusations that could not be substantiated. Comments about public figures are fine. If you don't like someone or have dirt on someone, pass it along via email and the allegations will be investigated.
But if you are going to make comments about non-public figures anonymously, I'm not going to allow them to be posted on the site.
As an aside, I've been told by a source that the Concord Monitor also had the rumor that I won't speak about and, interestingly enough, it didn't make it into the newspaper today. Maybe it will make it in tomorrow. Who knows. But don't just assume that because we're a small operation or because we use blogging software to edit our Web site that we aren't a serious news operation and don't have some standards. We are and we do.
And just because the Monitor doesn't publish something does not mean we would not be interested in hearing about it. So, do communicate with us. Just email the information, sign your name, and leave a phone number. Someone will get back to you.
Recently, I had a person question the analysis piece on the mayoral race. They gave me a good grilling. Surprisingly, the person didn't believe what was written.
The person said, How do you know Kathy Rogers allowed those people to attack the person at the Rules Committee meeting ... I didn't read about it in the newspaper?
I said, Well, I attended the meeting and saw it with my own eyes.
Well, what about the police investigation stuff?
I said, I saw her emails and read her explanation in the minutes of the Rules Committee meeting. I added that I also attended the public forum and was one of the two people to raise the issue with the mayor and the council.
Wasn't a reporter at the forum when the issue of the police investigation was brought up, the person asked?
I said, Yes, there was a reporter at the forum but shockingly they decided not to write about the issue and instead, wrote about the two people who brought up the senior center issue [As well, I know for a fact that the information was passed on to two different reporters at the Monitor, so they had the information they just chose, for whatever reason, not to report the information].
After haggling with the person, I just laid it out: Look, you don't have to believe what I wrote. But, I'm telling you, it happened. I can't help what anyone else decides is news. But this was news, it happened, and I wrote about it later, on my own. It is the truth.
Folks, believe me when I say that you can trust what is written here. As I said in the Why Publish? column: You may not like what we write about but you can't say you didn't know about it. You're going to know about it now because we're going to write about it. If a mistake is made, it will be noted and corrected. But just because you don't read it in any other newspaper, doesn't mean it didn't happen.
Thankfully, Rogers lost the mayoral race. So, the city of Concord is safe, for now, from her prosecutorial missteps and nasty personal attacks against good people in the community she doesn't happen to like.

Backing a presidential candidate?

Let us know! We're looking for columns from people in the community backing a presidential candidate for posting on this site. Please make the columns 500 words or less. They will be edited only for AP Style and grammatical errors. Please send contributions to ourconcord@yahoo.com

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Deadlines

I'm on deadline at work so I won't be posting an election update story until later on today. However, I have some juicy tidbits so check back again soon.

First frosty morning of the year

Despite the sunshine outside, the grass is a bit slippery today, yielding the first morning frost of the year. Driving home last night, I was amazed at all the fog around the Hooksett tollbooths. It was deep and thick, with only a car length or so visibility. Very weird.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Landslide!

Jim Bouley handily beat Katherine Rogers tonight by more than 1,700 votes in unofficial returns. Bouley won easily city-wide with Rogers winning only one ward, her home ward of Ward 9, by a mere 9 votes.
In the at-large race, Rep. Steve Shurtleff and incumbent Mark Coen will serve four year terms, both easily beat out Merwyn Bagan, Al "Tinker" Foy and the lesser known challengers.
In the school board race it was a squeaker: Jennifer Patterson and Megan DeVorsey both easily won with Laura Bonk beating out Rick Watrous by 128 votes.
Dick Lemieux easily fended off a write-in challenge by Trisha Dionne in Ward 4 and Dick Patten easily beat Ray LaCasse in Ward 8.
Turnout was a little more than 20 percent.
Congratulations to the winners and to everyone who sticks their neck out to run for public office. You are all winners for trying. We'll have more analysis later tomorrow.

Results as soon as we can get them ...

OurConcord.com will post the results of the city's municipal elections as soon as we get access to them. You can also check the city's Web site, onconcord.com, for results sometime after 7 p.m. Feel free to offer any comments about the results on this page, either in the comment section or via email at ourconcord@yahoo.com.

Soaked!

It is pissing down with rain, as the saying goes, throughout the region and Concord is no exception. Polling is slow today throughout the city, according to random rumors spreading across the campaigns.
The firefighters are out with a force of sign holders at various polling places, urging support for Mayoral candidate Katherine Rogers, at-large candidates Merwyn Bagan and Rep. Steve Shurtleff, and Trisha Dionne in Ward 4 [They are probably over in Ward 8 helping Dick Patten but I didn't venture over to the Heights this morning].
Bouley has family, friends, and yeah, a slew of Teamsters, at polling locations across the city, trying to fend off Rogers' supposed union cred. In some locations, supporters for Bouley are three and four deep, despite the rain.
Over at the Ward 5 polling location, Matt and Whitley, Bouley's stepchildren, were hanging out in the morning, greeting voters. Bagan hung around for a bit early on but then left. At-large candidate Al "Tinker" Foy stopped by around 10 a.m. for a short time. School Board candidates Jennifer Patterson and Rick Watrous were also there for a spell before both left to visit other wards.
Both mayoral campaigns seem pretty organized but neither had poll checkers in Ward 5 so they are probably not counting their 1s and 2s and are betting that their supporters will just come out to vote. Campaign volunteers for both candidates were riding around the city, serving up coffee and donuts in the morning. Bouley's campaign came around with sandwiches just before lunch while Rogers' supporters turned away the offer of free food.
"We've got chili coming," noted one firefighter with a big smile.
A group called "Save our Schools" also has homemade signs at some locations around the city touting three School Board candidates as supporters of "neighborhood schools." Interestingly, the group ignored two other candidates in the race who are very strong supporters of "neighborhoods schools," Frank Rosano and Watrous.
This alleged group was reportedly put together by attorney and Democratic activist Charlie Russell. Russell is also a past board member of CCTV, the cable media center which Watrous once ran. CCTV board member Anthony "Skip" Tenczar, a regular apologist for the org, was also spotted at a polling location with Russell, supporting the slate.
So, this begs the question, was the "Save our Schools" slate put together by Russell and his friends to derail Watrous of a chance to serve on the board? Do participants in the "Save our Schools" group know they are being duped into targeting other qualified candidates for the board who also support "neighborhood schools"?
As the old National Enquirer slogan used to say, "Enquiring minds want to know ... I want to know ..."

A rainy Election Day...

There is nothing worse than a rainy Election Day. When Election Day is rainy or cold, I get a tad depressed because I know that many people will not bother to get out and vote due to the weather. Of course, many people don't get out and vote at all even when the weather is good. Consider the recent special election for the Ward 5 council seat in which fewer than 300 people voted or 9 percent of the ward even though it was a beautiful summer day.
Election Day is not just about voting. It's about community. It's about hanging out at the polls and chatting with your neighbors and others. Or, at least it should be about that. It shouldn't be about rushing around, just getting in to vote and then darting off to work.
That is why I have always felt that Election Day should not only be a holiday but it should be on a weekend day. The government won't hold elections on weekends because they don't want to offend religious people. Saturday is a holy day for some. Sunday is a holy day for many others. The Sabbath, as both days are referred to by some, are days which are not supposed to contain any work. And yet they do, for millions and millions and millions of us. And, who says voting is work? Like I said before, it should be communal. It is a civic duty, not a task or a job.
Oh well, enough ranting. Out to the polls. Don't let the rain keep you away.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Has the media's coverage of Concord's municipal races been fair? A quick analysis

There are only a few news outlets left covering Concord these days [hence the creation of OurConcord.com] and the gatekeepers of those news organizations can shape election results, whether they realize it or not. The placement and tone of the stories in a newspaper or the amount of times a radio station plays a story, can have a positive or negative affect on a candidate's chances.
Not unlike other cities and towns, Concord municipal elections have become a sleepy affair. The city is a different place, something I will write about a bit more after the election. But the media covering Concord remains very similar to the past.
News-seekers of Concord-based news have only a few outlets to regularly rely on, like the Concord Monitor, WKXL 1450, the Union Leader, and The Hippo. For the basis of this "quick analysis," those news outlets will be analyzed to see if they have covered the2007 municipal elections fairly. This analysis will not look at editorials or opinion content, just news stories.
First, the Union Leader has to be taken off the table. It has not covered the election at all. So scratch them off the list. The Hippo also must be taken off the table. In last week's edition, Brian Early, a local print/radio journalist, has a pretty good overview of the mayoral elections in Concord, ManchVegas, and Nashua. But the council and School Board races barely received a mention [Early has done a pretty good job over there although he made one error in the story, noting that Ward 10 is Concord's ony competitive race. Actually, there are two competitive races this year: Ward 8 and the write-in vs. incumbent situation over in Ward 4, not Ward 10].
That leaves WKXL and the Monitor.
In some ways, WKXL needs to be taken off the table too. In the past, the coverage has been more thorough than it has been this year. The station used to broadcast in-house interviews and long form debates between the candidates in competitive wards. This time around, they've done a couple of stories and broadcast the Dewey-Kimball PTA School Board forum in two parts. The stories and forum were available in downloadable mp3s, which is nice for people who are busy or don't listen to the station. While the scope of the coverage seems balanced, it is not on par to what was done in the past.
That leaves the Monitor.
For the most part, the coverage seems to have been pretty fair. The newspaper has allowed both candidates to sound off on the issues the editors believe are important to readers. That information has been published side-by-side in editions.
But there has been one notable exception to the balanced news coverage: Mayoral candidate Katherine Rogers seems to have garnered more stories and better placement of those stories than her opponent, Jim Bouley.
Over the last two Sundays [Oct. 28 and Nov. 4], Rogers has received two news pieces which included her picture. One story was a feature and the other, Oct. 28's "Rogers, unions share longtime ties," was placed above the fold. This story took a press release about the municipal union endorsements the candidate received - something that was published in a story a few weeks before, on Oct. 5 - and turned it into another story, mostly focusing on Rogers' long-time work with the unions. The story did mention Bouley, but it was a very positive piece for Rogers.
Bouley had a feature published on him on Nov. 3, the Saturday edition, with a tiny picture on the cover, below the fold.
Industry-wide, historically, Saturday editions are not as well-read and are nowhere near the circulations of the Sunday editions. Some companies have eliminated their Saturday editions entirely, to save on costs and to concentrate on providing a better Sunday edition. It is an easy bet that this edition is the least-read in the Monitor's publication schedule.
According to circulation numbers provided by the Audit of Circulation Bureaus from 2005, the most recent numbers available, the Monday through Saturday editions of the Monitor have a circulation of around 7,851, with potential readership as high as 18,057 [The newspaper industry assumes that 2.2 to 2.4 people will read every edition of a daily even though they only actually sold one copy of the newspaper. Individual daily numbers are not available to the public. These numbers also do not include Web site hits, just the print editions]. The Sunday edition has a circ of 8,006, with a readership of 19,214, or more than 1,150 extra readers than the best of the Monday through Saturday editions. If all of those 1,150-plus readers live in Concord and are undecided voters, one could see how an election could be swayed by the placement of stories. Rogers received two positives stories in Sunday editions; Bouley received one positive story in a Saturday edition. Do the math: More than 2,300 potential voters received more information about Rogers than Bouley due to an editor's placement of the stories.
Bouley did get a story about his press release announcing the endorsement of most of his council colleagues on Oct. 12. But did he get a second story about this, easily a more significant occurrence than the union endorsements for Rogers, in the well-read Sunday edition, above the fold? No. Ideally, the Monitor's coverage would have been more balanced and fairer had its news department published a second story and placed it right next to Rogers' second union endorsement story, quoting the councilors in a similar way they quoted fire union folks in the Rogers' piece. They could have also published the features together, in the same editions, again, creating balance.
The one thing that throws this quick analysis off is Mayor Mike Donovan's announcement that he was endorsing Bouley in the race, a sidebar to a story covering the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce forum. The story was placed on the back page near the jump of the forum story.
Donovan's announcement was a bombshell and probably sealed Rogers' fate since Donovan is still a very popular guy in the city. But, at the same time, the Monitor allowed Rogers to play up gender victimhood, as if all of her colleagues are lying about how difficult she is to work with or that she has a "my way or the highway" attitude. Can 10 men and women all be liars?
In the end, we will see if the news side of the news Monitor's operation will be able to sway voters with the slight - yet clear - advantage given to Rogers, with the extra story and more beneficial publication placement of the other stories. It all ends Tuesday at 7:01 p.m.
Editor's Note: This piece will be followed up with two more analytical pieces about changes in Concord's demographics and the coverage of the council and School Board races, some time after the election.