Thursday, May 29, 2008

Eleven Concord area professionals graduate with 2008 Leadership New Hampshire class

Eleven Concord area professionals have graduated from an intensive 10-month program with Leadership New Hampshire, an organization that selects, trains and builds a network of leaders for the state of New Hampshire. The 11, who are among 36 graduates in 2008, are:

• Michael Cohen, Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness
• Dennis Delay, Deputy Director, NH Center for Public Policy Studies
• Ted Diers, Coastal Program Manager, NH Dept. of Environmental Services
• Betsy Gardella, President & CEO, New Hampshire Public Radio
• Jeanne Herrick, attorney, Gallagher, Callahan & Gartrell, PC
• Stephen L'Heureux, Fire Lieutenant, City of Manchester Fire Department
• Julia Olivares, Director of Communications, NH Charitable Foundation
• Terry Knowles, Assistant Director of Charitable Trusts, Attorney General Office
• Lisabritt Solsky, attorney/administrator, NH Department of Health and Human Services
• Deborah Watrous, Executive Director, NH Humanities Council
• Craig Jewett, President, Jewett Construction Co., Inc, Raymond

In 2008, Leadership New Hampshire marks its 16th year. Since 1992, more than 500 talented leaders from around the state have participated in the program Leadership New Hampshire graduates include senior executives in some of New Hampshire's most prestigious corporations and health care organizations, government officials, entrepreneurs and non-profit executives. Graduates often serve on corporate and non-profit boards and on state commissions, and many hold state or local elected positions.
Each year, Leadership New Hampshire participants attend 12 seminar days held at various locations throughout the state. On each of these days, one topic of importance to New Hampshire is explored in-depth. Topics include criminal justice, education, culture and arts, environment. government and politics, health care and economic opportunities.
Leadership New Hampshire Hampshire's mission is to increase civic engagement and strengthen communities through connecting and educating a diverse pool of engaged or emerging leaders about the State of New Hampshire. For more information, visit leadershipnh.org or call 603-226-2265

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Library cuts debated tonight

The Concord City Council will debate cuts to the public library tonight. The Concord Monitor has an overview here: ["Trimming down the library"]. I have early deadlines this week, due to the Memorial Day holiday, so I won't have time to attend the hearing. I will, however, see if I can sneak an email over to the Council beforehand with some ideas. I will also publish them here.

Flasher!

Or, "alleged flasher ..." You gotta love Channel 9 news sometimes. This is one of the hot stories online: ["Police Investigate Indecent Exposure"]. Between this and "pickle perv park," one has to wonder about this community sometimes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

'I'm on a low budget ...'

Well, the Concord City Council has its new budget and I'm told that there are some interesting things in it. I don't have a copy of it and I can't find it online so I won't comment on it right now. I'll take a look at it in the future and write some stuff about it [I'm on deadline anyway for other things so I'm kinda swamped].

Update: Oops, I stand corrected. The budget is right there online: ["Proposed Operating Budget"]. It just appeared out of nowhere [it wasn't there over the weekend when I looked].

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Council announces hearing sked

The Concord City Council announced its hearing schedule to discuss items in the fiscal year 2009 budget this week:

FY2009 FINANCE COMMITTEE BUDGET SCHEDULE - ADOPTED 5/12/08

City Council Chambers

May 16 (Friday) BUDGET DELIVERY TO COUNCILORS

May 20 (Tuesday) 6:30 PM BUDGET OVERVIEW and REVIEW MEETING SCHEDULE

Revenue Review

Discussion of Major Service Reductions

Discussion of Excluded Opportunities

ADMINISTRATION

City Manager

Legal

Assessing

Personnel

Finance

Information Technology

City Clerk

City Council

May 22 (Thursday) 6:30 PM LIBRARY

RECREATION

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCY CONSENT DETERMINATION

May 26 (Monday) HOLIDAY (Memorial Day)

May 27 (Tuesday) 6:30 PM FISCAL MONITORING REPORT

MISCELLANEOUS

NONPUBLIC SESSION RE: COMP ADJUSTMENT

May 29 (Thursday) 6:30 PM GENERAL SERVICES (Water/Sewer/Solid Waste Funds)

June 2 (Monday) 6:30 PM FIRE

POLICE, including Parking

June 5 (Thursday) 6:30 PM HUMAN SERVICES

CONSERVATION COMMISSION

SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCIES

June 9 (Monday) 7:00 PM REGULAR CITY COUNCIL MEETING

June 12 (Thursday) 6:30 PM CAPITAL BUDGET

BONDED DEBT

June 16 (Monday) 6:30 PM RECESSED COUNCIL MEETING, IF NECESSARY

OPTIONAL WORK SESSION

June 19 (Thursday) 6:30 PM RESERVED/OPTIONAL WORK SESSION

June 23 (Monday) 6:30 PM PUBLIC HEARING/BUDGET ADOPTION

Monday, May 12, 2008

Community screening Thursday

Red River Theatres will be holding a community screening of "Communities & Consequences," a one hour documentary about "human ecology in New Hampshire." It will be shown on Thursday, May 15. There will be a reception at 5:30 p.m. with the showing at 6 p.m. There will be a panel discussion at 8 p.m. moderated by Jon Greenberg from NHPR. Some details are here: ["Communities & Consequences"].
I'm probably not going to attend but I will get around to watching this film at some point. I, frankly, don't trust advocates who only look at one side of an issue without really analyzing the other side. It's similar to the folks advocating for broad-based taxes in New Hampshire. They haven't even looked at what it will do to renters or the working poor. Nope, they want more money and this is how they are going to get it.
As everyone knows, in order to truly prove a theory, you have to take all the information you can and analyze it before you can say, OK, this is fact. So many folks come at it from the other end: I believe this and therefore, it is fact. Frankly, I come at it from the other end: Question absolutely everything.

Case in point about this very subject: I attended the recent Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce fundraising breakfast for the Leadership Greater Concord program, of which I am an alum.
The speaker was Chancellor Stephen Reno from UNH who spent his entire speech talking about the 55% Initiative: ["55% Initiative"].
The main thrust of his talk was that the "brain drain" in New Hampshire is costing the state jobs and economic development. We can reap $42 million in more economic development for the state by encouraging young people to stay here, he stated. Some people move away and come back but we need to change "the New Hampshire culture" and embrace this initiative, he said.
After his talk, there weren't any questions. I wanted to wait and not be the first person to ask one, since I'm almost always the first person to throw one out there at these events. So, I sat on my hands.
Thankfully, one young woman raised her hand in the front and said, I just moved to New Hampshire a year ago and I'm shocked that we pay for education with lottery tickets. It's a disgrace, blah, blah, blah.
Reno thanked her for her comments, made some of his own, and moved on.
I then asked about municipal expenses that come with thousands of college graduates staying in New Hampshire and having 2.3 kids each and all the added expenses that come with said kids and families. Concord is $4 million in the hole on the city side, never mind the schools. Taxes are going up $1,200 next year for most homes while incomes are stagnating, I said. While some of us did move away and came back, and I'm an example of that, I'm worried about how we'll make ends meet. Now, some people want an income tax or sales tax added instead of living within our means and not encouraging more families to move to the area.
He said, Well, please note, I'm not endorsing the implementation of a broad-based tax [Everyone laughed. Right answer]. Then he said, I wish Peter Francese were here so he could explain how new families and children won't burden the state because of all these formulas which show it won't burden the state. He pointed everyone to another Web site, www.communitiesandconsequences.org, which he said provided information about this issue [There is, however, little information at the site about this issue. It is mostly a promotional site for the film and book].
Tim Sink, the president of the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce, stood up and said small town zoning was the problem and that the state needed more affordable housing. He also said that studies showed no burden to the tax base.
I asked for 30 more seconds to respond, agreeing that zoning stinks and that there was not enough accessible housing for people already in the state. I said that my friends attending could attest that I'm probably one of the biggest defenders of the poor and lower middle class in the community [a few people nodded], but that Reno and others needed to do more research.
"You guys need to learn how to add AND subtract," I said. "If you were going to tell me that the brain drain would bring in $4.2 billion, I would be all for it. But $42 million is going to be eaten up in education expenses for the new children alone, never mind other municipal expenses."
Reno then moved on to the next guy who said, I've been here a few years and I moved here because of the low tax burden. I don't want broad-based taxes and I agree that thousands of new children in the coming years would go right through that increased revenue via economic development.
It was, thankfully, nice to not be alone in the room.
Personally, I don't want to regulate children in this manner. I could write an entire book on what I have called, "the War on Families" ... specifically, how local governments are creaming ordinary working folks, with very high education costs and limiting the development of accessible housing, in both New Hampshire and to a greater extent, Massachusetts.
But inviting a ton of more folks in to stay without relieving the pressure valves that are currently choking families here? That's a mistake. There seems to be little information about the issue on any of the Web sites about the negative effects this program would have on New Hampshire. This leads me to believe that they have not done any real research about any negative components. The fact that Reno couldn't - or didn't - really answer the question, is enough to make one wonder, especially since UNH is the front org. for the 55% Initiative.
This type of coordinated planning of populations is such an elitist thing to take on. In some ways, all these folks are saying is that they want "the right" kinds of people staying in or moving into the state. What will they say next? We want you to have "the right" kinds of children, not necessarily those who want to be here or are already here, but those who are smarter and supposedly less of a burden. Well, you know, the kids of the rich can be just as big a burden as the kids of the poor. Ask around and you'll find that out. And please ... please ... learn to subtract before you go monkeying around with "human ecology."

Gas prices, again ...

OK, so yesterday, I go out grocery shopping. I pass by my local Irving and the price of gas is $3.59, up from $3.56 the day before. I pass by an hour and a half later, and I see out of the corner of my eye the number 4 ... I think, as I approach the intersection, Hmm, gas went down to $3.54 in just an hour? Well, no. Gas went UP to $3.64 in about an hour.
While it is important to remember that gas stations don't arbitrarily raise gas prices - the price you pay at the pump is based on what it will cost the station to refill its tank - this stuff is getting insane. How can anything go up by 10 percent in just a few weeks and 20 or 30 percent in just a few months? This is unsustainable. Something really has to be done about it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Monitor's Pride to retire in June

According to the latest edition of the Columbia Journalism Review, the Concord Monitor's Mike Pride will be retiring in June [I don't recall him saying anything about that in the newspaper. Maybe I'm behind the curve].
In an article entitled, "My Year in the Trenches," Pride touches upon his last year with the newspaper working as a writer and reporter and not an editor. Pride clearly has a ton of respect for what today's journalists go through, noting that Monitor reporters could work a long day of covering politics and then get up first thing in the morning to do more but he couldn't. He also touched upon technology, stating that other reporters seem to be able to juggle all the new gadgets that he didn't even want to know about.
I can't link the article because it isn't posted on the CJR's Web site [that's one way to get folks to buy the magazine] but it is worth the read. Good luck to him and his future of research, history, travel with his wife, and relaxing.

Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) initiative selects implementation organization

The first statewide effort to improve personal wellness through healthy eating and active living, known as the New Hampshire HEAL Initiative, has chosen a "HEAL Home" -- an organization to coordinate and implement the Initiative. As the HEAL Home, the Foundation for Healthy Communities has now been charged with building a statewide infrastructure to implement HEAL recommended interventions, raise awareness for HEAL priority objectives, and create and administer a community grant program to support communities in adopting the recommended interventions in the HEAL Action Plan.
"The planning process is important, but our goal has always been implementation. We look forward to working with the Foundation for Healthy Communities," said Sandi Van Scoyoc, President, HNHfoundation.
"This is not just a collaboration of foundations--every one of us in New Hampshire has a role to play in implementing recommendations to achieve a vision of improved personal wellness through healthy eating and active living."
The Foundation for Healthy Communities is based in Concord, N.H. It is a statewide, not-for-profit organization with a mission to improve health and health care delivery in New Hampshire. The Foundation is a partnership involving hospitals, physicians, health plans, home care agencies and other organizations concerned about improving health.
Over the past year, the HEAL Initiative engaged more than 200 individuals from 45 organizations and communities to develop this first ever statewide plan for a healthier New Hampshire -- The HEAL Action Plan. HEAL is sponsored by a collaboration of foundations and state agencies committed to promoting health and wellbeing for all New Hampshire residents. For a copy of the HEAL Plan, visit www.lightenupnh.org.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Ice cream guru stirs it up in Concord

Members of PrioritiesNH and New Hampshire Citizens Alliance "stirred it up" Thursday, as they celebrated their "mixer" over ice cream treats with Ben & Jerry's co-founder Ben Cohen.

PrioritiesNH, the campaign for sensible budget priorities known for its colorful pie charts and eye-catching vehicles, has become a project of New Hampshire Citizens Alliance. The PrioritiesNH campaign calls for cutting off funds for Pentagon waste and obsolete weapons and using the savings to fund priority programs like education, healthcare and energy independence.

As an affiliate of US Action, New Hampshire Citizens Alliance promotes the Invest in America's Future campaign, which calls for safely, responsibly ending the U.S. occupation of Iraq and making public investments in the same priorities: education, quality, affordable healthcare for all, and energy independence.

As a special guest of the "Stirring Committee" of the two groups, Cohen launched the "mixer" by stacking Oreo cookies to demonstrate the lopsided priorities of the federal budget. "We're still spending about $60 billion a year on weapons that are designed to fight the Soviet Union," said Cohen. "That money could be used to renovate and rebuild all the schools in the U.S., or provide healthcare to all the kids who don't have it, or help us gain energy independence."

NHCA Board of Directors Chair Margaret Duffy said, "There's great momentum here to build on. Bringing our organizations together strengthens our work to shift national priorities in directions that better meet the needs of us all."

Bob Marley's "Stir it Up" played in the background as the crowd at the Common Man Restaurant in Concord enjoyed Ben & Jerry's ice cream treats and wrote their ideas for the next phase of the campaigns on giant sheets of paper on the walls.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Gas breaks $3.50 mark ...

$3.56, to be exact, at the Irving at Penacook and N. State Street. Yowza. I have been busy with work but I will have some more stuff up over the weekend.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Capitol Center introduces Spotlight Cafe

The Capitol Center for the Arts has introduced a new cafe, "club style" atmosphere at its new Spotlight Cafe. The cafe is probably in the governor's hall area, I don't know. But it features, according to an email, "cafe tables or general admission banquet chairs ... cash bar and imaginative menu uniquely chosen for each event."
The Brooks Young Band will be playing on May 17 before B.B. King plays upstairs. Tickets for Brooks are $10 unless you have a B.B. ticket and then you can get in for free.
This is kinda cool if you think about it offering another way for the CCANH to bring in some revenue. The flip of that is that it could potentially keep you away from any of the struggling downtown restaurants and that's not good.