Wednesday, October 31, 2007

School Board endorsements

The Concord Monitor continues to confound with their 2007 endorsements.
This morning, the paper issued its School Board endorsements. They went with the incumbent, a stay-at-home mom who used to work as an attorney in the AG's office, and an Allenstown Democratic activist who just moved to Concord. All of the candidates endorsed were women.
Compare that to last year's endorsements, when the Monitor picked incumbent Betty Hoadley, a shoo-in to win, John Callewaert, an educator, and Kass Ardinger, a long-time resident and community servant. Hoadley and Ardinger easily won; Callewaert lost to Christopher Casko, who ran in 2005.
But in 2006, all three of the non-endorsed candidates at least had a bone thrown at them, signifying that the editorial board heard them out even if they weren't endorsing them. This time, no bones were thrown at the four men left out in the cold. This, despite the fact that two of these men, Rick Watrous and Eric Williams, received the teachers' union endorsement. This, despite the fact that all of the challengers have stated similar positions on the issues.
How one could separate them is a bit puzzling. How they could endorse someone who just moved here over long-time residents with kids in the public schools is even more puzzling.

Taking 'community' out of Concord Community TV

Concord Community Television [CCTV], the nonprofit corporation which currently runs Concord's community cable media access stations, is reportedly changing its name ... to Concord TV, according to a mailer sent out to some people, a copy of which was passed on to me. They had a big open house tonight which I could not attend because I was working.
But the proposal to change the name is a shocking one. The nonprofit doesn't need a name change. The stations don't need a name change. They need better oversight and accountability to franchise fee payers, taxpayers, and viewers. And that they would propose renaming the nonprofit and taking "community" out of name, is even more offensive.
Since so few people in the community use or even view the stations, one could guess that it wouldn't be such a big deal to take "community" out of the name of the stations. Since the nonprofit has historically been run like a private country club, it really isn't community either. In many ways, the community has pretty much abandoned the stations - or been driven away by arrogance and corruption. But, it just doesn't look good.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Merrimack County Artisans Craft Fair to be held Nov. 10

Saturday, Nov. 10, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
BEKTASH CENTER, 189 Pembroke Rd, Concord
From the Steeplegate Mall, take Route 106 South for ½ mile.
Turn right at first light, 1st building on right.
For further information, call 225-9175
Submitted by Jean Lawrie.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Teachers issue endorsement

The Concord Education Association, the local teachers' union, has endorsed Jennifer Patterson, Rick Watrous, and Eric Williams for School Board this year. It is no surprise that they blew off incumbent Megan DeVorsey, since she was involved in the recent, tenacious teacher contract debacle. It will be interesting to see if the endorsement helps push the newcomers over the top.

More Monitor endorsements

The Concord Monitor published its endorsements for city council and, at the same time, chastised some of the candidates for not presenting solutions to some of the city's problems.
The endorsement is here: For city council: Coen, Shurtleff and Lacasse.
What is strange about this endorsement is that it can only be perceived as a cheap shot against Merwyn Bagan and Al "Tinker" Foy, two of the at-large candidates running. While it doesn't mention them by name, it is easy to figure out. Trisha Dionne has dropped her race and at the end of the endorsement, some good things are said about Stacey Catucci. Having just moved here from Massachusetts, she isn't going to win against the better-known candidates, although I like a lot of what she had to say and agree that if she doesn't win, she should definitely run again [anyone who has read some of my writing knows that I don't think there are enough moms on the council].
That leaves the other two who are clearly being spoken to, for lack of a better term, through the editorial. To suggest that they don't have a clue as to what needs to be done in the city is a farce. One could wonder what race the editorialist has been watching. Maybe they didn't like their solutions. Maybe the candidates had bad interviews with the editorial board [that has happened before]. But anyone who has truly kept up with this race, viewed any of the forums on cable access, or even read the newspaper's own account of some of the events, could never come to such a foolish conclusion.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A racial slur ...

Now I kinda know what a black person feels like.
Tonight, while driving around Penacook and West Concord, dropping off the last round of newspapers to stores and other locations on Fisherville Road, two guys in a dark colored subcompact sedan yelled at me, "Hey N*gger!" as they drove up the road before I got into my car. I couldn't believe it.
Now, maybe this was someone thinking they were being funny or something. But, I doubt it. In this day and age, and me being clearly white, why would anyone use such language? It just makes them look like fools. And, if I was a cop or was with it enough to write down their license plate, I could have made a citizen's arrest for a hate crime. So much for New Hampshire becoming a bit more enlightening with age.

Concord Monitor endorses Bouley

The Concord Monitor endorsed Jim Bouley for Mayor in today's edition. Here is the link to the endorsement: ["Jim Bouley is the best choice for mayor"]. Readers might find it interesting that their endorsement features similar themes to the analytical piece published here 10 days ago.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Two other candidate Web sites

Two other candidate Web sites have emerged in the last few weeks from candidates running for School Board in Concord.
Jennifer Patterson has a Web site here: Jennifer Patterson
And Rick Watrous has a Web site here: Rick Watrous
I will be emailing Jennifer to offer her space on to talk about her campaign.

Update: Mayoral candidate Kathy Rogers has a Web site here: Kathy Rogers
Other candidates have links here at the city's Web site: Candidate info
Interestingly, the School Board does not offer the same service to voters that I could find. However, the city clerk's office advises interested voters to call the board's office at 225-0811 for more information.

[More] sports radio coming to town

Concord and the Lakes Region will soon get full-time sports radio stations on FM at the beginning of the year.
Concord's WWHK 102.3 FM, formerly known as WKXL FM, and WWHQ out of Meredith, will start broadcasting WEEI's sports talk programming in January 2008. The stations, both owned by Nassau Broadcasting, will have a lock on the sports talk market in the region, since the only other sports talk stations in the immediate listening area, WGAM 1250 AM out of Manchester and 900 AM out of Nashua, are not heard in most of the Concord/Lakes Region market.
There will be some competition from advertising against WTPL 107.7 FM, which broadcasts political talk and live sports games, and to a lesser extent, WKXL 1450 AM, which broadcasts high school sports games.
Nassau will also be shifting formats over at Hillsboro's WNNH 99.1 FM and Wolfeboro's WLKZ 104.9 FM. They will be losing their "oldies" format and will be "rebranded" as Frank FMs, playing both oldies and classic rock. Of course, WNNH long abandoned real oldies like Elvis and AM Gold for the light classic format.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Confirmed: Dionne to run Ward 4 write-in campaign

Trisha Dionne has confirmed that she is switching gears in her race for the Concord City Council. This morning, Dionne emailed that she would be dropping out of the at-large race and would challenge one-term Ward 4 Councilor Dick Lemieux. She decided to email Lemieux on Monday and told people at the Thursday forum of the change.
"Yesterday, I informed the League of Women Voters that I thought it would be unethical for me to speak at the forum they hosted last night at Rundlett. That it was likely that Dick had not been invited and would not have an opportunity to speak."
Dionne said she would forward the email she sent to Dick about her run. When she does that, we'll post it.

Correction: In the article, "In at-large City Council race, it's insiders vs. newcomers," Dionne was described as currently serving in the military. She is actually an academic advisor to military-affiliated students at Southern New Hampshire University.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Big rumor from tonight's forum

I couldn't go to the municipal election forum tonight but I heard a big rumor from it. Apparently, Trisha Dionne, one of the six candidates running for an at-large seat on the city council, will challenge Ward 4 Councilor Dick Lemieux as a write-in candidate. I've sent her an email requesting a confirmation of the rumor.
This move by Dionne was one suggested by local firefighter and police unions in their municipal endorsement press release a few weeks ago. It would be interesting to see how many of them live in the Ward. I take two main streets through the Ward on my commute and I have only seen a few Kathy Rogers signs. So, I would guess that there are probably a few but not a ton.
The Ward is a pretty diverse one, from the affluence of the southern part of Auburn Street, to the working class areas of Rumford and Franklin streets.
Either way, this will be an uphill battle for her since successful sticker/write-in campaigns are extremely rare. And Dick is a pretty popular guy in the neighborhood. But, who knows. With the backing of the firefighters and cops, and if they assist her in targeting voters and getting out the vote, Dionne might be able to pull off an upset.
The other factor here is how Dionne pulling out of the at-large race affects the other five candidates left in the at-large race. With only one woman left on the ballot, granted, a newcomer to the city, Stacey Catucci would stand to benefit at least a little. Whether that is enough to win a seat, especially against four other well-connected, and well-known members of the community, remains to be seen.

More Richardson information

Richardson will hold a State House rally in Concord at 8:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30. He will file for the New Hampshire primary sometime afterwards.

Richardson to open Concord office Friday

NM Gov. Bill Richardson will open an office in Concord at 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, according to a press release sent out last night. The office is located at 124 J Hall St.

Hero arrested?

A local man who went into a burning building to rescue some elderly neighbors ended up in jail this morning after a scuffle with firefighters. WMUR-TV has the story here: ["Man Arrested After Helping Couple Escape From Fire"].

Technical difficulties

For whatever reason, we're having a little problem with the font transfers from Quark to Blogger. Hopefully, we'll figure out a way to straighten it out over the next couple of days.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Adult and snarky

Earlier tonight, during drinks and munchies with friends, I was given the opportunity to circulate the print edition of, to get some feedback from folks. Everyone seemed to be impressed with it.
One person asked, So, what makes this different from other non-daily newspapers in the area? I thought for a minute said I don't know. Sure, it will reflect some of my opinions and some of the things I think should be eyed as important local news. It will also have music, politics, and charitable promotions, but also I want it mainly to be serious.
Then, a woman at the table, who is familiar with some of the newspapers in the area, said, Those newspapers are light and fluffy, this is adult and snarky.
Adult and snarky, I thought, that's perfect.

Obama campaign doorknocking

The Obama for President campaign was doorknocking through West Concord today, looking for votes. This is the second or third time they have been through the neighborhood, with Edwards coming by three or four times and Hillary twice [Interestingly, the Hillary guy had me down as a supporter ... NOT!]. That doesn't include the phone calls.

Patoine out

The Concord Monitor is reporting that Patoine is definitely out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Patoine to quit School Board race?

A quick rumor from tonight's School Board forum at CHS: Bus driver Tim Patoine is dropping out of the race because he might lose his part-time job as a bus driver if elected.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Trains in Concord

These very cool trains were on display outside the Grappone Conference Center earlier today. They had come down from Northfield for the day.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Why publish?

Welcome to, a brand new hybrid newspaper covering Concord, New Hampshire. I’m Tony Schinella, the publisher and writer of this enterprise and I want to thank you for reading. I encourage you to be a part of what may be the future of the news business.

Unexpectedly, the walls between the news consumer and producer have fallen. As consumers, we no longer have to let editors and program directors control what we read, listen to, or believe. We no longer have to follow their lead. We can lead. Whether we work in the media or not, we can essentially become the media.

This is not an entirely new phenomenon. People have been producing their own fanzines, Web sites, blogs, cable access programs and online radio programs for a very long time now. But with the advent of new technologies, the phenomenon has become easier to process. Just about anyone can do anything these days. Citizens can be journalists and columnists. Journalists are no longer just journalists. We are multimedia content providers. We can and should do everything. It is a brave new world of interactivity and potential openness and honesty in government and media. It is an exciting time.

Admittedly, the doors to some media outlets are closed and will remain so. No one can just start a television or radio station and broadcast over the public airwaves [Well, you can, but you will quickly find yourself in jail]. Acquisition costs for such licenses are extremely expensive, meaning that they will remain in the hands of very large corporations, the very rich, or broadcasters who got lucky and bought before the 1996 Telecom Bill wrecked the entire industry. Entrepreneurial competition will unfortunately remain out of the licensed broadcast industry for the foreseeable future. For now, the Web is better than nothing. But it is not the same as what the box on the countertop delivers.

Good and bad changes

Changes to the media industry are both good and bad. The changes are good because they allow for more empowerment, enlightenment, and the joy of providing information to the public. The ability to accomplish what the Founders essentially set out to do by establishing the First Amendment. If you think about it, the Web is not much different from the pamphleteers of the past. They just weren’t hunched over computers, pontificating about the world while sitting in their pajamas [or maybe they were]. The spirit, however, is the same.

There are a bunch of reasons why these changes are bad. First, a totally freewheeling media can confuse the public. With so many outlets of information, consumers sometimes don’t know which way is up or what is the truth. And because we are all so busy, the choices get whittled down even more. At the same time, the general public really needs to be connected to the news. That is why some media outlets are looking inward and focusing on localism, with some success. That is why there is an explosion of micropublishing going on in America right now and why the Web has taken off.

Then, there is the issue of profit. The long-term health of the profit-making side of the industry is to have fewer outlets offering information. If there is less competition, the more control you have over the advertising pie. As we have seen firsthand watching the media in our community, there is not a lot of pie out there to go around. There are always projects starting but they often wither away due to lack of funds, deciding to worry about the pie instead of the competition and information. For these reasons, for now, we’re going to take a different tack and not worry about the pie right away.

The need for serious news

Over the past couple of years, many in Concord have been dismayed by the lack of serious news published in our community, about our community. For far too long, the community has not been given the deep analysis and conversation it needs or deserves. There is not enough serious news about Concord, its government, and its finances. There is some good reporting going on in the area. But more often than not, the gatekeepers to the news industry have truly shown that they are not interested in exposing some of the city’s problems to the citizenry, for whatever reason. They refuse to take on the big issues and give them the airing they deserve. They trust the connected and elected and target, ignore, or sometimes malign the good people of our community who bother to ask the tough questions. It seems as though everyone takes everyone else’s word for it, for lack of a better term, when we all know that there are serious problems which need to be exposed. This is one of the reasons that has been established.

For example, did you know that there is a heroin problem in Concord? Prosecutors and police will confirm this and talk quite openly about it when asked. Has there been any in-depth investigating into the issue? No. Are high school kids taking heroin too boring a story? Is it too time consuming? Is it just not important? Wow, doesn’t that say a lot? Did you know that there is abuse and waste in the Concord city budget? There is, and some have tried to expose this waste to the current leadership in the city and they have refused to act on it. Go along to get along. But resources really need—and deserve—to be directed towards those things that matter. Someone has to serve the red meat news market.

At the same time, we need to be more critical. It is not uncivil to ask questions, ponder, or prod, especially when some people refuse to answer the questions. It is also important to keep a watchful eye on the gatekeepers of our news to make sure that they are staying true to their mission. To be a newsperson is more than just to have a job. It is important. It matters. The lack of media criticism in our state is pretty embarrassing especially when you consider that there are a number of media critics in the state to our south. We intend to serve in that capacity as well.


For almost five years, I have been publishing an online political fanzine called Politizine. Having been involved in politics for more than two decades, it is like a sport for me. Focusing on New England and National politics was a natural extension of the love of the sport. But at more than 60,000 visits and 1,000 blog entries, it is time to give the site a break. It is time to focus inward and locally.

I was once given the chance to start delving into some of these local issues but that opportunity was unfortunately cut short. In hindsight, I made poor choices which took me away from my professional calling: To be a journalist and editor of content, and a leader in my field, an example to others of how journalism can serve the public good, instead of being a dictator of whims. In adversity though, there is challenge. And with change comes hope and opportunity, if you are brave enough to stare it square in the face. By creating this hybrid online/print newspaper as an aside to my regular job as a newspaper editor, I’m getting back on track. has not been established out of boredom or to waste time and money, although it may cost some money. It has not been established to pick fights with people or to ridicule or embarrass, although that may happen along the way. was created because there needs to be more voices available to the public and there needs to be more opportunity to tell stories that others won’t tell. How you act after you find this information out is your choice. You can choose to act or you can choose to ignore. But you cannot say that you did not know. will primarily be a Web site published frequently. As it expands, other voices will be invited to contribute stories and columns to the site. At critical times during the year, the online edition will expand into a print publication. We will post an online sustainer’s option so people can assist in keeping the Web site and print publication up and running. Think of it as a small investment in your community’s future. It is our hope that the business end of things will expand and the publication will be printed on a regular basis, preferably monthly or biweekly. After that, the sky is the limit.

Join us in this effort and together we will be a more enlightened and better community.

Mayoral candidates offer stark, distinct choices

For the first time in six years, voters in Concord will go to the polls on Nov. 6 and cast a vote for a new mayor. Mayor Mike Donovan decided earlier this summer to step down and two people have forwarded themselves as candidates. Mayor Pro-temp Jim Bouley and Councilor Kathy Rogers are the candidates running.

To voters the candidates may seem similar. Both Bouley and Rogers have served the eastern part of the city for long periods of time. Both could be characterized as having relatively liberal philosophies politically. Both have taken similar stands on issues which have come before the Council.

But that’s where the similarities end. One of the most important jobs the mayor performs is presiding over Council meetings. The way the two candidates have run meetings in the past and how they handle public relations are a stark contrast.

In the past, Bouley has presided over Council budget hearings and other meetings as Mayor Pro-temp, whenever Donovan was not able to attend. Bouley runs a steady meeting, allowing people to volunteer information which they feel is important to their points, without interruption. Whenever anyone, including his own colleagues, becomes a bit belligerent, he jumps in to avoid an escalation of conflict.

Bouley also seems like a contemplative thinker. He may not agree with a person but he listens with an open mind to what everyone has to say. In these days of divisive politics, that is a pretty good trait for a prospective mayor to have.

Juxtapose that with the way Rogers has presided over Rules Committee meetings as chairwoman. In those meetings, Rogers had a clearly held biased towards a certain outcome of the proceedings—the protection of the cable media access center where she hosts a program and has been reportedly given preferential treatment—a complete conflict of interest. Calling the Rules Committee, under Rogers’ management, a kangaroo court would be kind.

For example, during a meeting in 2006, Rogers allowed more than an hour of testimony attacking a resident who had brought legitimate concerns before the committee. The testimony, which could be better described as relentlessly personal attacks, bordered on slander and libel. Shockingly, the perpetrators were not contained by Rogers.

However, when others tried to counter the attacks with legitimate questions about the state’s open meeting laws and access to public records, Rogers cut the testimony off. She said the comments had no bearing on the questions at hand—even though the cable access media center has refused to abide by the law. The records, as was later noted, could have potentially proven the points of the petitioner.

But that isn’t where it ends.

After the meeting, the petitioner filed additional paperwork with Rogers and the committee. One of the documents proved that a former city councilor testifying during the committee hearing had not told the truth. Instead of considering the evidence provided—which proved the petitioner’s point—Rogers called the Concord Police Department and requested that a detective investigate how the petitioner obtained the document. As it turned out, the document was legally obtained from the city manager’s office. A simple phone call or email to the petitioner would have answered that question for Rogers. Instead of communicating openly and honestly with the resident, voter, and taxpayer, Rogers chose to target the person with a police investigation. It was a clear abuse of power, probably done to embarrass and humiliate the person she targeted.

A few months later, at a public forum hosted by the Council, a couple of residents brought up the issue of Rogers’ abuse of power and the fact that public records were still not available. But Mayor Donovan sloughed off their concerns and the Council sat silent. Rogers also sat silently, refusing to apologize to the targeted individual or, for that matter, the public, for wasting the taxpayer’s money on a bogus police investigation.

How Rogers dealt with these incidents and her role in the proceedings have led many to question her ability to lead the city as mayor. And voters are not the only ones questioning Rogers’ lack of leadership skills.

Last week, a press release was sent out by 10 of Rogers’ colleagues on the Council. In it, they openly endorsed Bouley. The only councilor backing Rogers is Ward 2 Councilor Bill Stetson, a retired firefighter and former board member of the cable access media center. Rogers has also received the endorsement of the firefighter and police unions. In a recent Concord Monitor article, Rogers claimed she was not getting support from her colleagues because she wants to force the Council to be more open.

But for all her talk about open communication, open records, open meetings, and open dialogue, as an elected official, Rogers has done the exact opposite.

In at-large City Council race, it’s insiders vs. newcomers

This year’s at-large Council race is shaping up to be an interesting one, pitting four relatively popular community leaders, who happen to be male, against two female newcomers.

The six people running for the two open at-large seats are Merwyn Bagan, Stacey Catucci, Marc Coen, Trisha Dionne, Al “Tinker” Foy and Rep. Steve Shurtleff. Coen is the only incumbent running. The second seat was held by the late Leonard “Red” Brochu, who passed away in June.

At a recent forum, the candidates introduced themselves to voters, and talked about the many issues facing Concord.

Bagan is a retired doctor who has lived in Concord for almost four decades. Since retiring in the mid-1990s, he has traveled abroad with his wife, Carol, caring for the sick in other countries. He has also served on numerous boards in the community, including the Friends of the Concord City Auditorium.

Catucci is a single mom with two children in the public schools. She recently moved to the city from Massachusetts but joked, “don’t hold that against me.” In a recent letter to the Concord Monitor she lamented the fact that the leadership of Concord seems to have its priorities wrong.

“Granite curbing, a dilapidated tannery, million-dollar roads to the hospital, studies that are not always used, speed calming devices placed and then ripped out, paying outside consultants to do the work of city-paid employees. Why are we spending money on these when there is no food on the table?” she wrote.

Coen is another long-time resident, having lived in Concord for about 35 years. He said his careers in business, including being president of Page Belting, allowed him to keep an eye on city monies.

“I understand revenue, I understand budgets, I understand expenses,” he said.

Dionne is an academic advisory to military-affiliated students at Southern New Hampshire University and a former hair stylist. She said that she liked the way the city feels and wanted to promote the concept of roundtable discussions and improved interactivity between residents and the Council.

Interestingly enough, at press time, she was the only candidate with a Web site, She was unable to attend the forum but introduced herself by way of an audio recording.

Foy was born and raised in Concord and has been active for years around the city. He said he would work to create more affordable housing in Concord, noting that the waiting list at the Concord Housing Authority is more than 400 people long.

Shurtleff was also born and raised in Concord. He has served as a U.S. Marshall, substitute teacher, and vice chairman of the Heritage Commission. He also represents Wards 1, 2, and 3 in the Legislature.

When asked about the city spending money on numerous studies and surveys, most of the candidates agreed that the line item should be eyed. Some also stated that there were many people in the community who had more knowledge about issues than hired consultants. Bagan said he often thinks that consultants produce the information that city officials want to hear.

Another big issue this year is funding for the library.

Bagan said it was an important institution for people who can’t afford to purchase books, magazines or newspapers.

Catucci said she thought there should be more interaction between the public schools and the library.

Shurtleff suggested moving the library to the Merrimack County courthouse building, which would increase the usable space of the library.

Foy questioned the cuts in the library services. He said the city has more than $36 million in investment funds but yet is only receiving 3.5 percent returns. He said city officials should look at the investment portfolio and free up some money.

The issue of the Council meeting outside the purview of the public was also raised.

Coen said the meetings are appropriate at certain times while Shurtleff said his experience serving on a special committee analyzing the Right-to-Know law would help lead to better government.

Foy said the private meetings should be limited to personnel issues while Bagan agreed, saying the Council needs to restructure the way it has public discussions.

Tight budgets over the last few years have been on the minds of both constituents and elected officials. When asked what they would do to raise more revenue, Foy again brought up the issue of the city’s investment portfolio. He said he would also look for more grant funding, private dollars, and outside sources of revenue, but would also figure out how to balance all the requests for services.

“You can’t have everything,” he added.

Bagan said he would like to try and have a revenue-neutral budget although admitted that it was not possible in every situation. He said he would monitor changes in how the city takes care of trash, noting that fees would be going up. He would like to increase recycling and create single-source containers.

Coen said creation of a master plan and clean energy initiatives could bring savings while Shurtleff said he would like to increase the tax base by creating new business.

“You need to figure out needs and if there is money left over, you decide your wants,” he said. Catucci also seeks to increase the business sector tax base.

“We have a wonderful community,” she said. “We have areas set aside to develop. We need to open our eyes and see what we are doing.”

The autonomy of the Concord School Board has become an issue in recent months mostly in the wake of the revelation that the department has been buying up homes around Kimball Elementary School at market rate prices. This has led to the speculation that the elementary school reconfiguration is a done deal. At the same time, school taxes continue to increase, with little regulation or restraint, according to some.

Bagan called the question of Council oversight of the School Board “loaded” and since he had not studied the issue, would not answer one way or the other.

Coen noted that the issue seems to surface every 10 to 15 years and, most recently, was rejected by voters. He said he was “surprised” by the property acquisitions but hoped for better public participation by the board.

Shurtleff said he would support a charter change to eliminate the School Board’s autonomy since they control 65 percent of the budget. He said he was surprised the board had $2 million on hand to buy property. He suggested that the board’s overall budget should be approved by the Council.

Catucci called the question a tough one but one that should be watched. She noted that since the city takes care of the school fields, maybe the Council should review the school budget.

Foy agreed with Shurtleff, saying the School Board should be more accountable to the Council.

If history is any measure, Concord voters have not been kind to outsiders running citywide campaigns for councilor, despite the creative, new ideas they have forwarded in their campaigns.

In the special election last year to fill the remaining term of Councilor Jim McGonigle, who resigned in disgrace after being charged with theft, six candidates faced off for the seat. One of them, Democrat Party insider Matt Newland, received the endorsement of the Concord Monitor and a number of the city’s political players. But with 51 percent turnout, it was Coen who bested Newland—and the rest of the field—handily.

In November 2005, the city elections were very low-key, with no mayoral contest. Long-time Councilor Dr. Douglas Black had considered not running for reelection. Former Republican City Committee head Jeff Newman, a candidate in 2003, and long-time resident Kris MacNeil entered the race, along with a few newcomers. Later, Black decided to run again and Merrimack County Attorney Dan St. Hilaire also jumped in. Both of the better known names—Black and St. Hilaire—won the day, with a paltry 13.8 percent turnout.

Editor's Note: This is a corrected version of a previously published story.

Eight candidates vie for School Board seats

A few days before the deadline, it looked like there would not be enough candidates running for School Board. But despite the late start, eight different members of the community will vie for three School Board seats on Nov. 6.

The candidates are Laura Bonk, Megan DeVorsey, Tim Patoine, Jennifer Patterson, Frank Rosano, Ralph Willette, Eric Williams, and Rick Watrous. DeVorsey is the only incumbent, seeking a second term on the board. tried to reach as many candidates as possible before press time to give them the opportunity to talk about their races. We were able to reach four of the candidates. Four others either had unlisted or disconnected phone numbers, or no accessible email addresses or Web presence.

If those candidates respond before Election Day, voters can read their information online at

Megan DeVorsey

DeVorsey said she learned a lot in her first term and wanted to return to continue the work she already started.

She said she was committed to preserving the excellence of the school system. She said she would like future negotiations between teachers and the administration to run smoother than previous years. She believed that teachers and staff wanted that too.

DeVorsey approves of the reorganization plan for the community’s elementary schools and would like to continue to work on the plan. She said she would like to work on long-term planning to improve education opportunities for all students.

In the future, DeVorsey would like to make sure the district continues to emphasize wellness. There is now a wellness policy, she said, where both teachers and students consider things in terms of wellness. She said Concord High School was tracking its wellness program and attempting to improve communications with the Internet, between home and school.

Tim Patoine

Patoine said he was running because he believes that a School Board that is elected at-large may not always have the interests of the entire city at heart. He said it isn’t a fair way of electing board members. Over the last 20 years, he has noticed that the majority of the elected members reside in Wards 5, 6, and 7. A few wards have never been represented, he said.

Patoine said with many expensive issues on the horizon, it was more important now than it has ever been to make sure that the people elected to the school board represent the needs of the many and not just the wants of the few.

The candidate described himself as accessible, noting that he is a part-time school bus driver working for the school system now. This allows him

to be in contact with parents, teachers, administrators, and students on a daily basis, he said.

For the last 20 years, Patoine has owned and operated a mobile disc jockey business which puts him in front of the public at more than 150 functions a year, he said, which makes him more accessible than any other board member. He said he would not be a vote that is lost in a boardroom to lobbyists, pressure or agendas. Patoine has two children in the public school system, at Rundlett and Conant.

Frank Rosano

Rosano said the big issues people are talking about are the School Board purchasing property without a public hearing and the board not being accountable to the public or the taxpayers. Now that the cat is out of the bag, they are trying to make excuses, he said. Everyone is absolutely irate about the situation, he said. He wondered what the board would do if they didn’t use the property. Rosano guessed that the board would probably take a loss on the purchases.

If elected, Rosano said he would work to preserve neighborhood schools. He said people don’t want to close the schools because they like being able to walk their kids to school. It would be the wrong thing to do. With the new plan, elementary students will have to be bused around the community, which is expensive, he said. The time spent on buses could be better spent on other things.

Rosano questioned the need to replace the older schools saying, Concord has a tendency to just get rid of the history and charm and all that they have. The community is too quick to decide to destroy without even thinking about anything, he said. The plan needs more time and thought, but they’ve already made up their minds, he said, they are just going through the motions. It doesn’t matter that hundreds of people don’t want it. And that’s disgusting.

Rosano would also like the board to give more respect to the teachers. He thinks they work very hard and are not treated well. Rosano said the day after a new contract is signed, he thinks the board should start working on the next one. These people put their lives on the line these days to educate our kids, he said. I don’t think they are getting the respect they deserve.

Rick Watrous

Watrous said his number one priority if elected would be to do what is best for Concord’s children. He would work on deciding whether to refurbish or close some of the city’s neighborhood schools. He said he would work to improve communication with Concord’s citizens and increase public involvement in the district’s decisions.

Watrous said negotiating a new teacher contract that is a win/win scenario would be a priority. He said the board should be concentrating on providing children with an excellent education.

Watrous believes that more public involvement and accountability is needed. He said it is vital that school district governance be open and accountable to the Concord public so that citizens have a say and can determine whether their money is being spent wisely on behalf of the city’s children’s education.

Watrous has two children in the public schools. He has been a Concord resident for more than 20 years and is a public school graduate himself, with a BA in Communications and a MA in Writing. He works as a Media Literacy Educator developing elementary and middle school curricula. He is also an adjunct instructor, author, involved citizen and community volunteer.

Laura Bonk, Jennifer Patterson, Eric Williams, and Ralph Willette will also appear on the ballot.

Heights’ Ward 8 is lone district race ‘Mr. Community’ vies for seat against senior activist

While the municipal election action has been focused on the mayor’s race, and crowded Council and School Board races, shockingly, only one of the 10 district council seats is being contested in the city of Concord. The District 8 seat on the Heights is being vacated by Jim Rowe.

In that race, retired senior citizen activist Ray LaGasse will face off against former Concord Monitor Town Crier and police dispatcher Dick Patten.

Neither is a stranger to community service. Patten has been a Supervisor of Checklists, host of “Around Town” on both radio and cable access, and

a 55 year resident of the Heights. LaGasse is a former state employee and was a member of the New Hampshire Citizens Alliance.

In running for the seat, LaGasse said he would like to promote three specific issues: Doing something creative with the property tax, expanding business and the tax base in the city, and addressing traffic management.

If elected, Patten said he would listen to the concerns of the Heights, study the important issues facing the neighborhoods, and preserve emergency services.

During a recent forum, both candidates agreed that traffic was the most important issue facing the ward.

“We still have not resolved the issues of Loudon Road,” said LaGasse. “Even though Regional Drive was created, the problem still remains.”

Patten agreed.

“Traffic is horrendous,” he said. “It’s congested. It will be my number one priority.”

When asked about the Garvin Falls urban reserve, Patten said he would worry about expanded business traffic but would like to see more jobs created in the area. He also said he thought a new senior center in the area would be a good idea.

“It has a lot of potential if done right,” he said.

LaGasse said he would like to see the city’s master plan completed first and also more affordable housing built in the Garvin Falls area.

When asked about all the money the city was spending on independent studies, LaGasse said looking at the expenditures was overdue.

“We do need careful planning,” he said. “But, I don’t know if we need to replicate surveys.”

Patten wondered why, with so much talent already employed by the city, there was a need for so much outside consulting and studies.

According to the Concord Monitor, the three public safety unions endorsed Patten in the Ward 8 race. In an unusual move, they also requested voters in Ward 4 write-in at-large Council candidate Trisha Dionne against incumbent Dick Lemieux.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Back to School at Walker

Walker Elementary School students were back in their own classrooms recently after major repairs were finally finished at the school. The issue of whether or not Concord’s school system should consolidate its elementary schools have been a hot topic during the last two years, including this year’s school board race. One side believes that the historic schools should be preserved, with a more intimate neighborhood setting. The other side believes that larger, more modern schools are more conducive to learning and success, with resources more fairly and evenly distributed throughout the system.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Red River Theatres!

Red River Theatres, the indie cinema recently constructed in downtown Concord, is slated to open next week. The 2008 Leadership Greater Concord class took a tour of the facility earlier today [I was the facilitator for the class this month]. So, I took some pictures. Enjoy. It will be open next week:

Welcome! Here is the lobby of Concord's new indie theatre.

Here is the 48-seat theatre which will host local films, events, and meetings.

During the tour, projectionists were testing the projectors in the 106-seat theatre.

Here is the large 165-seat theatre.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Well, my car brakes work ...

Late last night, on my way home, I took the more residential ride home from the highway and almost struck a deer. It was fairly large with no antlers so it was probably female. However, it was pretty big, at least three-plus feet high.
I saw it out of the corner of my eye and thought I wasn't seeing what I was seeing until it was right in front of my windshield looking at me. Deer in the headlines is a literal term, BTW. I hit the brakes, everything in the car went flying around, but the sound scared the deer enough to move to the side where I just missed her by inches. Thankfully, I was only going about 5 miles an hour above the speed limit and was wearing my safety belt. Otherwise, my brand new Honda Civic would probably be junk scrap and I'd be in the hospital.
Hilariously, my first instinct was to reach for my digital camera to get a picture of the deer but it was tucked away in my computer bag which was lodged beneath the passenger seat. Ah, always the reporter.
Since I know what it is like being in a car which has hit a deer before - my father-in-law and I hit one in upstate New York in September 2005 - you can imagine that I was a bit freaked out. It shook me up, you know, life flashing before your eyes stuff. But I was glad to get in the house, a little less than a half a mile later, to sit down for a few minutes. That was a close one.
So, a warning to everyone in New Hampshire, the deer are out there, especially at night. Be a bit more cautious in your driving and you won't hit them ... and hopefully, they won't hit you either.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Concord activists sign on to Edwards campaign

The John Edwards campaign announced that the following Concord residents have signed on to become city and town chairmen and chairwomen for the campaign:
Ward 1: Cynthia Oullette, educator
Ward 2: Donald Taylor, activist
Ward 3: Christine Miller, mental health professional
Ward 4: Christopher Seufert, attorney
Ward 5: Rob Werner, city councilor
Ward 6: Suzanne Amidon, activist
Ward 7: Rep. Don Brueggerman, state rep., small business owner
Ward 8: Ray Lacasse, senior citizen activist
Ward 9: Barbara Kuhlman Brown, former School Board member
Ward 10: Bill Noelte, activist