Sunday, December 30, 2007


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."
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

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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.


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. 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


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 [], 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:], 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.