Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Lax, I know ...

It's snowing outside ... woo hoo!
I know, I've been lax at posting any red meat on OurConcord of late. But I promise I will soon. Early in the New Year, I'll have an update on the city's new "bag tax"... cough, cough, ahem ... I meant the pay as you throw [PAYT] proposal. And, BTW, still no answer to the question yet and no response at all from my city councilor about the idea. Is his power back on yet? I mean, come on ... :-) I hope to get the answers soon.
In addition, I'll have a piece on the great new renovations at White Park - renovations that I initially thought were a mistake. Well, after looking at what they have done so far, I've changed my mind [I can do that ya know!].
So stay tuned.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Page to Stage, Act IV comes to Audi Jan. 11

PAGE TO STAGE, a special theatre project fostering new works by New Hampshire authors, announces Londonderry resident Don Tongue will be the featured playwright at the series’ “Fourth Act” on Sunday, January 11, from 3-5pm at the Concord City Auditorium. The event is free and open to all as a Sunday afternoon salon with dramatic desserts.
Don Tongue will present staged readings of two new short plays, School Portrait Monologues and Void. In addition, his program will include a discussion of the development of his plays through workshops and an audience Q&A.
A prominent member of the state’s performing community, Don Tongue’s long list of credits includes roles with Ghostlight Theatre Company, Leddy Center, Music and Drama Company, Nashua Theatre Guild, Operafest, and Yellow Taxi Productions.
The new season-long Page to Stage series is co-hosted by The Friends of The Concord City Auditorium and The Community Players of Concord, NH, and supported by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. The project welcomes submissions of new and developing works for the stage, which will be considered for presentations ranging from readings to full productions. Playwrights wishing to take part in the P2S series are encouraged to contact Wayland Bunnell, President of the Community Players, at or 668-5466.
The first three P2S events included David John Preece’s adaptation of Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables, Andre Tremblay’s original one-act comedies, Twenty Pages and Vinnie Comes Knocking, and Joel Mercier’s A Christmas Carol: The Musical Ghost Story, retold in the style of Dickens’ period.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Rhythm of the Night to rock Audi Jan. 17

So you think you can dance? Concord knows it can dance. New Hampshire’s “Dancing Town” has been on its toes, and its toe-ball-heels, since Baryshnikov wore booties! Just one night a year, the capital area’s best dancers show us why dance has become the country’s new pick-me-up, new all-ages sport, and TV ratings topper
On Saturday, January 17, at 7pm, the capital area’s Prima Dancers step into the spotlights of Concord City Auditorium to present the 18th annual dance extravaganza called the “Rhythm of the Night”.
The 2009 show promises to be the biggest and brightest community dance show in the state, with nearly 200 performers. Director Lisa Drouin Goff of Turning Pointe Center of Dance in Pembroke and Producer David Murdo of Concord have organized a festive 90-minute family show of 23 acts. “Perhaps we might better call it Rhythms of the Night,” said David Murdo, reviewing the performances ranging from classical ballet and jazz to tap, hip hop, and production numbers.
Featured dance schools include Capital City Dance Center, Concord Dance Academy, Creative Dance Workshop of Bow, Dancesteps Etc., Gen’s Dance Studio, New Hampshire School of Ballet, Rockin’ Robin’s School of Dance, and Turning Pointe Center of Dance.
The eight dance schools and their directors – Sabrina Adair, Cindy Flanagan, Lisa Drouin Goff, Joan Kelly, Bridget Boucher LeCompte, Pamela “PJ” White, Jennifer Rienert, and Gen Woodward -- are an important part of The Friends of The Audi.
The dance companies’ several thousand students all appear on the Audi stage during the regular season in individual programs ranging from the GALA season opener to special holiday performances to year-end recitals. With specialties ranging from classical ballet to hip hop, their competition teams have won national honors.
On January 17, they will all dance together in one thrilling performance to benefit The Fund for The Audi, an endowment established in 2004 on the historic theatre’s 100th Anniversary to celebrate its past and assure its future. All proceeds are earmarked for the Audi’s next planned upgrade of the pinrail and flyspace, which will benefit every show.
“Rhythm of the Night”, a fun-filled way for families to start the New Year on the right foot, is a special gift to Concord audiences, for tickets are just $6 at Ballard’s Novelty and Party Shop, 7 Broadway in Concord.
The show will last one and one-half hours with one intermission and be suitable for all ages. Information and ticket reservations are available from Producer David Murdo at 225-7474 or email to

Sunday, December 21, 2008

How long does it take for two city councilors and the mayor to answer a simple question about pay as you throw?

Like, forever, it seems ...
I'm on a short vacation right now. But before I left, I read the column offered by City Councilor Keith Nyhan in the Concord Monitor advocating a pay as you throw program on Tuesday: ["Raising recycling rates will save taxpayers money"].

After reading the column, I sent an email to Nyhan, my own ward councilor, Rob Werner, and Mayor Jim Bouley. In it I stated that I would like one question answered before I addressed my concerns about the program to the council directly [I won't be able to attend either hearing on the matter, due to work conflicts].
To start, I was under the impression that there would be a one or two bag exemption in the program but I didn't read about this in Nyhan's column. In other words, residents would only have to pay for the second or third trash bag they used, not every single one. So, I asked, Will there be an exemption or not? Nyhan's piece insinuates that everyone will have to pay for the trash bags, with no exemption at all.
Well, it's been almost a week and none of them have responded to the question or the email.
Now, I'm not surprised Nyhan didn't respond. He is notorious for not responding to emails from residents who are not his constituents, as if corresponding with us is beneath him or he doesn't have to do it. Historically, ward councilors have always responded to everyone in the city, since issues often cross over wards. Certainly his column and this plan crosses over wards. My question deserved a response from him.
Werner usually responds with an offer to talk on the phone but there was nothing for him. As my ward representative, I was owed a response.
Bouley usually just calls. But this time? Nothing, nada, silence ... from all three. It really makes you wonder ...
So, one has to ask: What are they so afraid of? Why can't a simple question be answered via email ... Here's how easy it is: "Yeah Tony, sorry, it should have said two bag exemption ..." "No Tony, the plan doesn't include an exemption ..." Wow, that was easy ... especially when you consider that they are going to start charging everyone for their trash ... something the tax bill has always historically addressed.
Question: Does anyone out there know an answer to the question? Can you let me know before, I don't know, say, Christmas?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More on that meeting ...

It turns out, according to an inside source, that the school board breakfast meeting was canceled due to questions about whether or not it would be a violation of the state's open meeting law. Hats off to those who tried to keep our government open and honest.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Breakfast meeting between school board, councilors, and legislators canceled

A breakfast meeting tentatively scheduled for tomorrow between Concord school board members, city councilors, and members of the Legislature, was abruptly canceled today after at least one resident raised the issue of whether or not the meeting would be a violation of New Hampshire's Open Meeting Law.
The breakfast meeting was scheduled at the request of school officials a couple of weeks ago, after representatives filed a number of bills which would affect the board. The bills include a change in the way the board is elected, separating them into districts instead of at-large candidates and a bill to put any bonds over $5 million on the ballot, to be approved or rejected by voters via citywide referendum.
It was rumored that public policy would be discussed at the breakfast but it was unknown whether a quorum of the board or council would be in attendance. All meetings involving elected boards where a quorum is present must be open to the public unless they discuss sensitive negotiations, litigation, or personnel records, according to the Open Meeting Law.
When a member of the community inquired to school administration about the breakfast, he was reportedly told it was an "invitation-only" event. The community member then mentioned the Open Meeting Law and said that if a quorum was present and the public was not allowed to attend, it might be against the law. The school employee stated that she didn't know if that was accurate and didn't know if there would be a quorum present. The community member said he wasn't objecting to the meeting but he thought it should not be a means to discuss public policy.
Earlier this evening, a legislator confirmed that the meeting had been canceled indefinitely, with no reason given.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

B&GC raise $70K

At its auction Saturday, the Boys and Girls Club of Concord raised more than $70K, according to the group's site. I totally missed the auction this year. Usually, there are signs around town and notices, letting people know it is going on. But not this year. Oh well. Doesn't matter. They raise a ton of dough without my dough. Better luck next year.

November trumps September ...

I should have mentioned this a few days ago but I spaced it: November here at was the biggest month yet for visits and page views, up slightly [about 10 percent] over September. Thanks so much everyone for reading and commenting!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pride, Heckman at Gibson's Thursday

We Went to War, by Mike Pride & Meg Heckman
December 11, 7 PM
In "We Went to War," men and women from New Hampshire remember how World War II transformed — and often threatened — their lives. More than six decades later, they tell their own stories in words that are often poignant, sometimes tragic, and always human.
Two veterans depicted in the book will be here, too! Please join us to meet Robert S. Wood of Havenwood, and Olga Currier, the former Marine who used to work at Gibson's!

The story of World War II is really millions of stories. It is the story of people all around the globe who lived and died in a spasm of violence like no other before it. Most of those people are gone now, silent in their graves.

In 2007, Meg Heckman and Mike Pride of the Concord Monitor set out to find members of the World War II generation still living in New Hampshire 62 years after the war ended. "We Went to War" compiles the stories the two writers collected and adds several chapters.

In these pages you’ll read about bomber crew members shot down and captured, infantrymen who survived beach landings, sailors who saw an American carrier go down with terrible loss of life. You’ll meet men whose wounds still pain them, a daughter who lost her father to a sniper’s bullet in France, nurses who comforted the wounded. And you’ll get a picture of how the war changed life on the home front. These oral histories touch on the well-known—the Bataan Death March, D-Day, the Japanese surrender — but here you’ll also read about an escape through China, a flight with Jimmy Stewart’s tailgunner, and a drive on the Red Ball Express to supply Patton’s army. You’ll witness the courage of a generation shocked into a worldwide catastrophe. You’ll understand how global the conflict was and how arbitrarily it changed — and ended—lives.

Although some of the women and men interviewed for We Went to War recall the gung-ho spirit of the time, they do not candy-coat their experiences. The war was about death and mutilation. This generation’s “job,” as its members saw it, was to do their part and come safely home.

And one other thing: to remember, no matter how much they wanted to forget.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Endowment for Health Elects Three New Board Members

The Endowment for Health, New Hampshire's largest health foundation, has elected three new members to its Board of Directors who bring a wealth of nonprofit, business and government experience to the foundation.

Joining the Endowment for Health Board are:

Margaret Franckhauser, Executive Director of Community Health & Hospice, Inc, a home care, hospice and community service agency in Laconia. Ms. Franckhauser resides in Meredith.

Frederick W. King Sr., Coos County Treasurer, former State Senator and long-time business owner. Mr. King resides in Colebrook.

Sandra Pelletier, CEO and President of Gateways Community Services, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization based in Nashua, NH with a focus on services to children and adults with disabilities. Ms. Pelletier resides in Amherst.

"We are pleased to welcome these leaders to our Board of Directors," said Dr James W. Squires, president of the Endowment for Health. "Their expertise and service to our state make them invaluable advisors to the Endowment as we work to improve the health of the people of New Hampshire."

For full bios on Endowment for Health Board, Staff and Advisory Council are available online at

The Endowment for Health was established in 1999. Since 2001, the Endowment has awarded nearly 621 grants totaling more than $27 million to support a wide range of health-related programs and projects in New Hampshire. For more information about proposal guidelines and funding priorities for the 2009 program year, visit

More news from Gibson's

Yes, books are great holiday gifts:
It's a great holiday season for books. Below are a few of our gift suggestions. With our new website design, you can view them online and reserve them for store pickup. Please let us know any suggestions you might have, too!
While we're talking about gifts, we'd also like to recommend a new service made possible by the American Booksellers Association. Indiebound (formerly Booksense) is providing a way for you to generate your own wish list of books and to see the wish lists of friends and family. You can specify at what bookstore you'd like them to shop, and you can find great independent bookstores where they live as well. Check it out!
Here are some of our recommendations for this holiday season:
1) The Given Day, by Dennis Lehane. To our minds, Moby Dick is still The Great American Novel. But Lehane has given us The Great Boston Novel, and that's saying something. The opening chapter, featuring none other than the young Babe Ruth, is a tour de force. But it's the purely invented characters that we remember the best, especially the young hero, Danny Coughlin, the willful scion of an old Boston police family.
2) Hallelujah Junction, by John Adams. You have to know a bit about classical music to truly appreciate this warm and engaging memoir. But if anyone on your list is a music buff, please try this book out on them. From Mozart to the big band era on Lake Winnepesaukee, from Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles to Steve Reich and Phillip Glass, this book describes the love of music better than any book I can recall. By the composer of Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, and other modern classics.
John Adams, who grew up in East Concord and attended Concord High School, won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2003.
3) For young adults, The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Far and away the best YA novel of the season, this futuristic tale combines the best of Harry Potter-style fantasy and characterization with the worst excesses of today's reality-show culture. And it's the first of a series, so the kids will be left wanting more.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Midnight Merriment

It's Midnight Merriment tomorrow night. Here's what Gibson's Bookstore has in store, no pun intended:
Midnight Merriment, Main Street Concord’s official kick-off of the winter holiday season, will take place Friday, December 5, 2008 from 5:00 p.m. until midnight in downtown Concord. We always dress up and have a great time. All bargain books will be 25% off on this day....

The event offers shoppers the opportunity to purchase holiday gifts from downtown’s many unique, locally owned businesses. Sparkling white lights, beautiful windows and old-fashioned warm hospitality will highlight the event. Other activities include horse-drawn hay wagon rides, holiday carolers and, of course, Santa Claus.

Support your downtown! And your local independent bookstore!

'House on Christmas Street'

For all you fans of Judy Pancoast, here's a lil Christmas card/diddy from here that you might enjoy: "House on Christmas Street".

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

All kinds of things going on at the Audi ...



Beginning with a note of Thanksgiving…

Your City Auditorium is grateful for all your care and participation this season…from the Pitch In and Gala to the upcoming holiday shows, from onstage performers to behind-the-scenes helpers – grips, ushers, mailers, cleaners, “cookie bakers”…Everyone!

Your AUDI thanks you for your volunteer service and for the gifts of time and talent which keep our theatre affordable and accessible to everyone. These days, it counts. THANK YOU ALL! THANK ONE ANOTHER!



starts promptly at 8am at Public Properties, 125 Hall Street. Mark your calendars!

Information: please call Nina Piroso, 230-3851

And in the meantime, come enjoy these special holiday events –

all affordable family entertainment…and great gift ideas:

*Saturday, December 6, 1pm and 6pm Concord Dance Academy’s third annual

and Sunday, December 7, 1pm -- HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR. Tix 226-0200

This spectacular show provides a special donation to The Friends of the Audi!

*Sunday, December 7, 6pm – Friends of the Audi HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE

Short 1/4ly meeting, True Pot Luck Supper, and a special entertainment:

Joel Mercier introduces his new adaptation of Dickens’ “ Christmas Carol”.

*Saturday, December 13, 2pm – Turning Pointe Center of Dance presents

its annual performance of THE NUTCRACKER BALLET. Tix 485-8710

*Sunday, December 14, 3pm – Granite State Symphony Orchestra


*Saturday, December 20, 1pm – New Hampshire School of Ballet presents

its annual performance of THE NUTCRACKER SUITE. Tix 668-5330

And save January 17 for THE RHYTHM OF THE NIGHT

“The Rhythm” rocks the AUDI for the 17th year, as eight area dance companies appear in a showcase directed by Lisa Drouin Goff of Turning Pointe Center of Dance. Tickets, just $6, make great presents. For early reservations, please contact Producer David Murdo at 225-7474 or email

A special gift: This wonderful dance show is a benefit for the AUDI Fly Space project!

Schedule Updates - good news and not-so-good news:

GOOD: The Fly Space project is starting to take shape, and a proposal will be ready for discussion and a vote at the December 7 meeting.

NOT SO GOOD: After much consideration, the Actorsingers will not be able to present “The Producers” at the AUDI next June. Currently Plan B is being considered and we hope to have another production in the time slot.

Here are some gifts for our Audi presenters:

DONATION NETWORKS – Available to Non-Profit and School Organizations:

Upgrade your computers now! Technical Specs: HP or Compaq Desktops, Pentium 4, RAM 512GB, HDD 40GB, CD/DVD, 6 USB ports, Windows XP Pro, MS Office 2003.

Keyboard, mouse, cords. Fee: $135 per system. Interested? Phone 624-6102.

Visit or hit REPLY for further info.

Donation Networks also offers free Dell printers as well as office and school supplies.

Important New Audi Upgrades:

INTERNET ACCESS! The Community Players of Concord are pleased to announce that we now have internet access in the Audi Box Office. It is an added benefit for presenters who use some form of online ticketing. Access will be managed by the Players. For more info contact CPC President Wayland Bunnell, 668-5466 or

GIFTS TO THE HOUSE: The Audi has a new refrigerator, kindness of K.J. Helms – and with the assistance of Carl Bragdon of Cole’s Appliance and Jeff Hoadley and the Public Properties staff, and a sewing machine with cabinet, kindness of Erika and Vincent Flewelling. All-Brite Cleaning and Restoration generously steam-cleaned the carpets in the lobbies – an annual gift to the Auditorium. We thank them all!!

Publicity and PR Opportunities for All Presenters:

*Concord’s Downtown Merchants Roundtable has announced a new promotion –

“Thursdays…a night on the town”. Want to discuss co-op promotion? Contact Donna Nordlund at Bead It! Phone 223-0146 or email

*Welcome Neighbor USA –If you are interested in reaching New Homeowners in Concord and surrounding towns with information about your organization, contact Terry Zehr at 445-2353 or

*“What’s Happening at the Audi” on Concord TV is an extraordinary opportunity to have news of your activities displayed week by week on Channel 22. David Murdo has volunteered his services as producer and host for over five years. He would appreciate help with tapings on two Wednesday nights a month from 7-9pm. Working behind the scenes on a TV show is like working backstage in a theatre. You get a whole new view and appreciation of A&E. Please contact David Murdo, 225-7474, if you can help...

NEEDED: The loan of a 16mm Projector for short term (and very careful use) reviewing old Concord films. Please contact Merwyn Bagan, 224-1036 or

APPRECIATED: The “cookie bakers” who provide and serve intermission refreshments. Hospitality Chair Allwynne Fine and her committee have just completed a very successful fall season, and would welcome everyone willing to share a “batch” or serve a show this winter. Please contact her at 225-6497 or


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fez-tival of Trees 2008

Here's some video from the Bektash Temple's 2008 Fez-tival of Trees:

Children's authors, illustrators hold open house Tuesday

From Gibson's Bookstore:
Granite State Reading Council at the Cat 'n' Fiddle
December 2, 2008
Author/ Illustrator Holiday Open House Tuesday, December 2 from 4-8pm, at the Cat ‘n Fiddle Restaurant in Concord, NH.--to benefit literacy.

The Granite State Reading Council of the International Reading Association is holding an Author/ Illustrator Holiday Open House Tuesday, December 2 from 4-8pm, at the Cat ‘n Fiddle Restaurant in Concord, NH. (Sales by cash or check only.)

Thirty-five of our favorite children's authors and illustrators--including Jenny Ericsson, Marty Kelley, Maryann Cocca-Leffler, True Kelley, and many others-- will be participating in this opportunity to purchase great children's books for the holidays.
Along with numerous books for all ages, an art show and sale will include original works of art from such famous children’s book illustrators as Rosemary Wells, Hans Wilhelm, Ed Emberley and others.

A fee of $10 includes light refreshments, cash bar, free gift wrapping, and an opportunity to enter a silent auction. Contact Donna Ciocca: for questions or go to

Friday, November 28, 2008

More study needed on elementary school consolidation plan

Two versions of this column were submitted to the Concord Monitor this morning.
On Monday night, the Concord Board of Education will be voting on a plan to consolidate four of our elementary schools into two. But they are doing so after a very flawed and limited process, and should delay action until more information can be analyzed.
I was involved in the first “community” task force focusing on education. I agreed to participate because, as a parent of young children, I am concerned about the public school system.
At the first meetings though, I was surprised by the lack of community members present. Almost half were school board members, administrators, or other elected officials. Sorely missing from the process were parents of young children. I was also struck by the strange role playing exercises which had us thinking about imaginary schools and watching online videos pontificating about the “fact” that children entering the school system today will be performing jobs that haven’t even been invented yet. This struck me as odd since we really don’t know what the future holds. As well, if this were the case, why are we planning to spend tens of millions of dollars on schools that will soon be obsolete? After the initial meetings, a few of us were completely taken out of the loop, even though we continued to request information about future meeting dates and times. The next thing you know, a report had been issued about the education guidelines.
After this experience, I decided that my time was better spent not participating in the task “farce” process despite the importance of this issue to my family. Watching from the sidelines was the best decision since much of what many of the community members have had to say about this has been completely ignored. It is clear from all the data, number-crunching, documents, and emails back and forth, that this school board has been led in the wrong direction, to a preconceived outcome they had already voted to approve.
School officials are ignoring projected population increases and future enrollment data which all points to a boom in population growth for Concord during the next 12 to 20 years. In my neighborhood alone, which is on the Walker/Kimball district line, there have been many new houses built, all filled with young children, children that were mysteriously missing from the enrollment data maps presented by the administration at one of the meetings [our firstborn wasn’t even on the map and we’ve been here for years].
In looking at the financial projections, it is clear that they fudged the renovation numbers by low-balling capacity at Walker and Rumford in order to make the consolidation plan look less expensive even though it isn’t. When proper capacity numbers are injected into the data, renovating the schools is more affordable than consolidation.
Then there is the historic importance of the buildings, the fact that existing buildings are actually “greener” than new buildings, and the need to do what is best for our children. While everyone loves to build new buildings, renovating old ones is more cost effective and yields less construction debris and waste. As well, every study that I have seen shows smaller schools to be the best learning environments. When it comes to educational excellence, bigger is not better.
This decision is a 50-year decision which will have great impact on our community and families. Simply put, this plan will bankrupt our city while at the same time warehousing our children into schools that will be too big. Many of us who were born, raised, and educated here, decided to have and raise children here because the school system is intimate and relatively affordable. Let’s not change that.
With the economy in a tailspin and Wall Street and the bond market in tatters, now is not the time to implement this flawed plan. Instead, the school board on Monday should delay action until the four new school board members can be seated in January 2009. After that, this new board should continue to collect more data and study the issue, not by using manipulative tactics which lead to a certain conclusion, but by actually reaching out to the parents of the children our school system serves.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Audi holiday party!

The Friends of The Audi invite you and your guests to join the festivities at the Annual Holiday Open House, Sunday, Dec. 7, in the Reception Lobby

Starting at 6pm: A short quarterly meeting and the Audi’s “Famous Punch”
and then enjoy A TRUE POT LUCK SUPPER topped off with desserts and A Very Special Entertainment:

A CHRISTMAS CAROL: THE MUSICAL GHOST STORY, Book, Music, and Lyrics by Joel Mercier ~ Based on the Charles Dickens Classic, PRESENTED BY JOEL MERCIER AND COMPANY

A CHRISTMAS CAROL: THE MUSICAL GHOST STORY is an intriguing new adaptation that adds a modern touch to the well-known story. Dickens’ traditional characters, exciting new songs, and some frightful ghosts make this new version a fun and surprising retelling of the famous holiday Ghost Story.

JOEL MERCIER, a professional musician and Equity actor, has credits ranging from nationally recognized theatres, summer stock, and national tours to our Audi, where he was Music Director of the Community Players’ The Secret Garden and will return next Spring for The Full Monty. Preview his talents on YouTube!

Joel’s appearance at our Holiday Open House follows in the spirit of this year’s Page to Stage series introducing new theatre works. With guest singers, he will offer a program of beautiful music, giving an early glimpse of his developing show.

RSVPs appreciated. Contact David Murdo, 225-7474 or email

Monday, November 24, 2008

Something I've been meaning to do ...

but just haven't had the chance: Look at the city's recycling issues. Thankfully, Chelsea Conaboy over at the Concord Monitor, already did it yesterday: ["Simply the best"].
There are some interesting comments on the Web site too. A few mention the need for weekly recycling pick up. I would agree with that 100 percent. As well, if the city goes to PAYT - pay as you throw - and basically levies a new tax on every extra garbage bag you use over a certain number per week, there needs to be some sort of other changes, like weekly recycling pick up, in order to make sure the increase occurs. Otherwise, it is just another tax.

Friday, November 21, 2008

How low can it go?

How low can you go ... How low can you go ... Born to hand jive baby! Gas: $1.85 at the Irving on North Main Street. Down seven cents in less than three days. How low can it go?

UL spanks Concord ...

... in an editorial today: ["Concord's claim: We can't control spending!"]. I too am disappointed in not only our city leaders but its legal "representation." This kind of obstructionist nonsense is annoying and outrageous. What are they so afraid of? Let the voters decide already.
And, there are things the city can cut. There are the three new employees who were hired at the cable media access center less than two years ago. There is one of the existing full-time employees who currently has two other jobs, meaning she probably isn't putting in a full-time week even though she is getting a full-time salary, benefits, and a retirement bonus. There is the silly van they bought. What a waste of thousands and thousands of dollars. There are city departments that are overstaffed when compared to comparable staffing in other communities. There are the TIF giveaways that are costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars. Like the one for the parking garage ... which stands vacant. The fact that city officials say they can't live with 4 percent tax increases is incorrigible. Come on. It's not that hard.
Start with zero-based budgeting and work your way up to what you have. You can get to within a 4 percent increase. The problem is that they refuse to make the hard choices.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rep. Shurtleff's School Board plan

I got a bit more information about Rep. Steve Shurtleff's proposal for reformatting School Board elections. While the bill has not been drafted yet, Shurtleff proposes changing the election process from the current nine at-large candidates running for 3-year terms every three years, to three candidates running from three separate districts, one per year. The districts would be the same as the state Rep. candidates. Each year, one person would be elected from each of the three districts for three years.
I don't have a firm position on whether I support this or not but I will say that I think it is good to discuss and analyze the pros and cons.
The largest criticism of the proposal - that each board member would only worry about the schools in their district - is relatively insignificant due to the fact that we have a city-wide middle and high school and the districts would overlap elementary school districts. If you look at District 12, students go to Walker, Kimball, Conant and Rumford. Does anyone really think that somehow the school board members from District 12 aren't going to care just as much about those schools as Eastman or Beaver Meadow?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Holiday shows at the Audi ...

News from the Concord City Auditorium:


Community Players of Concord: The Secret Garden, Nov. 20-21-22, 8pm, Nov. 23 2pm 224-4905; 228-2793

Strathspey & Reel Society of NH: Gala Scottish Concert, Nov. 30, 2:30p, 437-3497

Concord Dance Academy: Holiday Spectacular, Dec. 6, 1pm & 6:30pm; Dec. 7, 1pm, 226-0200

Friends Holiday Open House: Pot Luck Supper & entertainment, Dec. 7, 6pm, 225-7474

Turning Pointe Center of Dance: The Nutcracker, Dec. 13, 2pm, 485-8710

Granite State Symphony Orchestra: Holiday Pops Concert, Dec. 14, 3pm, 226-4776

New Hampshire School of Ballet: The Nutcracker Suite, Dec. 20, 1pm, 668-5330

Please Share the Season’s Blessings. Bring non-perishable food items for The Friendly Kitchen (Collection boxes in the lobby)
Info: Friends of the Audi, 225-7474

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gas prices: $2.09!

Gas was down to $2.09 at the Irving on North State Street. I don't think we've seen these kinds of prices since before Katrina. Amazing. And what is so interesting about all of this is the fact that the dive in the price of gas is due to conservation and a glut of oil. In other words, there is a flip side to supply and demand - if you stop demanding, there will be supply.
While the larger effects of the economic collapse are not yet known and we are nowhere near the breadlines and horrific times of the past, we are all learning very valuable lessons about what is important and why. I'm just hoping that we will all be able to make it through relatively unscathed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Oops! Check out Page A9 of the Monitor this morning

This morning, I was flipping through the print edition of the Monitor and got to the editorial page. I scanned the first page of letters and then, flipped to the second page.
As I was skimming the letters, I thought I was having a deja vu, since some of the letters looked familiar to me. Well, it turns out, it's Monday's A9 page on Tuesday. Yup, the same exact page, including the half page ad from Editor Felice Belman's dad about their 2008 election bet.
A simple mistake? Sure, it happens. But, it was a bit glaring. I bet everyone is talking about this today around the water cooler ... do people still do that these days?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Tax cap update ... debunking the Sununu turnout theory?

In the wake of the political shift to the center/left and modest gains by Democrats across our state, it is important to look at how the tax cap fared in those cities that were bold enough to allow it on the ballot. The Union Leader has a story here from Thursday: ["Tax cap: Rochester, yes; Somersworth, no"]. One big win, one big loss.

Now granted, it was a big Democratic year and very high turnout in most places. While it wasn't the tsunami of '06, it was a solid repudiation of the current Republican Party and some of the questionable activities and decisions of its elected members. What is interesting here though is that the results of these two cities seem to debunk two theories forwarded by anti-tax cappers and Democrats: 1) That the tax cap was all about building turnout momentum for incumbent Sen. John Sununu this cycle, and 2) That liberals and moderates would not vote to limit their property taxes to a reasonable amount - the rate of inflation - because it could result in cuts in municipal services.

The stronger of the two cases can be made in Rochester. With about 80 percent turnout, voters overwhelmingly approved the tax cap by more than 5,500 votes. But then, they decided to vote for Jeanne Shaheen over Sununu by almost 1,700 votes [7,808 to 6,117]. Over in Somersworth, the dynamic was slightly different: The tax cap lost by 832 votes but Sununu lost by nearly 1,400 votes, with 65 percent turnout. If the theory about the tax cap being all about boosting Sununu's numbers was correct, his numbers should have been closer to the tax cap numbers. But the tax ballot initiative in both cities did absolutely nothing to assist Sununu in any way, shape or form. This could easily lead to a questioning of the theory altogether.

One might also question the assumption that liberals and moderates voted for the tax cap, especially when looking at the Somersworth numbers. However, it doesn't seem to be the case in Rochester.

In July 2008, the Supervisor of Checklists in Rochester issued a report to the city council there on voter registration. It broke down this way: Total voters: 17,771; Democrats: 6,297 [35 percent]; Undeclared: 5,991 [34 percent]; Republicans: 5,483 [31 percent]. There were probably voters who registered the day of the election but we don't know the exact numbers or if they would change this dynamic [in Somersworth, 884 people registered the day of, or almost 16 percent of the total votes cast, a shockingly high number]. Rochester, with an almost three-way split of constituencies, voted for a tax cap by more than a two-to-one margin. While we don't know the exact number of each side that voted - that would take deeper analysis and a public records request to look at all the ballots - it is clear that there was crossover, with liberals and moderates voting for the tax cap.

In Somersworth, the turnout was lower, with 7 percent of voters not casting ballots for the tax cap at all [Huh?]. Admittedly, a Google search of voter registration breakdown of the city yielded no tangible results [does anyone know where I can find them without bugging the clerk?]. You really need to see those numbers to get a better idea of whether the theory of crossover works here. However, when compared to votes cast in the other races, you can see some minor crossover. Obama and Nader received almost 3,400 votes combined in Somersworth; Gov. Lynch received almost 4,100 votes; Shaheen received almost 3,300 votes; and Carol Shea Porter received almost 3,300 votes. Yet only 2,945 people voted against the tax cap. So, hundreds of people casting votes for Democrats [or Nader] did not vote against the tax cap.
McCain and the conservative indie candidates received 2,072 votes; Republican Joe Kenney and Libertarian Susan Newell received 1,183 votes in the governor's race; Sununu and Libertarian Ken Blevens received 2,046 votes; Jeb Bradley and Robert Kingsbury received a combined 1,976 votes for Congress. The Yes side of the tax cap there received 2,113 votes. So, some Yes voters cast votes for Democrats. These numbers are much closer in line to the theory that conservative turnout assisted the Yes side of the tax cap. But with a full 7 percent of voters not even casting a ballot and a decent amount of difference between the No votes and Democratic candidates, one can safely speculate that liberals and moderates voted for the tax cap in Somersworth.

So what does the future hold for Concord as far as the tax cap? No one really knows but you can make some guesses.
The initiative should be on the 2009 city ballot. And it will actually have a better chance of passing than it ever would have had in 2008, considering the massive turnout for Democrats in the city. In holding the referendum, and thwarting the will of the people who signed the petition to get it on the ballot, the city council seems to have made a huge blunder.
Since 2009 is not a federal election, the turnout will be much lower - 13 to 17 percent vs. the 76 percent 2008 turnout. Essentially, it means that tax cap folks will only have to garner one vote over 2,000 to 2,750, about the middle of a usually 4,000 to 5,500 municipal election turnout, in order to win. Compare this to the 11,000-plus-1 vote they would have needed in 2008. McCain and Libertarians Barr and Phillies didn't receive 7,700 votes; Kenny and Newell didn't break 3,300; Sununu and Blevens barely broke 8,300; Horn and Lapointe barely broke 7,200 ... in other words, the tax cap probably would have failed in 2008. Some will make the case that since it passed in Rochester in 2008, it could have passed here. But Concord is a much more liberal city.

The argument over the tax cap will get heated. A great deal of misinformation will be floated - or, at the very least, an overstatement of the "cuts" - in an effort to not limit property tax increases to the rate of inflation. However, it is in the best interest of renters, working class families, and others struggling to make ends meet in Concord, especially in light of the current economic conditions, as well as much needed frugality on the city level, to give the tax cap consideration.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pride, Heckman to talk war stories Nov. 23

From the New Hampshire Historical Society:
Meg Heckman and Mike Pride, authors of the new book We Went to War: New Hampshire Remembers, will share the stories of New Hampshire people who fought and witnessed World War II in a lecture on Sunday, November 23, at 2 p.m., at the New Hampshire Historical Society's library, 30 Park Street, Concord.

In 2007–08, Heckman and Pride interviewed dozens of New Hampshire people from the World War II generation, and these tales of heroism, violence, love, and duty ran in the pages of the Concord Monitor. We Went to War includes the best of these stories, plus some never before published.

Heckman has been honored as New Hampshire writer of the year and New England reporter of the year. Pride is a journalist and historian who served as editor of the Concord Monitor for 25 years. He is co-author of My Brave Boys, a history of the Fifth New Hampshire Regiment in the Civil War, and co-editor of The New Hampshire Century.

The lecture is free for New Hampshire Historical Society members and $5 for non-members. For more information, call 603-228-6688.

Founded in 1823, the New Hampshire Historical Society is the independent nonprofit that saves, preserves, and shares New Hampshire history. The Society serves thousands of children and adults each year through its museum, library, educational programs, publications, and outreach programs. For more information about the Society and the benefits of membership, visit or call 603-228-6688.

Liz Hager write-in totals not quite, well, right

Liz Hager write-in totals seem to be all over the map at this point.
According to the Secretary of State's office and the Concord Monitor, Hager received 409 write-in votes. However, the SOS's office reports no write-in votes in Ward 7, something that is very suspicious.
According to my sources who were at the Ward 7 poll when the vote totals were printed out, there were 188 total write-ins for the District 12 race. Most people at the polling place assumed they were for Hager. There might be a few loose ones for Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck. But it is safe to assume that the bulk of the votes went to Hager. And yet, there are no votes in the Ward for her. Very weird.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Glahn, MacKay ousted from seats

With more than 76 percent of eligible Concord voters voting, incumbent School Board candidate Bill Glahn was ousted from the board today by three newcomers including two who do not have long ties to the community.
Jack Dunn, Kevin Fleming, and Eric Williams were elected to the 3-year seats on the board by solid margins, according to unofficial election returns posted by the city clerk. Clint Cogswell easily won the 1-year seat.
Dunn, who has lived in the city for about a year, received 7,086 votes. Fleming, who moved to Concord three years ago, came in at 6,715, and Williams came in at 6,480. Glahn came in fourth with 5912. Paul Halvorsen received 5698 and Eric Weiner earned 5587.
Glahn did win Ward 5 but was way behind the others around the city. Dunn won Wards 2 and 6 with Fleming taking 1, 8, and 9. Williams won Ward 3 and 10. Dunn and Williams tied for first in Ward 4. Halvorsen won his home Ward 7 where he was once a city councilor.
Williams sent out an email to supporters early this morning thanking them for all their hard work.
"With four new board members, we have a chance to make positive changes on the school board," he wrote. "I will do my best on the board, and will continue to seek your counsel over the next three years"
Both Dunn and Williams were active at polling locations around the city with Williams talking to voters at Ward 5 and Dunn supporters wearing bright red T-shirts while handing out an extensive double-sided leaflet which talked about all kinds of different ideas the candidate wanted to implement on the board level. Glahn, Weiner, Williams, and Cogswell all had signs around town. Weiner also received the endorsement of outgoing board member Betty Hoadley.
Unlike last year, the Concord Monitor's endorsement didn't seem to help out Glahn or Halvorsen like it did unknowns like Laura Bonk. That could be because of the low turnout in the 2007 city elections.

Republican MacKay loses Rep. seat
In District 11 [Wards 4, 8, 9, and 10], incumbent and long-time activist Rep. Jim McKay, a Republican, lost his seat. MacKay received 3,475 votes, less than 200 votes shy of a squeaked out fifth place finish. Newcomer and Democrat Michael Barlett [3,659] will join incumbent Democrats Rep. Tara Reardon, Rep. Candace Bouchard, Rep. Bob Williams, and Rep. John DeJoie. Republican candidates Lynne Ferrari Blankenbeker [2,701], Elizabeth Cheney [2,599], Jeff Newman [2,243], and Margaret Carnahan [2,110] rounded out the field.

Dems sweep District 12
In District 12 [Wards 5, 6, and 7], Democrats swept all four seats. Incumbent Rep. Mary Jane Wallner led the pack with 3,663 votes. Long-time Democratic activist Chip Rice came in second with 3,475. Rep. Jessie Osborne received 3,305 votes and challenger Rick Watrous rounded out the pack with 3,005 votes.
Republican John Kalb received 1,916 votes. No official results are available from the Liz Hager write-in attempt but I'm told unofficially that it was around 700 strong - far too short to come close to winning.

District 10 remains Democratic
In District 10 [Wards 1, 2 and 3], Democratic incumbents Mary Stuart Gile, Steve Shurtleff, and Fran Potter join newly elected Democrat William Stetson.

Losses by Hager and McKay means that the city is entirely represented at the State House by Democrats.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Some thoughts about Election Day ...

Polling today in New Hampshire will probably break records, if Ward 5 in Concord is any indicator. The line was around three blocks before opening at 8 a.m. Voters quickly moved through the process though. By 9:15 a.m., more than 700 people had voted, or about 20 percent of the Ward. Other precincts across the state have been reporting massive voter turnout with lines at polling locations.

U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes, center, along with his wife, Peggo, talk with a voter from Bristol at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Where's the Republican infrastructure?
According to many sources, there was virtually no McCain/Palin presence at Concord polling locations. There were a handful of McCain people on Main Street with signs around 10 a.m. but nothing at the polls.
Sen. Sununu had signs at Ward 5. Other lower tier Republican candidates had signs and sign holders. But nothing for McCain. As a matter of fact, there were no Jennifer Horn signs either. Did they all give up and go home or did they decide not to get up early? And where was the teamwork? This would have never happened in the old days.

Massive Dem outreach
Democrats worked long into the night getting ready for Election Day.
In the early morning hours, scads of volunteers hung door hangers around the city. Signs for the Democratic candidates were everywhere showing that they had done their homework and were getting out the vote.

Rep. candidates out in force
Ward 5, 6, and 7 state rep. candidates were out in force this morning.
Democratic incumbents Jessie Osborne and Mary Jane Wallner joined fellow slate candidates Rick Watrous and Chip Rice at the three polling locations.
Republican challenger John Kalb was also at the Ward 5 location, joined by Free Stater Denis Goddard, making the pitch to voters that his team deserves a shot.
Republican Liz Hager, who lost her seat in the primary but has had friends attempting a write-in effort, was also seen outside Ward 5 handing out "NH Votes" lapel stickers.
In the final days of the race, things have gotten a little testy between all involved.
A new good government committee sent out a district wide mailer attacking the Democratic slate for not taking the "The Pledge" against new, broad-based taxes. Osborne and Wallner have been supportive of an income tax; Watrous seems open to exploring the idea of a broad based tax. We're told that emotions have also been running high in the ragtag write-in Hager movement with angry phone calls being made and emails going back and forth between Liz fans and Democratic powerbrokers. However, Liz was all smiles at the polls.

The scene outside Ward 5 around 10 a.m. on Election Day.

Vote today!

Concord polls are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. tonight so don't forget to vote!

If you don't know already, here are the local polling locations:

Ward 1: Immaculate Conception Church Hall - 9 Bonney St. Penacook
Ward 2: West Congregational Church Hall - corner of Hutchins and Garrison Streets.
Ward 3: Beaver Meadow Golf Course - Club House - 1 Beaver Meadow Street Off Sewalls Falls Raod
Ward 4: St. Peter's Parish Hall, 135 North State Street.
Ward 5: Green Street Community Center - Behind City Hall
Ward 6: St. John’s Activity Center - Thorndike St.
Ward 7: West Street Wardhouse - 41 West Street.
Ward 8: Bektash Temple, 189 Pembroke Road
Ward 9: Havenwood Retirement Center, 33 Christian Ave.
Ward 10: Broken Ground School - Portsmouth St.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Down more ...

Gasoline continues to drop ... this morning I filled up my tank at $2.42 per gallon. I'm totally loving this.

Go see George Belli Friday ...

I love press releases like this:
Show your support! George Belli & The electric at the Green Martini, next Friday, November 7th, Concord, NH 8:00 pm - 11:00 pm

We hope to see you at the show! George & Louise, Steve, Jim and Mike

Results of my independent poll show that 9 out of 10 music fans.....would vote for George Belli and the Retro-Activists for President....??? Don't forget to vote! I voted with George Belli 99% of the time....

Saturday, November 1, 2008

October: The third biggest month

October was our third biggest month for page visits and views, just a bit behind last month, which was our biggest month in 14 months of doing this. Thank you all so much for reading!


Gas prices around town continue to drop. I just saw $2.47 per gallon for regular unleaded at the Irving on North State Street. The difference in the cost of filling up on a tank of gas is about $10 now. All those $10s are going to add up.
I also noticed some food prices were starting to drop. A pound of boneless chicken breast has gone down from its $2.69 to $2.99 price for the last nine months or so, to $1.99 per pound - or what it was priced in 2007.
And yet, oil companies are still posting massive profits: ["ExxonMobil posts record profits"].
This is something we really have to start wondering about.

Does anyone know anything about these Obama/McCain signs?

Concord has been blanketed with these Obama/McCain for President signs:

At first, I thought it was a funny statement by some indie candidate or group, similar to the Billionaires for Bush/Gore signs from the 2000 campaign. But then, I called the numbers from the sign and the numbers actually go to the HQs of both Obama and McCain! The sign bears no contact information or disclaimer of responsibility. So what is this all about? Does anyone know?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Teachers' union endorses Cogswell, Glahn, and Williams

From the text of a letter being sent out by the CEA:
Dear Colleagues,

On Tuesday evening October 21st the Concord School Board Candidates Forum was held at Concord High School. I would like to thank all CEA members in attendance. Following the forum, members met to evaluate the performances of each of the candidates on the many questions and issues placed before them. The ad hoc committee was able to unanimously agree that Clint Cogswell would be the best candidate for the one-year open position. John Stohrer, who was not in attendance, is also running for the one-year position.

The committee was also able to agree that Bill Glahn and Eric Williams would be the best choices for two of the three-year seats that are open. The committee was unable to agree on a third candidate for the other open seat. All members present felt that Clint Cogswell, Bill Glahn, and Eric Williams were the best prepared to be on the Board. The other candidates present had some good moments during the questioning but often showed a lack of background and understanding on many of the issues. The following is a brief outline of each of the candidates, which was edited from a Concord Monitor article published on September 16th. Please vote on November 4th.

Two candidates, Clint Cogswell and John Stohrer, are vying for the one-year vacancy that will open when president Betty Hoadley retires at the end of the year. John Stohrer is a former school board member. Clint Cogswell retired as principal of Walker School in 2006.

Six candidates are running for the three, three-year seats.

Bill Glahn is wrapping up a three-year term on the board. He decided to run again because he wants to provide newer members with institutional knowledge, especially when it comes to contract negotiations as well as ideas to consolidate the city's elementary schools.

Kevin Fleming is a doctor at Concord Hospital. His family settled in Concord almost three years ago after moving around the region. Fleming is running to make sure attempts to help struggling students will not come at the cost of programs for gifted kids.

Jack Dunn grew up in New Jersey and came to Concord about a year ago. He helps run a fire protection company with offices in Salem. His wife, a medical librarian at Concord Hospital, suggested he run for the school board. The couple thinks it's a good way to contribute to their new community and to ensure a good education for their son, who is 16 months old.

Paul Halvorsen served as city councilor during the late 1990s. He is currently assistant city prosecutor. Halvorsen is also a retired member of the Air Force, and feels that being on the school board will allow him to serve his community. Paul does not have any kids of his own but his nieces and nephews attend city schools. During the forum, Halvorsen admitted that he is in favor of the many tax cap initiatives that have been springing up around the state. He does not have any kids of his own, but his nieces and nephews attend city schools.

Eric Weiner and his wife moved to Concord last year because they liked the city's schools. His children attend Rundlett Middle School and Broken Ground Elementary. Weiner is a stay-at-home dad and is running for the board because he wants to give back. He feels everybody needs to get the best education that we can afford to provide.

Eric Williams is running for the school board for the second time. He has strong feelings about two issues that will face the new board: elementary school consolidation and contract negotiations with the teachers union. He feels that the classroom teacher is the most important part of education in terms of student success.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Venator: Support McKay

Editor's Note: This email and letter text was sent to me by Ben Venator:
I have a tendency from my youth to be wary of Republicans (Democrats as well, but for different reasons), but I think that Jim MacKay is the best State Rep in District 11 (Wards 4,8,9 and 10) and if I can do any little thing to make sure that change at the top of the ballot doesn't sweep out excellent public servants farther down the ballot, then I need to do it. I have a sign up in my yard (first time ever for a Republican!) and am asking friends and former supporters to do the same.
Two years ago, I ran for state representative in Concord as an Independent. I remain greatly appreciative of the positive response I received from so many of my fellow residents of Wards 4, 8, 9 and 10 regarding my message of urgency, creativity and across-the-aisle collaboration on health care reform.

I would ask anyone who voted for me two years ago, along with anyone who believes now that health care reform is still urgently needed, to re-elect Jim MacKay, Republican candidate for state representative.

Jim doesn't need another two years to figure things out. Even if Republicans remain the minority party, as I hope they do, Jim has demonstrated that he can lead effectively. In particular, his work on improving the mental health care system in New Hampshire, buttressed by his decades of relevant professional experience, his emphasis on evidence-driven policy making and his fiscal prudence is just plain important.

I don't have to look at MacKay and imagine that he is thinking about important things. His words and actions make that clear.

I am going to vote for most Democrats, although not all those who are on the ballot. I am going to vote for only one Republican, Jim MacKay. Not out of some quid pro quo; there is none. Not because he is a civil, decent guy who has lived in Concord for ages but because he is working to make needed changes. He has more work to do. Please give him the chance.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Candidate Eric Williams offers views

School Board candidate Eric Williams emailed me early this evening offering some comments about his campaign:

Here is a brief summary of my reasons to run for school board:

1. The students and teachers are our top priority. The classroom teacher is the single most important indicator of student success. The School Board should recognize this and keep this in mind with every decision it makes. In order to attract and keep the best teachers, we need to make sure that we treat them as professionals, compensate them accordingly, and make clear that our goal is to have Concord be among the top places to teach in New Hampshire.

2. Fiscal responsibility is a must. No one wants to see their tax dollars spent unnecessarily. The School Board needs to keep this in perspective with every decision it makes. We must always prioritize students and teachers in making budget decisions. In this economic climate, we know we cannot afford everything we might like, but in a climate of mutual respect among the Board and the teachers, we can accomplish a great deal within our means.

3. Great neighborhood schools are a hallmark of a Concord education. Our venerable schools have some clear issues that must be addressed, many of which have been publicized in the news. The School Board has yet to take a big-picture look at the situation, which is needed to make sure that we make the best choices for education and do so economically. Population projections clearly show that by 2025, elementary enrollment will surpass what it was in 1995, before we had a problem with low enrollment. We should not rush to close schools until we have a complete understanding of how deficiencies can be corrected, how much it will cost, and what configuration will make the most sense educationally and economically.

A little biographical information: I've been a resident of the Concord area for over 20 years and have been working as an Environmental Planner at the NH Department of Environmental Services in Concord for 17 years. Part of my job is to work with community organizations to reach consensus on water quality issues, to evaluate budget proposals, and manage emloyees. I have two step-daughters in Concord schools, one at Beaver Meadow and one at Rundlett. They are the inspiration behind my run for school board.

Monitor endorses school board candidates

Here are the endorsements: ["Our picks to serve on Concord's school board"].
No big surprises here at all. Glahn was going to get picked because he is a strong incumbent. Halvorsen is a bit of a surprise, considering that he seems to be staking out the more conservative positions. And Williams has earned a chance to serve because he has stayed connected.

Also, the Monitor has a story about a bill to change the way board members are elected: ["Bill would regionalize school board elections "].
I don't know how I feel about this. I guess I would be in favor of it. But I would like to see exactly how the regions would be carved up.

Page to Stage Act II Nov. 9

Editor's Note: This was submitted by the Friends of the Concord City Auditorium:
“Page to Stage”, a theatre project fostering new works by NH playwrights, announces Bow resident Andre Tremblay will be the featured author at its “second act” event on Sunday, November 9, from 3-5 pm in the Concord City Auditorium lobby. The event is free and open to all as a Sunday afternoon salon with dramatic desserts.
Mr. Tremblay will present staged readings of two short plays, “Twenty Pages’ and “Vinnie Comes Knocking”. In addition, his program will include a discussion of the development of the plays through workshops and an audience Q&A.
His 25 years of writing plays began in college and picked up in earnest five years ago. He has joined the Playwrights Group of the Community Players of Concord in addition to appearing in many of their shows, and appreciates the playwright’s work from both sides of the stage.
The new season-long “Page to Stage” series is supported by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust and co-hosted by The Friends of The Concord City Auditorium and The Community Players of Concord, NH. The project welcomes submissions of new works, which will be considered for presentation ranging from readings to full productions.
At the first event in the P2S series on October 5, playwright David John Preece introduced his adaptation of Hawthorne’s “The House of The Seven Gables”. A full production of the new work was presented by MADCO – the Music and Drama Company -- at the Derry Opera House on October 23-25, giving participants the rare opportunity to follow the play’s development from book to script and finally to the stage.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Exceptional candidates

My wife and I submitted the following letter to the Monitor this week. I truly wish we had more than 250 words to talk about all the great candidates running this year. Instead, we decided to focus on two local "exceptional candidates":
Exceptional candidates

We write this letter today in support of two very exceptional candidates running for two different offices: Rick Watrous for District 12 state representative and Eric Williams for school board.

Rick has shown himself to be a stalwart fighter for the people in our community, always siding with the position that is right and just. His comprehension of energy and environmental issues are outstanding and will help with job creation and the preservation of our Granite State. His firsthand knowledge of the flaws with the open records laws will also assist in improving the openness of the state government. Rick Watrous, along with the entire slate of Democrats running for District 12 seats - Rep. Jessie Osborne, Rep. Mary Jane Wallner, and Chip Rice - will help lead the Legislature into the future.

Since just missing election to the school board last year, we have also gotten to know Eric a lot better. He is hardworking, knowledgeable, and does his homework. Anyone who has seen him during the process of studying the city's elementary school consolidation plans knows this to be true. He will bring new ideas and a fresh perspective to the board. A loving father and husband, he can be trusted to do what’s best for the public schools and our city’s children. Eric Williams will make a great contribution to the board.

Please vote for these candidates on Nov. 4.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Nice feature on Kristie MacNeil

Republican state Senate candidate Kristie MacNeil gets a nice feature this morning in the Monitor: ["Her fourth time round"]. As always, a great job by Ray Duckler.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Candidate Paul Halvorsen makes the pitch

School Board candidate Paul Halvorsen emailed me early this morning responding to my call out for candidate responses. Here is what he wrote:
I moved to Concord in 1997 after retiring from the US Air Force. In my over 21-years of service (7 enlisted and 14 as a commissioned officer) I was a military policeman, a bomb squad technician and a helicopter pilot. I'm currently employed by the City of Concord as an Assistant City Prosecutor and spent several years as a New Hampshire Public Defender. I was elected to the Concord City Council representing Ward 7 in 1998 and re-elected in 1999 (I did not run for re-election in 2001). In these jobs I've developed critical thinking skills, managed and developed budgets, engaged in short and long term goal oriented planning, and managed the administrative support for an organization of almost 200 people.

My educational background includes a J.D. from the Franklin Pierce Law Center, a Master of Forensic Science from The George Washington University, a Master of Public Administration from Golden Gate University and my B.S. from Minot State College.

I've taught at several colleges and universities as an adjunct professor (The graduate program at UNH - Manchester and undergraduate programs for Florida State University, Barry University and St. Leo College).

I can sum up my campaign in two words: Efficiency and Effectiveness. If you seek to apply those two qualities in establishing policy and making spending decisions only good results can follow. I believe that this is true no matter what the challenge. For example: When we look at school consolidation and apply those guiding principles the end result should be a plan that gives us the best bang for the taxpayer buck, ensures educational equality and excellence, maximizes the potential use of the buildings, saves carrying costs (i.e. heating/cooling/electric) and plans for the next 75+ years.

The school budget is approximately 68-million dollars and is, in summary, used to maintain and run all the infrastructure, teach and address the needs of about 5200 students and employ hundreds of people. We need to ensure the money is well spent. As I was looking at running for the board I wondered:

-- Why have we not slowly contracted out our bus service over the course of several years? Did anyone investigate if we could get the same service by contracting and at the same time save money?

-- Are we able to speed up a joint effort with the city to pool resources and jointly purchase health care insurance to save money?

-- Will the city be interested in using closing schools for their use? There are many options available: An updated police station and a new library are just two options that come to mind.

-- Does the fee (when appropriate) for use of facilities cover the carrying costs for that period (i.e. heat and electric)?

I believe I'm qualified and motivated. A quick Google search or search of the Concord Monitor web site will yield more of my writings and positions over the years. I urge voters to do just that - be informed.
Thanks Paul for touching base. If any other candidates would like to submit some information about their campaigns, fee free:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

'Work' one reason for absentee ballot

From House Information Officer Cissy Taylor:
State Rep. Sharon Nordgren (D-Hanover) wants to remind voters there are four reasons why they would be able to vote by absentee ballot. In the past, absentee ballots were allowed for those who were sick or disabled, going to be out of town, or for those observing a religious holiday.
But, in 2006, Nordgren sponsored legislation that added “work” to the language, allowing workers who might be at the office or on the work site throughout polling times to vote by absentee ballot. The law, RSA 657:1, includes a worker’s travel time to the office or work site
“A lot of voters in New Hampshire work miles away from where they live and vote,” Nordgren said. “This will help them tremendously.”
Applications for absentee ballots may be obtained from the town or city clerk up until Nov. 3, the day before the elections.

Candidate Jack Dunn chimes in ...

School Board candidate Jack Dunn emailed me yesterday offering some comments on why he is running. I'm publishing them here, unedited, in order to give readers a better idea of who he is:
I've lived in Concord for a year and a half, and in Northwood for the 4 years prior to that. I'm originally from the Philadelphia area, but moved up here for job reasons. I currently work for a fire protection distributor as an operations manager, overseeing vendor negotiations, technology, branch expansion, and whatever else happens to be thrown my way. My wife works at Concord Hospital, and we have a 17-month-old son who will eventually be in the Concord school system.

I am focusing on 5 areas in my run for school board:

Budget Review – I think there should be a complete review of the budget for inefficiencies due to a lack of technology, or due to procedures that are in place that may have worked 5-10 years ago but are not efficient now.

Teacher Negotiations – I strongly believe that the board needs to be a part of the teacher contract negotiations via its negotiations committee. It is my understanding that it's traditionally been done with an attorney, assistant superintendent, and the head of Human Resources. There are no board members present during the negotiations and with the $100k expenditure for a mediator on the last go-round I think it's time to try something new.

School Consolidation – I am in favor of a school consolidation plan if it first and foremost makes educational sense and second, financial sense.

Technology – I am a strong advocate for the use of technology. If you can control it, secure it, and have it be cost effective, I believe technology should be implemented. A few examples of things I see that concern me: First is the $400k that was stolen by the bookkeeper in 2006 from food services, leading to the purchase of a system that may be partially online, but will not be fully integrated until 2009 or 2010. I think the delay is inefficient. The second is the requests for proposal out on the website that are 2-3 years old; based on the request information, the contract periods they were originally designed for are up! There could potentially be cost savings there that are not being realized.

Financial Literacy – This is a course that I strongly believe needs to be taught in the schools today, maybe as a optional class at the elementary level, and middle school, but mandatory at the high school level. Publically-educated citizens need to understand the workings of checks, credit cards, 0% offers, cash advance fees, interest calculation, credit ratings, and loans, just to name a few. Have you ever purchased something in a store where the charge was $8.10, and when you hand over $10.10 all you get is a blank stare?
Thanks Jack for touching base. If any other candidates would like to submit some information about their campaigns, fee free:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Actually, it's $2.95!

I went to fill up the gas tank this morning and imagine my surprise when the price wasn't $2.99, like the sign said, but $2.95! Woo hoo!
It's hard to imagine that one person could get so excited about something so small. But it was the first time in many months that filling up my miserly Honda Civic gas tank came in at under $30. So that was a welcome relief.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Below $3 ...

I'm told that gas has just gone below $3 per gallon down the road from my house. I'll find out tomorrow when I have to fill my tank.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Gas prices plummet ... finally

Gotta love those gas prices going down ... a few weeks before the election ... not unlike 2006, remember that? It didn't work though.
Today's price at the Irving on North State Street: $3.09. I can hardly wait to fill up the tank tomorrow. Keep it going down folks. Keep it going down.
I have a couple more things to share but I'm busy at the moment. I'll try and post on some downtime.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Who is Dr. Kevin Fleming?

A few weeks ago, I published a couple of posts about potential candidates running for Concord School Board. I mainly concentrated on doing some random Google searches to find out about folks since I really don't have the time to do a ton of extensive reporting on the site. I couldn't find out much information about one of the candidates, Dr. Kevin Fleming, but noted he worked at Concord Hospital.
Well, earlier this week, his wife sent a quick note telling me who her husband is:
Hi my name is Laurie Fleming, I am married to Dr. Kevin Fleming, who is running for school board. I know that you were looking for information on him, but you could only find that he was an internist at Concord Hospital.

Kevin is 37 years old, and is a doctor at Concord Hospital. We moved here 3 years ago, after Kevin finished his residency at Dartmouth. We have two boys, Ethan (5) and Jason (3), both of them are at the Eastman School, kindergarten and preschool.

One of the greatest assets that Kevin can bring to the school board is his great analyzing skills, which he uses every day as part of being a doctor.

The most interesting question that is asked by Kevin, is where do you stand on the consolidation. The answer is not a "smart answer," but he says he isn't against, but he is not for it. He would like to see the studies done, determine how this would effect the students, look at population trends, and look at is this a good investment for the city of Concord and his taxpayers.

There are also several other issues that he would like to address.

Just thought I would let you know, about Kevin,

If any other wives, children, or friends of the other candidates want to chime in about their candidate, please feel free: Otherwise, we'll have to wait for the big School Board forum later this month to find out about the candidates.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

N.H. Sierra Club endorses seven Concord Dems

The N.H. Sierra Club endorsed seven local Democrats on Oct. 3 [I'm told that no one from the media showed up to their press conference]. Here is some of the text from the press release and a list of the Concord folks endorsed:
The New Hampshire Chapter of the Sierra Club has released its list of endorsed candidates running for New Hampshire state offices in the 2008 elections. The endorsements include 106 NH State Representatives, 14 State Senators, 2 Executive Councilors and the incumbent Governor John Lynch. Of the total 123 endorsed candidates, 52 are women and 71 men. They all share the same value: to care for the environment when they vote in the State House.
State Senate: Sen. Sylvia Larsen
State House, District 10 [Concord Wards 1, 2, 3]: Rep. Mary Stuart Gile, Rep. Fran Potter, Rep. Steve Shurtleff, and William Stetson.
State House, District 11 [Wards 4, 8, 9, 10]: Michael Bartlett and Rep. John DeJoie.
State House, District 12 [Wards 5, 6, 7]: Rick Watrous.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Could Walker School stay open?

Rumors and emails floating out by some people eyeing the elementary school consolidation process suggest that there may be some tweaking to the plan after all.
Participants of the school building study task force were not too pleased with the prospect of Kimball Elementary having 500 children in the school. Some participants, including School Board member Laura Bonk, a consolidation supporter, stated that maybe the plan to close Walker school should be reconsidered.
On Sunday afternoon, David Greenwood sent out an email to some of the members expressing concern about having 500 students at the Kimball site.
"Currently the parent drop off on Rumford St. and pickup on Spring St. does not provide adequate and safe space for students to transition into the school. The new site does not allow for a new parent dropoff or pickup within the school yard. An increase of students on site that will be traveling from a greater distance will compound a problem that currently exists." he wrote.
Bonk then sent her own email on Sunday evening, stating: "I concur with David’s comments below ... This weekend, I spent time at Kimballl, Walker, and Conant Schools. Frankly, I have a lot of concerns about getting 500 students on to the Kimball site. It’s a tight squeeze and it may be an expensive option."
Bonk then suggested other options: "I’m starting to wonder about exploring other options for Concords Elementary Schools. a) 3 elementary campuses: Beaver Meadow, Conant, and Broken Ground. There is space at all 3 sites. There are also gyms, fields, and cafeterias. OR, b) 5 campuses: Beaver Meadow, Conant, Broken Ground, Kimball and Walker. Given the site limitations, the Kimball and Walker Schools will have to be about 200(?) students. Walker may have to be K-2 and Kimball 3-5. Both Walker and Kimball Schools need major upgrades and additions—functional heating systems, bathrooms, cafeteria, gyms, safe drop off points, among other items."
Many in the community are not only worried about the cost of all these new schools but also the importance of historical preservation of the city's aging school buildings. Others would like to see the buildings turned into for-profit entities at some point in order to expand the tax base. It will be interesting to see how this all turns out but it is a good sign that folks are thinking a bit deeper about the idea.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

'Plowing Up a Snake'

This is a pretty cool event at Red River next week:
Screenplay Reading Series: "Plowing Up a Snake" Presented by the NH Film and Television Office, Q&A to follow

Award Winning NH screenwriter Dana Biscotti Myskowski's latest motion picture script, "Plowing up a Snake," will be read by live actors before an audience.

Dana Biscotti Myskowski earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College and her Professional Certificate in Screenwriting online via UCLA. She will produce Pulitzer-Prize winner Ariel Dorfman's stage play, "Speak Truth to Power: Voices from Beyond the Dark," for Jayme's Fund for Social Justice at Pinkerton Academy's Stockbridge Theatre on Oct. 17, 2009. She penned the multi-media show on global climate change, "Breathing Space," for the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium, and "The Lemonade Stand," a short film produced by Double Midnight Productions, and has published items in The SNReview, The Pitkin Review, The Berkshire Review, Hollywood Scriptwriter, The Alpha Chi Recorder, Reader's Digest, and more. In addition to writing short and feature screenplays and stage plays, she teaches workshops and critiques scripts for aspiring writers and directors. Dana can be found at: and

The Screenplay Reading Series will showcase new motion picture scripts read live by actors before an audience, followed by Q&A. The series is dedicated to fostering a forum where screenwriters can hear their words come to life and network with actors, potential film investors, and other artists involved in filmmaking.

The Screenplay Reading Series presents works on an invitation-only basis (a submission process is forthcoming) and screenplays must have an emphasis on New Hampshire, either in their setting or their potential to be filmed in the Granite State. The screenplays are read in an intimate setting at Red River Theatres by actors cast into the screenplay's respective roles by a director who works with the writer specifically for the reading.

SHOWTIME: Thursday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m.

Friday, October 3, 2008

HNHfoundation lends $250,000 to the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund

Pictured in the photo (left to right) are Alan Cantor, Vice-President of Philanthropy, New Hampshire Community Loan Fund; Sally Hatch, Director of Investor Relations, New Hampshire Community Loan Fund; Barbara Reid, Treasurer, HNHfoundation Board of Directors; and Sandi Van Scoyoc, President, HNHfoundation.

The HNHfoundation has made a $250,000 loan to the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund. The Loan Fund will use the money to increase its loans to manufactured housing communities, microbusinesses and non-profit facilities in New Hampshire.

The HNHfoundation's contribution to the Loan Fund will help ensure that children and adults from low- and moderate-income households in New Hampshire are provided with opportunities for healthy lifestyles, through the Loan Fund's work in affordable housing, microbusiness development and non-profit facility support.

"We know that our ability to live healthy lifestyles is influenced by circumstances such as safe housing and economic security. We can't expect individuals and families to eat healthy and be active if they are unsure about meeting their housing needs or keeping their small business profitable. The Loan Fund plays a strong role in our state in helping families meet these basic needs while we at the HNHfoundation help them live healthier lifestyles," said Sandi Van Scoyoc, President, HNHfoundation. "The Foundation views this loan as the beginning of a partnership. And, like all partnerships, we are stronger together than working separately in assisting New Hampshire families."

The HNHfoundation works with organizations to reinforce the importance of learning healthy behaviors and practices during childhood. Additionally, the HNHfoundation helps to reduce childhood and adult obesity through participation in and support of New Hampshire's Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Action Plan.

"Lenders provide a significant amount of the capital we have available to our borrowers. HNHfoundation joins more than 350 other lenders, including individuals, religious organizations, foundations, and financial institutions, that allow us the use of their funds to make loans that improve families, businesses and communities," explained Juliana Eades, President, New Hampshire Community Loan Fund. "The Loan Fund works with lenders like HNHfoundation to build strong communities throughout New Hampshire, by matching individuals without resources with those who can provide resources and want to make a positive difference."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Nader documentary to be shown at Red River

There will be a showing of "An Unreasonable Man," the documentary about Ralph Nader, at the Red River Theatres on Saturday, Oct. 4, at 3 p.m., with a discussion afterward. The showing is free but donations will be appreciated. The Red River Theatres are located on S. Main Street in Concord. The listing is not on the Red River Web site but they often rent out the theatre for people to use. So, I think the listing is legit.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

September the hot month

Well, September was the hottest month ever for visits and page views. Thanks so much for visiting!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

WKXL reportedly buying religious FM translator

WKXL, Concord's local AM radio station, petitioned the FCC last week to purchase a low-powered FM translator currently owned by Concord Bible Fellowship, according to paperwork filed at the FCC and postings on the gossip board.
WKXL has also filed paperwork to move the FM transmitter from Plausawa Hill to the AM's Redington Road location. They have also requested an increase in the power of the signal to 69 watts.
No word yet on what mechanisms or loopholes the station will have to set in place to allow these changes to take place. The station should be able to replace its commercials on the AM with underwriting notices on the FM, and get by the process of being a non-profit versus a for-profit. But these stations are usually set aside for specifically religious institutions or educational purposes, like churches, high schools and colleges, not for-profit businesses, no matter how good or positive the community programming is.
It will be interesting to see how it all pans out.

In other radio news, the former WKXL FM station, 102.3, recently servered its LMA agreement with Nassau Broadcasting after the FCC ruled the corporation had too many FM stations in the Concord/Lakes Region radio market.
No word yet from the current owners, Vox Communications, as to what they plan on doing with the station. The station was broadcasting hard rock on a loop with no ads and top of the hour bumpers after the LMA ended but the station was later taken off the air.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

School Board candidate forum scheduled for Oct. 21

The Kimball and Walker School PTOs is once again sponsoring a Board of Education candidate forum on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Christa McAuliffe Auditorium at Concord High School.
The moderator for the forum will be Ralph Jimenez of the Concord Monitor.
According to organizers, the forum will give voters the opportunity to hear from all of the candidates running for school board [there are six running for three 3-year seats; two running for a 1-year seat]. Those who plan on attending will be allowed to submit questions via index card. People who cannot attend can send questions via email ahead of time to Pia Shea, of the Walker PTO, at
Since I have moderated these forums twice in the past [2005 and 2006, when working for a local radio station], I can tell you that it is a great opportunity to meet and listen to the candidates running for school board. After each forum, I knew exactly who I would be voting for.
The forum is also usually recorded for cable access so if you can't make it, you can watch it on television in rebroadcast, if you have Comcast cable [it may even been put up online since cable access has been doing that lately]. It might even be recorded and broadcast on the radio, like I used to do.
Personally, I don't know if it is the best idea to have Jimenez moderating the debate. There could be a preception of bias since he is one of the editors at the Monitor who has opined in favor of the elementary school consolidation plan, easily the biggest issue the next round of school board members will have to deal with. Similarly, if asked, I wouldn't have moderated it this year, even though I have done so in the past, because I'm openly supporting one of the candidates, Eric Williams [I wouldn't and didn't last year because I was support Rick Watrous].
At the same time, thinking about it a little deeper, there might not be anything to worry about. Unlike a major presidential debate, it is difficult for moderators to get into the middle of forums like this. At the same time, I'm surprised the organizers didn't try to find someone, like a reporter or someone else, who clearly does not have potential bias towards any of the issues facing the candidates.