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!