Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's Blankenbeker vs. MacKay

Thanks to Ben for giving me the heads-up on the Legislative primary today.
Lynne Ferrari Blankenbeker beat John J. Weeden in the GOP primary, 261 to 53. Eight people wrote-in other candidates.
In the Democratic primary, former Republican Rep. Jim MacKay received 217 votes against write-in candidate Gloria Seldin, who received 10 votes. Other candidates received nine write-in votes.
Turnout was 4.4 percent.
The final election will be held on Nov. 3, along with school board and city council races.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Primary in some city Wards Tuesday

Just a reminder to folks who live in Ward 4, 8, 9, or 10, there is a special primary for one of the legislative seats tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Two Republicans, Lynne Blankenbeker and John Weeden, are facing off. Former Republican now Democrat Jim McKay, who was swept out of office in 2008, is also on the ballot.
Blankenbeker, who also lost in the final election in 2008, coming in seventh, is featured on this edition of Capitol Access: http://blip.tv/file/1317225.
Weeden is a brigadier general with the national guard: http://www.ng.mil/ngbgomo/library/bio/weeden_jj.htm.
A Google search revealed no official campaign Web sites for the candidates.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Finance Director Howard to step down

Concord's Finance Director Jim Howard has issued his resignation, effective April 2010, according to sources.
Howard plans on retiring at that time but is giving the city enough notice to find a suitable replacement, with ample time for the replacement to be brought up to speed on city finances.
Howard's retirement comes at a time when the city has many vacant positions and next year's budget is going to probably be a difficult one to balance. It also comes at a time when tens of thousands of finance people are out of work across the country. So a high quality replacement, at a below market salary rate, should not be hard to find.
Of course, any new hire will not come with the extensive institutional knowledge that Howard has of the city's finances or history. But with a compensation and benefits budget of nearly $800,000 for nine full-time equivalent positions, the city [and taxpayers] should expect to see some savings from this department line item in fiscal year 2011.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More changes in the Concord media landscape

There are more changes coming to the Concord media landscape. In the latest case, it's radio stations being sold.
According to a press release posted on the Nassau Broadcasting Web site earlier this week, the company has sold two of its FM stations to Jeff Shapiro's Great Eastern Radio LLC. Great Eastern Radio owns WTPL-FM 107.7 The Pulse out of Bow as well as stations in the Hanover/White River Junction area that it picked up from Clear Channel, when it sold off a bunch of smaller stations before becoming a privately held company.
Great Eastern Radio is acquiring WNNH-FM 99.1 FM, a 2,800-watter out of Henniker and WWHQ FM 101.5 FM, a 6,000-watter out of Meredith [Both stations, while not officially located in Concord, serve the Concord-Lakes Region radio market].
According to the press release, "the stations were scheduled to be divested by Nassau per FCC ownership requirements as part of the Company’s recent filing with the FCC of its previously announced restructuring."
The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The FCC must first approve of the sale.
This latest sale comes on the heels of Nassau selling its classical music FM in Boston, WCRB, to WGBH for around $14 million, according to press sources. Nassau, which is also privately held, gave a "controlling stake" in the company to Goldman Sachs, in exchange for forgiving part of the company's debt, according to press sources.
Rumors have been floating around the Internet since this summer about a move by Nassau to unload some of its New Hampshire properties. Radio insiders and other fans have been posting speculative notes on Radio-Info.com that were saying Shapiro was going to be the high bidder for Nassau stations on the market.
Currently, WNNH simulcasts the "Frank" classic hits format on that station and Nassau's WLKZ in Wolfeboro, a station that was also rumored to be for sale a number of years ago. WWHQ broadcasts "The Hawk" classic rock format. Nassau used to also simulcast this programming on WWHK 102.3 FM, the former WKXL FM station that was recently purchased by a conservative columnist [the station currently airs rock music with station IDs and nothing else].
There has been no comment yet on what formats Great Eastern Radio will offer on the stations or whether Nassau will continue with Frank on WLKZ.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Retroactivists ...

George Belli and the Retroactivists play at the Green Martini Friday night at 8 p.m.

Health care forum on Wednesday

From the inbox:
What does it mean for you?
WHEN: Wednesday September 23rd, 2009 from 6-7pm
WHERE: Reagan Network, 134 North Main Street, Concord, NH
WHAT & WHO: Discussion panel, featuring State Representative Joseph Hagan (physician from Rockingham) & Jennifer Horn (newspaper columnist and radio talk host).

Come and discuss the Health Care Bill (HR 3200). Be informed about what the specifics of the bill and how it will affect YOU.

Bill text of HR3200, will be available (1,017 pages)

Light refreshments will be served.

This non-partisan event is paid for and sponsored by the Central New Hampshire Federated Republican Woman's Club.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Councilor Keach's interesting column

City Councilor Fred Keach has an interesting My Turn column in the Monitor this morning: ["These days, we're all public figures"].
He raises some interesting points especially when considering that news has become a 24-hour cycle. Most folks are not given the chance to even digest the previous news cycle before they are bombarded with another one and another one, etc. In addition, the distraction of the trivial, i.e., all the celebrity bullsh*t, keeps the American people from focusing on the important issues of the day, whether local, regional, national, or international in scope.
Add in the divisiveness of the current political climate [or actually the political climate of the last two decades], and the mix becomes a big mess. Further, throw in mistrust of the media, as seen in the latest Pew survey: ["Press Accuracy Rating Hits Two Decade Low"] and it is clear that the nation and the news business are in peril.
Without thoughtful contemplation, most people don't get at the truth or are not allowed the opportunity to think through what "truth" is. We've seen that in our own community, state, and country. Most people are a mix of opinions but sometimes the loudest and the easiest are the ones who get covered.
The reverse thinking though is that Keach and others need to get used to the new reality. So do news customers. Everything is out there, whether good or bad. A lot of it is by choosing.
Take facebook. I, frankly, love it. It's fun. Sure, some of it is silly. But who has time for letters anymore? I hear from faraway family members, former school classmates, old friends, new acquaintances, etc., at the click of a button. I meet their families and children in a matter of seconds. I feel their pain and sorrow and share in their successes.
In addition, as a councilor, Keach is a public figure, in this case an elected official. People demand, require, whatever, a higher set of standards from these individuals and swift action when needed. He notes that "School boards and other public officials come under enormous pressure to take action sooner then later, often at the expense of the accused." This may be true but let's look at why the public is demanding such action.
More often than not, government officials drag their heels taking action against people who have no business being in positions of power. Everyone has a horror story about someone in a position of power for a long period of time with accusations against them that go unanswered for months or even years.
Look at the recent revelation of a local police officer who was alleged to have harassed some women and even skipped out of paying a tab at a local bar. It took months and months to resolve this issue while at the same time, the officer was still on the street, I believe, demanding that citizens obey the laws [and civic responsibilities] he was not obeying himself.
There is also the recent case, noted here extensively but ignored elsewhere, of an elected official who used her power to have a local citizen investigated by the police for having a public document, a document that proved that others were not being forthcoming or completely honest during city council committee hearings. And yet, when the citizen who was investigated requested that the police investigate the elected official and a former elected official for their transgressions in the case, the request for action was ignored. The police chief actual stated that since the city council controlled his budget, he could not investigate a sitting city councilor! Think about that for a second. Yup, that's going on in Concord folks. It is often one rule for them, another for us, as the saying goes.
Add to that the fact that this citizen's request for inquiry was ignored on many different enforcement levels even though he had overwhelming evidence that all was not right in this case and you begin to realize that all is not right with the world.
I'm glad that Keach wrote the column. These issues are clearly ones that the community, state, and nation need to have. After all, we are citizens and we are human beings. But let's make sure that when we have these conversations, they are not in a 20 minute newscast but instead, over a period of time, so that everyone can have their say in the matter.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Alex Lee steps down from County chairmanship

Developing ...
Alexander Lee, the chairman of the Merrimack County Democrats, has resigned from his position according to an email he sent out to supporters and other Democrats.
The details are sketchy at this point why Lee resigned but according to his email, he is "a witness to a complaint against the New Hampshire Democratic Party, resolution of which is pending with the office of the Attorney General."
"I understand that others feel that it is inappropriate for the unanimously elected chair of a county committee to criticize the Governor in my official capacity with this organization," Lee wrote. "Raising $10,000 (usually more like $3,000) in a really good biennium while the NHDP, Senate Caucus, and federal campaigns raise millions for a few select candidates is not a sane pursuit or one that holds aninterest for me any longer, but I know that you will continue to enjoy your picnics and St. Patrick's Day events together."
Lee was reacting to an email sent by Kristin Mueller, the secretary of the Merrimack County Democrats, which stated that if Lee would resign his position by the end of the day Wednesday, he would not be removed from the position.
"After you left Jon Bresler withdrew his motion to accept your resignation," she wrote. "Another motion, this one to remove you as Chair, was made and seconded. An amendment to this motion was made and seconded during discussion. The amendment was that we resolved to strike the record of the vote to remove you as County Chair from the official minutes if you tendered your resignation by the close of the business day today, Wednesday the 16th of September."
Mueller stated: "With the amendment the motion to remove you passed and you were removed as Chair. The group resolved that I would notify you of this vote at the beginning business today."
Mueller's email was sent to the County's Executive Committee's Yahoo list, Ward 5 City Councilor Rob Werner, and Jonathan Bresler.
However, in his email back to Mueller, Lee contends there was no quorum to have the vote to remove him from the chairmanship.
"I am glad that my late arrival at last night's meeting was able to create a quorum," Lee wrote. "It is somewhat unthinkable that all that falderal would have taken place without me had I not driven back from Toronto in time. With all due respect, there was no quorum at the meeting after I left and no authority to do what your version of events claims happened upon my departure. There also were no grounds for removal. I neither neglected, failed, or refused to perform the duties of the office to which I was elected. Read our bylaws and the Constitution of the NHDP."
Lee then notified Mueller that he would resign.
"Nevertheless, I will gladly resign today, as I indicated when I left the meeting last night." he said. "Many people know that I drafted a letter of resignation several weeks ago, but had not sent it yet. Brenda MacLellan has also resigned and others are likely to follow our lead. It is no longer possible for me to carry out the duties of this office without broader support."
In the email, Lee said he would "enjoy" is newfound ability to speak his mind.
"I will continue to labor so that local and county candidates see a fair share of the money raised by and from NH Democrats," he said. "I will continue to advocate for meaningful property tax relief and abolishment of the death penalty, even if it means criticizing our Governor. I will continue to advocate for climate action in advance of Copenhagen and an end to the failed adventure in Afghanistan. I will continue to advocate for the shrinking of Presidential power, even if it means opposing President Obama. It is great to be allowed to say these things out loud without fear of reprisal."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bouley, most incumbents escape challenges

The deadline for filing to run for mayor, city council, and school board ended about an hour ago and the big story is that most incumbents will remain in office, including Mayor Jim Bouley. No one filed to run against Bouley or eight of the 10 Ward councilors in November.
In the at-large race, three newcomers will face off against incumbent Dan St. Hilaire for two seats. Late filers today include Rick Cibotti, a tile and marble contractor from West Concord, and Michael DellaIacono, a web consultant and salesman at JMaze Designs. Retiree Jim Baer of the Concord Taxpayers Association is also running.
In a new development today, Steven Saywer of Exit First Realty filed to run against incumbent Keith Nyhan in Ward 7. Ward 7 and Ward 3, where incumbent Jan McClure will face off against challenge Juston Kay, are the only two competitive ward races this year.
According to sources, earlier this afternoon, former school board member Wilbur "Bill" Glahn, a local attorney and member of the School District Charter Commission, filed to run for the 1-year seat. He will challenge Tom Croteau, a former school principal in the Winnisquam Regional School District, who has also filed for the seat. Croteau is also reportedly the brother-in-law of school attorney Roger B. Phillips.
At around 3 p.m., no one had filed to run against the three incumbents for school board, according to sources.
I will update this story has more news trickles in from the field.

Now that the filing period has ended, those candidates running for office are welcome to submit information about themselves and why they are running. Please keep the submissions to under 500 words and email it to ourconcord-at-yahoo.com and I will get the information posted online as soon as possible.

Update: The Concord Monitor is reporting this morning that Doug Magee, an engineer who is also a Ward 5 Democrat, has taken out papers to run for one of the three-year seats.

Last chance to run for school board and city council ...

The filing period for city council, school board, and mayoral candidates ends today at 5 p.m.
On the council side, there are 10 district seats for each ward of the city and two at-large [citywide] candidates. The ward councilors serve for two years; the at-large candidates have four-year terms. The mayor's term is for two years. Moderators and ward clerks will also be elected to two-year terms. Supervisors of the Checklist will also be elected to six-year terms.
On the school board side, candidates run at-large for three year terms. Three are up for re-election. There is also a 1-year seat too.
Candidates for council, mayor, or school board can either pay a $5 fee to run or collect 50 signatures.
To run for council, mayor, ward clerk or checklist, go to the city clerk's office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to sign up.
School board candidates file at the office of Roger B. Phillips, Esq. at 104 Pleasant St. between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

There's no slander on OurConcord.com

I won't go into this in any detail, but the spouse of an elected official in Concord has requested that I "stop slandering" certain elected officials "in the paper or your blog."
Just so we are all clear here, since this spouse is probably not alone, I have not published a single thing that would be considered "slander" by its legal or perceived definitions.
Dictionary.com describes "slander" as "a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report." The legal definition is as follows: "defamation of a person by unprivileged oral communication made to a third party ..."
My pointed criticisms and opinions are based on pure facts, facts which I have either gathered myself, witnessed in documents, or witnessed myself. They have been, so far, irrefutable.
OurConcord.com is both a blog and a news site and, accordingly, will have opinions, analysis, and straight news stories. It is just one person, with occasional submissions from others. However, I'm careful to not print anything that I'm not completely sure of or have referenced from something that can be sourced. If I do make a mistake, I pull it from the page and offer a correction.
The Concord Monitor does not allow "slanderous" statements to be published in its newspaper. You can ask the editors over there for yourself. As regular readers of this site know, I have been critical in the past of their heavy editing, for lack of a better term. So, even suggesting that anything they have published on my behalf is slandering is, well, a little loopy. Lighten up folks.

Over the years of being both a journalist and broadcaster, I have been mystified that readers (and listeners) can't move beyond the difference between news and opinion. Admittedly, with blogs and the Internet, it gets a bit complicated. And reporters, like other human beings, do have biases and motivations that get them to write and report a certain way. Trust me when I say that the good ones work really hard to subdue this instinct. We do the best we can even if it is hard.
But I have found that readers don't always know what they are talking about when it comes to what they are reading, especially terminology. I don't know if it is lack of media education or they just don't care or whatever. But there is a difference between "slander" and "opinion" ... there is a difference between "criticism" and "attack" ... there is a difference between "analysis" and "news." Again, the Internet complicates things, especially when compared to the grand old days of having an afternoon paper with all the day's news delivered to your door (often by kids like me).
In the case of some of the things I write about here, it can be a mix of things. But it is not, and has never been, slander.
If the spouses of elected officials can't handle the criticism, they have some choices. They can ignore this site and others, if they like. They can educate themselves about media literacy and interact in a sensible manner. Or, they can go back and tell their spouses that maybe, just maybe, those with pointed criticism, backed up by facts, might have some reasonable points. Or maybe the elected officials should go back and reexamine what they are doing ... because, maybe, their plans are indeed wrong or not the best.
We live in the United States of America. We have a Bill of Rights that allows us the freedom to speak. Some of us do more than that - we say what we feel and what we know to be true. If you can't take others analyzing important public policy positions in a critical manner, especially when tens of millions of dollars are at stake, then your spouses shouldn't be in the positions they are in. Don't immediately talk down to voters, taxpayers, parents and constituents as if we are children because you don't like what we are saying. Some of us have children. Some of us, in some cases, really do know better than you do about what's best for our families and our pocketbooks.
Lead or get out of the way. Don't lecture us.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Uptick in activity ...

It's amazing what council and school board race time does to the Web traffic at the site. I have seen a boost of about 400 to 500 percent over the last month. Thanks everyone for reading!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The case for ward representation on the school board?

Last year, Rep. Steve Shurtleff, who is also a city councilor, sponsored a bill in the Legislature to change the way school board members are elected from at-large to city wards, based on the state rep. districts.
Shurtleff, who doesn't live in the Concord School District, sponsored the bill at the request of a constituent who does live in the district.
One of the reasons the bill was requested is that the school board has historically had members from just a few Wards. In the past, many have come from Ward 5 in West Concord, one of the wealthiest and most influence Wards in the city.
During the last couple of elections, the representation has shifted a bit and opponents of the change have used these elections as an example of why ward representation isn't needed.
Well, it looks like it has become lopsided again.
A quick analysis of the current school board membership reveals that nearly half the members, four of nine, come from Ward 4 [Ward 4 runs from Horseshoe Pond around the North End via Liberty Street, the south side of Franklin and the east side of Auburn, and down School Street to Storrs Street, with the exception of the block that city hall is in].
Wards 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10, each have one member each.
This means that five members - or more than half - live in the Kimball/Walker School District
There is no representation from Ward 2, 3, or 8, meaning the Beaver Meadow and Dame elementary schools have no representation on the board [No one represents Ward 1 either but most people who live in Ward 1 send their kids to the Merrimack Valley School District]. While board members will say they care about all of the schools in the city, currently there are no board members who live in those two elementary school districts.

In the past, the issue of school board autonomy, the board's ability to set its own tax rate and control its own spending with no oversight what, has bothered some residents. Some believe the school board setting the tax rate with autonomy and at-large elected members is taxation without representation. Since three wards don't have school board members, that might be a safe conclusion. Although, again, at-large school board members will say they represent the entire city, so there is representation.
I was inspired to look this up after a person emailed the following questions: "How many taxpayers live in wards that are not represented on a school board with independent taxing authority about to undertake a very costly building program? Where is the proportional representation that is a constitutional principle?"
Obviously good questions and as you can see, three wards aren't represented. Using the city's ballpark figure of 40,000-plus residents and nearly 20,000 households, about 12,000 people are not represented or about 6,000 households [although, again, at-large school board members they say they represent everyone].

I personally don't agree with the proposal that the school board should have its budgetary autonomy taken away. There was an amendment to one of the bills before the Legislature which would have allowed the city council to have final authority of the school board's budget. As I have stated before, have you seen the way the council spends money? They last thing the city needs is them rubber-stamping the school budget. The flip of this is that boards of selectmen and Town Meetings have oversight of their school budgets across the state.
While I still don't know if I agree with the idea of changing the law to have the school board members elected by ward or state rep. district [which would be three district with three wards], I do know that this school board is lopsided, with whole neighborhoods of the city [and elementary school districts, it would seem] with little representation.

Talking consolidation Monday

From the inbox:
The Concord School Board and Administrators sent home an invite to hear a presentation on the Elementary Schools Consolidation Plan for Monday, Sept. 14 2009 @ 6:30 PM at Conant.
The Board will outline the history of events leading up to consolidation, and the current value and existing physical conditions of Concord’s Elementary Schools.
A question and answer session will follow. All are welcome.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

McClure gets a challenger in Ward 3

The city clerk has sent out the latest of candidate filings and it looks like Ward 3 Councilor Jan McClure will have competition this November.
The challenge comes from Juston Kay of North State Street, who took out papers to run for the Ward seat today. Kay seems to be on the "freedom-loving" side of the ledger, since he sports a "Don't Tread on Me" flag as his facebook icon, and has friends such as Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta, a potential Republican candidate for Congress in District 1. He also seems to be a new resident to North State Street, since he isn't listed in the 2007 voter checklist.

Ward 2 Councilor William Stetson also pulled papers to run again. No other council candidates have come forward.

Over in the school board race, only Kass Ardinger and Christopher Casko have taken out papers to run, as of 4 p.m. today, according to a source.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cogswell is in ...

Incumbent school board member Clint Cogswell confirmed tonight that he would be running for re-election in November. Cogswell stated that he had not had a chance to file or respond to media inquiries about his intentions but would be running. He will join Kass Ardinger and Christopher Casko on the ballot.
As of this point, no one has signed up to challenge the three incumbents and no one has taken out papers to run for the 1-year seat, being vacated by out-going school board member Meagan DeVorsey.

Did you know ...

That the Draft downtown has free wireless? Neither did I! I'm having a quick sit-down before the school district charter commission tonight at 7 p.m.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rep. informs about commission

Rep. Rick Watrous has submitted the following letter to the Concord Monitor and also passed it along to OurConcord.com:

I thank the Concord Monitor for drawing attention (“Let the fireworks begin!” Sept. 6) to the commission to study the Concord Union school district charter. Although it is my sincere hope that we will not earn the Monitor’s nickname of the “throw the strongest opinions in a room and let the yelling begin” commission.

Our duties, as stated in the law (HB 319) that created the commission, read: The commission shall study the historical relationship between the general court and the Concord Union school district and evaluate whether and in what manner the present legislative school district charter should be preserved, amended, or terminated in favor of a new school district charter.

The key phrase here is “legislative school district charter.” Concord’s school charter is unique in that it exists in legislative chapter law and can only be changed by action and approval of the state senate, house of representatives, and the governor. Currently neither the school board nor the voters of Concord can change their school district charter without the state house passing a law.

The commission is studying the basic issue of how well the current legislative school district charter serves the public, and whether and how it should be changed. (The present 1983 charter can be found on the Concord school district website.) A report is due from the commission by Dec. 1.

As the first named state representative to the commission, it was my duty to call the first meeting of the commission. I selected the time and location—Wednesday, Sept. 9, 7 PM, at the Concord City Council Chambers—with the Concord public in mind. It is my hope that citizens attend this organizational meeting and that they offer testimony when public hearings are scheduled.

Rep. Rick Watrous

Two more incumbents take out papers

According to the city clerk, more incumbents have taken out papers to run for city councilor.
Ward 3 Councilor Jan McClure has taken out papers to run. Ward 10 Councilor Fred Keach has also decided to run for another term.

Anonymous commenting ...

Note to readers: I allow anonymous commenting on OurConcord.com but I will not allow postings that I know are factually wrong or insinuate something that I can't prove.
Recently, a reader posted some comments about the spouse of an elected official that insinuated inappropriate professional behavior that I can't prove. They also made comments about another candidate that I can't prove but I am currently looking into the issue.
Please, in the future, if you drop a dime on someone, email me first [ourconcord-at-yahoo.com]. Let me hear the story you are claiming first. Please don't make anonymous comments and allegations because I won't post them. Please interact with me via email about the claims so I can get more information and look into them. Thanks!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fireworks or something else?

Shira Schoenberg of the Monitor talks a bit about the School District Charter Commission here: ["Let the fireworks begin!"].
I don't know if there will be many fireworks. There might be. Who knows? But it seems with clear slant towards the school system [see my analysis here: "Controversial charter commission starting to come together ... but is the fix in?"], few, if any, changes will come out of this commission. That means we'll all be back at square one next year. Sigh.
Either way, the community needs to be plugged into this process. So do show up on Wednesday night for the first meeting and we can see what happens.

Audi 150th season

From the inbox:


The Concord City Auditorium opens its 105th year as the heART of the capital area with a GALA celebration on Sept. 13, previewing over 105 public events planned for the 2009-2010 season.

The Season-Opening event is GALA IXX – the 19th Annual -- presented by The Friends of the Audi as a “preview of coming attractions”. Here’s the program:

At 6pm – The AUDI pARTy and ARTS FAIR, held outside – and under a Taylor Tent if the weather is cranky -- features displays of area arts organizations to let the public know what’s coming to town this season and how to join in the excitement of the area’s growing “Creative Economy”. It’s free and open to all, as a gift to the community.
ARNIE’S ICE CREAM SOCIAL is a traditional part of the Fair, as Tom and
Tootie Arnold generously serve their delicious homemade ice cream to the crowd. Favorite local musicians serenade the fairgoers at this old-time down-home event..
Special guests at the Fair include THE CONCORD COACH, as the city’s famous stagecoach drives up Prince Street to the city’s historic stage, thanks to the Concord Coach Society. The GALA offers a rare chance for the public to be close to a coach and greet costumed drivers and passengers re-enacting the city’s past.
A favored part of the Fair is the GALA RAFFLE, which offers 10 prizes -- jumbo mugs filled with over $3,000 worth of restaurant certificates and show tickets. Result:
Everybody wants to be a winner!

Then, at 7pm – the action moves inside the theatre for GALA VARIETY SHOW – a fast-paced dazzling revue of the music-dance-film-lectures-comedy coming to the Audi stage in 2009-2010. Allwynne Fine, the show’s director, invited all the groups booked in the theatre this season to present a three to eight minute sample of their coming attractions…and what a line-up she has listed, including – The kick-off show for the Walker Fund’s 113th season: THE 1944 BIG BAND COMEDY CANTEEN.
Scenes from upcoming shows: GODSPELL, Steve Martin’s THE UNDERPANTS, ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER – Children’s Theatre, JUDY’S SCARY LITTLE CHRISTMAS, BIG – The Musical, A DICKENS CHRISTMAS, Dance for this “Dancing Town”: Concord Dance Academy’s Holiday Spectacular, Miss Gen’s National Championship performers, The Rhythm of the Night, A Musical Sampler: The Strathspey & Reel Society of New Hampshire, Concord’s 50th Annual Barbershop Festival, The NH Opera Idol, and The 9/11 “Singing Policeman.”
Plus the start of the Auditorium’s FLYSPACE PROJECT, which will bring our hemp fly system house into the 21st century . The Audi’s call to “Come Fly With Us” will be highlighted by the Cindy Flanagan’s dynamic dancers and extraordinary harmonies of THE FOUR GRIPS – created by Martha and Robert Kuepper.
The community’s A&E will be introduced by a community Emcee -- STATE SENATOR SYLVIA LARSEN. A large company of volunteers is working behind the scenes to produce the event, led by David Murdo heading the Gala Variety Show, Candy Brehm organizing the Arts Festival, and Sharon Sweet as Stage Manager.
Tickets for the GALA – which is a friend-raiser rather than a fund-raiser – are just $5, and are on sale now at Ballard’s Novelty Shop on Broadway and Gibson’s Bookstore on South Main Street, or by mail order to Audi Friends, PO Box 652, Concord, 03302.
For information, please call 225-7474 or visit www.theaudi.org
For further information, please contact: Director – Allwynne Fine, 225-6497; allwynne@aol.com; Producer – David Murdo, 225-7474, nhdm40@comcast.net.

Friday, September 4, 2009

New candidates emerge ...

According to the city clerk's office, at least two new candidates have emerged to run for seats this year.
Washington Street resident Jim Baer, a retiree and a member of the Concord Taxpayer Association, has pulled papers to run at-large.
Another newcomer who pulled papers today was Amanda Grady of Wyman Street who is running for the open council seat in Ward 4. Grady is the director of public policy, N.H. Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence and the former chairwoman of the New Hampshire Young Democrats.

Incumbents who pulled papers include Liz Blanchard in Ward 1, Rob Werner in Ward 5, J. Allen Bennett in Ward 6, Keith Nyhan in Ward 7, and Dick Patten in Ward 8.
Mayor Jim Bouley also pulled papers today to run for reelection as did Dan St. Hilaire, to run at-large.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dr. Black changes his mind

City Councilor Dr. Douglas Black has decided not to run for reelection after all.
In email to the council members earlier today, Black said a recent death in his family had "given me pause to look at my priorities."
"I need to spend more time with my family, my day jobs and my church," he said.
Black said he enjoyed being a councilor and was "grateful" to all of those who voted for him.
"Concord is a great city and is indeed well run," he said.

Black's decision not to run, along with Lemieux, means there will be at least two new councilors coming on board later this year. It also means there will probably be a mad dash over the next nine weeks to win that open seat.
With a mayoral race not likely this year, a competitive at-large race and school board race, which is also city-wide, should boost voter turnout.
In 2007, six candidates ran for the two seats but the turnout was 20 percent. In 2006, a number of people ran for the special election to finish out one of the terms of a former councilor who resigned. In 2005, a wide field ran for the seats currently being held by Black and St. Hilaire but the lack of a mayoral race kept the turnout to a paltry 14 percent.
Juxtapose that with the Ward councilors who very rarely see challenges. But, in fact, due to the size, Ward races are much easier to run than at-large races.
I'm hearing some rumors that there will be at least a few competitive Ward races this year. So we'll see what happens.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Most incumbents running again

As the start of the filing period approaches for municipal and school board candidates, a quick survey of the political landscape reveals that most incumbents will be running for reelection.

Mayor Jim Bouley has confirmed that he will be running for reelection in November.

At-Large incumbent and long-time Councilor Dr. Douglas Black says he's 90 percent sure he will be running again, with fellow Republican and Mayor Pro Tempe Dan St. Hilaire, also running.

Ward 1 Councilor Elizabeth Blanchard said she would also be running again.

"It’s become a joke among my colleagues, because I’ve been known to say I will remain on the Council until Penacook is revitalized," she said in an email, "which means I will be hobbling up to my seat with a cane and/or walker."

Both Bill Stetson, who represents Ward 2, and Fred Keach, who represents Ward 10, said they were close to making a decisions about running again.

Ward 5 Councilor Rob Werner, Keith Nyhan from Ward 7, and Ward 9 Councilor Candace Bouchard all confirmed they would be running again.

Ward 6 Councilor Allen Bennett was unreachable via email.

Over on the school board side, two of the three incumbents have confirmed they are running again.

Chairwoman Kass Ardinger said she has really enjoyed serving.
"I look forward to continuing the dialogue with community members," she said, "not just about how best to serve our youngest students in our elementary schools, but also about issues of special education, the growing demands on our schools and staff from economically and socially disadvantaged students and families, the impact of increasing federal and state mandates and regulations, and how all of those things need to be addressed within the realistic confines of a budget based on money raised primarily from local property taxes."
Ardinger said she was interested in "working closely" with city leaders to come up with solutions to problems, such as the aging community spaces, like the Green Street and Heights community centers.
"I think we can find ways to successfully integrate some community uses into the proposed redesigns of elementary schools," she said.

Christopher Casko will also seek another term.
"I feel that I have served the citizens of Concord well, and hope to do so for another 3 years," he said. "In addition, I look forward to discussing the very important issues facing the board going forward."
Casko listed a number of reasons for running including implementing the elementary facilities master plan, passing responsible budgets and making the process as transparent as possible, working with city officials, and developing education policy for the district.

Board member Clint Cogswell did not return an email clarifying his intentions.

Lemieux's out

Ward 4 City Councilor Dick Lemieux has decided not to seek re-election, according to an email he sent to the city clerk and his colleagues.
"Being a city councilor has been a rewarding and enriching experience," he wrote. "I have enjoyed my relationship with all of you and the City staff. I thank the voters of Ward 4 for twice giving me the opportunity to represent them."
No word yet on who will run for the seat. The filing period starts on Friday.
There has been some speculation that Concord Taxpayer Association member Jim Baer is considering a run in Ward 4. In 2007, Trish Dionne, who originally signed up to run at-large, reversed course and ran an unsuccessful last minute write-in campaign against Lemieux. No word on whether or not she will consider running again this year.
I'll soon have an extensive update about which incumbents are running for reelection in November.

DeVorsey to step down

The Concord Monitor is reporting this morning that school board member Megan DeVorsey will be stepping down from the board on Dec. 31. DeVorsey's resignation opens up a 1-year seat race to be determined Nov. 3.
Rumors were flying all over town during the last two weeks that DeVorsey was taking an extended trip overseas with her family and might no longer be able to serve. There was some speculation that she might be stepping down or not.
DeVorsey did not return emails over the weekend confirming the resignation rumor.

Meet the architect Wednesday

From an email forwarded to me:

Meet the Architects

The Concord School Board cordially invites all members of the elementary school PTOs to attend a Meet the Architects night at Concord High School

Wednesday, Sept. 2

Examples of buildings designed by HMFH Architects will be on display in the Main Street hallway of CHS at 6:15 p.m., with a presentation by the firm to be given at 7 p.m. in the auditorium.

A question-and-answer session with School Board members and school district administrators will follow.