I obtained at a recent gathering a leaflet from the Right to Know NH organization, which I reproduce below for the benefit of our readers.
Right to Know NH
Right to Know NH is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving adherence to and strengthening the Right to Know Law (RSA 91-A).
What We Do
Assist citizens in exercising their right to obtain information from their government.
Provide resources on Right to Know with the goal of making government more open and accountable.
Help public officials on how they can provide their constituents with access to government meetings and records so they may be in compliance with both the letter and the spirit of the law.
Propose legislation to strengthen the Right to Know Law (RSA 91-A).
Advocate for or against proposed legislative changes by writing to legislators and testifying at legislative committee hearings.
Maintain an extensive website with up-to-date case law, how-to information, and Right-to-Know Law training links.
Educate citizens on their right to know their government.
Build cooperative associations with organizations which share an active and ongoing interest in government transparency.
Membership is free, knowledge is invaluable. We meet regularly in Concord and invite new members. For more details check our website. We also welcome organizations to ally with us so together we have a stronger voice promoting open government.
Part I, Article 8 of the New Hampshire Constitution
All power residing originally in, and being derived from, the people, all the magistrates and officers of government are their substitutes and agents, and at all times accountable to them. Government, therefore, should be open, accessible, accountable, and responsive. To that end, the public’s right of access to governmental proceedings and records shall not be unreasonably restricted.
RSA 91-A:1 Preamble
Openness in the conduct of public business is essential to a democratic society. The purpose of this chapter is to ensure both the greatest possible public access to the actions, discussions and records of all public bodies, and their accountability to the people.
The Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) have posted their agenda for a BOS meeting to be held Monday, July 13.
The BOS meeting is scheduled to begin with a quasi-Public session beginning at 6:00 PM.
Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted to the limited extent that an audience limited to nine persons – apart from the BOS itself – will be permitted to attend.
The quasi-Public portion of the agenda has New Business, Old Business, Other Business, and some housekeeping items.
Under New Business are scheduled two agenda items: 1) Swearing-In of Select-Board appointee – Claudine Burnham, and 2) Workshop to Discuss Budget Scheduling & Guidance Development for Departments.
Swearing-In of Select-Board appointee – Claudine Burnham. The two Selectmen remaining appointed Ms. Claudine Burnham at their last meeting to replace outgoing Chairwoman Erin Hutchings.
Workshop to Discuss Budget Scheduling & Guidance Development for Departments. Last year’s BOS “guidance” was both a surprise and a disappointment for taxpayers, who expressed their displeasure through voting instead a second default budget. Let us hope they need not do so a third time running.
The GOFERR reimbursement and “Other” appear at the bottom of the agenda, but would seem to be there in error, as merely continued from the prior agenda.
Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) chairwoman Erin Hutchings announced her resignation, effective July 7, during the Selectman Comments portion of the BOS meeting of Monday, June 15, 2020. She had sold her house and would be moving out of town.
On June 22, 2020, the Town posted a notice seeking applicants from which they might select a replacement.
At their quasi-Public meeting of July 6, 2020, the BOS opened a sealed envelope with the names and particulars of three applicants vying to be her replacement. They were Laurence D. “Larry” Brown, Claudine Burnham, and Humphrey S. Williams. (Mr. Brown and Mr. Williams were candidates for this office at the March election).
At their quasi-Public meeting of last night, Wednesday, July 8, 2020, the BOS went immediately into a 91-A:3 II (c) session.
(c) Matters which, if discussed in public, would likely affect adversely the reputation of any person, other than a member of the public body itself, unless such person requests an open meeting. This exemption shall extend to any application for assistance or tax abatement or waiver of a fee, fine, or other levy, if based on inability to pay or poverty of the applicant.
When they emerged from their secret session, they announced that they had selected Claudine Burnham to serve out the remainder of Erin Hutchings’ third year.
Ms. Burnham was for two years (2015-17) assistant recreation director for the Town of Milton, and has been for two years (2018-Present) a resident mentor at Shortridge Academy, on Governor’s Road in West Milton. Northeastern University conferred upon her in 1993 a B.S. degree, with a major in business administration.
Here follows a transcription (with annotations) of the last will and testament of Milton Mills woolen manufacturer John Townsend.
John Townsend was born in Wilton, Wiltshire, England, October 22, 1807, son of Joseph and Sarah “Sally” (Palmer) Townsend, and was baptized there January 8, 1808. He died in Brookline, MA, May 21, 1891, and this last will, which was dated November 1, 1890, was proved in Norfolk County Probate Court, in Dedham, MA, May 27, 1891 (Norfolk County Probate, 167:54).
Townsend was twice married. He married (1st) in Dorchester (Boston), MA, January 14, 1834, Jane Matilda Townsend, both of Dorchester, MA. She was born in Wilton, Wiltshire, England, September 18, 1815, daughter of Thomas B. and Jane (Randall) Townsend. Their children were Jane Randall “Jennie” Townsend (1835-1869), Caroline Frances Townsend (1840-1897), and Henry Herbert Townsend (1842-1904). Jane M. (Townsend) Townsend died in Dorchester, MA, December 24, 1843.
He married (2nd) in Boston, MA, April 22, 1844, Eliza Ann Townsend. She was born in Milton, MA, April 8, 1823, daughter of Thomas B. and Jane (Randall) Townsend, i.e., she was a younger sister of his deceased first wife. Their children were Emma M. Townsend (1848-1875), William B. Townsend [II] (1850-1878), Frank Albert Townsend (1855-1913), and Flora G. Townsend (b. 1863). Eliza A. (Townsend) Townsend survived him and died in Needham, MA, September 19, 1896.
Townsend started his Milton Mills woolen mill in or around 1846. He and his second wife, Eliza, and the children of both marriages resided in Milton Mills from then until the early to mid 1860s. (His eldest son, Henry H. Townsend, would run the rebuilt mill there in later years).
GREAT FALLS, N.H., Saturday, Oct. 19. The flannel factory of JOHN TOWNSEND, at Milton Mills, N.H., was burnt this evening. Loss about $30,000, which is partially insured. The factory was running on a Government contract (NY Times, October 20, 1861).
John Townsend, a merchant, aged fifty-five years (birthplace omitted), headed a Brookline, MA, household at the time of the Second (1865) MA Census. His household included his wife, Eliza Townsend, aged forty-two years (b. Milton, ME [SIC], Jane R. Townsend, aged twenty-nine years (b. Dorchester), Caroline F. Townsend, aged twenty-five years (b. Dorchester), Henry H. Townsend, a clerk, aged twenty-two years (b. Dorchester), Emma M. Townsend, aged nineteen years (b. Milton, NH), William B. Townsend, aged fourteen years (b. Milton, NH), Frank A. Townsend, aged ten years (b. Milton, NH), Flora G. Townsend, aged two years (b. Milton, NH), and Mary Welsh, aged twenty years (b. Ireland). John Townsend and Henry H. Townsend were ratable polls and legal voters.
Will of the Late John Townsend Filed. DEDHAM, May 27. This afternoon the will of John Townsend, late of Brookline, the deceased woollen manufacturer, was filed for probate in the Norfolk registry at Dedham. He left about $400,000, of which amount all but $700 is bequeathed to his family and other relatives. The instrument was drawn November 1, 1890, and his sons, Henry H. and Frank A. Townsend, are named as his executors and trustees (Boston Globe, May 27, 1891).
Note that $400,000 in 1891 would be worth about $36,000,000 today. (Each $20 might be taken as a one-ounce gold “double eagle” coin, and that one ounce of gold is worth about $1,800 in Federal Reserve notes at their present value).
John Townsend – Will – Proved May 27, 1891
I, John Townsend of the Town of Brookline, County of Norfolk and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Woolen Manufacturer, make this my last will and testament hereby revoking all other wills.
Item 1st. I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Eliza Ann Townsend sixty thousand dollars to be held in trust and five thousand dollars in cash and all the furniture and horse or horses, harnesses, carriages, and sleighs at her disposal to sell or otherwise as she may think best, and for her benefit the income or interest on her bequest of sixty thousand dollars may be paid at any time she may desire provided the trustee or trustees have cash on hand received by them for or on account of income or interest on their investments.
Eliza A. (Townsend) Townsend died in Needham, MA, September 19, 1896. (Her son, Frank A. Townsend, lived then in Needham).
Item 2nd. I give and bequeath to my son Frank Albert Townsend one hundred thousand dollars in cash, and all my office furniture excepting the small desk, and I trust he will make good use of the above as his father has done before him. I also give him five thousand dollars in cash extra to be paid him for his services rendered me.
Frank Albert Townsend was born in Milton Mills, NH, July 5, 1855, son of John and Eliza A. (Townsend) Townsend. He died at his home at 371 Walnut Street, Brookline, MA, July 29, 1913, aged fifty-eight years, twenty-four days. (He was buried in Forest Hills Cemetery, in Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA).
Frank A. Townsend, own income, aged fifty-eight [fifty-five] years (b. MA), headed a Needham, MA, household at the time of the Thirteenth (1910) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of six years), Anna L. Townsend, aged sixty years (b. NH), and his servants, Rose G. Lufkin, a private family waitress, aged thirty-four years (b. MA), and Bessie G. McGlone, a private family cook, aged thirty-five years (b. Ireland (English)).
Item 3rd. I give and bequeath to my son Henry Herbert Townsend one hundred thousand dollars in cash, also my small desk in the counting room, if the said Henry Herbert Townsend owes my Estate either by note or on account it is to be deducted from his cash amount.
Henry Herbert Townsend was born in Dorchester, MA, August 12, 1842, son of John and Jane M. “Matilda” (Townsend) Townsend. He died in Milton Mills, June 25, 1904, aged sixty-one years, ten months, and thirteen days.
Henry H. Townsend married in Milton, June 7, 1870, Agnes J. Brierley, he of Boston and she of Milton, NH. She was born in Lowell, MA, May 17, 1844, daughter of Edward and Margaret M. (Thompson) Brierley. (See also Milton Mills’ Brierley Mill – c1864-18). He was a merchant, aged twenty-seven years; she was aged twenty-six years. Rev. N.D. Adams of Union, NH, performed the ceremony. (This record appeared also in Boston vital records).
Item 4th. I give and bequeath to my beloved daughter Caroline Frances Townsend forty five thousand dollars to be held in trust, the interest or income to be paid to her semiannually. I also give and bequeath to the aforementioned Caroline Frances Townsend in cash one thousand dollars, and at her decease the amount held by the trustee or trustees shall be paid one half to Henry Herbert Townsend and the other half to Frank Albert Townsend of their heirs.
Caroline Frances Townsend was born in Dorchester, MA, May 2, 1840, daughter of John Townsend and his first wife, Jane Matilda (Townsend) Townsend.
Caroline F. Townsend of Milton Mills appeared in a list of first and second year women taking the English course of studies at the New Hampton Literary & Biblical Institution, in New Hampton, NH, during the 1856-57, when she was called “Carrie F.,” 1857-58, 1858-59 academic years. She majored in Modern Languages. Her elder sister, Jennie R. Townsend, was a student there also during the 1856-57 academic year.
Caroline F. Townsend boarded for many years with another legatee, Mary W. Robinson of Dorchester.
Caroline F. Townsend married in the Bromfield Street Methodist Church in Boston, MA, June 27, 1894, John W. Wellman, she of Dorchester, MA, and he of Wakefield, MA. He was a cotton broker, aged seventy-four years (b. Farmington, ME), and she was at home, aged fifty-four years (b. Boston); it was his third marriage and her first.
Caroline F. (Townsend) Wellman died in Wakefield, MA, December 26, 1897, aged fifty-seven years, seven months, and twenty-four days. Her husband died in Wakefield, MA, January 30, 1900, aged eighty-one years.
Item 5th. I give and bequeath to my grandchild John Townsend son of Henry Herbert and Agnes Townsend five thousand dollars to be held in trust and Gracy Townsend daughter of Henry Herbert and Agnes Townsend two thousand dollars to be held in trust until they arrive at the age of twenty-one years when there shall be paid to them the forenamed legacies and accrued income thereon.
John E. Townsend was born in Milton Mills, September 9, 1872, son of Henry H. and Agnes J. (Brierley) Townsend. He died in Milton Mills, September 8, 1914, aged forty-two years, eleven months, and thirty days. He married in Milton, January 28, 1896, Eda B. Lowd.
His sister, Grace Maud “Gracie” Townsend, was born in Milton Mills, November 14, 1873. She died September 7, 1953. She married in Milton Mills, June 19, 1896, John C. Townsend, she of Milton, and he of Saugus, MA. He was a clerk, aged twenty-four years, and she was aged twenty-two years. He was born in East Wilton, ME, September 17, 1871, son of Joseph and Ruth P. (Wentworth) Townsend. He died in Milton Mills, February 14, 1916.
Item 6th. I give and bequeath to my brother James Townsend two thousand dollars to be held in trust, also to my sister Eliza, also Charles Townsend son of my brother Thomas, one thousand dollars each, also to Ruth widow of Joseph Townsend two thousand dollars, all of the above mentioned to be held in trust.
James Townsend was born in Wilton, Wiltshire, England, June 2, 1802, son of Joseph and Sarah “Sally” (Palmer) Townsend. He married in Dorchester, MA, June 12, 1826, Sarah Kilham. He died in Marlborough, NH, August 6, 1892, aged ninety years, one month, and twenty-eight days.
Eliza J. Townsend was born in Wilton, Wiltshire, England, February 2, 1814, daughter of Joseph and Sarah “Sally” (Palmer) Townsend. She died in Saugus, MA, January 22, 1894, aged seventy-nine years, eleven months, and twenty days.
Charles Thomas “Thomas” Townsend was born in Wilton, Wiltshire, England, January 17, 1810, son of Joseph and Sarah “Sally” (Palmer) Townsend. Charles Thomas Townsend was “now residing at Milton Mills,” NH, when he made his will on May 20, 1879. Charles T. Townsend of Peterborough, NH, died on Walnut Street in Brookline, MA, January 27, 1881, aged seventy-two years, one month. (John Townsend had his home at 371 Walnut Street in Brookline).
He married in Gilsum, NH, in 1837, Elsea M. Bingham. They had children Ellen A. Townsend (1838-1908), Elsea R. Townsend (1839-1932), the legatee Charles Horace Townsend (1842-1899), Edward P. Townsend (1846-1879), Adelaide M. Townsend (1848-1935), and Alfred B. Townsend (1853-1879).
Joseph Townsend was born in England, in 1823. He died in 1887. He married in Milton, January 6, 1850, Ruth Paul Wentworth, he of Milton and she of Acton, ME. She was born in 1826. She died in 1901.
Item 7th. I give and bequeath to Martha Townsend widow of William B. Townsend two thousand dollars to be held in trust and in case of the decease of the parties named in Items 6 + 7 or either of them then their proportions shall be equally distributed between the families of John and Matilda and John and Eliza Ann Townsend.
William B. Townsend was born in Wilton, Wiltshire, England, October 21, 1803, son of Joseph and Sarah “Sally” (Palmer) Townsend. He died in Milton Mills village, November 23, 1847, aged forty-four years.
William B. Townsend married in Canton, MA, December 13, 1832, Martha W. (Holden) Townsend, both of Canton. She was born in Boston, MA, circa 1808, daughter of Stephen and Martha (Niles) Holden. They had children Mary E. Townsend (1833-1906), Anna A. Townsend (1836-1861), Harriet Townsend (1840-), and William E. Townsend (1844-). Martha W. (Holden) Townsend died in Worcester, MA, February 5, 1896, aged eighty-eight years, five months, and nineteen days.
Item 8th. I give and bequeath to Agnes wife of Henry H. Townsend three thousand dollars to be held in trust the income or interest to be paid to her semiannually and at her decease the amount held by the trustee shall be paid to her husband Henry H, the trust ceasing at her death.
Agnes J. (Brierley) Townsend did not long survive the testator. She died December 26, 1891, aged forty-seven years.
Item 9th. I give and bequeath to my brother-in-law Joseph Whitehead one thousand dollars in cash.
Joseph Whitehead was born in Yorkshire, England, May 20, 1823. He died in the Masonic Home in Charlton, MA, November 17, 1912, aged eighty-nine years, five months, and twenty-seven years.
Joseph Whitehead married in Saugus, MA, November 18, 1849, Sarah M. Townsend, both of Saugus. (He was of Milton, NH, in the marriage intentions). He was a spinner, aged twenty-four years (b. England), and she was aged twenty-five years. She was born in England, circa 1821, daughter of Joseph and Sarah “Sally” (Palmer) Whitehead. She died of consumption in Saugus, MA, February 28, 1869, aged forty-eight years, six months.
Joseph Whitehead, a trader, aged thirty-seven years (b. England), headed a Saugus, MA, household at the time of the Eighth (1860) Federal Census. His household included Sarah Whitehead, aged thirty-nine years (b. England), Ralph S. Whitehead, aged three years (b. MA), Ann Townsend, aged forty-eight years (b. England), Eliza Townsend, aged forty-six years (b. England), and Elizabeth Townsend, aged forty-four years (b. England). Joseph Whitehead had real estate valued at $2,200 and personal estate valued at $1,800.
Item 10th. I give and bequeath to my friend Aaron S. McIntosh five hundred dollars in cash.
Aaron S. McIntosh was born in Needham, MA, August 22, 1819, son of Samuel and Priscilla (Smith) McIntosh. He died in Boston, MA, November 4, 1895, aged seventy-six years.
Aaron S. McIntosh appeared in the Boston directory of 1885, as a bookkeeper at 25 Tremont Temple, with his house at 2859 Washington street.
Item 11th. I give and bequeath to my faithful employee John Young two hundred dollars in cash provided he is in my employ at my decease.
John W. Young was born in Barrington, NH, April 8, 1851, son of John B. and Mary J. (Buzzell) Young. He died in Brookline, MA, January 21, 1901, aged fifty-one years.
John W. Young appeared in the Brookline directory of 1891, as a coachman for John Townsend, at Walnut street, with his house on Sewall street, corner of Chestnut street.
Item 12th. I give + bequeath to my kind friend Miss Mary W. Robinson of Dorchester in consideration of her great kindness to my daughter Caroline Frances the sum of five hundred dollars in cash.
Mary Withington Robinson was born in Dorchester, MA, April 30, 1819, daughter of Stephen and Hannah (Withington) Robinson. She died in her home at 33 Brent Street, Boston, MA, September 16, 1905, aged eighty-six years, four months, and sixteen days.
Mary W. Robinson, keeping house, aged sixty-one years (b. MA), headed a Boston, MA, household at the time of the Tenth (1880) Federal Census. Her household included her boarder, Caroline F. Townsend, aged forty years (b. MA). They resided on Washington Street.
Miss Mary W. Robinson of Dorchester, MA, was a vice-president of the New England Wheaton Seminary Club in May 1891 (Boston Globe, May 10, 1891).
Mary W. Robinson appeared in the Boston directory of 1893 as having her house at 33 Brent street. Caroline F. Townsend appeared as boarding with her. The property was described when sold by Robinson’s estate as being a frame house, with 5,186 square feet of land, situated between Talbot avenue and Washington street in Dorchester (Boston Globe, April 17, 1908).
I also direct that after all my just debts and expenses and all the hereinbefore mentioned legacies have been fully paid the remainder of my estate if any shall be equally divided between the families of John and Matilda and John and Eliza Ann Townsend.
I appoint as my Executors and Trustees of this my last will and testament my sons Henry Herbert and Frank Albert Townsend without giving surety or sureties on their official bonds as Executors or Trustees.
In witness whereof I have signed + sealed this instrument and published and declared the same as + for my last will and testament at Boston in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts this first day of November in the year A.D. one thousand eight hundred and ninety.
John Townsend (Seal)
The said John Townsend at Boston, on the first day of November signed and sealed this instrument and published and declared the same as and for his last will and testament and we at his request and in his presence and in the presence of each other have written our names as subscribing witnesses. John G. Wetherell. Chas L. Lane. W.W. Martin.
Witness John G. Wetherell (1822-1897) was president and a director of the Atlas National Bank of Boston. Charles L. Lane (1828-1891) was an Atlas National Bank cashier. (He did not long survive the testator). William W. Martin (1854-1908) was an Atlas National Bank clerk and messenger.
As the annual holiday most associated with the idea of liberty, it would not be an understatement to say that limited government took a massive hit this year. The virus was one thing, but the disastrous effects of the lockdowns will be felt for years to come. Worse still is what appears to be approval from most folks that the lockdowns were the correct course of action for state and local governments to take. While one can’t trust the mainstream media to put anything in perspective, I do believe a poll I read a few months back that 81% of the respondents did NOT want the lockdowns to end and were concerned about opening up too soon.
Incredibly, even here in the Live Free or Die state, it appears that most people have succumbed to the idea that “this time it’s different.” Really? If you check even the CDC records, in the 2017-2018 flu season, there were anywhere from 46,000 to 95,000 deaths in the US. For those with longer memories, you might recall the 1968-1969 Hong Kong flu season when an estimated 100,000 people perished in the US. Benjamin Franklin’s eternal words, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety” come to mind. Should our state motto be changed to read “Live Free AND Die”?
I moved to this state specifically because it had a reputation for being liberty-oriented. What a major disappointment when our governor issued Emergency Order #17 and required all “non-essential” Granite Staters to stay at home. Of course, many people were already cutting back on their social contacts as news of the virus was everywhere, but not everyone was, so the heavy hand of government stepped in to “protect” us. The initial emergency order was only 4 pages long, but Exhibit A describing “essential” jobs was 11 pages long. My own industry was not originally listed as “essential,” but my professional trade association raised Cain, and voilà suddenly we were added to the list and became “essential.” So much for there being any doubt about the arbitrariness of it all.
On the other hand, I have great respect for how the pandemic was handled in South Dakota. The governor’s executive order was only 2 pages long, and there was no lockdown. As the governor stated, it’s the residents of South Dakota who are primarily responsible for their own safety. These days, what a radical thought to proclaim publicly—and as a government official too—that people have to take care of themselves and not expect the government to take care of them. They have the freedom to be treated like adults but also the responsibility to face the consequences of their choices. The governor noted that she was trusting them to act like responsible adults during the pandemic, so there was no need for authoritarian behavior like in other states.
Of course, the government control freaks weren’t keen on letting some folks keep their liberties intact, so when there was an outbreak of the virus at a meat plant in South Dakota, the governor took a lot of heat for not locking down the state. Unlike other governors who caved in to mounting pressure, she once again reiterated her non-authoritarian stance and also pointed out that meat plants were deemed essential by the president, so they would have been open anyway during a lockdown.
So, does liberty really work or are we destined for gloom and doom if our leaders don’t treat us like children? Obviously the original “models” were pathetic in how far they were off base, but let’s look at some actual data a few months into the pandemic. New Hampshire is not very different from South Dakota as it’s mostly rural. With a population of 1.36 million, it’s the 10th least populated state, while South Dakota is the 5th least populated state with a population of around 882,000. As of this week, New Hampshire had 373 corona-related deaths, while South Dakota had 93. Dividing the number of deaths by the total population, the virus death rate is .027% per capita for New Hampshire and .013% for South Dakota. If lockdowns save lives, then why is the rate lower for South Dakota, which had no lockdown? As for unemployment as of 06/19/20, the rate for New Hampshire was 14.5% and 9.4% for South Dakota. So apparently authoritarianism isn’t good for your livelihood—or even your health.
To be completely fair to our governor, one of our state reps told me that when some of them complained to the governor that state troopers were pulling drivers over during the initial phase of the lockdown to check why they were out driving, he vowed to put a stop to that nonsense. From what I’ve read, he kept his word, and there were none of the really outrageous civil liberty violations here like arresting surfers, citing people sitting in their cars watching the sunset, taking down the license numbers of cars in church parking lots during Easter Sunday, and the disgusting “Karens” who turned in their neighbors to local police departments and “good citizen” government hotlines.
As today’s holiday approached, there’s been a mainstream media feeding frenzy about the president visiting South Dakota and Mount Rushmore for a celebration and fireworks. The governor said, “We’ve told people to focus on personal responsibility. Every one of them has the opportunity to make a decision that they’re comfortable with. So, we will be having celebrations of American independence. We told those folks that have concerns that they can stay home. But those who want to come and join us, we’ll be giving out free face masks, if they choose to wear one. But we won’t be social distancing.” Needless to say, those who celebrate the god of government control are fit to be tied. Ignoring CDC guidelines is akin to or perhaps worse than heresy.
If I were a bit more cynical, I would say the governor’s critics are hoping for lots of new infections and, better still, deaths resulting from today’s celebration in South Dakota. But I prefer to focus on being happy that there’s actually an elected official who is actively promoting self-ownership, personal responsibility, and self-reliance. Perhaps the meaning behind today’s holiday hasn’t been lost after all.
The Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) have posted their agenda for a BOS meeting to be held Monday, July 6.
The BOS meeting is scheduled to begin with a Non-Public session beginning at 6:00 PM. That agenda has one Non-Public item classed as 91-A3 II (a).
(a) The dismissal, promotion, or compensation of any public employee or the disciplining of such employee, or the investigation of any charges against him or her, unless the employee affected (1) has a right to a meeting and (2) requests that the meeting be open, in which case the request shall be granted.
This likely has to do with compensation, rather than the other possibilities. (The Town government has posted four positions).
Due to their concerns regarding Covid-19, there will be no public in attendance and, therefore, no public comment. The session may be watched remotely through the usual YouTube means or by teleconference. The links for both are in their original agenda, for which there is a link in the References below.
The quasi-Public portion of the agenda has New Business, Old Business, Other Business, and some housekeeping items.
Under New Business are scheduled four agenda items: 1) Update Regarding Covid-19 (Novel Coronavirus) Operational Activities / Plans, 2) Ira Miller’s General Store – Tax Abatement Agreement in lieu of RSA 79-E application, 3) Jones Brook Discussion, 4) Vote to Authorize Tax Exempt Drawdown Basis Tax Anticipation Note for Fiscal Year 2020.
Update Regarding Covid-19 (Novel Coronavirus) Operational Activities/Plans. One supposes, by the very terms of the meeting announcement, that the Covid-19 is still among us. We will evidently hear an update on those things with which the BOS has been active.
There will be a fifth ReopenNH rally at the State House in Concord, NH, July 4, from noon until 2 PM. This one will include a prayer, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, children’s activities, and a parade.
Ira Miller’s General Store – Tax Abatement Agreement in lieu of RSA 79-E application. Under the Community Revitalization Tax Relief Incentive (RSA 79-E), a redevelopment project resulting in a substantial rehabilitation (at least $75,000 or 15% of the total existing assessed value), any new taxable value directly generated by the renovation can be freed from the levying of property taxes for five years (for a substantial renovation), with an additional four years possible for a property listed or eligible to list on the National Register of Historic places.
Jones Brook Discussion. A bit cryptic. Either the watershed, conservation area, or partnership of that name is to be discussed.
Vote to Authorize Tax Exempt Drawdown Basis Tax Anticipation Note for Fiscal Year 2020. In which Milton’s Town government plumbs the depths: borrowing in order to spend. Taxpayers will henceforth pay not only their taxes, but interest on those taxes. Do you want to pay more in taxes than need be in order to pay interest on borrowed money? I know I don’t.
Aah, but is bond interest in the default budget? Probably not.
Tax Anticipation Note (TAN): “A municipal bond, usually with a maturity of less than one year, issued on the assumption that the debt will be paid back on future tax revenue. Municipalities issue tax anticipation notes to provide cash for immediate or time sensitive needs.”
Tax Exempt: “Federal tax laws require an analysis of a governmental unit’s cash flow needs if the borrowing is to be done on a tax-exempt basis. The need is demonstrated by preparing month-by-month cash flow estimates for the funds for which the borrowing will be made. … The statutes under which notes and warrants are authorized are likely to include a formula or dollar amount limiting the amount of notes or warrants that may be lawfully issued. They are typically payable solely from the taxes or revenues being anticipated.”
Major Hogan: What do you do when you’re short of cash? Lt. Sharpe: Do without, sir. Hogan: You borrow, Richard, from a bank.
Under Old Business are scheduled three items: 5) Request for a One-year Extension for Completion of Project on Tax Deed Auction Property Located at 1121 White Mountain Highway (Issuance of Certificate of Occupancy), 6) Status of following tax deeded structures: 20 Dawson, 79 Charles and 565 White Mountain Highway, and 7) Possible Conservation Commission Appointment.
Request for a One-year Extension for Completion of Project on Tax Deed Auction Property Located at 1121 White Mountain Highway (Issuance of Certificate of Occupancy). The owner of the so-called Blue House, which sold at auction last year, with covenants for repair within the year, has requested an extension.
Status of following tax deeded structures: 20 Dawson, 79 Charles and 565 White Mountain Highway. Properties not disposed of when the prior one sold at auction.
Possible Conservation Commission Appointment. Another “selection” (see next agenda item).
Under Other Business That May Come Before the Board is scheduled one item: 8) Open submissions for Select Board Vacancies and Announcement of Applicant Names.
Open submissions for Select Board Vacancies and Announcement of Applicant Names. Herein lies a tale, no doubt, likely one we will not hear. It would seem that one or more of the selectmen (“vacancies” being the plural form) is to be replaced, per statute, by a special “selection” rather than a special election. Those doing the selecting were themselves elected by a plurality of a minority of the electorate, but they did at least face an election.
The only statute alternative is to have a judge make the “selection” rather than the remaining selectmen. Hmm.
There will be the approval of prior minutes (from the quasi-Public session of June 15, 2020, the quasi-Public session of June 30, 2020, the non-Public session of June 30, 2020, an expenditure report, administrator comments, and BOS comments.
The Milton recipients of $288,319.13 in grants from the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery (GOFERR) were Eastern Boats, Inc. ($190,067.26), Shortridge Academy, LLC ($78,393.22), Aerial NDT Inspection Inc. ($11,150.72), Milton Associates, LLC ($4,534.26), and Mary V`S Unique Creations ($4,173.67).
We have seen that our newly-established Local Government Efficiency Task Force has begun its work with questions of how to find other revenue sources. That is to say, the Board of Selectmen (BOS) do not seem to feel that Milton has budget and spending problems, as such, but an income shortage instead.
They are wrong of course, as is their wont. A correspondent directed our attention to a recent article in the Concord Monitor regarding average Police budgets in New Hampshire.
According to this article, NH cities and towns spent in a range between $100 and $554 per capita for their Police services in 2019, with the average community spending $194 per capita. Milton, at $201 per capita, spent more than the average community.
Our neighboring city of Rochester reportedly spent $222 per capita, which was relatively low for a city, while our neighboring towns of Farmington, Middleton, and Wakefield spent $209, $188, and $161 respectively.
Milton taxpayers might well ask themselves whether our Police requirements and, therefore, our per capita Police expenses, align more closely with those of Rochester or those of Middleton and Wakefield. (Keeping in mind that our other neighbors in Lebanon, ME, have no police at all, relying instead on their County Sheriff).
Taxpayers might well ask these questions, as it would seem that our BOS have little interest in asking on our behalf.
Bend low again, night of summer stars.
So near you are, sky of summer stars.
So near, a long arm man can pick off stars,
Pick off what he wants in the sky bowl,
So near you are, summer stars,
So near, strumming, strumming,
So lazy hum-strumming.
July 1. An open star cluster from Serpens (IC4756) may be viewable near midnight but may require binoculars.
July 3. Asteroid Herculina in Sagittarius may be viewable most of the night.
July 4. The Earth will be at its farthest point from the sun.
July 5. There will be an eclipse of the full Moon this evening between 23:08 and 1:53 am. The Moon will also be at its farthest point from the sun. The Moon will be closely passed by Jupiter.
July 6. The Moon and Saturn will rise and be close to each other.
July 8. Venus will be as bright as it ever gets in the sky this evening.
July 10. Venus will be at its farthest point from the sun.
July 11. The Moon and Mars will both rise and closely approach one another.
July 12. This date will bring the last quarter of the moon which will also appear smaller than normal.
July 14. Jupiter, in Sagittarius will be viewable most of the night.
July 15. Asteroid 2 Pallas from Sagitta will be viewable much of the night. 134430 Pluto, in Sagittarius will be viewable much of the night.
July 17. The Moon and Venus will rise and closely approach one another.
July 20. There will be a new Moon today which will pass close to the Sun. Saturn, in Sagittarius will be viewable much of the night.
July 22. Mercury will be at its farthest point from the Sun.
July 25. The Moon will be at its closest proximity to the Earth and will appear larger than usual.
July 26. Mercury will be at its highest point in the sky.
July 27. The Moon will be at first quarter.
July 28. The Piscis Austrinid meteor shower can be best viewed at 3:00 am.
July 29. The Southern Aquariid meteor shower will be best for viewing at 5:00 am … yes, just before dawn. The Capricornid meteor shower will be viewable most of the night.
In-the-Sky.org. (2020, June 29). Guides to the Night Sky. Retrieved from in-the-sky.org
The Local Government Efficiency Task Force announced that its inaugural quasi-public meeting will be held today at 6:00 PM.
Its published agenda prefixed its title with the adjective “Remote,” which is meant apparently to signify a “public” meeting under the Governor’s Covid-19 workaround of closed meetings, without any public comment at all, that are “public” only in the sense that they are broadcast to the public or that the public may listen by telephone. Presumably, it is not intended to signify a remote local meeting, which would be to pile on another oxymoron. (The original one having been “government efficiency” or “local government efficiency”).
This new “task force” was initially identified also as an “independent” committee, which it would not be, – even in government speak – if constituted as discussed previously. An actual independent committee would be one composed mostly – if not entirely – of members who are not Town officials or apparatchiks.
A “Joint” committee would be one whose members are drawn from several different bodies or authorities, such as from the Board of Selectmen and School Board. A “Select” or “Special” committee is one appointed for a defined and limited time period for a particular purpose only. This might be termed alternatively an “Ad Hoc” (Latin for “to this” or “for this” purpose) committee.
The time period put forward for this Local Government Efficiency Task Force to fulfill its purpose has been estimated at twelve to eighteen months, or even longer, i.e., well after the current budget process, well after the next election, and perhaps even after the next budgeting process. It is truly amazing how these things “work.”
It would seem that those seeking tax reductions as precipitate as the tax increases have been might have to look elsewhere.
The Task Force’s agenda has six main topics: [1)] Introductions and Statements of Individual Goals, 2) Discussion of Ideas and Approaches, 3) Revenue / Tax Base Growth and Diversification, [4)] Operational Efficiencies, [5)] Organization, and [6)] Other Business.
Introductions and Statements of Individual Goals. In which we meet the members.
Discussion of Ideas and Approaches. In which we might hear of their general approach and their initial thoughts. I had once a boss that explained that consultants mostly return and support what management asked them to find at the outset. And that lies in the questions being asked below.
Revenue / Tax Base Growth and Diversification.a) What grows the tax base? b) What kinds of impacts do different types of growth have on the community? c) What opportunities do we have to create revenue brainstorming session (additional Solar Panel Farm, leasing of town facilities, advertising revenue possibilities), d. Other Ideas and Suggestions.
The questions all suggest that the Town government hopes still to continue merrily along at current or even larger levels, but that someone else might be found to foot the ever-increasing bill.
The questions do suggest some dim awareness that regulatory restrictions have hampered growth and, consequently, tax revenues. In this, the task force seems to have identified already the well-known Kindergarten principle: don’t hit people and don’t take their stuff. Regrettably, they seem to have taken away the wrong lesson. They hope to find and take more stuff.
They do not seem to consider “growth” to be a concern of property owners, as such, but a “communal” one. One supposes that they might next to be speaking of taxes as an “investment.”
Operational Efficiencies.a) What ideas do you have that might increase efficiencies? [E.g.,] Energy Conservation, Cooperative purchasing with school, regionally, Are there opportunities to combine departments / functions?, Are there other opportunities to regionalize?
It is better late than never to eliminate duplication, but it has been inexplicable that it has taken so long. There is an organizational efficiency that taxpayers should consider. Why would one ever establish, depend, or expand upon an organization that spends first and considers organizational efficiencies last?
Organization. a) Election of Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary; b) Review of and proposed amendments to Task Force By-laws (you are a subcommittee of the Board of Selectmen, so these are samples – any by-laws ultimately would need approval by the Select Board); c) Do you want to put together subcommittees for the areas Identified Above?
Strictly speaking, a subcommittee of the BOS would be composed entirely of members of the parent committee, i.e. the Board of Selectmen.
Well, we shall see, will we not?
We always carry out by committee anything in which any one of us alone would be too reasonable to persist. – Frank Moore Colby
A southern newspaper, published just days before the second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), took notice of an accident involving a Federal troop transport. Among the victims were the wives of several officers of the Sixth NH Regiment.
LATER FROM THE NORTH. Northern papers of the 16th instant have been received in Richmond. On the night of the 13th inst. the steamer West Point, with 197 convalescent troops from Newport News, for Burnside’s army, was run into at Aqula Creek by the steamer George Peabody. Capt. Travers. and sunk in a few minutes. Seventy-three lives were lost, including the wives of Major Dort, Lieut. Col. Scott, and Capt. Cummings, of the 6th N.H. regiment (Weekly Raleigh Register (Raleigh, NC), August 27, 1862).