Lesson in Survival

By Ian Aikens | November 25, 2020

For the quintessential American holiday of Thanksgiving that we celebrate tomorrow, it’s worth pondering if this is just another day to miss work or school, or is there something more significant to celebrate. Is there more to the tale of the Pilgrims escaping religious persecution in England, fighting starvation and the elements in the harsh New England winter with the help of local Indians, and celebrating a bountiful harvest in 1621?

It turns out the story is more complicated than the standard version we hear most often. The first clarification needed is the make-up of “the Pilgrims.” Of the 102 souls who sailed on the Mayflower, only 41 were actually Puritan Separatists, 18 were indentured servants bound as slaves for 7 years to their masters, and the other 43 were mostly Anglicans seeking economic opportunity in the New World. Another part of the standard narrative is that the colonists were hard-working, tenacious, and G_d-fearing. While there may have been some settlers who fit this description, according to William Bradford, who served as governor of the colony for 30 years, in his History of Plymouth Plantation, many of the colonists were lazy and refused to work in the fields. Stealing what little food there was became rampant, and the colony was overrun with corruption.

What caused the colonists to behave like this when their very lives depended on it? The arrangement was a joint-stock partnership named John Peirce and Associates between the colonists and a group of London merchants. It received a grant in 1620 from the South Virginia Company for a plantation in the Virginia territory. The terms of the alliance stipulated that each adult settler be granted a share in the joint-stock company, and each investment of 10 pounds receive a share. Herein lay the problem: “All settlers … were to receive their necessities out of the common stock. For seven years there was to be no individual property or trade, but the labor of the colony was to be organized according to the different capacities of the settlers. At the end of the seven years the company was to be dissolved and the whole stock divided.”

It should be noted that two concessions requested by the colonists in the original agreement might have made the arrangement in the New World workable despite its “It Takes A Village” emphasis. One was for the settlers to be granted separate plots of land near their houses, and the other was to allow them 2 days a week to cultivate their own land. The reason for requesting the two concessions was because most of the colonists had been tenant farmers in the open fields of an old manorial hunting park in Nottinghamshire, and though they had worked in the lord’s fields, they also had time to work their own individual plots for their own needs. As it turned out though, the London partners refused to grant the concessions and disaster in the New World ensued.

Per William Bradford’s account, “… that the taking away of property and bringing community would make them happy and flourishing … For this community was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the younger men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. The strong … had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice … Upon … all being to have alike and all to do alike, they thought … one as good as another, and so … did … work diminish.” In other words, removing the profit motive caused everyone to work less. If it hadn’t been for the Indians who helped show the settlers how to plant crops native to New England, and how to fish, catch eels, and harvest oysters—not to mention another ship that arrived from England in 1621 just in the nick of time—the settlers would have all perished.

The harvests of 1621 and 1622 were also dismal due to low production, so finally in 1623 Governor Bradford established a system of privately-controlled plots of land, which allowed each family or individual to work them and keep the proceeds. In other words, he abandoned the communal arrangement and established real property rights, and the results were spectacular.

From Bradford again: “So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery … This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.” By the harvest of 1623, “the starving time” became the bountiful occasion we now celebrate as Thanksgiving. Furthermore, by 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were now able to sell and export corn.

Was this success a coincidence? A stroke of luck? A divine message from above? I think not. The private property system that Bradford established in Plymouth was in sync with human nature and the natural instinct to take care of one’s needs and one’s family’s needs first before those of strangers. Which is not to say that charity or compassion is not part of human nature, but “starving time” does not advance generosity. Only independence and self-reliance, which come from the freedom to determine one’s goals and priorities, foster true goodwill towards others.

One final thought on the survival lesson of Thanksgiving. As poorly as the communal system in place until 1623 turned out, consider that it was a (mostly) voluntary arrangement, since each adult man and woman chose to sign on with the trip to the New World even though the two concessions regarding private property were rejected. Even voluntarily willing to take a chance on a perilous journey to a strange land—and still many starved to death. Can you imagine the guaranteed fiasco had the system been forced on them? You only need to look at the outcome when forced giving, production, and redistribution are mandated by government. History is filled with examples, but China’s Great Leap Forward is the best illustration of what happens when property rights are trampled on: at least 30 million people starved to death from 1958 to 1962. With so many voices raised these days in favor of forced collectivism, perhaps they should learn the real lesson of Thanksgiving.


References:

Carson, Kevin. (2013, November 27). No, Stossel. The Pilgrims Were Starved by a Corporation, Not by Communism. Retrieved from c4ss.org/content/22792

Ceeley, Craig. (2003, November 27). From ‘Starving Time’ to Cornucopia: The American Thanksgiving. Retrieved from www.theatlasphere.com/columns/031127_ceely_thanksgiving.php

Franc, Michael. (2005, November 22). Pilgrims Beat ‘Communism’ With Free Market. www.heritage.org/markets-and-finance/commentary/pilgrims-beat-communism-free-market

Mayberry, Richard J. (2014, November 27). The Great Thanksgiving Hoax. Retrieved from mises.org/library/great-thanksgiving-hoax-1

Miniter, Frank. (2016, November 23). Did Capitalism Really Save The Pilgrims—And Give Them A Thanksgiving To Remember? Retrieved from www.forbes.com/sites/frankminiter/2016/11/23/did-capitalism-really-save-the-pilgrims-and-give-them-a-thanksgiving-to-remember/#44147f264ffb

Pease, Harold. (2018, November 15). The Mayflower Compact Facilitated Pilgrim Starvation. Retrieved from suindependent.com/mayflower-compact-pilgrim-starvation/

Non-Public BOS Session Scheduled (September 14, 2020)

By Muriel Bristol | September 12, 2020

The Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) have posted their agenda for a BOS meeting to be held Monday, September 14.

The BOS meeting is scheduled to begin with a Non-Public session beginning at 6:00 PM. That session’s agenda has one item classed as 91-A3 II (c).

(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.

The Public portion of the agenda has Old Business, New Business, Other Business, and some housekeeping items.


Under New Business are scheduled two items: 1) Presentation by Conservation Commission – Teneriffe Mountain Project and Casey Road Project, and 2) Possible Interest in Purchase of Town-owned, Tax Deeded Property.

Presentation by Conservation Commission – Teneriffe Mountain Project and Casey Road Project.

Possible Interest in Purchase of Town-owned, Tax Deeded Property. One imagines that there is an inverse relationship between possible interest and pre-conditions imposed by the BOS.

Under Old Business is scheduled one item: 1) Employee Wage Plan.

Employee Wage Plan. Some departments at least are paid already far in excess of the wages of the average taxpayer that pays them. It might be that the “plan” will be a moratorium that allows that gap to close a bit. (Warning: it could be dangerous to hold one’s breath while waiting for this eventuality).

Under Other Business there are no scheduled agenda items.


There will be the approval of prior minutes (from the quasi-Public session of September 2, 2020); Public Comments; an expenditure report; administrator comments, and BOS comments.


Mr. S.D. Plissken contributed to this article.


References:

State of New Hampshire. (2016, June 21). RSA Chapter 91-A. Access to Governmental Records and Meetings. Retrieved from www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/VI/91-A/91-A-3.htm

Town of Milton. (2020, September 11). BOS Meeting Agenda, September 14, 2020. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/sites/g/files/vyhlif916/f/events/09-14-2020bos_agenda.pdf

Youtube. (1965). Cone of Silence. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1eUIK9CihA&feature=youtu.be&t=19

In Search of the Northwest Budget

By S.D. Plissken | September 11, 2020

In 1845 Sir John Franklin, with two ships and 129 men, went in search of the fabled “Northwest Passage” between Baffin Bay and the Pacific Ocean. He and his men disappeared into the Canadian Arctic and were never seen again.

We know now that their ships became entrapped in the ice of the Canadian Arctic over a series of unusually cold winters. Researchers theorize that, apart from the appalling and deadly Arctic conditions, the expedition’s food and water supplies were contaminated with poisonous lead solder. That would have both sickened them and impaired their cognitive function. Lord Franklin died. Part of the crew descended into cannibalism.

Survivors tried to escape overland. They loaded a heavy ship’s boat with a lot of useless paraphernalia, including a writing desk, silk handkerchiefs, scented soap, sponges, slippers, hair combs, and many books. That seemed to them to be a good idea. It can only be supposed that these unfortunates were half-crazed due to lead poisoning. One by one they died while trying to drag this useless burden across the Canadian tundra towards settlements lying hundreds of frozen miles to their south.

The Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) is seeking a budgetary passage through the economic recession triggered by the Covid-19 shutdown. What do they propose that we drag across this hostile environment to a sustainable place?

Most of the departmental presentations so far have led off with pay raises. Yes, we’ll need them, make sure that pay raises get stowed in the boat. That would be only prudential management. They are essential.

Put them under the writing desk, between the silk handkerchiefs, slippers, scented soap, and books.

References:

Dover, Connie. (2015, August 22). Lord Franklin. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIP5CaRky6s

Wikipedia. (2020, September 11). Franklin’s Lost Expedition. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin%27s_lost_expedition

Public BOS Session Scheduled (August 17, 2020)

By Muriel Bristol | August 17, 2020

The Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) have posted their agenda for a BOS Workshop meeting to be held Monday, August 17.

The BOS Workshop meeting is scheduled to begin with a quasi-Public session beginning at 5:30 PM.

Although this meeting is open to the public, everyone who attends must fill out a contact form and wear a face mask. Anyone refusing to do so will not be allowed entry. Furthermore, with social distancing, the capacity of the meeting room is approximately 14 people. If more than 14 people arrive, then the meeting will have to immediately be adjourned.


The BOS will hear budget proposals from three departments: Recreation Department (Recreation Director Karen Brown); Fire Department Budget Proposal (Fire Chief Nick Marique); Department of Public Works Budget Proposal (DPW Director Patrick Smith).


Mr. S.D. Plissken contributed to this article.


References:

Town of Milton. (2020, August 17). BOS Meeting Agenda, August 17, 2020. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/sites/g/files/vyhlif916/f/events/aaa_08-17-2020_bosagenda_amended.pdf

Not Quite There, Yet

By S.D. Plissken | August 10, 2020

There was to have been a Board of Selectmen (BOS) Workshop meeting this evening at 6:00 PM. The BOS would have heard the next budget proposals from the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Recreation Department.

The meeting has been cancelled and the budget presentations rescheduled for the regular BOS meeting of Monday, August 17.

The Budget Committee sent previously a letter outlining its view that the overall budget should come in at $1,000 less than the Default Budget, as being the only way that an actual budget would ever actually be passed. Its chairman, Mr. Williams, read it out to the BOS at their last meeting.

The BOS heard previously budget proposals from the Milton Mills Free Public Library (MMFPL) and the Police Department. The MMFPL’s budget went over its 2% guidance. Chairman Rawson expressed his disappointment. It would not be impossible to arrange, but their overage would have to come out of some other department’s budget.

The DPW wants double this year, some $500,000, to make up for having their warrant item rejected last March. Again, this would not be impossible, provided their overage came from the budget of some other department or departments.

Some define Economics as the science of best allocating scarce resources. (Some call it the “Dismal Science”). Now the Town government has never felt the need to allocate our scarce dollars in any measured or scientific way. Well, maybe in the distant past, but not for a long time now. It has been more recently in the habit of taking with both hands, both in good times and in bad.

Even now, some in Town government wish to consult Town-hired lawyers to find some way to evade the Tax Cap, which is likely to cramp their style. The style to which they have become accustomed. They have tended to do what they like, as opposed to what we can afford. Does anyone suppose that taxpayers are likely to smile on additional legal expenses, to be added to their current burden, and incurred primarily to thwart their expressed will?

I would predict instead a revised tax cap, an “improved” one with a lower ceiling, maybe 1%.

Meanwhile, the School Board, who is also on a default budget, and whose salary increase warrant article got rejected some months ago, is not quite there with us either. It is to hold a deliberative session at the Nute High and Middle School cafeteria tomorrow, Tuesday, August 11, at 6:00 PM. Its sole object is to put their Collective Bargain Agreement (CBA) warrant article back on a September 8 ballot.

The negotiated increases are substantial. They have to make up time for having been rejected before. One supposes they intend to repeat this exercise until we get it “right.” Because “no,” means “ask me again”?

Is anyone pixilated enough to suppose that taxpayers will have more money during this economic lockdown than they did when they kept their hands in their pockets last March? Very unlikely.

Yes, yes, one might expect turnout to be lower in a primary then it would be at the regular election. Wait, you don’t think that was a part of their calculation, do you? To pack a smaller venue? No, that would be sort of cynical and manipulative.

Do you suppose they know how many taxpayers asked also for a School tax cap? As I understand it, their name is “legion,” and such a measure is even now being studied. But it could never pass, could it? Well, yes, it very well could, if the School Board takes no account of the taxpayers’ scarce resources.

Taken all in all, one might say that many of our Town officials are not quite there with us yet.

References:

Town of Milton. (2020, August 7). BOS Workshop Meeting Agenda, August 10, 2020. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/sites/g/files/vyhlif916/f/events/08-10-2020_bosagenda.pdf

Non-Public BOS Session Scheduled (August 3, 2020)

By Muriel Bristol | August 2, 2020

The Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) have posted their agenda for a BOS meeting to be held Monday, August 3.

The BOS meeting is scheduled to begin with a Public session beginning at 5:30 PM. There will be a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance before the BOS disappears into a Non-Public session. That session’s agenda has one item classed as 91-A3 II (a) and one item classed as 91-A3 II (c).

(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.

The last time this particular code was invoked the Non-Public session was able to begin only when Chief Krauss arrived. And he will evidently be on hand on this occasion too, at least later, in order to present the Police Department budget in the public 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.

This will be another secret confab likely affecting adversely someone’s reputation, someone who did not request an open meeting, assuming that the someone in question even knew they were to be discussed or that they had the option to request an open meeting.


Due to their concerns regarding Covid-19, seating will be limited to allow spacing. (This limitation would be unnecessary if the meeting were held at the Nute High School gym). Should a larger number of attendees appear, the meeting will be adjourned. The session may be watched remotely through the usual YouTube means or by teleconference. The links are in their original agenda, for which there is a link in the References below.

From the Town website we learn that at some point the BOS designated at some point Chairman Andrew Rawson as its ex-officio representative to the Local Government Efficiency Task Force; Vice-Chairman Matt Morrill as its ex-officio representative to the Local Government Efficiency Task Force, and the Planning Board; and Selectwoman Claudine Burnham as its ex-officio representative to the Budget Committee. Former Chairwoman Erin Hutchings is still designated as the ex-officio representative to the Milton Economic Development Committee. There would seem to be some omissions relative to prior years.

The quasi-Public portion of the agenda has Old Business, New Business, Other Business, and some housekeeping items.


Under Old Business are scheduled five items: 1) Update Regarding Covid-19 (Novel Coronavirus) Operational Activities / Plans; 2) Ordinance Updates Status (Currently Under Final Review); 3) Status of Following Tax Deeded Structures: 20 Dawson, 79 Charles and 565 White Mountain Highway (No Change from Previous Meeting); 4) Adoption of By-Laws for Local Government Efficiency Task Force; and 5) Schoolhouse Roof Repair.

Update Regarding Covid-19 (Novel Coronavirus) Operational Activities / Plans. Anyone with their ear to the ground in Milton will have heard rumblings regarding waiting outside the Emma Ramsey Center in the hot sun to conduct bureaucracy there. At the last BOS meeting, a system of numbers, like that employed in bakeries, was put in place. Those waiting might wait in their automobiles in the parking lot or some other shadier spot. While certainly better than before, the rumblings we hear want better solutions.

Ordinance Updates Status (Currently Under Final Review). Chief Krauss sought a review and revision of the Town’s ordinances. Keep an eye this one. Let us hope they are cleaning out old ones, rather than adding a bunch of new ones. But fear not, ordinances can be repealed if necessary, even despite the wishes of chiefs and selectmen.

Status of Following Tax Deeded Structures: 20 Dawson, 79 Charles and 565 White Mountain Highway (No Change from Previous Meeting). These are troubled properties, long overdue to make their appearance at an upcoming auction.

Adoption of By-Laws for Local Government Efficiency Task Force. Because not having them might be inefficient?

Schoolhouse Roof Repair. Prior discussions included the warning that this should be done before winter.


Under New Business are scheduled four agenda items: 1) Dog Licensing (Claudine Burnham); 2) Explanation of Sewer Treatment Plant Issues and Process for Consultant Presentations / Interviews on August 4th with the Select Board (Dale Sprague); 3) 2021 Budget Presentations: a) Library – Betsy Baker, and b) Police Department – Police Chief Richard Krauss; and 4) Proposed Employee Travel Policy – Covid-19.

Dog Licensing (Claudine Burnham). This appeared last time as Warrants for Dog Licenses.

Explanation of Sewer Treatment Plant Issues and Process for Consultant Presentations / Interviews on August 4th with the Select Board (Dale Sprague). The last few issues of which we were aware involved something like a skin-diver on one occasion and a break in a water main on another.

2021 Budget Presentations: a) Library – Betsy Baker, and b) Police Department – Police Chief Richard Krauss. Assuming the method of last year is to be followed again, this would be the first in a series of these departmental budget presentations before both the BOS and the Budget Committee at the same time.

Proposed Employee Travel Policy – Covid-19. Perhaps travel by Town employees to Wuhan – or any of the subsequent urban loci – will be restricted. Or perhaps those traveling to such places will be quarantined upon their return. God only knows, we can only guess. Tune in to find out.


There will be the approval of prior minutes (from the quasi-Public session of July 20, 2020, the non-Public session of July 20, 2020); an expenditure report, as of July 31, administrator comments, BOS comments, and Other Business.


Under Other Business there are no scheduled agenda items.


Mr. S.D. Plissken contributed to this article.


References:

State of New Hampshire. (2016, June 21). RSA Chapter 91-A. Access to Governmental Records and Meetings. Retrieved from www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/VI/91-A/91-A-3.htm

Town of Milton. (2020, August 1). BOS Meeting Agenda, August 3, 2020. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/sites/g/files/vyhlif916/f/agendas/a_08-03-2020_bosagenda.pdf

Youtube. (1965). Cone of Silence. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1eUIK9CihA&feature=youtu.be&t=19

The Annual Racket

By Ian Aikens | July 31, 2020

Does passing a law translate into making the public safer? Or does it just seem like it might make us safer but actually do nothing but feed entrenched special interests and make us all a little poorer?

This is the issue that came to mind when I noticed an article recently about 3 men charged in Nashua with passing mandated annual vehicle inspections without performing them. Should anyone be surprised that this kind of hanky panky goes on? Is it not a corollary that when government programs are created, corruption and fraud fly in the door?

First a little bit of history. Car inspections actually date back to 1931 and RSA 266:1, II. Amazingly, cars were required to be inspected twice a year, but the mandate was reduced to once a year back in the 1980’s. There have been numerous legislative attempts over the years to do away with these mandated inspections, or at least reform them to make them every other year or exempt new cars, but all to no avail.

Special interests are not about to let a good thing slip through their revenue-seeking fingers. The New Hampshire Auto Dealers Association and AAA Northern New England both strongly support mandated annual inspections. Unsurprisingly, the former has made political campaign contributions of $490,000 to New Hampshire legislators over the last 21 years, and I doubt it did so out of the goodness of its heart.

From 1967-1976, the federal government could withhold highway funds from states that didn’t have annual inspection programs. There were 31 states that complied with this carrot-and-stick “encouragement,” but when the law was changed in 1976, gradually one state after another dropped their inspection programs. To this day, only 16 states still have the inspection programs.

To get to the heart of the issue, do mandated annual inspections actually prevent car crashes and save lives? The repair shops scream “Yes!” whenever a state rep even brings up the issue. However, a 2015 study from the US Government Accountability Office – which gets no guaranteed revenue from these mandated programs – did not find any conclusive evidence that the inspections prevented car crashes. The report stated that “estimates derived from data collected by the Department of Transportation (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that vehicle failure is a factor in about 2 to 7 percent of crashes.” It found that driver error was by far the biggest cause of accidents.

It’s also noteworthy that the report found that oversight of state programs is a big problem because of concern that some inspection stations recommend unnecessary repairs while others pass vehicles that really do have safety issues. So apparently the incident in Nashua is not an isolated one.

It is interesting to note that of the 16 states with the mandated programs, all but one state participated in the study. You guessed it: New Hampshire. The study notes on page 26 of its report, “We conducted structured interviews with officials in 15 of the 16 states that currently have a safety inspection program. We attempted multiple times to speak with the one remaining state – New Hampshire – but were unsuccessful.” Similarly, when You Asked, We Answered from New Hampshire Public Radio asked the New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles (a bureaucracy within the Department of Safety), which actually runs the state program, “Why does New Hampshire require annual auto inspections?” it took numerous attempts to get anyone from the DMV to interview for the story. When they finally got an answer, the response was, “All vehicles register(ed) in New Hampshire are required to be inspected once a year per RSA 266:1, II.” Pitiful.

Furthermore, federal vehicles are exempt from New Hampshire’s inspection program, plus there are always out-of-state vehicles on New Hampshire highways (which may or may not have been through an inspection program) due to its popularity as a vacation destination, so at any given time there will always be uninspected cars on our highways. Do they also pose a danger to the public?

Despite the lack of evidence of the safety benefit of the annual inspections – not to mention the cost, which to those on the lower rung of the economic ladder is yet another burden to bear – there will always be the “If it saves a life” crowd proclaiming the sanctity of keeping the program intact. If they truly meant what they say, then all cars would have to be banned from the roads because the number of people killed in car accidents each year consistently runs from 30,000-40,000 in this country. Obviously, we need to balance the benefits of car travel that we all enjoy against the small risk that each of us faces every time we step inside a car. It is simply impossible to eliminate all risk and ensure complete safety, and any attempt to do so would be completely ludicrous.

Finally, I need only to point to California, where I used to live. When I purchased a new car here, I was amazed that the car had to go through the annual inspection. Even back in California, which doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to extracting every last bit of blood and money from its residents, they don’t have annual car inspections, just a smog check every 2 years. Trust me, California is really into the safety business – San Francisco even has a 30-foot social distancing and mask ordinance in force and they’re not shy about issuing citations too – so, if the bureaucrats don’t require them, annual car inspections really are worthless.

References:

Green, Rick. (2019, October 14). New effort unveiled to ease vehicle inspection law. Retrieved from www.laconiadailysun.com/news/local/new-effort-unveiled-to-ease-vehicle-inspection-law/article_ec53a4f4-ec71-11e9-b428-bb9940c67883.html

McDermott, Casey. (2017, July 28). You Asked, We Answered: Why Does N.H. Still Require Annual Car Inspections? Retrieved from www.nhpr.org/post/you-asked-we-answered-why-does-nh-still-require-annual-car-inspections#stream/0

New Hampshire Union Leader. (2020, June 19). Three men charged after allegedly selling inspection stickers without inspecting cars. Retrieved from www.unionleader.com/news/crime/three-men-charged-after-allegedly-selling-inspection-stickers-without-inspecting-cars/article_229deda8-1fe8-548f-8305-6383c1408474.html

United States Government Accountability Office. (2015, August). VEHICLE SAFETY INSPECTIONS – Improved DOT Communication Could Better Inform State Programs. Retrieved from www.gao.gov/assets/680/672131.pdf

Non-Public BOS Session Scheduled (July 20, 2020)

By Muriel Bristol | July 3, 2020

The Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) have posted their agenda for a BOS meeting to be held Monday, July 20.

The BOS meeting is scheduled to begin with a Public session beginning at 5:30 PM. There will be a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance before the BOS disappears into a Non-Public session. That session’s agenda has one item classed as 91-A3 II (c).

(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.

This will be another secret confab likely affecting adversely someone’s reputation, someone who did not request an open meeting, assuming that the someone in question even knew they were to be discussed or that they had the option to request an open meeting.


Due to their concerns regarding Covid-19, seating will be limited to allow spacing. (This limitation would be unnecessary if the meeting were held at the Nute High School gym). Should a larger number of attendees appear, the meeting will be adjourned. 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.

From several agenda items we learn what we did not hear before: The BOS at some point elected Andrew Rawson as its chairman, and Matt Morrill as its vice-chairman.

The quasi-Public portion of the agenda has Old Business, New Business, Other Business, and some housekeeping items.


Under Old Business are scheduled six items: 1) Jones Brook Update: Chairman Rawson; 2) Update Regarding Covid-19 (Novel Coronavirus) Operational Activities / Plans; 3) 2021 Budget Development: a) Police Chief Richard Krauss: Budget Questions / Clarifications, b) Town Administrator Ernest M. Cartier Creveling: Scheduling and Preliminary Default Budget Development; 4) Ordinance Updates Status (Currently Under Final Review); 5) Status of Following Tax Deeded Structures: 20 Dawson, 79 Charles and 565 White Mountain Highway (No Change from Previous Meeting); and 6) Status of GOFERR Grant Reimbursement Application for May 1 – June 30.

Jones Brook Update: Chairman Rawson. Last week this turned out to be improvements to the Jones Brook conservation area, about which we will apparently hear an update..

Exhaling with a Mask
Exhaling with a Mask

Update Regarding Covid-19 (Novel Coronavirus) Operational Activities / Plans. Plan to open up. Everyone has seen the photos of people lined up in the hot sun at six-foot intervals in front of the Emma Ramsey Center.

If the Town cannot manage even that it will soon be time to start pro-rating its tax amounts and waiving its requirements. Past time really. Amazing.

The original lockdown orders – whose constitutionality remains very much in question – never proposed to reduce the number of cases. That would be both impossible and completely counterproductive to the stated objective of achieving “herd immunity.” They were intended merely to space out transmission rates – to “flatten the curve” – so as to not overwhelm hospitals. That has been accomplished. Congratulations.

The actual number of deaths has been of the same order of magnitude as those occurring in less novel virus years. Have some sense of proportion. Milton lost ten residents in the much more serious Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, eleven if you count Oscar Morehouse’s death in France. It does not seem as if anything in town was ever “locked down.” One supposes that some may have elected to stay home on their own. Milton, having now three times the population, would need to have had thirty deaths this year – not just thirty cases – to even approach the conditions of 1918.

It seems as if the “heroes” of the last few months have been those staffing grocery stores and gas stations, as well as those transporting their goods to them. Remember to thank them. The next agenda item for the BOS meeting is to be budget planning. How many departments wish to identify themselves as inessential for purposes of constructing the 2021 budget? Speak up.

2021 Budget Development: a) Police Chief Richard Krauss: Budget Questions / Clarifications, b) Town Administrator Ernest M. Cartier Creveling: Scheduling and Preliminary Default Budget Development. Under the terms of the newly-approved Tax Cap, the Town budget cannot be increased by more than the lesser amount of 2% or the inflation rate.

For some budget items to increase more than others would necessarily mean that other budget items must increase less, remain the same, or even decrease. Increasing a larger budget item, or several larger items, might supplant or limit any number of smaller ones. The shape – although not the size – of the new budget would seem to rely, as Mr. Brown told us once, upon the “prudential management” of Town officials.

WWII Memorial Closed
WW II Memorial Closed During 2013 “Shutdown.” Bureaucrats Were Paid Nevertheless.

In other jurisdictions – less enlightened ones –  government officials have been known to employ the so-called Washington Monument Syndrome or Firemen First Gambit: underfunding essentials, as opposed to inessentials, in order to cause maximum taxpayer pain and, hopefully, induce a reversal by them of any restrictions on spending. But surely that could never happen here.

Ordinance Updates Status (Currently Under Final Review). Chief Krauss sought a review and revision of the Town’s ordinances. Because we don’t write the laws, we just enforce them?

Status of Following Tax Deeded Structures: 20 Dawson, 79 Charles and 565 White Mountain Highway (No Change from Previous Meeting). These are troubled properties, due to make an appearance at an upcoming auction.

Status of GOFERR Grant Reimbursement Application for May 1 – June 30. Returning from prior meetings.


Under New Business are scheduled three agenda items: 1) Warrant for Unlicensed Dogs; 2) Authorize Vice Chair Matt Morrill to Provide Countersignatures to the Treasurer’s Signature on Accounts Payable and Payroll Checks (where applicable) in the absence of Chairman Rawson; and 3) Board / Committee / Commission Appointment Considerations: a) Cemetery Commission: i) Katherine Ayers; b) Heritage Commission: i) John Katwick, ii) Ryan Thibeault, iii) Eric Salmonsen, iv) Amy Weiss, and v) Katherine Ayers.

Warrant for Unlicensed Dogs. Per usual.

Vice Chair - Olive
Vice Chair – Olive. Dining chair with steel frame and velvet upholstery, designed in the Netherlands – 160€

Authorize Vice-Chair Matt Morrill to Provide Counter-signatures to the Treasurer’s Signature on Accounts Payable and Payroll Checks (where applicable) in the absence of Chairman Rawson. Surely Mr. Morrill is a vice-chairman, rather than an inanimate chair. Or is it wrongspeak to say so?

Board / Committee / Commission Appointment Considerations: a) Cemetery Commission: i) Katherine Ayers; and b) Heritage Commission: i) John Katwick, ii) Ryan Thibeault, iii) Eric Salmonsen, iv) Amy Weiss, and v) Katherine Ayers. Is the Heritage Commission so vital that its seating cannot await the next election? And this list leaves unaddressed concerns about those sitting on multiple boards.


There will be the approval of prior minutes (from the quasi-Public session of June 24, 2020, the non-Public session of June 24, 2020, the quasi-Public session of July 6, 2020, the non-Public session of July 6, 2020, the quasi-Public session of July 8, 2020, the non-Public session of July 8, 2020, and the Workshop meeting of July 13, 2020; an expenditure report, as of a month ago (June 17), administrator comments, BOS comments, and Other Business.

The administrator comments will address a correspondence concerning SAU #64, specifically a Thank You Regarding the 2020 Graduation.


Under Other Business there are no scheduled agenda items.


Mr. S.D. Plissken contributed to this article.


References:

GOFERR. (2020). Main Street Relief Fund. Retrieved from www.goferr.nh.gov/

State of New Hampshire. (2016, June 21). RSA Chapter 91-A. Access to Governmental Records and Meetings. Retrieved from www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/VI/91-A/91-A-3.htm

Town of Milton. (2020, July 17). BOS Meeting Agenda, July 20, 2020. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/sites/g/files/vyhlif916/f/events/a_07-20-2020_bosagenda_0.pdf

Wikipedia. (2020, April 21). Washington Monument Syndrome. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Monument_Syndrome

Youtube. (1965). Cone of Silence. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1eUIK9CihA&feature=youtu.be&t=19

Right to Know NH Leaflet

By S.D. Plissken | July 13, 2020

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.


Obverse side:

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

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.

Contact Us

righttoknownh@gmail.com
righttoknownh.wordpress.com


Reverse side:

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.

www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/VI/91/91-A-mrg.htm


Accompanying business card:

Right to Know NH
promoting open government

www.righttoknownh.org
righttoknownh@gmail.com
#opengov

Public BOS Session Scheduled (July 13, 2020)

By Muriel Bristol | July 12, 2020

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.


Mr. S.D. Plissken contributed to this article.


References:

Town of Milton. (2020, July 10). BOS Meeting Agenda, July 13, 2020. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/sites/g/files/vyhlif916/f/agendas/07-13-2020_workshopagenda.pdf