01-21-2014 News

Right to Know New Hampshire has provided a sample letter for folks interested in supporting their opposition to House Bill Six Eighty Five.  The bill, as originally introduced, would mandate citizens have access to state contracts under the state’s Right to Know Law.  It was retained by the House Judiciary Committee last year and amended in such a was as to radically alter its original intent.  Instead of providing greater access, the amended version of the bill establishes a commission focused on the costs and burdens created by citizen requests for information.  This is not a trivial matter.  The amended bill, which will not be reheard by committee, depriving the public of the opportunity to provide input, is scheduled for a vote on the House Floor tomorrow morning.  We encourage all our listeners who care about the ability to obtain information from the government at all levels to download Right to Know New Hampshire’s letter from this newscast at Girard at Large dot com, personalize it and send it to your legislators.

On the topic of Right to Know, Hooksett School Board Clerk John Lyscars continues to demand the reinstatement of his email account on the grounds that the board’s action forces violations of the state’s Right to Know Law.  Lyscars maintains that the board’s action to strip him of his email account deprives the public of the ability to review his emails as the private account he is using is not subject to the state’s Right to Know Law.  In emails to Superintendent Charles Littlefield, Lyscars queried whether or not it is the duty of the Superintendent to advise the quote unquote “lay people” on the board regarding conformity with the state’s right to know law and said, absent an answer by the end of business last Friday, that failure to respond would lead him to conclude that Littlefield was fully participating with the three members of the board’s majority, Trisha Korkosz, Cheryl Akstin and Phil Denbow who voted to violate the law by depriving him of a district email account and uninterested in correcting that violation.  To our knowledge, there has been no reply.

Former Goffstown Selectmen Scott Gross said he filed his Right to Know request over alleged violations of the town’s Code of Conduct by Planning Board Chairman John Hikel because he believed the public had a Right to Know about Hikel’s legal history with a petitioner before the Planning Board and the potential financial benefits he could reap if the proposed rezoning of Mast Road was approved by voters.  In an interview with Girard at Large, Gross wasn’t altogether sure Hikel should have recused himself on the Mast Road rezoning matter, but said for the sake of appearances, he should have recused himself on a matter presented by a resident with whom he had a past legal conflict.  Hikel said he conferred with the town’s attorney on the questions and decided to participate as there was no conflict of interest.  Under fire for consulting with the town’s counsel without approval of the Planning Board, Hikel released an email chain between him and Planning and Zoning Administrator Brian Rose, which was copied to Town Administrator Susan Desruisseaux, showing that Rose had suggested a meeting with the attorney and facilitated Hikel’s discussion with him after Hikel declined the meeting in favor of a personal conversation.  Gross said he he’d not been told either by Rose or Desruisseaux of the email during his inquiries of them.  Hikel presented the email chain at last night’s meeting of the Board of Selectmen, much to everybody’s surprise.  Makes you wonder, huh?  Cherish your right to know!

News from our own backyard continues after this.

Are the state’s nine regional planning commissions using federal monies to subvert local planning boards and commissions?  Many believe they are and they turned out in force last Thursday for a hearing on House Bill fifteen seventy three before the House Committee on Municipal and County Government.  Lead sponsor, Representative Jane Cormier, Republican of Alton, detailed how the R P Cs, as they’re known, are using federal funds, grants and other tools to co-opt and corrupt the planning process in local communities.  She accused the commissions of acting well outside their legal authority and presented evidence from the federal government showing that these organizations were being used to overcome New Hampshire residents’ fierce defense of personal property rights and opposition to so called community property rights.  We saw examples of that, by the way, with Planned Pinardhood and Sustainable Second Street.  House bill fifteen seventy three would eliminate the regional planning commissions and require municipal planning board members to be elected.  We are uncertain whether or not the bill affects cities like Manchester whose planning boards are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the Board of Aldermen.  We’ve linked to a blog posted by Granite State Futures, which includes a video of Cormier’s compelling testimony and a link to the legislation for your review.  It’s something we need to get up to speed on.  The committee chair said she’d never seen so many people appear before that committee before.  The room was packed.

And, a quick reminder, in Concord today, the Senate Health, Education and Human Services Committee will hear Senate Bill three forty three, which establishes a committee to study the Common Core national standards.  The hearing starts at ten in room 1 0 3 of the Legislative Office Building located behind the State House.  We’ve linked to the bill for your convenience.  Time to attend and engage your elected officials who need to ask the questions the unelected oligarchs at the State Board of Education still have not asked despite foisting this questionable scheme on New Hampshire schools, whose local school boards rolled over and said “okay” instead of questioning it themselves.  Remember, if you like your local schools, you can keep them.  Yeah, wonder where we’ve heard that before.

That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is straight ahead!