Congressman Frank Guinta voted yesterday for the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act (H.R. 158), a bill from the House Homeland Security Committee that would thwart terrorists with Western passports attempting to enter the United States. Currently, the State Department’s visa waiver program allows citizens of thirty eight participating countries, mostly in Euorpe, to bypass some standard protocols, a vulnerability in U.S. border protection. This legislation requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to report to Congress more potential high-risk countries, in addition to Iraq, Syria and several state sponsors of terror – a visit to which would disqualify a traveler to the U.S. from a visa waiver partner. The bill requires waiver partners to keep current records and share information, lost or stolen passports in particular. Said Guinta, quote:
“There are at least 5,000 Islamic State fighters with Western passports in Iraq and Syria and we know the terrorist group plans to return them to places like Britain and France, where boarding a plane to the U.S. is easier. Radical Islamists are at war with us. They’ll use any means, including holes in our laws, to wage violent attacks against U.S. citizens at home. Congress is identifying gaps and closing them as quickly as possible.”
Guinta recently cosponsored legislation to pause the U.S. refugee program, until stronger security measures are in place. FBI Director James Comey testified to Congress that the agency lacks proper resources to screen every refugee. Guinta emphasized the Terrorist Travel Prevention Act is part of his larger agenda to protect the Granite State.
Parents, teachers and interested members of the public will have a chance to meet and hear from the finalists being considered for principal of Webster Elementary School in Manchester. The school district is hosting a forum to introduce the two candidates and offer an opportunity for the community to ask questions. The position was vacated when Principal Christine Martin was chosen to be the district’s Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education.
The potential principals that will be present are Philip Banios, currently Principal of Greenlodge Elementary School in Dedham, MA and Christopher MacDonald, currently Assistant Principal at Northwest Elementary. Many felt MacDonald was wrongly passed over for the principal position at the Henry Wilson School in favor of Polly Golden, who was the district’s Director of Federal Projects.
The community meet and greet will take place on Tuesday, December fifteenth from six thirty to seven thirty at the school. On Monday, the district originally announced the gathering had been scheduled for yesterday, but pulled back the announcement within a couple of hours, probably believing that a days notice was insufficient to advise the public.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
It looks like legislators on the General Court’s Joint Task Force for the Response to the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic in Concord and New Hampshire’s Attorney General have been paying attention to the concerns of Mayor Ted Gatsas and the city of Manchester as its deliberations continue.
Attorney General Joseph Foster told task force members yesterday that his office would begin to charge drug dealers with Second Degree Murder if the stuff they sold led to a fatal overdose. He said his office will now begin to look at overdose scenes as crime scenes with the purpose of determining who sold the drugs to the overdose victim so the murder charges could be brought. Gatsas has repeatedly suggested laws be changed in the state so that dealers could be charged with murder in the case of overdose deaths. When asked about that suggestion by Girard at Large during an interview on the state’s response to the epidemic, District Sixteen State Senator David Boutin, Republican from Hooksett, said he believed existing state laws allowed for those charges to be brought. It would appear as if Foster, who also announced he will seek the approval of the Joint Fiscal Committee to accept a federal grant that will enable the hiring of another prosecutor for drug crimes, agrees given yesterday’s announcement.
Boutin, along with Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, Republican from Wolfeboro, also announced yesterday that Division III of the Task Force unanimously recommended their drug court legislation for early consideration during the upcoming legislative session. Boutin said quote
“We’ve spent months meeting with key stakeholders, and developing this legislation together and today’s discussion helped us to examine each component of the drug courts more closely.”
Division III also voted to recommend legislation expanding the successful Granite Hammer drug interdiction program, piloted by the Manchester Police Department and the State Police, be expedited early in the coming legislative session.
Division Vice Chair Senator Jeanie Forrester, Republican from Meredith, issued a statement citing Granite Hammer’s demonstrated success in Manchester, where more than forty five drug dealers were taken off the streets in four sweep operations, saying quote:
“The legislation…would expand the intensity drug enforcement grant program to cities and towns statewide…By reducing the number of drug dealers on our streets, we may be able to effectively tighten the supply and prevent new users from accessing heroin, fentanyl and other deadly drugs.”
American Legion Post Twenty Seven in Londonderry has announced that tomorrow is the last day its Toys for Tots drop off box will be available for donations. Folks who want to donate new, unwrapped toys to help bring Christmas to a child in a needy home are asked swing by their six Sargent Road location, behind the fire station on Mammoth Road, before the box leaves tomorrow.
Post Commander Bob Stuart also reminded us that they are actively seeking new Legionnaires. They would also welcome men whose fathers or grandfathers are eligible for membership as well as women related to qualified members to join the Sons of the American Legion and Auxiliary respectively.
The American Legion is the country’s largest wartime veterans service organization, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to their fellow service members and veterans. Feel free to pop into the post if you have any questions.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!