Friday, August 21, 2009

Plight Of The Rich Is Heartbreaking

For most Americans the near financial meltdown, coupled with the recession and job losses, has meant a struggle to make ends meet. And while it may be sad that many families and individuals have lost their homes and/or their careers, they should take solace in the fact that their loss in dollar terms is meager compared to that being endured by the super rich.

Yes, millions of hard working Americans have suffered monumental losses in the value of their 401(k)s and now find themselves owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. But really, when one considers the magnitude of the losses totaling tens and hundreds of millions of dollars challenging the top one-tenth-of-one-percent of U.S. households, former Sen. Phil Gramm's observation that we're a nation of whiners seems all the more valid.

Consider this from today's New York Times:

Rise Of The Super-Rich Hits A Sobering Wall


The rich have been getting richer for so long that the trend has come to seem almost permanent.

They began to pull away from everyone else in the 1970s. By 2006, income was more concentrated at the top than it had been since the late 1920s. The recent news about resurgent Wall Street pay has seemed to suggest that not even the Great Recession could reverse the rise in income inequality.

But economists say — and data is beginning to show — that a significant change may in fact be under way. The rich, as a group, are no longer getting richer. Over the last two years, they have become poorer. And many may not return to their old levels of wealth and income anytime soon.

(Continue Reading)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

City Officials Likely To Be Stymied On Federal Building

Laconia City Manager Eileen Cabanel and the mayor and City Council are apparently going to be thwarted in their efforts to prevent the Laconia Federal Building from being used to assist homeless people.

Genesis Behavorial Health has applied for ownership of the surplus facility, and given that the mental health agency provides mental health services to the homeless, its application to take ownership of the building is likely to be approved by the General Services Administration.

Federal law requires that surplus buildings that are deemed suitable for providing services to the homeless must first be offered to agencies serving the homeless population before making them available for other local or state governmental use, or for public auction.

Genesis has indicated that if it is awarded the property it will sell two buildings and parcels of land it owns in the city and combine operations in the Federal Building. That should please city officials since it would allow the existing properties to be placed on the tax rolls. Currently they are exempted from property tax because Genesis is a non-profit organization.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

You Gotta Love Public Service of New Hampshire!

Faced with lower revenues attributed to the economic slowdown and cool summer weather, Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) is seeking approval from the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (NHPUC) to change its rate structure.

PSNH wants to diminish the impact of usage on electric bills by charging higher base rates for delivery charges.

I’ve not read the company’s application to NHPUC, but from the various press reports I’ve read it appears as though the argument is that the costs of delivery electricity are rising at a rate that exceeds what can be recovered on a per-kilowatt-hour basis.

In essence, public utilities have two primary costs. The first is the cost of actually supplying electricity. PSNH, and its parent company, Northeast Utilities, both generate power from their own plants as well as purchase electricity from other power suppliers.

The second significant expense is that of building and maintaining power transmission lines, including those that transport power to individual homes and businesses and those that make up the power grid.

While the cost of generating electricity appears to be fairly stable at the present time, the costs of transporting that electricity continue to escalate. For PSNH and its parent company to continue providing what it considers acceptable returns to its investors, it is claiming a need to raise the basic fees for delivery.

In essence, what this will mean is that even people who are devoted to reducing their energy consumption are going to be faced with higher utility bills. Yes, if PSNH and Northeast Utilities have their way, and it’s likely they will, consumers will be expected to pay more for less in order to satisfy investors.

Meanwhile, I suggest contacting the Office of Consumer Advocate at NHPUC to let them know how you feel.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Scott Vachon Clarifies His Comment.

Sometimes one just has to wonder what can legitimately be defined as rational thought. I found myself especially stymied in this regard following what I found as a troubling post on Facebook by Scott Vachon.

That post suggested to me that Scott approved of people showing up at presidential events armed with handguns and assault weapons. Scott has since assured me that I misread his post, and I apologize for having misinterpreted his succinct, and he assures me, incredulous comment.

Monday, August 17, 2009

It's All Gail Morrison's Fault

Former N.H. Rep. Gail Morrison (D-Tilton) has much to answer for in having helped to create a rift between the Laconia School District and octogenarian Ward 4 City Councilperson Brenda Baer.

Baer, you will note, has raised the horrible specter of the “school board” taking control of Laconia’s City Council, a move she alleges that if successful, would spell doom for all of the residents of Laconia and threaten her beloved tax cap.
In a recent letter to the editor that was published in both the Laconia Daily Sun and the Laconia Citizen, Baer explained her conspiracy theory:

The School Board, while saying nothing publicly, has decided to get hold of things by taking over the City Council. They have recruited Mike Seymour, former chair of the School Board, to run for mayor, and Mayor Matt Lahey, the school's biggest booster, stepped down to run for council in his ward so he could have a vote. Now, Marge Kerns, longtime leader of the School Board, has declared for yet another seat at the council table. Once they get in, you will never balance the budget and the school's spending will continue to skyrocket and you will have a new high school whether you can afford it or not. Otherwise, why are they running? What is their agenda?

Now, having personally known for years all of the current school board members with the exception of Ward 5’s Stacie Sirois, I can say with complete confidence that the school board does not, either in an official or an unofficial capacity, plot the takeover of city government. If I believed for a moment they were so capable, I’d encourage the board to employ those talents where they’d have the most effect – in Concord.

You might ask what any of this has to do with former Rep. Morrison, so I’ll tell you. Brenda Baer was actually regarded as a friend of education until that pushy Gail Morrison tried to get the state legislature to require seniors between the ages of 70 and 75 to be subjected to a driver’s examine every two years, and annually once beyond the age of 75.

Baer was livid, defending herself and her fellow senior drivers, and accusing Morrison and the Democratic Party of waging war on seniors. As the issue heated up, Baer decided she was not only against requiring the driver’s examines, but that she opposed SCHIP (which was taking money out of Medicare) and the schools (which diverted too much money needed by the elderly to a bunch of snot-nosed kids.)

I’m not so sure Baer’s strategy of targeting education is going to be a winning issue in her Ward, where United Way Executive Director Jack Terrill has filed a challenge to Baer’s incumbency. Let’s hope Terrill’s common sense, community awareness, and decency prevail.

There Is Hope For Laconia's Ward 1

At least the folks in Laconia can derive some sense of relief from the entry of Marge Kerns into the race for City Council from Ward 1. While it’s doubtful that Marge would endorse converting the Laconia Federal Building into a homeless shelter, one can absolutely trust that she won’t lie or say something stupid.

Moreover, having observed Marge on the school board for nearly a decade, I’ve come to respect and appreciate her tenacity. There’s been no one who’s been a more fierce advocate of public education in general, and Laconia’s schools in particular, than Ms. Kerns. And I’m quite confident that she’ll bring that same devotion and advocacy to City Council.

Moreover, I’ve heard nothing but positive reports about Ms. Kerns’ performance as the head of Pharmacy at LRGHealthcare, a critical management position that affects the lives and livelihoods of so many local residents.

(Okay, I admit it. I’m also friends of Marge and her husband Tim, and admire all three of their sons, Patrick, Daniel and Andrew.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Councilman Knytych Pulls A Sarah Palin

In the discussion over the City of Laconia's desire to prevent the "surplus" Laconia Federal Building from being used as a homeless shelter, Ward 1 Councilman Greg Knytych observed with his usual bluster that the homeless shelter in his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona was about half the size of the federal building in Laconia.

"This is an overkill for the needs," Knytych is reported as having said.

Now, I must beg to differ with Mr. Knytych, at least as regards the veracity of his description of the size of the homeless shelter in Phoenix.

First, there is no single homeless shelter in Phoenix, as indicated by the Google Map results illustrated below. Second, a number of the homeless shelters in Phoenix are considerably larger than Laconia's Federal Building.

I'm surprised that Mr. Knytych didn't warn Laconia of the threat of "death panels" that would arise from the creation of any, new homeless shelter in Laconia.