Posts Tagged ‘city of Keene’

It would be very easy to say that the most important issues today are well beyond just Ward 3 in Keene. While I am aware of those issues – and they are many – I say, “but”.

And this is an important “but”.

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Neighborhood issues tend to get lost when decisions are made on the planning board and council levels. That’s why it’s important that you vote to keep me as your ward councilor. I focus on those smaller issues because they frequently end up as bad consequences of larger decisions that are made.

For example, we have a policy that sometimes allows excess city property to be developed in discordance with an abutting neighborhood. That was the case when I worked with the North Central Neighborhood Group, The Elm Research Institute and city staff to create the North Central Nature Park on North and Carroll streets.

We also started an anti-heroin campaign that culminated in a city-wide addiction solutions task force that I co-chaired with councilor Randy Filiault. Oh, by the way, they don’t deal drugs on that property anymore.

We have zoning regulations that sometimes allow high density zoning to encroach on medium density neighborhoods. An incident happened recently when I worked with Old Walpole and West Surry road residents and city staff to defeat such a development.

Our Planning Board rules allow developers to take as much time as they like to complete residential housing developments, no matter how it effects resident abutters. I recently worked with abutters and city staff to jump-start the so-called “Keene Sand and Gravel” development at 431 Court St.

 

Not too long ago, East Surry Road was devastated by a flood. I stood on the city manager’s desk to get that bridge and road damage repaired ASAP.

The Sentinel asks, what are the important issues? I would argue that those are the issues that residents call me about every day. Whether it be a pothole or tree hanging over a power line, constituent service is Job One for a ward councilor.

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That isn’t to say that I haven’t been doing other things, like working to increase efficiencies in city operations. In fact, we have moved forward on a joint procurement initiative with the school district and county to share expenses and eliminate duplication. But, feet are being dragged and you need me to keep those feet to the fire.

There has been an economic development committee at work to bring business into town. I was not appointed to that committee – we’ll talk about the differences I have with this mayor later – but I have advocated for a sustainable path that takes us away from the same old technologies and methods that failed us in the past decades. You’ll recall Bruce Springsteen’s lines in his song, “My Home Town…these jobs are goin’ boys and they ain’t comin’ back.” Well, this is the 21st Century and we need to acknowledge that.

For example, soon the city will enter into a power purchase agreement with a solar company to buy only electricity generated from solar power in New Hampshire – at a lower rate than Eversource. You need me to stay on that purchasing committee to make sure it happens. Otherwise, you’ll likely get fracked natural gas for another generation.

In order to continue doing these things I need your help, to write letters to the editor, write Facebook and Twitter endorsements, sign canvassing card endorsements, make phone calls, put up lawn signs, or just say a kind word.

I’ve been with you folks for many years and have never asked for help. But, I’m asking now, and I hope you will.

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Times really must be changing in America. The age-old tradition of electing people to represent our values in Washington, Concord and in our own towns and cities just doesn’t seem to be enough anymore.

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NH Secretary of State William Gardner

Until recently, political parties would compete with one another for the right to represent people in government for the next term, and the losing constituency would begrudgingly agree to limit their activism to grumbling beneath their breath or maybe an occasional letter to the editor. That probably was because there really wasn’t that much difference between each party’s direction or methods. Not anymore.

For the third time in as many weeks I have been asked to join or lead efforts that make plebeian statements or resolutions vociferously opposing positions taken by elected officials. And, these aren’t isolated to just Keene or New Hampshire. These movements are happening across the country.

The most recent was a resolution by the Keene City Council to re-affirm America’s commitment to climate action. That’s winding it’s way through the process and willculminate, I predict, in a unanimous vote by the council on Thursday. In this town, it seems to be a no-brainer that President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Action Accord was ridiculous, if not evil.

Last week, members of the Monadnock Progressive Alliance asked me to shepherd a resolution opposing Trump’s radical stance on immigration.This particular resolution is well-written, and addresses how local law enforcement should best use their limited resources in enforcing aggressive Federal witch hunts. And, the county sheriff has already come out strongly with his own policy on the matter. I have advised the group to hold off until after the climate action resolution has passed, but am still a little concerned that using this new grass-roots tool too frequently will test the patience of councilors who generally oppose activist’s resolutions because they feel their job is just to keep the local water running.

Alas, now there’s the President’s formation of a voter fraud commission that’s asking state governments to turn over voter data that goes beyond what political parties have been purchasing from states for years. Our Secretary of State, William Gardner, was chosen to be a member and has since agreed to turn over the voter information. The governor agrees. This action involves local government, since our city clerk is responsible for keeping voter data and shouldn’t be required to participate in this bogus distraction.

The push-back against Trump’s agenda is as historic as is his departure from usual presidential policy making, and people seem to be depending upon local elected officials more and more to come to their defense as their confidence in state and national government diminishes.

And, the people aren’t being unreasonable in that belief. Trump wants to diminish climate action so the fossil fuel industry can continue to pollute the planet. Trump wants to attack immigration because he knows that is an issue that will divide and distract us. The voter fraud commission is an unabashed effort to divert attention away from the treason and espionage that stole the presidential election from the American people and threatens to undermine the very roots of our democracy.

So, as much as it is the city council’s job to keep the water running, it is also it’s job to give people a voice in areas where their voice has been muted. This is especially true in areas where local governments are being asked to use local resources to enforce corrupted national policies. Maybe the course to democracy does run through local government afterall.

Look for these initiatives in the coming weeks.

 

The City of Keene has been notified by the State Dam Bureau that it must perform repairs to the Ashuelot River Dam located adjacent to West Street. The City has been developing options to address the issues identified by the State. The options range from performing repairs to potentially removing the existing structure.

On Thursday, October 6, 2011, at 7 PM the City Council will hear a presentation on the options for the dam. This is an opportunity to hear the full presentation about the options but the City Council will not be taking public comment. This meeting is also broadcasted on Cheshire TV. The presentation will be referred to the Municipal, Services, Facilities and Infrastructure Committee that will meet on Wednesday, October 12, 2011, at 6:30 PM. The Committee will discuss the options and this would be the meeting to provide any thoughts or concerns about the proposed options.