Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Slap Heard 'Round the World

Every year, local non-profits go before various boards of selectmen to ask for funding. Every year the recommendations of the selectmen go on the ballots we are handed at town meeting. The voters make the ultimate decision as to whether that funding is given or denied. Since the selectmen are elected to represent the voters, their recommendations carry a lot of weight. Most of the time this is not a controversial process.

This year, however, the Conway selectmen opted for controversy, thanks to Crow Dickinson’s commentary on domestic violence. Starting Point, the local agency that shelters, counsels, and advocates on behalf of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault went before the board to ask for some funding, as they have done since their inception in 1981. This year, the board voted not to recommend funding Starting Point by a vote of 4-1. Not only did they vote against funding, but Crow Dickinson waxed on about how “a lot of women use domestic violence as a gimmick in divorce proceedings.” This astounding statement was captured in the AP story that went out around the world.

That’s the trouble with some of the dinosaurs currently holding public office. They don’t understand or even consider global communications. A stupid, insensitive comment that suggests women aren’t really beaten, they’re just gold-digging harpies can travel around the world in less than 24 hours. In less than a day, the Conway selectmen were being reviled around the world as being a bunch of morons.

I blogged about the commentary of Crow Dickinson and the other selectmen. As a result, if someone googled “Crow Dickinson,” my blog came up. There is a counter on the blog that provides information about visitors; including where they come from, and what they were searching for when they came to my blog. During the last week, people googling “Crow Dickinson,” “domestic violence gimmick”, or “Conway NH Selectmen” came to my blog from Maryland, 5 different places in NY, 3 places in Maine, 3 places in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Illinois, Oregon, Alabama, California, Montana, Washington DC, London, and Paris.

There is a Facebook page for those wishing to support Starting Point. People are joining up from around the country. As I write this, there are 461 members. Those are 461 folks who believe strongly that Starting Point provides valuable services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in our area.

At the Selectmen’s Meeting on Tuesday, about 50 people came to show support for Starting Point, and to attempt to educate the selectmen. At the beginning of the meeting, Crow Dickinson read a statement, informing us that his remarks about domestic abuse had been misinterpreted as being about Starting Point. He made no apology about his insensitive remarks, at least not in his statement. Conway Police Chief Ed Wagner spoke strongly on behalf of Starting Point and the services they provide. He pointed out that if Starting Point did not exist, the town and the police department would be providing those services, and at a much greater cost. Russ Seybold, a past member of the budget committee said he’d rather see a pothole go unfixed than see us not invest in this program. He pointed out that a program like Starting Point is even more important in times of economic stress.

Suzette Indelicato (Executive Director of Starting Point) told the selectmen that the message coming from them is the same message that abusers give their victims. “No one will believe you.” “You deserve what happens to you.” She told the board that it was their responsibility to counter that message by making a strong statement against domestic violence.
Dot Seybold asked the selectmen if any of them would change their votes now, if they could. Larry Martin voted to fund Starting Point – he did not want to change his vote. Mark Hounsell mistakenly voted against recommending funding, and he has said repeatedly that he would change his vote. Dave Weathers did a tap-dance around the question, and never did answer it. Crow Dickinson and Bob Drinkhall said they would not change their votes. Drinkhall did a lengthy song and dance routine about how he believes in fiscal responsibility because the country is going down the drain. He believes that Starting Point gets money on the federal and state level, plus a tax abatement, and frankly, they don’t serve enough of the population. He also said that constituents who called him were in agreement, including a lawyer who seems to agree about the gimmicky nature of domestic violence. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to the selectmen that the calls they got from guys complaining about Starting Point were actually from perpetrators of domestic violence. Lawyers beat their wives, too.

The National Crime Victimization Survey issued a report in December 2008 showing a 42 percent increase in reporting of domestic abuse, and a 25 percent increase in reported crimes of rape or sexual assault. Both domestic violence and rape are under-reported crimes. Great strides have been made in recognizing that domestic abuse is a serious and widespread problem – but still, far too many hold the stereotypical view of “she was askin’ for it” or “domestic abuse is a gimmick used in divorce cases.”

The Conway Selectmen probably didn’t intend to tacitly condone wife beating, but they did. The selectmen probably didn’t intend to make the town the subject of mockery around the world – but they did. Thanks to the internet, people research the areas they are traveling to. They can, and do, take the politics of an area into consideration. The kind of gooberish, good ole boy, slap on the back, haw haw haw, gotta keep the little woman in line behavior of the past was retired in most places, a long time ago. One hopes the Conway Selectmen will join the rest of us who are living in the present.

"Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men." ~Joseph Conrad

printed as an editorial in the February 27, 2009 Conway Daily Sun
© sbruce

Friday, February 20, 2009

Moron the Conway Selectmen

One might think that after yesterday's newspaper debacle, they'd be smart enough to just shut up. Alas, one would be wrong.

Crow Dickinson was visited at his cave and asked if he was sexist, and bellowed "Hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn." This is a man that was sent to Concord as a state rep for 30 years. Why would the voters support such a buffoon? Did they vote for him just to get him out of town for half the year?

Selectman Larry Martin voted to fund Starting Point. Thank you, sir. Selectman Mark Hounsell owned up to his mistake, and has spoken quite intelligently on the subject of domestic violence. Thanks, Mark. Selectman Dave Weathers was smart enough yesterday not to answer his phone, so he did not compound his stupidity the way Dickinson and Bob Drinkhall did.

This quote from Drinkhall is in today's paper, the story, "Are the Conway Selectmen Sexist" by Andrea Osmun:

"I firmly believe people have to learn to take care of themselves," he said. Regarding two of the children's organizations he did not support, Drinkhall asked, "Why should a person who is struggling to survive and pay taxes pay for day care for someone who's not their own?"
Regarding Starting Point, Drinkhall said the organization receives funding from eight different sources.
"I'm not opposed to them. They do good work, good deeds," he said.
However, he added that an attorney stopped at his home Thursday to thank him for voting against funding for Starting Point, because the organization has acted "one-sided."
"He was relating stories to me about Starting Point and said even if a male had been the complainant, Starting Point would still counsel the woman," Drinkhall said. "It's one-sided. I've heard that more than once."

Two things, Bob:

Starting Point works in the schools to educate kids, so that hopefully they won't grow up to be abusers. They also support and care for battered women, and women who have been raped. If your mother, sister, daughter were raped would you tell them to learn how to take care of themselves?

Why should we pay taxes to pay for something that is not our own? Because that's what we do in a community, Bob. Community. That's when people pony up for the common good. That's why we support the police force and the fire dept. with our taxes. That's why we pay for public schools, ROADS, libraries, water, sewer - all of these things benefit the common good.
Women are part of the community, Bob. Women are taxpayers. Hell, women are even voters, which I expect you'll find out if you run for office again.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Conway Selectmen against taxpayer support for victims of domestic violence

The online version of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper is behind a paywall. This means that unless you pay to subscribe, the bulk of the online paper is not available for viewing.

This also means that today you’re missing the front-page story entitled, “Selectmen Vote Against Town Funding for Domestic Violence Organization,” by Andrea Osmun. On Tuesday, in Conway, the town selectmen (yep – 5 men) voted 4-1 NOT to provide any town funds to Starting Point, a non-profit that provides shelter and support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. One selectman, Mark Hounsell later explained his no vote as a mistake, and plans to clarify it at the deliberative portion of the town meeting.

The deliberate ignorance of many local men on the topic of rape and domestic violence are no longer a surprise to me. What did, however, come as something of a surprise, were the comments made by selectman Crow Dickinson. This is the kind of thing that most adult men know better than to say in public, no matter how much they loathe women:

"I don't think taxpayers should be responsible for funding a program that takes in abused women," Dickinson said. "The church should, the neighbors should, and anybody who's interested should. But not taxpayers. "
Dickinson said, "Clearly, there's a need" for such a program. But he also said Starting Point is a "new program" that "needs to demonstrate they can do whatever they're doing and be successful and show a big need. "
Starting Point has been in existence since 1981.
"There are a lot of women who use (domestic violence) as a gimmick in divorce proceedings," Dickinson said. "All they have to do is call the police and get the person thrown out. If I call the police and say you're abusing me, they'd have to believe me. I wish people would split up and be more polite about it. "
Although Dickinson said he had "absolutely no question" that there are legitimate cases of domestic violence, he added, "Just because you have a worthy cause doesn't mean we should put money in a tin cup. Some people are very convincing. It's not an easy thing to say no. "
Instead of taxpayers being asked to give the organization money, Dickinson said, "A lot of people could make contributions to this effort."

The church and the neighbors should fund this organization, but not the taxpayers. Apparently Mr. Dickinson needs to jar his memory some – seeing as how WOMEN are half of the taxpayers.

I don’t know Crow Dickinson all that well. Perhaps all of his relationships with women have been conducted strictly on a cash basis, which is why he assumes all women are gold diggers. I do have a news flash for him – the police do not automatically believe women who call and say they are being abused. Many times they don’t take it seriously at all. In the case of a stalking complaint, the police are even less likely to pay attention. A number of years ago I went to the police with a stalking complaint. The officer told me that since I had not been threatened or hurt, there wasn’t anything they could do for me, despite the fact that this man had at least 6 restraining orders taken out against him. Apparently they viewed all of us as hysterical women. We were probably having our periods at the same time. Fortunately this unbalanced individual didn’t kill anyone. He died before he could.

Battering is not used as a “gimmick” in divorce cases. There has to be proof. Clearly Mr. Dickinson is harkening back to the days of his dinosaur youth, when women knew their place. Back then, women knew that if a man hit them it was because the bitches were asking for it.

• Nearly one in every 4 NH women has been raped or sexually assaulted.
• Over half of the women in our state have experienced sexual or physical assault in their lifetime.

This is not the reality for most men. Because they don’t have to fear rape and assault, they pooh-pooh the notion that women do.

Women are raped, beaten, and killed by their husbands and boyfriends every single day. Our society does not take crimes against women seriously.

We taxpayers pay for police to protect us. It’s a public service. So is shelter for women who are being terrorized and beaten in their very own homes. If we cannot protect them from being beaten, we certainly owe it to them to provide a safe place while they heal and make plans to go on with their lives. This is what a community is supposed to do – provide safety and nurture. The idea that these men could be opposed to such a consideration is sick-making.

In times of financial crisis, domestic violence escalates. I would urge the myopic, misogynistic, selectmen of Conway to reconsider their recommendation. I encourage the voters of Conway to go against the recommendation of the selectmen, and vote for Starting Point. As you vote, pray that a woman that you love will never require their services, but know that you're making sure those services will be available if she does.

The tee shirt in the picture is the new uniform for the Conway Selectmen.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Not Change I Can Believe In

New Hampshire’s own Senator Judd Gregg was recently chosen by President Obama to lead the Commerce Department. President Obama’s first choice was Governor Bill Richardson, from New Mexico. One wonders at the thought process that went from Richardson, a Democrat to Judd Gregg, a far right Republican. No explanation has been given by the Obama administration.

Senator Gregg is an odd cabinet choice for Obama, who ran under the banner of change. A Gregg appointment does not represent change. Gregg voted to close down the Dept. of Commerce in 1995, and now he’s a nominee for Secretary of Commerce? Irony sticks her head in the oven one more time.

One of the most important duties of the Dept. of Commerce is the census. The US does a census survey every ten years. The census figures help determine: the allocation of federal funds for education programs in states and communities; the allocation of federal funds for highway projects, law enforcement, and other federally funded programs. The census numbers are used by health and social agencies for policy purposes, and the statistics become the basis of national economic policy. This is a lot more than just counting people and gathering information about ethnicity. Perhaps the most important function of the census is that the numbers are used to determine the apportionment of representation to the US House of Representatives. States may gain or lose representation depending on their population growth or shrinkage. Once those numbers are certified, they will go to the state legislatures for the purpose of drawing up new districts.

The census is a big, expensive project. After years of underfunding, the 2010 census is going to be expensive. Judd Gregg has consistently undermined the census in the past. In 1999, when President Clinton asked for emergency funds to complete the census, Gregg opposed it. It seems obvious that Obama hadn’t even considered the census when he chose Gregg for his cabinet. In an attempt at a corrective move, Obama announced that the census would report directly to the White House. As you might imagine, the minority party is up in arms at the very thought. They are fraught with anxiety that the Democrats will “cook the books” for the next census. In other words, they expect the Democrats to act like Republicans.

Sadly, the Democrats don’t seem capable of acting like Republicans. The Republicans weren’t afraid to rule, and they sure weren’t afraid to stomp on the opposition. The Democrats seem to be under the impression that “bi-partisanship” means allowing the Republicans to continue to run the country. When Senator Gregg announced that he would not accept a cabinet post unless a Republican was nominated to replace him – no one in the traditional media classified that as blackmail. It was reported in a very matter-of-fact way, as if Gregg had every right to make such a demand.

NH Governor Lynch did not rear up on his hind legs in outrage at being dictated to. He did not point out that Gregg was free to make his own choice about serving the President. He did not point out that as the governor of our state, it was up to him to decide whom would best serve the people of our state. Lynch did not point out that NH voters have voted Republicans out of national office in all of our recent elections. He did not mention blackmail or hostage taking. Instead, he capitulated quite meekly, and announced that he would appoint Ms. Bonnie Newman, a Republican, to replace Senator Gregg. Ms. Newman is currently serving as director at Fairpoint, the company that took on massive debt to buy Verizon’s landlines. In 2007, Ms. Newman was quite enthusiastic about what a great company Fairpoint was, and how strong their commitment to building infrastructure for DSL in northern New England. Many warned against this sale, and the negative impact it could have in the rural parts of NH. As it stands right now, Fairpoint is hemorrhaging customers, and the company’s bond rating has recently been down graded from “stable” to “junk.” Northern New England won’t be seeing that infrastructure in the foreseeable future. One can only hope Gregg won’t be confirmed, if that’s the kind of vision Ms. Newman has for our state.

Meanwhile, Senator Gregg is still in Washington. What he’s doing isn’t exactly clear. He’s missed 30 percent of the votes in the 111th Congress. He recused himself from voting on the president’s stimulus package. Apparently he’s hanging around and collecting a paycheck, while not doing anything to represent our state. Given his voting record (he’s voted consistently against women, children, and minorities) this is probably a good thing. I’ve seen a lot of liberal bloggers try to justify Obama’s choice of Gregg. They don’t want to admit that their new president could make a mistake of this magnitude. I don’t share that fear. Gregg has no place in a cabinet that is supposed to foment change.

Everything you need to know about Judd Gregg happened in one week during October of 2005. Senator Gregg voted against increasing the federal minimum wage, won $835,000 in the NH lottery, and the next day voted against expanding LIHEAP funds.

This isn’t change I can believe in. I’m not ready to hold hands and sing Kumbayah with the folks who brought us the last 8 years. I’m sick to death of hearing about the team of rivals. I hope the Obama administration will begin to act like winners, and stop being dictated to by the increasingly irrelevant party of NO.

“The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then get elected and prove it.” P.J. O’Rourke

Since this was sent in to meet deadline, Senator Gregg has withdrawn as Commerce Secretary nominee. He's also stated that he won't run for re-election in 2010. It will be interesting to see what surfaces as the reason why.

This was published as an editorial in the Conway Daily Sun on February 13, 2009

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

relationship advice for Obama

Rachel Maddow gets it right:

Today, Obama will announce that Judd Gregg is his choice for Secretary of Commerce. Judd Gregg, who worked hard to help George Bush create the mess that we're currently mired in.

Judd announced that he wouldn't leave the Senate unless NH Governor Lynch appointed a Republican. This is different from Rod

It sure seems as if the Democrats feel so guilty about winning that they're going to let the Republicans keep on running the country.