Thursday, October 27, 2016

Tarsal Target Practice

New Hampshire is experiencing the worst drought in 35 years. In the southern part of the state some communities instituted a ban on watering lawns. Residents were asked to take shorter showers. A number of NH dairy farms have stopped selling milk. The drought affected haying, so farmers are going into winter with little feed, and the feed growers were also hard hit by the drought.

 I drove to northern Maine over the weekend, and it was disturbing to see how low the water levels are in the top half of our state. The Androscoggin, Lake Umbagog, the Magalloway River, Richardson Lake, Rangeley Lake, Flagstaff Lake – all were low. Some swamps were dry, and ponds have become puddles. Wells are going dry in the Conway area – and still our “good neighbors” over at Poland Spring in Fryeburg are mining about 600,000 gallons a day.

Maine, too, is experiencing serious drought. According to an October 5 story in the Portland Press Herald, Poland Spring/Nestle is withdrawing less from their Hollis and Poland sites, but more from wells in Dallas Plantation and Pierce Pond Township, both near Flagstaff Lake. Flagstaff Lake is very low.

They have not changed their mining practices in Fryeburg. The big straw is still in place, sucking up the water. Does that water understand the state border?

Nestle is an international corporation with a proven record of non-existent ethics. It’s time for Maine (and NH) to stand up and protect their water, before Nestle sucks the state dry -and then sells the water back to residents at a huge profit.

You may have heard that November 8 is Election Day. You’ve already heard too much about the presidential election, plenty about the US Senate race in our state, and not much else. There is still time to research the candidates for Congress, Governor, Executive Council, the NH State House, the NH Senate, for county races, and local races. It’s important to do your homework, since the media has been in thrall to Trump and little else. My advice is this: vote from the bottom up on your ballot. The people you send to Concord and to town hall have a far greater impact on your daily life than whichever unacceptable candidate goes to the White House. 

This newspaper endorsed the so-called independent candidate running for Congress in District One. Shawn O’ Connor has had quite a metamorphosis:  from Republican, to Democrat, to independent. (Libertarian will surely be next.) The millionaire moved to NH a few years ago with the intention of running against Kelly Ayotte. It would require a lot of work from a guy with zero name recognition and there would be accusations of carpetbagging. (This was before Scott Brown) O’Connor backed off. What he didn’t do was get involved with the Democratic Party. He didn’t get to know people. He did spend a bunch of money on high priced consultants, and decided that Congress was the way to go.

Over the summer of 2015, he made a big announcement that he was gay and had been in an abusive relationship. When that didn’t get him the kind of attention he wanted, he accused Carol Shea- Porter’s campaign of waging a whisper campaign behind his back, threatened a lawsuit, threatened to sue the NH Democratic Party, and claimed there were rats in the kitchen at the Puritan Back Room in Manchester. None of the threatened lawsuits have been filed, because he lacks any proof of his preposterous claims. He jumped on the Bernie bandwagon, and became a populist when Bernie’s campaign was on fire in NH.

It’s worth noting that all of the higher ups in Bernie’s NH campaign have endorsed Shea-Porter, including the staffer that O’Connor says solicited his endorsement of Bernie. It’s also worth noting that a vote for O’Connor is a vote for Guinta – and that is exactly what he’s hoping for. He’s a mess. And he will write a letter to the editor calling me a liar.

I was at the gubernatorial debate at New England College that was televised by NECN. At that debate Chris Sununu announced that The Pledge was not enough, that it must be expanded to include all fee increases. The GOP labors under the fiction that the state can run on fumes, while making business tax cuts to ensure no money comes in. This is why you stand in line at the DMV long enough to hit retirement age. If you call in, you’re on hold for hours. I’m not exaggerating; a family member calling from out of state was on hold for 2 hours. We do not raise sufficient revenue to staff and run any of our state agencies properly, and then when complaints arise, it’s dismissed as bad gummint, and blamed on organized labor.  

There was no mention of infrastructure in the debate, though three questions were asked about guns. NH still has the 11th worst infrastructure in the nation, and some of the least restrictive gun laws. Sununu opposes even having a minimum wage. He’s boasted of creating numerous good paying jobs at Waterville Valley Ski Area. Anyone who has ever worked at a ski area knows better. At the debate Sununu said he’d just bought some workforce housing, which means he isn’t paying workers enough so that they can afford housing.  The fact that NH has both a housing shortage and a serious affordability problem was not addressed at this debate. It was more important to ask 3 questions about guns.

As for the local races – when you send most local Republicans to Concord, you are voting for obstruction and delay. Libertea Republicans get a yellow sheet handed to them every Wednesday on their way in to the House session. The “Gold Standard” is issued by the NH Liberty Alliance, and tells recipients how to vote on so-called “liberty” issues. No need for any work, research, or even any thought. (Kinda like taking The Pledge)  Sending Free Staters and John Birchers to Concord means that what you’ll get are knee jerk reactionaries who want to ensure that nothing gets done, other than MOAR GUNZ! At least 4 gun bills have already been filed for 2017, along with 4 bills intended to restrict voting. These are the GOP priorities for our state. Ponder that, as you drive over East Conway Road.

The NH legislature has been failing to invest in our state for decades. A pity we can’t shoot our way into good roads and bridges. Instead, we seem doomed to continue to shoot ourselves in the foot.

Published as an op-ed in the October 28, 2016 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper. 


Artemisia said...

Isn't "paying for what you use" a Republican value? A FEE is how we pay for what we use. Sure beats a tax, where you pay for stuff you might not use. But I get how these guys work. Roll back fees; starve the program. OH GEE, WE'LL HAVE TO CLOSE THAT ONE.

Junior Mints said...

It's starving the state to the point it's sold off to the Kochs to run as a privatized economic zone- like they have in south Texas where there's pollution and indentured servants working in the oil refineries

tworavens said...

Vote from the bottom up - and check the section of the ballot second to last (in other words, ignoring Republican and Write In). An outstanding piece again Susan because you addressed one of many issues I harp about, one of them being water. Too many individuals I speak to remain completely ignorant of our drought and water crisis. And I am extremely unpopular on the point of utilizing precious ground water resources to make snow. For one thing water does not return to earth the same way it evaporated. It has much heavier pollution levels as well as other toxic chemicals attached to it. And, soon it will become far too precious to waste on recreation. Because money appears to be the only God worshipped without restraint, a leviathan the size of Nestle would have no problem purchasing whomever and whatever they want. Those without values and care for their land will always fail their community and future. Bill Marvel wrote a glorious piece also on this subject recently. It is a short time to the big day in November and we can only fervently hope that voters will do the right thing. Although I lament the support that individuals such as Guinta and Ayotte receive. If their base consists of individuals who have chosen to remain largely uneducated and ignorant, then our state and nation is in yuuuuuuge trouble. Locally, votes for Sununu or Abramson and Ayotte, Guinta and friends would be equivalent to a vote for Trump/Putin. Keep the Commies out! They desperately desire to invade a USA sans infrastructure and with citizens at each others throats - it would be a "cake walk" for them.