Pelham - Windham News | April 6, 2012 - 5
Equipment Donated to Police Department
by Lynne Ober An anonymous donor has donated nearly $14,000 worth of
technology equipment to Pelham Police. Lieutenant Gary Fisher told selectmen about the donation and explained how the proposed equipment donation would benefi t the Police Department. The donation had a value of $13,907, which was included equipment, labor and installation cost. Fisher said the department was familiar with the company and had done business with them in the past but they asked to remain anonymous. Selectman Hal Lynde asked about any potential confl icts of interest with the proposed donation, and Selectman Doug Viger clarifi ed that question by asking if this donation was from a vendor with the expectation of future work. However, Fisher answered no and said that future work had never been part of the discussion. Selectman Ed Gleason asked for additional clarifi cation about costs to
the Town and wondered if there was any future maintenance costs that were not covered, but Fisher explained that the police department was not entering into a maintenance contract, and, further that the equipment would have normal manufacturer warranties. He said there would be no maintenance involved with the equipment; the understanding was that the donator would train personnel how to use the equipment so there would be no training costs either. When Gleason asked Town Administrator Tom Gaydos if the Selectmen had the authority to accept the equipment at the present meeting, Gaydos answered yes.
Although this has been posted as a Public Hearing, there was no public input.
Selectman Bob Haverty moved to accept the anonymous donation for the amount of $13,907 for audio/visual equipment, installation and training for the Police training room and Lynde seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Selectmen asked Fisher to convey their sincere appreciation to the anonymous vendor.
Jordan Ulery Hard Decisions for Voter Equality
by Representative Jordan Ulery Recently there has been much discussion on the method of passage and indeed the manner of re-districting as it applies to Hudson, Pelham, Litchfi eld and (now) Manchester. I will, if asked, discuss the manner in which HB 592 was passed, but not in this article. What needs to be understood is the massive diffi culty in developing a redistricting plan. I did not sit on the redistricting committee, but I did engage in intensive discussions with various members of the Committee, members on all sides of the issue. I also read the many discussions posted in blogs by a sometimes angry person wishing to advance their own plan over others. I will discuss mostly the relationship between Hudson and Pelham. The Census was completed in 2010, the data from the census
was not available, in this age of super fast computers, until mid- 2011. We, the General Court, had to wait patiently upon the release of correct, re-corrected and re-re-corrected data from the federal government before a comprehensive plan could be developed. The magic number from that data is 3,291 people per Representative (we are constitutionally limited to a maximum of 400 Representatives). No town, no ward no district came in exact multiples of the magic number.
Should Windham Students Wear Uniforms?
by Barbara O’Brien The question of whether or not Windham students should be required to wear uniforms is not included in the recent dress code that was adopted unanimously by school board members on March 19, but the issue was raised by a member of the audience who attended the work session. The Windham resident who brought up the subject said she wasn’t
sure how she felt about students being required to wear a uniform, but was interested in fi nding out more information about the pros and cons. “Uniforms are not on the school board’s radar right now,” Chairman Bruce Anderson said, “but the issue could be put on the agenda” for a future meeting. School board member Stephanie Wimmer said that she felt input
would need to be gotten from both students and parents across the entire community in order to get a true perspective of how people in Windham feel about the wearing of uniforms at public schools. Although no decision or commitment was made to discuss the possible requirement of uniforms, the resident who raised the question said she would be willing to investigate the topic on her own time if she felt the school board was interested in learning more about the subject. The full content of the dress code adopted by school board members earlier this month is available on the school district web site. One of the major goals of the policy is to ensure that students dress in a way that is not distracting to other students or inappropriately revealing.
Armed with census data, the House held a series of public hearings across the state eagerly soliciting public input. When undertaking redistrict three elements had to be considered. The Federal requirement of one person-one vote is the over arching principle. Believe it or not, some plans offered included, essentially one person - .7 votes. This above all else was a guiding principle. There are then two other principles that are superimposed upon that one principle. The fi rst is a mandated constitutional requirement imposed by the Department of Justice. This is because, in the past, New Hampshire had a poll tax. A poll tax (not to be confused with the pole tax) was used in the southern states to limit voting rights. In New Hampshire it was used to fund voting operations and no one was supposed to be denied the right to vote. Then we have the New Hampshire Constitutional requirement of Part the Second Article 11: “When the population of any town or ward, according to the last federal census, is within a reasonable deviation from the ideal population for one or more representative seats, the town or ward shall have its own district of one or more representative seats.” The key phrase here is “reasonable deviation.” The Federal government has defi ned that term at ± 5% (3424.05/3126.45 don’t ask about factional people). There is an inherent confl ict between the federal Constitution (Supreme Law of the Land) and the New Hampshire Constitution. I leave it to you to understand which law has primacy. The Governor vetoed the House bill (each body makes
its own bill and that is voted upon by the other as any law is created) because it did not allow each town individual representation as he said was required by the New Hampshire Constitution. Apparently the phrase “reasonable deviation” escaped his attention in his review of the law. The problem lies nearly exclusively with eastern Hillsborough County.
Town Administration Department Seeking Bookkeeper
by Barbara O’Brien Windham Selectmen have unanimously (5 to 0) approved a job description that will allow for the hiring of a bookkeeper to work in the town’s administration department, someone to assist Financial Director and Assistant Town Administrator Dana Call with certain duties. Call brought the job description to selectmen during their board meeting on March 26. Plans are to have the interviewing process complete and someone fi lling the position by July 1. The bookkeeping job was established after it was learned that long- time employee Kathy Davis would be reducing the number of hours she works per week, effective the end of June. Davis will be going from a full-time town employee to part-time status.
Call said that she has needed someone to help her with bookkeeping duties for some time already, so that she can devote more of her workday to other tasks. Referring to the new position, Call said, “This is certainly a step in the right direction.” The new bookkeeper’s job is slated to pay $16.14 per hour. It is a part-time, 25-hour per week position, without benefi ts. Plans were to begin accepting applications or resumes in early April.
is useful to remember here that Representatives to the New Hampshire House are also part of the legislative delegation of the county from which they are elected. One plan placed forward would have had residents of Rockingham County voting on the tax rate for residents of Hillsborough County. Hudson has a deviation of about 6.2
percent. This is too much above the under/ over allowed by the federal government so a fl oterial needs to be created. When combined with Pelham, however, the deviation is reduced well below the magic numbers. If Hudson was combined with Litchfi eld, another possibility, the deviation in Pelham would have been too great. The numbers just did not match according to the majority of the committee. In addition, the shift of voters into Manchester and Nashua merely complicated the structuring even further. This was the conclusion even after a marathon 5.5 hour public hearing on the issue held very recently. So what does that mean for now twinned
Pelham and Hudson? For starters it means that Hudson, instead of having only eight Representatives now has 11. Pelham, on the other hand, instead of having four Representatives has 11. In both cases Pelham and Hudson have good representation in Concord. Granted, it means that the person running for offi ce from
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Hudson had best be known in and around Pelham and vice versa, like Representative Doherty, be well known in Hudson. State wide the distribution of Representatives is even more representative. There are now created 204 districts, a whopping increase of 98 percent over the current representation. There are 162 underlying districts and a paltry 43 fl oat districts. The fl oat (fl oterial) districts are forced solely because of the way the numbers are come together. The question many will ask is this the only way to do redistricting. Obviously the answer is the typical political “yes and no.” No, this plan is not perfect. No, this plan does not allow each and every town individual representatives who are residents of their own towns in every situation. Yes, this plan meets the complex constitutional requirements of one person-one vote and “reasonable deviation” imposed by the United States and New Hampshire Constitutions. Yes, this plan will likely withstand a court challenge. Yes, there are other plans existent, but they did not pass the muster of the Committee Process in the House. Will this plan be challenged in court forcing NH to postpone elections, hold provisional elections or use the current districts for another biennium? Perhaps so, but given the quality of legal advice, the amount of public input accepted, the detail of analysis undertaken in preparing this plan a court challenge seems unlikely to prevail. One must remember that individual towns are constitutionally “subordinate political entities” in a “state” structure of government. In a “commonwealth” structure, the towns have a greater say. Individuals, unless aggrieved because of a particular circumstance usually do not have standing in electoral challenges (e.g. being denied a vote altogether). Party affi liation challenges are usually ignored by the courts. So there we have the plan. The Governor’s veto was over- ridden, Pelham gets 11 Representatives. Hudson gets 11 Representatives. Litchfi eld is combined with a single, mostly suburban ward of Manchester. Litchfi eld and the Manchester ward are similar in size and there should be no diffi culty in campaigning, if the candidates are actually interested in representing the people of the district. The bottom line is that the people of Hudson and Pelham have got “a” vote; one-person-one vote (not the proportional allocation presented by some). Your elected Representatives have already shown they are committed to the interests of all the towns in the mega district. Serving the smaller district of Pelham and Hudson should serve both communities well. Should you have any questions, please send them to me at Repulery@myfairpoint.net
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