Senator D’Allesandro: “Enough with the Election Year Budget Stunts”

N.H. Senator Lou D'Allesandro 
Image from Canadian Consulate

Concord, NH — Senate Finance Committee Vice Chair Lou D’Allesandro today issued a statement calling for an end to recent election-year political stunts on the budget.

“Every year, we follow the same process for managing the budget, which includes closing the books on the fiscal year at the end of September.  This is what the law calls for, that is what we have done for many years, and this year is no different.   And taking the appropriate time is a good thing. It takes this time because agencies have to comb through hundreds of accounting units; a process that administrative services has to repeat to ensure accuracy. In addition, agencies and administrative services are still processing bills that are related to Fiscal Year 2014 expenses. Everyone who has worked within the budget process knows that closing the books is not an overnight process, and getting an incomplete picture would be misleading at best.

It’s no big surprise that in an election year, political parties would try to manufacture an issue, but the recent press releases making wild claims about the budget are coming out of thin air, and amount to nothing more than a stunt. There is no indication that agencies are exceeding their spending authority and HHS has not issued any report suggesting that they are exceeding their budget by $100 million, as some have stated as if it were a point of fact.

Actually, the state currently appears to be on track to end the year with a balanced budget — a balanced budget that was achieved through bipartisan cooperation between Republicans and Democrats under the leadership of our Governor.

The Governor has made it clear that her administration will follow the law and the traditional practice of delivering full, unaudited financial statements by the end of September, when we have a more complete picture of each agency’s situation. That is exactly what she should do. I hope that at that time, we can work together across party lines to assess the situation with full and accurate information and continue to maintain a responsible, balanced budget.”

Professional Fire Fighters of NH Proudly Endorse Diane Sheehan for Executive Council

PFF Sheehan

PFF SheehanNASHUA – Today fire fighters from Executive Council District 5 gathered proudly to endorse Diane Sheehan in her campaign for Executive Councilor.  The PFFNH believe that Alderman Sheehan is the best choice to represent the Southern region of New Hampshire in the Executive Council.

“Alderman Sheehan has continuously been a great supporter of fire fighters in Nashua and a champion of public safety. We are lucky to have her here in Nashua, and know that she will serve the rest of the people of New Hampshire with the same commitment,” stated John McAllister, President of Nashua IAFF Local#789.

“Diane Sheehan’s commitment to fire fighters in our area proves that her priorities are in line with what we need in the Executive Council. She is a community leader who values public safety above all else. As fire fighters, our job is to protect Main Street, and we believe that Diane Sheehan shares in that same viewpoint,” stated Rich Ducharme, President of Merrimack IAFF Local #2904.

PFF Sheehan 2“I am proud, honored, and truly appreciative to receive the endorsement from the Professional Fire Fighters of NH for Executive Council in District five. As a current Alderman At-Large in Nashua, I am well aware of the selfless service performed daily by our professional fire fighters. When others run from a burning building, these brave public servants run in. I recognize that they put their lives on the line for community safety. I pledge to bring to the Council their cares and concerns, and to work as hard in representing them, and all the people of District 5, as they do each time they answer the alarm. I humbly thank them for the confidence they have placed in me,” said Sheehan.

The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, headquartered in Concord, NH represents more than 2,000 active and retired fire fighters and paramedics from 43 locals across the state.  More information is available at www.pffnh.org. Follow us on twitter @pffnh

 

Education Program Gutted for At-Risk Youth at State Facility

Sununu Youth Services-Manchester (image by Prime Roofing Corp)
SununuYouthServices-Manchester (image by Prime Roofing Corp)

Sununu Youth Services-Manchester (image by Prime Roofing Corp)

School Taking Brunt of Budget Cuts Seen as Suspicious 

The Sununu Youth Services Center (SYSC) educational services for the state’s most troubled youth may soon face legal challenges after 75% of targeted budget cuts are taken out on teaching staff.  Services for middle school through high school youth are expected to greatly suffer once personnel reductions of the uniquely qualified teaching staff are completed.

SYSC is the state’s residential detention and school facility for youth ages 13 to 17 who have either been found to be delinquent (SYSC program) or are awaiting that determination (YDSU program). Both programs are approved by NH Dept. of Education Bureau of Special Education to serve students in all disability categories. The programs include academics, special education, electives and vocational training for the youth that are taught in four distinct educational settings within the institution.

“The legislature ordered that $1.25 million dollars be directly cut from SYSC’s budget,” said Diana Lacey, President of SEA/SEIU 1984. “The Legislature also decided to cut an additional $7 million dollars from all of DHHS.”

At issue is the SYSC administration’s strategy for making those budget cuts.  “It defies logic that anyone would put 75% of the cuts on the department that educates the at-risk youth; it’s only going to hurt the kids.  They need their education to become independent and successful adults,” said Brad Asbury, former SYSC employee and current SEA/SEIU 1984 manager working with the educators.

“It took tremendous work to make the school what it is today.  Principal Claire Pstragowski has done a fine job and over the years we’ve seen the difference it’s made for the kids,” said Asbury.

“The teachers have worked tirelessly reaching out to state senators and representatives, executive councilors and the Governor to sound the alarm of what this cut will mean to the kids.  Some also believe there is no coincidence in the administration’s choice to slash the teaching force,” said Jay Ward, Political Director at SEA/SEIU 1984.

Multiple meetings with the administration, area lawmakers, and Governor Maggie Hassan have failed to yield a more balanced approach to the execution of the SYSC specific budget cut.  “We’ve suggested several ways to meet the savings requirement that have not been accepted, and remain suspicious that the teachers’ concerns that they were being specifically targeted are true,” said Ward.

Astutely, teachers had predicted this would happen in early 2012 – several months before legislators first raised the million plus cut in budget hearings.  Newly assigned director to the center, Maggie Bishop, asked teachers at the time to provide unpaid, after school voluntary extracurricular programs to youth.  When the teachers declined, due to legal liability and increased risk concerns, as well as labor law violation likelihood, Bishop expressed concern about the future.

“The teachers reached out to us after the director told them it would be difficult for her to justify their salaries and the cost of running the school in the future,” said Asbury.  The warning given was taken seriously and a later consultation with HHS Commissioner, Nick Toumpas, soon revealed the teachers’ account of the discussion with Bishop wasn’t far off.  “She was in that meeting and admitted she made the statements but that the teachers just took it the wrong way.  Then she said she would issue a request for information to see if there was any interest in privatizing the school and what it would cost.”

The strategy, as described by Bishop in the meeting, would enable her to better manage a budgetary challenge lawmakers might give her in the following budget cycle.

“It was then that the teachers predicted the education department would be gutted in the new budget,” said Lacey.  “More than twenty of them kept saying, she’s coming after us – just wait and see.”

Prior to moving the plan forward, Bishop sought to cut teacher pay by thirteen to twenty percent with an expectation that they would all remain at the school but for a few teaching layoffs.  “We believe that violates current New Hampshire law and is in conflict with the prescribed tools for meeting budget cuts,” said SEA Attorney, Lauren Snow-Chadwick.

“Gutting the education department by a 30% reduction in teaching staff makes no sense.  These kids need their teachers.  It’s very disturbing to think this may have all started as retaliation,” said Lacey.

The current school provides full day instruction to 60-70 youth, with a potential capacity of over 100, through fully certified and highly talented, grade/subject specific teachers.  The design came after a 1990’s class action lawsuit proved the youth’s constitutional rights were being violated because they were not receiving an appropriate education.  The improvements weren’t easily won; a court retained jurisdiction of the suit’s settlement agreement after the plaintiffs raised concerns about the state’s continued compliance.  Eventually, the plaintiffs and court agreed that the state succeeded in delivering an appropriate program.

It is likely, through this action, that the education program at the school will wind up in litigation again.

Interestingly The Center’s belief statement in a 2010 document states:

  • It is our belief every student be enrolled into approved educational programs and courses respective of individual needs.
  • It is our belief and practice that educational programs must be appropriate to the students’ academic potential, and competency-based
  • It is our belief and practice to teach vocational education, which meets the needs of the communities while also meeting the needs and interest of students.

Jerry DeLemus: Fear and Hate Mongering In New Hampshire

Child in poverty (Image Tim Grable FLIKR)

Today Foster Daily Democrat published a story about how Tea Party activist, organizer for Glenn Beck’s 9-12 project, and right wing whack-a-do Jerry DeLemus held a protest on a highway overpass to protest illegal immigration.

“The goal is to make the American people aware that there are people opposed to illegal immigration,” said event organizer Jerry DeLemus during the protest. “And also let our government know.”

DeLemus was taking part in a national day of action to protest what he is calling  “illegal immigration” of children from Central America.

“The solution,” said DeLemus during the protest, “is that our federal government and our state government should follow the law.”

So which law exactly would you like them to follow?

The one that takes these children into custody, puts them into a detention facility until they can receive a deportation trail to determine if or when they will be deported.

What mister fear and hate monger does not say, or does not simply understand, is that these children are not living in the United States illegally. They are walking up to border agents and asking to be taken into custody.

These children are walking hundreds, if not thousands of miles, to claim sanctuary from the horrific death and violence in their own countries. Many of them were sent here by their parents who would rather send them to the United States, knowing they may never see their child again, than to raise them in their home country.

These are innocent children who have nothing but the clothes on their back. Some of them are less than five years old.

This is a humanitarian crisis, not a function of illegal immigration.

Where is your humanity Jerry? Are you so self absorbed and full of hate for these little children that you would rather see these kids dropped off on a street corner in some Central American country with a pat on the head, saying “good luck,” as you walk away.

It is evil and disgusting that someone could even think like that.    Jerry is just another example of an ignorant racist Tea Party Republican who thinks, “America needs more patrolling of the nearly 2,000-mile-long border,” to fix this crisis.

 

More people patrolling does not stop the children from coming Jerry, it would just make it easier for the kids to turn themselves in.

FairPoint Employees To Hold Strike Authorization Vote

Fairpoint Workers

Fairness at Fairpoint BannerUnion leaders hope to reach agreement before contract expires August 2

Augusta, ME—Leaders of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 and Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 have scheduled a strike authorization vote for July 11-13 to take place across the FairPoint service area. The two unions represent nearly 2,000 employees of FairPoint Communications across Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Their contracts expire on August 2nd and union representatives have been in negotiations with management since April 25th.

“Our members don’t want to strike – they want to continue working for their customers and families,” said Glenn Brackett, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2320 in New Hampshire, one of the three locals that comprise System Council T-9. “Unfortunately, management is unwilling to offer any proposal other than ones they themselves describe as requiring ‘deep, painful, significant concessions’ from workers.”

A strike authorization vote is a necessary precursor to a work stoppage, but does not require the union members actually go on strike. Such a decision could be made later by union leadership. Leaders expect members of both IBEW and CWA in Northern New England to vote overwhelmingly in favor of the strike authorization.

FairPoint workers say they are not just fighting to protect good jobs in their communities but to ensure the best service to customers across Northern New England. They say the company is insisting on the unlimited ability to hire low-wage temporary workers from out of state to do their work. “When companies hire outside contractors to do the work of skilled, local employees, customers are the ones who suffer,” said Brackett.

“Our members want nothing more than to continue working to provide the best service possible to our customers,” said Don Trementozzi, President of CWA Local 1400, which consists of members across Northern New England. “Unfortunately, management continues to insist on deep cuts that we strongly believe will hurt consumers and the hard-working employees who have repeatedly saved this company, while the Wall Street hedge fund owners of FairPoint line their pockets.”

Cheshire Country Democrats Talk About Why They Are Running For Office

Cheshire County Courthouse (Wiki Common)

The Cheshire County Democrats are proud to release their slate of candidates for the upcoming fall election.

Cheshire County Courthouse (Wiki Common)

Cheshire County Courthouse (Wiki Common)

According to Carl DeMatteo Chairman of the Cheshire County Democratic Committee “At this time it is critically important that we all support and vote for the Democratic ticket to be sure we continue to make the kind of progress made in the last Two years in Concord. There is much unfinished work to do to ensure equality of opportunity for all citizens of New Hampshire.  Every vote matters! We cannot afford to return to the policies of obstructionism and the anti labor sentiments that are prevalent in the opposition party.  Even though we enjoy a strong voter registration presence here in Cheshire County, we are not taking anything for granted. We are encouraging our candidates to pound the pavement and talk to voters about our values and our vision for moving the state forward.”

County Commissioner District 2 Candidate Terry Clark of Keene, states his reason for running for County Commissioner is “To increase the level of resource sharing among local governments. State and Federal funding to local and county government is trending down and we must make the most of every tax dollar we raise. After all, it’s the same taxpayer paying for city, school and county government expenses. I also want to make sure that any changes in nursing home care do not take away the safety net county government has been providing all these years, and that property in Keene is not taken off the tax rolls to house a new nursing home.”

Anna Tilton, Cheshire County Registrar of Deeds who is running for re-election, “It is critical that the land transaction record of Cheshire County be accurate and safely maintained for future generations. I am committed to always improving our on-line services, serving the public and protecting the public record.”

“I am running for re-election as Cheshire County Register of Deeds to continue with updating our technology to secure our paper and digital records and to better serve those who use our services now and in the future.”

Eli Rivera Sherriff of Cheshire County who is running for re-election “During my first term in office, as Cheshire County Sheriff, I’ve been able to increase revenue by reviewing current practices and making the proper adjustments to reflect a true cost for services.  Our community involvement has increased and we’ve become active participants with local organizations throughout the county. It is important that our momentum continues and we stay focus on moving into the 21st century.”

State Senator Molly Kelly of District 10 is who is running for re-election “Through the tremendous efforts of the people of New Hampshire, our beautiful state has begun to make its way to recovery. The economy is growing and unemployment is at its lowest levels since 2008.   We have made progress with restoring funding to our University System and our Community College, providing health insurance for 50,000 hard-working people, and working together to solve difficult problems.

We have made great strides, but the recovery remains fragile. Now is the time for proven and experienced leadership to secure continued growth. Over the past eight years, I have worked with our political and community leaders to be that force for greater opportunities for our citizens, and more importantly a voice for the needs of the people of Southwest, NH. There is still work to be done and I would be honored to serve once again as your NH State Senator.”

State Senate:

District 10

Molly Kelly Keene

State Representative

District 1

Michael D. Abbott Hinsdale

Tara Sad Walpole

Lucy McVitty Weber Walpole

Paul Berch Westmoreland

District 2

John E. Mann Alstead

District 3

Daniel Adams Eaton Stoddard

District 4

James Cleaveland Keene

William Pearson Keene

District 5

John Bordenet Keene

District 6

Timothy N. Robertson Keene

District 7

Gladys Johnsen Keene

District 8

Cynthia L. Chase Keene

District 9

Richard Ames Jaffrey

Douglas Ley Jaffrey

District 10

Marge Shepardson Marlborough

District 11

Luke Sacher Fitzwilliam

District 12

F. Barrett Faulkner Swanzey

Ben Tilton Swanzey

District 13

Henry A.L. Parkhurst Winchester

District 14

Patricia Martin Rindge

District 15

Bruce L. Tatro Swanzey

District 16

Larry Phillips

Kris E. Roberts Keene

Conan Salada Keene

COUNTY OFFICES:

Sheriff

Eli Rivera Keene

County Attorney

D. Chris McLaughlin Westmoreland

County Treasurer

Roger T. Zerba Keene

Register of Deeds

Anna Z. Tilton Keene

County Commissioner District 1

John M. Pratt Walpole

County Commissioner District 2

Charles Weed Keene

Christopher C. Coates Keene

Philip Dale Pregent Keene

Terry M. Clark Keene

 

 

 

 

Rochester Fire Department to Receive $175,500 Assistance to Firefighters Grant

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter 
(image by MARCN Creative Commons On Flickr)

Shea-Porter’s Letter Helped Rochester Secure the Funding

ROCHESTER, NH – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) is pleased to announce that the Rochester Fire Department has been selected as the recipient of a $175,500 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG). The grant will help the fire department purchase updated breathing apparatuses, such as spare bottles, communication devices, and equipment to outfit their Rapid Intervention Team.

“We must provide first responders with the equipment they need to safely serve in the line of duty,” Shea-Porter said. “I was proud to support this grant that will help the Rochester Fire Department keep our communities and first responders safe.”

Since 2001, Assistance to Firefighter Grants have helped firefighters and first responders purchase critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.

Shea-Porter frequently assists cities and towns in their applications for federal grants by writing letters of support, and she did so in this case. In January, she wrote to FEMA, “As a resident of Rochester, I can attest to the hard work of the full-time and on-call firefighters that serve our community of 30,000 residents. Our two fire stations serve a 45-square-mile area, and the new equipment would provide numerous benefits, ranging from operational effectiveness to firefighter protection.”

NH Insurance Department to Host Information Sessions on 2015 Networks

Concord Hospital

Two Public Events Will Detail Hospitals Accessible Through Marketplace Plans

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Insurance Department will offer information sessions next week to present basic information about the health care provider networks that are likely to be available through New Hampshire’s federally operated Health Insurance Marketplace in 2015.

The first session will take place June 17, from noon to 1 p.m. in Concord, at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, 2 White St. The second will be held June 19, from 9-9:45 a.m. at the Mount Washington Valley Economic Council’s Tech Village in Conway: 53 Technology Lane, Room 211.

Both sessions will be free and open to the public. Members of the New Hampshire Insurance Department will share information about the networks proposed by the five insurance companies that have applied to offer plans on the New Hampshire Marketplace in 2015: Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Assurant Health, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care of New England, and two co-ops: Massachusetts‐based Minuteman Health and Maine Community Health.  The presentation will focus on the types of plans (HMO, PPO, POS, etc.) that will be offered and on the hospitals included in the plans’ provider networks.

“In 2015, New Hampshire residents will have a variety of networks and plan designs to choose from,” said New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “We are pleased that consumers will benefit from this competition with increased choice, and we are looking forward to sharing more information about the networks with the public next week.”

To reserve a seat for the June 17 Concord information session, or for more information, please email Danielle.Barrick@ins.nh.gov; to reserve a seat for the June 19 Conway information session, or for more information, please email holly@mwvec.com or call (603) 447-6622.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s mission is to promote and protect the public good by ensuring the existence of a safe and competitive insurance marketplace through the development and enforcement of the insurance laws of the State of New Hampshire. For more information, visit www.nh.gov/insurance.

IBEW and CWA Open Negotiations Looking For “Fairness At FairPoint”

Fairpoint Workers

Fairness at Fairpoint Banner

Joint statement from Peter McLaughlin, IBEW System Council T-9 President, and Don Trementozzi, CWA Local 1400 President, on the start of bargaining with FairPoint

As we open bargaining today, the IBEW and the CWA understand that both the Union and the Company must resolve many issues before our current agreement expires Saturday, August 2nd at Midnight.

Fairpoint Workers The new contract must provide job security, adequate wages and benefits, safe and reasonable working conditions, and a secure retirement that reward and incentivize this company’s single most valuable asset, our members and your employees.

The Union and your workers hope and expect that the Company basically wants the same things: a safe, healthy work environment; quality products for the customer, and the ability to make money.

When they worked for Verizon, the hard working women and men of the IBEW and CWA in these three northern states were recognized as the finest workers in the entire company footprint. You name it . . . productivity, attendance, or sales.

These proud telephone workers are a big part of this Company’s renewed success. If not for their experience and ability to overcome critical shortcomings in the operational systems that were implemented after cutover, we would not be here talking today. As their Representatives, we expect them to be treated with respect throughout these negotiations and that their value is recognized as a result of these efforts.

The Unions have kept abreast of the industry trends. We obviously recognize the Company needs to survive and prosper in order for our members to have a place to work.  At the same time, we will work diligently to protect bargaining unit work.

I want to make it clear, though, that there will be no harmony in the work places of FairPoint should the company make unreasonable demands, demands that would potentially wipe out years of gains from those who fought the fights before us.

Fairpoint Workers at Lewiston ME garage

Fairpoint Workers at Lewiston ME garage

When given the opportunity, our members have responded to every challenge given them. Be it Fiber to the Tower, NGN, or school and libraries projects. They look forward to new work opportunities brought on by FairPoint’s investment in technology and new product offerings.

For an all-too-brief period, the Unions were able to partner with FairPoint to work through and resolve Union/Management Concerns.  We are not only willing, but we’re eager, to do so again. Our ability to partner with the Company has been non-existent over the past couple of years. FairPoint has kept the Union at arm’s length and dragged its feet to meet with us in contractually binding meetings.

Hopefully, through these negotiations, we’ll be able to turn the page.  We must find solutions that work for both sides and I am confident that we can.

The Union is committed to a respectful and meaningful collective bargaining process. We believe it is the mutual interest of us all to reach a fair and equitable collective bargaining agreement.

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The Koch Brothers Are Trying To Buy Scott Brown A Senate Seat To Protect Their Big Oil Tax Breaks

Jeanne Shaheen 3

Scott Brown supported billions in special breaks for Big Oil and Wall Street, they are spending millions to get him back to Washington

Jeanne Shaheen 3There is no denying that Senator Scott Brown is a friend to Wall Street.  After the insanely popular Elizabeth Warren kicked Brown to the curb, Brown took a lobbying job on behalf of “financial services industry.” He used his political connections as a Senator to lobby on behalf of the poor, overworked, underpaid hedge fund managers of Wall Street.

Brown’s ties to Wall Street go back even further to when he was an the actual Senator from Massachusetts, where lived from many years until about three seconds ago when he decided to run for the Senate from NH. Senator Scott Brown was instrumental in the passage of the “STOCK Act.

“Brown’s STOCK Act reflected the wishes of lobbyists who did not want to see real reform.” (Republic Report)

That only made Wall Street love Scott more.  They knew it would be good for business, and mostly their wallets if, Scott Brown stayed a Senator, and Warren -who wants to put bankers in jail for destroying the economy- were to continue teaching instead of moving to Washington.   That is why lobbyists like Wayne Berman invested heavily in his campaign for election in 2012.

He’s (Berman) a lobbyist, but also a major fundraiser for Brown. Berman has thrown financial industry fundraisers for Brown, and is leading efforts to steer cash toward Brown’s reelection effort.” (Republic Report)

Now suddenly, Scott Brown is driving his truck all over New Hampshire trying to tell people that he is from here, and that he should be OUR Senator.  Not many people are buying it, and so Brown is going to need some significant funders to help him buy the Senate seat in his newly adopted state.

Now the Koch Brothers funded Americans For Prosperity and other third party groups have now spent over $2 million dollars on attack ads against Senator Shaheen.  This is probably why Senator Brown is still refusing to sign the “peoples pledge” to keep all the third party money out of the race, simply because he cannot afford to buy the Senate seat on his own.

“Big Oil special interests and the Koch Brothers are spending millions to buy Scott Brown a Senate seat because they know he’ll work to protect their interests,” said Shaheen spokesman Harrell Kirstein. “As a Senator from Massachusetts, Brown voted to give Big Oil and Wall Street billions in special breaks and they gave his campaigns millions of dollars.  Now the Koch brothers are spending big money on attack ads supporting Brown’s campaign because they desperately want him back in the Senate again voting to protect their interests, not New Hampshire’s.”

The Koch Brothers want to defeat Jeanne Shaheen because she opposed special breaks for Big Oil but New Hampshire voters won’t be fooled by their attack ads. They know Jeanne Shaheen is fighting to make a difference for New Hampshire and that’s what she’ll continue doing,” added Kirstein.

Scott Brown and the Koch Brothers are trying to pull the wool over your eyes about how Scott Brown is in bed with Wall Street, a complete sellout, and willing to do whatever his rich and powerful masters tell him to do.

 I for one will not be fooled, will you?