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November 25, 2008

Just in time for reviewing the School Budget!

Timing can be everything, at times.  Here's a cute story melding free market economy, the profit motive, and education in solving a classroom problem:

When his San Diego area school cut the printing budget, calculus teacher Tom Farber came up with a way to fund his tests and quizzes: He sells ads on tests.
Some are pithy one-liners, hawking the names of local businesses: “Brace Yourself for a Great Semester! Braces by Henry, Stephen P. Henry D.M.D.”

Others are inspirational quotes, like “Keep the company of those who seek the truth, and run from those who have found it – Vaclav Havel.”
Farber spends more than $500 on printing in a year; Rancho Bernardo High now gives him $300.
Farber’s customers pay $10 for an ad on a quiz, $20 to be on a chapter test and $30 for a spot on a semester final. Some of the quotes, either personal ones or by famous people, are paid for by parents.
Farber has made $350 so far, and still has ad space for next semester.  His surplus will help other math teachers pay for supplies.

Some students say the inspirational quotes help them deal with stress.
Luke Shaw, 17, was less enthusiastic. The senior said a recent sponsorship that was the name of a structural engineering company didn’t do anything for him.

“I’m always hoping that someone will sponsor it with a trig formula or something useful,” he said.
My father had a friend who put himself through college during the Depression by selling ads on report cards. School districts saved on printing costs.

What a deal - teaching kids that free enterprise and education do mix!  It also shows that all profit generating activities are not merely "greed in action".

About taking the Mountain Dew machine out of the school....

From Joane Jacobs:

Banning sugar-sweetened drinks at Maine high schools didn’t affect students’ consumption, a study found.
The study compared four high schools that eliminated soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks from cafeterias and vending machines with three schools that did not take such measures.

Researchers found that over one school year, students in both groups of schools cut down on their average daily intake of sugary drinks — but there was no evidence that the school soda bans led to greater reductions.
It turns out that teens do most of their soda slurping on their own time. Those who can’t get a Coke at lunch will drink one after school.

Sometimes, just assuming that the conventional wisdom is correct can prove one wrong....

November 19, 2008

Gunstock Water Distict BudCom Rep Thinks Library is EXTRA Special

The Gunstock Village Water District (my neighborhood) appointed Richard Young to represent us on the Gilford Budget Committee. During last week’s debate on the library budget he made a very passionate plea to encourage support for the larger requested library budget. His statement proclaimed; “the excellent services provided by the library says something about our community and is the jewel of our town. In these difficult times, the library will be used even more because its services are free for the people to use.”

Aside from the fact that it isn’t exactly “free” who could argue with the basic principle that the library provides a valued service to the community? His speech sounded wonderful to an audience lobbying for their portion of the budget but shouldn’t a Budget Committee member have a broader perspective? From my point of view, Richard Young should be mindful that all town services are the “jewels” of our town. The services provided by ALL town employees say something about our community and are equal to or more important than the library’s functions. Here are just a few examples of Gilford’s most essential services;

·        The quality of the roads we drive on and appreciation for those that plow our roads through the night so that our children and families can travel safely to their destinations in the morning.

·        The professional staff that register our cars and answers difficult questions regarding permits, services, fees and taxes.

·        The Police department that protects us from those who wish to do us harm for personal gain, which may arguably increase in these difficult times.

·        The Fire fighters who may get called out at 2 am in sub zero weather because someone had a mishap conserving money with an alternative heating method.

·         Quality schools that further our children’s future success.

During Mr. Young’s comments he cites that he has no reason to question the requested budget because it had been vetted by both the Library Trustees and the Selectmen. Then what exactly does he think he’s doing on the Budget Committee if he can’t question proposed spending? Arguably, if the library received the same level of funding as last year, the consequences wouldn’t result in a major tragedy as compared to the above mentioned departments. That said, the Budget Committee has more than supported the Library. The Committee voted to fully support all the Library increases in the Buildings & Grounds budget and they only reduced the operating budget from a requested 7.46% increase down to a 4.5% increase. Last year the Committee approved a 6.8% increase over the previous year. Apparently this minor reduction is what upset Mr. Young enough to voice his concerns to the committee.

Every department is faced with increases in need yet manages to provide us with quality services each year within an average of a 3.5% budget increase. Some would argue that even that’s too high and budgeters’ seek to maintain quality services with less. Isn’t it only fair to the entire community that the Library do the same?

November 15, 2008

I almost forgot this...and wonder why school vouchers are gaining traction.

During Election Day, it seems that a number of teachers brought their classes outside to see the folks that were politicking for their favorite candidates.  I would assume that they were having a "teachable" moment in giving a first hand experience to the kids on how American democracy works.  A great idea!

When I went to vote, I went over to talk with Greg Knytych (presently Ward 1 Laconia City Councilor) who was the Republican candidate for NH Senate District 4.  We chit-chatted for a bit and then he mentioned that the kids had been coming outside.  But then he related this:

A teacher came over with her kids and talked about what was going on.  One of the kids (a younger one) pointed to a sign next to Greg.  It was a Jeb Bradley sign, Republican candidate for NH's First Congressional District and the kid asked "What is that"?

Greg said he was horrified at the teacher's "He is running for Congress.  He is a Republican - and a bad manWe don't want him."

Note: Jeb supported school vouchers and choice.  In a case like this, I can understand why parents would want to as well.  I would not want my kids at a school where a blatant case of partisanship was demonstrated in front of her or his students.

I've known Greg for a while now, and I have no doubt that what he was telling me was the truth (he gave me permission to talk about this). The problem is for anyone to try to explain this away as an isolated incident is that I have heard from students who were able to vote (and some parents of kids of voting age) that they were told by their teacher that if they voted and voted for the candidate of the teacher's choice, they'd get extra credit.  And no, the parents were afraid of retaliation if they had come forward. I, having no kids in the school system, don't worry about that anymore (but I used to).

Now, I have no problem with teachers being partisan - I certainly believe in Conservative principles and given that it seems that most teachers are Democrats, I would have to believe that many are as partisan in their beliefs as well.  But it should be on their own time.  I have my beliefs and philosophies and one of them is that parents have the responsibility and right to teach their children about politics...

...and not teachers!  Yes, teach the system, teach civics.  But not ideologies. I find it intolerable that a teacher would abuse their position and would have said such a thing or propositioned kids to vote for their candidate.  

The problem is in wondering "is this an isolated occurrence?"  Or is it  symptomatic of a larger problem?  If a teacher is willing, in public, to tell a child that a candidate is a bad person only because they are a Republican, what goes on between the classroom walls? Because of technology, we have kids recording teachers or professors going off on ideological rants.

Many parents believe that what goes on in schools are the same as when we were there 20, 30, or more:  reading, writing, and 'rithmetic.  Is it?  Many parents who are Conservative or Libertarians are, more and more, feeling that it is not.  Instead of concentrating on basics (as shown by the test scores), the curriculum that is taugh may not be what is being taught at home.

And how can parents tell?

I believe in openness and transparency in government - perhaps that should be implemented in the school system as well.   Given the ideological outburst a few years ago from New Beginnings that started the movement to defund outside agencies, and now New Beginnings has curriculum in Gilford's school system, it may be time for parents to ask that the curriculum be made available online.  Webcams for parents, to see what is being taught might not be a bad idea either.

And in some cases, may help teachers accused of malfeasance as well to prove their innocence if falsely accused (or lend credence that Joey or Judy do nothing but mess up all the time).

Philosophy matters because it gets translated into dollars at budget season

Philosophy matters. Especially when their budget is up 7.5%, the town budget was up 0.36%, and inflation is around 3%.

Philosophy gives one a frame of reference, a world view; a lens on how things are perceived and interpreted.  Are people basically good, or bad?  Is morality absolute, or relative?  Does truth ever change or is it static?  Do Rights come from God or from the State (which means, should the State even consider changing them if from God, or do Rights change on a whim of public opinion?)?

As we discussed the budget with the Library Trustees and Administration (here, here and here), there is a chasm on the ideas and philosophies about how a library should operate and the budget to support it. There is the question of do we need a traditional library (primacy on book lending) or slowly making a move to being a cultural center? 

There was also another philosophical underpinning to the Library supporters:  because the demand for their product (circulation of materials) was going up, they deserved to have all that the Selectmen gave them this year (forgetting for the moment that they excoriated the BudComm LAST year for not putting back into the budget what the Selectmen had already taken out before the budget came to us (so we were still the bad guys then too).

It certainly came out that if they did not receive all of what they wanted in their budget, they would consider it to be a cut.  Any deletion of a line item or monies within that line item was a cut - even if the final amount was larger than last year's budget.

Only in government, can more money than last year still be called a cut!

My own opinion is that we are a small town library - what might be "needs" in the city are probably "wants" at this level.  As a budget committee member, when evaluating the budget, I tend to ask that question a lot: "need" or "want"?  And yes, my opinion may be different than others.

My philosophy in going into this budget process, given the economic times that we seem to be heading into,

which the Selectmen have also embraced by the budget they gave to us, is that things have to be lean - real lean.  My feeling is that this recession is going to last for a long time and be rather deep - think Jimmy Carter days.  I do not have a good feeling about what is going on with the current bailout

(Sidenote: frankly, I'm not convinced that the bailout of anything other than the financial institutions is a good thing, and I'm not even sure that the financial wizards doling out the money know what they are doing.....add in the politicians and we have the recipe for a huge disaster with the flushing of hundreds (thousands???) of billions of dollars down the drain for nothing to show for it).

and I don't believe for a moment that there will a lot of money around for many people at all.  Thus, a 7.46% rise over last year stood out like a sore thumb when all other departments were rather austere.

Yes, circulation demand has risen.  If the Library was a private entity, as Bob Kammeraad tried to use as an analogy, it would make sense to add people and "stuff" to grow - as growth should mean either more market share or profit.  Problem is, that is done with private money - the Library is not - it is funded with tax money. Thus, I disagree with the philosophy that an increased demand should automatically mean higher funding with other peoples' money.

Dick Hickok has it right - there should be controlled growth when dealing with government.  Yes, demand can grow for services, but there is a limited amount of funding to go around.  Even if Richard Young believes that all is free for usage, TANSTAAFL and we are tasked to be prudent with the taxpayer's purse.  One could say that the DPW could be funded with much higher funding - why NOT pave all the streets in Gilford every year?  After all, we all use the roads all the time?

But that would be silly, it is a silly argument, and we don't - it is not a prudent use of the taxpayer's purse.

I also have the philosophy that priorities matter.  Everybody wants their slice of the pie (and because money is a scarce resource in government [or should be treated as such, but that is for a different post]), we have to prioritize who gets what at a given level of government.  My philosophy, plain and simple, is that public safety (police, fire) and the roads should be the highest priorities in town.  These functions are difficult for individuals to do on their own; they are best managed by individuals but carried out by local government.  Next comes the Town Clerk (need money for operations and taking care of paperwork) and Education (as until the phrase "Every Child Deserves a Publicly Funded Education" becomes a reality).  And then downward from there.  Why?

To me, government is best limited and utilized for those functions that cannot be done better by private industry or by individuals themselves.  I also believe that as government does more and more for people, they begin to depend on that function, and then demand that function, thus driving up costs (TANSTAAFL) as it is easy to demand something for which one does not pay the full cost.

Hmmm, going long here.  Last point, and most important to me - too often we see the rise in the cost of government outstrip that of the average family income.  Why should government, from a philosophical standpoint,k be allowed to outgrow those families that fund it?  In my mind, we have turned the tables from what the Founding Fathers created - our founding documents have the philosophy to limit government for exactly the right reasons.  If left unchecked, government will absorb, like the Borg of Star Trek (or Communist societies), all.

Disagree with me?  Look at the european socialist democracies - there, government supplies all and does all - just not all that well if you REALLY do a drill down.  But in return for that 'security", taxes are high - sky high in many cases.  And that has resulted in a condition where many of our "poor" would be considered to be "middle class" there - and our middle class would be considered wealthy.

My overriding philosophy?  Government should not rise beyond that of the people that it governs.  Sadly, in many locals, that has not been followed - with horrible results.


Do not claim something is free when it is not.

During this past BudComm meeting, as we were wrapping up discussing the Library Budget, Richard Young had something to say. As you listen to it (he is not in the video), remember this phrase:

TANSTAAFL

There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.  This is a basic, fundamental axiom of economics (one I wish more people would understand and moreover, embrace).  No matter what you think, for whatever you enjoy at no cost to you, somebody somewhere by some means has paid for you.

 As kids, we wanted everything.  Why not?  The cost of a thing (e.g., an ice cream cone, going to the movies, eating out, a new article of clothing, a game) was not seen by us - our parents paid for it.  Even as we hit our teenage years and many of us worked for pocket money (or higher purposes such as school), how many of us did NOT try to milk our parents for an extra this or an extra that (shhh, let's see if they will pay for it - then I do not have to!).

As adults, we know better the true costs of what earning a living costs in time and effort and what it costs to provide for a family.  And yes, to provide taxes for the local government that we do need to support.

All of that said, I vehemently

disagree with Mr. Young speaking and giving the impression that the Library is free to all.  It does cost money (ahem, else, why would be debating its budget for an hour?). I did get a tad ticked as he tried to convey that it is free to use the Library - for the consumers of the Library.  Their marginal cost to check out one more additional "thing" (be it a book, CD, DVD, or attend a program) is free.

But the cost of that "free" service is, in round numbers, $275,000 to the town taxpayers.  

In other words, it could be illustrative to think about it in this way:  with about 7,400 residents in town, it costs each of us about $37 / year to support the library.  Or, for a family of four (the traditional family), figure about $150 in round numbers per year.

A large number?  To some a pittance, to others, it is.  But it is not free.  And there are more than a few that maintain that the price is a low price to pay for such a library.  But the question must always be asked - what else could that family be doing with that money instead?  And this is NOT a silly question - no matter the amount of money being bandied about, the question of who has control of someone else's money is ALWAYS of prime importance!  And no, the purpose of that money is not the basis of the question.  It is, however, always a question of the State respecting the fundamental philosophy behind the Right to Private Property (which money is).

And keeping in mind the truth behind TANSTAAFL, nothing else in town is free either.  And after a while, keep adding them up, and we're at the $11 million for the town budget (almost $1,500 for each person in town).

November 14, 2008

Dale brings Chicago politics to Gilford

Well, although he was not officially part of the Library SubCommittee, he did listened/show up for this meeting. And said nothing.

And, he showed up for this meeting as well. And said nothing.

And then this past Thursday night at the full Budget Committee, he spoke.  And trashed the Subcommittee and all the people on it by stating that they did not do their job - they were sloppy, they only cared about their preconceived ideas of what should be (note:  when the percentage rise in the Library budget is the highest in the Town, you BET it is going to draw attention, regardless of what Dale wanted).

But the recordings and the paperwork shows otherwise (click on the links above).  And yes, the recording will show that I did bring up his relationship to the Library Director (his wife) and that he and his wife's company has a commercial product installed at the Library (which he didn't particularly  care for, see below).  Even the Chair admonished him (as you can see / hear in the video) that he was satisfied that the job was done correctly (and he covered up later in the meeting).

If he was so unsatisfied with what was being done, why didn't he speak up THEN?  He had the chance - he chose not to.  He could have made his thoughts and feelings known to all - he failed to voice his opinion then.

You know, I have my differences with Dale.  That's fine, I expected an attempt to discredit me so to prevent the cuts to his wife's budget.  But he crossed the line when he besmirched the effort, the hours of work, that Doug, Bill, and Kevin put in.  While Doug and I often agree in the result, the method, and the philosophy, Bill and Kevin have their own outlook on it.  But that seemingly didn't matter to Dale with his tirade. 

So, Why did he choose to remain silent in the smaller meetings and unload on everyone on the Subcommittee in the larger meeting (IMHO)?

Politics.  Pure and simple. He brought the slime of the Chicago city machine politics to rural Gilford. Or that of corporate hardball politics.  You know, it's sad, really.

Note: after the meeting, I called Bill, Doug, and Kevin to apologize for what Dale put them through.  Necessary?  From my standpoint - absolutely.

So why did Dale do this?  I cannot read minds, but the little bits start to add up. What I believe it comes down to is this - it is quite easy to look back and see what budget he has most vociferously defended the last two years?

The Library budget.

A recap:

He was part of the group that tried to have the Budget Committee neutered by having its SB2 sanctioned ability to change and present the budget to the town folks reduced to being an advisory committee. When that was foiled by the wisdom of Mr. Dick Campbell, he reversed his position and decided to run for the BudComm.  In hindsight - the political frontal attack failed, thus a flanking maneuver.  Or, inside out maneuver.  Whatever it would take to achieve a goal.

He campaigned that he would uphold the highest ethics.  He promised not to vote on anything related to the library. His campaign was about change (he had lots of ideas of how the BudComm should be run and managed well before being on it - many of which contradicted the New Hampshire RSAs that govern SB2 Budget Committee).  A flanking maneuver.

Well, it was obvious at the time that the election was really between him and Doug.  However, when he was elected, it was after he lost by a large margin to both Bill Phillips and Doug.  But with  another side step and he claimed victory by beating Terry Stewart (which kinda made my head swivel, as most people realized the race has been against Doug).  Another flanking maneuver - changing the subject?

And then at the first BudComm meeting after the election, he announced that he would be voting on all things including his wife's budget: the Library.  And he gleefully repudiated his campaign promises with the statement there was nothing legally that the BudComm could do to stop him.  Another flanking maneuver to achieve a goal.

Last year, he was the staunchest supporter of no cuts to the Library budget and that budget was, shall I say, his most active participation.

And with his trashing of this year's Library Subcommittee, it was repeated.  This time, the tactic was instead of going after the cuts, he went to the tactic of discrediting the subcommittee.  Why not?  Discrediting the subcommittee means a reversal of the cuts, force a new composition of a succeeding subcommittee, and if that new composition is favorable to him, sidestep the decrease in growth of the Library budget.  Fait Accompli.

(Note: even with the lowering of $9,800 of the budget, it was still an overall budget increase).  

Dale complained that we were ideologically bent on decreasing the Library budget (as that claim alone was sufficient to undo what we had done, as if that was a "BAD" thing).  Well, the Trustees claimed they needed the new part time position because of increased circulation.  If we were that ideologically persuaded, we would have cut the position entirely or severly cut the down the hours (and I did run some scenarios to see what that would have done).  If we were going to "punish" the library, as Dale intimated, because it was turning more "into a cultural center rather than a traditional library", we could have stripped out the Programs budget out.

We did neither. We cut chairs.  We cut 3 computers.  We cut 7 chairs.  We lowered postage.  We did not cut the main needs of the library (ok, instead of buy just over 800 books in the new year, it was in the high 700s.).  And since Terry Stewart had also attended the first meeting, he set the public and the rest of the BudComm straight about how the discussion went.

But Dale wanted nothing cut.  Heck, even Bob K., a Library Trustee, said that they felt  that their 7.46% was actually level funding (only in governmentalese!).

End result was that just over $1,000 was put back in.

But it didn't stop there. After the meeting, it was rather obvious that my bringing up his wife and his company that provides web software to the Library was, for him, out of bounds and he told me why. My response was "fine, but the next time you decide to trash a subcommittee, at least have the decency to let them know about it in advance".  I felt that if he wanted better treatment, he should be willing to do the same. 

His parting words as he walked away:  "It is not required"

Chicago politics.  Whatever it takes.

==============================

View the meeting by clicking on the Video guy below:

 

More later.

Library SubCommittee - redeux

Well, the first meeting with the Library Administration and Trustees was here.

Our second meeting where the SubCommittee members discussed (Doug, Kevin Hayes, and I; Bill Philips had another committment) what we had learned and decided on what we were going to do.  Bob Kammarand, Katherine Dormody, and Polly Sanfacon.

Dale Dormody of the BudComm (but not officially on this SubCommittee)

You can listen to all of the deliberations by, once again, clicking on the Gramaphone.

 

Below is the report submitted to the Library and to the whole Budget Committee last night:

Gilford Budget Committee
FY 2009







Working Group: Library




Members: Skip Murphy, Kevin Roy, Bill Philips, Doug Lambert




Presenter: Skip Murphy




Subcommittee meeting Katherine Dormady, Polly Sanfacon, Tracy Petrozzi, Robert Kammarand, Weldon Bosworth, Daryl Thompson









2008 2009 Delta Percentage

Total Budget $281,522 $302,516 $20,994 7.46%









Date




Dept Head Meeting 11/06/08




Dept Head receives review 11/11/08




Presentation to BudComm 11/13/07


















Non-Discretionary Spending: Number of People $ Fiscal Year Financial
Personnel 2008 2009 2008 2009 Delta Percentage
Full 5 5 $188,863 $180,878 -$7,985 -4.23%
Part time 2 3 $30,029 $47,791 $17,762 59.15%




$7,117




$218,892 $228,669 $9,777 4.47%







Note: 2007 – 5 full time (3 w/benefits), 2 part time (12 additional hours / week)





2008 – 5 full time (3 w/benefits), 3 part time (25 additional hours / week)











Discretionary Spending: (Focus on top 3 issues)








$ Fiscal Year Financial
Item Description
2008 2009 Delta Percentage
01-4550.2-511 1. Telephone
$1,800 $3,000 $1,200.00 66.67%
01-4550.2-312 2. Library Books & Periodicals
$18,000 $19,000 $1,000.00 5.56%
01-4550.2-316 3. Childrens books
$8,000 $8,500 $500.00 6.25%














Recommendation to Budget Committee from this Subcommittee






To bring down the rate of budget increase, and to not cut the new part time position, we decreased the following line items:








Priority 1 Decreased 01-4550.2-452 New Equipment from $3,000 to $0 (chairs)











Priority 2 Decreased 01-4550.2-355 Lib Computer Equip & Maint. From $9,000 to $5,050 (cameras, 3 computers)








Priority 3 Decreased 01-4550.2-312 Library Books & Periodicals from $19,000 to $18,000




  =========================================

 

Account # Acct Name Budget08 Request09 BOS Rcmd09 % CHANGE BC Rcmnd09 $ CHANGE % CHANGE







BOS BOS
LIBRARY







01-4550.2-101 Full Time Wages-Library 188,863 186,381 180,878 -4.23% 180,878 0
01-4550.2-102 Part Time Wages - Library 30,029 49,405 47,791 59.15% 47,791 0
01-4550.2-109 Merit Wages - Library

7,117
7,117 0


















01-4550.2-235 Continuing Education 900 1,000 1,000 11.11% 900 -$100 -10.00%
01-4550.2-237 Programs 1,830 1,930 1,930 5.46% 1,830 -$100 -5.18%
01-4550.2-311 Meetings & Dues 850 850 850
850 $0
01-4550.2-312 Library Books & Periodicals 18,000 19,000 19,000 5.56% 18,000 -$1,000 -5.26%
01-4550.2-313 Audio Visual Materials 5,250 5,500 5,500 4.76% 5,250 -$250 -4.55%
01-4550.2-314 Electronic Information 5,350 5,350 5,350
5,350 $0
01-4550.2-315 Professional Materials 900 900 900
900 $0
01-4550.2-316 Childrens Books 8,000 8,500 8,500 6.25% 8,000 -$500 -5.88%
01-4550.2-317 Childrens Audio/Video 2,200 2,200 2,200
2,200 $0
01-4550.2-322 Library Supplies 3,800 4,200 4,200 10.53% 3,800 -$400 -9.52%
01-4550.2-326 Travel Expenses 850 950 950 11.76% 850 -$100 -10.53%
01-4550.2-327 Postage 900 1,000 1,000 11.11% 900 -$100 -10.00%
01-4550.2-355 Lib Computer Equip & Maint. 9,000 9,350 9,350 3.89% 5,100 -$4,250 -45.45%
01-4550.2-452 New Equipment 3,000 3,000 3,000
0 -$3,000 -100.00%
01-4550.2-511 Telephone 1,800 3,000 3,000 66.67% 3,000 $0


281,522 302,516 302,516 7.46% $292,716 -$9,800 -3.24%
 

November 10, 2008

Interesting

From Greg Mankiw:

“President Summers asked me, didn’t I agree that, in general, economists are smarter than political scientists, and political scientists are smarter than sociologists?” [former dean Peter] Ellison told the Globe. 

And the proof?

GRE Scores

I believe this may be true: "Scores going in do not necessarily predict later results".  However, many of us stories that go like this "HE made it into WHERE?  For WHAT?"

Like that old joke "what do you call your friend that graduated last in her class in Med School?"

 

-> "Doctor"

(Cross posted at GraniteGrok)

November 09, 2008

Budget Committee - Sub-committe on the Library budget

Well, today was the subcommittee for the Library to meet with the Library Trustees and Administration to review their budget.  I expected that there would be some "discussion" as their budget increase, percentage wise at 7.46%, was the highest of all of the Town's departments. 

I made a recording of the session, just click on the gramaphone below.

Gramaphone

Their budget, both proposed and allowed by the Board of Selectmen, is shown below.  Yeah, there were a few issues that you can pick up from the audio:

  • Their rate of increase, 7.46%, is far above that of most other departments - and most of the other department's increases were due to an accounting decision to move fuels from DPW's budget to the separate departments.  The library had no such line item.
  • The new part time position.  It was explained that it was really an "old" part time position in that it was added after last year's Budget season (where no extra position was approved) while they were still in the old library but before they moved to the new building (therefore, it was not a new position).  As far as I could tell, it is a New position - New in that it now exists where one did not during last year's deliberations.
  • We also discussed that their circulation is up as well.  In fact, much of their budget was defended that they were unwilling at all to decrease ANY line item due to the increase in circulation even as we pointed out that all other departments had much lower increases as they had realized that times were economically unstable (yet had upticks in demand as well).
  • They have a number of programs that are used to bring in people to the Library for various reasons.  Essentially, this is in hopes of ramping up circulation (i.e., most people will pick up a book when they visit).  It seems that these marketing programs are working - more marketing means more people which means higher circulation  which means an ever increasing budgetary spiral that provides for more marketing.Fine for a business, but for a government agency?
  • If you listen to the audio, it will become obvious near the end (that besides the tension discussing the budget line items) that there is a wide philosophical difference between the BudComm members and how they perceive what the mission of a small town library should be vs what the Library Trustees (specifically Tracey Petrozzi and Polly Sanfacon) believe it should be.  In short:
  • The subcommittee members tend to see a library as a collection of books and other information materials to be utilized by the citizenry.
  • A discussion of mission or "project creep" - what happens when something continually grows beyond its initial purpose - overlaps with other departments, competition within the town and marketplace, et al.
  • The Trustees seemingly see the Library as just one piece of an overall puzzle to help care for all children and that the Town should spend what is necessary to stand in for parents who either have to work or are "absentee" parents.  They also had no problem, it seemed, to "compete" with the private marketplace by providing some materials (e.g., saving a trip to the DVD store) to make it more convenient ("I don't have to go all the way to the store...").

The primary question is "What is the right and proper role of government?"  This question should always be asked of all levels of government.  Then at each level, a determination should be made of the relative importance of each each department in relation to that question, and drilling down, the relative priorities within a department.

Government cannot be all things or supply all things to all people; there is not enough money in the world to slake the incipient demand for those services and products perceived as "free".  Priorities must be set - not all things can all be Priority 1 when dealing with a scarce resource - dollars.

But don't take my word for it - listen to the audio yourself and come to the Budget Committee meeting this coming Thursday - it may be quite interesting.

Acct Name Budget08 Request09 BOS Rcmd09 $ CHANGE % CHANGE






Full Time Wages-Library 188,863 186,381 180,878 -7,985 -4.23%
Part Time Wages - Library 30,029 49,405 47,791 17,762 59.15%
Merit Wages - Library

7,117 7,117






Continuing Education 900 1,000 1,000 100 11.11%
Programs 1,830 1,930 1,930 100 5.46%
Meetings & Dues 850 850 850 0 0.00%
Library Books & Periodicals 18,000 19,000 19,000 1,000 5.56%
Audio Visual Materials 5,250 5,500 5,500 250 4.76%
Electronic Information 5,350 5,350 5,350 0 0.00%
Professional Materials 900 900 900 0 0.00%
Childrens Books 8,000 8,500 8,500 500 6.25%
Childrens Audio/Video 2,200 2,200 2,200 0 0.00%
Library Supplies 3,800 4,200 4,200 400 10.53%
Travel Expenses 850 950 950 100 11.76%
Postage 900 1,000 1,000 100 11.11%
Lib Computer Equip & Maint. 9,000 9,350 9,350 350 3.89%
New Equipment 3,000 3,000 3,000 0 0.00%
Telephone 1,800 3,000 3,000 1,200 66.67%

281,522 302,516 302,516 20,994 7.46%
 


BudComm meeting of 11/06/08

<p>This week - Fire and Police depts.  A number of questions were asked of Chief Hayes but no surprises or areas of contention.  The biggest part of the difference from last year is the inclusion of fuels into their budget (as with the Police) and as always, a discussion on vehicles and a bit on training. As usual, watch the entire session!  Ditto with the Police.</p><div style="text-align: center"><a href="http://gilfordgrok.com/Video/2008-11-06_BudComm.wmv" target="_blank"><img height="94" width="82" border="0" src="/pix/VidCam.jpg" /></a>&nbsp;</p>

Budcomm meeting of 10/30/08

Planning and Land Use's budget was reviewed (with a discussion again on generating maps internally vs outsourcing on the maps) and the DPW budget was presented. As usual, the DPW review took up the majority of time - with nothing out of the ordinary. Upticks in the budget - mostly due to the price of materials (especially those that are oil based). As usual, watch the entire session!

 

November 07, 2008

Urinetown: "Disgusting anti-capitalist dreck"

Gilford kids

Yep... it was just as I suspected. After reading in the Citizen newspaper of the rather-crudely named play set to be performed by Gilford students, "Urinetown" that featured themes of

greed love and a "world without water"

I just knew it was yet another instance of leftist anti-capitalist indoctrination. After all, all the buzz words were there. Again, from the Citizen:

"Urintown is an award-winning satirical musical comedy that pokes fun at capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement and petty small town politics.

I'll bet it "pokes fun at capilism" all right. And not to worry, it carries the standard radical environmentalist agenda as well-- what public school activity would be complete without that? The Citizen notes that

The Environmental Club at the high school will have a table set up outside in the lobby displaying how some of the issues in production actually relates to real life.

And of course, when you read the Wikipedia entry on the production, you learn that the thing ends in a rather violent way, proclaiming that, for all intents and purposes, there are just way too many people on the "planet" and that WE are it's ultimate biggest enemy.

much of the population dies of thirst. Lockstock insinuates that Hope suffers a terrible death at the hand of the people for her actions in depleting the water supply, but adds that the remaining townsfolk will wage on, their town now quite like the imaginary 'Urinetown' they had been threatened with all their lives. As the cast chants "Hail, Malthus!" the audience must face this final question: can they continue to blithely live a life that they consciously know is unsustainable?

Oh, you don't know who Malthus is? Click here. Yep-- this is the crap getting gently layered into the malleable young minds of Gilford's children. At least not everyone is falling for this garbage. Here is one review that pretty much sums up what I gleaned after reading up on this "wonderful production" starring the cute little children of Gilford:

This disgusting anti-capitalist dreck is supposed to be a satirical examination of the supposedly unsustainable life lived by you and me. Having read it, I can tell you that it is nothing more than a sophomorically vulgar attempt at the same smart-aleck liberal humor that has been done much better by the likes of Lewis Black and Bill Maher.

Equating modern American culture with urinating is disgusting and childish. Nobody should go see this kind of crap, ever.

Will anybody else in Gilford stand up and call this what it is:

PROPAGANDA?

Chip by chip, the radical left tears down our country by destroying its basic values. Whether by outright bold means such as the International Baccalaureate Programme seeking to inculcate World governemnt within all facets of the curriculum, or in sneaky ways of incorporating subtle messages via such things as "the arts" like this play, they never stop. One Day, we might wake up to an America very different from the one we thought we knew and loved.

A famous man once said,

"When an opponent declares, 'I will not come over to your side,' he said in a speech on November 6, 1933, "I will calmly say, 'Your child belongs to us already... What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants,however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community."

And of course, truer words were never spoken. He knew how to transform society so that it fit his worldview. So do the forces at work in America today. I, for one will not sit idly by and watch that happen again. I will put up the fight until they drag me off to the camp, once and for all...

[UPDATE]

From Breitbart.com:

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and a top UN official urged industrialised nations Friday to alter their lifestyles and not let the global financial crisis hamper climate change efforts.

Industrialised nations should also help developing countries respond to climate change, Wen said at the opening of a two-day international meeting on global warming in Beijing.

"The developed countries have a responsibility and an obligation to respond to global climate change by altering their unsustainable way of life," the state news agency Xinhua quoted him as saying.

"As the global financial crisis spreads and worsens, and the world economy slows down, the international community must not waver in its determination to tackle climate change."

And that means a lot, coming from the head of the Chicoms. You just KNOW they care about the environment above all else, just like the Gilford kids, right?

Surprised

 




Our Town Clerk was interviewed!

A non-partisan group called the VoterFraudSquad was going around the blogosphere during the run up to the election trying to gather reported instances of voter fraud from all over the country (given the publicity that ACORN generated for itself with fraudulent voter registrations).  One of the folks that belong to that group, Eric Odom, came to New Hampshire, and I was delighted to point him towards Denise Morrissette to find out how voting was supposed to happen here in NH.

Please watch the video!


November 05, 2008

Elections matter - especially this one.

President of the United States of America        
Barack Obama (D)

U.S. Senator     Former Governor Shaheen (D) has defeated incumbent
                 Senator John E. Sununu (R)

U.S. CD-1          Incumbent Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D) has defeated
                 former Congressman Jeb Bradley (R)

U.S. CD-2          Incumbent Congressman Paul Hodes (D) has defeated
                Jennifer Horn (R)

Governor           Incumbent Governor John Lynch (D) has defeated
                 NH Senator Joe Kenney (R)

Exec. Council   Incumbent Exec. Councilor Ray Burton (R) has defeated
                Mike Cauble (D)

NH Senate D-4  Incumbent NH Senator Kathleen Sgambati (D) has defeated
                Laconia City Councilor Greg Knytych (R)

NH Senate D-2  Incumbent NH Senator Deb Reynolds (D) has defeated
                NH Representative Bill Tobin (R)

NH House Races

Belknap County District 1    Incumbent Representative Fran Wendelboe (R)     unopposed

Belknap County District 2    Dennis Fields (R) elected
                             Liz Merry (D) elected

Belknap County District 3    Incumbent Representative Steve Nedeau (R) elected
                             Kate Miller (D) elected

Belknap County District 4    Incumbent Judy Reever (D) elected
                             Incumbent Don Flanders (R) elected
                             Incumbent Beth Arsenault (D) elected
                             Richard Stuart (D) elected
                             John Veazey (R) elected

Belknap County District 5    Incumbent Doc Pilliod (R) presumed elected
                             Incumbent Alida Milham (R) presumed elected
                             Jeffrey St. Cyr (R) presumed elected
                             Bill Johnson (D) presumed elected
                             Incumbent Laurie Boyce (R)  presumed elected

                             Still waiting for additional results to come in
                             (11/5, 1:06am)  If the last precinct does not
                             change the positioning, the next winners are:

                             Peter Bolster (R) presumed elected
                             Elaine Swinford (R) presumed elected
                                           
                            The above will be corrected when the results are known.

Belknap County District 6    Incumbent Representative David Russell (R)     unopposed

Belknap County Commissioner:   Ed Philpot (D)
                               Incumbent Commissioner Brad Long (R)

Belknap County Sheriff:           Craig Wiggin(R)

Belknap County Treasurer:       Mike Muzzey (R)

Belknap County Attorney:        Jim Carroll (D)

Belknap County Register of Probate: unknown at this time