To The Daily Sun,
State Senator Jeff Woodburn (D-Dalton) has a creditability problem. When he's in his district, he talks a good game about bipartisanship but, when he gets to Concord, he's just another partisan Democrat attacking Republicans with half truths or outright fabrications.
Recently, Senator Woodburn wrote an article claiming Republican legislators had filed a bill for a so-called "canoe tax". Such a bill would require owners of non-motorized vessels, such as canoes, kayaks and row boats, to pay a $10 tax which would go to support spending by N.H. Fish and Game. Senator Woodburn bravely took the stance of opposing this bill.
The only problem is that there never was a "canoe tax" bill, though Senator Woodburn is quick to take credit for killing that fictional bill. The senator knew that there was no such bill in existence but decided to ignore such a trivial fact.
Maybe Senator Woodburn's fight against imaginary taxes is to distract our attention from the tax increases he does support. Despite his earlier public opposition to a gas tax, Senator Woodburn now says he'll vote to increase the gas tax.
While politicians in Washington feel it's acceptable to make false promises (if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor...) here in New Hampshire, we expect better.
Last Updated on Monday, 06 January 2014 10:36
To The Daily Sun,
Responding to Tom Sellew's letter, the irony of global warming scientist stuck on the Shokalskiy in the Antarctic ice pack made me chuckle, but also a bit curious. So before I posted a witty jab at global warming supporters, I decided to do a little research. First of all Tom, the scientists on board were not as you say, but were recreating Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's 1911 to 1913 voyage. Couldn't find any credible information saying they were on a global warming expedition.
Secondly, I know you were trying to be funny, but there are no polar bears in Antarctica. My first grader knew that.
On a different note, don't all of you who bicker endlessly in this paper realize that you are both right (when dealing with facts that is)? Republicans and Democrats have endless examples of lying, bigotry, posturing, despicable acts and criminal behavior. The fact is, the people controlling them is the big money banks/corporations. They support candidates who differ on a few social issues, but are moderate all the same. The real issue is their funding, which is left by the wayside. Fox or CNN? They are the same people. They each are bias for their side! Our leaders are the ones they choose, not us. They just sit back and enjoy our squabbling over things like health care and global warming while they rake in the TRILLONS and choose the next group of politicians that will pull the wool over our eyes. They start the wars, shape the media and take our money. Any who oppose them or want to legislate against them are quickly fazed out. Wake up. Research this, it's all true. Spend your money wisely.
Last Updated on Monday, 06 January 2014 10:16
To The Daily Sun,
Common Core and educational freedom don't seem to be one and the same. In fact, most Americans don't even know what Common Core is. But they should because it is directly effecting all of us, especially children who attend public schools. It's the government's plan to try to bring the same standards to every school. On the surface that may sound pretty good, but it isn't.
Often states dumb down test to make sure every child passes. In the case of Common Core, the testing in New Hampshire is called "Smarter Balanced". The government says Common Core is optional, but it really isn't. If each school doesn't give the Smarter Balanced test to every student at the end of the school year (which is based on the Common Core standards), the school will not be eligible for funding that is tied to the testing. The schools want the children to pass so they can receive funding from the state or federal government because they have obediently followed the standards set before them.
Education is a discovery process just as all of life is. We might be wrong about how to teach and what to teach, but we won't realize it unless we can experiment and compare and contrast the results of different approaches. Having a "one size fits all" plan doesn't make room for finding out what works for your child or the next. It does just what it is meant to do; force every child to learn one thing in one way no matter how they learn or even if it's too difficult.
Common Core de-emphasizes correct answers by awarding kids points for reasoning, even when they don't quite get there. When working on a math problem, don't worry if the child is able to get the correct answer because Common Core standards merely want to know how they got their answer — wrong or right. Maybe this is a clever new way to teach math, but if the federal government is wrong, government still gets to decree it's universal solution to the problem and we are told to follow like lemmings.
There is quite a lot of expense involved in creating the environment for Common Core to excel. It means that every student must have a tablet (maybe and iPad), for example, which is the responsibility of each taxpayer to buy and there many more expenses which should probably come in another article.
It means no more books to hone their reading skills. It will not be mandatory to read the "standards" to help with reading comprehension, reasoning, open discussion, and book reports. All reading will be done online and what is read will be left up to the individual teachers and/or schools.
Even their homework is done on their iPad or online and sent in to the teacher when they are done. If they miss a class due to illness, let's say, it is the responsibility of the child to contact the teacher by email and ask for the lesson from that day so he/she can take the quiz which is due the next day. I watched a young child try this method in Gilmanton. Her teacher never responded to her request so she wasn't able to complete the quiz and had to take a zero for not doing her work. So who gets to evaluate that teacher, in this instance? Good question.
With the future riding on young people consuming better forms of education, I'd rather leave parents and children and educators multiple choices. On size does not fit all and it doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize that. Oh wait! There won't be any brain surgeons because they were never able to contact their teachers for the lessons they missed!
That may seem far fetched, and maybe it is, but teachers are hired to teach each individual student and parents are asked to help the teachers by getting involved. We, the taxpayers, are asked to make funding available to the schools so they can produce knowledgeable children who are able and ready to move on in the world.
Education was never meant to be in the hands of government so we should take a long hard look at Common Core and what it means to our children, our schools, and our taxes. Please take some time out of your busy schedules and read about Common Core and have a conversation with your schools and teachers about it. It may be an education for you, too.
Gilmanton Iron Works
Last Updated on Monday, 06 January 2014 10:08
To The Daily Sun,
Some of you may have read in the newspaper last year that I was suing the State of New Hampshire and the N.H. Police Standards and Training Council (PSTC) for discrimination. The suit was about reverse discrimination, or male discrimination. At 52-years-old I went to the N.H. Police Academy. I passed all the requirements except one. I had to run 1 1/2 miles in 14 minutes and 33 seconds. I came in 11 seconds late. The discrimination part was that a female, my same age, would have been allowed almost 3 minutes longer to complete the same test, even though we would be sent out, as police officers, to do the same job.
I asked for help from two U.S. Senators, a U.S. Congressman, seven State Representatives and one State Senator. I heard back from Senator Ayotte's office. Her aid told me this was a state concern and there was nothing she could do to help. This is a State of New Hampshire agency violating a federal Civil Rights Law and she could not do anything? Then he reminded me that the senator was a member of the Police Standards and Training Council when she was the state's Attorney General. That explained a lot.
I also heard from State Representative Guy Comtois. He agreed with me that this was reverse discrimination. He tried to help but it was an election year. The best he was able to do was get me a meeting with the governor's personal council. Representative Comtois even attended the meeting with me. (Thank you Rep. Comtois.)
The council is appointed by the Governor of New Hampshire. I went to see Governor Lynch to ask for his help. What his personal council told me was, "we haven't interfered with council business in eight years. Why would we start now?" and "You should get a good lawyer." I got the best lawyer I could afford. Me! I took my case to the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission. They told me that the PSTC was not my employer and that they had no jurisdiction over, "governmental places of public accommodation". I'm not really sure where that one came from because PSTC is not a grocery store or a gas station or even a motel. But, these were lawyers I was talking to.
I took my case to the U.S. District Court of N.H. and after months of motions and objections, the federal judge dismissed my case because PSTC was not my employer and the law was very specific — they must be the employer. I never saw the inside of a courtroom, met the judge or even met the attorney representing the State of N.H.
I tried to sue in N.H. Superior Court under a N.H. law that says anyone who aids, abets or compels another to discriminate is also guilty. Unfortunately, the judge said I did not follow proper procedure under the law by not filing my claim within 30 days of the N.H. Human Rights Commission denying my claim. Once again, I did not get to tell my story.
I feel that if I had a chance to tell my story in court, I would win hands down. Apparently, the state's attorney, who by the way is the N.H. Attorney Generals Office, thought so too. They did everything possible to get both suits dismissed on technical and procedural law. The merits of my case were never heard.
Let me explain. To become a police officer in New Hampshire, you must attend the N.H. Police Academy and graduate to become certified by PSTC. Among the many requirements at the academy there is a physical fitness test. You have to bench press a certain percentage of you body weight, do push ups and sit ups and run 1 1/2 miles in a certain time. Each exercise has a pass number assigned from a chart that takes into consideration your age, gender and then a percentage of the general population. They are taken from a well respected physical fitness organization called the Cooper Institute. The problem comes because these tests are mandatory. Many law enforcement and physical fitness organizations believe that using these standards for mandatory testing is illegal and recommend they not be used this way, including the Cooper Institute.
If you don't pass the test, you will get fired. In fact, PSTC has a rule that says if a candidate does not pass the retest, he..."shall be terminated by the hiring authority". For those of us in the law enforcement world, we know that the word "shall" means there are no options; you will be terminated.
Let me illustrate my point with a quick story. When I lost my job as a full-time police officer, I drove a school bus part-time. To get my school bus driver license, I had to pass a driving test in a school bus. I had to demonstrate certain driving skills by driving through a series of orange traffic cones without hitting any of them. I was told to imagine the cones as a young mother pushing her baby in a stroller. If I hit just one cone, the test was over and I would fail.
Now, imagine that the DMV said, because women are different then men, they are allowed to hit as many as two cones and still pass the test but men were not allowed to hit any cones. This is exactly what PSTC said when they adopted these tests in 1992. That is discrimination.
Now let's say the DMV called your employer and said they "shall" fire you! What if your employer thought you were worth re-training? Isn't that the right of the employer? Does the state have the right to order your termination? To the best of my knowledge, the state doesn't call your employer and order your termination if you fail the state licensing test for barbers, plumbers, doctors or lawyers. Here again, these are the rules of PSTC.
In 17th century England, King Henry VII created a council designed to hold the nobles accountable to the same laws as the peasants. Over time the council became corrupted and went easy on nobles friendly with the crown and tough on nobles that were not friendly with the crown. This council was called the "Star Chamber" because of the decorations on the ceiling of the council's chamber.
I'm not saying that police officers are nobles. They are simply the people we trust to enforce our laws. Having a council to ensure all are treated fairly is essential to our way of life. But even police officers have rights and no one is watching the council.
Let me be very clear. I am not against female police officers. I believe there are plenty of women that are very capable of doing the job of a police officer. I am also not against physical fitness testing. I believe it is very necessary. What I am against is lowering the standards just so a certain group can pass the test. We all do the same job. There should be one test to see whether you can or cannot do the job. I believe it is dangerous to send a less capable officer onto the streets, not only for the officer, but for their fellow officers and the public as well, just so a certain group will have more people pass the test.
The Police Standards and Training Council has become a "Star Chamber." No one overseeing what they do. No one holding them accountable. A state regulatory agency that runs a publicly funded police academy and has no accountability is dangerous to our freedom.
During my research for my lawsuit I discovered many questionable decisions by the council. For example: different officers are given different punishments for the same rule violation. A friend of mine in Lancaster was given a 90 day suspension. For violating the same rule, the council suspended a Salem officer and several corrections officers for 30 days and an officer from Henniker received no suspension at all. Can you imagine your boss suspending you for 90 days because you didn't turn your paperwork in on time?
There are rules for full-time officers and part-time officers, male and female officers, young and old officers, officers that started before January 2001 and those that started after January 2001. And we all do the same job!
In my case, I was told they would not waive the 11 seconds I missed the run by because, "if they did it for me they would have to do it for everyone." Imagine my surprise when I discovered there was a rule that allowed the waiver if I passed the mid-term test by the final test requirements. How did I find out about that rule? I read the PSTC meeting minutes, a year after my request was denied and found that two officers, one from Hooksett and one from Manchester, were granted a waiver to not take the final test because they passed the mid-term test. They were allowed to graduate and were certified.
If this physical fitness test is so important to being a police officer, why are part-time officers not required to take the same test to graduate from the Part-Time Academy? We all do the same job!
I was also told that I was not allowed to continue testing after a legislated 2-year probationary period. It's the law! Once again, I read the PSTC meeting minutes and discovered that two chiefs of police were given extensions, beyond the 2-year probationary period, to pass their 3-year PT test. (Part of the same law) One was even given an extension "without a time limit".
It seems, not only can the council grant waivers and extensions beyond state law; it depends on who you are as to how much help you can get from them.
Please understand, these are not just the ramblings of a disgruntled employee, these are documented facts.
— Unfair and uneven punishments;
— Rules that apply to some but not all;
— Violating state laws (for friendly nobles).
— No accountability.
These are the actions of the "Star Chamber" we call the "New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council".
I have lost my cases without ever getting into court. As far as I know, I have no legal options left to me and the council refuses to meet with me. My concerns now are for the cities and towns of New Hampshire that hire police officers. You see, PSTC sets the standards the cities and towns must use to qualify their candidates. According to my experience with state and federal law, the hiring agencies, (cities and towns) are the employers. They can be sued for discrimination by any male applicant or employee who fails the test as long as he follows proper procedure. These cases can bring punitive damages of up to $300,000 for each case. PSTC is protected from any liability because they are not the employer under the law.
I hope the towns of New Hampshire have a good insurance company!
But, that's just my opinion and now I have, at least, told you my story!
David B. Scott
Last Updated on Saturday, 04 January 2014 12:01
To The Daily Sun,
Hands Across the Table wishes to publicly thank Father Marc Drouin of St. Andre Bessette Parish for his generosity in allowing the use of the Parish Hall for our dinners on Dec. 17 and 31st. When faced with needing a temporary home while repairs were being made to the Boys and Girls Club facility, Father Marc did not hesitate to offer the Parish Hall to Hands Across The Table. Our guests certainly appreciated the warm hospitality offered and enjoyed free hot meals on both dates as well as festive decorations and a bit of singing!
HATT returns home to its base at the Boys and Girls Club beginning Tuesday, January 7 and looks forward to continuing its mission in the coming year!
Debbie Frawley Drake
Last Updated on Friday, 03 January 2014 11:47