City’s 2021 Municipal Elections Tainted

To the Editor:

It is now clear that former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand (a Democrat, who now resides in Rye) attempted to manipulate and influence the 2021 Municipal Elections in Portsmouth and committed several campaign violations in the process. This information is contained in an October 6, 2022 report issued by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office. The report seems to indicate that their investigation has not been completed in its entirety. What is not clear so far from this report is who are the other four unnamed individuals involved and who was Mr. Marchand’s client that provided the funding for this effort against five city councilors.

The report also confirms that neither the Portsmouth Democrats nor the New Hampshire Democratic Party were involved in this effort (as I had stated publicly at a City Council session). A joint media statement on December 30, 2021, signed by Ray Buckley (New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair) and Shanika Amarakoon (Chair Portsmouth Democrats) stated: “We condemn the Becksted 5 attacks. The attacks go against the character of our community. We cannot let our local elections be undermined by national political style tactics. The City Councilors who were attacked, after all, are our neighbors. While we may not agree with all of their decisions, they did not deserve this attack, and we do not stand for it.”

Many in Portsmouth have always suspected that the attacks on the Becksted 5 had more to do with financial interests than political affiliation. They were considered to be not development-friendly enough. The attacks, using social media, flyers and robo-calls, stated that the Portsmouth City Council was being run by Trump-Republicans. The truth, however, is that the political registration of the 5 councilors in question was: one Democrat, one Republican, and three Independents.

Mr. Marchand was acting as a political consultant. The AG’s report refers to four other individuals who worked with or collaborated with Mr. Marchand. Those individuals need to be identified, since they could also have been involved in the misinformation campaign in order to promote more development-friendly candidates.

Transparency requires that political discourse also involve identifying who is responsible for an ad or a campaign flyer. Knowing the source of funding for various candidates and campaigns, helps our community identify possible conflicts of interest and corruption.

I urge both the Attorney General and the Portsmouth City Council members to support all efforts to provide additional relevant information to the public in this matter.

State Rep. Peter Somssich

Resident of Portsmouth & Proud Democrat

Portsmouth, N.H.

Peter:

Generally we try to stay out of local politics. It’s not that we think they’re beneath our notice—we don’t. It’s that, at least in this realm, we can sense our limitations. This matter, though, is sufficiently clear-cut to overcome our inhibition. Thanks for writing, and for forwarding the Attorney General’s letter to our former Mayor.

The Editor

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Who Raised Oil and Gas Prices?

To the Editor:

When gas prices were going up I understood it to be as a result of the sanctions against Russia and Putin for invading Ukraine. I felt as though it was my contribution to being a pain in the side of Putin.

I am disgusted to learn that my hard-earned money was going toward record-breaking profits to big oil corporations and their investors. So instead of being a thorn in the side of Putin, which I was willing to do, I am actually funding big oil record-breaking profits, which I am not willing to do.

It was my belief that the inflation we are going through was a direct result of us sanctioning Russia, and that the inflation was not just in this country but worldwide. Now I find out that this inflation is not of Biden’s doing but is the result of big oil companies ripping us off. When oil prices go up, everything from food to toys goes up, because they have to be transported all over the country, and therefore prices rise. Yes, we tend to blame the current administration for inflation, but it turns out it is because big oil is ripping us off in the name of profit.

I am appalled. There should be some way of sanctioning those greedy oil companies from creating this inflation in the name of company profits, when they are ripping off the whole country. I understand that any company needs to make fair and reasonable profit, but creating a nationwide inflation which affects all of us is unacceptable.

Chris Mills

Nottingham, N.H.

Chris:

One of this country’s most maddening, persistent, and irrational habits is assigning blame for things willy-nilly on people who frequently have little or no agency in the matter.

Let us ask a rhetorical question, though: who is actually assigning the blame, here? Has anyone polled the public at large? Or are lazy journalists putting words into peoples’ mouths?

The Editor

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Noxious Plan in Nashua

To whomever it may concern,

Newport Construction Corporation recently submitted an application to build an asphalt plant in downtown Nashua. The plant would be located at 145 Temple Street, which is in a residential neighborhood. In fact, it would be located a mere 100 feet away from the old clothes hanger factor that is being renovated into 88 apartments!

Asphalt plants release hazardous chemicals through combustion such as formaldehyde, arsenic, and lead. These chemicals are known to cause cancer, nervous system issues, liver damage and respiratory problems. In addition, the proposed asphalt plant would increase traffic in the neighborhood, adding up to 150 trucks daily!

Combined with the fact that the asphalt plant would also run 12 hours a day, noise pollution would increase. These effects are especially concerning considering that the neighborhood is populated by a majority colored and low-income communities. Along with toxic chemicals, the factory would release greenhouse gas, contributing to climate change. On average, asphalt plants release around 10,000 pounds of emissions a year!

The city is currently conducting its own environmental study of the proposed asphalt plants. The Nashua Planning Board will hold a hearing in January at Nashua City Hall to discuss this matter. Speak out against this environmental injustice at the meeting. Until then, email the city at planningdepartment@nashuanh.gov. After all, the best way to prevent it from being constructed is through people-power.

As a high school student in Nashua, I am very concerned about this project. It would have negative effects not only on me, but the people who live in my city. Most importantly, it would harm the environment.

Taylor Barry

Nashua, N.H.

Taylor:

Here you are, still in high school, and you are already writing to newspapers, blatantly attempting to derail what is unquestionably an important—albeit noxious—industrial project involving the investment of millions?

Maybe there is hope for the future!

The Editor

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Death on the Mountain

Dear Editor:

Sadly, too many hours have passed since young Emily Sotelo was dropped off to hike Mt. Lafayette and Haystack, to descend at the Flume. Radio tells me that Tuesday, today as I write, 18 search groups are out. Her parents have called her an experienced hiker, but also said “she has not done winter hiking.”

While holiday gifts are being bought, those with hiking friends or family should thoughtfully buy Ty Gagne’s two winter-hiking tragedy accounts: Where You’ll Find Me and The Last Traverse. In each true account, hikers lived and died in winter, not taking weather in our Presidentials into account. Mt. Lafayette figures in each book.

When each of these books came out, I bought 23 copies for friends, family, and libraries. I hope others will consider these profoundly smart books, which relay the often small-seeming details winter hikers need to know, must-have survival supplies, equipment, and attitudes. My sympathy to Emily’s family and friends.

Lynn Rudmin Chong

Sanbornton, N.H.

Lynn:

When we received your letter we still had hope—irrational though it was. Sadly, you were right. It was already too late.

We haven’t read either of these books, but we have heard Ty Gagne on NHPR. Clearly he knows whereof he speaks.

Your suggestion is an excellent one for any season. Right now, in the sad wake of this recent tragedy, it might be all the more effective.

The Editor

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With Allies Like These…

To the Editor:

America has been protecting Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States from invasion and pirates with our naval fleet and Air Force for decades. The Gulf States were supposedly our allies. Unfortunately, these Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia, have decided to ally with Russia when that country is invading Ukraine. They cut their exports of oil causing the price of oil to rise thus helping Russia finance its war in Ukraine.

These countries have a right to act in their own interest, but they do not have a right to expect this country to protect them when they are acting against ours. I suggest we withdraw our naval fleet and let the Saudis know it will not return as long as they choose Russia and profiteering over us and our allies.

Walter Hamilton

Portsmouth, N.H.

Walter:

Alas, the interwoven intricacies of commerce and geopolitics are such that the U.S. is unlikely to cut or even reduce its ties with the Kingdom.

Besides, if 9/11 wasn’t enough of an affront, why should we draw the line at high gas prices?

The Editor

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Two Leading Lizes

To the Editor:

Two women, who are elected office holders, have shown outstanding integrity, superior intelligence, deep compassion for the less fortunate, and sincere dedication to good governance. They could deliver a restorative redemption team for our torn and tattered democracy, if elected to the White House in 2024. And, they both have the same first name, Elizabeth! While they differ markedly on many policy issues, Elizabeth Warren and Liz Cheney both have shown the capacity and ability to find common objectives and join forces with adversaries to accomplish effective policies. If Elizabeth and Liz were a governing team, their presence would bridge the political divide that is tearing our country asunder.

While Liz Cheney advocates for private solutions to public problems and Elizabeth Warren favors government intervention where the market fails, both realize the severity and need to respond to impending problems like the climate crisis. Together, they could create public-private policy solutions. Together, they could agree on letting private enterprises earn reasonable profits while also fulfilling their public responsibilities, including paying their fair share to maintain essential government services.

If their respective teams were to sit down and examine problems of national defense, global stability, social justice, economic security, health care and education for the next generation of Americans, their shared goals would reveal policy pathways that honor their respective tactical predispositions. Hybrid solutions would emerge because both leaders value effective governance over petty partisan politicking. What is good for the country supersedes what may be tactically cunning for their political parties.

How could such a bipartisan team get elected? Suppose, for a moment, that each candidate wins her party’s Presidential nomination with the promise to select the other as Vice-Presidential nominee. The winning vote-getter would become President and the other candidate, Vice President. Imagine that as a team, they would select Cabinet officials willing and able to fulfill their hybrid vision for effective policy. Judges would be chosen by mutual consensus rather than partisan loyalty. Congressional parties would work for their mutual success rather than simply trying to tear down the others’ proposals.

Leadership from The Two Lizes’ example, would encourage voters to return to a civilized Middle instead of arming themselves for civil strife.

Bruce Joffe

Piedmont, Calif.

Bruce:

This is certainly a creative and original proposal. Practical? We’re not so sure. You would be asking a significant slice of the Republican electorate to vote for a person whom they now believe makes Beelzebub look like a saint.

Let’s say she miraculously got elected Vice President. Give the Republicans that generous inch, and before you know it they’d be claiming a light year.

The Editor

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Postmodernism, Bipartisanship, & Hoodies

To the editor;

Democrats as well as anyone who values the preservation of American democracy are celebrating the outcome of the 2022 midterm elections. The predicted red wave did not occur. The Dems retained control over the Senate although narrowly losing the House. More importantly, most if not all the Republican election deniers lost at the polls. Hopefully, this is an indication that voters have rejected the lies of MAGA Republicans regarding election fraud and are seeking more moderate candidates.

Although relief over an election that averted disaster is understandable, the results hardly delivered a Democratic mandate. At best there will be a one vote swing in the Democratic Senate majority and a slim advantage for the Republicans in the 435-member House. The only clear result was the rejection of Trumpist election deniers. The political status quo remained little changed indicating two more years of conflict and gridlock. Moreover, the margins of victory in the most contested elections were razor thin. The electorate remains deeply divided along party lines with close elections being decided by a shrinking group of independent voters.

On the right, MAGA Republicans constitute a tribal voting bloc, driven by resentment over economic and cultural grievances. Many rely on harebrained internet conspiracy theories for information and resist fact-based argument and rational discussion of policy. Although many Trumpist election deniers were rejected by voters, the MAGA base remains blindly loyal to candidates from the extreme right.

The Democratic Party is not immune to tribal politics. The commendable concern of the Party for disadvantaged groups has often been hijacked by “woke” adherents influenced by Postmodern ideology that distorts history and denies the relevance of established fact. To the Postmodern, objective truth established through rational analysis does not exist. All power relationships and social institutions are regarded as instruments of domination wielded by elites over the disadvantaged. Therefore, established historical and scientific narratives are disregarded as propaganda designed to justify elite domination. Like Marxism, Postmodernism looks to revolutionary change in social institutions as the only solution to elite domination.

An ideology that denies objective truth and renounces established narratives as false provides no standard beyond subjective belief for establishing the validity of an assertion. Thus, Robin DiAngelo, with scant empirical analysis, can state that all white people are implicit racists. Any critical pushback is derided as unenlightened adherence to an elite narrative. Only the truly “woke” can understand and be admitted into the inner sanctum of believers. Such beliefs are uncomfortably like the far-right acceptance of baseless internet conspiracy theories. More to the point of this letter, the Postmodern perspective is particularly unsuited to the bargaining and compromise of democratic electoral politics.

Neither populist bombast nor ideological conformity will provide practical solutions to critical real-world problems. Issues related to climate change, immigration, health care costs and economic dislocations cannot be addressed by deeply divided politicians who are mired in ideologies that prevent consideration of mutually acceptable practical solutions. Perhaps politicians of both parties should look to the victorious campaign of John Fetterman for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. Fetterman is an unabashed Progressive and clearly unconventional politician who campaigned in a hoodie and cargo shorts. His opponent was the Trump-backed Mehmet Oz who parachuted into Pennsylvania from his home in New Jersey. Despite being severely hampered by a stroke suffered at the beginning of his campaign, Fetterman brought his Progressive platform to the people and communicated his concern for finding pragmatic solutions to their problems. The approach was successful even garnering significant support from the deep red counties in central Pennsylvania. More Fetterman’s from both sides of the divide may be the solution to the deep divide that still separates us.

Robert D. Russell, Ph.D.

Harrisburg, Pa.

Robert:

We, too, are relieved whenever a Republican steps away from Dolt #45. Then we recall that they’re likely embracing Ron DeSantis. It’s not as if individual Republicans are magically enthralled by some Svengali with superpowers. Vast swathes of the country bathe every day in a right-wing radio soundscape—a right wing Jonestown. Thomas Paine wrote, “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” We would argue that the rebels of ’76 faced a lesser challenge than ours—and had less at stake.

We haven’t seen any evidence that Postmodernists have taken over the Democratic Party. Perhaps we’re not looking hard enough.

It is our position that this country was built largely on stolen ground by enslaved labor. The rest is details.

Robin DiAngelo, in our opinion, is a problematic data point when it comes to this discussion. Say what you will about the hooligans at Chapo Trap House, their lengthy discussion of her career—at youtube.com/watch?v=7Cxj0hu691Q—is both entertaining and illuminating.

The Editor

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The Status Quo Wins the Elections

To the Editor:

Every two years we have elections to decide our “leaders” and we get to vote for Democrats and Republicans.

The oil companies don’t care which party wins as they control both of them.

The big banksters don’t care either, nor does big pharma, health care profiteers, insurance magnates, corporate polluters, or the military-industrial complex (war is their racket). Wall Street special interests have controlled the two-party crap trap for the last 100 years! They also control the corporate media that tells you what to think.

The “Golden Rule” of politics is those who have the gold make the rules, and that’s the status quo that wins every election. PACs and super PACs give us “the best politicians that money can buy.”

The “new world order” just gives the super rich more money and power. Only a voters revolution by We the People can change the course of history, and this must come through grassroots democracy from our towns! For assistance getting organized contact the N.H. Community Rights Network at (info@nhcommunityrights.org).

Get involved NOW to give our children a chance for a decent future and a cleaner environment. It’s up to all of us, every person matters!

Peter A. White, N.H. Community Rights Network

Nottingham, N.H.

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Uh…

Dear Editor,

School kids get standardized tests to measure progress. Most people don’t know that political candidates are given standardized tests by their political parties to see if they are ready. Here are a few of the lies, promises, and magic arts they must tell, make or perform to be successful candidates.

The candidate will:

1.) serve only one or two terms, and that’s it

2.) not raise taxes

3.) run as a rabid liberal or rabid conservative (but then go in a different direction once elected)

4.) repeal the other party’s legislation on Day 1

5.) grudgingly accept big campaign donations but never do what corporations ask, or accept a lobbying job with the industry later on

6.) carry a pocket version of the Constitution (but never reveal it says whatever you do is OK with the Constitution)

7.) promise never to support any legislation or do anything personally against God, kids, women, or the law

8.) promise you care about the people and that’s why you ran for this powerful everlasting job in the first place

Kimball Shinkoskey

Woods Cross, Utah

Kimball

We get the concept, but the content?

Not so much.

The Editor

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