Citizens for Gunstock

In the age of misinformation and mass formation psychosis rationality and reason are hard to find.

The shadowy group known as Citizens for Gunstock (CfG), aided and abetted by The Laconia Daily Sun have been busy politicking against those whom seek integrity in the operation of our beloved little ski area.

They falsely claim that the public will not be heard regarding the selection of a replacement Gunstock area commissioner. The truth is that Monday’s meeting will begin with public comments. In fact, all delegation members’ contact information is public and we listen to the people daily.

Some claim that our selection process is in some way nefarious and unnecessarily rushed. It is hardly a secret that commissioner Gallagher resigned. The request for applicants has been advertised in the newspaper for a couple of weeks. At this point we have applications from three very well qualified candidates. All delegation members have received those applications and they will have 4 days to review them, and if they wish, contact the candidates. If you have not been following the issue, there is in fact a need to fill this position without delay. The current board is set in a deadlock with a strong possibility of 2 to 2 votes. Delaying to fill the void would be irresponsible. The delegation can override my position but it is my duty to give them that choice expeditiously.

The “sneaky Petes” of CfG misdirect the public with a charge that due process is being denied. Using that term invokes feelings of violation of constitutional protections. Marxists love to yank your ‘feelz.’ Due process is a protection for someone accused of wrong doing. Candidates for a position are due equal consideration. They will receive such at our meeting as they always have had in the past.

Speaking of due process, all of the controversy regarding Gunstock arose from the commission’s zeal to rid itself of one of its own. They did so without giving that commissioner due process, instead they dropped unsubstantiated claims in the laps of the delegation. One is left to wonder why they couldn’t simply operate with perpetual 4 to 1 votes.

The CfG trot out the ‘poison the well’ fallacy, suggesting that the ‘game is rigged’ and condescendingly claiming that your elected representatives are nothing more than political lackeys. Such insults are contemptible and shameful, and are beneath response.

I will note a couple of problems with the advertisement seeking applications. First, it was supposed to read that the deadline for applications be received at the county office on Friday at 3pm. This will allow the weekend for the delegation’s review. Second, it also incorrectly states the position will be a five year term. This is my error. While the delegation has in the past filled a vacancy for a five year term, the enabling statute is clear that the vacancy is to be filled for the remainder of the vacant term. I apologize for that error. Both of these issues with the ad are inconsequential as the law would allow the delegation to fill the position without an application process.

Unfortunately we may need to address the previous improper filling of the vacancy created when commissioner Nix resigned in 2020. Technically the position filled by Rusty McLear would have expired when Nix’s would have ended. Someone might claim him to be a de facto office holder. More drama incoming?

It has been asserted that I am a supporter of privatization of Gunstock. This is simply not true. While I am open to considering such a move, I have not made a commitment to such action. Sadly the leftist are unable to understand nuance.

The Marxists at CfG have selected their choice of candidates for the position, Heidi Preuss. They are lobbying hard to put this Kiedaisch acolyte in place. Fortunately this candidate is easily dismissed; she applied for the position last fall and failed to attend the meeting. She even published a letter in the Laconia Daily Sun claiming to have been railroaded away from the meeting.

In their reporting on candidates The Laconia Daily Sun couldn’t resist putting their thumb on the scale, dredging up old charges of political in-correctness against Doug Lambert. I’m sure they are digging for dirt on Dr. Strang, perhaps he has prescribed hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin!

Behind the scenes it is hard to say exactly what is going on, and this is the source of the problems at Gunstock: secrecy. Commissioner Kiedaisch has a grand plan but only shares bits and pieces with the public. It leaves large areas open for speculation. For instance, he has stated that the plans for a hotel on county property will be locally owned. How can he know that a local owner will provide the best contract for the lease of a site? More questions quickly fall behind that one. Will the developer have a preexisting relationship with any of the commissioners?

Another issue with Gunstock is the local character of the ski area. As a county owned asset many local residents have grown up on the slopes of Gunstock. The vision of commissioner Kiedaisch of the future for Gunstock, although not explicitly stated, is in the image of Deer Valley Resort. The model of Deer Valley focuses on less crowding and higher ticket prices. This is skiing for the elite. If you have attended any recent meeting of the commission, you will know that is their current direction. And where has Ms. Preuss lived for the majority of the last couple of decades? Park City, Utah home of Deer Valley. I wonder if her return to Laconia was coordinated with commissioner Kiedaisch’s appointment?

What the delegation needs to hear from the public is their opinion of this model that is being promoted by commissioner Kiedaisch. Will future generations of local children be welcome, and be able to afford to learn to ski at Gunstock? I have no doubt that the elite will be coming out on Monday to protect their interests, but will we see the hard working citizens of the county?

Malfeasance, Misfeasance or Nonfeasance

Belknap county delegation

If you are keeping count you know this is the fifth in the series of posts outlining the problems which continue in Belknap county.

The county administration for 2018 has taken a more low profile strategy in their attempts to take control of appropriating authority. On July 17, 2018 at the Executive Committee review of the budget a little problem popped up.

Separate fund? As in outside the budget? Here we go again.

A little bit a research showed that a scheme was created to allow the sheriff to move outside detail out of the budget.

Note that this dates back to April 3, 2018 shortly after the budget was made final. Also, there is no law that allows for this revolving fund. My criminal complaint was sent to the county attorney and the Attorney General. If you have been following along, you know there would be no criminal investigation.

Once again, on October 18, 2018 the commissioners reverse their action. No harm? No foul?

Back to today’s title, the case for misfeasance seems rather solid. A case for malfeasance is strongly supported. On Tuesday August 10, 2021 the county Convention will look at more recent actions of the commissioners. As chairman of the Convention, I can say that nonfeasance is not an option for the Convention.


All the pieces in this series:

Irreparable Harm to the Taxpayers

For far too long the Belknap County Board of Commissioners have been usurping budgetary authority from the county Convention. This was seemingly corrected in 2014 when the Convention won an injunction barring the commission from acting without authority given by the Convention’s Executive Committee.

Some highlights from the court’s ruling:

Upon review, the Court agrees with the petitioner’s argument. The legislature has created a comprehensive scheme of checks and balances for the creation and implementation of county budgets. Voters elect state representatives, who make up the county conventions of the counties from which they are elected. Voters also elect a board of commissioners for each respective county. The commissioners draft proposals for the county budget, which they present to the county convention. The County convention then votes on a finalized budget, taking the commissioners’ proposals into account. Once passed, the effective budget for the following year is returned to the county commissioners so that they may execute it.

Should the petitioner prevail on its merits, then this would necessarily mean that that respondent has been transferring and spending taxpayer money outside of the scope of its authority under law. If the Court were to deny this request for temporary relief, then this would allow the respondent to continue this practice until a final disposition in this suit was rendered.

The possibility of the continued unauthorized transfer and expenditure of taxpayer money, especially in the wake of the likelihood that the petitioner will succeed in this case on the merits as discussed below, creates the prospect of immediate and irreparable harm to the taxpayers of Belknap County. This factor therefore also militates in favor of the Court granting the petitioners request for temporary injunctive relief.

August 28, 2014 ruling from Belknap Superior Court judge James D. O’Neill, III.

If the respondent continues to transfer and expend funds during the pendency of this case, there is the very real possibility that the vast majority of the 2014 budget will be expended by the time the Court issues a final disposition.

Applying the above standard, the Court finds that under the plain meaning of RSA 24:14, line-items in the 2014 budget constitute “appropriations.” RSA 24:14, II defines an “appropriation” as “an amount of money authorized for a specified purpose by the legislative body.” [emphasis added.] In this definition, the legislature made no distinction between money allocated to departments generally and to specific line-items within each department. Instead it defined “appropriations” broadly. The definition on its face suggests that line-items fall under this provision.

Additionally, RSA 24:14, I, states that “[a]ppropriations by the county convention shall be itemized in detail.” (emphasis added.) The legislature’s use of the word “shall” in RSA 24:14, I, not only suggest that conventions are permitted to itemize their budgets, but appears on its face to expressly require them to do so.

This reading of the definition of “appropriations” is also supported by the way in which RSA 24:14 functions in conjunction with RSA 24:15. RSA 24:14, I, grants conventions the power to “require that the county commissioners obtain written authority from the Executive Committee before transferring any appropriation or part thereof under RSA 24:15.” RSA 24:15, III reads:

Unless otherwise ordered by the county convention, under RSA 24:14, whenever it appears that the amount appropriated for a specific purpose will not be used in whole or in part for such purpose, the county commissioners may use such sum to augment other appropriations, if necessary, provided the total payments for all purposes do not exceed the total sum of appropriations in any year made by the county convention.

Thus, while commissioners are generally afforded limited authority to transfer funds between appropriations, county conventions are explicitly reserved the power to regulate these transfers by requiring the written consent of the Executive Committee. If line items were not “appropriations” under RSA 24:14, then this would severely hamper the ability of a county convention to utilize this power. The respondent’s reading of RSA 24:14, I, would give commissioners virtually unfettered ability to transfer funds under RSA 24:15, III without regard to convention restrictions under RSA 24:14, I, as long as transfers were made between line-items within the same budgetary department. County conventions would either have to substantially alter the way by which they formulate budgets in order to ensure that fewer items were outside of the scope of these provisions, or resign themselves to the fact that they have limited oversight over how commissioners expend appropriated funds. This would encompass an unwarranted erosion of the power expressly afforded to the county conventions on the face of RSA 24:14, I.

On March 3, 2015 the county commissioners submitted to the court a stipulation, agreeing to abide by the law and seek transfer authority as adopted in the yearly budget.

You might think this would be the end of budgetary shenanigans at Belknap County. Who could fault you for thinking the commission would abide by their word.

To be continued… It Is Overspent


All the pieces in this series:

Privatizing Dining

I received a call prior to the Belknap County commissioners’ meeting regarding the nursing home dining services.  It was from a local newspaper reporter and he was seeking a comment about ‘privatizing’ the kitchen at the nursing home.  My first remark was about the use of this ‘privatize’ term; it just doesn’t seem to sit right.  If it is to be ‘privatized’, then had it been ‘socialized’ all this time? 

I attended both meetings on the topic, the first on March 28th where the commissioners decided to hold a public hearing on the proposed contract, and then meeting again on April 4th for the public hearing.  I’ve attended a number of commissioners’ meetings and I am generally the closest thing to a member of the public sitting in the audience. 

Naturally, with jobs on the agenda the public hearing was close to standing room only.  The kitchen staff was bolstered by other nursing home employees, and a few nursing home residents.  Whereas the commissioners had already been presented the contract on the 28th, they went through the motion of asking the nursing home administrator a series of questions prior to opening the floor to comments from the ‘public.’

The county workers made their plea to shelve the idea of turning over the service to a corporate entity.  They pointed at the commissioners stating that the commissioners were only concerned about the money that would be saved.  They looked at the residents and tearfully stated that they were family (it’s a small county and some are likely actual family members).  After each speaker’s emotional plea came a round of applause.

The public airing of grievances wandered well into the neighborhood of an angry mob.  The chairman of the commission loudly begged the crowd to calm down as he ‘never uses his gavel and was not going start using it.’  Eventually the public comments were closed, but only in a technical sense as occasional grumblings would continue as the commissioners deliberated. 

Two of the commissioners voted in support of awarding the contract to Glendale Senior Dining, one voted against stating ‘that he did not have enough information to support approval.’  I found this to be the most disingenuous statement of the night (and there were many) having had a week to get answers to any questions that might have arisen.

After the vote the room cleared out and warnings circulated that there would likely be a number of sick calls from the dining staff in the morning.  That might make one wonder how much they love their residents.

Yes people it is about the money, on both sides.  Government intervention in health care, retirement and taxation is the root of this problem.  And the unions are also guilty of contributing to schemes that push costs down the road so that they might claim victory in getting benefits in the future, instead of solid wages today.

Whether you chose to call it privatized or socialized it is all paid for with other people’s money.  As Frederic Bastiat said, “Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.”

Belknap County Finances

As we approach the end of 2018, reviewing the past year and planning for the future I am happy to report that the fiscal condition of the county is in good shape.  Looking at the year end projections, the county will have budgeted approximately $600,000 more than was necessary for operations.

In a system of checks and balances such as we have in the county, the Board of Commissions and the Delegation have differing roles.  The Commissioners propose a budget for which they will ultimately have the responsibility of managing.  The Delegation reviews and adjusts the budget, and then make the appropriation for such.  Never forget; ‘make the appropriation’ means forcing the property owners of the county to give over their money.

Because we are taking money from taxpayers, as a member of the Delegation, I believe there should be no excess in the budget.  It’s not hard to understand that if there is ‘excess’ money available, someone is going to come up with a ‘need’ to spend it.  On the other side of that equation, the Commissioners have a harder time managing the county when there is less money available.  As you can imagine they would prefer to have as much money available as they can get.

In early 2018, I went through the budget in great detail and presented an absolute bare bones budget to the Delegation.  I had pared down the Commissioners’ budget to $27,129,560 which still would require an 11% increase in county taxes; a budget so shockingly low, it was quickly dismissed.  As we close in on the end of 2018, and setting aside unplanned events, that amount would have left the Commissioners $110,000 short of funding for operations.  Off the top of my head I know of $18,000 that was spent ‘because it was available‘.  Yes, cutting spending by $100,000 would require hard choices for management; citizens have hard choices every day – food, medicine, and rent.

CORE Program

The county Commissioners do a lot of finger pointing, and blame the Delegation for not ‘fully’ funding the CORE program.  One commissioners’ ego is so large as to drive him to take out a full page advertisement chastising those who question what ‘fully‘ funding is.  Whereas there is more left unspent in the budget than was taken out of funding for the CORE program, and given the commissioners’ claims that they have authority to spend to the bottom line of the budget; the question should be why have the commissioners not used all of the money in the budget to provide CORE programming?

I’ll give you a hint to the answer; it is likely that ALL inmates that could get CORE programming likely did get that programming.  The requirements for the terms of the inmates are such that they must be sentenced for a period long enough to receive the programming.  The real question is how many inmates qualify and does their sentence align with the programs availability?  The issue is not as black and white as the commissioner would like the public to believe.

Unexpected Revenue

In our county run nursing home we take care of a number of patients who are on Medicaid.  Through a complex scheme of money shuffling the county receives funding from the Federal government to partially compensate for their care.  This funding is called ProShare.  The county had planned on receiving $1.2 million in ProShare revenue but received $3.9 in July.  The Department of Health and Human Services wanted half of the excess revenue returned to the State so that they could use it to fund a private company working on Substance Use Disorder.  The rump of the Delegation went along with this scheme and gave over $1 million taxpayer dollars away because it was available.

Looking Ahead

The county Commissioners are currently in the process of building the 2019 budget.  They will produce a budget that is padded sufficiently as to require very little actual management and fluffed up enough to top off their desired ‘fund balance’ level.  A new Delegation will be sworn in on December 5th and will assemble in the county the following week to hear the commissioners’ budget proposal.