Jan. 21 — To the Editor:
The Portsmouth Herald repeatedly refers to the Redgate Kane group as the city’s estranged development partner. Does Gerry Duffy fail to grasp that this is an accurate description? He may object to the “Beckstead 5” having acted as a lame duck voting bloc, but the fact is that what they did changed nothing. We are in the midst of a bitter divorce.
What’s being sorted out through litigation is what sort of alimony can be extorted from the city taxpayers as compensation for past missteps. Let’s drop the ridiculous notion that we can somehow unwind the clock and go back to amicable relations, build the Redgate Kane plan approved by the 2019 Council but not by the National Park Service, and all be happy. I can’t imagine that Kane himself believes that possible.
Even when the divorce is finalized, we will still be living in the same house as our divorced partner. His signs and projects are all over the Seacoast. According to today’s front page he is likely to soon add a new major development at Pease to his portfolio. He’s made lots of money off this town, and will continue to do so.
Two closing thoughts.
At the time the 2019 Council signed a deal with Kane, Mr. Duffy was a cheerleader for that plan while the rest of us were lining up begging them not to do it. Though in his recent article he claims to have changed his stripes, he still owns that legacy.
While the Revisit folks opposed the Principal Group/Portsmouth Listens market shed design which Mr. Duffy now supports, the recent Binnie plan is a significant improvement from his earlier drafts.
Mr. Binnie, like Kane has made a bundle through local investments, but unlike Kane he is making his offer for the public good as a thank you for that success, not as a way to further maximize personal benefit. Whatever you think of his design, he gets credit for that.
Janet Stevens shows alarming lack of empathy for NH women
Jan. 19 — To the Editor:
An open letter to Councilor Janet Stevens:
We are writing to you today having learned that, once again, you voted to defund Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the other two health centers that depend on state funding to provide services to low-income women. You know that there is no commingling of funds at these agencies, and you and your fellow councilors have had ample proof that no state funds are used by these clinics to provide abortion services. You also know that abortions are a small part of the health care services these agencies provide to their patients.
So we ask you: how can you as a woman vote to cut low-income women in New Hampshire off from health care services in the middle of a pandemic? These women have literally no other options because of lack of access and insurance, and because of the staffing issues that the pandemic has caused at other clinics. Your actions show an alarming lack of empathy for the women in this state.
You attended the ribbon cutting at the new Families First clinic, did you ever stop to think that that agency serves the same demographic of low-income women and families on the Seacoast that you just helped cut off from services here and in other parts of the state?
More reporting needed on York K-9 attack on pediatrician
Jan. 20 — To the Editor
Massive editorials in Portsmouth and York papers missed one crucial point – judgment.
The doctor used poor judgment in leaving his car and approaching the officer. The officer used poor (no) judgement beating the doctor after he knelt.
How does one train for judgment? How does the department assess judgment in an officer? The town and Police Department stonewalled in support of the officer, and laid the settlement decision on the insurance company. It sounds like "quick to resolve" approach.
Was the revered pediatrician flashing his headlights in anger? Did he leave his car to remonstrate the officer? What is the reason for the lengthy editorials? Is there background in the town/department/officer action and resolution?.
There seems to be much which has not been revealed.
Some may call it muckraking, but further reporter investigation may be warranted.
When it comes to President Biden, national press is 'in for the kill'
Jan. 20 — To the Editor:
Yesterday I watched President Biden's press conference in its entirety. I admit to being a news-junkie, and as a retiree, I am able to indulge my habit. Whether it is the 24-news cycle on cable TV and/or the addiction of the media to the flame throwing that marked nearly every week of the Trump administration, it is disturbingly clear that the press — across the board — is "in for the kill," aiming questions at the president, and other officials, that will stump and/or generate headlines in the next day's news cycle.
Helping the public to understand complex public policy issues and pivotal foreign affairs threats is barely in the mix, not even at a presidential press conference.
Six-plus decades ago, when I was a government major studying in Washington, D.C., one of the most critical takeaways I learned from an internship on the Hill and daily seminars was: A functioning democracy requires a 4th Estate that is at once balanced and informative.
Political Science 101: A representative democracy must have have an informed citizenry.
During Biden's nearly two-hour press conference marking his first year in office nearly every question was aimed at nailing if not deriding the president. These are distressing times for so many; virtually every quadrant of our society is struggling — healthcare systems; educational; institutions; small businesses; and families — to meet the competing needs in communities across our country. Doesn't the press have an obligation to seek and illuminate an understanding of how the current administration is working to address these challenges?
This rhetorical question lodged in my head for the two hours following Biden's press conference as news outlets assessed, and in some cases, twisted what Biden had said.
It's time we the citizens demand more of our press. We — not the corporate advertisers — are the losers if the news coverage continues as is.
Cut property taxes by 1% for those who don't have children in school
Jan. 21 — To the Editor:
Did you pay your most recent property tax bill? Let's call it what it is: a de facto rent that reduces the capital value of the property. Your town government claims ownership of your property and charges you this rent to live there. To pay a fee, in perpetuity, on something you already own is impossible. Once you buy a bicycle, you don't have to pay the shop month after month to keep it.
Because the lion's share of this taxation is devoted to public schools, I have a modest suggestion: cut the property tax rate of households without public school children by one percentage point. I'm not suggesting that others' taxes be raised, but that school budgets are cut. Of course, those who disagree for whatever reason are always free, even now, to cut a check voluntarily.
To head off the "Think of the children" replies, consider the opportunity cost: what are all the many possible modes of education that aren't being invented because of the property tax burden? What societal benefits are not being produced? How are standards of living of households, which include children, not being improved? To paraphrase nineteenth-century economist Frédéric Bastiat, we must consider the unseen effects of this expropriation.
This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Portsmouth is going through bitter divorce with Redgate/Kane: Letters