Friday, April 30, 2021

Superman Was Here - Writing and Running for Congress



Superman Was Here - Writing and Running for Congress.

A Conversation with Elliot S! Maggin

https://feeds.podetize.com/bHQ751KS7r.mp3





In his Jr. year at Brandeis University Elliot Maggin wrote a term paper about how comic books and super heroes could influence the moral and intellectual development of young people. As a component of the paper he wrote a Green Arrow story where Green Arrow ran for Mayor of Star City (Sound familiar?) His teacher gave him a B+ and Maggin objected to the grade but the professor was unmoved so Maggin took his story to DC Comics who eagerly bought it and hired him to write Green Arrow and eventually Superman - and the rest, as they say, is history.

In succeeding years he would move to New Hampshire, write over a hundred Superman stories, inspire Mario Puzo to see the Superman story as a greek tragedy and to write the very first Superman movie based on Elliot's counsel.

Elliot loved New Hampshire and he claims that running for Congress against Judd Gregg was mostly just a way to try and stay in New Hampshire. Though he had always had an interest in running for office.

Elliot S! Maggin's shares his recollections of his New Hampshire years as well as the collection of icons, both real and fantasy with whom he has shared the colorful pages of history.


Elliot Maggin's Podcast


Leveling the Playing Field in Cell Tower Siting Disputes

 

 

 

Kris Pastoriza

 

Leveling the Playing Field in Cell Tower Siting Disputes

A Conversation with Kris Pastoriza, Easton, NH Zoning Board Member

https://feeds.podetize.com/_WDh4gpSWD.mp3

 

Even if you have not listened to the NH Secrets episode about the proposed cell phone tower on historic Cone Mountain in Thornton, NH, you have undoubtedly heard tales of small towns embattled by armies of lawyers, consultants, engineers and others over a proposal to site a cell tower on a cherished spot.

 

Most people respond to such a proposal with the usual frustrated sense of powerlessness, resigned to the belief that there is nothing that can be done to halt the seemingly inevitable process.

 

But did you know that a town has the right to hire a land-use attorney and other engineers and consultants - paid for by the applicant?

 

Did you know that the town can require that the applicant cover the cost of maps, alternative site plans and other studies to verify - or refute - claims made by the applicant?

 

These are only some of the rights outlined in the Telecommunications Act that covers the rights and responsibilities of both the companies seeking to site a tower and the communities who will be affected.

 






Brief:

I am on the ZBA in Easton and was the one dissenting vote when the ZBA permitted a tower here.

 A town has the right to hire their own lawyer and contractors to assess the cell tower applicant's data on propagation, real estate, height, wetlands, etc. The applicant has to pay for this. In Easton our contractor found that alternate sites we found had comparable propagation, and that the difference between propagation between 150' and 110' was barely discernible. When we received a proposed  extension of the existing  tower to 167', our contractor found that 167' did not have better propagation than 150' and the applicant withdrew their request for an exception for this height.

A town can also deny a permit for a tower if there has not been adequate search for alternative locations.

A town can also deny a height request, choosing more, smaller towers.

A town can deny a tower on aesthetic and historical impact.

A town does not have to consider cell service provided to other towns

A town  just can't deny towers altogether.

All this of course requires a board willing to do the research and one that understands that the Telecommunications Act does not mean a board has to say yes.  The cell lawyers are experts as misleading boards, intimidating boards, and sussing out how far they can be pushed and how well they can be manipulated. During the hearing for Easton's original tower, at the first meeting the cell lawyer said they would sue the town if they denied the permit. That set the tone for the whole series of hearings. The municipal lawyers towns get to represent them in these cases tend to be timid and not very helpful. They aim to avoid a lawsuit, not protect the residents from poor siting. Somewhere out there are aggressive and effective lawyers that know building code and municipal law.

In addition, the construction company is required to submit a list of the special inspections required for the tower. This is per the International Building Code, adopted by NH. They then have to submit third party inspection reports for all these inspections. Large towns with code compliance officers get these inspections, but many small towns don't, presumably to save the applicant money.

I've also heard that 5G is coming here soon, with 25' high towers, but more of them, so a provision for tower removal when alternative coverage exists, would be something to write into a permit.

Kris Pastoriza

Easton, NH

 








The Birch at Rattlesnake


 

Transcript:

Kris Pastoriza: I began in the zoning board in 2015 and Northern pass started 2010.

Wayne: And when did the cell tower issue arise?

Kris Pastoriza: It came in just about when I started, so I might even have been brought in because they realized they had something coming and they needed someone extra to serve. I can't remember actually.

Wayne: And where the rest of the members, people who had been serving for a while?

Kris Pastoriza: Yep, they were.

Wayne: One of the principle problems with these kinds of proposals to cell tower proposals is just that, you have a group of volunteers who are in a position where they just don't seem to have the kind of support and political juice to take on these highly paid, whether they're lobbyists, or practitioners, lawyers. And you seem to have discovered that the boards have more authority than they know in general, through your research.

Kris Pastoriza: I think there's two things. I think they have more authority and more ability to say no than they realize. And they also, many of them don't know that they have a right to hire at the applicant's expense, their own lawyer, and that lawyer can deal with the applicant for them, negotiate prices, can advise the board on legal things, they can show up at the hearings, help the board, and if there is a permit issue, they can write that permit in a way that it's legally tight or however you describe it.

And the town also has the right to hire contractors of their own. Contractors can look at propagation of the tower at different Heights. They can look at propagation at different locations, do our environmental assessments. They could look at real estate values and they could look at [inaudible 00:26:31] or historical resources if the tenant has. So, the applicant has to pay for those and I think in Easton, we perhaps have got $10,000 of services. I don't know if that's an average figure, but part of the employer's job is to negotiate that for the town. That's the towns first level of enablement that they may not know about.

Wayne: Can you explain the concept of propagation?

Kris Pastoriza: Most people who apply, won't give the town a bunch of maps that will show in various colors, radiating from where they want to put their tower, how good the coverage is going to be. They might show three levels of coverage outside, in your car, in your house. They might show you a map showing coverage of their proposed tower and some other tower that they say they're going to have, or they do have, and that's to show you what they're offering, and also to show you the gap or there's no coverage. Their goal is to fill the gap and have complete coverage everywhere. Although gap is not actually ever been defined. So when they come in saying, they're allowed to cover the gap, you might want to define what gap is and use it to your advantage.

Wayne: So in other words, they come in and they don't say what the gap is? Or they do say what the gap is, but that's not necessarily the reality?

Kris Pastoriza: The lawyer for the cell company, His job is to convince you they have to have what they're asking for, and that they have every right under the telecommunications act to get what they're asking for and [inaudible 00:28:31] is a gap. The gap where there isn't service. The gap is why I they want to put a tower in your town, but there isn't a definition of gap. So, for a town that wants to have some control over the process, it would be helpful to look into how much gap is allowed, how much absence of service is acceptable. You know, you don't have to give them blanket coverage, at least not last time I looked at the documents.

Wayne: Well, in the case of Easton, for example, they proposed a tower of a certain height and you found that there are a lot of the additional footage was not necessary to fill the need that had been described. Is that a fair way to put it?

Kris Pastoriza: No, what really happens is they come in and they say, "We want 150 or 180." And that sort of sets people's mindset for what is really needed. So it's like a bracketing. So you'd feel pretty strange to go and say, "No, we're only going to give you 110 feet." Because that seems so much less than they asked for. But when you look at the propagation map for Easton, for example, the difference between 150 feet and 110 feet, you can barely see it on the map.

So, they should have been given 110 feet and been fine. The second consideration is, how many carriers are on that power? You want to give them 150 feet? Get your four carriers on the tower and have fewer towers. Do you want to give them 110 feet? Then maybe there's only two carriers, and then they say they need to put a tower somewhere else. That's one of the decisions that's commonly outlined in that help manuals. You want taller fewer towers or more shorter towers. I think most boards tend to kind of compromise, give them a little less than what they're asking for. So you can feel like you've accomplished something.

And I think that's what Easton did. We gave them 130 feet, rather than 160 feet.

Wayne: Who creates the propagation maps themselves?

Kris Pastoriza: Well, their applicants tend to submit their own and we hired a engineer to do one for the town. I think it's pretty much all computer modeling, I don't think they have to go anywhere, travel to do those, just the computer, simulation.

Wayne: So, that's an expense that the town can recoup from the applicant if they choose to have their own modeling maps done?

Kris Pastoriza: Yes, and you can also have them done for different locations. The applicant has to prove they've done a site search that they've looked at a bunch of places and that the one they chose was the best. So if they just come in with one site, because it happened to be something that was convenient for them or owned by a friend of a friend, that's not good enough to have to show site search. So our applicants had only submitted the one location. So when we hired our engineer to go out, he did not only different Heights of the tower, but covering different locations. His parcels in the town that we asked them [inaudible 00:32:33]

Wayne: So, a town that had no experience at this, it would be very easy for an applicant to essentially come in with their own maps and suggest that the town already had its own legal counsel that could handle the legal questions without hiring anyone else, they could essentially kind of provide a snow job to the board.

Kris Pastoriza: That's the job of the cell tower companies lawyer. That's their job is to, mislead you about the telecommunications act, make you feel you have to say it, make you feel you have to give them what they want, and to fight you every inch of the way. I think very good at their job, they're very good at sensing when a board is going to resist, when the board is afraid, when the board knows things, when a board doesn't. I think it's the job of the town's lawyer, if they know enough to hire one, to fight that. But I've not seen a municipal lawyer with those sorts of skills to oppose the aggressiveness and manipulation that the cell tower lawyers use against the board.

Wayne: Now, during the Northern pass battle, you experienced some pretty good land use lawyers representing the folks from Northern pass. Were there any of those that you think might live up to that challenge?

Kris Pastoriza: I think any lawyer, and maybe even any person who simply educated themselves in telecommunications law and learned how these cell tower lawyers operate, would be able to deal with them without any trouble. I don't think they're particularly sophisticated people. They've just been operating against the group of vulnerable people. That's why they're so successful because they've had an unfair advantage.

Wayne: So your advice to towns that are facing these kinds of applications now is to arm themselves with a better understanding of the telecommunications act, and understanding of their rights under the law, with respect to the applicant?

Kris Pastoriza: Yeah. And understand that they can say, no. They just have to have a reason for saying no. And they can deny permits blankets, they just have to provide a good reason. And they may have to be willing to have a lawsuit with the applicant, certainly our applicant at the first meeting said, if they didn't get their permit, they'd sue us. I don't know if they were going to sue us if they didn't get the permit, but that was part of the game. So, that might be a possibility, but I like to think that if more towns were ready to take on the companies and risk a lawsuit, then there might be some precedent for something other than towns being exploited by the cell company.

Wayne: Right. So, the playbook for these companies is to bring out the boogeyman of the lawsuit right away to try and intimidate the town?

Kris Pastoriza: It was for us. Another town that was more sophisticated, they might take a different strategy.

Wayne: Right.

Kris Pastoriza: I've looked through a lot of notes from other towns to see how they dealt with it and even with the same lawyer will have a very different approach depending on whether the account was educated and forceful or not. [inaudible 00:37:10]

Wayne: Interesting. Were there any towns where you saw particularly good examples of them being able to stand up for what they needed to in the process?

Kris Pastoriza: There were and I'm sorry that I can't remember the name, but I can get it [crosstalk 00:37:35] where they say from the start, "We understand that we can say no. We're not obliged under the telecommunications act to do whatever you want." We get three or four people on board that knows that [inaudible 00:37:49]

Wayne: Was there any, in Easton, was there any discussion about simply improving existing towers to provide the necessary services? Or was that not possible?

Kris Pastoriza: The closest towers were over on the other side of [inaudible 00:38:12] which obviously was not going to offer us coverage and one in Franconia. So there was really no question of somewhere else they could put their antenna on.

Wayne: I see. Yeah.

Well, Kris, I thank you very much for taking the time to talk with me about this. I think it will be very useful, particularly for smaller towns to hear what you have to say about this and perhaps they can arm themselves with a little more information and seek out the counsel that they need and are entitled to. So that in future cases, they're not run over rough shot.

Kris Pastoriza: I hope so.




Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Alex Ray - The Common Man - The Early Years

 




 

Alex Ray - The Early Years . . . Still (Proudly) Not Corporate Material

 

More than 50 years of breaking the rules have made Alex Ray not only a corporate icon but a New Hampshire legend. 16 "Common Man Family" restaurants; rest areas and other welcome centers later, plus the Flying Monkey Theatre in Plymouth have allowed Ray to develop his own unique, homespun style that's still a favorite of NH folks and visitors alike. Above Ray describes his vision for the Common Man Inn in Plymouth during the mid-years of his career.

 

 

The Common Man Website

https://www.thecman.com/


The Flying Monkey

The Flying Monkey has been at the heart of historic Plymouth, New Hampshire since it opened as the “New Plymouth Theater” back in the 1920’s as a vaudeville and silent film theatre. After years of closure and falling into disrepair, The Common Man family in New Hampshire purchased and carefully renovated the theater in 2010, re-launching it as The Flying Monkey Movie House & Performance Center. 

For more than a decade now, our revived theater has brought the heartbeat of the arts back to downtown Plymouth, hosting GRAMMY-winning artists, community plays, films, and more, in a state-of-the-art performing arts center. Join us for a one-of-a-kind performance in our unique and intimate venue.

https://www.flyingmonkeynh.com/



Loon Island Misty Mindscape


Birdhouse Blues


The Bridge at Chappy


Lories Dance



The Whisper of Winter Wood (Redux) Haiku

Mixed media image hand-painted monochrome with Haiku. This image is part of a developing series on climate change.

This image can be purchased in the following forms: 

A signed limited edition original with a certificate of authenticity. Edition of 25 prints on fine art rag paper with archival inks $495, Click here.

Open Edition print 12"x14 $20.00 Click here

Open Edition print 12"x14 $20.00 

Open Edition print 20"x23" $48.34 Click here

23" x 26" Poster  $34.34 click here

Add caption



Spring Colors in a Floodplain Forest

Friday, April 9, 2021

John Harrigan: Remembering the "Glory Days" of Sporting Camps

John Harrigan: Remembering the "Glory Days" of Sporting Camps






"As a teenager" John Harrigan says, "my parents 'gave me' to their best friends in an agreement over the dinner table between the two families. "I lived there through my teenage years". He worked at Rudy Shatney's sporting camp on Clarksville Pond.


https://soundcloud.com/nhsecrets/nh-secrets_harrigan-on-sporting-camps


In the period following the Civil War the railroads began carrying Boston’s wealthy elite to the Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont woods, and the sporting camp tradition was born. Sporting camps were, and - of the ones still in existence - still are, a haven for fishermen and hunters: a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, to make new friends and trade tall tales of sporting exploits, to eat and eat and eat, and to rest weary bones in comfort in some of the northeast's most remote places. Nowadays, the newer versions of sporting camps also offer peace and adventure to hikers, nature enthusiasts, families, paddlers, artists, and others.


https://rudyscabins.com/about-us

 

The railroad arrived in Colebrook in 1887

 

Bosebuck Mountain Camps

http://www.bosebuck.com/


 


Loon Island Misty Mindscape


Birdhouse Blues



Lories Dance


The Whisper of Winter Wood (Redux) Haiku



Saturday, March 27, 2021

Cone Mountain Cell Tower Controversy Linked to Sununu Family

 https://soundcloud.com/nhsecrets/nh-secrets-cone-mountain-cell-tower-controversy




Nearly 800 citizens have signed a petition opposed to a cell tower on the historically important Cone Mountain in Thornton NH where the unlit tower exceeds height restrictions imposed by "Yankee 2" National security rules to protect Jets training in evasive maneuvers but the proposal appears to be greased and no wonder, the land on which the tower is going to be built belongs to the Sununu family.


Ron Sykes, retired software engineer and one of many residents of Thornton NH who have joined together in an effort to stop the construction of a cell tower on Cone Mountain where the Sununu family and Vertex Towers LLC of Wrentham, Massachusetts have proposed to build a tower on land owned by the Sununus through a Realty Trust controlled by James and Michael Sununu, brothers of current Governor Chris Sununu.

 

A one mile gated road will lead to the tower, denying the public access to historic Cone Pond where the epic battle to confront the scourge of acid rain first took root under the watchful guidance of the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest Researcher Center.

 

Not surprisingly, challenges such as the Yankee 2 Flyway restrictions that protect the flyway of jets practicing evasion and chase techniques, restrictions that would have prevented such a development for most proposals have melted away in the case of the Vertex/Sununu proposal. The tower will extend almost 100 feet higher than Yankee Restrictions call for, presenting an unlit obstacle to jets flying as fast as 1,600 MPH over the mountain tops and through the valley of the Mad River.

 

More than 729 people have petitioned against the tower, but - as it stands - approval seems imminent within the next month according to Sykes. No effort has been made to accommodate the concerns of petitioners.







Flowerheads in Afternoon Sun



Jefferson Lupine Scape                 Purchase Open Ed prints




A Dogs Life in Mexico


Sunday, February 14, 2021

Mark Fischler: College students, instructors need vaccination priority





Mark Fischler: College students, instructors need vaccination priority

Mark Fischler is Coordinator of the Criminalv Justice Program at Plymouth State University and has taught Criminal Justice for over 17 years.

 

Editorial

https://www.unionleader.com/opinion/op-eds/mark-fischler-college-students-instructors-need-vaccination-priority/article_7515168c-49ef-5bc8-bf2c-c500c6bd7e68.html?fbclid=IwAR2NyzLh0HcQrp9Wf2rCF46Uc_s-U72sXzBQvHB3_eA2t-046wkKvCwxt6k



Alton Washday Revisited

A Man Called Crow - Remembering Crow Dickinson

 

A Man Called Crow

 


Maverick, mentor, conservationist and a man who loved a good story these are just some of the ways that people describe  Howard "Crow" Dickinson who served in the NH General Court, also known as the NH House of Representatives for 38 years, and who died in 2014 at the age of 78.

 

First elected during the Presidency of Richard Nixon, Crow crafted landmark environmental legislation during his lifetime including New Hampshire's Current Use Law, responsible for the conservation of open land from one end of the state to the other. In the late 1980's Crow was a co-sponsor with me on the New Hampshire Rivers Management and Protection Program (RMPP) - New Hampshire's statewide version of the national Wild and Scenic Rivers act protecting critical shoreline resources for the benefit of present and future generations through a unique combination of state and local resource management and protection. The law also declared an immediate moratorium on the approval of new dams on the following rivers:  Pemigewasset, Saco, Swift, Contoocook, Merrimack and Connecticut south of the Israel River in the Town of Lancaster. 

 

Crow came from a family that valued education. He received his bachelor's degree from Harvard University in 1958 and a master's degree in forestry from Yale University's vaunted Forestry program in 1966 - where Forestry as a profession came into its own following in the footsteps of the great conservationist Gifford Pinchot.

 

Dickinson's professional career began in international banking after a tour of duty in the U.S. Navy, first as a gunnery officer on the USS Mississinewa and then with North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It was while working as a consulting forester in the late 1960s that Dickinson realized that farmland and forest land were being liquidated and developed at an alarming rate. Property taxes at the time were being assed on a concept ironically termed "Highest and Best use" a real estate concept that framed the value of land based on its most lucrative use over the long term. That almost always translated into assessing the value of property as house lots. Ironically, taxing property this way inevitably led to the inflation of land prices on land that was never intended to be used for housing  or commercial development.  Later, as a legislator, crow worked to change the New Hampshire Constitution and pass the Current-Use Assessment Law, which mandated that land be assessed on the basis of its current use for "what it is rather than what it might be."

 

Now Crow was a Republican and I was a Democrat when we served together so naturally there was plenty that we did not agree on but we both viewed one another as the "loyal opposition" not as adversaries or enemies. Crow was an advocate of civility and cooperation - a trait far too rare these days.

 

Day Lilies in Fog

He was also a man who stood for what he believed and accepted the consequences.  In 2005 Crow was removed from the Chairmanship of the House Resources Committee because he opposed the Budget crafted by the Republican Speaker of the House. I saw him shortly after this and shared the story of being removed from my committee for opposing elimination of citizen boards and commissions in John Sununu's efforts to reorganize state government.

 

His colorful life and even his passing at 78 in 2014 have contributed to making him a modern day New Hampshire legend.  I caught up with some of Crows friends to reminisce with them about him, including several other legendary figures from New Hampshire's recent history.

 

I hope you will enjoy "A Man called Crow."

 

 

Don't miss this unique obituary of Crow written by his children with love, humor and pathos.

https://www.conwaydailysun.com/community/howard-cocks-dickinson-iv/article_6f1a7911-a03d-562b-88e2-8c8fe39827e2.html

 

 




Carol Leonard: Of Midwives and Bad Beavers

Riding the rails of life from Woodstock to Bad Beaver Farm, Carol Leonard's life continues to unfurl in miraculous ways.

 

 

I first heard about Carol Leonard from my Alice who described her to me as one of the most extraordinary people she had ever met. Anyone who knew Alice, knows that she did not use words like Iconoclast, trail-blazer, pathfinder, lightly, perhaps because she was just such a person herself, though she would have rejected the assertion by saying that she was just a "simple" person. 

 

Carol Leonard is a New Hampshire certified midwife, the very first in modern NH history. She is also an extraordinary writer, now based in Ellsworth, Maine, where her family roots are deeply embedded in the history there.

 

Carol, a "foremother of the modern midwifery movement," was the first modern-age midwife certified to practice legally in NH and has been practicing for over the last three decades. She is co-founder of the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) representing all midwives in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, serving one term as President of MANA. Her work to improve maternity care in Moscow, Russia, was featured on 20/20 and was written into Congressional Record. She has delivered approximately 1,200 babies safely in their own homes and as you will hear in this podcast and one to follow, she has midwived a good friend and a New Hampshire Icon - Crow Dickenson - through his passing.

 

Carol is the author of the best-selling memoir, LADY'S HANDS, LION'S HEART, A MIDWIFE'S SAGA, Bad Beaver Publishing, which was awarded the Mother's Naturally award of excellence for Outstanding Book, 2008.

 

Carol's book, BAD BEAVER TALES, LOVE AND LIFE ON A NEW SUSTAINABLE HOMESTEAD IN DOWNEAST MAINE, Bad Beaver Publishing is a heart-warming and often uproarious chronicle of she and her husband, Tom Lajoie's life-journey -  building their dream homestead on 400 acres of wilderness in Ellsworth. Bad Beaver is a tree farm. Together Carol and Tom are doing sustainable timber harvesting.  Tom has a saw mill and a 19th century shingle mill there. . . co-habited by somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 beaver and their respective ponds, lodges and habitat, which they argue about on a daily basis.

 

Recently she has teamed up with Director and producer Kyle Lamont and the very talented team at Good to Go Studios LLC of Ellsworth, Maine to collaborate on a Podcast based on Bad Beaver Tales, It is a beautifully produced Podcast doing justice to the sensitive, funny and often profound writing of Carol Leonard.

 

 

The Episode of Bad Beaver Tales included in this podcast was written by Carol Leonard and directed and produced by Kyle Lamont of Good to Go Studios in Ellsworth, Maine. GoodtoGoStudios,com

 

You can subscribe to Bad Beaver tales -the Podcast - at the link below and leave a review.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/bad-beaver-tales-the-podcast/id1504506154

 

kylelamont@goodtogostudios.com <kylelamont@goodtogostudios.com>

 

 

 








 

'End of an era': Local statesman Crow Dickinson dies at age 78

  • Oct 9, 2014

 

 

Article in Conway Sun

https://www.conwaydailysun.com/news/end-of-an-era-local-statesman-crow-dickinson-dies-at-age-78/article_f011ce47-e27f-59f6-a5c6-418c4f363a6f.html

 

 



 

  

George Epstein

  • Aug 1, 2003

 

“It was a total oversight and it was stupid”, said Conway state representative Howard “Crow” Dickinson. Crow, the longest serving member of the N.H. House, attempted to pass a carry-on through the metal detector at Manchester Airport only to have a gun found in a zippered compartment. Now you could put together a list of the 100 big issues facing America and New Hampshire, and Crow and I would agree on about four, but you gotta admire the big guy’s sense of responsibility.

He didn’t blame it on the valet’s packing skills, or on “Gestapo” G-man tactics, or even on laws that violate his right to bear arms. He knew he made a serious mistake and he fessed up. Just a couple of weeks earlier, this same Crow Dickinson was quoted as saying, “What we should have done long ago is fully fund the Augenblick formula and had we done that, it’s unlikely we would have had the Claremont lawsuit. Clearly we didn’t understand the issues. We made a mistake.”

Wow. Crow is willing to admit that the whole lunacy of the donor town system, the untold hours cooking up “needy” town formulas, and the millions in legal fees all were a result of the legislature and Governor Merrill making a “mistake”. Crow might not be the best traveling companion, but I will trust his forthrightness over that of any of his colleagues.

Compare the Dickinson mea culpa to our governor. Six months on the job and Craig Benson is already trying to avoid responsibility for legislation. The legislature finally writes the death knell for the donor town system but Benson lets it drift into law without his signature or his veto. The $158 million capital budget bill became law without Benson taking a position.

Benson refused to sign or veto the state’s construction improvement plan for the next two years, including over $100 million in bonding. HB 521 requires those convicted of drunken driving to attend an alcohol treatment program – Benson again out if ink. Then there is the authority of the Pease Development Authority to take over the Port of New Hampshire and the extension of unemployment benefits for long-time, laid-off workers. No signature, no veto, but a full-fledged law. Truman said, “The buck stops here.” Benson’s slogan – “It wasn’t my fault.”

 

Now let’s compare Crow’s sense of responsibility with our President’s. George W. Bush told a fib in his State of the Union address. So far, he has gotten the CIA Director to say it was his fault, told some White House aide to apologize, and sent Condileeza Rice into hiding – all to avoid responsibility for “sexing” up the weapons of mass destruction argument as the BBC calls it.

"The CIA's failure to watch-list suspected terrorists aggressively reflected a lack of emphasis on a process designed to protect the homeland," says the portion of the Congressional 9/11 report that Bush has permitted to be released. "The FBI was unable to identify and monitor effectively the extent of activity by al-Qaida and other international terrorist groups operating in the United States." The report also tells us that the CIA knew about the al-Qaida connections of two guys named al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi. They actually lived with a longtime FBI informant in San Diego, but the CIA didn’t share their info with the FBI and no one never suspected these two hijackers-to-be until after Sept. 11.

The greatest failure of American intelligence since Pearl Harbor and not one person has been fired – not one person has been disciplined. Most amazing of all, not one person has had the good taste to resign. Picture yourself as the head of the FBI or CIA or NSA or DIA or any of the other alphabets that employ thousands and spend billions each year to keep track of threats to the safety of America and Americans. Now imagine that it is September 12, 2001. Wouldn’t you at least publicly announce that you’re ready to be replaced as soon as the President can find a competent replacement?

Crow Dickinson deserves whatever the law requires for being negligent with a deadly weapon. But Crow also serves as a role model for a whole lot of people in public life who have made mistakes as big or bigger. He is prepared to look us in the eye and take his medicine – others should do the same.

George Epstein, chairman of The Echo Group, lives in Madison and can be reached at gepstein@Echoman.com.