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March 15, 2005, 9:30 A.M.

Donít Tell Me, Tell Them: Apparently, Ward One councilor Judy Krahulec has conducted some sort of poll of individuals in her ward to determine that construction of new schools is opposed in her ward by more than a substantial majority. Unfortunately, statements like this are completely unverifiable and rarely represent a true and accurate cross-section of a community, yet Ms. Krahulec makes these statements as if they are unassailable truths.

Of course, itís just as easy for me to say that my personal experience is directly opposite to what Ms. Krahulec reports, and that no one has told me that t hey donít support the school projects. That is not the case, however. I have heard from people who donít support the schools. The ratio of supporters to those with reservations who speak to me is quite the opposite of what Ms. Krahulec reports. Certainly a part of the explanation for such varying interpretations of the same data relate to the fact that there arenít a lot of people walking up to Judy Krahulec who tell her how much they support new schools. I have encouraged people from Ms. Krahulecís ward (some of them retirees) to do exactly that. I have likewise heard from people across the city who are concerned about the cost of the schools. I have even heard from a few who doubt that there is a need to replace our existing schools. My experience does not lead me to believe that sentiments in Ward One or anywhere else in the city are running against new schools at all, let alone in the percentages that Ms. Krahulec cites.

I have had conversations with folks around the city who do not believe that their voices will be heard if they do contact their councilors because their councilors have already indicated that they are not supporting the school projects. I have continually encouraged these people to make contact with these councilors and to do so in writing. More voices need to be heard on this important issue and not by the school board or building committee members, but by city council members.

I have repeatedly laid out my position in support of the need for new schools in Laconia and of my support to construct a new high school on the Parade Road site. I also support a new middle school on the existing high school site. I have made my support publicly and urge others to do so as well.

The cost of delaying these projects is astronomical. The cost of losing the option to utilize the Parade Road site is unfathomable. This reality is not helped by unscientific polls or exaggerated statements about public opinion on this issue. Even assuming that 2/3 of the people contacting Ms. Krahulec do not support new schools (an assumption that I do not make), this is still not representative of the entire ward, nor is it suggestive of a trend across the city.

I dare say the current city council has engaged in a lot of politics that are completely unsupported by their constituents. Mr. Cowanís attack on the city manager is but an example. Manufactured claims, complaints and statistics are not reasonable bases for political action and make our city look bad. Couple these items with councilors suing themselves, and we begin to look ridiculous.

I know that there are a lot of reasonable-minded people in this city who are disturbed and not a little disgusted by what is going on in our current city government. My only hope is that enough voices will rise up between now and November to moderate those actions and/or vote to reconstitute our city council and set a new and positive direction for the City of Laconia. Issues presenting themselves to us are too important to be supported or criticized based on inaccurate, incomplete or false information. Go on-line, pick up your pen and paper, or sit down at your keyboard and let your neighbors and your city government know how you feel, because your voice really does matter. Now is the time to speak up, but donít tell me, tell them.

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Copyright 2005 Edward Philpot

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