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Sunday, May 1, 2016


AMTRAK EXHIBIT TRAIN COMING TO CLAREMONT JCT

 The Amtrak Exhibit Train’s maiden visit to New Hampshire will happen on June 18 at the Claremont Junction station.  This multi-car train has toured the nation, with Claremont being its first visit to the Granite State.  Admission is free and the train will be open to visitors from 10:00 A.M.  - 4:00 P.M.  Access to the Exhibit Train will be along the siding abutting the main rail line.  For more information on the Exhibit Train, please go to http://AllAboard.Amtrak.com.

In addition to this exciting event, the Claremont Passenger Rail Committee has organized a number of family friendly activities at the Junction. This will include rides for little folks on “Tommy the Train” as well as food vendors, information booths plus performances by Claremont’s Off Broad Street Players who will provide musical and dramatic vignettes highlighting the railroad's impact on the people of Claremont and NH. The youngest train fans can enjoy Chuggington Depot, a children’s activity area.  Amtrak has also partnered with the National Park Service in celebration of their centennial. A special limited-edition National Park Service passport stamp will be available to commemorate this milestone.  

Also, guided bird walks will be held in nearby Moody Park, beginning at 8am, as part of the City’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 300 acre wooded park.  Lastly, Arrowhead Skiway will be holding a concert starting at 4:00 PM featuring The Doug Wahlberg Band, as part of its summer concert series.   

Plan on coming to Claremont for a day of friendly-family fun.  Just follow the road signs for the Amtrak station at Claremont Junction. There’s something to strike a chord for everyone.
For further information:

Charlene Lovett                                                or           Raymond Gagnon
Tel:603.504.6273                                                            Tel:.      603.477.7135                           char_lovett@hotmail.com                                                              RepGagnon@gmail.com     
         

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Why I will be voting NO on the Charter Question 


On November 4, we’ll be asked to change Claremont’s Charter and how we presently govern ourselves. Supporters advocating the proposed charter have not explained what’s wrong with the present charter and why such a drastic change is needed. Before we turn everything upside down, I’d like to know what’s so wrong with the present charter.  
  
Under the present Charter – we elect 9 councilors whose job is to set policy and establish priorities. The city manager is a professional public administrator accountable to the council and tasked with implementing council policies & priorities in a fair and transparent manner. 
If the manager does something the people or council don’t approve of, his services can be terminated immediately by a simple majority of the Council. However, under the proposed Charter, the mayor will be responsible for day to day operations and, since NH has no recall provision, an elected mayor cannot be terminated so we’ll be stuck until the next election. 

As someone who’s lived in Manchester where this proposed charter was modeled after, I know the existing Claremont model is the better system. People from Manchester have told me how their “strong mayor” form of government has held them back and wish they had a system like Claremont’s. 

Why? Because the skills it takes to get elected are not the skills you need to manage. Nationwide – the preferred practice for municipal government is to hire trained professional administrators with the technical skills and experience needed to run a 21st Century city. With the proposed two year term, the person elected mayor will need the 1st year to learn the job, and the 2nd year will be dealing with getting re-elected.  Doesn’t give much time for governing! 

The pro charter change crowd contend that the 8 aldermen will be a check & balance to the mayor, but their way gives the mayor a vote on everything, and if it doesn’t go his way – he can use his veto power. They’ll need 6 of the 8 aldermen to over-ride a veto. Not exactly the best odds – unless you’re the mayor.

On Nov 4, VOTE NO – the alternative is too risky. There’s no reason for changing the Charter. 

Thank You,
Raymond Gagnon, Claremont


CLAREMONT WARD 3


RE-ELECT
RAY GAGNON
STATE REPRESENTATIVE

A RECORD OF TEAM WORK & GETTING THINGS DONE
ü   Voted to end the downshifting to NH Cities & Towns and return funds to communities like Claremont,

ü  Helped pass a law permitting a bus service between Claremont & Lebanon,

ü  Supported a bi-partisan state budget that addressed the concerns of a republican senate & a democrat house,

ü  Supported Medicaid expansion that provides health insurance for 50,000 low income NH residents. This also helped to relieve the over-reliance on hospital emergency rooms,

ü  Worked to resolve the previous legislative actions that created a potential 400 million dollar hole in the NH Budget,

ü  Member of the County Executive Committee that passed a level funded County Budget. 

ü  Supported the new bio-mass plant in Unity which has already saved the county thousands of dollars.

ON TUESDAY NOV 4 – RE-ELECT RAY GAGNON, STATE REP


“A proven Voice for Claremont”

Monday, June 9, 2014



Re-Elect
RAYMOND GAGNON
STATE REP
WARD 3 – CLAREMONT

Raymond Gagnon (d) filed for the re-election as State Representative today (June 9, 2014) representingClaremont’s Ward 3.  He has represented Claremont for 4 terms and is running on a record of working collaboratively with members of the other party in crafting solid solutions on both the County and State level.

Stating that government should meet the needs of people and elected officials must work across party lines to solve problems and get things done is why he’s running for State Rep.
He cites four (4) major examples of this bi-partisan record of Government working together: 1) Passage of a comprehensive state budget that addressed both the concerns of a republican led senate and a democrat house; 2) Passage of Medicaid Expansion that not only provides for health insurance for 50,000 low income residents, but provides relief to relying on hospital emergency rooms and not send money out of state; 3) Resolved the Medicaid Enhancement Tax caused by the previous radical extremists who when in control created a potential 400 million dollar hole in the NH Budget; 4) increased the Gas Tax to fund maintenance of highway infrastructure and bridge repair.

In addition to working collaboratively on the state level, Ray Gagnon also referenced the joint bi-partisan efforts on the county level that have resulted in creative solutions to corrections, health care and overall cost effective methods such as the new bio-mass plant at the county complex in Unity.

Lastly, as the campaign season commences, Gagnon will be reaching out and meeting with Claremont residents and welcomes comments and queries from constituents. 

Representative Ray Gagnon can be reach at the following:
            PHONE: 603 542-7286                                    E-Mail: RepGagnon@gmail.com
            FB: Ray Gagnon - NH State Rep   Twitter: https://twitter.com/gagnon03743
                   Blog: communitygovernmentstrategies.blogspot.com

   

Sunday, May 5, 2013

THOSE WHO SAY – DON’T KNOW

There’s an old political quip that “those who say don’t know, and those who know don’t say,” which could mean keep your cards close and don’t let anyone know what you have planned. The saying might be apropos for the New Hampshire Legislature and what’s presently happening at the statehouse. Specifically the intricate below the radar screen wheeling and dealing that goes into crafting a budget for the next two years.

THE PROCESS:
If we compare the budget process to a football game with four quarters, the 1st is the Governor’s proposed budget and the 2nd quarter is the House’s additions & deletions as part of their review process. Halftime occurs when it’s passed off to the Senate for the 3rd quarter and further scrutiny. The 4th quarter, which we will be entering shortly, is the Committee of Conference where members of the House & Senate Finance Committees, along with input from the Governor, roll up their sleeves to work out differences and finalize a document that will determine spending for the next two years. Normally, the closer the House & Senate are will make the process easier and indicate common agreement regarding the final amount and how much will need to be raised through taxes. Conversely, the further apart makes the process more challenging.

THE PROBLEM:
External factors & developments are often used as clear indicators to support a specific argument, as well as sometimes be used as a smokescreen to divert attention and discredit a specific course of action/initiative. This is where the plot thickens and those who “say” may not really know what’s accurate, while those who “know” may be calculatedly silent! For example – State revenues for March & April were very strong and generated about 50 million dollars more than originally expected. Interestingly, some forces opposed to increased gaming and a high-end casino are now arguing that this additional revenue means we don’t need to license a casino along the NH/MA border. Meanwhile, those supporting the Governor are suggesting that such an argument is a smokescreen and how this new found revenue is mostly a onetime 30 million dollar tobacco settlement award and what will do in the future!

Remember – the legislature’s primary job is to craft an operating budget for the next two years that will hopefully minimize the impact to the counties, cities & towns, as well as NH’s businesses and property taxpayers. Two years ago, the then radical extremist House of Representatives passed a budget that downshifted costs to municipalities & taxpayers, as well as seriously impacted services to New Hampshire citizens. Opponents argued that the budget impeded the state’s ability to adequately function and caused drastic cuts to the neediest. The memory of 7,000 protesters marching last term to the state capital is still fresh and hasn’t been forgotten, nor the horrendous cuts levied onto social services, highway maintenance, UNH, and the downshifting of millions to municipalities. Last November – these extremists were ousted by voters who wanted a more balanced and common sense approach to government. Now their elected replacements are in charge and tasked with developing a balanced budget that has minimal impact on taxpayers while improving services and the ability for government to operate.

Unfortunately, the problem is while the proposed House budget is better and represents a few baby steps forward, it doesn’t completely restore funds inflicted by the draconian cuts. Moreover, the gap between the House and Senate versions could be $150,000,000 million dollars, thus causing a major hurdle in crafting any final budget. Many supporting the Governor’s argument for additional revenue are concerned that the 2014-2015 budget may be more similar in size to the one the Dems were elected to remedy. Also, there’s the lack of loyalty issue, where by not supporting the Governor (a fellow democrat) could not only damage her, but all democrats in the next election.

RUMOR MILL:
The estimated 150,000,000 million dollar budgetary difference between the two bodies could become an insurmountable obstacle for the Committee of Conference to resolve. This could result in a worst case scenario where the next budget might resemble the previous budget everyone hated. It also raises a number of questions. If a democrat controlled House passes such a budget - what’s the difference between the two parties? How will they explain to municipalities that more downshifting could happen? What will they say to the social service agencies who believed the cavalry was enroute to their rescue? However, the biggest question might be – how could this happen? Will the House and Senate being so far apart mean another draconian budget?

SPECULATION:
Normally, this should translate into House support for Governor Hassan’s plan to expand gaming and license a high-end casino along the NH/MA border. Not only would it generate 80 million in licensing fees at a time when more revenues are needed, thus help New Hampshire to limp along and better fund some additional support to human services, and infrastructure, while having minimal impact to municipalities, business and property owners. The alternative is to remain pure and wait for a broad based tax, while throwing the governor under the bus, and face a disenchanted electorate in two years! Who knows!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

CONCORD UNDERCURRENTS:

An interesting sidebar about being in the legislature is how it offers a window to what’s happening in NH. While the focus and attention has shifted to the Senate, there are a couple of issues still on the House’s radar screen that should provide a cultural marker on the State. Overall, the Session appears to have settled down and the animosity and bitterness that occurred when the extremists were in charge is gone. I attribute this to a new crop of representative, and the Speaker’s decision to integrate seating. Past practice was Dems sat on one side, and Republicans on the other separated by an invisible force-field. Now we find ourselves sitting next to members of the other party! Surprisingly, we’ve discovered they’re people just like us, they even have families! My seat mate is, about my age from northern Grafton County. He’s in his second term and seems to be a straight shooter and nice guy. Last week, he asked me if the Speaker’s behavior is really “her or an act?” He proceeded to say how last session he thought she was a rather prickly person; however he’s impressed by her ability to manage the House in a fair and professional manner. No matter who the Speaker is – it’s no easy task to manage and steer 400 egos. He then commented how he “didn’t know she had a sense of humor!” I thought about his comment and realized that the rancor that existed last term has vanished, and much of it is simply due to a change in the seating chart and opportunity to see others as people too – including the Speaker of the House!

I don’t want to mislead anyone in believing that no friction exists, or that we now routinely sit around singing Kumbayah. It’s just different now and while specific ideological divisions continue to exist, they’re now more collegial and somewhat less harsh. Among the Republicans, divisions are more noticeable – there’s the House Republican Alliance that continues the extremist-libertarian agenda of the last term, versus the more traditional “Main Street” Republicans who are more civil and approachable and would otherwise be thought of as conservatives. Interestingly, among the Democrats – the divisions are less transparent and more hidden. There is a clear inner-circle of reps loyal to the Speaker, and extremely protective of their access. Also because of last November’s election – there’s an extraordinarily large number of new legislators who as part of learning the ropes have bonded with other like minded members. Lastly, there are the more seasoned – some might say curmudgeons – such as yours truly, who tend to be cautiously suspicious. In the coming weeks, two issues (Casino Gambling & Northern Pass) may bring to light the divisions that separate House members and impact partisan solidarity, and provide a more transparent sociological snapshot on NH.

NORTHERN PASS
According to their website, Northern Pass is a proposed transmission line project to bring reliable competitively priced clean energy (hydropower) from Québec for use by residents and businesses in New Hampshire and New England. Proposed by PSNH and Hydro-Québec, the project is in the planning and permitting stage. Their goal is to enhance New England's economy by lowering energy costs and provide a foundation for long-term economic growth. Northern Pass promises 1,200 construction jobs and approximately $25 million a year in new property tax revenues to communities. Opponents are equally articulate with the mantra of “Trees Not Towers!” Much of the opposition is how the transmission lines will have a negative impact on tourism and property values. They argue that the only economic development tool left in the North Country is tourism which will be devastated by Northern Pass. Hopefully, we’ll find an agreeable solution since maintaining diverse energy sources is sound public policy, and buying energy from our neighbors is better than buying fossil-fuel from the Middle East!

CASINO GAMBLING
The other issue is Governor Hassan’s plan to establish a high-end casino along the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border, which she projects, will bring 80 million in revenue that’s needed to fund the Education and Mental Health Services that had been cut last session. Last week a new anti-casino group came forward that was heavily made up of prominent Democrats. Calling themselves Casino Free New Hampshire, they’re committed to defeating the casino bill. Among the leaders of CFNH are several affluent & prominent dems who surprisingly are openly challenging their governor, who they elected.
Watching all this unfold, I was sitting with a couple of seasoned, albeit technically “new” representatives. While technically newly elected, they’ve been politically active for decades having served as rep, senator, county-commissioner, and county attorney. Our conversation was amiable, candid and was for the most part objective in scope. While not trained as a sociologist, I noticed the one common denominator was how this Casino Free New Hampshire group consists of our more affluent members and from NH’s more well-heeled communities. Could it be they don’t connect with the challenges faced by average families in making ends meet, and paying for more programs will require sources other than increasing property taxes? So stay tuned, as I'm sure there's more to come.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Recently I was approached at the NH House by a Free Stater who wanted to ask about my record. Apparently, his group have scored me a F. While I was unprepared - and to use the videographer's own term I did conduct the interview. The following is a link to that interview that includes mis-speaks etc... Check it out here or on the Ridley Report via You Tube.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU4wKVYK7iI