WE THE PEOPLE, WE DECIDE!
Northern Pass: We the People of the Towns Should Decide!
Who should have the power to determine the destiny of our towns and cities, the people who live there or large, for-profit corporations? The local citizens should have the secured right to stop any development that harms our communities and violates our rights and the rights of nature - that's democracy!
The NH Community Rights Network (NHCRN) is here to help towns get educated and organized to pass local community rights-based ordinances that protect their interests. Participating communities have been successful in stopping unwanted exploitation in the towns of Grafton, Alexandria, Danbury, Hebron, Barnstead, Nottingham, and Barrington, and are ready to assist citizens in your town.
Look for the NHCRN banner at the Rally Against Northern Pass event and help us hand out Community Rights information that will educate communities about their right to local self-governance. NHCRN participants are meeting on the steps of the State House at 11 am. We invite you to join us!
Learn more – contact NHCRN: email@example.com or JOIN us on Facebook!
This is a citizens-initiated event to rally for the future of the Granite State and OPPOSE THE NORTHERN PASS.
Residents of the Alexandria remember well when lawyers representing Energias De’ Portugal (EDP) Renewables showed up for a meeting with elected officials back in July of 2014. EDP was seeking the release of a building permit for a data-collecting MET tower, required for the Spruce Ridge industrial wind project that proposed 29, 500’ feet tall wind turbines to a number of towns in the Newfound and Mt. Cardigan regions.
In 2013, residents adopted a resolution opposing industrial wind projects at the Alexandria Town Meeting. In 2014, residents overwhelmingly adopted a Right to a Sustainable Energy Future rights-based ordinance (RBO). That RBO prohibits unsustainable energy projects in Alexandria which the Ordinance defines in part, as "hydroelectric power and industrial scale wind power when it is not locally or municipally owned and operated..." It is sure that EDP representatives expected opposition from residents, but it was obvious during the July 2014 meeting that EDP’s lawyers were not expecting elected officials to represent the vote of the people.
Selectmen at that July 2014 meeting refused to approve the conditions of the MET tower building permit, as two of the three stood on the grounds of representing the will of the people that had consistently voted against industrial wind in Alexandria. Their moral resolve triggered legal papers served to the Town by EDP to force the issuance of the building permit.
It was clear in the legal papers filed by EDP against the Town of Alexandria that their intent was to bully the elected officials and residents into being exploited as a resource colony for profit. EDP attempted to override the right of the people of Alexandria to protect the health, safety and welfare of both human and natural communities. The selectmen eventually released the building permit to EDP to avoid a lawsuit, but after receiving the MET tower building permit, EDP never erected the tower.
Bullying by EDP inspired Community Rights activists to propose another binding, rights-based ordinance in 2015 to specifically prohibit "exploratory data collection" used in the "application for any permit necessary to engage in unsustainable wind resource extraction." That covers MET towers and all the other data required to proceed with the determining the viability of siting an industrial wind facility.
Now, a year-and-a-half later, the Town of Alexandria has received a cancelation notice, effective 4/23/17, on the bond to cover the erection and removal of the MET tower for the Spruce Ridge Industrial Wind Project by EDP Renewables. The bond requirement was one of the conditions placed upon EDP for the building permit.
More good news was received when residents learned that EDP Renewables withdrew their ISO-NE Interconnection Queue Request for the Spruce Ridge project effective 4/10/17. The act of withdrawing an ISO-NE request for a proposed project indicates the developer no longer has intentions of pursuing that project to generate energy to feed into the regional grid.
Standing up against the power-posturing of corporate giants is not new to residents of Alexandria. Community Rights activists celebrated the defeat of another industrial wind developer – Iberdrola – in the fall of 2014 when they too, withdrew their ISO-NE Interconnection Queue Request for the Wild Meadows wind facility. That withdrawal occurred the day after the towns of Danbury, Alexandria, and Hebron enacted rights-based Sustainable Energy Ordinances prohibiting the siting of industrial-scale wind facilities at their 2014 Town Meetings. Grafton was the first of the towns affected by the proposed Wild Meadows facility to enact the same rights-based ordinance at their 2013 Town Meeting.
Residents of the Newfound and Mt. Cardigan regions have denied exploitation of our ridgelines, water quality, sensitive ecosystems, a healthy local economy, and our right to self-govern TWICE in the past three years! This is a day to celebrate, as it marks the end of EDP's intent to move forward with the Spruce Ridge project. However, this does not mean the end of our diligence in protecting the health, safety and welfare of the people and natural communities of the region. Community Rights activists encourage residents to continue participating with local select board and planning board meetings to keep up on who might be seeking to force your community into hosting a project that violates the rights of human and natural communities.
Michelle Sanborn is a resident of Alexandria and chair of Citizens of Alexandria Rights Effort (CARE Group), coordinator for NH Community Rights Network, and community organizer for Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Join CARE Group and NHCRN on Facebook. Visit NHCRN on the web at www.nhcommunityrights.org , and if you would like to talk about issues violating your Community Rights, you can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Testimony Opposing SB 3 as Passed on a Party Line Vote in the Senate
To Honorable Members of the House Election Law Committee:
A former teacher and reporter, I have been involved with NH voting rights and election integrity issues since early 2008. Both branches of my family have deep roots in NH. At least 12 NH ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War.
1. Students who attend school in NH should be able to vote here without having to register their car. Students were “counted” where they were living on April 1, 2010 and those numbers were included in determining representative districts and federal grant money.
2. Campaign workers who are here for political campaigns only should NOT vote in NH. Agreement among the political parties would be preferable to passing a “law.”
3. Research conducted by the NH Civil Liberties Union in 2015 found no evidence of double voting or “voter fraud” that this bill is SUPPOSED to prevent. At lease one example cited by Sen. Birdsell in her endorsement of the bill ( a woman who had voted for her deceased husband.probably by absentee ballot) would already be covered by current law, if enforced. Unfortunately, she refused to share the “evidence” of voter fraud she received from the Secretary of State, but I believe current law would be adequate to deal with those cases as well.
4. It appears that this proposed “law” models what Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has done. So far, the “results” (9 voters charged, 8 of them Republicans) do not seem to be worth the cost in time and resources, especially when, if passed, will likely face legal action and drain the NH’s limited financial and people resources (Attorney General’s time).
I am concerned about the possible disenfranchisement of voters now that NH will use Kobach’s Crosscheck program. He is not the model we should follow.
5. People registering to vote in NH should not have to pay to have a lawyer present when they do. The language in the amended version is extremely confusing and appears to contradict itself. It SAYS students can vote here, but then makes it likely they would be violating the law if they did. That is a hugely unfair burden on ANY voter, especially the ones more likely to be short-term residents of particular communities, even if they would CHOOSE to stay if they could.
6. Since I followed both the Rivers and Guare cases, this “law” appears to violate the same constitutional rights cited there, NH CONST., pt. 1, art. 1; art,, 2; art. 10; art. 11; art. 14 and US CONST. Amen. XIV, sect. 1; US CONST. Amen. XXIV, sect. 1. The state already lost those cases. Is it necessary to fight it and lose again? Public trust in our government and in you is lost at the same time.
7. This is a definite step backwards for voting rights and our inalienable right to free and fair elections in NH. I urge the committee to recommend ITL and make sure ANY law curtailing voting rights is narrowly tailored to achieve a specific and LEGITIMATE objective. Suppressing votes for a particular political party, as it appears is the REAL intention of this bill, is discriminatory, illegitimate and unconstitutional.
Posted: Thursday, April 6, 2017 12:00 pm
The Blizzard of 2017: Who will ever forget it, that late-season Nor’easter that dumped over a foot of snow in some places, caused road accidents and power outages, and had winds blowing over 50 mph — on none other than town Election Day? The blizzard wreaked havoc, and now so is our state government: officials are attempting to empower towns to nullify the majority vote from town meetings across the state.
State officials, siting safety concerns, encouraged people to stay home. They urged businesses to close. And local officials began notifying state officials they were postponing town elections to keep people off the roads.
Those decisions to postpone town elections were not done lightly. They were based on the state’s directive that motorists avoid driving, reports from local road crews that they could not keep up with the rate of snowfall, input from concerned citizens, and the N.H. Municipal Association. The association informed town officials they had authority to postpone elections due to the weather emergency, citing RSA 40:4 II as authorization for the postponement. However, confusion and a lack of clarity came from state election officials over just how to interpret election law.
Maybe most of us didn’t give the postponing of town meeting much thought. Bad weather, unsafe roads: surely local election officials should be able to make governing decisions about local matters and decide in favor of public safety. And so, the vote was postponed in towns across New Hampshire. Not everywhere, but in nearly 80 communities.
Voters showed up on the rescheduled day. Some towns showed a higher voter turnout than last year — they came, voted, and went on their way. Newly elected officials were sworn in and went about the business of serving the public.
It was logical and sensible for the public to accept postponement of town elections due to impassable roads and safety concerns. However, our election, our votes and the legitimacy of our public officials has been cast into doubt by state officials who appear offended that local officials — and not the central government apparatus — made the call to postpone.
Of course, postponing elections created some legal uncertainties around bond issues and such, but that was easy enough to remedy with a bill proposed by Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn. Senate Bill 248 was simple, straightforward and sensible — like most Granite Staters. The bill Sen. Woodburn proposed would have “ratified actions, votes, and proceedings of town and school district meetings and elections postponed due to the weather emergency on March 14, 2017.” Commonsense legislation with the intent to protect local decision-making authority.
State election officials didn’t like the proposed legislation because it condoned the actions taken by local election officials against the opinion of state political operatives. Sen. Woodburn’s bill was smothered by the Senate Election Law Committee when members amended it to establish a committee to study the rescheduling of elections.
Instead of protecting the actions of local officials and accepting the majority vote of townspeople, House Speaker Shawn Jasper has amended SB 108, assaulting direct democracy in New Hampshire communities. SB 108 forces voters to hold special elections, at no small cost to our communities. The special elections require voters in communities where election day was postponed, to now “ratify” the votes taken on the rescheduled election dates.
That “ratification” won’t take place until May. Meanwhile, decisions made by voters at the polls are on hold, their votes vetoed legislatively, their elected officials held in suspended animation. Worst of all, Speaker Jasper’s hand grenade of an amendment says that if voters in May reject the snow-day results, then all votes cast will be null and void, all warrant articles will be deemed to have been defeated, and all the positions voted for will be vacant.
Really? Since when do voters get to vote to support or negate the votes of their neighbors and overturn adopted warrant articles? This is rich, Mister Speaker!
We all know how the votes played out in our communities and the public has accepted them. But now, if you didn’t like how the vote went in your town, you get the opportunity to campaign again for an additional month. You have until May 23 to re-influence the vote. This is the “solution” to a snow day postponement. One is tempted to wonder what alternate candidates, warrant articles and outcomes the speaker and his confidants might prefer win this time around.
State political operatives are requiring towns to hold a “special meeting” on a date dictated by the state, with the question before the voters being determined by the state. This amounts to an unfunded state-mandate while nullifying the vote of the people. New Hampshire, with the motto of “Live Free or Die” is at the threshold of state elected officials unashamedly taking complete control over our towns. It is not enough to have the right to vote when governments are able to decide not only how we vote and determine what we vote for, but even whether we can vote — and if that vote will matter.
Michelle Sanborn of Alexandria is coordinator for the N.H. Community Rights Network.
March 27 - To the Editor,With alarming frequency, daily new stories chronicle the perilous state of our environment. Climate change brings increasing temperatures and more erratic weather that is associated with floods, droughts, and wildfires. According to NOAA, climate-related disasters cost 138 lives and over $40 billion in damage in 2016 alone. Last year, drought conditions led more than 150 New Hampshire community water systems to impose restrictions, especially in the heavily populated southern third of the state. Toxins in our air, water, and soil threaten biodiversity and compromise our health. On the Seacoast, a pediatric cancer cluster has raised concerns about possible water, air, or other environmental links to childhood illnesses, and the discovery of PFOA and other chemicals in community water supplies has triggered an ongoing investigation by the Department of Environmental Services. Together, climate change and pollution add mightily to the ongoing demands that development places on nature and our increasingly scarce, hence ever-more-valuable, resources.
Environmental threats compromise the rights of nature, the scenic beauty of our communities, and our health. The environmental crisis we face has coincided with a crisis of democracy. Corporate profit-seeking too often trumps the interests and even the democratic will of citizens in their own municipalities. Powerful corporations and their lobbyists exert disproportionate influence over state and federal law-making, and since the 2010 Citizens United ruling, the role of big money in politics has only increased. The current framework allows corporations to pollute the environment and pursue energy projects, resource extraction, or water privatization without duly accounting for the local priorities of those most affected by such ventures.
Citizens of the state have a right to protect their health and well-being. They have a responsibility to be good stewards of the environment and to defend the rights of nature. And they can best do this in the context of their own communities, where threats to human rights and the rights of nature have the most visibility, immediacy, and the power to generate strong resistance. Citizens in Alexandria, Barnstead, Barrington, Nottingham, Plymouth and elsewhere have coalesced around locally-enacted Rights-based Ordinances that endeavor to restore the democratic rights of residents and protect the rights of nature at the local level. The New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN) supports these efforts and has worked to return power to people and their municipal governments. Interested citizens can obtain more information about the work of the NHCRN by visiting www.nhcommunityrights.org or emailing email@example.com.
New Hampshire Community Rights Network Board of Directors, Portsmouth