folks just don't get it
It never ceases to amaze me how some folks in Goffstown just don't seem to understand what the GRA is all about.
Yesterday, a number of letters appeared in the Goffstown News blasting not
only the GRA, but also some of our elected officials
and prominent members of our community. Some of
these attacks were truly shameful, not the least of
which were Betsy Bettencourt's cruel comments about
school board member Lorry Cloutier, as well as her
mother, Donna Pinard. She also chastised Budget
Committee members such as myself, Ivan Beliveau, Cathie
Simard, Bill Gordon and state representative John Hikel.
To my knowledge, Ms. Bettencourt has never met any of
these people. I know each of them, and can state
categorically that they are all hard-working, dedicated
individuals who volunteer their time and effort without
pay to serve the community with honesty and
integrity. Oh, and by the way, Ms. Bettencourt, a
number of these folks are NOT members of the GRA.
Which brings me to Pam Whitney and her claims about the
GRA and its members. In her letter, she accuses
members who chose not to include their names with their
content submissions of being cowards, stating "If
you say something, you need to put your name to
Perhaps both Ms. Bettencourt and Ms. Whitney need to
understand a few things about the GRA and its members.
To begin with, our "membership" consists of a
mailing list, nothing more. We don't get together
for picnics, put on shows or conduct car washes.
And a number of those folks on our mailing list are
strongly opposed to the positions often taken by the
majority of those on our mailing list. But that is
what we exist for.
The GRA came to be after a group of four individuals,
namely myself, Collis Adams, Kurt Lauer and Frank
Humphrey objected to the proposed location of the
kindergarten in 2005, not because we objected to a
kindergarten and not because we lived nearby.
Rather, we objected because the site was chosen without
benefit of examination of another parcel of land we
believed might have proven better suited and less
expensive to develop for the kindergarten. All we
were asking was due diligence in researching both
By the fall of 2005, we had established a website and
had roughly 75 local residents on our mailing
list. In November of that year, 44 GRA members sign authorizations for legal representation by Baldwin &
Callen, P.L.L.C., of Concord, NH, for representation in
filing a temporary restraining order against
construction of the kindergarten until both cites could
be thoroughly evaluated. Mr. Adams and Mr. Lauer
filed the actual restraining order as representatives of
Ultimately the restraining order was denied and
construction of the kindergarten went on as
planned. At that time, a number of us discussed
shutting down the website, but the overwhelming majority
of folks we spoke to, many of whom were not on our
mailing list, urged us not to, citing it as a valuable
resource for information about what was going on in
Since then, the GRA has taken positions on many issues
in Goffstown. We supported a successful warrant
article in 2005 requesting town committees and boards to
record their votes by name in meeting minutes. We
successfully campaigned against the merger of the police
and fire departments in 2006 and supported tax
exemptions for Goffstown's elderly, which passed in
There is no question that checks and balances are needed
in every government. To
this end the GRA exists to provide residents, regardless
of their position on issues, with a vehicle through
which they can express their opinions and points of view
without fear of reprisal.
This is crucial towards creating and maintaining
transparency and accountability in
There are many folks in
Goffstown with strong opinions on many issues, but not
all will choose to express those opinions out of fear of
This is especially true of town and school employees,
and even more so of parents with children in our school
system. As an example, I received a letter just
last night from the husband of a school employee which
read, in part, "My spouse will not be at the deliberative session, as she cannot express her true sentiment
about a 24% tax-hike w/o the potential for ill-feelings or even retaliation of some sort."
There are GRA members on every board and committee
in Goffstown (except for the Board of Selectmen), and
GRA members who work in every town and school
department. Some have even submitted content
directly opposed to their own boards or departments,
providing information and points of view that the
average citizen (who pays for all of this, by the way)
would never have the benefit of knowing otherwise.
I'd be interested to know why Ms. Bettencourt and Ms.
Whitney did not submit their letters to us for
publication as well. We have never refused to
publish any letter we have received, regardless of
whether or not we agree with its content, and would
certainly have done so in their cases, too. It is
well known that our "Guest Editorials" are all
submitted by non-members.
Would Ms. Bettencourt and Ms. Whitney be so quick
to add their names to a letter blasting me if, say, I happened
to own the home they rent or the company they
work for? Of course not. But here at the GRA,
we'd be happy to publish it anonymously for them anyway!
So why don't both of you get on our mailing list and
become "members" yourselves? Come and
join the fun!
And remember, Ms. Bettencourt and Ms.
Whitney: Anybody can say anything about
anyone. But doing so never changes the truth.