Editorials published by the Goffstown Residents
Association are written by various members and
contributing non-members of the GRA.

January 29, 2010
Some 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 it."

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 potential locations.

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 our group.

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 Goffstown.

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 2007.

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 government.  

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 reprisal.  
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.





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