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Editorial: An expensive, unnecessary campaign

If the anti-BearCat activists had gathered $10,000 in addition to 1,500 signatures, would they have had more success in persuading the Concord City Council to see things their way?

The question occurred to us after learning about a proposal for a group of neighbors who oppose extending the Langley Parkway to raise that much money to finance a “behind-the-scenes” lobbying campaign to convince the council to kill the project. The idea is to hire consultant Jim Merrill, a strategist who has worked in recent years for presidential candidate Mitt Romney and gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne, and ask him to organize attendance at public meetings, letters to the editor and “reaching out to influential members of the Concord community.”

So far, it’s unclear whether the lobbying campaign will go anywhere. But it strikes us as unseemly, unnecessary and, in the end, incapable of guaranteed long-term success.

If this were the NRA spending big money to get the ear of Congress or even the New Hampshire Legislature, it wouldn’t seem so remarkable. Behind-the-scenes is, perhaps, par for the course. But Concord city government is – or should be – conducted in a forthright manner. An attempt to orchestrate and manipulate the outcome of a serious public policy debate in a secretive manner should make the council uneasy – not to mention less well-off residents of other neighborhoods who might benefit from the Langley Parkway extension, should it ever be built.

The approach strikes as unnecessary because it’s not difficult – for free – to get the attention of a Concord city councilor – or 14 councilors. Indeed, given Mayor Jim Bouley’s public criticism of the Langley Parkway project, it seems the opponents have already had considerable success. And in interviews with candidates for mayor and city council over the past month, Monitor editors have heard tremendous skepticism about the parkway extension project, at least anytime in the near future.

The project has been in Concord’s long-term plans for decades. An earlier phase – the road connecting Clinton and Pleasant streets – opened to traffic in 2008 after long delays and a court battle. The next phase would connect Concord Hospital to the intersection of North State and Penacook streets. The notion is to ease traffic congestion in residential neighborhoods near the hospital and reduce travel time to the hospital for emergency vehicles.

The city’s capital improvement plan lists construction as starting in 2017, though there is no money set aside for it, and the need for other improvements – Main Street revitalization, replacement of the Sewalls Falls Bridge, construction of a community center on the Heights, a new library and the repaving of crumbling neighborhood streets – all take precedence.

In his pitch to neighbors for the lobbying campaign, one of the parkway’s opponents expressed hope that they could succeed in killing the project. But a vote by the current council to officially delay the project or even remove it altogether from the city’s long-term plan wouldn’t necessarily do away with it. It’s easy to imagine that a future mayor and council – 10, 15 years out – might determine that the time has come for the project and revive the plan, or some revamped version of it.

Our advice to Langley Parkway opponents: Attend next month’s public hearing on the project and voice your concerns. When the city engineer delivers a report to the council, get your hands on a copy. Participate in the public debate on the city budget and 10-year capital improvement plan. Call your councilors. But keep your $10,000 for yourself.


Concord Hospital CEOs speak with one voice: Add to Langley Parkway

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

As one moves out and the other moves in, two CEOs of Concord Hospital have thrown their weight behind a controversial extension of Langley Parkway. In a letter to city council last month, former CEO Mike Green said Capital Region Health Care, which includes Concord Hospital, has been “a longtime partner in the development and implementation of Langley Parkway, and …

Legacy Comments7

So when does this taxpayer-financed, boondoggle arrive. I understand that boys needs their toys, but $260,000+/- for an armored vehicle does seem a bit much. Can ANYONE tell me the last time there was a riot in Concord? Can ANYONE tell me the last time Concord's SWAT team was used on anyone beside a mental defective? Not only does the possession of these toys leads to the temptation of their use, it also leads to the militarization of our civilian police. Doesn't it concern anyone that in Merrimack County the various police departments have more armored vehicles than the US Marines did when they entered Fallujah?

Good editorial! As with almost everything, money talks. Those with it have a louder voice than those without it. At least these peple are up-front about thier effort. Backroom deals between politicians and hired lobbiests are very common in politics and it is a big problem. It is often driven by the hidden cash of those who don't want to be exposed because their cause would lose credibility if the public knew of their effort and how they would personally gain. This goes for lobbying and campaign financing. I would so prefer a return to straight forward "open" politics. Expose the real cash flow and let people know who is financing what without letting the wealthy hide behind a curtain while pulling the political strings. Being an educated voter should be easier than trying to see through a purposely created fog designed to keep us from knowing the truth.

Welcome to the real world CM editors. Good for the group opposing the project for realizing that in an age of instant media, the only groups that are successful are the groups that are funded, organized and have a sequence of strategy and tactics to bend will and formulate opinion. Now, if Republicans would only take that lesson to heart on larger, more weighty matters.

Ever heard of the Koch Brothers?

you mean the guys that annually give $ KaZillions to over 350 American colleges and universities?

Yes they are patriots.

Don't know if they're "Patriots" or not. Because I truly don't know what metric one uses to determine true Patriotism in this day and age. I do know they're filthy rich and so are financially able to do good - or evil - for thousands of others with their money and still put food on their tables, a roof over their heads and clothes on their backs. Is THAT the definition of "Patriot?"

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