LTE: Portsmouth Dem chair debunks sewer attacks

Chair of the Portsmouth Democratic Town Committee and Town Council incumbent Len Katzman sent this letter to the editor this afternoon:

Mr. McDaid:
I saw your blog post on the despicable attack piece being circulated by the "Republican State Central Committee" on behalf of Ottiano.

Well, you don't have to go to the "Republican State Central Committee" to see lies being told in a fear and smear campaign. Many people have been leafleted at their homes with last minute false charges scaring people about a "town wide" sewer and charging that there is some "secret" agenda to force sewers on Portsmouth. Those are completely false (a nice politic way to say "lies").

I've prepared my own leaflet to try to set the record straight. I hope the truth prevails.

I've attached the leaflet and I respectfully request that you publish it on your blog as a Letter to the Editor.

Very truly yours,
Len Katzman

~ FAQ ~

What's all this I hear about sewers?
Many of our opponents want to scare you into voting for them by saying Democrats will force a town wide sewer system on you. That's false. The truth is that Democrats say that the majority of the town has no need for sewers and won't force any solution on you, either sewers or a wastewater management district. We promise to let the people vote.

So, sewers aren't the biggest issue?
No. Portsmouth is in the process of finishing the wastewater studies required by DEM. When that's done and all the facts are in, Democrats will push for comprehensive public hearings for all citizens. Until the facts are in, there's really no way to intelligently talk about the issue.

If not sewers, is there one "biggest issue" in Portsmouth?
No, but the budget looms large. Our big challenge is to keep Portsmouth affordable and seek smart ways to leverage our resources. Democrats have done that by, for example, leading the push for wind power that will return at least $300,000 to our bottom line this year, and implementing creative zoning to foster marine/resort development that raises revenue without much drain on public services. Democrats will continue our push for innovative ways to expand positive initiatives to keep the budget manageable.

I keep hearing about a "fund balance." Is that the issue?
Again, it's not the biggest issue. The fund balance can be thought of as Portsmouth's savings account. Through many mechanisms money goes in. Sometimes the council votes to take money out like to preserve Open Space. Money was being spent out of the fund balance since long before the Democrats were on the council. Not long ago, our Finance Director indicated that funds were getting lower than best practices suggest, so your Democratic council implemented a formal plan to build up the fund. The plan called to increase the fund by 10% a year, which this year would have meant about $120,000. Us Democrats, through some good management are happy to report that we are increasing the fund by over $800,000, over a 65% increase. Portsmouth Democrats will continue to follow our professional Finance Director's advice that has preserved our stellar A1 bond rating. About that A1 rating: Moody's Investors Service affirmed our A1 rating just last April saying it reflects "a low debt burden." Citizens should trust the assessment of Moody's Investors Service instead of our opponents.

So be blunt with me. What is the biggest issue facing Portsmouth?
Let me explain with a brief tale: In 2006 no one said keeping out Big Box stores was the big issue. Why? Because Target had not yet decided to come to Portsmouth. But by the summer of 2007, Target was THE biggest issue. Town Council members had to read and understand volumes of data on the legalities and procedures available to protect Portsmouth from Big Box development. Democrats engaged in careful analysis and public discussions and we performed well -- in the end putting in place strong enforceable laws to keep Big Box development out! The lesson to glean from this tale? The biggest issue facing Portsmouth over the next two years is probably unknown, just like Big Box stores were 2 years ago. The voters can best prepare for the unknown by electing intelligent, level-headed people who will bring a measured thoughtful approach, can handle quick analysis of large amounts of complex data, engage the public in civil discussion and make well-reasoned decisions.

You say THE big issue is electing good decision makers?
Yes. Putting into office the people best qualified to handle what ever may come is far and away the most important task of voters. We are in very tough times and we face difficult circumstances. We may not know what the future brings. But whether the issue is zoning or school budgets or regionalizing safety services or just filling potholes, Portsmouth needs council members most capable to engage in calm and balanced decision-making. Democrats have proven their leadership as thoughtful consensus builders who listen to the public and make rational decisions based on facts not fictions or hysteria.

I am Len Katzman and I ask for your vote.
I ask you to vote for the entire endorsed Democratic Town Council Slate:
Dennis M. Canario
David Croston
Al Honnen
Leonard B. Katzman
Mark J. Katzman
James A. Seveney
William E. West

Vote Democrat
Portsmouth Town Council