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Moultonboro Selectman Punturieri: Pied-Piper, Flip-Flopper or Hypocrite?

By CNHT | April 13, 2016

Last week CNHT sent out an eBlast stressing the importance of attending your town meetings and deliberative sessions ESPECIALLY if you do not have SB2 where you can vote by ballot.  We mentioned that your town meeting is where you might vote on items which came from your town’s “master plan” and the zoning changes that may result if the plan is adopted.

The “master plan” is a lofty document created by one of the 9 Regional Planning Commissions (RPCs) that is associated with your town. We wanted voters to be aware that these plans are often at odds with what the citizens want, in that they sometimes attempt to revive ideas (such as sidewalks, bike paths, mixed-use or compact housing, overlay districts, all-day kindergarten, roundabouts, etc) that the voters have already rejected. 

We used Moultonboro as an example and directed our readers to a blog called ”Moultonboro Speaks”, maintained by Moultonboro Selectman Paul T. Punturieri, who comments as “Moultonboro Blogger”. He is also an appointee to the Lakes Region Planning Commission (LRPC) which operates mostly outside of public view.

We called the readers’ attention to the fact that the Selectmen in Moultonboro have accepted the state’s program and the master plan, created in accordance with the “Granite State Future” (GSF) program,  the state ”master plan” for NH, in mind. There isn’t one aspect of your lives that GSF doesn’t aim to affect… and you can read about it on their own website which is mentioned in Punturieri’s article.

All goals are based on the “Sustainable Communities Initiative” of the federal government.

After seeing our eBlast, Punturieri posted this commentary, which seems to contain the predictable canned responses.

We decided to take a look back at what Punturieri was saying BEFORE he because a selectman. It almost sounds to us as if he is now claiming he doesn’t understand the goals of the board he’s joined, or where their funding originates.

Regional Planning Commissions (RPCs) were created by the legislature in 1967 or thereabouts. Certainly the data they collect could be contracted for without going through them as the middle men. And make no mistake, the suggestions they make in the “master plans” for their designated areas are theirs and theirs alone. These plans, while voluntary, often make their way into the community, and end up being unused and a burden on the taxpayers. (Think bus lines and trains.)

Why, when Punturieri is subscribed to the CNHT eBlast himself, did he say it  was a friend “on the inside” who  sent it to him? Perhaps he signed on back when he was a friend of the taxpayer? No problem, as our newsletters are publicly archived, and we knew he was subscribed with the very same email that he displays on his blog.

We noticed that instead of countering information presented at the Granite State Future(s) website (GSF(s)), he immediately resorted to name-calling by referring to the Granite State Future(s)  website and blog as being “phony, sophomoric and paranoiac”. There is nothing “phony” about it, in that all the information contained there is taken directly from publicly available material, produced with taxpayer dollars by GSF, state and federal legislation, federal and state executive orders, federal agency decrees from the Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Transportation( DOT), and other state or federal government documentation, and from collaborating Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The site is merely a reaction to these things, and a very serious effort to delve into the subjects contained therein. We assure you, there is no talk of “bigfoot” or any other such subjects. The “bigfoot” comment was Punturieri’s Alinsky-esque tactic to discredit and invalidate the site in the eyes of the uninitiated.

It is surprising to us, that a Selectman who is actually assigned to sit on an RPC, has not seen the plethora of news articles about the overreaching and draconian measures HUD / EPA / DOT have sought to take against towns these days?

“Vehicle  Miles Traveled” (VMT) taxes, roof and driveway (stormwater) taxes, eminent domain for your water well, community organizers invading your schools, etc, are but a few of the ideas that have come from these extraneous commissions.

(A special commission created under Gov. John Lynch considered several “sustainable” ways to boost revenues for roads and bridges, including VMT. Dover NH almost created a roof and driveway tax similar to Maryland’s, and Bedford almost lost their water wells to the regional water district via eminent domain in 2005…)

And yes,  we are aware that “zoning ordinance changes are voted on the second Tuesday in March at the ballot box and by absentee ballot.” But is Punturieri aware that some towns have recently actually proposed to END THAT PRACTICE, putting zoning decisions in the hands of the town officials alone?

The previously linked article also contains a good description of what regional planners do, where their funding comes from, and how they impose their ideas upon the public.

Some would ask, if the ideas contained in the master plans are advisory, why do town boards try so hard to impose them even when residents disapprove? Further, why would voters accept ideas that never came from the townspeople themselves?

There is no single person that we know of behind any attack on Punturieri or any other selectman. We never meant it to be an attack, but merely used Punturieri’s blog as an example of how the GSF program is responsible for a lot of the ideas being proposed locally, and that once someone is appointed to an RPC, they seem swallowed up in the idea.

There was also no single person responsible for the demise of the $6.5 million dollar gym/community center that was soundly defeated by secret ballot at the 2016 Moultonborough Town Meeting.  According to some residents we interviewed,  we were advised Punturieri and 3 of the other Selectmen refused to listen to or acknowledge that the majority of residents did not want, or feel the need for the 6.5 million dollar facility. 

Apparently the Selectmen held public hearings but would only allow residents to voice their opinion if it had to do with the design of the facility, but not on the need, or what the real costs were to run and maintain it, or to suggest other alternatives. The fact that free speech was not allowed at a public hearing angered many, so they voted NO. 

SB2 or Ballot Voting

We think Punturieri also changed his mind on SB2 because he wrote this article in 2009, and then published this contradictory one only recently.

At a recent Board of Selectman’s meeting the chairman read correspondence  which asked that each Selectman be polled as to his position on the SB2 form of Town Government, and answer with a simple yes or no.  When it was Punturieri’s turn, he said “I’m not going to answer, if he wants to know he can come in and poll the Board.”

Apparently he has defended SB2 in the past. Here is a quote from Fosters’ Daily Democrat on February 11, 2009:

“Resident Paul Punturieri made a presentation on behalf of the Moultonborough Citizen’s Alliance in favor of SB2.

The presentation cited that there are around 4,100 registered voters in Moultonborough and in 2008 1,307 cast ballots while 484 attended the first part of the meeting for the articles on the proposed community center while 285 remaining afterward.

Punturieri said this year’s deliberative session in Barrington, an SB2 town, drew 400 voters and had to be moved to a larger location on the order of the fire chief.

The presentation included the points that people who would not be able to vote at town meeting, such as those sick, traveling, in the military, working, or unable to attend for any other reason, would have the option of voting through absentee ballot if unable to come to the polls.

It also disputed the idea that SB2 can “destroy a school district” or lead to a change in town government.”

So, what IS Punturieri’s position? What is the fear over SB2? Comments like these, taken from his blog, are telling us that enough fear has been created over SB2 because people do not really understand what it is or does, or doesn’t do:

One commenter from the blog article on SB2 said:
“But, having no requirement that everyone sit in the same room, debate, and actually listen to and consider each other’s viewpoints leaves wide open the potential for votes being cast with no info (like Blogger’s Gilford friend); or worse, the opportunity to spread mis- or dis-information in advance of the vote; or worst, cast votes for the sole purpose of seeing how low we can set our tax rate before our town is no longer a great place to live.” 

Comments such as “the opportunity to spread mis- or dis-information in advance of the vote” sounds like the favoring of stifling of information, not the free exchange of same. If someone has a chance to “spread disinformation”, others have an equal chance of spreading the opposite, one would think?

Another commenter said this, we assume with sarcasm:
“Moultonborough does not understand SB-2 enough to pass SB-2. It is ignorant of what it is, and what it does. The Annual Meeting is just fine. It keeps the snowbirds from voting, and the present voters stay with their power. Close to 4000 potential voters, with 200-300 controlling the town. Why upset the apple cart? If a controversy shows up, and 400-500 show up, don’t want any other voters heard. They aren’t here and shouldn’t be allowed absentee balloting.”

Punturieri asked to “keep the extremist viewpoints out of it”. Calling someone an  ”extremist” without specifics is yet another way to invalidate an opposing viewpoint. We find nothing extremist about Moultonboro residents wanting a say in what goes on in their own town without the influence of regionalists, NGOs, or their public relations groups.

Punturieri continued making statements that we are quite used to hearing in defense of RPCs and their “master plans”. It’s as if he’s reading from a script.

“Many (most) of the commissioners on the LRPC are elected in their towns as either Planning Board, Zoning Board, Selectmen, Mayor and others. We are not ” unelected beaurocrats. (sic)” , he said.

RPCs were not created by a vote of the people, their decisions are not based on the opinions of a majority of the people, (less than 700 people statewide took part in the various listening sessions and charrettes held on GSF) and as far as we know, appointees to these RPCs are still merely “appointed”.

Punturieri insists that he has “never supported Federal grants (especially HUD)  of any kind” and “have stated many times that none have been sought, nor will I ever vote in favor of them.”

Our question would be, why then, belong to an organization, one that operates BASED ON HUD GRANTS, to promote their goals? Where do you think the money for these commissions and many of their programs originate? To say that the RPCs are not doing the bidding of HUD, is to either be completely or willfully ignorant of their mission of regionalism.  The head planning commission is the  Nashua RPC, and you can see an example of  what their annual budget might be here.

He continued:
“To state that anyone is imposing HUD on anyone in Moultonboro is nothing more than hysterical, paranoid thinking.”

To state that anyone is imposing HUD on anyone in Moultonboro is to state a fact, especially when HUD drives the agenda of the RPCs, and provides the funding.

HUD employs a lawyer, Gregory Carson, who works as their representative to  the regional planning commissions of NH. Why would they need a lawyer? HUD doles out grants, which come with contracts, which come with “strings”. Many of these grants are seed money for studies and for projects found in the master plans. Violate the contract, and the town could be facing a lawsuit.

As in the case of Westchester NY, if HUD feels you have violated the contract, the town will be sued, even though they had built the agreed-upon number of low income housing units in the grant contract.

Fortunately for Westchester, the courts overrode HUD’s view that it was above the law, or that Westchester had acted in violation of the contract. But think of the money that must have been spent fighting the lawsuit.

We were going to recommend the story of Westchester for reading by Punturieri and his fellow Selectmen, but since then we have discovered that Punturieri already knew and had concerns all about it!

Forbes Magazine apparently also engages in the imaginary because they too wrote about it here.

Punturieri went on:
“There is not a single thing, not one single thing, that Moultonboro is obligated to do whether from Granite State Future, the Lakes Region Planning Commission or Planet 9 from the outer edges of the milky way. It is all advisory, no HUD money was asked for or accepted, all the commissioners from the member towns approved the final plan unanimously. “

No HUD money? Really? Once again, please read where HUD is involved from the start, in the whole regionalism scheme. Are we to believe that appointees are not aware of this?

We are constantly being told about how RPCs are merely advisory boards. This great news. Therefore, it should come as no shock to the Selectmen or anyone else that voters often DO NOT WANT to accept the ideas contained in their “master plans”.

Can anyone see now, how the lack of SB2 and the use of PR firms provided by the private foundation Carsey Institute (such as NH Listens) cause towns to revisit issues that the voters have ALREADY REJECTED, and assure that many if not most of these plans go unnoticed by voters until it’s too late?  

Is Punturieri aware that tax dollars are used to pay lobbyists so that RPCs can promote legislation that benefits the goals of federal and private interests?

Bottom line, why should taxpayers fund unelected boards who supposedly have no authority to impose plans and zoning rules upon towns? One might say this is good case for dissolving these boards.

Read  what Rep Greg Hill had to say about the Winnisquam Regional School District which  had previously voted down all day kindergarten but was forced to revisit it thanks to the work of the NGO Carsey Institute who sent in a PR firm, NH Listens, to run public sessions that few knew about or participated in. Proponents then  claim that from  these engineered sessions comes a consensus. If the information collected at these sessions is undesirable, it is merely left out of the results.

First published at the Laconia Daily Sun, but now missing from their site, it can be read in full here.

Fortunately Rep Hill informs us that they didn’t attempt to revisit the subject again, as the residents have stood firmly against the idea.

Finally, this has to be the most boilerplate of all the practiced statements coming out of the mouths of the defenders of the RPCs: “Regionalism is not a dirty word. It is something that makes a lot of sense for many towns in NH that are in close proximity and could benefit from shared services. ”

RPCs were established in the mid-to-late 1960s for that purpose. Small towns could work together to share school, fire, and police departments. But lately the RPCs have gone out of those simple bounds and have practically become  agents for the federal government, a federal government with a specific vision for our towns and schools. They are doing this work, funded by the taxpayers, but with the help of wealthy left-wing NGOs and foundations such as the Carsey Institute, and  PR firms (who actually employ acting troupes to train their facilitators!) such as NH Listens, and with grants from agencies who make up their own rules such as HUD, DOT, and EPA who set the agenda.

The people on the other hand, seem to have no such weaponry, only a vote and sometimes a discussion, if allowed.

Our conclusion is, according to his past writings, Selectman Punturieri SEEMED to clearly understand that Moultonboro’s membership in LRPC was costly and unnecessary. He seemed to be aware that accepting these programs did indeed involve social justice mandates, zoning mandates, and that HUD grants, which he now claims no connection to, help fund programs that are driven by the Sustainable Communities Initiative which is a federal effort and that the method of gathering public input is severely limited and not representative of true bottom-up control:

“The amounts raised by the member towns are the base funding for LRPC allowing them to seek grants and other sources of revenue. The funding is from HUD for just over $3M, It is led by the Nashua Regional Planning Commission and is meant to help communities and regions plan for the future and is tied to the sustainable communities initiatives. While he said there was no obligation to implement anything that is was just recommendations, he did say since it is HUD dollars, the plans must promote social equity, there must be public meetings and involve the communities. We’re told it’s all just a series of recommendations , but others will refer to it in the future as the will of the people and that it was driven from the bottom up.”

He also seemed to be very clear on the fact that RPCs do NOT always allow transparency by disallowing taping and/or not providing easy access to records of activities, something that all taxpayer-funded agencies are normally required to do per NH’s RSA 91-A law.

In publishing articles on the subject of the Delphi Technique, Punturieri admits the use of the Technique to sway an obscure number of participants, with the “panel of experts” in this case, being the well-trained facilitators who run the listening sessions.

If you cannot visit all the links below demonstrating what we have described above, at least listen to this excellent interview to see just how the RPCs are connected to a larger, global agenda. At around 10:25 Tim Carter explains that once your state has accepted the GSF program, as Kerry Diers former Chair of the NRPC did, and your town has accepted it, you have indeed signed a contract with HUD, and are obligated to do HUD’s bidding. We can’t imagine the selectmen of Moultonboro are not aware of that.

Direct link to video: https://youtu.be/RzP72tLT6hU

Please note that NHListens.org has moved limited content from their former website to http://carsey.unh.edu/nhlistens

More reference links:

http://moultonborospeaks.blogspot.com/2013/03/lakes-region-planning-commission-does.html

http://moultonborospeaks.blogspot.com/2013/10/lakes-region-planning-commission.html

http://moultonborospeaks.blogspot.com/2012/10/nh-listens-and-delphi-technique-by-tim.html

http://moultonborospeaks.blogspot.com/2012/10/have-you-been-delphid.html

Since Punturieri had previously aired all the very same facts about GSF and HUD that Moultonboro residents are now questioning, why would he now claim ignorance of them, or worse yet, asserting that the LRPC’s master plan is just a ’suggestion’? What made Selectman Punturieri change his mind?

Topics: Regionalism, Town Government, Town Meetings | Comments Off

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