Toll Poll

Moderator: The Merrimack Volunteer Moderators

Opinion of proposed EZ Pass discounts for Merrmiack Residents

Fully Support Proposal
4
18%
Not crazy about it, but I'll take what we can get
9
41%
Indifferent/Don't like this idea but don't have a better one
0
No votes
Slightly Opposed, we can do better
2
9%
Strongly Opposed, Toll removal is only option, Drive Free or Die
7
32%
 
Total votes : 22

Toll Poll

Postby M@ » Sun Jun 10, 2007 9:24 am

Looking for the boards feel on the toll proposal

(Also, feel free to comment ton usefulness of toll options, I tried to make them all unique and give pretty much every one a single clear choice...)

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Postby mglr536 » Sun Jun 10, 2007 8:44 pm

If the proposal as stated in the paper is........"The plan proposed by Pignatelli would give residents a discount, but it would be only for users who have purchased a transponder and set up account with an initial $54.61 payment."

Then I oppose it.

Give ALL transponders billed into 03054 the discount, not just those who paid $54.61, wherever that figure came from. This is absurd.
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Postby Michael Pelletier » Mon Jun 11, 2007 7:33 am

$54.61 comes from the initial $30 EZ-Pass account balance, plus the $24.61 which is the actual cost to the state for the transponder.

Perhaps the Town Welfare Department can lend a hand to folks who would have trouble with that, help spread out the initial cost a bit over a period of time.
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Postby joe179 » Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:33 pm

I bought my transponder at a discount when EZ-Pass was first instituted. I have no desire to purchase a new ones as mine are working just fine. I can't see why all accounts old and new couldn't simply be programmed for the discount--- if the discount proposal with all it's warts and pimples is approved.

Complete removal of the tolls is where we should be focused. Putting a band-aid on this festering issue will just set the stage for future flare ups :x :x :x
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Postby Tom Mahon » Wed Jun 13, 2007 3:04 pm

That's forward thinking. This is the department that caused the six month delay in the state audit and lost several million dollars in federal aid because they cannot account for the money they have; and just fired several workers for creating at least two hazardous waste sites by dumping lead and epoxy on state property. Cost to clean-up $1.5 million plus a fine they paid to the state DES. Hmm! That about equals one year's toll collections in Merrimack.
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Postby joe179 » Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:18 pm

Tom,

You're right -- this could cost millions once the scope of the scandal is fully known..

Here's the news article regarding the DOT fiasco from today's Union Leader:
DOT dumping: 'Stupid and lazy'
By TOM FAHEY
State House Bureau Chief
22 hours, 7 minutes ago


CONCORD – Workers are losing their jobs and the state is fining the Department of Transportation nearly $330,000 over a 25-year practice of dumping lead paint chips and other hazardous waste on state property.

"In my judgement it was not malicious. It was stupid and lazy," acting Transportation Commissioner Charles O'Leary told reporters at a news conference.

The dumping that is known of so far took place at two Department of Transportation yards in Franklin, on Route 127 and on Range Road. The state will launch a statewide survey of all DOT property to see if the practice was more widespread.

O'Leary said yesterday some of those involved in the earliest incidents, dating back to 1980, have retired. One supervisor recently resigned, another is in the process and "there will be others imminently," he said.

He said the supervisors involved in the scandal -- all associated with a state bridge maintenance unit -- were trained and obligated to follow environmental laws, and had money in their budgets to handle waste properly. Somewhere along the way, he said, there was "a breakdown in the character" of the employees responsible.

He later told the House Public Works and Highway Committee the actions were part of "a consistent pattern of some people within the department who think they can get away with this."

The amounts of waste ranged from two tons of lead paint and epoxy to bags and buckets of lead paint chips from bridge maintenance jobs. The paint and epoxy was buried in a foundation. Chips were buried, dumped on the ground and poured down holes in concrete floors.

Cleanup at known DOT dump sites could cost $1.5 million over the next two years, O'Leary told House members, money that has been included in the pending state budget.

The offenses began in 1980, and continued on and off through 2005, and possibly last year, according to information the Attorney General's Office and the departments of Environmental Services and Transportation released yesterday.

A disciplinary proceeding against a DOT worker led to a broader probe that uncovered the history of improper waste disposal. Former transportation commissioner Carol Murray reported DOT's initial findings to the Attorney General's Office in late 2005, prompting a 15-month investigation. Investigators questioned two dozen DOT workers.

DES Commissioner Thomas Burack said he hopes to have soil sample test results for a June 25 public hearing in Franklin.

Eight homes abut the two DOT sites. There are concerns about lead dust that could become airborne, but drinking and washing water may not be as big an issue. The houses are hooked to city water and sewer systems and do not use groundwater, officials said.

Rep James Ryan, D-Franklin, chair of the Transportation Committee, said he plans hearings this summer.

"I want the people who live on Bailey Avenue to know what is going on and reassure them, if possible, so they do not spend sleepless nights wondering if they made a poor decision," he said.

Sen. Peter Burling, D-Cornish, who represents Franklin, said he and state officials plan to visit the sites tomorrow and meet with the city manager and mayor.

DOT agreed to pay a $100,000 fine into the state's hazardous waste cleanup fund. It will spend another $226,000 on compliance audits and updating environmental policies.

Rep. Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett, complained that the fine takes money from highway maintenance.

"We're not paving a road somewhere because someone at DOT didn't do what they were supposed to. The wrong people are being punished," he said.

The costs and fines may seem high, O'Leary said, but it is better than having the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency get involved.

"This keeps the family errors within the family," he said.

Officials said they cannot name the individuals at the heart of the dumping scandal unless they appeal disciplinary actions.

The list of offenses range from the 1980 dumping of two tons of lead paint and epoxy in a foundation pit for a paint building, to illegal disposal of lead paint chips that were transported in plastic garbage bags and five-gallon pails. In one case lead paint chips were transported in the back of an open pickup truck.

Between 2004 and 2006, while DES was monitoring a cleanup site, a DOT supervisor drilled holes in a concrete floor to bury more of the lead paint chips.

One of the most egregious incidents came in 1988, when DOT workers found soil contaminated with "a stringy substance with a strong chemical odor" while digging for a shed foundation. The supervisor ordered the soil to be taken to the Bailey bridge yard on Route 127, where it was spread out in the yard in violation of state law.

At one point in 1996, DES investigators were looking for hazardous waste by the Franklin Yard Paint Shed in the wrong spot. A supervisor knew where waste was buried, but did nothing to direct DES to the right spot.

Three years ago, workers buried lead paint chips at the Ashland Bridge site on Route 132. DES workers found the chips, but reported that it looks as if chips were buried there more recently, too.

O'Leary promised a rebound from the embarrassment the case brings.

"When we are finished ... we will be the best neighbors people can have," he said.

Stupid and Lazy??? Looks like the issue was knowingly covered up for many years :x :x :x
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Postby Michael Pelletier » Thu Jun 14, 2007 12:06 am

"Stupid," "lazy," "cover-up," "government," - but I repeat myself.

I wonder where the hazardous waste disposal money went... Hmmmm...

Maybe this is a key reason why why Governor Lynch's farewell statement upon Murray's resignation was so tepid - Murray's history at the DOT goes back to 1978, and she was steeped in the "culture," as Rep. Ryan put it, of the department. Kind of sheds some new light on this article from November 30, 2006 speculating on Murray's resignation possibly being requested by the governor, in the thick of the AG's investigation.

According to the NEITE website, she was recognized in November 2004 with the “Good Scout Awardâ€
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Postby Loweresttaxes » Thu Jun 14, 2007 4:26 am

And the government fines itself.

That ought to teach em.
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Postby Michael Pelletier » Thu Jun 14, 2007 8:32 am

Loweresttaxes wrote:And the government fines itself.

That ought to teach em.

"Stupid," remember?
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Postby Tom Mahon » Thu Jun 14, 2007 9:11 am

Well, to drag this on a little further, in the late 1970's during the reign of Mel Thompson, the EPA and DES cited NHDOT for dumping solvents and other chemicals from their vehicle repair operations near the Merrimack River. Gov. Mel was incensed at the feds telling him he had to clean it up and pay for it. The cost of the clean-up was estimated to be $750,000 (that's $2.45M in today's dollars). There was an incident a few years ago at their psint garage on Rt 106 in Concord that was similar. This is a bureaucracy that doesn't get it.

As for the disposal money, that was probably a surplus that a district engineer (there are 5 Districts in NH, each with a District Engineer in charge) could brag that he had in his budget at the end of the fiscal year to do other projects or return to the department, for which he would be favorably evaluated.

On the issue of terminating employees, were any of the supervisor's supervisors reprimanded?? DOUBT IT!! Because if you pursue criminal charges on the underlings you expose their bosses to scrutiny that may result in collusion and culpability and therefore their jobs, pensions, and continuing health care benefits after retirement. "Don't ask, don't tell" isn't just for the military.
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Postby Michael Pelletier » Thu Jun 14, 2007 9:41 am

Meanwhile, if one of us common folk dumps clean fill on the wrong part of our own property, they'll come after us with guns a-blazin'. According to New Hampshire law, your backyard swimming pool is part of the "surface waters of the state."
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Postby Michael Thompson » Thu Jun 14, 2007 11:12 am

Michael Pelletier wrote:Meanwhile, if one of us common folk dumps clean fill on the wrong part of our own property, they'll come after us with guns a-blazin'. According to New Hampshire law, your backyard swimming pool is part of the "surface waters of the state."


If this is true then that would mean if you found someone in your pool you can't ask them to leave.
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Postby Michael Pelletier » Thu Jun 14, 2007 12:13 pm

XIV. ""Surface waters of the state'' means perennial and seasonal streams, lakes, ponds, and tidal waters within the jurisdiction of the state, including all streams, lakes, or ponds bordering on the state, marshes, water courses, and other bodies of water, natural or artificial.

Is your swimming pool an artificial body of water? :D
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Postby Michael Thompson » Thu Jun 14, 2007 2:21 pm

Michael Pelletier wrote:
XIV. ""Surface waters of the state'' means perennial and seasonal streams, lakes, ponds, and tidal waters within the jurisdiction of the state, including all streams, lakes, or ponds bordering on the state, marshes, water courses, and other bodies of water, natural or artificial.

Is your swimming pool an artificial body of water? :D


I guess this is the statement that would have to be defined:

within the jurisdiction of the state
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Postby joe179 » Thu Jun 14, 2007 7:29 pm

Maybe I can apply for state aid to help keep my artificial fish pond up to environmental standards? I wonder if there are any surplus funds out there for this?? :D :D :D
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