After almost four years of railing against the wasteful spending going on here in the city of Keene, you might be under the assumption that this place is a lost cause and subsequently choose to settle elsewhere. Don’t. Keene is a great place with a lot of good people and a lot of potential. The truth is this sort of nonsense is going on across the country and in a lot of places it is much worse. The key difference here is the strong liberty community that has chosen to keep tabs on the powers that be and hold them accountable for their misguided decisions. We’ve cleared our eyes of the veil of apathy to see the truth for what it is.
To the wise old city bureaucrats and school officials: this may be your legacy, but it’s my inheritance. I WILL NOT stand by and watch while you squander it. You may get your way this year, but I’m not going to make it easy for you.
As some of you may well be aware, the Keene School District plans to cut 36.7 full-time positions, close an elementary school, and has projected a loss in enrollment of around 80 students. And yet, as you probably already expected, the budget will still be going up.
The school district has presented us with a proposed operating budget of $64.98 million, an increase of $181,394 from the previous year. Should that article fail, the default budget of $65.66 million will kick in. So, lose/lose. But here’s the real kicker: Due to less incoming revenue in the form of state tuition and previous-year surplus, the actual impact on the Keene taxpayer will be an additional $1.7 million increase. This will amount to a 5.31 percent increase on the school portion of your property tax.
These yearly increases in both school and city spending are unacceptable and ultimately unsustainable. If the school district were a private business it would have gone belly-up years ago due to its mismanagement of funds. But unlike the private sector, the public school system doesn’t need to sell you a good product to stay in business. They’ll get your money regardless of the quality and affordability of service they provide us. Or else they’ll take your house.
In an attempt to reign in this out-of-control spending, I have introduced three warrant articles that will help school board members and administrators with their future budget preparation. They include a budget cap of .5 percent, a reduction of $500 per student per year until the student tuition matches the state average, and the formation of a committee to study the feasibility of withdrawal from SAU 29. I’ve also included a fourth article to cease participation in the one-size-fits-all common core program. Sadly, all four warrants will undoubtedly be amended in such a way as to remove their original intent at the deliberative session this Saturday.
If there is one thing the school and its supporters excel at, it is removing any alternative options from the ballot.
In a clear victory today, Free State Project early mover James Cleaveland was found not guilty of “resisting arrest” and six of twelve jurors voted not guilty on the “disorderly conduct” charge! Judge John C Kissinger spoke with the attorneys after the verdict and relayed that the jurors were locked 6-6 on the disorderly charge for all five hours of their deliberation. As a result, a mistrial was declared on the “disorderly” charge, meaning it may go to retrial.
Earlier this year in a bench trial for the same charges, Keene district court judge Edward J Burke found James guilty of both counts. As is his right, James appealed the two class-A misdemeanor charges to a jury trial, even though the sentence from Burke was suspended on condition of good behavior. Ultimately James said he was glad he went to jury trial, as he’s now been vindicated completely on the “resisting” charge, where state police officer Phillip Gaiser lied, claiming James lunged at him and also stepped back 3-4 steps when he tried to cuff him, a claim that was proven false by the video and audio evidence in the case.
In post-trial comments for Free Keene, James said that the video and audio he recorded was critical to his success. Otherwise it would be several cops’ word versus his word, and jurors generally believe police to be honest. Though it was costly in time, stress, and thousands of dollars in legal fees, James is glad he stood up for the right of free press.
Jury Outreach Activists @ Cheshire Superior Court 2015-12-17
Kissinger allegedly said that James choosing to testify made a good impression on jurors, but that having a larger camera would somehow have given him better credibility. All jurors refused activists’ offers of $60 for a post-trial interview.
This is the biggest jury trial success of any liberty activist thus far tried in New Hampshire. Major thanks to all the stellar activists who braved the cold to hand out NHJury.com trifolds to the jurors and also hold signage reflecting the amount of time James was facing (two years in prison), a detail never allowed to be revealed in a criminal trial.
Full video of the trial is still to come to Free Keene. Stay tuned!
Yesterday the trial of Free Keene blogger James Cleaveland for recording police wrapped up with an excellent closing argument by defense attorney Paul Garrity (video still to come) advocating jury nullification. The jury was sent to deliberate and could not reach a verdict by the close of court. This morning, the jury was back to deliberating at 9am – the fact that it’s taking this long could be a good sign for James.
NH Jury activists gathered this morning outside Cheshire superior court in Keene to perform jury outreach prior to jury selection for the trial of James Cleaveland which begins tomorrow morning (Tuesday 12/15) at 9am.
James is facing two “Class A” misdemeanor charges with a possibility of up to two years in prison for being arrested while recording video of police at the scene of a suicidal man in the summer of 2014. The charges are “disorderly conduct” (the state’s favorite catch-all charge) and “resisting arrest”.
James has already had a bench trial at Keene district court, the video of which can be seen here, and was found guilty. District court judge Edward J Burke sentenced him to 1.5 years in jail, suspended, plus a $625 fine. After sentencing, James opted for his right to a jury trial “de novo”, which means, “from the beginning”. So now, not quite a year later, he is being given that trial.
This morning was jury selection. Nearly all of the jury pool of about 58 people had received the NH Jury trifold last month. (In Cheshire county, petit juries are empaneled for two months.) Usually the jury outreach process involves handing out flyers and opening the door for folks, but in addition today it included activists holding signs featuring phrases like, “2 Years 4 Filming?”, and “Filming the police is not a crime!”
More activists are expected to be on-the-scene tomorrow morning at 8am for further sign-holding, with the trial starting at 9am and expected to last two days. If you can’t make it in person, live tweets will be available here at FreeKeene.com and later the full trial video will be posted.
Presidential season is in full swing — and what better way to celebrate than by indulging in the latest episode of AKPF #1? In this week’s installment, ‘BarnStorm‘, we tour the vile underbelly of modern political figure’s social media ventures. Primarily focusing on Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump (also known as Barnie Sandlers and Dolan Tramp), we are also treated to appearances by lesser candidates such as a metal version of Ben Carson and DWP. Stay tuned to the very end for a sneak preview of the newest colorful coins in circulation.