December 16. 2012 11:47PM

Gate City Musings: Pennichuck ratepayers were sold a bill of goods

Gate City Musings, a column on City Hall happenings and other Nashua items, is published every other Monday. It is written by a veteran political observer whose identity is known to the editors but who wishes to remain anonymous, and breathing.

A LOT has happened during the past two weeks and if you are interested in how our city's leaders (our elected mayor and aldermen) care, or don't care, about our hard-earned tax-dollars then stay tuned.

But first, let's take a look at a group of executives who have already forgotten what their role is supposed to be. In existence for less than a year, Pennichuck Corp.'s paid board of directors apparently forgot why it is there.

Pennichuck is now a city-owned company brought into being by an outraged citizenry who had enough of what it saw as corporate greed, cronyism, high water rates and the environmental rape of a large chunk of property abounding the Pennichuck ponds.

After more than 10 years of legal wrangling by an enraged Pennichuck board, the city acquired the company for more than $250 million, considering the purchase price, litigation and consulting fees, etc.

Our blessed elected officials constantly told us that our water rates would be lower if Pennichuck were owned by the city. Now we learn that a hefty water rate increase is necessary for "related project expenses such as repairing and upgrading water mains, hydrants and other equipment."

Musings wonders why these improvements, which the company was already doing, would result in a surcharge from the ratepayers. But then apparently the new Pennichuck board, which answers only to itself and the state Public Utilities Commission, is determined to hit the ratepayers again.

If you have seen the "No Northern Pass" signs and bumper stickers around and about, then why not ask our Chamber of Commerce why it is promoting a project that would have huge economic and environmental results.

The chamber will tell you it supports it because its members want lower electric rates for businesses as well as renewable power. In effect, there will be cost benefits but they will not go to us but our neighbors to the south, who get their power from other regional electric markets.

Remember that our high electric rates are tied, line, hook and sinker to supporting coal and oil-fired power plants here in the Granite State that many say are uneconomical.


OUR local newspaper and some elected officials continue to promote commuter rail. Sounds good to the Chamber of Commerce and city and state officials but wait a minute, folks. There isn't a commuter rail project in the nation that makes a profit. Added to that fact are the billions of federal and state tax dollars subsidizing commuter rail all over the nation. And frankly, here in Northern New England there really isn't a heavy demand for such service considering we have almost hourly bus service to and from Boston, seven days a week

It's interesting to note that our nearby MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) has the highest debt burden of any transportation system in the country.


IT'S SAD that Nashua Superintendent of Schools Mark Conrad decided his faculty wouldn't be allowed to write recommendations for those students who want to apply to the local charter school but that the staff could continue to give recommendations for Nashua students who wish to go to a private secondary/prep school.

In the spirit of the season, Musings will forgo any more criticism of our elected officials and will concentrate on the good things that are happening in the Gate City. For example, the cooperation between the Nashua school system and Nashua Community College in bringing about the college's new culinary arts program. Rather than asking the Legislature to provide $1 million for space and equipment, NCC President Lucille Jordan and Superintendent Conrad worked out a cooperative solution whereby NCC students, after school hours, get to use Nashua North's culinary space and equipment and utilize the high school's faculty.


NICE TO SEE that former Nashua Alderman at- Large Fred Teeboom was recognized on CNN for his efforts which resulted in the building of a Holocaust memorial at Rotary Common. Say what you want about Fred, and his critics have and will continue to do so, but no one has worked harder for his adopted city, many times taking the side of the taxpayers over his aldermanic critics.

Musings wishes you and yours a happy holiday season and a very Merry Christmas.

Remember ... if you have a subject, complaint or praise about what our city officials are up to, or you have a suggestion for "kudos," email them to Musings would love to hear from you.