The Seabrook Memorial Day Service 2023

The Seabrook Memorial Day Service and Parade was blessed with a wonderful day and great community participation. A big thank you to event organizer Cassandra Carter for all of her great work, the American Legion Post 70 for their participation, the Seabrook DPW for their work as well as the Seabrook Police Department for their work and assistance. Thanks to the Seabrook Board of Selectmen for their strong support and participation. Thanks to our legislative delegation as well!

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Seabrook and NextEra Reach Tax Agreement

The Town of Seabrook, through its Board of Selectmen, have announced a three year tax agreement with NextEra. This tax agreement covers fiscal years 2021, 2022, and 2023 and is in the amount of $40 million for the three year period. This agreement is for the property occupied by the nuclear power facility Seabrook Station, which is owned by NextEra.

The tax agreement will settle the NextEra appeal of the FY 2021 tax assessment, which had been filed, as well as the 2022 tax assessment, which NextEra had filed a notice of intent to appeal. The agreement does not require Seabrook to refund, or abate, property tax for any one of the years covered in the agreement. The FY 2022 assessed value of the plant is $1.2 billion.

The prior three year tax agreement covered FY 2018, 2019, and 2020 and was valued at $36 million.

The statement issued after the announcement is below.

“This negotiation, although longer than usual, has produced an agreement that increases the three-year tax payment by $4 million, an outcome that is extremely positive for the taxpayers of Seabrook. It is, at the same time, an equitable agreement for NextEra and the Town. The Board of Selectmen are pleased with the result, and grateful for the diligence and work of the staff, and the partnership with NextEra that brought these negotiations to a successful conclusion.”

The press report on the tax agreement.

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Lucky’s at the Brook

It was great to be at the grand opening of the new restaurant, Lucky’s, at the Brook. The Brook is expanding its offerings, and its space, very quickly. I had an opportunity to try some of the great menu items and can tell you that this restaurant is worth checking out. More great economic development at the Brook!

At Lucky's at The Brook with Town Clerk Shayna Merrill, Selectwoman Theresa Kyle, and Deputy Clerk Kellie Brown.

Media coverage of the grand opening.

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2023 Seabrook Budget and Warrant Tax Impact Analysis

The attached memo offers a “tax impact analysis” of the 2023 passed warrant articles as well as the adopted budget.

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A Look at Robert E Lee, A Life by Allen Guelzo

Robert E. Lee: A Life by Allen C. Guelzo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Robert E. Lee: A Life” is a remarkable biography by the historian and author Allen Guelzo. In this book, Guelzo provides a comprehensive and balanced portrait of one of the most famous and controversial figures in American history.

The book traces Lee’s life from his childhood in Virginia to his rise as a military commander during the American Civil War and his later years as a college president. Guelzo presents Lee as a complex figure, but does not at all run away from the inherent contradictions in Lee’s actions, and in Lee’s failures, as a human being and as a general.

Throughout the book, Guelzo provides a vivid and detailed account of the major events in Lee’s life, including his experiences in the Mexican-American War, his tenure as superintendent of West Point, and his role as commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Lee was indeed the superintendent of West Point, and served with distinction in the U.S. Army in the Mexican campaign. Lee was an Army engineer who ended up becoming a renowned military strategist.

The decision of Lee to abandon the U.S. Army and go over to the rebellion is shown to be a pained one, an area I thought was covered excellently by the book. Lee managed, by expressing contradictory views on the key issues involved, to be thought of less harshly than many other Confederate leaders. Slavery? Lee expressed repugnance, and gave the view that slavery was not a sufficient reason for secession. But he was a slave owner, and became a leader of the rebellion. Lee’s tortured dance on the loyalty issue included declining Lincoln’s offer of command of the Union Army. The author offers some interesting speculation on Lee’s motivation being influenced by the fear of losing the Lee estate at Arlington, which likely would have been seized by the State of Virginia if Lee remained loyal to the Union. As it turned out Union forces immediately seized the estate upon Lee’s desertion. The federal government has held it since then, and it is now the national military cemetery.

His reputation as a brilliant field commander was earned, as he had some great success early in the war. Some of that success might be attributable, in part, to the less than stellar leadership of the Union generals lined up against him, but Lee absolutely deserves credit for devising the strategies that confounded and defeated the much more formidable Union forces at the beginning of the war. Although ultimately unsuccessful Lee’s thought that the disparity in resources would necessitate a Confederate northern incursion with the goal of melting northern political support for the war was really the only hope for the Confederacy. He wanted to hold on until the Union tired of the fight.
Even Lee’s early success came at a heavy cost, as the Confederacy was not in a position to win battles that came with heavy losses in manpower and supply. Lee shall be forever linked in history to General Ulysses Grant, the Union General who recognized and acted on the wide disparity in manpower and resources that favored the Union. Once Grant was brought to the Eastern theatre Lee’s time was limited. Grant was simply uncontainable by the Confederate forces that Lee had available, and Grant was ruthless in his pursuit. After the war Lee may have come out ahead in terms of perceptions of military skill, but over the course of time Grant has been recognized for his great military skills as a General, and the comparisons to Lee have been much more favorable to Grant.

After the war Lee was pardoned for his treason by President Andrew Johnson, and is on record as being opposed to the glorification of Confederate generals, including being against statutes and monuments being erected in their honor.

One of the strengths of the book is it’s balanced and nuanced perspective on Lee’s character and actions. The author acknowledges Lee’s admirable qualities, including his leadership skills and his devotion to his troops, while also recognizing his flaws, most notably his support for slavery, and his treason.
Overall, “Robert E. Lee: A Life” is a fascinating and insightful biography that sheds new light on one of the most iconic figures in American history. Guelzo’s extensive research and engaging writing style make this book a must-read for anyone interested in the Civil War era and the complex figures who shaped it.

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A Look at “Grant” by Ron Chernow

Grant by Ron Chernow

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Grant” by Ron Chernow is a thoroughly researched and insightful biography of Ulysses S. Grant, one of the true giants of American history. The book does not shy away from some of the Grant failures, including his many unsuccessful attempts to find his way in business. Grant’s contribution to history was not in business, but rather as a dynamic military man whose leadership likely saved the Union. It took a bit of time, but when Lincoln finally turned to Grant the war with the Confederacy was not going well, and Grant turned that around.
One of the book’s strengths is its ability to dispel many of the myths and misconceptions that have surrounded Grant for decades. Chernow portrays him as a complex and multifaceted figure, one who was both a brilliant military strategist and a flawed individual with a complicated personal life. Chernow does not shy away from the issue of Grant’s drinking, which comes up repeatedly. Without question Grant, despite many pledges, drank to excess on occasion. What is clear, at least to me, is that his drinking did not impair him or his military decision making at key moments. Lincoln reportedly said that if he knew what brand of whiskey Grant drank he would send a barrel of it to his other Generals. Lincoln had seen the results before Grant assumed command, and after his assumption of command of the Union armies. Lincoln preferred the results that Grant brought.
Chernow’s book is not a detailed military history, but there is, by necessity, a good look at Grant the military man. After the Civil War was over the defeated Confederacy simply managed to do a better job of creating legends around their military leaders. (See Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson amongst many others) Lee, for many years, has received absolute veneration as a military genius. Grant, despite the record, for many years simply did not receive the credit he was due for his military prowess. This book is fair, but helps to correct that record.
Grant started his Civil War career in the Western Theatre, and while the Army of the Potomac was performing dismally Grant was on the attack, winning key Union victories and catching the eye of President Lincoln. Grant absolutely had a resource advantage, and he pressed that advantage hard, putting relentless pressure on the Confederate armies he found in front of him. He was criticized for some of the high casualty counts in the battles he was involved in, but victory, even in the face of initial setbacks, always seemed to follow. (See Battle of Shiloh) Grant’s belief was that offensive operations were the key to victory. He never wavered from that view, even when under heavy criticism. When Lincoln made him the overall commander of Union forces he used the same tactics on Lee, driving forward, and chasing Lee’s Army across the map. Yes, he had greater resources than Lee, but so did General McClellan, who continually failed to win victories against Lee. Grant, in my view, simply out-generaled Robert Lee.
Grant’s essential decency was shown in his relationship with Lincoln. Grant was a major figure before the Union victory, and Lincoln had to worry that Grant might be persuaded to run against him for the Presidency. But Lincoln soon realized that Grant had a loyalty to him, and that loyalty, and agreement on the Lincoln goals and objectives, precluded Grant from doing anything but supporting his President. Grant’s record on race was in sync with Lincoln, and his record in this area was strong. Grant rejected a prisoner exchange with the Confederacy where black union soldiers, under Confederate terms, would not be released if they had been slaves. In this and in his post-war record Grant, like Lincoln, sought to heal the wounds of the bitter divide.
Grant’s record as President was a revelation to me. Some very interesting, and new to me, material on Grant. Grant’s trusting personality, so fatal to his business career, hurt him in the Presidency as well. But his record, once again, was not as abysmal as I had believed before the book.
Chernow’s prose is lively and engaging, and he has a talent for bringing Grant’s contemporaries, like William Tecumseh Sherman, to life, and offers a detailed look at the social and political climate of the times.
At over 1,000 pages, “Grant” is a substantial read, but Chernow’s storytelling skills keep the reader engaged throughout. He balances historical detail with compelling narrative, and the result is a biography that brings us a true giant of the United States. Grant, along with President Lincoln, saved the Union, and brought the Confederacy, and slavery with it, crashing down.
Overall, “Grant” is a masterful work of historical biography, one that sheds new light on a complicated and often misunderstood figure in American history. Whether you are a fan of Civil War history or simply enjoy well-written biographies, this book is well worth your time.

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A Look at G-Man J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century

G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century by Beverly Gage

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

J Edgar Hoover

A new biography of J. Edgar Hoover has arrived, and in light of my rather sparse understanding of Hoover as well as the history of the FBI I thought it would be a good read, and I was right.

Beverly Gage has given us a thoughtful biography of a giant of American law enforcement. The book is over 700 pages long, but Hoover’s tenure was so long, and his impacts so large, that a multi-volume work could have easily been done. Professor Gage, even with the enormous amount of material to cover, does so in a way that gives us a good view of Hoover’s rise to the pinnacle of power and authority in federal law enforcement. Hoover’s reputation is now in tatters and the book does not shy away from criticism of the subject. In so doing Professor Gage still tries to strike a balance, and I believe that she has found that balance correctly.

John Edgar Hoover started out as a Justice Department functionary that took over and built the then called Bureau of Investigation. Before taking over as Director Hoover got his start as the head of what was called the “radical division” of the Bureau, charged with tracking, arresting and deporting “subversives.” In many ways Hoover never really gave up that function, as he waged a life long battle against any and all groups deemed “subversive.” Hoover’s rise was greatly aided by his proficiency in utilizing the index card system he learned, and developed himself, while working for the Library of Congress. His ability to track information, and people, through this system, made him a superstar.

Hoover has been vilified for much during his nearly half a century tenure as the Director of the FBI. Much of the vilification can be justified, but this book shows us that much of what Hoover did was not only sanctioned, but actively pushed for, by Presidents of the United States. Hoover became adroit at politics, making himself indispensable to Presidents, providing what was considered vital intelligence to them. FDR, with WWII to deal with, used Hoover and the FBI to combat domestic subversion, real and imagined. Hoover was resistant to standard police work until a crime wave of bank robberies by criminals that captured much publicity forced his hand, John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Machine Gun Kelly, and others were simply too much for local law enforcement. They traveled across state lines and essentially forced Hoover to take on a role that he had not sought for the FBI. He did take it on successfully and used that effort to further build support and resources for the FBI. His astute political handling of the publicity surrounding this battle created an image of the FBI as serious crime fighters.

The book, as mentioned, covers a lot of ground, and every reader may take a different piece of the story as the most significant. Hoover’s ability to balance different political cross-currents, especially with the many Presidents he served, was fascinating to me. He had some real trouble with Harry Truman, and was really at loggerheads with his boss Robert Kennedy during the Kennedy Administration, but even during those difficult periods Hoover managed to keep his political balance. His political skills were substantial.

Hoover, in the law enforcement area, recognized early that setting the FBI up as a competitor to local law enforcement would bring nothing but problems for him, setting up a potentially potent political roadblock to future growth and funding for the Bureau. Hoover instead moved to make the FBI a resource for local law enforcement, providing services that he built from scratch, including a nationwide fingerprint database as well as creating the FBI crime lab. Hoover’s achievements in these areas were truly monumental, deserving of the credit that Professor Gage gives to him.

Hoover’s lifelong commitment to combatting communism is a big part of the book. This obsession brought Hoover, especially in later years, to make some decisions that were frankly abhorrent. This area of the book is indeed fascinating, showing us Hoover, despite his strong anti-communist bent, keeping Joe McCarthy at arms length. His willingness to work with the House Un-American Activities Committee was done on his terms. He was very adept at avoiding getting the FBI involved directly in matters that he was not comfortable with, even if he hovered in the background.

Hoover’s closest friendships with Presidents would likely be Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Hoover went way back with Nixon, working with him when he was a Congressman serving on HUAC. They became very close over the years, and Hoover would play a significant, if indirect role, in some of the decisions Nixon made as President that led to his downfall. By the time Nixon became President, in 1969, Hoover was discerning that what had previously been done by the FBI by way of illegal activities (illegal entries, illegal wiretapping and a host of other activities) could no longer be performed without a high risk of detection and legal jeopardy. When young Nixon staffer Tom Huston came up with an inter-agency plan for an intelligence war on the left Hoover, participating in the task force, simply placed roadblock after roadblock in the way. Nixon, understanding that Hoover’s opposition was politically fatal, withdrew the proposal. With Hoover’s refusal to be of assistance after the leak of the Pentagon Papers Nixon decided to act on his own, creating the “Plumbers Unit” working directly from the White House. That decision, driven by Hoover’s unwillingness to engage in the type of activities demanded by Nixon, did indeed eventually bring Nixon down. Hoover’s friendship with LBJ is covered, and for me it showed how LBJ both understood people, and was able to manipulate even those with political skills. When LBJ had Hoover and Tom Dewey issuing a report on racial unrest many were perplexed when the conservative Hoover, through the report, cited “underlying economic and social conditions” as one of the root causes.

“Against all odds, Johnson ‘maneuvered his anticommunist FBI director into issuing a report that endorsed the war on poverty[and] helped blunt the Goldwater challenge,’ one historian noted. Though Hoover had spent forty years insisting that the FBI could not be swayed by political concerns, he turned out to be as susceptible as anyone to Johnson’s masterful blend of praise, coercion, and power.”

Gage, Beverly: “G-Man J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century.”
Pg 600-601

Hoover’s massive infiltration operations against many organizations are highlighted, and his relentless attacks on Martin Luther King are parts of his record that have helped to bring Hoover’s legacy to the low point it is at today. Professor Gage does not give Hoover a pass in these areas. In todays world Hoover would not likely be as much of a darling of the right as he was in his day. His FBI expanded federal power in law enforcement, which would not likely be a popular position today with many conservatives.

Hoover had ambitions that included the FBI acting as the foreign espionage service for the U.S. In fact Hoover had started in this field in Latin America, and politically opposed the creation of the CIA. While not covered greatly it was one of the few bureaucratic battles that Hoover lost. (Harry Truman saw it differently)

Professor Gage has written what many are calling the definitive biography of the most important American law enforcement figure of the 20th century. I would have to agree. This book is highly recommended.

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Seabrook Water and Sewer Reports 2022

I have attached the reports presented to the Board of Selectmen at the March 20, 2023 Board meeting. These reports, presented annually, cover the output, and the finances, of the Seabrook Water System as well as the Sewer System.

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Seabrook Financial Presentation

The Seabrook financial presentation was made to the Board of Selectmen in February of 2022. This report is given to the Board annually so that the prior year can be examined, and we can identify future issues that are facing the community in the finance area. Below I have attached the presentation slides I utilized to make the presentation to the Board, as well as the report, the executive summary, and the video of the presentation.

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Seabrook’s 2023 Warrant

The Seabrook Board of Selectmen have finalized the 2023 Town Warrant, which is posted below. Town Meeting (election day) is March 14. Please get out and vote. I have posted below a tax impact analysis of the warrant as well.

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