Rep. Campbell Steps Down

State Representative Linda Dean Campbell has announced that she is not going to stand for re-election. Rep. Campbell will have served eight terms in the House of Representatives at the conclusion of this term. I had the pleasure of serving with her on the Methuen City Council, where she was the West District Councilor for six years.

Rep. Campbell has served her district well, and that service is reflected in her never losing an election, either as a candidate for Representative, or as a candidate for City Council. As the Mayor I filed the necessary applications for the Methuen High School Project, and as Methuen’s Representative Linda Campbell was instrumental in delivering the state aid that made that project possible. Rep. Campbell joined myself and Senator Baddour as we toured the City, bringing informational meetings to all of the City’s districts to build support for the financing for the project.

Rep. Campbell has been a strong voice, and a real leader, in filing legislation to correct the terrible tragedy that happened at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. When it came to Veteran’s issues there was no stronger voice than Campbell, herself a veteran of the U.S. Army, and a paratrooper. Her press release is below. We will miss her, and her dedicated public service. I am quite sure that she will not appreciate the pictures I have placed below, showing her over the years. Congratulations and best wishes to Rep. Linda Dean Campbell.

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A Look at Master of the Game by Martin Indyk

Master of the Game: Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy by Martin S. Indyk

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Martin Indyk has written a fascinating book on the diplomatic efforts undertaken by Henry Kissinger in the Middle East after the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War. Indyk comes to this effort with huge credentials of his own, having served as U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, and President Obama’s special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian talks in 2013-2014. It is quite clear that Indyk has a huge amount of respect for Kissinger but in my view that respect did not prevent him from giving a balanced view of Kissinger’s work on the seemingly impossible problems presented by the outbreak of war between Israel and Egypt and Syria.

Of all the books I read in 2021, a good year for books, this might be the best. That opinion comes not only from the book giving us a great historical look at the monumental diplomatic effort undertaken by Kissinger, but by Indyk’s insights into Kissinger’s true diplomatic objectives, which were not always what they appeared to be. Kissinger’s goals were ambitious, and of course those goals were not always shared with his diplomatic partners. Indyk was afforded access to Kissinger for this book, along with historical documents, so he is in a great position to bring to us some of the less visible objectives of Kissinger.

Kissinger’s diplomacy is often referred to as coming from a “realist” perspective. Realpolitik and Kissinger are mentioned together often, but it is simply an incomplete idea of Kissinger’s underlying philosophy. No work on Kissinger can ignore the influence of Prince Clemens von Metternich, the architect of the Congress of Vienna and a model for Kissinger’s diplomatic ideology. We get a real look at that ideology courtesy of both Indyk and Kissinger:

“As we shall see , he would consistently shy away from aiming for peace treaties, instead seeking agreements that would give all sides a stake in preserving the existing order. As he told me decades later, ‘I never thought there could be a moment of universal reconciliation.’ Kissinger’s skepticism first found expression in the subtitle he chose for A World Restored. It was Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace. The fact that after years of deep research and contemplation he concluded that peace was problematic would have a formative influence on his approach to peacemaking in the Middle East. On the first page of the introduction to A World Restored, Kissinger explains why, ‘[T]he attainment of peace,’ he writes, ‘is not as easy as the desire for it.’ He asserts that eras like the period he had studied turned out, paradoxically, to be most peaceful because the statesmen involved were least in search of peace. In his analysis, peace was abstract and reversible. What mattered more was an absence of war, produced by the combination of ‘legitimacy’ and ‘equilibrium.’ Clemens Von Metternich, the foreign minister of the Austrian Emperor Francis I, was one of his role models in this respect. While Metternich’s Emperor believed that ‘peace, lasting peace is the most desirable goal of any decent man’ what he sought was stability, not the realization of theoretical ideals. And that is what Kissinger would seek too when he had the opportunity.”

Master of the Game Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy. Indyk, Martin p 31-32

Stability, preservation of order, and equilibrium. Those goals, as interpreted by Kissinger, would drive his diplomacy.

The Yom Kippur War caught both the State of Israel, and Henry Kissinger by surprise. That surprise led to initial military success for Egypt and Syria against Israel, and forced President Nixon and Kissinger to order a massive military resupply effort for Israel. The State of Israel turned the military tide, erasing the initial success of Egypt and Syria, going on the military offensive, and springing Kissinger into the shuttle diplomacy that Indyk chronicles so well in this book. We see some of the biggest historical figures in the Middle East, including Golda Meir, Anwar Sadat, Hafez al-Assad, Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak, and so many others. Indyk, while highly respectful of Kissinger, pointed out Kissinger’s initial error in the run-up to the Yom Kippur War. Sadat, after taking over from Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, had given strong signals that the status quo ante was not satisfactory. Kissinger took these signals lightly:

“I thought [Sadat] was a clown… We all used to think sending the Russians out was a dumb thing; he got nothing for it. In the whole context, it was not such a bad strategy.”

Master of the Game Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy. Indyk, Martin p 77

Kissinger’s efforts centered not only around getting the combatants to stop their military operations, but negotiating agreements that got down to maps with very little acreage causing major disagreements with strong willed negotiating partners. As Kissinger began a three year process of shuttle diplomacy he was not only dealing with cease fire issues but using the crisis to marginalize the influence of the Soviet Union in the Middle East. He did this all the while “including” the Soviets in a nominal peace process that was an effective dead end. The real diplomatic activity was centered on Kissinger and what agreements he was able to put together.

Kissinger’s brilliance is often times, in my opinion, a problem for him. He came to have an understanding of minutiae involved in the government to government negotiations, including the mapping so critical to the disengagement negotiations. His construct of where he wanted all parties to end up diplomatically was solid, and based on outstanding understanding of all the issues involved. But in order to get to the desired spot all parties had to swallow some bitter medicine, which they were all reluctant to do. In those instances Kissinger deployed tactics that were tough, including some pretty rough treatment of the Israeli leadership. He brought the parties to where he wanted them to go, and maybe to where it was in their interests to be, but their trust in him was often times bruised by the necessities of diplomacy, including Kissinger’s subterfuges.

As mentioned above it was never Kissinger’s goal to achieve a “comprehensive” solution to the difficult problems of the Middle East. He sought to, and achieved, measures that set boundaries, political and military, that restored stability, equilibrium, and order, giving all parties involved a stake in continuing to avoid war, and to respect the established boundaries. Kissinger’s achievements here are not without fault, but on balance they were significant, and advanced the interests of the United States, and protected the State of Israel from potential disaster. It must be pointed out that Kissinger undertook the Middle Eastern diplomatic effort while serving a President, Richard Nixon, who was becoming engulfed in a political scandal that would consume his Presidency, and create a desire by Nixon to get political mileage out of Kissinger’s efforts, undercutting Kissinger at some key times. He was engaged in a political turf war with Nixon’s Secretary of State William Rodgers, with whom Kissinger had major disagreements with on the direction of U.S. policy in the Middle East. Kissinger carefully had to calibrate how tough he could be with the Israeli leadership, who were not afraid to turn up domestic political heat on Nixon and Kissinger when the going got especially difficult. He was dealing with the final negotiations on the Vietnam war, as well as a multitude of other serious crisis in the world. His success in the Middle East is a testament to not only his skills as a diplomat, but his unrivaled willingness to work around the clock.

Issuing praise of Kissinger, even today, can be a difficult thing. After many years he remains a figure reviled in many quarters. The review of this book in the New York Times by Jeremy Suri gives an indication of how hard praise is. Kissinger’s construction of a new Middle Eastern order out of the chaos of the Yom Kippur War is acknowledged, but Suri casts doubt on the positive benefits to the United States “in the long run.” Many of the breakdowns in the Middle East that occurred after Kissinger left are indirectly laid at his feet. That criticism, in my view, is nonsensical. It might be said that the Presidents that succeeded Nixon had less diplomatic success than Kissinger in the Middle East, but that cannot be laid at his feet. Like those that blame the Nixon/Kissinger opening to China for the rise of China as a major competitor to the United States that criticism seems based on misunderstanding the fundamental basis for both policies.

Indyk does offer criticism that to me seems to resonate. Kissinger’s fundamental misreading of the initial diplomatic thrust of Anwar Sadat before he launched the Yom Kippur War is detailed. A longer term impact criticism is Kissinger’s ignoring the potential for a Palestinian settlement with Israel that would have Palestinian aspirations met by a confederation with Jordan.

“Jordan and the PLO were relegated to minor roles in Kissinger’s design because their limited power denied them the ability to disrupt the new order. Therefore, by his calculation, their grievances did not need to be satisfied. Jordan was already in the American camp when Kissinger began to engage in Middle Eastern diplomacy, and King Hussein was effectively dependent for his regime’s survival on the United States and Israel. That was demonstrated in the 1970 Jordan crisis when they acted effectively together to pressure Syria to end its intervention there. Because of that assessment, Kissinger missed the role Jordan might have played in containing and eventually resolving the Palestinian problem in the framework of an existing, functioning state. “

Master of the Game Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy. Indyk, Martin p 554

Indyk has presented a fantastic book that recognizes the massive effort, and largely successful diplomatic effort of Henry Kissinger in the Middle East. Kissinger badly outplayed the Soviets in this effort, and that success provided a tangible, and immediate, victory for the interests of the United States (and Israel.) This book offers really great detail, and is sourced impeccably, and does bring a greater understanding of the intricacies of Middle Eastern diplomacy. Highly recommended.

Immanuel Kant: Perpetual Peace

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The Seabrook 2022 CIP

The Seabrook 2022 CIP has been presented to the Board of Selectmen, the Budget Committee and the Planning Board. I have submitted the analysis of prior capital spending in Seabrook to help us understand where capital dollars are going, and how we are financing capital spending in Seabrook. Thanks to our Department Heads for all of their work, and to Shaylia Wood for her assistance on the 2022 CIP.

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Seabrook Wastewater Plant Resiliency Study

The Seabrook Board of Selectmen authorized a study on climate resiliency at the Seabrook Wastewater Plant, which was unveiled on a recent visit to the Plant by Congressman Pappas. This project was funded by NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management in conjunction with New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Coastal Program.

The goal of the study was, in the most basic terms, to identify the vulnerabilities of the plant to climate based sea level rise. We have also identified plant “hardening” measures that can be taken to mitigate the very real and severe challenges faced in the runup to 2050. The recommendations will inform Seabrook’s capital planning in the wastewater department.

I am appreciative of the work of Curtis Slayton, Sewer and Water Superintendent, and Daumanic Fucile, Chief Sewer Operator. My thanks to Weston and Sampson for their fine work on this project as well.

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Congressman Pappas Visits Seabrook

Congressman Chris Pappas visited the Seabrook Wastewater Plant last week for a roundtable discussion on infrastructure and resiliency. This visit coincided with the release to the Board of Selectmen of the study just completed on the challenges that rising sea levels will present to the Seabrook Wastewater Plant. Congressman Pappas took a tour of the facility, led by Water and Sewer Superintendent Curtis Slayton and Chief Operator Daumanic Fucile. The report, which I will post online very shortly, highlights the severe challenges facing the plant from sea level rise in the years to come. The report does not just highlight problems but makes positive recommendations for plant “hardening” in specific areas. The Congressman and staff took the time to be acquainted with the report, and we were able to discuss specific measures, and their costs, with Congressman Pappas. The Board of Selectmen emphasized the importance of the financial participation of the federal government in coastal resiliency, and of the efforts to protect the major investment Seabrook has made in the wastewater treatment facility.

My thanks to Rob Werner, from the New Hampshire League of Conservation Voters, and Rodger Stephenson from the Union of Concerned Scientists, for their participation and assistance on this visit. Our great thanks to Congressman Pappas for taking the time to visit and discuss these vital issues. The Seabrook Board of Selectmen, in commissioning the study, have shown great leadership on protecting the assets of the Town of Seabrook.

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The Seabrook Finance Report-Through 2020

Each year the Office of the Town Manager provides the Board of Selectmen with a look at key financial data through this report, as well as a capital spending report and reports on the water and sewer departments.

The report contains some key data for Seabrook, as well as attempting to explain how the property tax system works. Some of that key data:
1. The new independent audit will show an unexpended fund balance of $8.1 million. This number comes despite the fact that $1.8 million has been draw from fund balance to finance capital projects over the measured period. Additionally $6.3 million has been drawn from the fund to subsidize the tax rate. Without the fund withdrawals that number would stand at $16 million.
2. The overall tax levy, from 2014 to 2020, increased at an average of 1.5%. In 2019 the tax levy decreased from 2018, and the tax levy in 2020 was less than the levy in 2018.
3. The “NextEra Shift” continues to impact residential taxpayers, as the overall percentage of the levy contributed by NextEra has declined from 2014 to 2020. (42% in 2014 to 29.5% in 2020.)
4. Commercial, in 2020, paid 52% of the total levy.

This report is submitted in advance of the budget deliberations, and hopefully assists the Board of Selectmen and the Budget Committee as they formulate the policies that will shape the FY 2022 budget.

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A Look at Destiny and Power by Jon Meacham

Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush by Jon Meacham

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I got this book as a gift. It turned out to be a great gift, as the book, from my perspective, was excellent.
The book itself, of course in this day and age, has drawn some criticism for being a hagiography of George H.W. Bush. After reading it I would say that Meacham has a deep respect for Bush 41, but it would seem to me that respect is driven by Meacham’s admiration for a form of governance that includes compromise, that is not driven by hard core partisanship at all times. Whether you agree with Meacham or not he believes Bush, whatever his faults, represented a style of governance that may be gone forever. On that score Meacham is sympathetic to Bush. I do believe that Meacham was fair in his criticism of Bush 41, but that criticism is not shrill, and does not come with a sharp edge. If you are looking to see George H.W. Bush torn apart this is not your book.

I was quite taken, as a matter of style, at how easy of a read this was. Meacham has put together 600 pages on a very important person in U.S. history that flowed, was deeply interesting, and gave the right amount of detail to make it such a great read. This book, despite its length, does not delve into great detail on the issues of the day. It is more of an overview of the life and times of George H.W. Bush.

The life and times of George H.W. Bush consists of so much more than his one-term presidency. Bush had the advantage of having a wealthy father who became a U.S. Senator. Meacham gives us a good overview of the Bush family, and the Walker family that Prescott Bush married into. Prescott was an Eisenhower Republican, later a supporter of Nelson Rockefeller. That lineage, and the home base of Connecticut, hung with Bush 41 for his entire life, making him suspect to the conservative right that would end up taking over the national GOP. This was true even though Bush moved to Texas and became a successful oil man.

Bush had quite a career, and Meacham gives us a great look at all of the stops he made along the way to the Presidency. Bush was a Congressman from Texas, lost U.S. Senate races to Ralph Yarborough and later to Lloyd Bentsen, and caught the eye of President Richard Nixon. In the Yarborough race, in the LBJ/Goldwater year of 1964, Bush was willing, despite his pedigree, to go full Goldwater, coming out against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and criticizing Yarborough for his vote to break the southern filibuster of that Act. Meacham lays that out, and gently points out the Bush bow to political expediency, something that we would see more than a few times during his career. Meacham balances this out with some letters from Bush bemoaning the state of racial politics in Texas, and nationally, at the time.

“ What shall I do? How will I do it? he asked. I want to win, but not at the expense of justice, not at the expense of the dignity of any man… nor teaching my children a prejudice that I do not feel. “Meacham, Jon Destiny and Power The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush“ Page 121.

Bush, after the Yarborough defeat, was elected as a Congressman from the 7th District in Texas. Despite his earlier positions Bush voted for the Fair Housing Act of 1968, and in so doing brought a heap of abuse upon himself from Texas voters who strongly disagreed with that position. Bush, on the issue of civil rights, could not be placed squarely with the developing hard right.

After his loss to Bentsen he nearly became a member of Richard Nixon’s White House staff, getting a verbal appointment from Nixon, and being placed into the hands of Nixon Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman. Bush managed to convince Nixon that he could serve the administration more effectively as the Ambassador to the U.N. Nixon came to see the wisdom of this, and appointed George H.W. Bush to his first major post serving Republican Presidents. Bush became Ambassador at a heady time, with political giants like Nixon and Kissinger beginning the China outreach, with the status of Taiwan at the U.N. becoming more difficult. Bush fought for a difficult political proposition; keeping Taiwan in the body representing China. Bush would lose that fight, as Taiwan was expelled on his watch.

Bush, after the Nixon re-election, was asked by the President to become the Chairman of the Republican National Committee. Bush took the position, reluctantly, and of course was at the helm when Watergate broke. Bush came to recognize that Nixon had misled the nation, but as RNC Chair he was forced into a very difficult political balancing act. Bush, in a sign of his political skill, managed to navigate his way through that disaster without derailing his own career. After Nixon’s resignation President Ford had Bush on a short list for Vice President. Bush lost that nod to Nelson Rockefeller. Also in consideration was Donald Rumsfeld. Ford sent Bush to China as the U.S. envoy (the U.S. still had not established diplomatic relation with China) a position that played to the Bush desire to burnish his foreign policy credentials.

With Rockefeller deposed by Ford as Vice President for the general election of 1976 Bush was called back to Washington to serve as Director of the CIA. Bush 41 always believed that Donald Rumsfeld had engineered that appointment, hoping to bury Bush in a dead end job and knock him out of consideration for the Vice Presidential nomination on the GOP ticket. That feeling, true or not, never really left Bush, who disliked Rumsfeld from that point forward.

Bush took over the CIA at a very difficult time, as the Church hearings on CIA abuses were underway, creating pretty severe issues for the agency. This book will not give you a detailed look at Bush in action as CIA Director, but I think it fair to say that he won pretty good reviews for the job he did.

After the Ford loss to Jimmy Carter Bush stepped down as Director, at the request of President Carter. He then began preparations for his own run for the Presidency in four years. We get a good look at that campaign, which Bush did very well in. He managed to defeat Ronald Reagan in Iowa, and to put a real scare into the Reagan campaign. The slumbering Reagan campaign finally came to life in New Hampshire, where the Gipper, in a must win position, carried the day. Some great tidbits from the campaign, including a nice look at the debate fiasco in New Hampshire, in Nashua. Reagan and his team out-maneuvered the Bush folks, and Reagan never looked back. We get a great look at the Republican vice presidential sweepstakes after the Reagan win, with Gerald Ford, for a while, looking like he might join the ticket and once again dash the Bush hopes for a vice presidential nod. Eventually that somewhat crazy idea passed, and Reagan turned to Bush.

Bush had eight years as Vice President under Reagan, and Meacham shows us how Bush was determined to be a loyal veep, and to build trust with Reagan. Despite some light tension with Nancy Reagan Bush in fact did build that trust. In so doing Bush became somewhat embroiled in Iran-Contra near the end of Reagan’s tenure. We don’t get a lot on the Bush role, but Meacham concedes that the Bush responses to these questions were not always forthright. Meacham also scores Bush for the advice he gave Reagan on this issue, and Meacham was right. The episode was not one of George H.W. Bush’s proudest moments.

Bush went on to win the presidency in his own right, and we get a good overview of his four years. Bush, as most would concede, was a fairly strong President on foreign affairs. His stewardship of the Gulf War, to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, was a decision he made over some pretty strong opposition. His decision for war was so successful, in my view, due to the limited strategic objectives for the operation. His decisions on the reunification of Germany, and the great care he took to ensure Soviet non-opposition to that reunification, and to Germany joining NATO, were master strokes. The Bush record in that regard, in my view, is outstanding. Meacham makes clear that from the start Bush was somewhat befuddled by domestic policy. Bush ended up making the budget deal that broke the “read my lips” no taxes pledge, but Meacham is sympathetic. Bush honestly felt that the deal was in the best interests of the country, and so was willing to take that heat. Meacham shows Bush truly floundering in this area, although Bush, even domestically, had some major victories, even with Congress firmly in Democratic hands. The signing of the American Disabilities Act was one such notable achievement. The disarray Bush found himself in domestically managed to drag him down from the vast heights he reached, polling wise, after the success of Desert Storm. Meacham shows us how the Bush heart was not truly in the re-election bid, which he lost to someone more versed in modern political techniques, William Jefferson Clinton.

The Bush post presidency was more involved than most, as his son won the Presidency after two terms of Clinton. We get a look at some of the dynamics between father and son. Meacham gives both 41 and 43 an opportunity to rebut the speculation on the father opposing the Iraq misadventure of the son. Bush 41 strongly denied this, and I believe that he did not in any way try to steer his son off the Iraq policy that proved so disastrous. But I do not believe that he was completely quiet, with the Brent Scowcroft column breaking with 43 in the Wall Street Journal one of those signals. That was heartily denied by all but I do not believe it. This book made headlines at publishing because of the comments 41 made to Meacham essentially accusing Cheney and Rumsfeld of advising 43 poorly on the Iraq situation. He was also critical of his son over some of the rhetoric used by the Administration. George H.W. Bush was correct in those criticisms.

George H.W. Bush did not just parachute into the presidency. He served in many important posts, and made major contributions even before he was elected President. He made some tough choices that many believe were wrong, and I do believe he came to be ashamed of the tactics deployed against Michael Dukakis in his winning campaign for the Presidency. (Lee Atwater wrote Dukakis a letter of apology before he died.) This book gives us a great look at the Bush life, and despite what you may have heard it is a balanced look. George H.W. Bush lived at a momentous time in American history, and he made real contributions to the country. He felt that the country had passed him by, and in some respects it had, but his Presidency was not, as he sometimes lamented, an asterisk. This book helps us to understand the very important life, and contributions, of George H.W. Bush.

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A Look at Leigh Montville’s Tall Men Short Shorts

Tall Men, Short Shorts: The 1969 NBA Finals: Wilt, Russ, Lakers, Celtics, and a Very Young Sports Reporter by Leigh Montville

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just a terrific book by Montville. I admit to coming into the book enthusiastically, being a Celtics fan and a Lakers hater but I think Montville gives us substantially more than a look at the 1969 finals between the Lakers and Celtics. He brings us back to that point in time, giving us a reminder not only of the series but of the times, and the characters, including himself, that were of that time. Montville was a young sportswriter, just getting started, thrust into covering what turned out to be the last hurrah of the Bill Russell led Boston Celtics.

Montville does as good of a job as you can do unpacking all of the undercurrents involved in the 1969 NBA finals between the Lakers and the Celtics. He gives us a look, as mentioned, at some of the Boston sports beat writers, and that is not always a pretty view. Montville mentions the over the top racism of some of those writers, calling one in particular out by name. I found some of the press stuff to be fascinating and to me that is part of the worth of the book. It is more than basketball, but does not lose its focus on the main event. Montville, in my view, weaves the story together beautifully.

The Celtics-Lakers showdown in 1969 had so much storyline. Bill Russell vs Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West trying to break the string of losses to the Celtics in so many NBA finals, the decline of the Celtics dynasty, and the berth of a new super-team in the Los Angeles Lakers, with three bona fide superstars. Montville gets to all of them in a way that is understandable even if you are not all that acquainted with basketball in this era.

In this, Bill Russell’s last season, the Boston Celtics were indeed an aging team that struggled through the NBA regular season, finishing in fourth place in the East, the last eligible playoff slot. They were a better team than that, but age and injury slowed them over the long NBA season. As the playoffs started not many gave them a chance to advance far in the playoffs. They defeated the second place Philadelphia team that had traded Chamberlain to the Lakers. That team, with Chamberlain, was and is considered to be one of the greatest teams in NBA history. Without Chamberlain the Celtics rolled over them in the playoffs. They then faced off against a New York Knicks team with Clyde Frazier, Willis Reed, and (mid season pickup) Dave DeBusschere. This was the Knick team that would rise to greatness in the years to come, especially 1970. The Celtics disposed of them in six games. I mention the run up to the NBA Finals because the folklore was always that Russell won because he had better teams. It was not true in 1969, even before the Finals. It was not true before 1969, but that is a story for another book.

Even before we get to the series the Chamberlain-Russell rivalry is examined in the context of Chamberlain’s long history of losing to Russell led teams. Montville gives us some quotes from Wilt on the role of luck in some Celtic victories of prior years. We Celtic fans called that Wilt whining. We get to look at the regular season match-up between these two teams, although the regular season, especially for Boston, was not very important. (Lakers won 4 of the 6 regular season games)

As a Celtic fan I always took some unkind pleasure in the misery Boston imposed on Jerry West throughout his career. As much as Wilt was tormented by the losses to Russell West was severely traumatized by the many losses to Boston in the NBA finals. The trauma, I am sure, was exacerbated by Boston’s perceived arrogance. His psyche was not helped by Red Auerbach blowing cigar smoke in their faces after Boston wins. With the addition of Chamberlain the Lakers finally had a center that could match up with Russell, and West made it clear that 1969 would be the year that the Celtics got a well deserved comeuppance.

As mentioned Montville talks not only about the series but also the media coverage. I was also very young, but I remember listening to games one and two from Los Angeles on radio (no TV coverage) with Johnny Most doing the play by play. Those first two games, both won by the Lakers, exhibited the already established greatness of West, and the real beginnings of the greatness of John Havlicek. West had 53 in game one, and 41 in game 2. Havlicek was immense, pouring in 37 in game 1, and 43 in game 2. The series was played in a 2-2-1-1-1 format, with the first two in LA. On the return to Boston the Celtics won game 3, and that brought us to one of the pivotal moments of the series in game 4. Those two Boston games were blacked out in the Boston tv market, forcing fans on to the radio dial with Johnny Most. But, indignity of all indignities the Celtics were bumped to the FM dial in game four, which in 1969 was not in many homes. My dad had a stereo console that had an FM receiver, and so I was able to listen to one exciting game. The Lakers had the game won, with a one point lead and the ball with seconds left, but a late Celtics steal led to a timeout. In that timeout the Celtics called a play that they had not used before (came to be known as the Ohio play) that had a triple pick being set at the top of the key for Sam Jones, who managed to get the shot off while jumping off the wrong foot after slipping. The ball hit the front rim, the back rim, and dropped through the net for the Celtics win. Maybe Wilt had a point about good luck!

After trading home court wins it all came down to game 7 in Los Angeles. Each team had won every home game, and the Lakers were sure of victory. Of course Montville had to talk about the victory balloons that Jack Kent Cooke had in the rafters at the Fabulous Forum for the sure victory that was to come over the hated Celtics. That game was televised in Boston, starting at a very late hour in Boston, and it truly was reflective of the series. The Celtics raced to an early lead, Chamberlain got hurt in the second half, but the Lakers came storming back with Chamberlain on the bench, and nearly overtook Boston. As in game 4 the Celtics benefitted from a play that led to a Don Nelson shot from the foul line that hit the back of the rim, went straight up, and came back down right through the net. That shot broke the back of the Laker comeback, and Russell had done it again, winning his 11th championship in 13 years. What about Chamberlain? Although injured he shook it off and requested to come back in to the game. Laker Coach Bill van Breda Kolff, happy with the Laker rally, declined to put Wilt back in the game. That decision would be hotly debated for years to come. West, in losing again, had 42 points in game 7, and was declared the Series MVP, the first and only time a member of the losing team had won that honor. West averaged 37.8 points per game in the final, and he was truly an unstoppable force.

After the series Russell eventually announced his retirement. What more could he achieve? His last win may have been his greatest, but there were so many to choose from. His supporting cast was a bit on the older side, but they had talent. Sam Jones, John Havlicek, Bailey Howell, Emmett Bryant, Don Nelson, and Larry Siegfried all were outstanding. Sam went out with Russell, retiring with ten rings.
If you are a Celtics fan this book will bring some team history back, but it also brings back the media history, some of Montville’s personal history, and the feel of a time that has passed. I thought I would enjoy the book, but it was better than I expected. Pick this one up and enjoy a trip back in time.

Jerry West leaves the court after the crushing game 7 loss to the Celtics.

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Seabrook Water and Sewer Reports 2020

Each year the Office of the Town Manager provides the Board of Selectmen with reports detailing financial results and other data from our Water Department as well as our Sewer Department. Those reports are below. The actions undertaken by the Board of Selectmen to eradicate the subsidy from taxpayers to water users has proven successful, with water operations now contributing, in 2020, $402,769 to water capital costs. In Water the Board action has eliminated what was an unsustainable burden on the municipal budget. Water usage overall was up by just over 1%, but that number is impacted by our reduction in the lost, unmetered water category. Residential use was up by 11%, and the Seabrook Station usage was up by 21%. Commercial usage increased at a negligible 1%. Obviously those numbers were impacted by the pandemic.

On the Wastewater side we have managed to cut, but not eliminate, the subsidy from the taxpayers. In 2020 that subsidy was just about cut in half from 2018, but remains at $617,849. Sewer flows declined in 2020, and the plant is currently being used at 35% of capacity. When combined with water the operational subsidy still exists, with a subsidy of $215,080 going from taxpayers to water/sewer operations. Before the Board action that subsidy was over $2 million.

The “subsidy” described is one that only deals with the “operational” budget, and excludes capital spending. If capital is included the taxpayers still provide a substantial subsidy. I will post the capital report that will show some of the numbers involved for all departments, including water and sewer.

These reports are provided annually to the Board to help inform budgetary decisions that will be made in the weeks to come. I will post an overall financial report, as well as a look at a nine year history of capital spending in Seabrook in the next few days. These reports will be presented to the Board of Selectmen on August 16, 2021.

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BJ’s Wholesale Club Opens in Seabrook

BJ’s Wholesale Club opened for business in Seabrook with a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week. The Board of Selectmen were on hand to welcome this major new business to Seabrook. BJ’s is located on Perkins Avenue, right off Route 1 and is a major piece of economic development for Seabrook.

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