The week that was

It was an eventful week with all sorts of things happening.

News Item: Pats Draft Crazy Again

As usual Bill Belichick created a huge hoo-ha with the way he conducted last week’s Patriots draft — most notably, after the usual two trades down, with his pick in the first round of guard Cole Strange. An appropriate name for a guy who went 29th overall when everyone else in the NFL universe had him a third-round-level player. They said it was because they thought he might have been gone at their next pick at 51. That statement is laughable for the following reasons. (1)Coach B had the stones to stay put at 15 last year after Chicago traded up to take Justin Fields at 11 leaving only Mac Jones (of the Big 5) on the board when they absolutely needed to get a QB and QB-needy Pittsburgh, Washington and New Orleans were still lurking out there. So somehow I don’t see the urgency to vault a guard from IAA two rounds ahead of where most had him rated as a third-round pick. (2) Even if they were realistically afraid he might be gone by 51, it’s not like Bill doesn’t have a history of moving around the board. For instance, in 2010 they got Rob Gronkowski in the second round at 42 after starting the day at 51, before going up to 44 and finally getting him at 42.

And instead of strangely reaching for Cole, they could have packaged the saved No. 1 pick with others needed to get into the A.J. Brown sweepstakes and used the second-round pick on Strange instead of doing what recent history says they can’t do, drafting a wideout in Baylor speedster Tyquan Thornton at 51. Then by taking Strange in Round II they fill the OL hole while getting the electric game-breaking Brown to help their young QB from Day 1, rather than waiting for a rookie to figure it out over his first two seasons.

News Item: Bloom Is Off The Rose

As Popeye the sailor used to say, that’s all I can stanz, I can’t stanz no more. That moment came when after pitching four perfect innings on Friday, Rich Hill got yanked by Sox manager Alex Cora when hitter 13 led off the fifth inning with a single. It’s the epitome of the Tampa Bay replica Chaim Bloom is turning the Sox into. And while I know TB has had success, I am now rooting for Chaim to fail and be fired. I know I’m a relic and it won’t change anything. But I hate seeing Cora turned into a spreadsheet puppet since his return. And that’s before Xander Bogaerts walks next winter in free agency (though John Henry will deserve blame for that too). Sorry, nothing personal, but I hate TB’s brand of baseball, so Chaim’s toast with David Long the baseball fan. BOOOOO.

News Item: C’s Cut Down the Nets

I don’t want to tell you I told you so, but I told you so. The Nets were not to be as feared, as almost everyone else on the planet (besides me) said they should be. While a bit better than expected, Brooklyn’s D could not contain the Boston O, particularly Jayson Tatum, who averaged 29.8 points per in the series, and the Celtics defense stifled almost everyone, even Kevin Durant,who had a miserable shooting series before getting 39 in Game 4. And Kyrie Irving did what I said he would — put up a 39-point wow game, deliver two chokes (10 and 16 points in Games 2 and 3), with a pedestrian 20-pointer (Game 4) to get him pounded by the critics as well, which we’ll have more on in a few weeks.

News Item: Piling on Durant

The piling on Durant began immediately after that embarrassing sweep, led by Charles Barkley’s “driving the bus” nonsense. Idiotic because (1) KD is right that in joining Houston late in his career in a vain attempt to finally win one himself, Barkley is hypocritical slamming Durant for joining Golden State in 2016. Then again it would be good for KD to understand that while entertaining, Chuck is almost always wrong about almost everything, so it’s best to ignore him. (2) When Barkley mentions Durant has not won a title since leaving GS, he neglects to mention neither have the Warriors since he left them. (3) Being the bus driver isn’t why KD struggled vs. Boston; credit their defensive game plan and execution for that. And he’s also hardly the first bus driver to string some bad playoff games together. How about Houston’s Robert Reid holding Larry Bird to shooting 11-38 when Larry scored 8, 8 and 12 points in Games 3, 4 and 5 in the 1981 Finals. Or how about none other than Chuck’s 12-8-8-points submission when the Rockets got swept by Utah in 1998?

News Item: Celtics Throw Up Game 1 Stinker

You can look at the Celtics’ horrid 101-89 Game 1 loss to Milwaukee two ways. That they immediately coughed up the home court advantage Bucks Coach Mike Budenholzer gifted them by tanking the final game of the regular season. Or that it’s the playoffs and it’s rare for teams to run off long winning streaks because you’re always facing good teams. Either way, what was most troubling was the mental fog their top two scorers played in, with the most notable being Jaylen Brown. Hard to imagine anyone playing a more bumbling, worse game, because when he’s off he can be beyond-belief bad. The good news is plenty of teams have laid Game 1 eggs before coming back to win their series. Most notable was when the Celtics demolished the Lakers 148-114 in the Mother’s Day Massacre of 1985 before L.A. recovered to take Game 2 in Boston Garden on their way to winning in six, showing Sunday was just one game, that’s it.

At least so far.

Starting on a high note

Concord Community Music School welcomes new director

Meet Daniel Acsadi, who will begin his tenure as executive director of Concord Community Music School — and the second permanent executive director in the school’s history — on Monday, May 9.

What is your background in this kind of work?

I have almost 20 years of experience in music, performance, education and nonprofits. My education is from Cornell University, where I did my bachelor’s — a double degree — in music and economics. I did my graduate studies — my master’s and my doctorate — at the New England Conservatory of Music, and I’m a classical guitarist by training. Recently, I was employed as a faculty member at Tufts University, Longy School of Music of Bard College and Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. I was the director of The Boston Classical Guitar Society for seven years, ending a few years ago. Most recently, I served as the director of education and community programs at Powers Music School in Belmont, Massachusetts.

How did you come into this position at Concord Community Music School?

I was familiar with the Concord Community Music School through the National Guild for Community Arts Education, which is an overarching group that has been around for a while. There’s a lot of activity going on through that as part of its northeast chapter, and Powers Music School and Concord Community Music School are both part of that. I became especially interested in the school after I heard that the visionary founder of the school, Peggy Senter, retired about a year ago, and that they were pursuing a search [for a new director]. The more I learned about the school, I was just intrigued, and it was just really clear what a special community it is, and what a special organization it is.

What will your job as executive director entail?

As executive director, I’m going to be managing the day-to-day operations of the school, supervising staff and faculty and just overall being a good steward to the school’s programs and initiatives.

What do you expect to be some of the biggest challenges?

My first task will be to learn as much as possible about the school, and that’s going to take a little bit of time at the beginning, for sure. Every institution has dealt with things over the last few years both similarly and differently, but It’s encouraging to know that the community remains as vibrant as ever. Obviously, as we resume activities and hopefully turn a corner after the pandemic, we’re able to recapture a lot of the energy and a lot of the programming that stems from being together in person. Ensembles and programming where we’re making music together in groups is, of course, the best kind of music-making.

What do you hope to accomplish?

I want to support the wonderful things that are already going on at Concord Community Music School. It has an absolutely fantastic faculty, which I’m getting to know every day now as I’m preparing to start a great collection of lessons, classes and events, and this incredibly strong community that has been built around the school over almost 40 years. Some of the immediate goals are to creatively grow the programming of the school to ensure that we can best serve the region’s needs and interests musically and artistically. I also want to work on increasing the marketing reach of the school to ensure that, of course, everyone in the community knows about everything that we offer. … It’s really just ensuring that this school is a vibrant center of music making and arts and remains a pillar of the Concord artistic community.

What unique qualities or perspectives do you bring to this position?

I feel like I’m able to bring a lot of different perspectives because of my experience. I’ve been a performer, as a guitarist and chamber musician. I’ve been teaching for a long time at all sorts of levels, from beginner students to graduate students at conservatory level. I’m also a parent, so I understand the goals of parents as they try to educate their children. I’m continuing to play and learn, so I also understand the needs, goals and the love of music that adults experience and the need for music throughout our lifetimes. Finally, with my experience working in the nonprofit sector, I’m able to bring all of these perspectives. I hope that I’m able to really tie all of this together to help the school to continue to improve and flourish.

What are you looking forward to most?

I’ve heard this word repeatedly over the course of getting to know some of the people in Concord and at the school, and that is that the school is truly a ‘gem.’ I’ve gotten some glimpses at that, and I’m really looking forward to exploring and getting to know everyone in this amazing community.

Featured photo: Daniel Acsadi.

News & Notes 22/05/05

Covid-19 update As of April 25 As of May 2
Total cases statewide 308,446 311,144
Total current infections statewide 2,444 2,989
Total deaths statewide 2,475 2,481
New cases 2,253 (April 19 to April 25) 2,698 (April 26 to May 2)
Current infections: Hillsborough County 709 873
Current infections: Merrimack County 157 202
Current infections: Rockingham County 435 601
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

Covid-19 news

State health officials reported 270 new cases of Covid-19 on May 2. The state averaged 393 new cases per day over the most recent seven-day period, a 15 percent increase compared to the week before. As of May 2 there were 2,989 active infections and 18 hospitalizations statewide.

Foster funding

Former foster youth are being urged to apply for time-limited federal funding under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and use it for rent, utilities, groceries, education expenses and other necessities. According to a press release from the state Department of Health and Human Services Division for Children, Youth and Families, more than 300 youth and young adults up to age 22 who spent time in foster care after the age of 16 have already accessed this federal funding. “We streamlined the application process to break down barriers, providing better, faster outcomes for our former foster youth,” Gov. Chris Sununu said in the release. To provide this simplified online application process, DCYF is using its existing partnership with Waypoint, which works with former foster youth to connect them with available community resources, so people can apply through Waypoint’s online portal. “The Covid-19 pandemic heavily impacted our older youth in care and former foster youth, who are either in the process of transitioning to adulthood or are new to this phase of their lives,” DCYF Director Joseph E. Ribsam said in the release. “Through this additional funding, we have an opportunity to impact their future success.” Funding is provided on a first come, first served basis, and amounts depend on age and exit status from DCYF, the release said.

Pot legislation

Though the New Hampshire House passed a bill to legalize recreational cannabis in the state earlier this year, that bill failed in the State Senate last week. According to a report from NHPR, opponents argued that recreational cannabis legalization could lead to higher rates of use by minors, as well as more impaired drivers on the road. The bill would have allowed adults 21 and older to possess up to three-quarters of an ounce of cannabis, as well as cannabis-infused edibles and tinctures. According to the report, the Senate has never passed a cannabis legalization bill. The bill failed on a 15-9 vote, with three Democrats, Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, Sen. Donna Soucy, and Sen. Kevin Cavanaugh, all from Manchester, joining all but two Republicans to kill the measure. GOP Sens. Harold French of Franklin and John Reagan of Deerfield voted in favor of the bill. Supporters said the bill was an important step toward racial equity, as studies show that Black people are more likely to be arrested for marijuana use, despite both white and Black people using the drug at similar rates, the report said. “New Hampshire has become an island in New England, with our overly burdensome regulations of cannabis that are out of sync with what the scientific, health and social data says,” Sen. Becky Whitley, a Democrat from Contoocook, said during the debate, according to NHPR. Adults in New Hampshire can legally purchase cannabis in Massachusetts and Maine, and later this year in Vermont, but there is a $100 fine in New Hampshire for adults caught with small amounts of marijuana, the report said.

Voter confidence

Last week New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan hosted a press conference to introduce the newly formed Commission on Voter Confidence, a nonpartisan effort to discuss, educate and mitigate concerns about the apparent decline in voter confidence due to misinformation and political rhetoric, according to a press release. “Our goal is to reeducate the voting population, with the help of local election officials, on our voting procedures and help voters understand there aren’t any secrets in the election process,” Scanlan said during the press conference. Members are Richard Swett (Co-chair), Bradford E. Cook (Co-chair), Andrew Georgevits, Ken Eyring, Amanda Merrill, Jim Splaine, Douglass Teschner and Olivia Zink. “We want to hear from the people and understand what their concerns are because what they think is true is often just as important as what is not,” Cook said at the conference. The commission then met for the first time on Monday, May 2, to discuss its meeting schedule for the coming months. According to a report from WMUR, the commission will begin a statewide listening tour next week. “I am fearful that some of the partisan rhetoric and some of the anger that exists around elections will come out in the commission,” Zink said at the meeting, according to WMUR.

Boscawen Academy and the “Much-I-Do” Hose House were recently named to the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places. According to a press release, the Academy was built in the Late Federal style in 1827-28, and the clapboarded Hose House was built in 1893 to shelter the town’s fire-fighting equipment. Also recently added to the State Register are the 1720s John Gregg House in Derry — one of the oldest houses in town and the only one remaining of the original 20 Scotch Irish families that settled in what was then called Nutfield — and the circa-1912 gambrel-roofed Houston Barn in Hopkinton that was part of a 115-acre farm that originally had chickens, sheep and Angus beef but focused on dairy production in the mid-20th century, the release said.

A commencement ceremony for the first-ever graduating class of the New Hampshire Career Academy Program will be held May 5 at the New Hampshire Department of Education’s office in Concord. According to a press release, the Career Academy provides students with a pathway leading to a high school diploma, an associate’s degree, an industry credential and a job interview with a New Hampshire employer over a two-year period at no tuition cost to students or their families.

The loose change that Derry Garden Club members have been putting into a “Penny Pines” canning jar during meetings has added up — so far it has paid for the reforestation of 3 acres of trees that suffered irreparable damage. According to a press release, the national project raises funds to plant seeds in the areas of the country most in need, and it only takes $68 of loose change to plant one acre. The canning jar will be out for donations at the club’s plant sale on June 4 at the Robert Frost Farm.

When nonprofits fail

Just like New England running on Dunkin’, New Hampshire runs on nonprofits. According to the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits, nonprofits generate $11 billion in revenue for New Hampshire and employ 15 percent of our workforce. In our “live free or die” state, nonprofits fill critical needs in lieu of the government and their sizes range from large and complex to quite small. When one of these nonprofits fails, it has a ripple effect throughout the community and state. Such was the case when Lakes Region General Hospital filed for bankruptcy in 2020.

The Attorney General and New Hampshire Charitable Trusts Unit recently released their report of their review to determine whether LRGH’s board had breached its fiduciary duties and whether any insights could be gained from the experience. As is the case with nonprofits in general, the LRGH board of trustees owed fiduciary duties to the hospital considering its purpose. This includes the duty of care, i.e. a duty to be adequately informed when making important decisions for the charity. Breaches of duty of care include lack of attention in overseeing the affairs of the organization, poor decision-making, and waste of assets. The report did not find fault with LRGH’s attention in oversight. However, it did find that in making major decisions the board deferred too much to the recommendations of long-term executives and failed to properly challenge the executives.

The report further notes that nonprofits, like for-profit businesses, sometimes fail. In this case, long-term executives pushed through a capital expansion plan with the board despite warning signs in the local market and national health care trends. While the board was composed of many business leaders and experts in various areas, they deferred to their trusted CEO and CFO. The report concludes with solid advice for trustees of all nonprofit boards including continual training and education, respectfully questioning the CEO and holding the CEO accountable, making sure decisions are consistent with the mission, and consulting with outside experts before making major decisions.

Serving on a nonprofit board can be a rewarding experience, particularly when it fulfills a mission one is passionate about. However, with that service comes responsibility to the nonprofit and the community it serves. Nonprofits are, in fact, businesses in that they must be able to meet their financial obligations. The best decisions are made when input is received from many different perspectives, and this is a hallmark of effective boards. When trustees are not prepared or engaged, and defer to senior management, they fail in their service to that nonprofit.

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