Press Coverageof Cliff's Work in the Community
Op-Ed by Cliff Lazenby February 8, 2020
Portsmouth City Councilor
303 McKinley Rd, Portsmouth NH
February 7, 2020
Like all other eight City Councilors, I am motivated to do the best I can for Portsmouth. Because of, not despite, differing backgrounds and perspectives, we can represent our neighbors with inspiration and innovation. By cooperating with an open mind, we can find compromise and make progress. That compromise can still be bold and beneficial to many but it requires giving ideas room to breathe.
Regarding the McIntyre, some people clearly disagree with the progress achieved by prior Councils, or even the basis upon which collaboration with the public was conducted. But before we head down paths strewn with costly litigation that risk tying up the McIntyre opportunity well past our 400th anniversary, we should revisit where we have common ground.
What if we engage with Redgate Kane and the National Park Service and look at the full 2.1 acre parcel differently? Perhaps by slicing it into pieces or phases, we could put energy towards forward progress rather than enduring delays or fighting legal battles. Invest our resources in a good project, rather than expensive lawyers.
Common ground, for starters:
- Renovate the main McIntyre building as office space. If we can follow through with little delay, Hubspot could still make a wonderful, dynamic tenant.
- Ask Redgate Kane to turn back a portion of the ‘excess profits’ towards lease relief and encourage the Post Office to consider re-opening a facility downtown.
- Work to acquire the McIntyre site as soon as possible and avoid having a long-term vacant building by quickly submitting a revised NPS application.
We should revisit the issues that cause the most conflict. Community, City Council and staff can work with Redgate Kane in conjunction with Portsmouth Listens and other facilitators to find our way to broad community support.
Would this work? Would Redgate Kane consider it? They’ve indicated they would. Would the NPS accept it? We won’t know unless we try.
At the January 28 meeting, this Council skipped past the stage of collaborating together on the McIntyre project. A vote was pushed ahead without first cooperating with our new City Manager, or hearing critical input from experienced legal advisers. Without giving the community a thorough understanding of the ramifications of the actions being taken. Without the opportunity to embrace the different ideas and innovation of Councilors and City staff. Without collaborating with a development partner who has worked in earnest to forge a public-private partnership with mutual benefit.
The good news is we have a chance for a do-over. At the February 18 City Council meeting, we can revisit collaboration by voting to rescind the action taken on January 28. I don’t doubt that the Councilors voting for that action believe it was a step in the right direction. But let’s give others a chance to define a more inclusive path forward. If, after a good faith effort, we still find there is not enough common ground, those same Councilors will still have the votes to deny the ground lease later.
It’s worth a look and we can do this better. We can still avoid litigation and find a good solution for the City and its taxpayers.
My family hopes to see Cliff Lazenby re-elected to City Council
Op-Ed by Brenna Jennings - October 28th, 2019
October 28, 2019
In 2011 a neighbor I hadn’t yet met asked for help flyering Elwyn Park ahead of the National Night Out celebration he was organizing. It seemed like a good opportunity to meet new people, so I volunteered and took off around the neighborhood sliding invites under doormats and into hands. The event was a success, as it was the following year, and even the year it poured rain. That was the most involvement I’d ever had with my neighbors, and Cliff Lazenby started it.
Since then, Cliff has not stopped encouraging me and my husband to participate in community and civic events; this year I’m serving on my third committee. The man is relentless.
But we haven’t only gotten to know Cliff by watching hours-long council meetings, joining committees and volunteering for PTA duties. We got to know Cliff gesture by gesture; when he’d loan us his pick-up without hesitation, when he was always the first person at my door if I asked for help moving some giant, awkward piece of furniture, when we needed childcare and he and Stephanie sent us their girls (my daughter’s all-time favorite sitters). When we were struggling and my husband applied for a position with the DPW, Cliff offered to provide a reference. That job saved our home, and this month my husband marks eight years with the city.
We’ve lived in Portsmouth since 2006 and in just that little time we’ve seen a lot change. For the past two years we’ve watched our friend Cliff work with his colleagues in city government to help Portsmouth residents navigate and adapt not only to what’s already happening, but to what our future might look like.
My family hopes to see Cliff Lazenby re-elected to City Council in November, because what hasn’t changed are Cliff’s dedication and perseverance.
Oct. 31, 2019 - Leading to the 2017 City Council campaign, Lazenby served as chair and member of the Citywide Neighborhood Committee. That willingness to bring together people from all over the city to hear their concerns and to respond to them is critically important. He also earns endorsement for the potential he holds to serve more effectively on a new council. Lazenby is smart, engaged and talented. Free from some of the forces of the current council and staff leadership he can find new footing on which to stand and he can be a valuable member of the new council.
Cliff Lazenby Makes a Positive Difference in our City
Op-Ed by Thomas G. Ferrini, Esquire - October 22nd, 2019
October 22, 2019
I will be voting for Cliff Lazenby for City Council because of his positive impact on our community as a city councilor. I have known Cliff for years as a fellow Elwyn Park resident. He demonstrates thoughtfulness and a long standing commitment to public service.
While serving on the Citywide Neighborhood Committee he advocated, as he still does, for reasonable spending on capital improvements throughout the city, and not just in the downtown. As a result the City’s CIP process is more accessible to residents and neighborhoods throughout Portsmouth.
Cliff takes his Council duties seriously and diligently listens to as many points of view as possible and does the work necessary to fully understand the issues before he supports a solution. For example, the $2/night pillow tax is being taken seriously in Concord partly because of Cliff’s determined advocacy and coalition-building. His inclusiveness in considering all points of view is his particular strength.
Cliff Lazenby is dedicated to our community for the right reasons: he values the participation of all citizens in our governing process. Please join me in voting on Nov. 5 for Cliff so that he can continue to make a positive difference for all of us.
Fiscal Regard is More Than One Number
Op-Ed by Cliff Lazenby - October 23rd, 2019
303 McKinley Rd, Portsmouth, NH
October 21, 2019
A letter by Erik Anderson (“$118 million would be close enough”) recently called into question my “fiscal regard” for the City of Portsmouth without fair representation of work I have done on behalf of our residents. In referencing a recent candidate forum, Mr. Anderson excluded the key budget-related information I offered at the event.
With a fast-moving ‘speed-dating’ discussion format, Mr. Anderson asked about the current budget figure. With the goal of quickly covering the most useful information, I emphasized that what most taxpayers care about more than the exact overall dollar number is keeping their share as low as possible.
The most direct budget impact on a taxpayer is the tax rate (that and property values, which of course the City Council cannot directly control). Quoting the budget expense as $118,638,630, in a vacuum, without a view to revenues or tax rate, will not tell any taxpayer the impact of the City budget on their own cost of living.
Through two years of budgets, my initial focus has been to scrutinize for inefficiencies, eliminate waste, and hold department heads accountable. From there, we make budget decisions relative to how the balance of expenses AND revenues will impact the tax rate. While the final rate is dependent on the State later in the year, coming out of our budget process in June we were on target for a tax rate increase in line with the rate of inflation.
Taxpayers are encouraged to step forth and recommend budget cuts or opportunities for added efficiencies and revenue gains. It disappointed me that someone like Mr. Anderson, who has often made valid contributions at budget hearings, would resort to a ‘gotcha’ stunt rather than a constructive dialogue about reducing taxpayer burden. Instead, he wrote a letter that unfairly disparaged the reputation of people who have devoted hours of essentially volunteer work on behalf of him and all other taxpayers. And weeks before an important election.
I have at least as much motivation as Mr. Anderson to minimize burden on residents. Property tax is a significant part of my own family's budget. I come from humble means, put myself through college and despite soon turning 50, we are still paying off my wife's college loans. We are raising two daughters with no clear path to pay for their college or afford our own retirement. We are putting off for one more year the peeling paint on our Elwyn Park home we worked so hard to buy.
So, sure it is partly out of self-interest that this past term I fought hard for the State to allow municipalities to enact a local $2/night hotel fee. This revenue, paid by visitors, would offset every resident’s property tax, including my own. Investing many hours above and beyond my Council duties was worth it if I could make a positive impact. Testifying in Concord and working with towns outside of the Seacoast helped achieve successful passage of enabling legislation in the House. I am committed to build on that milestone and see the Senate and Governor support freedom for our localities to use common, sensible tools to reduce burden on our residents.
My duty is to work as hard as I can to seek benefits for the people of Portsmouth. That is the “fiscal regard” I discussed at the candidate forum and have demonstrated these past two years. The same regard I would bring to our City if voters elect me back on the City Council.
Cliff Lazenby Works Hard for Betterment of Portsmouth
Op-Ed by Scott McKee - October 15th, 2019
October 15, 2019
As the municipal elections approach, it is my pleasure to enthusiastically add another voice to those who feel that Cliff Lazenby deserves reelection to the Portsmouth City Council.
Prior to his becoming involved in city government, I had the opportunity to work with Cliff and his wife Stephanie on a number of volunteer initiatives aimed at improving our community. This dynamic duo impressed me with their selfless and energetic willingness to go all in for the causes they deemed important-- always adding tremendous value to those efforts.
As Assistant Mayor, Cliff has represented us well with his balanced approach to tackling the issues that face us. He is fair, open minded, intelligent, good humored, and eager to dive into the minutia of public policy for the betterment of the citizens of Portsmouth.
Best of all, Cliff is not a one issue candidate. He understands that in an increasingly complex world, a broader vision is required.
I hope you will join me in voting for Cliff Lazenby for Portsmouth City Council on November 5th.
Lazenby Shows How Leaders Lead
Op-Ed by Marcie Vaughan - October 8th, 2019
275 Miller Ave., Portsmouth
October 8, 2019
A perk of growing up in NH is the opportunity to experience democracy up close. When I was a kid in Littleton, attending Town Meeting was a homework assignment, and shaking hands with every presidential candidate felt like my birthright. Election season was a thrill. But this year, when the Portsmouth City Council campaign started to unfold, I wondered, would the mean-spirited tactics that now define national politics deny a new generation of kids the privilege I enjoyed?
Sure enough, before long, I noticed a misleading and negative flier posted outside my house, right by my “Cliff Lazenby for City Council” sign. That flier was meant to crush my spirit. But it didn’t. Instead, I took it as an invitation to think about the important role good decision-making plays in effective leadership. After all, a vote for any candidate is an endorsement of his or her ability to lead by making reasoned, fair decisions.
Aptitude for robust critical thinking, willingness to place community over self, commitment to acting with compassion without being driven by emotion – those qualities are my baseline for good leadership. But as I looked around in my memory at the leaders I have most admired, one quality flashed by, again and again: Humility. Decision-makers with humility recognize that their first job is not to yell the loudest answer. Rather, it’s to ask the toughest question and, then, to listen to the answer. The inimitable Ralph Waldo Emerson described humility well when he wrote: “A great man [or woman] is always willing to be little.” To “be little” is to respect reasonable minds, even if you disagree, without belittling them.
Cliff Lazenby is a big man with a knack for “being little” in the ways we need. A vote for Cliff Lazenby is an endorsement of reasoned debate aimed at unearthing good solutions. It is a vote that welcomes dissent, tempered by civility. And it is a vote that will give your kids the opportunity to observe how leaders lead. I hope you will join me on November 5 by casting a vote for Cliff.
Portsmouth, McIntyre and Much More
Herald Op-Ed Column from August 25th, 2019
Resident, 303 McKinley Rd
Assistant Mayor, City of Portsmouth
August 22, 2019
At the August 12 City Council meeting, something remarkable happened. It was striking not just what occurred but the lack of mention in news reporting or social media since. Anyone who follows local Portsmouth government expected a sizable public turnout, but few anticipated how the night would begin. The majority of attendee seats were dominated by a sea of maroon t-shirts, a collective of women and men emblazoned with the letters ‘APT’.
The Association of Portsmouth Teachers were out in force. Standing room only for others who showed up because of the McIntyre Project or Keno or many other items from the City Council agenda.
The APT contract negotiation was an example of good faith bargaining between parties cooperating towards a common goal. There were bumps, there were trade-offs, there was pushback, there was disagreement, there was compromise. Nobody came away with everything they wanted, but over months of work between the School Board and City advisors, effective advocacy from APT leadership and scrutiny from City Councilors, the result was a fair deal from which we continue a mutually beneficial relationship.
As the City Council voted to approve the contract, the room erupted in the longest, sustained applause we have heard in this Council term. As the school year opens this week, I am encouraged that our hard-working teachers go to work knowing they have support from their community, have stability in their livelihood and respect for their profession. Something we can agree on, a positive moment for Portsmouth. An example of the system and its participants functioning effectively.
Obviously this was not the only notable item to tackle for the night, but it was one of many important ones. We also voted to provide modest but meaningful fee relief to the landmark Portsmouth Housing Authority Court Street project. Everyone in our community should support this innovative initiative to provide affordable downtown housing for varying working income levels. It speaks to a continuing major priority for our citizens and aligns well with the City’s Master Plan.
The issue of PFAS, potentially of the most confounding health risks and municipal system challenges to emerge in recent history, was part of two different agenda items (including a memo from the Coakley Landfill Group). We also took an important step forward in pursuing the long sought-after Cate Street Connector road that promises to relieve truck traffic in ‘The Creek’ neighborhood.
Of course the main event for many people that night was the McIntyre. Our community and city government have invested significant effort to see through this process. Many of the steps and decisions along the way have been challenging and at times even messy. August 12 provided numerous examples as such.
Bill Binnie’s proposal was intriguing in what it offered and difficult because of its 11th hour nature. Mr. Binnie had chances like other development groups to submit a proposal earlier in the process. As it stood this summer, we were bound to complete the RFP process. Either move ahead with a development agreement with Redgate Kane, or turn them down and start a new process open to Mr. Binnie and any other developers.
In the many months since Redgate Kane was selected as partner in the RFP process, they have invested significant time and resources to build a successful project in cooperation with our community. There was no allowance in the process to add a late game alternative where one developer was invited to use a special set of rules. Besides being a negative impact to our City and its reputation as a good faith partner, our legal counsel warned that seeking such an unusual path would risk liability for legal action from Redgate Kane. I felt it would be irresponsible in my duty as a City Councilor to put Portsmouth in that position.
The Redgate Kane project can be fantastic and we all will have opportunities to continue to shape it to be. It may not be everyone’s everything but has many positives that speak to the key community goals expressed in the RFP. However, of its most important attributes, it has strong promise to enable a successful NPS application so Portsmouth can finally acquire the McIntyre property. Despite claims by some that the “McIntyre site belongs to the people of Portsmouth”, the fact is we do not yet have it. To delay this pursuit by a year (or more) would pose significant risk that the GSA again changes its tune as it has for more than a decade. Rather than continuing the 14 year shutout, let’s “put some points on the board” and deliver the McIntyre to the people of Portsmouth.
Ultimately August 12 capped a process that strived, imperfectly or otherwise, for transparency and inclusivity. Moving ahead with Redgate Kane gives us the most direct path to a renovated McIntyre site with significant public benefit requiring minimal taxpayer investment, while returning significant revenue to offset taxpayer burden.
Where do we go from here? Of course there is much left to discuss with the McIntyre project itself. For starters, I hope we all speak up to the Post Office and call on them to request a lease extension from the GSA for the rest of 2019, or even into 2020. The current Council will hear more input, as will land use boards, and the upcoming campaign season will (and should) involve questions about the McIntyre.
Though as we embark on the healthy process to democratically renew public will, I hope candidates and voters focus on the full range of important work ahead for this and any City Council. The McIntyre is very much part of where we are headed, it demands input and energy to shape its forward path. But as unique of an opportunity as McIntyre is, life in Portsmouth – and the work needed from our community to stay on track with its many priorities – has many more items on its agenda that are no less important. Just like at the August 12 City Council meeting.
Nov. 1, 2017 - Lazenby has served as chairman of the Citywide Neighborhood Committee and has street-level, detailed understanding of the concerns of the city's various neighborhoods. A resident of Elwyn Park, with children in the public schools, he’ll broaden the council's perspective beyond the needs of downtown and the South End. It was his suggestion to create ward forums, where council representatives came to meetings in the city’s five wards to hear from residents who might feel intimidated to speak at a televised council meeting at City Hall. As a neighborhood leader, Lazenby has shown an ability to build consensus and to put forward ideas in a thoughtful and constructive manner.
Nov. 2, 2017 - With six days left until Portsmouth's municipal elections, various groups have begun releasing their picks for the nine City Council seats.
Oct. 30, 2017 - Cliff Lazenby Letter to the Portsmouth Herald
Nov. 3, 2017 - Monica Dorley & Jen Scumaci letter to the Portsmouth Herald
Nov. 3, 2017 - Sandi Hennequin letter to the Portsmouth Herald
Nov. 3, 2017 - Rep. Peter Somssich letter to the Portsmouth Herald
Oct. 26, 2017 - Kathy Bergeron letter to the Portsmouth Herald
Oct 25, 2017 - Sean Caughran Letter to the Portsmouth Herald
Oct 25, 2017 - Nicole Outsen Letter to the Portsmouth Herald
Oct. 24, 2017 - Linda & Ralph DiBernardo Letter to the Portsmouth Herald
Oct. 24, 2017 - Randy and Stephanie Holt Letter to the Portsmouth Herald
Oct. 24, 2017 - Scott McKee Letter to the Portsmouth Herald
Oct. 23, 2017 - Jason Boucher Letter to the Portsmouth Herald
Oct. 20, 2017 - Duncan Craig Letter to the Portsmouth Herald
Letters to the Editor
Oct 31, 2015 - While there is always plenty at stake with local elections, this year there has been an upswell of discussion about how our government represents all of our citizens. Are the interests of neighborhoods in all wards represented?
Feb 12, 2015 - It is encouraging to read support from The Herald and some on the City Council for needed improvements to the Peverly Hill neighborhood. However even as we urge their project higher on the priority list, there are larger system-wide issues to address with our Capital Improvement process.
Aug. 25, 2019 - The recent City Council meeting addressed, yes, the McIntyre, but also many other issues no less important. This fall as we embark on the healthy process to democratically renew public will, I hope candidates and voters focus on the full range of important work ahead for this and any City Council.
Nov 1, 2017 - Residents packed the Levenson Room at the Portsmouth Public Library to hear from the candidates during the forum, which was sponsored by the Friends of the South End.
Oct 13, 2017 - Lazenby raised what he described as the major issue of drinking water. "Even if you put Coakley and Pease aside, access to drinking water is an issue that we have to pay attention to as a country, as a region," Lazenby said. "When you talk about Coakley, I think it's also the elephant in the room that we as a city need to look at. There is a moral responsibility and legal and financial risk ahead for the city and taxpayers."
Elwyn Park resident Cliff Lazenby officially filed to run for City Council on Monday.
Jan 19, 2016 - Cliff Lazenby, newly appointed chairman of the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Citywide Neighborhood Committee, said the group would like to engage the City Council with the five ward districts.
Feb 3, 2015 - Committee member Cliff Lazenby conducted his own study to determine where neighborhood-specific capital improvement projects (CIPs) are being done in the city, after his committee failed to convince city councilors to adopt a similar mechanism.
Oct 21, 2013 - For McKinley Road residents Cliff and Stephanie Lazenby, the issue on their minds as the city election approaches has much more to do with the safety of their school-aged children and their fellow neighbors than anything else.
- Portsmouth Neighbors Raising Voices on I-95 Noise
- Is CIP Money Being Spent Fairly
- Committee Raises Questions About Capital Project Spending
- Neighborhood Schools Still Best Option for City
- Great Things Happening at Dondero
Sep 19, 2017
Jan 25, 2016 - Kudos to Portsmouth's Mayor's Blue Ribbon Citywide Neighborhood Committee for working to increase the connectivity between the City Council and the various neighborhoods of Portsmouth.
Oct 28, 2013 - Neighborhood issues are the city’s issues, even if they are not as predominant nor as popular as parking and development. Cliff and Stephanie Lazenby of Elwyn Park’s McKinley Road said the safety of their and their neighbors’ school-aged children is a top concern. This is due both to motorists regularly breaking speed limits and the fact there are no sidewalks in a neighborhood of 375 or so homes.
Community Events Spearheaded by Cliff
Nov 3, 2016 - More than 100 people attended a Ward 1 meeting at New Franklin School, where they heard from city officials about upcoming projects in the ward.
Mar 27, 2017 - The panel of lawmakers will discuss legislation they are working on, legislation likely to impact Portsmouth and there will be a question-and-answer session. This is a citywide, non-partisan event and all Portsmouth residents welcome.
Aug 3, 2011 - For Atlantic Heights residents seeking to ramp up neighborhood safety, it was a night that couldn't have come at a better time. For those in the Elwyn Park neighborhood, Tuesday evening was a chance to meet new neighbors and express concerns over speeding drivers. In the South End, it was about enjoying what the neighborhood has to offer.