State Report NH 2: New Hampshire Report 2
New Hampshire Report
by Michelle Dumas
My husband (Jim) and I (Michelle), both grew up in Southern Maine, in a town bordering New Hampshire. We are both in our mid thirties, have been married 15 years and have one 12-year-old daughter. About 11 years ago we moved to a New Hampshire border town, Somersworth, in the Seacoast region, and have lived here since. We have both had libertarian leanings for many years, but it was only several years ago when we began actively re-educating ourselves (undoing the damage of what we now understand was a terrible public education) that we joined the LP. We are slowly becoming more politically active but are already frustrated by what seem like insurmountable challenges. FSP offers the most practical, action-focused plan we have seen. The promise of the FSP, "Liberty in Your Lifetime" is one we are committed to and while we would certainly follow 20,000 liberty-oriented people wherever they go, we feel that New Hampshire is certainly in the running for the top few states that should be considered by the FSP.
New Hampshire Constitution
The New Hampshire Constitution is the second oldest state constitution and predates the U.S. Constitution by five years. It is unique in that it was the first constitution to use the term Bill of Rights, and includes in its listed 39 rights, the right to revolution, promised in no other American constitution. New Hampshire has the largest legislative body and the weakest governorship of all the states. New Hampshire's governor shares power with five members of an executive council. Summarizing the philosophical beliefs on which the NH Constitution is founded, is that government is the servant, not the master, of the people who create it, a strong foundation for the "Live Free or Die" tradition and state motto.
People, Politics, and Culture for Freedom
The median age of New Hampshire citizens' is 37.1, with 25% of the population under 18 years of age and 12% age 65 and older. There are 474,606 households, with an average size of 2.53; of those, 323,651 are family households, with an average size of 3.03. As of April 1, 2000, there were 547,024 total housing units. Profiles of 234 incorporated cities and towns may be found here. 2001 population statistics by town can be viewed here.
There are currently 26 Libertarians who hold public office in New Hampshire. LPNH is quite active and there are 17 Libertarians running for public office in 2002; in 2000, 70 Libertarian candidates ran for office. The voter registration is approximately 30% Republican, 30% Democrat, and 40% Independent. Currently, the legislature is about 60% Republican and 40% Democrat. Until just recently, when we were beat by Alaska, New Hampshire had the highest number of Libertarian Party members per capita of all the states.
The people of New Hampshire are notoriously independent and tax averse. While it is true that we have had an influx of people moving in state from Massachusetts, and bringing their liberal politics with them, for the most part (although difficult to measure), most long-term NH residents are resentful of this; this resentment could actually work in the favor of the FSP. It is reasonable to predict that the GOP will win the race for Governor this year, perhaps reflecting some of this dissatisfaction and a desire to return to more conservative policies.
It is interesting to note that the LPNH's 2002 candidate for governor, John Babiarz, is attracting a fair amount of favorable press and that the people have been quite receptive to his ideas. In 2000, he experienced some difficulty in getting the press to notice him and in being included in debates. He is running an aggressive campaign to win in 2002. This year, the press has been quite favorable, he is being invited and welcomed in the debates and forums, and the public response has been more than favorable. For example, the Keene-Sentinel profiled Babiarz on the front page of the Saturday edition (highest circulation day of the week) on 8/17/02. Other LP candidates in 2002 are running for US Senate, US Rep, State Senate, State Rep, Executive Council, and Town Selectman.
Of concern is the recent House redistricting. Unable to overcome partisan politics, the legislature failed to agree on a redistricting plan. Thus, the task was taken over by the Supreme Court. The plan sets the boundaries for 400 representatives in 88 new house districts. Unfortunately, under this plan, 215 representatives (54%) will serve 6 communities or more. Prior to this, districts were much smaller and every citizen was virtually assured of personally knowing a representative or at the very least, having easy access to voice concerns to the representative in their town. This means that the cost of campaigning will increase, it will be much more difficult to reach individual voters, and the voters themselves will not have as easy access to their representative in the House. This issue does negate one advantage of New Hampshire to the FSP (small districts easily won by liberty-minded candidates), although the fact that the NH legislature is the largest in the nation remains true.
Geography and Recreation
New Hampshire is bounded on the north by Quebec province in Canada, on the east by Maine and the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by Massachusetts, and on the west by Vermont. Offering both coastal access and a Canadian border, New Hampshire is one of the strongest states being considered by the FSP in regards to its geographic location. It is undeniable that isolation could play a large part on the steps that the federal government may take to suppress the free state. The importance of both coastal and international access cannot be understated. If secession were to become an issue, coastal and international borders would be critical.
New Hampshire is a small state, about 180 miles long and 50 miles wide, although the extreme width is 93 miles. The coastal area is approximately 18 miles. While New Hampshire clearly does not offer the "wide open spaces" of the west, it is reasonable to expect that a successful FSP effort in New Hampshire would "spill over" to its neighboring state, Maine, or perhaps Vermont, giving us the "space to grow" that so many advocate. In the early stages of the FSP, the small geographical size of NH may also prove to be an advantage, facilitating the ability of FSP members to easily meet and work together. It should also be pointed out that most New Hampshire towns are small, rural towns, no different than any other state being considered. The difference is, and this is a potentially important one, that while the towns are similar to those in many other considered states, we do not have vast open spaces of **federally claimed** land between them. I think there is a lot of misperception about crowding among those who have never visited the New England states. While I agree that there are areas of New Hampshire that are somewhat crowded, for most regions, this is simply not the case. For that reason, I will go into some detail describing the various regions of New Hampshire.
With its seacoast areas and beaches, 1,300 lakes and ponds (covering 115,000 acres - the largest, Lake Winnipesaukee, is 22 miles x 8 miles), 40,000 miles of rivers or streams, and the White Mountains, New Hampshire offers virtually every possible recreational activity within very scenic surroundings. Boston, Massachusetts is only a short commuting distance for those free staters desiring access to a major metropolitan area (for example, it is only 55 miles from my home in the Seacoast Region) or a major international airport.
For those who enjoy wildlife or hunting, New Hampshire is home to more than 500 species of vertebrate animals, including black bear, coyote, bobcats, moose, white-tailed deer, and beaver.
The Seacoast Region
New Hampshire's 18-mile coast offers history, culture, and beauty. Private and public beaches can be found in Hampton and Rye. Ferry rides to the Isles of Shoals, deep sea fishing, and whale watching cruises are popular with both tourists and locals. Many lobsterman operate off the New Hampshire coast. Live lobsters are available virtually everywhere and we usually feast on them at least once each summer. My husband enjoys going out deep sea fishing with his friend who owns a charter fishing boat, helping out with the customers in return for filling out freezer with all the haddock, cod, cusk, tuna, and flounder we could want. The seaport city of Portsmouth is home to many shops, restaurants, taverns, and art galleries in the downtown area. Portsmouth offers Prescott Park, cobblestone sidewalks, and a picturesque harbor. My daughter and I enjoy going to Prescott Park for the outdoor, live theater productions put on each weekend throughout the summer. I've never been, but local bands often play in the park during lunch hour and on the weeknights.
Settled in 1693, the nearby town of Dover was New Hampshire's first permanent settlement and Durham is home to the University of New Hampshire. The town of Seabrook is best known for its nuclear power plant. A great deal of the surrounding inland area (including our town of Somersworth) is farmland and countryside. As with the rest of the state, many old buildings still stand as meetinghouses, covered bridges, and town halls. I once saw a family tree that traced my direct ancestors back to the Dover area in the mid 17th century. There is a lot of history here.
Dartmouth Lake Sunapee Region
The western border of New Hampshire is the Connecticut River and neighboring Vermont. This part of the state is best described as hilly, lush, and green, with many old barns, curving back country roads, and covered bridges. The region around Lake Sunapee offers golf, swimming, canoeing, fishing, and cross-country skiing. The lake is a favorite for fisherman of trout, bass, salmon, and pickerel. Hiking and biking trails up Mount Sunapee offer three-season recreation and the region is a favorite among many skiers and snowboarders in the winter. We have personally never done much more than drive through this region, but it is gorgeous.
The center of many towns, like Newport and Claremont, revolves around mills and churches. In Cornish you can find four covered bridges, including the longest wooden covered bridge in the United States, connecting New Hampshire with Vermont. Warner is the home of Mount Kearsarge, which rises 2,937 feet above sea level. The Blackwater River in Webster is known for its white water rapids.
North Woods Region
The North Woods of New Hampshire is the region that may be of the greatest interest to those Free Staters desiring space and solitude. You can drive for miles and not see another person in this region that is best known for its snowmobiling trails, deep forests, and moose sightings. Besides snowmobiling, this is a haven for those people interested in camping, hiking, boating, fishing, or hunting. It is quiet, serene, and secluded. It is home to towns like Dixville, where the first votes in the Presidential Election are cast and Colebrook, where hunting and fishing are primary recreational activities. The town of Pittsburg, is a favorite among snowmobilers and is also known for frequent moose sightings. My sister-in-law spent a weekend in Pittsburg last fall and said she could hardly believe all the moose.
Beginning where the White Mountain Region ends, the North Woods borders the Canadian Province of Quebec to the north, Vermont to the West, and Maine to the East. The Connecticut River begins in Pittsburg and breaks off into a group of lakes known as the Connecticut Lakes. Fishing is popular, with fish ranging from rainbow trout to salmon. Lake Umbagog on the Maine border is popular for smallmouth bass angling.
The Lakes Region is most popular in the summertime, but offers something in every season, from skiing and ice fishing in the winter, to fall foliage viewing and antique shopping in autumn.
Towns in the region include places like Laconia, where the annual "motorcycle weekend" is held, an event that attracts 300,000+ motorcyclists from across the country. The town of Holderness and Squam Lake was made famous by the movie On Golden Pond. Plymouth State College is located in this region.
Of the 273 lakes and ponds in this area, Winnipesaukee, covering 72 square miles and up to 213 feet deep, is the largest and most popular. Boating, scuba diving, lake cruises, scenic rides, swimming, and antiquing are popular in this region. Surrounded by mountains, other lakes in the area include Newfound Lake, Winnesquam, Lake Chocorua and Ossipee Lake. This is a beautiful region and our family enjoys taking leisurely drives around the towns or boating on the lakes, especially in the summer and autumn. Truly, there is nothing so spectacular as a boat ride around Winnipesaukee in autumn. The colors of the foliage on the mountains surrounding the lake are incredible.
Merrimack Valley Region
The Merrimack Valley is named for the river that runs through it and is a popular recreation area for kayakers, boaters, and fishermen.
Manchester, the state's largest city, was at one time a mill town. Today, the mills have been refurbished to accommodate high tech industries, insurance companies, shops, and restaurants. Concord, the State Capital, also sits on the Merrimack River as do farm towns like Litchfield and the state's second largest city, Nashua.
The Merrimack Valley boasts New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon. There are several lakes in the area for swimmers and picnickers and covered bridges span smaller rivers in this region, like the Henniker Bridge at New England College. Farmers Markets, antique shops, and apple orchards are all easily sighted on a drive through this region. The town of Milford is well known for its wide variety of antique and craft shops. Not unlike most of the state, there are many places in the region to pick your own berries in the summer, and pumpkins or apples in the fall.
The Southwestern corner of New Hampshire, the Monadnock Region, is known for its hilly terrain, fertile farmland, antique barns, and two-hundred-year-old town halls, churches, and meetinghouses. Writers like Samuel Clemens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Louisa May Alcott spent time in this region. It's the setting for Thornton Wilder's play Our Town. It's where the Yankee Magazine and Old Farmer's Almanac are published.
Fresh produce and maple syrup is available from roadside farm stands. Mount Monadnock is the second most climbed mountain in the world and there are multiple covered bridges in the region. The Connecticut River passes through the region and is a favorite fishing spot. Towns in the region include Keene, Hinsdale, and Chesterfield.
White Mountain Region
The White Mountains are home to New Hampshire's "Old Man of the Mountain" and hundreds of other natural attractions. This is the favorite region for hikers with more than 48 mountains reaching heights of more than 4,000 feet. The Appalachian Trail, beginning in Maine and ending in Georgia, winds through this region, through Crawford Notch, up the summit of Mount Washington and on to Pinkham Notch.
Scenic drives and the landscape are breathtaking in this region. Our family owns a (very) rustic mountain cabin in the tiny town of Gilead, Maine, bordering Gorham, New Hampshire, and spend many long weekends enjoying the scenery, attractions, snowmobiling, and skiing of this region. The entire White Mountain Region has some of the finest ski terrain in the east for both downhill and cross-country skiers. I can also personally attest to the abundant wildlife in the region. There are bear scratches on our cabin from the black bears trying to get in (luckily, never when I have been there, although Jim promises that they aren't aggressive to humans unless threatened!), the coyote in the distance have convinced me, more than once, to use the port-a-potty rather than venture to the outhouse in the night, and we've seen many white-tailed deer, moose, fox, and hare while on our way to or at our camp.
A popular trip in the region is a scenic byway known as the Kancamagus Highway, a 34-mile road that runs from Lincoln at the Pemigewasset River to Conway. Along the Kancamagus, many people stop at Lower Falls to climb on the rocks and slide on the natural water slide, created by slippery rocks and a deep basin of water that serves as a pool. There are numerous waterfalls along this road and others throughout the White Mountain region. Bear Notch Road, off the Kancamagus, is a shortcut to the town of Bartlett for those who do not wish to travel the entire byway. I will never forget coming around a corner on Bear Notch Road fifteen years ago and being surprised by a large black bear, sunning himself in the middle of the road. Bear Notch Road is closed to cars in the winter, but is a favorite spot for racing snowmobiles up and down the road.
Mount Washington is the highest mountain in the northeast at 6,288 feet. It is known for having the world's worst weather, with winds at times of well over 100 miles per hour during the winter. The Auto Road up the mountain is the oldest man-made tourist attraction in America.
The Old Man of the Mountain, one of New Hampshire's most famous landmarks, can be found in the town of Franconia. The town of Bath boasts the "oldest general store in the country" and has two covered bridges. Haverhill houses New Hampshire's oldest covered bridge still in use.
Like most New England states, New Hampshire is known for it's highly changeable climate where the weather can be warm and sunny one minute and cold and snowy the next ("Don't like the weather - just wait a minute!"). Each of the four seasons vary greatly in their daily temperatures and weather patterns. Climate variations are also due to distance from the ocean, mountains, lakes or rivers.
New Hampshire has a long history of shunning taxes. Proposal of taxes basically meant death to the campaign of whatever politician dared suggest them. To this day we have no sales tax and no income tax although to compensate, property taxes are relatively high in some areas. Retailers on the NH borders do really well from people crossing the border to avoid the high sales tax rates in the surrounding states. Unfortunately, we have had an ongoing problem in the state regarding funding of public education. Funding of schools on a local level by local property taxes (as had been done for as long as I can remember) was ruled unconstitutional. Currently this has been "resolved" by a statewide property tax and redistribution of funds, resulting in huge controversy between "donor" towns and "recipient" towns. There is a great deal of animosity over this issue, and even talk of secession by some of the donor communities. Although there has been a great deal of discussion about income and sales taxes, given the adversity of NH citizens to taxes, this does not seem likely. Whatever the ultimate "solution", there is likely to be a great deal of resentment and controversy surrounding it, a factor that could be an advantage to the Free State Project if we loudly promote our tax-free solutions to education.
I have a report titled "Where Taxes Are Lowest" published by Liberty Magazine; I just received my latest copy of the magazine (September 2002) and see that the report has been reprinted in it. Published in 2002, it ranks states using data from 2000. New Hampshire won the #1 spot of all 50 states when ranked as a percentage of gross personal income. New Hampshire is lowest at 4.54% followed by South Dakota (5.05%), Texas (5.09%), and Tennessee (5.52%). However, when taxes are ranked per capita, New Hampshire ranks #4 ($1,372), beat by the three previously mentioned states. This is a rather simplified summary of a detailed report, but ultimately, the author concludes that while he had rated New Hampshire as the champ for having the lowest taxes of all states in his last report, its increase in per capita taxes caused this rating to slip, to be beat out by South Dakota.
The bottom line: while New Hamphire is no longer the winner for lowest taxes, taxes are still much lower when compared to most states. Coupled with its long history of rejecting taxes, combined with low federal, state, and local spending as a percentage of gross state product (the best of all states under consideration), and low dependency rating on federal dollars (the best of all states considered), the Free State Project would be entering the state closest to its economic ideals and in which many of its citizens will be welcoming.
There was some talk on the FSP e-mail discussion list about New Hampshire being the only state to let all defendants expressly advise the jury of the right to acquit if they object to the merit, intent, or constitutionality of a law. Unfortunately, I researched this, and it is not true. Of course, juries in all 50 states have the right of jury nullification; the advantage would have been if New Hampshire expressly allowed defendants to advise juries of this. However, a bill for jury nullification did pass the NH House in 2000, 189-138, but was later killed in the Senate. Thus, while it was never enacted, there is some public awareness and legislative support surrounding this right.
Our gun laws are probably average; definitely not as favorable as Vermont, but nowhere near as restrictive as Massachusetts. The New Hampshire Constitution, Article 2-a states: All persons have the right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, their property and the state.
My basic understanding is that anyone can carry an unconcealed weapon (open carry) and we have a "shall issue" regulation for concealed weapons permits. Basically, application is made to the mayor or chief of police and they are required to issue the permit within 14 days to "upstanding citizens" who state a valid purpose (hunting, target shooting, and self defense are cited as valid reasons). The only glitch we ran into when Jim applied for his permit is that our chief of police "required" him to submit to fingerprinting. He claimed that a whole list of other NH towns require this, but Jim called dozens of towns and this is simply not true. Although he was issued the permit, Jim (obviously) wants his fingerprints back on principle. Although he has met with the town manager and chief of police several times, this is still not resolved.
In New Hampshire, those families wishing to homeschool must notify the district superintendent of their plans and provide written information about any correspondence courses, curriculum, and educational materials to be used. Parents are required to keep a log of reading materials and a portfolio of each child's work for the first two years. However, this portfolio is the property of the parent and the superintendent cannot require that it be submitted for review. Parents are also required to have their child's progress evaluated once each year by a certified teacher, through a national achievement test or state student assessment test, or any other measurement tool agreed on in advance between the parent and the superintendent. I am not familiar enough with the laws in other states to judge whether these regulations are more or less restrictive than others.
I know that there are many members of the FSP who are interested in homesteading and agriculture. Basically, the soil in New Hampshire is suitable for most fruits, flowers, and vegetables. The forests are made up of pine, spruce, and hardwood trees. New Hampshire is also famous for products made from the sap of the maple tree. These figures are ten years old (1992), but should still be fairly accurate. There are 3,100 commercial farms. Of 5.7 million acres, approximately 6.7% is currently used as farmland; 35.1% of this is cropland, 56.7% is woodland, 2.5% is pastureland, and 5.6% is categorized as other farmland. New Hampshire's agricultural industry is over $675 million. The state exports $20 million annually in food and agricultural products to international destinations.
- Ornamental Horticulture: (One of the fastest growing segments) $380 million
- Specialty & Processed Food Products: (ice cream, yogurt, jams, baked goods, etc.) $125 million
- Dairy: (40+ million gallons of milk are produced each year on 190 dairy farms) $54 million
- Horses: $30 million
- Hay & Forage Crops: $27 million
- Vegetables: $20 million
- Livestock: $16.5 million
- Apples: (1 million bushels of apples annually) $9.5 million
- Christmas Trees & Evergreen Products: $6 million
- Berries and Other Fruit: $5 million
- Maple and Honey: $3.5 million
While not comparable to real farming, for those interested in gardening as a hobby, my experiences may be of interest. While I am uncertain about other parts of the state, here on the Seacoast I can usually start my raised-bed kitchen-garden with cold-hardy veggies sometime in mid-April (I've had success with peas, lettuce, and radishes as early as mid-March) and rotate crops through the season, winding down in late September or early October. While early or late frosts are sometimes a problem, I just keep an eye on the weather and cover everything with plastic sheets when I am concerned. This even protected my garden from a freak 6-inch snowstorm in mid-May this past year, the latest in history.
Property and Real Estate
This is difficult to summarize because, as it does everywhere, the price of real estate really varies depending on so many factors. However, some real estate summaries from 2001 can be found here. To get a better idea of what is currently available and prices, you can search here. Here, in the Seacoast region, property values are appreciating quickly, but I am uncertain if this holds true for the rest of the state.
New Hampshire's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July 2002 was 4.2 percent, down 0.3 percentage points from the June rate. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July 2002 was 5.9 percent.
In July of 2002, non-farm employment of NH citizens was broken down as:
- Total All Industries: 626,900
- Total Private Employment: 551,200
- Mining: 600
- Construction: 28,900
- Manufacturing: 99,300
- Durable Goods: 72,600
- Nondurable Goods: 26,700
- Transportation & Public Utilities: 20,400
- Trade: 169,400
- Wholesale Trade: 33,200
- Retail Trade: 136,200
- Finance, Insurance, & Real Estate: 34,400
- Services: 198,200
- Government: 75,700
Many people, particularly here on the Seacoast, commute to Boston for work. Although he could easily find work in New Hampshire, for personal reasons, Jim works in Maine. The downfall of working in the neighboring states is that your income is subject to income taxes in that state. In recent years, in part based on employment outlook combined with low taxes (I would guess), Manchester and Nashua have been named "best place to live" by Money Magazine. Portsmouth also ranked highly. New Hampshire supposedly has the highest concentration of high-tech workers in the nation.
The two fastest growing jobs in the state, computer support specialists and systems analysts, are expected to add 4,000 jobs by 2008. Occupations in the professional, paraprofessional, and technical are expected to grow the fastest. Desktop publishing, database administrators, home health aides, instructional coordinators, physician assistants, computer engineers, medical assistants, and medical records technicians are the other fasted growing occupations. More than 105,000 new jobs are expected to be created in New Hampshire between 1998 and 2008; more than half of these will be in service industries. Employment in Belknap County is expected to grow faster than other NH counties. All of this and more, is summarized in a brochure here.
A detailed report on NH projected employment by industry and occupation to 2008 can be found here.
Overall, based on my review of the job outlook data, I believe that New Hampshire could (relatively easily) absorb and support 20,000 free staters moving in over a period of several years.
Small Business Friendliness
A report prepared by the Small Business Survival Committee indexes the states on how the state and local governments treat small businesses and entrepreneurs. Many factors were considered, including personal and corporate income tax, capital gains tax, state and local property taxes, crime rates, number of full-time government employees, and many more. Of the states, New Hampshire ranked #6, beat only by South Dakota, Nevada, Wyoming, Texas, and Florida. This ranking could be of primary importance to those free staters who choose to or need to start their own businesses as an alternative to finding new employment.
Low Crime Rate
New Hampshire boasts one of the lowest crime rates of all the states under consideration. Beyond stating this, the best I can do is describe our own experience. Even though we live in a relatively high population area, there is hardly anyone in out community who would worry about leaving doors unlocked while away for a few hours or even leaving keys in vehicles overnight. Basically, our neighbors keep an eye on our property and we keep an eye on theirs.
Universities and Colleges
For free-stater-students or parents who have children considering higher education, the choice of colleges and universities in New Hampshire may be of interest.
Colby Sawyer College, New London
Daniel Webster College, Nashua
Dartmouth College, Hanover
Franklin Pierce College, Rindge
Franklin Pierce Law Center, Concord
Hesser College, New Hampshire
Lebanon College, Lebanon
Magdalen College, Warner
McIntosh College, Dover
New England College, Henniker
New Hampshire Institute of Art, Manchester
Notre Dame College, Manchester
Rivier College, Nashua
Saint Anselm College, Manchester
Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester (formerly NH College)
Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, Merrimack
White Pines College, Chester
The statistics and objective data are well presented in the FSP state data. Thus, I have tried to focus this report on more subjective factors that may make New Hampshire an attractive state for the success of the Free State Project; I have also tried to be realistic and present some of the potential pitfalls. Yes, I am biased; there is nothing more that we would like to see than 20,000+ liberty-minded people move to our beloved state to secure a free society. However, the success of FSP is more important to us, and if another state is judged to be more suitable for the achievement of our goals, we are behind that decision 100%. Ultimately though, combining its high ranking in most of the objective data categories, its geographic advantages of offering both a seacoast and an international border, its possibilities for expansion into two neighboring states also under consideration by FSP (Maine and Vermont), its native culture historically known for orientation toward liberty, and its viability as a state where the immediate quality of life is likely to be most comfortable for free staters, we believe that New Hampshire should be considered one of the top contenders in the final decision.
August 20, 2002
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the Free State Project, its Officers, or Directors.