Sept. 17 -- To the Editor:

Today, September 17, is Constitution Day, which commemorates the signing of the United States Constitution in 1787. Though not as celebrated as the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, the Constitution plays a far greater role in the daily lives of Americans.

The genius of the Constitution is the way in which the Framers, in particular, James Madison, created a government from scratch that purposely diluted and distributed power. After suffering under King George IIIís centralized government thuggery, their vision was to the have the people rule their government and not the other way around.

I sometimes wonder if James Madison were to tour America today, would he believe his dream, of a government of the people, by the people and for the people, had come true? Say he were to attend a Portsmouth Planning Board meeting. There he would note 3 of the 9 members were representatives (some say puppets) of government, namely City Hall. Therefore City Hall needs only 2 votes from the remaining 6 citizens to have its way. This means a citizen minority of 2 members could overrule the wishes of the citizen majority of the other 4 members. Madison would be disappointed Portsmouth let City Hall seize power that rightfully belongs to the people.

Thankfully, most cities and towns in this country donít believe government should have the ability to control one third of a planning board, but rather all of its members should be citizens, with no connection to City Hall. In any event, I hope Herald readers will take a moment today to reflect on what the Constitution is all aboutÖ.putting power in the hands of the people since 1787.

James A. Hewitt