Tag Archives: NH House of Representatives

From the Desk of Jackie Cilley: Important Information on Ballot Questions

From the desk of Jackie Cilley :

Election Alert for October 9, 2012

28 Days and Counting…..

 New Hampshire needs you – please be sure to vote on Tuesday, November 6.

 
 

Ballot Question 2 

O’Brien’s Excellent Adventure to the Colonial Era – Taking Back the Courts!

In an attempt to erase decades of statutory and judicial work on separation and balance of powers, the whiz-kids of the current legislature muscled through a constitutional amendment that will appear as Question 2 on your ballot as follows:

2. “Are you in favor of amending article 73-a of the second part of the constitution to read as follows: [Art.] 73-a [Supreme Court, Administration.] The chief justice of the supreme court shall be the administrative head of all the courts. The chief justice shall, with the concurrence of a majority of the supreme court justices, make rules governing the administration of all courts in the state and the practice and procedure to be followed in all such courts. The rules so promulgated shall have the force and effect of law. The legislature shall have a concurrent power to regulate the same matters by statute. In the event of a conflict between a statute and a court rule, the statute, if not otherwise contrary to this constitution, shall prevail over the rule.” (Passed by the N.H. House 242 Yes 96 No; Passed by State Senate 19 Yes 5 No) CACR 26             Yes                  No

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid!

The O’Brien legislature has taken a number of actions with very dangerous consequences for our citizenry. Underfunding our court system has caused delays in our citizens’ ability to obtain justice. They have also created a competing mechanism, the Committee of Redress, that reviews court decisions filed by petitioners (without the bother of such little things as court procedures, equal protection for all parties, or even hearing the other side of a case). To date, the Committee of Redress has recommended the impeachment of four justices on virtually the sole testimony of a petitioner who claims to have been wronged (or otherwise simply didn’t like the verdict). The concept of due process seems hopelessly lost on this crowd.

Ballot Question 2 will give over to the legislature complete and final authority over our judicial system, turning it into little more than another political body. Although, as you can see from the question above, the ability to write rules will still reside with the judicial branch, the legislature will be able to concurrently change statutes relative to these rules and the latter will “shall prevail.”  Does anyone really doubt that a legislature wedded to the extreme ideology of the current one will fail to turn our courts into an extension of themselves?!

Scholars who argue for a well-functioning judiciary, one that functions objectively and in the pursuit of the rule of law, without undue influence of the political climate, cite the critical need for a clear separation of powers. G. Alan Tarr, professor at Rutgers University and a scholar in constitutional law, state constitutions and the courts and judicial process, puts forth four principals that should form the foundation of any reform of our judicial system. These include: judicial independence from political institutions, interest groups and the general public; judicial autonomy with the power to govern and manage its own affairs; effective delivery of judicial services with access for all citizens and expeditious administration of justice; and, accountable to the rule of law and to the people and their representatives (we already have a process in place when a justice violates his/her position in any way and that is the impeachment procedures). For more information on this topic, see G. Alan Tarr, The State Judicial Article, http://camlaw.rutgers.edu/statecon/judicial.pdf

Ballot Question 2 violates every one of these principles. The first two are self-evident. Violation of the remainder stems from the fact that by underfunding and interfering with the judicial process hobbles our court system’s ability to effectively deliver its services and makes it difficult to appropriately hold it accountable.

Nothing New Under the Sun

 For those who may have imagined that with the writing of the US Constitution, and subsequent state constitutions, the establishment of three branches of government was a settled matter, a reading of history on this topic immediately disabuses one of that notion. As it turns out, there has been a protracted battle between the legislative and judicial branches of government for decades and longer following independence.

New Hampshire’s own history in this regard is instructive of the desire of past legislatures to exert significant control over the judiciary. Our legislature once had a participatory role in dispensing of justice through an archaic device called the Committee of Redress (yes, similar to the one mentioned above!). This legislative body heard complaints by our citizens and ruled on those. It didn’t take long, however, for our forebears to recognize that there was a bit of a conflict of interest in having those who wrote the laws also interpret the laws and dispense with justice – not to mention write the laws to settle cases. It was a rather circuitous way of administering justice fraught with a host of problems for both public policy and justice. (Consider just one example of someone who has a complaint against the state, one that might result of in an injured party being awarded a judgment against the state. And, all of this being heard by the a unit of the same body that formulates a budget for the state.)

Even after the establishment of a separate judicial system, however, past New Hampshire legislatures grappled with the concept of a judiciary over which they had little control. Consequently, at least twice over the course of our history, “New Hampshire legislated out of office all justices of its supreme court by repealing the statute the created the tribunal and establishing another court in its place.” (G. Alan Tarr, “Contesting the Judicial Power in the Statest,” http://www.harvard-jlpp.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/TarrFinal.pdf

For those interested in an in-depth discussion of the tensions between legislatures and the judiciary, Tarr’s 19 page article on the topic provides a great overview of the topic.

Just Say No!

 If you want to defeat Question 2, you must cast a “No” vote. Passage requires two-thirds approval by those who vote on the Question. Please help to spread the word of the dangers of this constitutional amendment. Encourage your friends, family and neighbors to make plans now to vote and also to vote “no” on this question.

Update on Ballot Question 1:

Hold onto Your Seats – Here Comes the Money

 

As you may recall, the previous Election Alert covered Question 1, a constitutional amendment banning an income tax for “natural” persons and concerns analysts have expressed over the potential passage of this amendment. I warned about a last minute push for passage of Question 1. Sadly, almost immediately after the send button was hit on the Election Alert, the news broke that a new PAC has been set up to do precisely that.

The “No Income Tax” PAC is headed up by former gubernatorial candidate and former Executive of Cornerstone Policy Group, Kevin Smith. The PAC is chaired by three former Governors, Steve Merrill, John E. Sununu and Craig Benson.   The PAC can take unlimited amounts of contributions from individuals and organizations. You can count on this being a very well financed effort to get voters to approve the passage of this very dangerous constitutional amendment.

For some additional updated information on Question 1, visit the podcast of Attitude with Arnie, October 5, 2012, Hour 1 starting about 31 minutes in to hear the interview with Jeff McLynch of the NH Fiscal Policy Institute: http://www.nhnewsviewsblues.org/podcasts/Attitude_with_Arnie_Podcasts.xml Jeff responds to a number of questions about this ballot initiative that you may find of interest.

NOTE: Remember that it takes two-thirds of those who vote on the question for it to pass. If you want to defeat Question 1, you must vote “no” on it. Moreover, with the influx of influence and money to push for passage, it is now more important than ever that you spread the word about the pitfalls of this constitutional amendment and get your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to the polls to vote on November 6.

 Voting Tip of the Day:

Unregistered voters may register to vote on General Election Day and will be allowed to vote in that election. If you wish to register before the General Election you can do so up until October 27. That is the last day to register until the General Election.

As mentioned in the last Election Alert, you will be asked to present a valid photo ID (see http://sos.nh.gov/ for list of acceptable forms of ID). NOTE: If you do not have a valid photo ID you will be permitted to vote after executing a “challenged voter affidavit.” 

Opinion Piece of the Day:

OP-ED COLUMNIST
Buying the Election?
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
By JOE NOCERA
Published: October 09, 2012

….Not all that long ago, the ability to partake of public financing was a sign that you had arrived as a serious candidate; today no candidate in his right mind would want to be so constrained….This election season, Mitt Romney and President Obama could end up spending more than $1 billion each. They seem to spend more time fund-raising than pressing the flesh with voters.

And that doesn’t even account for what’s truly different about this election: the rise of the “super PACs” and 501(c)4s, which are essentially a form of campaign money-laundering, allowing wealthy people to contribute millions toward supposedly “independent” spending on campaign advertising, polling and other expensive campaign goodies…

Although individual contributions to a particular candidate remains severely restricted – no more than $5,000 – the amount someone can pour into a super PAC is limitless. The means by which the country finances its campaigns is utterly broken. In a recent cover story in The Atlantic, James Bennet, the editor, traces how that happened. He focuses on a man named Jim Bopp Jr., a lawyer from Terre Haute, Ind., who has largely devoted his life to freeing the nation of campaign spending limits…What is astonishing is the way Bopp makes unlimited spending seem actually democratic. “Most people don’t even know who their congressman is,” Bopp tells Bennet. If there were more spending on campaigns, voters would be more educated about the candidates. The Supreme Court majority, meanwhile, has essentially said that, by definition, campaign spending that is independent of the candidate cannot be corrupting.

What we also know in the real world is that unlimited spending will not serve to enlighten voters. It will deaden them to political argument – as is happening in just about every swing state, where the ads are running with such frequency that people are tuning them out. Finally, we know from hard experience that the money that comes into politics has the potential to corrupt.

“This can’t be good for Democracy,” Bennet told me in an e-mail. It’s not.

For full article see: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/10/09/opinion/nocera-buying-the-election.xml

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Get A Job and Make Some Change!

What Does Democracy Look Like?

From Mark Fernald via email

Grassroots Solutions ((www.grassrootssolutions.com), a national
political field organization, is looking for dedicated individuals to
join its New Hampshire Democratic Canvass Team 2012 and go
door-to-door to talk with New Hampshire voters in Manchester and other
areas in New Hampshire about the upcoming election.

Maybe you are a student with no afternoon classes, a parent whose
children are off to college, or someone who works the night shift in
your current job but would like to earn extra money. If you are at
least 18 years old and enjoy talking with people about important
issues that affect their lives and the lives of their families and
community, then we are interested in hearing from you.

This is a fantastic opportunity for someone looking to gain experience
in the world of politics. It is a fast paced and dynamic job in a
Presidential election year.

The pay is $12.00 an hour and you have the potential to gross over
$2,500 between now and the November election. You will be paid either
by check or direct deposit every two weeks.

Bilingual English/Spanish would be an advantage. Experience on a
political or issue advocacy campaign would be great, but if you don’t
have any, we will train. This is a temporary, full-time job (3-7 days
a week).

You and your canvass partner will be expected to travel by car to
neighborhoods assigned to you each day, walk door to door, engage in a
conversation with voters, and record the results of your conversation
in an iPod mobile app. Professionalism is a must, as is the ability
and willingness to talk with a diverse group of people.

Accuracy, attention to detail, and honesty in reporting the results of
your day’s work are essential. Previous campaign or advocacy work
experience would be a plus, as would experience using computers and
devices such as iPods. Training will be provided.

The position starts immediately and continues through the end of
October. We work 7 days a week. Most shifts are around 6 ½ hours long
— 5 ½ hours of which are spent talking to voters — in the afternoon
and early evening. You and your canvass partner will meet with other
canvass teams as a group at the beginning of your shift, and will get
back together at the end of your shift to record your data.

It would be great if you could work every day, but we know that’s not
always possible. We do, however, expect you to commit to work at least
three full days per week.

If you are interested, please apply online at
http://www.formstack.com/forms/grs2012-nhrecruiting

No emailed resumes, please! You will be given the opportunity to
attach one during the online application process.

Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you!

The New Hampshire Canvass Team

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Why Haven’t Free Staters Thanked New Hampshire Tax Payers Yet?

Here’s a truly cringe-worthy video of the Free State Project president Carla Gericke promoting the Free State Project to hopefuls in a near empty auditorium in Tampa.  Obviously the real event had long left, leaving the stage flanked with garbantuan ceiling to floor banner and another hanging from the stage canopy  “Thank you Dr. Paul” that oddly dwarfed the FSP missionary.

Like the dumb girl everyone has had to suffer against their will at least once in their life, Gerike rambled painfully ad-hoc for twenty minutes.  One would think standing on a stage representing something as important as the divine religious that is the Free State Project, they’d have a prepared speech.  Not a rambling conversation with themselves, complete with giggles and a level of intellectual discourse usually the domain of those who count the BFF’s and probably have a pink bed skirt and matching canopy over their bed.

But alas, unlike a teenager, we can’t tell her to just go home.  She calls our home home.  She also won’t stop with the idea of inviting all her weird friends to come to our home, hang out and party and let the adults suffer the bill.

What would a Liberty Fest be without mentioning New Hampshire with that license plate that has John Stark’s famous proclamation, “Live free or die!”  Yes, New Hampshire, the last hold-out, she doesn’t have to tell us, for white skinned, red blooded patriot.  We already know when she complains of the molestation she almost suffered at the hands of the “turnee” totalitarianism that is the TSA and having her boarding pass stamped “SS” for her refusal to submit to an X-ray scan. The body scan that as we know has caused countless loss of life and suffering across this great nation.   “Take that Travon Martin and Rodney King”, screamed the white privilege on the stage.

But Gerike acknowledges that her suffering pales in comparison to the CopBlock martyrs, led by an Austrian Economics “School of Humanism” led by the gentle, soft-hearted  entrepreneur know as David Koch.   This group suffers in the gulag commonly known as the Valley Street jail, built in the dark ages of 1990’s and staffed by ruthless thugs that eak out daily abuse in the form crappy cafeteria style food, hard beds and limited internet access.

The group that as Gerike states suffered their fate for “cameraing”.  Which to the uninitiated means obnoxiously pointing your cell phone camera at a cop while yelling that you’ve got rights and refusing to quiet down so the cop can figure out what the hell you’re so excited about so he/she can calm you down and get back to inputting the one accident report of the week.  Which behavior usually ends up in arrest for resisting said arrest when the Fine Patriot fails to respect a simple request to STFU for a minute.  Or spending countless hours engaging in petty deviations of behavior, ignoring court summonses which climaxes to the final outrage of being pursued by a hapless small town cop trying to serve you a summons as you skillfully avoid the cop with your bike.  Meet the poser martyr.

Now for the Free State philosophy and why they chose New Hampshire besides just the no-tax illusion.  New Hampshire is the Live free or Die state.  Yes, she did go there; to a license plate.   Lately I’ve been thinking a lot of about John Stark and I’m beginning to wish he had kept his mouth shut and just marched on instead.  Because all of us who’ve lived in New Hampshire awhile get a little tired of the reduction of this gallant shout of a man leading himself and his followers into probable death, to the singular jingo for people who want escape paying their fair for a decent society.  John Stark and his soldiers risked their lives for this country.  Free Staters don’t want to risk even a dollar.

As if the Free State movement, was founded by a computer geek in the 90’s who grabbed onto Libertarianism  through chat room education,  rose up through the computers of the nation and declared their right to live in mom’s basement, watch anime videos, jack off at will and not take out the trash like 4evah!

Now take a minute and put yourself in the shoes of the Freedom Lover. This generation grew up and in strong defiance of the oppressive forces of having mom nag you about the rent, nag about shared responsibility (socialism) to the household, even though you told them repeatedly that you game with the lights off, buy your own food at the 7-11, shower only once a week and hell you didn’t tell them to take that trip to Vegas. They remember that time mom told you that you had to go to your sister’s wedding and they expected you to bring a gift and as a result ten of your porn accounts were shut down for non-payment and you had to pass on your buddy’s killer weed.

Suddenly a light came on and you went on a chatroom.  You talked with your kindred spirits, shared links to famous quotes of Ayn Rand and dreamed of a utopia where no one would take from you, no one would tell you where you had to put your hard-earned money.   A place where your vast talents would find appreciation.  You made a web-page and fashioned the manifesto of the Free State.  You furtively looked for states where no one will mandate you to pay up or get grounded.  Then looking, there you found it! the “Live Free or Die” state.

As time goes on you find that you get pretty popular, it is clear to the world that your websites and truth speaking inspire not only your generation but an entire cross-section of old white men.  The most oppressed species on this planet, the white male suffers daily scorn from demanding people (usually mom) trying to take from you what is rightfully just yours.  Remember the time water heater broke, flooded the floor and ruined you comic book collection? Yeah and she had the nerve to ask you for rent that month; and when you demanded an accounting of how your past rent payments were invested in infrastructure, they laughed at you.

Now that you get the picture, let’s revisit Gerike and pick up a couple interesting nuggets of her wisdom. Seems a shame to let such go wasted on a bunch of metal chairs and then get lost in the cavernous depths of the Youtube catalog.  Remember mom and the basement and her poor fiscal responsibility, lack of accounting and general disregard for your precious property?

Suffer no more the infractions to your liberty that the nanny state imposes upon you.  Come to New Hampshire. It will be better than the month of living under the bridge down the street from mom’s house, mom said you’ll learn someday to be responsible and you realized its not your lack of responsibility its everyone else’s.

Gerike bragged of the fact that New Hampshire has a few towns up north that have no property taxes and like she said, in a state where the only tax on individuals is a property tax (not counting the rooms and meals tax, the business tax, the dividends and interest tax, the gasoline tax, federal taxes and high fees for government services that manage to exist).  Utopia, just like when you lived under the bridge, ah the free life!  No responsibilities, no taxes and definitely no nanny state yelling at you behind the door to pay up.

As if viewing her onstage wasn’t bad enough, we get a clue of how the possible experience of meeting her face to fade.  Properly not assuming that her audience has an intelligence beyond first grade, Gerike reminded that the state at nearly the northern most point of the country has a this annoying thing called cold.  Just imagine, you are stuck sitting next to Gerike on your flight to Tampa.  You wanted to see the convention, visit a casino and the beach and then go home.  You want some quiet time on the plane. Sitting next to you is a chatty woman who wants immediately to talk about her home state.  Then you notice she’s on a mission and is trying to pull you in.  Like an Amway salesman, you want to get that target off your back and shut her up.  So you say, oh, I’d never go there, its so cold! .

But she’s ready for you and now you must hear your new unwanted friend explain, ““Why is it so cold? Well…its because, well let’s say two things. One is,if global warming were true and Al Gore were right which I highly doubt he is, but lets say he is, its going to be pretty awesome to live up here in ten year’s time. Otherwise, you know we do have technology and we do have heaters and all those things.”

Now you have to think of another excuse, this one isn’t going to let go easy.  She goes on and then you remind her, grabbing your ear plugs and rolling them in your fingers wishing you could stick them somewhere, anywhere to shut her up, “Oh, yeah I have a job here and I actually like it here.”

Nonplussed, she proffers that you can live in New Hampshire part-time. Some outside observers may find part-time Free Staterism a bit disingenuous, but moral relativism never had a friend like the pursuers of  liberty.   Even if you have to pay into the evil government, keep your job as a public university professor or stay another fifteen years to get your union pension, no worries, your cabin up on Lot 39 in New Hampshire allows you two weeks (three if you are an oppressed union member) to shoot empty beer cans, tear up the flora in your four wheeler and then as always, leave the mess behind for the evil state government to pick up — if they find it – ha!

The esteemed president failed to mention that the trek to New Hampshire will require one to submit to the oppressive tyranny that is the federally and state funded highway system.  She also failed to suggest that in this summer season when highway repair is always at a peak across the country, new Liberty Lovers eager to prove their worthiness could offer their labor to the construction companies for free to decrease the tax burden on states.  Send those union rats home!  The revolution has to start somewhere.  Now go ahead and call me an Agorist purist, but the opportunity to come together as individuals and prove voluntarism just seems a gimme opportunity.

Imagine the possibilities, the liberty lovers could defy the rule of arbitrary law by camping on the highway.  Although, this may result in loss of life, the over all brilliance will shine through.  No doubt, federal and state laws just inhibit creative growth, safety management is for sissies and so is the currency system.  Which reminds of more possibilities; fashioning currency out of crumbled concrete and asphalt to trade amongst each other for food, water and sanitary facilities.  Call it Asphshire or possibly Crete Bits.  No doubt neighboring communities will want to participate in this creative and new thinking.  Even if they are all only six years old.

Gerike moves on the great legislative achievements of the Free State Project’s non-member members.  Of note was the claim Gerike made about the legislative activities that happened under the state house.  We won’t take them apart singularly, but will mention that one doesn’t save a dime when they cut services, shift money around and waste countless hours and dollars printing the bills that carried the furtive fantasies of immigrants swimming in their own liberty juice.  Bills that died an unnatural death by abortion from the legislative discourse, discarded shamelessly in a committee room trashcan.   Take heed; we in New Hampshire know what happens when the Tea Baggers get together with the Free Staters and share the crack pipe and have a computer nearby.  A baby ensues and someone has to step in and be responsible, lest we all be left to heal the damage done to the twisted wreckage of the democratic process.

Oh and remember mom and her demands about following rules and paying rent or the time when you got with weed and you said it was just Oregano you were bringing to your girlfriend for her cooking, or remember when you got out of grounding by making the case that this time the rules don’t apply?

Don’t worry Gerike points out, you can have your cake and eat it too. Not only can you not pay taxes up north, but you might want to practice your martyrdom and not pay them anywhere you live in New Hampshire.  Now the courts might drag you or one of your buddies in to demand you pay up your fair share. But worry not, thanks to jury nullification in FreeStateTopia, no wants to pay taxes either and the jury of your peers (of course) will tell the judge he’s an idiot and be home in time to strap on your favorite Glock for the Libertarian anti-war rally.

Now imagine, the goal of the FSP consists of the not only a pledge of allegiance that is signed online that according to leading Free State sympathetic politicians doesn’t exist and the stated goal to colonize the state of New Hampshire.  Said colonization will take place by herding themselves together; the collective of individuals who hate collectives, to work their way into government on all levels, with the sole purpose of destroying it.

Thankfully, due in most part to the realism, tenacity and responsible behavior of the majority of New Hampshire residents, this hasn’t occurred on any real level.  It seems by watching how eagerly Free State Project adherents and sympathizers chose a state that already had infrastructure such as roads, police man, fire fighters, public education and the convenience of grocery stores and malls, that none so far have demonstrated any will to embark on creating their stateless dream.  Also thankfully due to this last legislative session, more and more people have become aware of these people and their oddball ideas.

Although they manage to get a few of the ignorant to stick to them like metal shavings to a magnet, most people steer clear of them.  But like any pestilence, one has to fight it on all fronts.  Many of us here in New Hampshire intend to do just that, fighting them back, exposing them to the light and cleaning up the ignorance that attracts them.

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The New Hampshire Immigrant Problem: The Free State Project

Bienvenue à New Hampshire, où nous avons des impôts et des frais. Si cela ne vous plaît pas, retournez chez vous, préférablement pas sur nos routes publiques.

Copied from Counterpunch, apparently there’s more if you subscribe, but Progressive Action NH alas, has no budget for subscriptions right now.

April 27, 2009

The Far Right’s Plot to Capture New Hampshire

by PAM MARTENS

One of the most audacious and cynical corporate-backed social experiments in living memory, the Free State Project in New Hampshire, has now shifted into damage control mode.  Free State operatives learned this past week of my article that appears in the current subscription edition of CounterPunch, taking the first in-depth look at their plan to entice 20,000 out-of-state ultra libertarians and anarchists to move to New Hampshire and implant an extremist brand of free market capitalism: a brand the corporate backers hope will lead to a gutting of business regulations, environmental laws, and return the state to the right wing of the Republican fold.  (Currently, all three branches in New Hampshire, known for its pivotal first primary status, are controlled by Democrats.)

An effort at damage control is playing out in the Free Staters’ internet pummeling of this author and a reporter at the Keene Sentinel newspaper in southern New Hampshire, Phillip  Bantz, who made reference to the revelations in the CounterPunch piece along with an eyebrow raising quote from a Free Stater on legalizing cannibalism, a demand of some fringe Free Staters.

The attacks have not gone as planned.  Over 128 reader responses are now registered in the Keene Sentinel, founded in 1799, which typically receives less than 20 responses to an article.  Area residents, known for tolerance, are displaying pent-up fatigue and anger with the agenda of the Free Staters.

Some of the Free State participants call themselves anarcho capitalists, promoting an embrace of free markets and individual freedoms unencumbered by authority of the state.  Free State members must formally agree to the premise that “government exists at most to protect people’s rights, and should neither provide for people nor punish them for activities that interfere with no one else.” [1]   This premise is widely interpreted by Free Staters to mean all tax supported social welfare programs must go, along with zoning and planning and building inspectors.  Public education would be replaced with home schooling or private schools.

What has been able to fly completely under the radar for the last seven years, is the role of shadowy think tanks and their corporate money backers in the Free State Project strategy.

On the morning of Friday, February 27, 2004, at the Washington D.C. corporate headquarters of the free market think thank, the American Enterprise Institute, this far-fetched plan was carefully rolled out to the national media.  The key speaker at the event was Jason Sorens, founder of the Free State Project. Dr. Sorens is currently an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

The following are excerpts of remarks made by Dr. Sorens at that event, according to a transcript available at the American Enterprise Institute:

“The Free State Project started as an effort to identify the best state in the country for people who favor smaller government and stronger individual liberties to move to…

We started signing up people in September 2001, and our growth was slow in our first few months.  However, growth picked up dramatically in late 2002 and 2003, and by August 2003, we had 5,000 signed members…

New Hampshire doesn’t have large metropolitan areas, which tend to be left-leaning…

The Free State Project is related to market-preserving federalism in two different ways.  First, New Hampshire is poised to benefit if the United States returns to a true model of market-preserving federalism.  One example is Social Security.  New Hampshire could do much better if it were taking care of its own Social Security program because its residents pay much more in Social Security taxes than they receive back in benefits…

The Free State Project can also contribute to market-preserving federalism and its beneficial workings in another way.  Once New Hampshire moves dramatically in a free market direction, we are going to continue to attract individuals and businesses from other states.  And other states are going to have to reform their own laws in order to avoid losing their tax base to our state.

So the Free State Project, in more ways than one, I think, is the thin end of the wedge in increasing liberty throughout the United States.” [2]

(Notice what just happened here: unfettered capitalism has been conflated with “stronger individual liberties.”   Are we not currently living the economic nightmare that proves the opposite is true? )
One of the most astute questions at this conference came from a man identified in the transcript as William Kelly of Cox Newspapers:

KELLY: My question is for Jason.  I was wondering, when you sign people up, do you do any kind of background check on them or anything, to make sure that you’re not importing rapists and thieves to New Hampshire?…

SORENS:  No background checks.  I think libertarians wouldn’t like that, too privacy invading and too resource consuming as well.  So to some extent this is built on trust.  Everyone I’ve met has been normal and well adjusted.”

Jenna Wolf of the Union Leader out of Manchester honed in on another obvious area:

“Have you talked to residents?  What are their feelings about this?”

Dr. Sorens assured Ms. Wolf:

“…we have solicited the opinions of people who live in New Hampshire in our forum…And the responses I have gotten have been overwhelmingly positive, conditional.  So long as you are good neighbors and really support the political ideals that you talk about, then they are supportive.”

In just four months, both the lack of background checks as well as resident reaction would blow up in Dr. Sorens’ face.

Just nine days before Dr. Sorens gently rolled out his case to a strategically selected group of free market think tanks and reporters viewed as market friendly at the headquarters of the American Enterprise Institute, Tim Condon, at the time the Director of Member Services at the Free State Project, had mapped out an offshoot strategy.  The plan was to create a Free Town Project as well – “a low-population town in that same state where Porcupines can congregate….”  (Free Staters refer to themselves as Porcupines – upset them at your own risk.)  The tiny town of Grafton, New Hampshire was chosen. [3]

Tim Condon is a Tampa, Florida lawyer and one of the original organizers of the Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC) in 1991, a group that says it works “to advance the principles of individual rights, limited government and free enterprise within the Republican Party” according to its web site. Unbeknownst to most rank and file Free Staters, Mr. Condon was receiving funds from the RLC.  According to the First Quarter 2005 minutes of the RLC of Florida, “On Jan. 4, the National Board of Directors of the Republican Liberty Caucus agreed to pick up some of the expenses of Florida RLCer Tim Condon of Tampa who – in conjunction with his efforts on behalf of the free state project…has been working to develop the New Hampshire RLC, one of the fastest growing RLC chapters in the nation.” [4]

According to Mr. Condon’s own account of how the Grafton plan came about, an “exploratory trip was launched in early February, 2004.  This time Porcupines Tim Condon and Zack Bass flew to New Hampshire from Florida, and had help from resident Free Staters in exploring.  Also present was Robert Hull, who drove up from New Jersey to join us.”
Zack Bass, according to a June 20, 2004 article in The Boston Globe was actually Larry Pendarvis of Brandon, Florida: “A computer analyst who also goes by the alias Zack Bass, Pendarvis was convicted in Polk County, Fla., in 1997 of more than 100 counts of downloading child pornography, a conviction later overturned on appeal. His other enterprises include a website that peddles mail-order brides from the Philippines with the slogan, ‘Date Locally, Marry Globally.’ ” [5]

According to the Free State Project, it was Mr. Pendarvis who was responsible for setting up a web site targeting local residents [6] and one establishing the goals of the Free Town Project as follows:

The Free Town Project intends to liberate either a New Hampshire Town, or a Western County, by moving in enough Libertarians to control the local Government and remove oppressive Regulations (such as Planning & Zoning, and Building Code requirements) and stop enforcement of Laws prohibiting Victimless Acts among Consenting Adults, such as Dueling, Gambling, Incest, Price-Gouging, Cannibalism, and Drug Handling. [7]

Hostilities flared against the Free Staters in Grafton by residents, followed by a large town meeting and unflattering press.  Dr. Sorens has persistently blamed all of this on Pendarvis and dismissed it by noting that Pendarvis was expelled from the Free State Project.  Dr. Sorens fails to note that it was he who declined to do background checks and it was his own Director of Member Services at the time, Tim Condon, who has acknowledged in his own article that he was part of the conception and planning of the project and made the exploratory trip to Grafton with Pendarvis (aka Zack Bass) in February 2004.

Dr. Sorens has additional explaining to do.  The Mercatus Center lists him as an Affiliated Scholar.  It, and its sister organization, Institute for Humane Studies, have funded Dr. Sorens research since at least 2002 according to public records. [8]

Mercatus is the Latin term for markets.  Thanks to an in-depth report published in September 2006 by the public interest nonprofit, Public Citizen, and OMB Watch, we know a great deal about the agenda of the Mercatus Center.  [9]

Richard Fink, executive vice-president of Koch Industries, Inc., founded Mercatus (then called the Center for Market Processes) at his alma mater, Rutgers University, in the early 1980s.  Later, he moved the organization to George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, where it resides today.  Mercatus blossomed at George Mason in 1997 after receiving a $3 million grant from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, which was founded by Charles G. Koch, chairman and chief executive officer of Koch Industries.  Koch Industries, an oil and gas giant, is the second largest privately held company in the United States…

The Charles G. Koch Foundation is one of the largest corporate donors to George Mason University, donating over $15 million since 1998 to the George Mason University Foundation, which accepts and manages tax deductible donations on behalf of GMU and its affiliates.  The Charles G. Koch foundation frequently earmarks these donations for the Mercatus Center, and in the past two years alone has donated over $2 million to Mercatus…

[As part of its anti-regulatory agenda] Mercatus staffers were pushing rollbacks that would directly benefit their corporate patrons.  BP Amoco, Exxon Mobil, and the Kochs, for example, would benefit from 14 of the suggestions…filed in 2001 to weaken the Clean air Act.  These petrochemical companies would also benefit from four of the Mercatus Center’s 2002 submissions calling for the weakening of the Clean Water Act…

By far the biggest corporate contributor to the Mercatus Center, and the group with the clearest personal ties to it, is the Koch group of foundations and, through them, Koch Industries.  A privately-held $25 billion petroleum, chemical, and agricultural company based in Wichita, Kansas, Koch Industries has good reason to angle for a rollback of environmental standards.  In 2001, the company’s petroleum division pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Air Act for releasing benzene, a known carcinogen, into the air at a Texas refinery.  Koch agreed to pay $10 million in criminal fines and further agreed to spend $10 million for environmental projects in the Corpus Christi area.  In addition, Koch must complete a five-year term of probation and adhere to a strict new environmental compliance program.

In a separate incident, Koch agreed to pay a $4.5 million penalty to settle other Clean Air Act violations at its Minnesota refinery.  The EPA also forced the company to spend an estimated $80 million to install new pollution-control equipment at two refineries in Corpus Christi, Texas, and one near St. Paul, Minnesota.

Koch also has had a problem playing by the rules of the Clean Water Act.  The EPA found that during a seven-year period in the 1990s, a Koch pipeline subsidiary allowed 300 leaks to remain unstopped, spilling three million gallons of oil into waterways across six states.  In January 2000, the EPA leveled $30 million in civil fines against Koch, then the largest U.S. civil penalty, and required Koch to spend an additional $5 million on environmental projects. [10]

A former director of the Mercatus Center’s regulatory program was Wendy Lee Gramm.  As former chairperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) from 1988 to January 1993, Ms. Gramm’s deregulatory stance toward credit derivatives is widely regarded as a key element in today’s financial market meltdown.  According to Public Citizen, “In 1992, as the first step in its business plan to profit on the speculation of energy, Enron petitioned the CFTC to make regulatory changes that would limit the scope of the commission’s authority over certain kinds of futures contracts.  Immediately before leaving the CFTC, Gramm muscled through approval of an unusual draft regulation that would do just that – it narrowed the definition of futures contracts and excluded Enron’s energy future contracts and swaps from regulatory oversight.  Although her actions were criticized by government officials who feared the change would have severe negative consequences (as, in fact, it did), Gramm was rewarded five weeks after she left the CFTC with a lucrative appointment to Enron’s Board of Directors.  Between 1993 and 2001, when the company declared bankruptcy, Enron paid Gramm between $915,000 and $1.85 million in salary, attendance fees, stock option sales, and dividends.”

How much exactly has Dr. Sorens received from the Mercatus Center, the Institute for Humane Studies, and George Mason University Foundation?  Requests for specific dollar amounts to Dr. Sorens, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and each of the nonprofits was met with silence.  Dr. Sorens did take the time to send a seven-page letter to the Editors of CounterPunch demanding a retraction of this author’s first article.

A notice on the web site of the department of Political Science at the State University of New York at Buffalo, a public funded institution where Dr. Sorens now teaches and conducts research, notes that “Jason Sorens and his co-author William P. Ruger, an Assistant Professor at the Texas State University, San Marcos published a study on Freedom in the 50 States: An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom with the Mercatus Center of George Mason University.  The study presents an evidence based ranking of the 50 states in terms of both their provisions for and protection of personal and economic freedoms. Professor Sorens also continues to oversee a grant from Donors Trust.  The grant supports a series of research workshops on ‘Markets and States.’ ” [11]

Exactly 13 days after the study on Freedom in the 50 States was released, the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law at the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions in Ohio, another free markets nonprofit, used the document in testimony on a House Bill in Ohio threatening to “initiate legal action” if the bill was signed into law. The testimony noted, from the report, that “Ohio recently ranked 38th in an index of economic freedom amongst the 50 states.” The bill would have eased mortgage loan modifications to prevent foreclosures. [12]

DonorsTrust, now funding Dr. Sorens “Markets and States” workshops, explains itself this way: “DonorsTrust was established as the sole donor-advised plan dedicated to promoting a free society and serving donors who share that purpose.  To date, DonorsTrust has received $230 million from these donors who are both dedicated to liberty and to the cause of perpetuating a free and prosperous society through philanthropic means…Know that any contributions to our DonorsTrust account that have to be reported to the IRS will not become public information.  Unlike with private foundations, gifts from your account will remain as anonymous as you request.” [13]

These promises of more freedoms from uninvited liberators who are secretly backed by special interests sound eerily familiar.  Hopefully, this particular plan has been outed in just the nick of time.

PAM MARTENS worked on Wall Street for 21 years; she has no security position, long or short, in any company mentioned in this article.  She writes on public interest issues from New Hampshire.  She can be reached at pamk741@aol.com

Notes.

[1] Free State Project web site
www.freestateproject.org

[2] Transcript of Jason Sorens speaking at the American Enterprise Institute

[3] Tim Condon maps out the plan for the Free Town Project in Grafton

[4] First Quarter, 2005 RLC of Florida Minutes (See page two.)

[5] “Grafton’s Messy Liberation,” Boston Globe, June 20, 2004

[6] Blood Bath & Beyond, Grafton Locals Targeted

[7] Web site of the Free Town Project

[8] Jason Sorens affiations with The Mercatus Center
http://www.mercatus.org/SearchResult.aspx?SType=Basic

[9] “The Cost is Too High,” Public Citizen, OMB Report: Pgs 43 – 55,
“Meet the Mercatus Center”

[10] Ibid, pg 52

[11] Jason Sorens’ funded work at the State University of New York at Buffalo

[12] 1851 Center for Constitutional Law Cites Sorens Research

[13] DonorsTrust

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Should New Hampshire Expand Medicaid?

Medicaid could cover many working families that cannot afford private insurance.

The primary goal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)* is to reduce the number of people without health insurance. One strategy to reach that goal is an expansion of Medicaid, so that more people will qualify for the government program.

In its recent decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that Congress cannot force states to expand Medicaid because states will pick up some of the cost of the expansion.

Many New Hampshire Republicans, including gubernatorial candidates Ovide Lamontagne and Kevin Smith, and House Speaker William O’Brien, have lined up to oppose any expansion of Medicaid. If this becomes the law in New Hampshire, it will be the triumph of ideology over common sense, and New Hampshire will have lost an opportunity to improve the health of its citizens, lower the cost of private health insurance, and boost the state’s economy.  Our state budget would not work without money from Washington. Federal funds make up 30% of the budget, while state tax revenues make up 34%.  User fees, licenses, court fines, and other non-tax revenue make up the rest.

In the past, politicians from both sides of the aisle have worked to take full advantage of federal dollars when crafting the state budget. Federal money usually comes with strings attached—some state dollars have to be contributed in order to qualify for the federal funds. Typically, the state and federal dollars are in approximately equal proportions, but sometimes one state dollar can leverage two or more federal dollars.

Medicaid is a federal/state program to provide health insurance to the needy. The vast majority of those on Medicaid are children, the disabled, and the elderly, including elderly in nursing homes who are unable to afford the cost of their care. The uninsured in America are primarily the working poor who lack health insurance because their employers do not offer it, or because the cost is beyond their budget.

Obamacare The ACA calls for Medicaid eligibility to be expanded to 133% of the federal poverty level. This means a family of four with household income up to $30,657 would qualify. Under current New Hampshire law, a poor family is eligible for Medicaid only if its income is less than 68% of the federal poverty level ($15,674). The federal government will pay 100% of the cost of the Medicaid expansion for the first three years, 95% in the next three years, and 90% in the following three years.

Medicaid expansion would have three major benefits for New Hampshire. First, it is estimated that 20,000 people would become insured. Studies have shown that people with health insurance incur less in healthcare costs because they seek care earlier, before a condition has become acute. Better access to health care means healthier citizens. A recent study that compared states that have already expanded Medicaid (Maine, New
York and Arizona) with neighboring states that have not expanded Medicaid (New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Nevada and New Mexico) found that deaths dropped over 6% among those who gained Medicaid coverage.

We also should consider the benefits to New Hampshire businesses. Healthier workers are more productive, and take less sick time. Second, the cost of private health insurance will decrease as cost shifting is reduced. Under current federal law, hospitals cannot turn
away the uninsured who seek care at emergency rooms. Caring for the uninsured is not free. Those costs are included in the cost structure of hospitals, and passed on to those with private health insurance. Third, tens of millions of dollars of new federal money will be pumped into New Hampshire’s economy. Currently, New Hampshire gets back only 68 cents of each dollar in federal taxes paid by New Hampshire citizens. Accepting the Medicaid expansion money will help change that number, particularly if some states don’t take the money (and it appears that the states most likely to refuse the Medicaid expansion money are some “red” Republican states that get far more in federal dollars than they pay in federal taxes.) The economic impact of the new Medicaid money will be equivalent to the opening of a major new employer, with the benefits spread throughout the state and its 26 hospitals.

The debate over Medicaid expansion come down to this: should New Hampshire spend about $10 million a year in order to receive $90 million in federal dollars, if the new money will decrease the number of uninsured, improve the health of New Hampshire citizens, reduce costs for employers, decrease the cost of private health insurance, and boost our state’s economy?

To ask the question, you know the answer is “yes.” And you wonder how Ovide Lamontagne, Kevin Smith, Speaker O’Brien could possible say “no.”

– Mark Fernald

[We removed the right-wing label “Obamacare” and replaced where necessary with the proper descriptor, Affordable Care Act or ACA.  We at Progressive Action NH, strongly encourage writers to not adopt right-wing labels and talking points and although Obama has been the president during the proposal of this program, he personally did not think up the ACA  — his staffers copied Republican plans.]

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Freedumb and Libertea

Excellent summary of the current state of New Hampshire’s higher education under the unwatchful eyes of the conservative legislature who never saw a penny they didn’t want to keep for themselves — at the expense of growth to the state:

Freedumb and Libertea by Susanthe

One surprising bit of information from the report is that NH’s high school dropout rate has continued to decrease, reaching a low of nearly 1%. I was skeptical of Governor Lynch’s plan to keep kids in school when they didn’t want to be there, but clearly, the plan is working. A high school diploma is essential these days, and so is some form of higher education or training, if one wants to be able to live indoors.

As I’ve written before (endlessly) NH ranks in last place for state funding of higher education. That was true before the last biennium when the Freebaglicans cut the already embarrassingly low level of funding in half. Tuition at our two and four year colleges is amongst the highest in the nation. NH may be in 50th place for state funding of higher education, but we are number one in student debt. Yay! We’re number one!

The report shows that 5% fewer NH students are staying in state for their education than did a decade ago.  click here for the rest…

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O’brien the Butcher — Hack That Is

Bill O’Brien, the embattled Speaker of the House of Representatives in New Hampshire has had quite a ride through New Hampshire politics the last two years.  Seemingly a man of extremes; extreme wealth and extreme views, swept in on a wave of libertarian Free Stater support combined with love and support from the far-right Tea Party, O’Brien came in with a mission and a plan.  But looking back at his near two year tenure, one has to wonder, did he achieve his plan?  We will leave that for the reader to decide while we detail some of the more interesting aspects of O’Brien’s service to the people of New Hampshire.

In order to provide an orderly and logical progression of events, we’ll start with the most recent and then move back in time.  First off, the brouhaha he created at the state house this past Friday.  On that day O’Brien had planned a press conference to snag a great photo-op and possibly some national attention with a potentially huge issue; the problems with the federal welfare program’s EBT card, detailed here.  But O’Brien misfired by creating a distracting side-show event by excluding the Concord Monitor press crew from the press conference.

The Monitor press crew never gained entrance, but did due their duty with other reporters and writers, returned fire to O’Brien in spades.  Apparently O’Brien had been seething since the cartoon’s publication in May, prompted by the transgression on the house floor, detailed here., but failed to understand, sometimes its best to let bygones be bygones.

The story made the rounds all over the internet. But as reported in Raw Story, not all in the House found House Rep. Steve Vallaincourt’s [(R) Manchester] actions off the mark, Rep. Dick Drisko told the Nashua Telegraph, “Vaillancourt was definitely out of line when he walked out and said, ‘Sieg Heil’ but it was good commentary on the dictatorial style of Bill O’Brien.” This of course prompted the cartoon by Mike Marland.

The out-cry over the cartoon reached such fever pitch from the Tea Party side of the state that the Concord Monitor editorial board had no choice but to explain how newspapers work; that unlike O’Brien, they don’t run an authoritarian establishment.  In fact they  allow their writers freedom of their own speech.  The editorial board even went so far as to put on the hair-shirt in deference to O’Brien’s tender sensibilities and express due shame about their unruly writers.

Apparently that capitulation didn’t cure the offense to O’Brien’s position and stature.  So he couldn’t resist the chance to show the Monitor who’s boss around those parts. Shortly after the no entrada incident House staffer Shannon Bettencourt (the one closing the door on the Monitor crew) issued a churlish statement to the press wherein she chides, “When the Concord Monitor proves they have chosen to become a responsible media outlet, we’ll be happy to invite them to future media events.”

So much for the EBT story.  O’Brien misplayed again, losing an opportunity literally handed to him to get front and center on a favorite GOP campaign tactic — using welfare to pit the proletariat against each other in jealous fuming over pennies while the GOP rapes the government for millions.  Oh well, the GOP will now have to wait for another opportunity. Even the Union Leader’s gallant efforts to give the story CPR with a lead-off on the Sunday front page failed to catch a spark.  Like the old adage goes, in the world of journalism, old news is no news. It was reported, it was eclipsed, it was killed.

Now let’s go back in time a little more, where we get to D. J. Bettoncourt, former House Majority leader, a Republican from Salem and O’Brien’s young protege and law school student attending UNH.  Just before Bettoncourt’s graduation from law school, O’Brien learned of some serious problems with Bettencourt’s inner ethical compass.

As detailed in links provided here, O’Brien had plenty of opportunity to wipe his hands clean of this mess quickly and with the dignity his position requires.  He had known about the issue before it hit the public and could of dealt with it then.  But instead in a decision only he really understands, decided to allow Bettencourt to not reveal his wrongdoing, remain in the house and resign with no mention of the real cause as shown in this first announcement detailed here on May 25th.

Represenative Guida (R), owner of the firm that Bettencourt had lied about interning for, outraged that Bettencourt failed to disclose the whole reason for his resignation, did the right thing and disclosed the entire story to the press.  Suddenly speculation mounted everywhere about what O’Brien might have known about the shady ethical and moral judgment of his personal under-study.

Once the issue went public, O’Brien clumsily and evasively said he was “shocked” at the whole story, denied knowing anything more and pressed to sweep it over with talk about the house agenda.  Sadly it seems O’Brien either isn’t bothered by dishonesty or struggles to understand the association of the scandal with his failure in judgment.  O’Brien’s failure to act quickly to put out this fire caused plenty of wonder about O’Brien’s character.  Did he fail to exercise due diligence by simply relying on Bettencourt’s version of events or did he already know the full story, but chose arrogantly instead to continue the charade to the public?

As noted by Steve Vallaincourt in NH Insider, “Bettencourt’s swift public disgrace is all the  more astonishing when you consider that this young leader had spent much of his brief tenure schooling others on matters of legal rectitude, civility and purportedly high-minded ethics. (Earlier this month, Bettencourt questioned attorney Jim Bassett’s qualifications for the state Supreme Court.”[emphasis ours]  Did O’Brien fail to see the seriousness of this matter that seemed so obvious to everyone else?

But it doesn’t end there. When Bettencourt announced his resignation, he also announced he would take a position as spokesperson for O’Brien’s  newly formed NH Legal Rights Foundation.   Many in the press and the public noted it rather odd that such an ethically challenged individual would be welcome in an organization that claimed to deal in matters of law.  A few days later, the NHLRF made the decision to rid themselves of Bettencourt.  Again one wonders why O’Brien allowed Bettencourt to continue this public deception of character and even potentially tarnish another organization in the process.

While NHLRF did in fact push Bettencourt out, again it wasn’t until the public got wind of the whole story.  Its interesting to note that O’Brien has no problem bullying and moving around his opponents with little forethought or explanation, but seems to have a hard time moving the chess pieces on his personal game board.

If we look just a little further back we find another mini-scandal again.   In early May O’Brien suffered his first ethical embarrassment with his Chief of Staff, Robert Mead resigning after the discovery of his falsely claiming mileage reimbursements for restricted political campaign work.  As pointed out in the Union Leader article here, Mead made roughly $65,000 in his position, certainly Mead couldn’t have claimed economic desperation for feeling justified at stealing $456 from his employer.  Apparently in the mind of Bill and his friends, its ok for his friends to steal from government, but when it comes to funding government, that’s stealing from them [note the intro music playing the Kinks, “He’s a well respected man about town, doing the best things so conservatively.”  apparently the Kink’s sarcasm was lost on them?]

While these sites here , here and here put forward a good list of O’Brien’s history, here are some highlights:

– turning away citizens who attempt to enter the house gallery during public session,

– nationally embarrassing incident in which birthers demonstrate their inability to distinguish a legislative session from a bar room and O’Brien backs them up

– demonstrating his partisan motivations for the voter ID law which became another national embarrassment for New Hampshire

– an incident wherein House Rep Emerson (R) Rindge, claimed that she was bullied by Bettencourt and O’Brien over some amendments she’d put to the house budget.  O’Brien strongly denied the incident, but another Rep came forward and said he’d heard most of the “one sided” shouting match.  This again became national news as Emerson soon after sponsored a bill to eliminate bullying among house members.

– the ill-advised and tobacco industry pressured removal of the tobacco tax which caused a serious budget shortfall this year, proving despite the Tea Party and Free Stater beliefs, taxes have a purpose.  Especially telling is how this action undercuts the favorite theory of the Tea Party/Free Staters that commerce will naturally come running to make up funding short-falls.

The industry pressured the legislature to drop the ten cent tax with the enticement that it would increase sales and over the border travel to the state.  Then cynically, once the state dropped the ten cent tax,  the cigarette companies raised their prices by ten cents. This effectively transferred that ten cents from the state and tax-payer to the pockets of big business, making them millions at the expense of the state.   O’Brien proved himself a dupe for loopy policy ideas that most policy-makers, even if they spout the rhetoric for their cheer-leaders, know better than to actually implement them.

– serving as such an obedient slave to the extreme right, O’Brien put up the Right to Work (for less rightly says the AFL-CIO) bill up and when it was shot down, resurrected that poor dead horse again and again to the point where legislators were begging O’Brien to just let the thing go and die already.

– the embattled $456 dollar transportation forger Chief of Staff Mead wasn’t completely banished; O’Brien gives him a new job working for the NH House GOP office, making one wonder if falsifying records really isn’t a big thing at all to O’Brien or the GOP.

– O’Brien works to pull back the state requirement that insurance companies cover birth control on women’s plans

– a habit of perfunctorily removing people from posts or committees who don’t tow his far-right agenda

– orders all house reps to follow the same email communication standards as hired employees, threatens removal of those who don’t obey.  Many see the move as violating the constitutional right to free speech of elected officials, who work for their constituents, not O’Brien.

– O’Brien, with apparent little ability to judge a thinking public, tried to pass himself as some kind of economic wizard by building a thin thread of association between his pushing through extremist budget policies and the low unemployment rate in New Hampshire.  Nope! That was shot down prettily easily and his claims faded into the ether.

oversaw redistricting which was challenged in court by two major communities, Manchester and Concord, representing their concerns about losing funding and also that of smaller communities that will lose representation.   While the court challenge was lost and the redistricting stays, Democrats already vow they will be redrawn in the future, at more expense to the state.

In looking at his history, O’Brien no longer looks so much like the charging bear he portends with his huff and bluff but more like a fumbling, bumbling political hack in way over his head.

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