Saturday, August 27, 2016

NH State Rep Takes the GOP Clown Car for a Ride

     NH State Representative Gary Hopper with Donald Trump. 

In this video, Hopper provides his (illegal) solution to the stealing of Trump signs: 

This is the libertea Republican trifecta - violence garnished with name calling AND a sprinkling of homophobia. Apparently that's Hopper's "safe place." 

From the Hopper archives: 

Creepy Old Pervs in the NH House

GOP Leadership Should Take Their Shovels Away

Guns Don't Kill People, Divorced Women Kill People

Photo stolen from Tuck at Miscellany Blue

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ian Freeman: Putting the Goober in Gubernatorial

 This is Ian Freeman. He's a Democrat, running for governor of New Hampshire. 
             These are some candidate videos he's done:

This is why you should carefully research the candidates before you vote. Freeman admits he's a libertarian, but he's too lazy to go out and get the signatures needed for a third party candidate to get on the ballot. Also, he hates the US and wants NH to secede. 

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to read Ayn Rand......

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Led by the Dead, Part 2

This week, it’s time to wrap up the series on NH gubernatorial hopefuls by taking a look at the Democratic candidates. There are five of them. I’ll be reporting on their various positions as shown on their websites.

Mark Connolly is a former Deputy Secretary of State, and former Director of the NH Bureau of Securities Regulation. Connolly wants NH students to have a world-class education, with more emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.) He doesn’t mention K-12 education funding. He would, however, like to return the funding of our state university system to the pre-2011 levels. This would certainly improve the situation, but even if he tripled the level of funding, NH would still rank a firm 50th in the nation for funding post-secondary education. Mr. Connolly would like to modernize our state government, which is certainly a worthy goal, and quite necessary. He wants to strengthen our campaign finance laws. He supports renewable energy and expanded passenger rail. He mentions the need to repair NH’s infrastructure, notably the rural roads and bridges. His site does not mention Northern Pass.

He’s taken The Pledge.

Derek Dextraze has a website. It is not a good one. There are too many fonts and too many paragraphs written in capital letters. There is no biographical information. Digging deeply into the site, I was able to discover that Dextraze is from Dover. He supports raising the minimum wage to $15. He favors legalizing marijuana, and wants tougher laws for heroin dealers. Dextraze wants to lower property taxes. He has taken The Pledge, and favors a constitutional amendment to prohibit an income tax. He also wants to keep the DMV open later in the evening and possibly on weekends. My daughter recently spent nearly 2 hours on hold with the DMV. The reason for this is that NH doesn’t raise sufficient revenue to fund our state agencies and/or run our state as if it mattered. Mr. Dextraze doesn’t seem to understand the role that taxes play in funding our state government. In any case, the real goal of his website seems to be selling his children’s book.

Ian Bernard Freeman does not have a website. Ian Bernard moved to NH as part of the Free State Project. He’s since changed his name to Freeman, an affectation that is common amongst Free Staters, who seem eager to adopt new names once they move to a new state. Ian has been the leader of the Free Keene cult, but has had some problems this past year. The FBI raided his house and took a bunch of computers, amidst rumors of a child porn investigation. This is the house that he’s repeatedly tried to get tax free status for, claiming it is a church. No arrests have been made as a result of this raid, but the raid brought up the old stories about Ian’s views on the age of consent for adult/child sexual relations. He doesn’t think there should be one. This made life a little embarrassing for the new corporate Free State Inc. so they decreed that Ian wouldn’t be welcome at their large public gatherings. Ian has no website or Facebook page for his gubernatorial race. From the NH Liberty website, I learned that Ian wants to legalize marijuana and end enforcement of victimless crimes. He wants equal ballot access for all candidates regardless of party affiliation. He wants NH to secede, and he wants to make all taxes voluntary.

Steve Marchand has been an auditor, auditing municipal, county, and state governments around the country. He served on the city council in Portsmouth, and also served a term as mayor. Marchand supports legalizing marijuana. He’s opposed to the death penalty. He supports paid family leave. He opposes Northern Pass. He’s in favor of eliminating the cap on state education grants. He lists restoring school building aid as an infrastructure issue, where it merited 5 paragraphs. The red listed bridges got one paragraph. He does include municipal and state employees as part of the NH infrastructure, and emphasizes the need to repair the retirement system for these employees. Roads got nothing. Telecommunications infrastructure got nothing. He thinks that college/business partnerships will bring down the cost of college tuition. Marchand had nothing to say about education funding. He refuses to take the pledge, but is opposed to a sales or an income tax. This sounds a little bit like Kelly Ayotte saying she will support Trump, but not endorse him. The late Antonin Scalia might have called this, “jiggery-pokery.”

Colin Van Ostern was a business manager at Stonyfield, Inc., helped launch the College for America at Southern NH University, a college that helps adults get a college education with little to no debt. He’s also served two terms in the Executive Council. He has the best organized website. Colin mentions a lot of issues that the other candidates did not. He believes that NH needs to expand access to rural broadband! He opposes Northern Pass. He points out the need to safeguard NH’s drinking water. Van Ostern also supports fully funding the NH Alcohol fund. If he succeeded, it would be the first time it’s happened since the initial appropriation in 2003. Five percent of the revenue raised in our state liquor stores is supposed to go to directly to that fund to help finance treatment and prevention. He believes in expanding supportive housing for recovering addicts, and working with businesses to give people in recovery a second chance, by giving them a job. He’s also a supporter of expanded passenger rail and raising the minimum wage. He, too, has taken The Pledge.

Taking The Pledge is a tacit admission that nothing will change. There will still not be enough money to run the state in more than the most rudimentary fashion. The infrastructure will continue to decay, while the costs of repairs will continue to rise. And the libertea crowd will still bray about cutting business taxes, as if that will entice businesses to ride into NH on their unicorns, despite our failing infrastructure, high energy costs, high housing costs, and various other failings. The Pledge allows Mel Thomson and Bill Loeb to continue to run NH from the grave.

Not a one of the candidates mentioned the serious housing problem we have in our state. All of these candidates face an uphill battle with statewide name recognition.

The state primary election is on September 13. Be sure to research all the candidates, be sure to bring a photo ID (to combat the non-problem of non-existent voter fraud), and be sure to vote!

This was published as an op-ed in the August 19 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper.  

Friday, August 12, 2016

Frank's Franking 2016

Step into the wayback machine, kids. We're going to travel all the way back to 2010. You may remember that Frank Guinta made a lot of noise about the alleged abuses of the House franking system by Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter. From Guinta's Blog:

 There is a thin line between maintaining a rapport with one’s constituents and electioneering. These pamphlets violate the idea of a “Congressional Update,” and show an abuse of a representative’s franking privileges. This is not the first time either, that Carol Shea-Porter has been singled out in the past as well for exploiting tax dollars for personal gain. 

Yes, Frank was quite incensed. While he was on the campaign trail, that is. Once he landed in Congress, he became the number one franking abuser.  

Lets Be Frank About Frank's Franking:

The Bakersfield Californian had a story in their Sunday edition about how much members of Congress spend on franking privileges:
* Also among individual House members, Rep. Frank C. Guinta, R-N.H., spent the most on franked mail in 2011: $164,650.

And in 2016?  From Roll Call  

On average, members running for re-election in non-safe districts spent $172 per day on mail franking. That’s far more than the $63 per day that members in safe districts have spent.
Three of the top four spenders on mail between January 2015 and March 2016 are running in some of the most vulnerable districts in the country: Republican Reps. Rod Blum in Iowa's 1st District, Frank C. Guinta in the New Hampshire 1st and Will Hurd in the Texas 23rd.
Jay Ruais, chief of staff for Guinta, said the congressman is “committed to openness and transparency, including communicating our efforts on behalf of Granite Staters, important at a time when many feel alienated from their federal government. As a result of our correspondence, constituents have offered ideas for legislation that Rep. Guinta introduced in Congress, and a few have even been signed into law.”

Yeah, Frank is a real paragon of transparency. From How Do You Spell Apology

On October 27, 2014, WMUR televised a debate between Guinta and Shea-Porter. I was there. When Shea-Porter asked about the money, Guinta said he’d been cleared by the FEC, in Dec. 2010, before he was even sworn in, and he had been exonerated. He accused Carol of lying about his record, and huffily announced, “The people of NH ought to know the truth.”  

He's right about that. The people of NH ought to know the truth. It's just that Frank won't ever tell it. I'll give the Union Leader the last word:

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Independent Gubernatorial Candidates

Somehow we have survived both the Republican and the Democratic conventions. It was a very long two weeks, where huge amounts of money were spent on a big public charade meant to convince us that our democracy is working just fine. Meanwhile, back in the real world, the NH state primary election is September 13, about a month and a half away. Candidates who are hoping to get statewide name recognition don’t have much time.

Last time I wrote about the Republican gubernatorial candidates, using information gleaned from their candidate websites. After the two conventions, I’m sick of both major parties, so this week, we’ll take a look at the independent or third party candidates using their websites as our guide….when we can.

There are four of these candidates. One is running as a libertarian, the others aren’t affiliated with a party.

Republican State Representative Max Abramson of Seabrook is running for governor as a libertarian. He doesn’t really have a candidate website. He has a personal website that announces his gubernatorial run as almost an afterthought. He has a Facebook page for his position as State Representative that seems to sort of function as a site for his gubernatorial campaign as well. Given the absence of a real online presence, one wonders how serious Representative Abramson is in his quest to become governor.

Abramson moved to NH in 2004 as part of the Free State Project. Abramson achieved some notoriety after being elected to the House, when it turned out that he had been assigned to the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. Abramson is a convicted felon. He had a party that got out of hand and decided the way to calm things down was to pull out a gun and start firing - in a residential neighborhood. (Hey, it works on TV!) After being removed from the Criminal Justice committee, Abramson refused another committee assignment. In fact, he refused to meet with Speaker of the House, Shawn Jasper, claiming it was “a trap.”
Max is a quirky fellow. He’s ranted extensively about the fact that legislators are paid $100 a year.  He’s running for governor because he’s upset about high property taxes. When the House refuses to raise sufficient revenue to run the state properly, the costs get shifted to the towns. Welcome to the property tax! It’s difficult to discern what Abramson did for 2 years in the House, but he doesn’t seem to have learned anything about NH fiscal policy. 

Also hoping to put the goober in gubernatorial is Michael Gill from Derry. Gill the owner of a company called The Mortgage Specialists, and is best known for his electronic billboards that are often defamatory or profane. Gill regularly produces semi-literate rants about corruption in NH. He’s a regular on right wing talk radio and has a website that appears to be the NH equivalent of Alex Jones.

One thing Gill does not have is a campaign website. Not even a candidate Facebook page. No positions, no policy –  no reason given to vote for him except his rage against this big, unspecified corruption. He is paying people $5 a signature to get his name on the ballot. He can pay signature collectors, but he can’t manage to put together a campaign website? It’s hard to take this candidate seriously.

Jilletta Jarvis of Sandown is running as an independent. She has a website and a Facebook page. Her website has a schedule of events, and offers information about her views on the economy, drugs, family, casinos, health care and more.  Ms. Jarvis appears to be opposed to Social Security and supports state’s rights. Her views on how health insurance should work are rather naïve. She thinks that people on welfare should have to work for it, and somehow childcare for them will be worked out. Again – naïve, but hey - at least she is willing to put a position out there that doesn’t involve slander on an electronic sign. Jarvis appears to be allied primarily with the libertarian crowd.

William Fortune is our final indy candidate for NH governor. According to the Secretary of State’s office, Fortune is from Rochester. The Live Free or Die Alliance site has him listed as living in Lee. His non-candidate Facebook page says he’s from Warner. On the positive side, they’re all towns in New Hampshire, so we know he lives somewhere here in the granite state. Mr. Fortune has no candidate website. He does not have a candidate Facebook page.

He has two questions answered on the LFOD Alliance page. Apparently Mr. Fortune doesn’t care for college students, and he attempted snark about their need for free college. He’s opposed to renewable energy, saying that it is cost prohibitive and obsolete, “just ask China.” Does this mean all that smog over Beijing is from solar installations? Who knew?

Fortune does have a Facebook page.  It is a treasure trove. You won’t find his gubernatorial platform, but you will find out what he thinks about a lot of things. From a July 31 entry: “Apparently hysteria is not limited to just females.” Oops. He just lost my vote. Further down the page, “This all starts with the destruction of the family by the feminists, the growth of government dependency fostered by the Liberals and the lack of meaningful employment.”

Oh, those pesky feminists. They ruined everything with the crazy notion that women shouldn’t have to stay with abusive husbands. A little more research reveals that Bill Fortune is the head of an angry dad organization. Mad dads are men who have lost custody of their children, and may have lost visitation rights. Over the years I’ve seen men friends lose their kids to vindictive ex partners. More recently I’ve seen women friends lose their kids to abusers.  And it wasn’t just the woman they were abusing. The angry dads have created a backlash against mothers that has led to some kids being sent off to live with molesters. Doing what is best for children is not a gender issue. As long as parents use children as weapons, this problem will continue. I repeat – this is not a gender issue. It’s an adult behavioral problem.

Of the four independent candidates, only Jilletta Jarvis has an actual campaign. Given that Gill is buying signatures, he may well be the only independent candidate that gets on the ballot. All of these candidates plopped down $100 to run for governor. None of them have the kind of name recognition that will propel them into the corner office. Dreamers? Fools? Check them out and decide for yourself. The independent candidate of your dreams may be closer than you think.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Led by the Dead

There are 14 candidates running for the office of Governor of New Hampshire. Five are Democrats, five are Republicans, and there are four not affiliated with the two major parties. Only two candidates are women, one Republican and one independent. Most of them don’t have high name recognition. Just for fun, I’ve read their websites. I’ll begin by reporting on the Republican candidates, and cover the rest in upcoming columns.

Frank Edelblut is currently serving his first term as a state representative, from Wilton. According to his website, Frank thinks that NH should be the first state to try new ideas, and the first to jettison old ideas. Reading through the priorities section was illuminating. Frank thinks that cutting business taxes and eliminating regulatory hurdles will create jobs. He wants to do something about energy costs. He wants to enable a 21st century workforce. And he wants to “get a handle” on healthcare costs. Can anyone find the new here? Frank is going to stand up for families, which translates as: “Frank wants to make women’s reproductive decisions for them.”

Frank loves our community college system, though he says nothing about funding it. It’s difficult to discern exactly what he means when he says he supports all options when it comes to schools, but it sounds as if he thinks we taxpayers should be paying for private religious schools. Frank supports the 2nd Amendment. He owns a gun. MOAR GUNZ! Frank also wants to reform welfare. He wants us to know he’s the only candidate for governor who has consistently opposed “Medicare welfare expansion.” I’m guessing this means he opposed the NH Health Protection Program, aka expanded Medicaid. I hope this doesn’t mean he’s referring to the earned benefit seniors receive known as Medicare. Frank wants us to know that he values the NH environment. He supports Northern Pass, he wants to build pipelines, and he’s miffed about those who turn environmental concerns into political issues. Frank appears to view the NH environment as one big potential cash cow. He says nothing on his site about state parks, clean water, or clean air. And finally, he wants to end politics as usual, by doing exactly the same things that have been failing our state for the last 30 years.

Jeanne Forrester’s website tells us that she is a real conservative and a break from the past. She’s currently serving as a state senator from Meredith.

It’s not an appealing or intuitive website. Over a photo of a lake, we learn that she is pro-life. It’s repeated a couple of times, just in case there is any doubt, and it’s also listed in the section where one can download position papers. She, too, seems to think that taking back NH will be accomplished by taking away women’s bodily autonomy. Forrester thinks that prevention education will solve the opioid crisis. She thinks that the answer to our state’s economy and job creation is lowering business taxes and eliminating red tape. Senator Forrester has taken The Pledge.

Jonathan Lavoie wants you to know that he’s a REAL New Hampshire citizen. According to his website, he’s a regular person. Not a career politician or a millionaire. He’s against restricting our freedoms. He’s running as a Republican and did a little compare views with other candidates – but he only compared his views with the Democrats. To his credit, he thinks abortion is none of his business. He has no economic plan listed on his site.

Ted Gatsas is the current mayor of Manchester. On his website we learn that he’s taken The Pledge. His devotion to dead Mel and Bill* is so strong that he would like to enshrine that Pledge in our state constitution. Gatsas would like to replace expanded Medicaid with a NH solution. He offers no specifics on what that might look like. He wants to stop Common Core. He believes in STEM education, in local control, and sending kids to tech schools. He will create jobs by cutting business taxes. What a maverick! To his credit, Ted is in favor of investing in infrastructure (he and Sununu are the only candidates who mention it on their websites) and he doesn’t say a word about abortion.

Chris Sununu has the benefit and the curse of a well-known name. In this anti-legacy campaign year, it’s difficult to know whether that will help him or hurt him. One of the first things he wants us to know is that he’s taken The Pledge. According to his website, he also wants education reform, funding for charter schools, and school choice. His “vibrant” economic plan consists of cutting business taxes and eliminating red tape. He wants to reorganize DRED, and reduce health care costs. Sununu also wants to make NH a right to work state, because right to work states get all the jobs. (That those states have better infrastructure, lower energy costs, and a lower cost of living hasn’t occurred to him.) That union jobs are some of the only good paying jobs that offer benefits in our woefully underpaid state is of no concern to him. That right to work states have even higher poverty rates would not interest him. This is about busting up unions and has nothing to do with what is good for workers in our state. 

Sununu blames the NH infrastructure crisis on the Democrats. No one seems to have told him that the GOP had control of the NH House for 150 years, until 2006. The infrastructure didn’t fall apart in a decade. The last two items in his economic plan are infrastructure and telecom infrastructure. He says he’ll get expanded fiber connectivity through public/private partnerships. Sure he will. The monopolies that have control of our telecommunications aren’t interested in expanding, because there’s nothing in it for them in the way of financial reward.

There is nothing new under this sun. All of the GOP candidates promise new, innovative thinking, and bold leadership. All of them propose exactly the same things that their party has been saying for the 30 years I’ve lived in this state. Taking the pledge means never having to think for one’s self. NH has been run like a poor state for decades, as the condition of our infrastructure illustrates. The Republican war cry continues to be, “NH doesn’t have a revenue problem, NH has a spending problem.” Just like trickle down economics, this is a failed policy. And just like trickle down economics, conservatives are intent on perpetuating the failure. NH has a housing crisis, which none of the candidates even acknowledge. None of the candidate websites mention the north country. It’s the same old recycled stuff, wrapped in The Pledge, and served up as “innovative leadership.”

Mel and Bill are chuckling from their respective graves. *

*Mel Thomson and Bill Loeb 

This was published as an op-ed in the July 22 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Baldasaro: Representing NH to the World

Josh Rogers of NHPR is in Cleveland. He just tweeted this out:

I've been seeing a lot of NH media and NH folks talking about how this is "just Al." This kind of behavior is tacitly accepted by our media and our legislature. He's never had to deal with any consequences for the outlandish and frequently dishonest things he's said in public, and that has served to embolden him to the point where he has called for the execution of a presidential candidate who has not been arrested, charged, or convicted of anything. 

Some of Al's greatest hits:

The time he testified at a hearing that the state of NH was selling babies to gay couples for $10,000 per baby. I was at that hearing.

The time Al testified at a hearing that phasing out lead fishing tackle was a part of the UN's Agenda 21 to invade the tackle boxes of NH fishermen. I was at this hearing, too.

Or the time he insisted that there was a double triple secret 13th amendment to the US Constitution that was intentionally deleted.

Then there was the time he approved of the booing of a gay Marine.

And finally, there was the nipple incident.

I keep reading that there isn't any way to expel him from the House (not true - it's just never been done) and that the voters in his district will have to take care of it. 

Here's the thing. As long as Al was embarrassing himself on the NH State House floor, he wasn't my problem. He wasn't MY representative. 

Right now, Al is representing NH on the world stage. He has become MY representative. Yours, too, if you live in NH. 

This is not acceptable. This is not the face New Hampshire wants to be showing to the world. 

h/t to Josh Rogers