Thursday, January 20, 2011
Focused Like a Laser
The new, GOP dominated NH legislature has been sworn in, and begun to act. As you will recall, they campaigned on “cut spending, cut taxes, jobs, jobs, jobs.” These newly minted legislators intended to focus “like a laser” on spending cuts and job creation. A look at the priorities thus far could give one the impression that they need a new laser. For those readers who are musically inclined, it would not be inappropriate to sing, “Send in the Clowns” as you read.
The very first act of the new NH House was to overturn a gun bill enacted by a GOP legislature 30 odd years ago that prevented House members from bringing their guns into the chambers. This was enacted after a fellow legislator who was brandishing a gun threatened House Speaker Marshall Cobleigh. With an unemployment rate of approx. 11% in our state, this was the first priority of the Laser Legislature. Of course, this does have the potential to create jobs; jobs for EMTs, doctors, nurses, police, and funeral directors.
The Laser Beams next distinguished themselves by announcing their intent to oust Rep. Mike Brunelle of Manchester. Rep. Brunelle is the executive director of the NHDP, in addition to being elected by the voters of his district. Freshman Rep. Phil Greazzo claims that Brunelle is acting as a party advocate by filing bills that Democrats favor. The new kids on the block claim that Brunelle’s post, as ED of the NHDP is some sort of conflict of interest. Curiously, this conflict did not exist when Donna Sytek was Speaker of the House and Chair of the NH GOP. It wasn’t a conflict when Rep. Lee Ann Steiner served as NH GOP Executive Director under NH GOP Chair and State Senator Rhona Charbonneau. In other words – it’s only a conflict when it’s a Democrat. In 1976, Governor Mel Thomson tried something similar. He wanted to oust Democratic Representative Kate Hanna, over a political disagreement. He went to his AG, who told him he couldn’t do that. That AG was a fellow named David Souter, whom you may have heard of. The difference between Thomson and the Lasers is this – as crazy as Mel may have been, he was smart enough to get legal advice before shooting himself in the foot. The Laser Beams did the opposite. They shot first, then had to postpone the hearing they’d scheduled to oust Brunelle.
Next, Speaker O’Brien, in his quest to bring more transparency to government, announced his intent to return to the old GOP policy of no public notice of when the executive session would be held by a committee on any bill. O’Brien seems to think that the public learns of these things by osmosis – or that we the public are hanging around the state house just in case. This was always the policy when the GOP was in charge, but in 2007, Speaker Terri Norelli instituted a new policy: committee chairs had to list the date and time in the House calendar for each bill they intended to hold an executive session on. This actually created transparency, something our new Laser Beams are only paying lip service to, thus far. It may not occur to them that people who live in the northern part of the state have to drive a ways to get to the state house, which puts a damper on our loitering in the halls, just in case there’s an executive session.
Then there is Rep. John Reagan, chair of the Health and Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee, who recently ended a public hearing by refusing to allow any public testimony. So much for transparency.
Rep. Jordan Ulery drew some criticism for a bill he filed that would require any shop that has signs in a language other than English would also have to post signs in all of the official languages of the UN. (English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish.) This sounds just like the kind of over-regulation that Republicans are supposed to be opposed to. Ulery’s feeble attempt to redeem himself in the press fell short, when he brought the Holocaust into his explanation – which is always a losing gambit, especially when it sounds as if one is suggesting that the Jews herded themselves into the ghettos. Later he tried to suggest that he meant that when people are seen as different they could be discriminated against.
This is all aimed at the Spanish speaking population. Ulery would have us believe that he cares about them so much that he’s concerned for their potential isolation. Anyone who has followed immigration issues in the legislature over the last decade knows that Ulery’s concern for the Spanish speaking population is non-existent. This is just the attempt of a clownish bigot to ban Spanish language signs. Ulery’s bill would require a reworking of our Welcome/Bienvenue signs at the NH border. Ulery’s bill would force his narrow views on small business owners all over the state – businesses who should be free to post signs in whatever language they wish.
The Republican insistence that there is only one true language is baffling. These same people often espouse their admiration for our Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson spoke fluent Latin, Greek, Spanish, Italian, French, and English. He was learning German, and dabbled in Arabic, Gaelic, and Welsh. John Adams spoke Latin, Hebrew, Greek, English, French, and Spanish. Ben Franklin spoke French, Italian, English, Spanish, Latin, and German. These were not narrow minded, provincial men. They were men who received a classical education – something once valued in our society.
The people of NH didn’t elect the classically educated. They elected a bunch of folks who sold them a bill of goods about being focused on spending cuts and job creation. By my count, thus far, they’ve wasted a lot of taxpayer dollars, failed to create a single job, and made fools of themselves in the process.
© sbruce 2011
This was published as an op-ed in the Conway Daily Sun, in the January 21, 2011 edition.
Posted by susanthe at 8:16 PM