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.  


Steve Lindsey said...

So only one of them didn't take "The Pledge?"


Jean Eno said...

On par as always, Ms. Bruce. Wish you were an option!

Junior Mints said...

Ian Freeman is an anti choice Koch head. Bodily autonomy is for white guys only, for this clown