Thursday, January 05, 2017

Leadership in the New Biennium

The NH legislature begins their new biennium this week. The GOP controls every branch of our state government, so we can be sure that some terrible legislation will be passed and none of it will actually do anything to improve our state’s economy, infrastructure, or do anything to plan for the future.

Now that there are no restraints, House Speaker Jasper has made some peculiar leadership choices. He named Al Baldasaro of Londonderry as Vice Chair of the State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee.  Representative Baldasaro distinguished himself in August 2016 by braying on WRKO radio that Hillary Clinton should be shot for treason. Baldasaro has been saying stupid stuff in public for over a decade now. There was the time he testified at a committee hearing that the state of NH sells babies to gay couples for $10,000, or his nonsense about how a bill to stop the sale of lead fishing tackle  (it kills loons) was part of the UN plan for global domination. Rep. Baldasaro has the same level of impulse control that we see in our Twittertroll-in-Chief. There are many definitions of leader, from “inspires confidence in others” to  “horse placed in advance of the other horses of a team.”

Speaker Jasper named Rep. Yvonne Dean-Bailey of Northwood to be the Vice Chair of the Election Law Committee. Rep. Dean-Bailey is beginning her second term (it will be her first full term) in office. Landing a leadership position in the second term is very unusual, especially for someone who may not be old enough to drink legally. Most leadership positions are given to experienced legislators. Dean-Bailey was touted as a “fresh young voice” when she ran her remarkably well funded (by outside special interests) campaign in a special election in 2015. In this case, “fresh, young voice” means: “same old GOP talking points coming out of a young female mouth.” The NH GOP lost up and coming women Pam Tucker and Marilinda Garcia, and obviously intends to groom Dean-Bailey for bigger things.

Jasper appointed Rep. Donald LeBrun of Nashua to be the Vice Chair of the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee. Representative LeBrun’s campaign website says nothing about health, human services, or elderly folks. His sole interest is in cutting taxes and spending. LeBrun has chosen interesting ways to attempt it. In 2011 he sponsored a bill that would have made drug testing mandatory for food stamp recipients. It would have cost the state at least $7 million dollars, while saving nothing, given that SNAP is a federal program. There isn’t any way that there could be $7 million in fraud in NH – a state with a population of only 1.3 million. Hardly a fiscally responsible decision, but LeBrun has it in for the poors.

His next foray into cutting spending was a bill to drug test TANF recipients. This time he was smart enough to put a “Pay to Pee” provision in, whereby the individuals would have to pay for their own testing. If they passed, they’d be reimbursed. I attended the hearing for this poorly written bill, and witnessed LeBrun getting a little fed up with being asked questions he couldn’t answer. The bill isn’t perfect, he kept  repeating, petulantly. When people who knew actual facts testified, LeBrun sat there shaking his head no at them.

But that isn’t even the worst. At a hearing in 2013, LeBrun was quoted as saying, “Rather than spending money on people with disabilities, we have another choice, voluntary euthanasia…”
LeBrun was not removed from the committee. He was not ousted from the House. It wasn’t a big story in the NH media, unlike the story of the 90 year old freshman legislator who was ousted a few years ago for telling a constituent that it was too bad we couldn’t send people with disabilities to Siberia to freeze to death. This time, the leadership and the media covered for LeBrun. And now, despite an absence of any visible humanity at all, he’s just been given a leadership position on a committee that deals with important issues relating to humans.

In addition to being a poor excuse for a human being, he’s also a clown. This year he filed a bill to deny public benefits to anyone who desecrates the US or the NH flag. This is his idea of a priority for our state.

This is a man Speaker Jasper considers worthy of a leadership position. It seems that Jasper has abandoned all pretense of rationality and has chosen to let his freak flag fly along with the rest of his party.

Speaking of leadership, Rep. Frank Sapareto of Derry has been made Vice Chair of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. In 2013, Sapareto was convicted of simple assault in a domestic violence case. Gun felon and former State Rep. Max Abramson was not allowed to remain on the committee when his felony came to light. Sapareto challenged Jasper for the Speakership, and Jasper admitted that he promised Sapareto the committee position if he ended his run and backed Jasper. So, not only is a convicted abuser serving as the Vice Chair of the House Criminal Justice Committee – he got the job as quid pro quo.

The House Child and Family Law Committee has been eliminated. Speaker Jasper claimed that the only people who wanted to be on the committee were people who have grievances with the system. At a time when DCYF is under investigation for child deaths, this is a remarkable decision.

The good news is that the work of this committee will be shipped off to the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee (under the leadership of a convicted domestic abuser) and the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee – under the leadership of a man who thinks euthanizing people with disabilities is a reasonable cost saving plan.

Oh, what a biennium it’s shaping up to be. 

NOTE: The House voted on Wednesday not to eliminate the Child and Family Law Committee 

Published as an op-ed in the January 6 edition of the  Conway Daily Sun newspaper



You should move to the island of Agius Efstratious in the Aegian Sea. You'd be successful there.

Because in New Hampshire you just don't get it.

Colin Van Ostern lost the election.

Steven J. Connolly

susanthe said...

Ah, look who's back! It's Steven J. Special Snowflake, looking for his safe place.

This isn't it.

Given your inability to comprehend what you read and comment accordingly, you should move to South Sudan, where they enjoy the lowest literacy rate in the world.

Have a miserable day, Steven!

Sherry Frost said...

I'm also calling bs on the "no one wanted to serve on C&FL committee" line; as soon as the house adjourned for that session, I ran up to the Speaker's office and put my name in for the committee (it was my second choice, after Education, when committees were first being assigned). Instead of making careful decisions and appointing people who wanted and were qualified to serve on that committee, however, Jasper made the appointments punitive.

So much for all that "working together" and "setting aside party differences" he talked about in orientation, huh?