Flotsam & Jetsam



Published:

The squared circle When you come down to it, the ongoing set-to over construction of a high-end outlet mall in Merrimack was really a match-up between two of New Hampshire’s more well-known political heavyweights. In this corner, carrying the water for the New Hampshire Homeowners Main Street Alliance and wearing a Keough for Governor T-shirt and Sean Mahoney for Congress stretch shorts was Dave “The Hancock Hammer” Carney, political consultant to the rich, powerful and, occasionally, close-seconds. In the other corner, wearing an Alexander ’96 flannel shirt and Benson for Governor lycra tights, and catching flack for the Chelsea Property Group Inc., was “Punchline” Pat Griffin, advertising whiz whose Griffin Bodi Krause ad agency and PR firm has set the standard for New Hampshire political ads, for better or worse. The Hammer’s goal: to convince Merrimack voters not to back a zoning change that would allow construction of Chelsea Property’s 550,000-square-foot outlet mall. Punchline’s job: to convince voters that the mall would be the greatest thing since toll-free roads. The bout, as with every great match-up, was close, with plenty of infighting, and even a couple of knockdowns (when Punchline pulled out the 11th-hour no tolls pledge, some spectators thought it was all over). In the end, the Hammer triumphed, employing a “rope a dope” strategy that lured Punchline’s corner into thinking they only needed a simple majority to win, only to find out at the last minute that they’d need a far higher majority, which they couldn’t achieve. But it was only a TKO. And, as in every great pugilistic saga, there will undoubtedly be a rematch, thanks to Chelsea Properties’ plan to challenge the higher majority vote in court. Great expectations for ‘racinos’ Readers of the New Hampshire Pari-Mutuel Commission’s annual report might come away with the impression that “racinos” - horse and dog tracks with video gambling facilities - were a gold mine, all up and down the Eastern Seaboard. “Every state on the seaboard that has adopted slots at the racetracks has enjoyed this multiple revenue increase,” writes Timothy Connors, the commission’s chair. “Our experience and observations have found virtually no negative impact.” Well, that’s one way of looking at it. Unfortunately, a report recently issued by the New York State comptroller’s office shows that the take from the state’s racinos hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations. The state authorized the racinos three years ago to meet a court ruling that ordered it to send more money to fund New York City’s schools. The administration of Gov. George Pataki backed the idea, and forecast that the state would be collecting about $240 million from the machines by the end of the 2005 fiscal year, which ended on March 31. But according to the comptroller’s office, the take was a little more than $141 million. Part of the reason for the shortfall was the failure to open as many racinos and gambling parlors as originally planned. But the other was that the racinos that were already open have fallen far short of their revenue expectations. In fact, Bennett Liebman, coordinator of the Program on Racing and Gaming Law at Albany Law School, told The New York Times that the racinos “have seriously underperformed.” According to Liebman, the national average per video gaming terminal is a take of $250 a day. In New York, it’s far lower - as low as $170 per terminal at the Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, the very same harness track that Connors sings the praises of in his agency’s report. Harvard’s dreams of Jeannie Her U.S. Senate campaign came a-cropper in the fall of 2002, and the Kerry for President campaign she chaired last year likewise went belly-up. But former New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen should be a hit in her new position as director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where she will no doubt write a new chapter to her career, “Profiles in profiles.” For Shaheen cast many a profile during her six years in New Hampshire’s corner office. The announcement of her latest position included a statement from Harvard President Lawrence Summers, praising the former governor for having “stayed the course” on education funding in New Hampshire. Shaheen did, indeed, stay the course — whatever it was. The announcement also included words of praise from Sen. Edward “Splash” Kennedy and New Hampshire’s own Sen. Judd Gregg, the latter being careful to point out that he and Shaheen “come from different points on the political spectrum.” Really? We thought she came from ALL the points on the political spectrum. Great expectations for ‘racinos’ Readers of the New Hampshire Pari-Mutuel Commission’s annual report might come away with the impression that “racinos” - horse and dog tracks with video gambling facilities - were a gold mine, all up and down the Eastern Seaboard. “Every state on the seaboard that has adopted slots at the racetracks has enjoyed this multiple revenue increase,” writes Timothy Connors, the commission’s chair. “Our experience and observations have found virtually no negative impact.” Well, that’s one way of looking at it. Unfortunately, a report recently issued by the New York State comptroller’s office shows that the take from the state’s racinos hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations. The state authorized the racinos three years ago to meet a court ruling that ordered it to send more money to fund New York City’s schools. The administration of Gov. George Pataki backed the idea, and forecast that the state would be collecting about $240 million from the machines by the end of the 2005 fiscal year, which ended on March 31. But according to the comptroller’s office, the take was a little more than $141 million. Part of the reason for the shortfall was the failure to open as many racinos and gambling parlors as originally planned. But the other was that the racinos that were already open have fallen far short of their revenue expectations. In fact, Bennett Liebman, coordinator of the Program on Racing and Gaming Law at Albany Law School, told The New York Times that the racinos “have seriously underperformed.” According to Liebman, the national average per video gaming terminal is a take of $250 a day. In New York, it’s far lower - as low as $170 per terminal at the Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, the very same harness track that Connors sings the praises of in his agency’s report. Mush from the wimp? Way back in 1987 or ’88, Newsweek ran a cover photo of George Herbert Walker Bush a-sailing on his yacht, with the cover line, “The Wimp Factor.” The vice president was not at all amused, and Republicans have been flexing their political biceps ever since. But the “I Am Not A Wimp” era may be over — in New Hampshire, at least. In fact, Republican State Chairman Warren Henderson is sounding these days like one of those pale, pastel Republicans who want a kinder, gentler New Hampshire. Appearing on WMUR-TV’s “New Hampshire Close-Up” political gabfest, Henderson visibly and vocally anguished over the fact that some of the harsh things being said about some of the 2008 presidential hopefuls who have lately visited New Hampshire — most notably Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. — may hurt the New Hampshire primary by creating a “climate of hostility” and a “climate of intimidation” that will dissuade potential candidates from coming. Henderson’s Democratic counterpart, Kathy Sullivan, might have laughed him off the set, but for the fact that Kathy can’t laugh that hard on television. (Those cameras and lights create their own “climate of intimidation.”) Whoever aspires to be our next president, after all, has to be able to face down the terrorists. How will our fearless leader stand up to Osama bin Laden if he (or she) can’t endure the scorn of Kathy Sullivan? As Margaret Thatcher might tell Senator Frist, “Look, Bill, this is no time to go wobbly.” It's been making the rounds... Did President Bush declare April 24-30 as national Small Business Week to honor the companies that have made their national business smaller by shipping more of their work overseas?
For Jeb Bradley, the flip is Social Security privatization. For Charlie Bass, the flop is MTBE cleanup.
Executive Councilor Ruth Griffin, a Ned Helms fan, is a heckuva lot more ticked off about the Helms hullabaloo than you could tell from press coverage.
House Majority Leader Tom Delay must have recently received a military commission. Why else would everyone be calling him “Major Liability”?
Two recent headlines in the UL: “Bush continues fight for younger workers” and “Dems adamant on blocking Social Security reform.” And they say the liberal media’s biased?
Perhaps Bernie Streeter’s community service should be delivering Meals on Wheels. In his own personal vehicle, of course.
Certainly was nice of former GOP Chair John Dowd - in his April 25 UL op-ed piece, “A former GOP chairman speaks on the phone jamming case” — to leave Chuck McGee hanging high and dry.
They said it... “Forty seven weeks and it’s ‘Sayonara, baby.’” - Atkinson Selectman Philip V. Consentino, announcing that he had enough of public service over a political brouhaha involving the controversial leasing of a Ford Explorer. “It’s almost like people waiting for the smoke to come out of the chimney.” - State Rep. Fred King, comparing the lengthy process to come up with an education-funding formula to the selection of a new pope. “This will be the death knell of the New Hampshire advantage.” - Merrimack Republican Rep. John Gibson decrying the House’s vote to increase New Hampshire’s cigarette tax to 80 cents a pack. “Someone once compared it to solving a Rubik’s Cube. There are so many different combinations we could apply to this.” - State Transportation Commissioner Carol Murray on the not-so-simple efforts to complete establishment of the E-ZPass toll system on New Hampshire’s highways.

 

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