Flotsam & Jetsam


Rah, rah Republicans If running away from principles were an Olympic marathon, Republicans would be a party of gold medalists. The Grand Old Party in Washington has come to praise small government and fiscal restraint, even as it buries both in a blizzard of new spending. Interestingly, New Hampshire’s most conspicuous journalistic friend of allegedly conservative Republicans appears not to have noticed. “We thought Republicans were supposed to be frugal,” said a sheepish Union Leader editorial, expressing the paper’s disapproval of two federal departments, Education and Health and Human Services, paying journalists to promote Bush administration programs. Well, “GAHHH-leee!!!” as Gomer Pyle used to say. “Surprise! Surprise!” Guess someone at the “obits” desk forgot to remind the editorial board that Calvin Coolidge is still dead. Do the words “$400 billion deficit” ring a bell at William Loeb Drive? The paper finds it “troubling” that “the Bush administration used taxpayer money so irresponsibly.” (Say it ain’t so!) So it’s good to know - or maybe it isn’t - that the UL’s editors aren’t being paid by the administration to publish an opinion page that runneth over with praises of Bush on a daily basis. Modest proposals There seemed to be little if anything new emerging from a recent confab during which legislators gathered to hear the benefits of so-called “targeted aid” for education funding. While there are a few cynics out there who view “targeted aid” as a euphemism for ignoring the Supreme Court’s Claremont decision, others are viewing it as perhaps the camel’s nose in the tent of - horrors! - an income tax. How would someone make such a leap? Simple — two of the six plans aired at the Concord forum have specific proposals calling for including a community’s median income in an education aid formula. The first, put forth by Targeted Aid Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Carter, R-Peterborough, calls for the state to issue “needs-based matching grants,” which would rank communities based on median household income. The towns with median incomes of $62,000 a year and higher would receive no state aid. The second - already endorsed by the statewide property tax-hating Coalition Communities has been proposed by Rep. Edmond Gionet, R-Lincoln. That measure would distribute aid based on a formula designed to provide relief to the neediest towns. The formula, Gionet said, includes an income comparison “because we all know that property value is not always an accurate reflection of a town’s wealth.” Of course, neither Carter nor Gionet is endorsing an income tax, just using income to eventually determine the size of a person’s property-tax bill. Which raises the question: Wouldn’t it be simpler to just tax income in the first place and forget about all the cockamamie formulas? Getting the kinks out of the Free State How time flies. It’s already been a year since that grand day when New Hampshire won the inimitable honor of being named as the Free-est State of them all by those utopians over at the Free State Project. Within nanoseconds of the proclamation, in fact, Free Staters the world over were predicting that thousands - nay, tens of thousands - would be converging upon the Granite State and free of us from our bondage. So how many Free Staters have arrived in the last year to declare their allegiance to the movement and the Live Free or Die Utopia? It must be 10,000 by now. A little less. Five thousand? Not quite. Two thousand? Er, no. A thousand, then. Not that either. Then how many? Well, according to a recent story in The Boston Globe, about 100 Free Staters have flocked to New Hampshire - a number that Calvin Pratt, a transplant to Goffstown from New Jersey and coordinator of the Free State Project in New Hampshire, admits represents “less people than originally expected.” Most of the transplants have moved to the Merrimack Valley area and the Seacoast, with a handful more settling in Keene and even fewer moving farther north. While Pratt insists he’s encouraged by the trend, it can’t be that gratifying. Surely things will pick up when Jason Sorens - the Yale instructor who dreamt up the mass movement idea in the first place - gets off his butt and leaves New Haven for the Free State himself. Walking wounded At first glance, you wouldn’t notice much of a similarity between Academy Award-winning actor Sean Penn and New Hampshire Health and Human Services Commissioner John “Double Trouble” Stephen. But ever since Stephen’s $70 million budget blunder was publicized, some of the people who know Stephen best - or at least better than most of us - have started comparing the two. Actually, employees at Health and Human Services have been comparing Stephen to one of Penn’s characters. They’ve taken to referring to the commissioner - behind his back, of course - as “Dead Man Walking.” Change of schedule Considering New Hampshire politicos’ obsession with the first-in-the-nation primary, you’d think that it would have been widely reported when late last year officials in California decided to dump that state’s March presidential primary and return to its historic June date. The earlier date had been advocated by Califore-nians (as their governor calls tem) in the hope of giving the state more clout in deciding the presidential nominees. But after eight years, they decided it just wasn’t working. It's been making the rounds... The question isn’t whether Rochester District Court Judge Franklin Jones should have been reinstated or not. The question is why he even sought reinstatement in the first place.
Never mind all that technology the previous administration talked about bringing to state government - how about some calculators over at HHS?
The D.C. Hate New Hampshire Firsters can just smell the primary’s blood in the water.
Why can’t we run presidential campaigns the way they do in Iraq and not announce the candidates’ names until five days before the vote?
Is it possible that at least one of the top-level HHS employees either forced out or fired by Craig Benson might have been able to spot the $70 million double-counting mistake?
Are we in the first year of the Lynch administration or the seventh year of the Shaheen administration?
There’s no truth to the rumor that Craig Benson has been named to the board of directors of the National Organization for Women.
They said it... “Straight-ticket voting is a mindless endeavor. It doesn’t strengthen parties, it strengthens mindlessness.” - Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, R-Manchester. (Previously L-Manchester, and before that D-Manchester.) “Management should have been looking at this, but they’re out there distracted by other stuff, out there doing GraniteCare.” - Stan Arnold, budget adviser to Gov. John Lynch, offers his hypothesis on how the $70 million hole in the state Health and Human Services budget came about. “What’s that British rock band? Rage Against the Machine? You just have to stand there and holler until something happens.” - A not-quite-with-it Sen. Peter Burling, D-Cornish, invokes the famous American band in promoting his legislation that would create a commission to bargain with pharmaceutical companies to bring the cost of drugs down. In other words, Burling - to quote a Rage song — wants to “Take the Power Back.” “You come with me to Saratoga, and I’ll show you odds of winning that are a lot better than scratch tickets.” — Lempster Republican Sen. Bob Odell to Senate Majority Leader Robert Clegg, R-Hudson, who wanted to know if dog and horse bets are riskier than playing the lottery. “Just a coincidence.” — House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee Chairman David Welch, R-Kingston, on the curious scheduling of bill to repeal the state’s hate crime statute. The hearing was held Jan. 27, the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. “The governor is very open and very nice. He said he hopes everyone feels this was the best session ever.” - Rep. Julie Brown, R-Rochester, after having lunch with Governor Lynch, who is scheduling regulator meetings with groups of legislators.
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