Flotsam & Jetsam


A sinking feeling Would it be fair to say that the 24 senators who recently voted for a resolution asking the state’s congressmen to work to change federal law and claim the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for New Hampshire were also voting to raise the state’s unemployment rate if and when the shipyard is shut down? What about voter notification? If a bill comes due for legal fees associated with the U.S. Supreme Court hearing on New Hampshire’s parental notification law, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to send it to Senate President Tom “Take No Chances” Eaton. That’s because Eaton’s the guy who put the case there in the first place. You may recall that it was the then newly elected Senate president who in 2003 refused to cast a vote over the parental notification bill, so it passed by a 12-11 vote. If Eaton had cast a nay vote on parental notification - as he had promised voters when he first ran for election in 2000 — the resulting tie vote would have killed the measure. At the time, he came up with an explanation that made particle physics seem more understandable. It had something to do with a Senate president not voting on controversial issues because, while he represents his district, he doesn’t when he’s Senate president, so he was actually doing his duty by not voting on the parental notification law - or something like that. The bottom line is that Eaton didn’t do what he had told voters in his Keene area district, and the result is a Supreme Court case. By the way, the Senate president apparently had some kind of epiphany this session on his self-imposed voting restriction - he’s voted on every measure that has come before senators this session. Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil No doubt the low point in the black comedy, “Sunday at the Corn Roast With Gene” — otherwise known as the House of Representatives’ debate on whether to expel former Speaker Gene Chandler - was when some 100 elected representatives actually walked out on one of their colleagues who - horrors of horrors! - had an opposing viewpoint on the issue at hand. What made the situation bordering on unbearable was the relatively warmed-over criticism “Gene’s Walkers” received - far less than the enthusiastically misguided folks who gave Chandler a standing ovation as part of his censureship. But what would you expect from a legislative body that seems to spend more time researching an increase in their mileage payments than reading a Legislative Ethics Committee report that recommends expulsion of a former speaker? When ‘no’ means ‘maybe’ Garrett Chamberlain - the New Ipswich police chief who’s earned more than his share of the media spotlight in the wake of his arrest of an undocumented alien on a trespassing charge - has managed to prove something he’s vigorously trying to deny. On second thought, “vigorously” might be a strong description. The publicity-hungry chief insisted to a N.H. Union Leader reporter that he was not harboring any political ambitions, despite a report on the PoliticsNH.com Web site that he was pondering a run for Congress as a Republican in 2014. In fact, Chamberlain told the NHUL that it was simply a “nasty rumor” and “there was no truth to it.” Seems pretty clear from this vantage point, until you read the rest of the statement. “I’ve always had an interest in politics,” continued the chief, “and maybe I’ll pursue it at the end of my police career, which will be in 2014 at the soonest.” Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. In the first sentence of a two-sentence statement, Chamberlain first denies a report that he’s pondering a 2014 congressional run. And in the second sentence admits he might actually be thinking about such a campaign in 2014. But the best part may be another statement he made to the NHUL reporter: “Even if I did run, I wouldn’t stand much of a chance of being elected. Not only do I come from a middle-class family, I don’t tell people what they want to hear. I tell them what I really think.” Sounds like a natural-born politician if you ask us. Whatever floats your hybrid A recent U.S. News and World Report item pointed out that 15 members of Congress drive hybrid automobiles, including New Hampshire Congressman Jeb Bradley. Jeb Bradley, in fact, seems absolutely giddy about his Ford Escape hybrid, telling the magazine: “I get 32, 33, sometimes 34 miles per gallon. I’m really stoked about that.”       It's been making the rounds... • The state of New Hampshire apparently would fall apart if Gene Chandler were ever to leave the Legislature.
• Ditto Bill Bartlett leaving state service.
• Did anyone else notice that during his speech against the recommendation to expel Chandler, Majority Leader Michael O’Neill had a heckuva time pronouncing the word “ethics”?
• Maybe more mind-blowing than the “Standing O” for Chandler was the very idea that 86 legislators actually voted against censuring him.
• When will SOMEBODY finally tell Grover Norquist to butt out of New Hampshire politics?
• Senate President Tom Eaton blinked in his attempt to shut certain senators out of the Legislative Budget Assistant loop.
• If you had held your breath waiting for New Hampshire Dems to make political hay out of the Gene Chandler affair, you wouldn’t be able to read this right now.
• By far the best excuse for holding the Chandler expulsion vote right away was Michael O’Neill’s explanation that the House needed to air its dirty laundry before a scheduled visit by the ambassador of Pakistan.
They said it... “Reprimand maybe. Censure-maybe. I have no idea why they chose such severe punishment as expulsion.” — Rep. Harold Crow Dickinson, a key backer of former House Speaker Gene Chandler, puts his finger on the problem: Most of his colleagues had no idea either. “I didn’t know censure meant a standing ovation.” - House Democratic Leader Jim Craig after the representatives who supported Gene Chandler rose to their feet and applauded following the vote to censure, and not expel, him. “Can I tell you how I feel about a cigarette tax? We’re doing that today.” - Sen. Chuck Morse, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, on why he voted against a proposed 28-cent tobacco tax hike, even though it’s the same tobacco tax hike included in the budget that his finance panel approved. “As the mother of five children, I can tell you it took longer than four months to wean them off my body. It’s going to take more than four months for the people of New Hampshire to be weaned off of tokens.” - Executive Councilor Ruth Griffin explains the biological reasons she opposes the Senate’s move to stop accepting coin tokens at tollbooths on Dec. 31.
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