Cook on Concord: A very happy 99th, ‘Granny D’

On Wednesday, March 11, friends, allies and supporters of Doris “Granny D” Haddock gathered at the State House to celebrate her 99th birthday.

Haddock, the political activist and supporter of campaign finance reform who walked across the United States when she was 89, was feted for her accomplishments as well as her age. This celebration, originally scheduled for late January, had been snowed out and, typically, Haddock could not schedule it during February, since she was in Arizona, reportedly writing a book!

Former Gov. Walter R. Peterson, a neighbor of Haddock in southwestern New Hampshire, was the emcee of the event, which featured those who had walked across the country with Granny D, members of the recent Commission to Examine the Feasibility of Public Financing of State Election Campaigns in New Hampshire, members of the state Senate and House and many others.

Letters were read from U.S. senators, former President Jimmy Carter, the mayor and city council of Buffalo, N.Y., and many, many others.

Granny D addressed the crowd and, never one to miss the opportunity to push her cause, cited possible legislation in the 2009 Legislature that will keep the effort alive here in New Hampshire.

Peterson, himself in his upper 80s, reflected on the number of years that have gone by since he was governor, 40 years ago. He reported what many in public life observed, and that is that an idea has to be alive for a while before people gravitate to it, which was his experience in connection with campaign finance reform – to which, he said, “I came late to the party.”

Perhaps that is the point of Granny D and other single-minded activists who keep focus on issues. Their dedication and support, while lonely and offbeat at first, often attract many others to a cause or idea with merit.

Everyone present looked forward to the hoped-for 100th birthday of Doris Haddock next year and all wished her good health and continued success.


The Legislature has been considering a raft of retreaded and somewhat “quirky” bills while it also struggles to fashion a state budget in these hard economic times.

Remaining on the legislative agenda are bills on same-sex marriage (New Hampshire already having civil unions), an addition to the state human rights statute of a category on “sexual identification” – deemed the “bathroom bill” by opponents, since it would allow people to use facilities based on their self-perception of sexuality and not the biological fact – and “assisted suicide.”

While New Hampshire has a somewhat libertarian streak, all of these bills push the social agenda beyond what many believe to be the breaking point. Religious organizations, conservatives and practical politicians alike point out that New Hampshire does not have to be in the forefront of every trend, and it is hoped that the Senate will shut the door on these controversial and unorthodox proposals, if they have any success in the House of Representatives where they started.

Most, if not all such measures have been defeated in the past after extensive studies, all of which should be cited for those new legislators not aware of them.

On a positive note, insufficient votes were available for the last two gambling bills to pass the senate and, at the request of the sponsors, they were tabled. If this is a sign that there is insufficient support for casinos and video slot machines at race tracks and other locations, that would be a good development in Concord and, perhaps, put to rest once and for all to the efforts to expand gambling here.

Legislators should resist the urge to tinker with the social order and stick to the important economic, budget and policy issues their constituents sent them to Concord to handle.


Hopefully, with the coming of spring, the warmth and optimism that generally accompanies the season will get people out of the economic doldrums, increase optimism and start the hoped-for economic recovery we all need.

Recent reports on the stock market’s rises on thin rumors of “good news,” point out that Americans’ fundamental optimism is looking for an excuse to return to good times. While the problems are real, optimistic reports would help a lot.

Interesting reports on the prospects for small new and regional banks not caught up in the sub-prime mess should focus on the number of such institutions we have in New Hampshire and how they are poised to contribute to the future economic recovery.

In the past, there does seem to be a “New Hampshire Advantage,” at least because of such resources available here.

Brad Cook is a shareholder in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green and heads its government relations and estate planning groups. He also serves as secretary of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire.