Flotsam & Jetsam

A man with a planBill O’Brien, who has already declared his plans to seek another term as speaker of the New Hampshire House, was the focus of an informative, interesting — and at times disturbing — recent series of articles in the Nashua Telegraph.(If you haven’t seen the series and want to check it out, you can here)While it’s more than a little long to summarize, there were several enlightening moments, particularly in an article that involves interviews with his neighbors in Mont Vernon. (Normally, the phrase would be “friends and neighbors,” but it has become apparent by now that the speaker prefers merely to have acquaintances, preferably kept at a useful but long enough distance.)O’Brien, not unlike so many other Massachusetts transplants to southern New Hampshire, was barely in Mont Vernon (where he moved in 1999, after 15 years in Amherst) when he dove right into local politics.And, also like so many other ex-Bay Staters, the speaker eventually found his way onto the local school board. (His son attended the Mont Vernon elementary school, but O’Brien did send him to the private Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro afterwards.)One anecdote in particular stands out. It involves a neighbor from his days in Amherst who remembers the speaker as “friendly and helpful.”And what would prompt her to come to this conclusion? Turns out it involves an incident when she locked herself out of her home, and “O’Brien was quick to invite her in and host her until her husband arrived home.” Nice, like she said.Until you realize the alternative would have been to tell his neighbor “tough luck,” “pound sand” — or whatever — and tell her she was on her own.Apparently he didn’t get into the habit of doing stuff like that until he found his way to the Legislature.Buck and coverIf all that talk about U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte as a potential running mate for GOP presidential nominee-to-be Mitt Romney brings back memories from the spring of 2010, you’re not alone.Put simply, when someone’s being touted as a potential vice president, that means that that very same person is being touted as a potential president — Robert Caro’s recently released fourth volume in his massive biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson is all the proof you need of that.And when someone’s being touted as a potential president, it makes you consider whether that person actually has the “stuff” to be president, as the most recent vice presidential nominee of the Republican Party learned in 2008.Thus 2010. That was the spring when Ayotte — as the former attorney general of the state of New Hampshire — testified before a legislative committee on the role she and her office may have played in dropping the ball in the multimillion-dollar Financial Resources Mortgage Inc. Ponzi scheme.Turns out the AG’s office, then and afterwards, was about as effective as Bonehead Merkle, the legendary early 20th century baseball player whose nickname needs no explanation.But Ayotte, who headed the office during more than a few of the bonehead plays, told the committee in June 2010 that she had no personal knowledge of FRM. And she basically shifted all the blame to her subordinates, thusly:”You know, I am all as a leader for the principle of the buck stops at my desk. But for that to happen the buck has to reach my desk, and unfortunately that did not happen.”Presidential? In the mold of Reagan, circa Iran-Contra, perhaps. But in the likeness of Harry Truman? Not so much.F&J Tote Board:Local Government Center: The organization that provides various services, including health insurance, to the state’s municipalities, gets its day in court.Andru Volinsky: The attorney hired by the state to recoup millions of dollars from the LGC tells the bureau that the organization acted “intentionally, unethically and unscrupulously” in withholding tens of millions in health-related premiums.Roger Baribeau: The former Republican state rep from Plaistow is charged with cruelty to animals stemming from an incident in Alton last spring, when he allegedly hit a dog with a stick.Tony Soltani: This time the Republican state rep from Epsom is in the news for joining the legal team of USA Springs, the company that wants to build a controversial bottling plant and is now in bankruptcy court.Mike Biundo: The Manchester resident who engineered Rick Santorum’s long run as Mitt Romney’s only real challenger takes a job with the Romney campaign.John Gallus: The Republican from Berlin becomes the sixth member of the New Hampshire Senate — five of them Republicans — to announce he won’t be seeking re-election this year.Making the rounds:• Emily’s List sure did Jackie Cilley no favors in her race by backing her opponent, Maggie Hassan, for the Dem gubernatorial nomination. Were they trying to send the former state senator from Barrington a message?• Never mind right-to-work, voter ID, refugee resettlement and all the other white whales of his tenure as speaker, will the House redistricting bill be Bill O’Brien’s Waterloo?• Then again, on the eastern front, the House’s major games-playing with business legislation could be leadership’s undoing too.• You think maybe a few people in the business-lobbying profession have heard the phrase, “Be careful what you wish for?” a few times in the last couple of weeks?