Flotsam & Jetsam

Come fly with me

At last month’s Nackey Loeb Awards dinner, Union Leader publisher Joe McQuaid took a moment to thank David Fink and Timothy Mellon of Guilford Transportation – owner of Pan Am Airlines — for supplying the plane that ferried keynotes speaker – and ‘08 presidential candidate? — John McCain from D.C. to Manchester.

It seems unlikely that a potential Democratic presidential candidate would accept a ride from a union-busting airline, but then again, you never know.

A couple of setbacks

The karma just wasn’t there last month for the Friends of Gene Chandler Committee.

First, Chandler himself – the guy who got all the dough to pay for his gasoline and clean shirts, thanks to all his “Friends” – found himself relegated to the back bench after the former speaker was told he was charged with ethics violations by the Legislative Ethics Committee.

Then Henry Mock, the former head of the House Judiciary Committee and Chief Friend, suffered an embarrassing rebuke at the hands of the Executive Council, which rejected his nomination by Governor Benson to be a member of the Human Rights Commission.

Speaking out loudest against Mock, by the way, was Executive Councilor Ruth Griffin, a person with her own problems with “Friendships.” She said Mock wasn’t suitable for the commission because he as a state rep sponsored a law that gagged Fish and Game Department commissioners from speaking publicly in their own defense when complaints are brought against them.

In like Flynn

While people don’t ordinarily receive gifts for Thanksgiving, Safety Commissioner Dick Flynn sure got a big gift-wrapped present hand-delivered by Gov. Craig Benson and the Executive Council.

With the kind of timing that would make even the most jaded political manipulator blush, the councilors cleared Flynn on Thanksgiving eve of absolutely any wrongdoing in the disastrous investigation of former Attorney General Peter Heed.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the evening before Thanksgiving and the day or so that follows are days when people are somewhat distracted, their minds focused more on turkey, football and indigestion. All of which means the news of the Flynn whitewash drowned in cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

Despite all that, Flynn’s highly questionable intervention in the Heed investigation remains highly questionable – Flynn, you may recall, appeared to put pressure on Heed to resign, at the apparent request of the governor, and then tried to put pressure on the State Police to get the investigation off track.

But the councilors and the governor – who signed the Flynn-clearing letter – barely batted an eye at Flynn’s actions.

“Although hindsight suggests you should have perhaps considered the governor’s request in light of the potential effects on your official duties, we cannot conclude under the circumstances that you should face discipline for complying with that request,” the letter said.

You were perhaps expecting a different result?

How to win friends and influence people, part 3,978

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse when it comes to Craig Benson’s communication skills, there he goes again.

The most recent is Benson’s nomination of John Graziano to replace Nick Donohue as the state’s commissioner of education – one in a seemingly endless line of lame-duck nominations to powerful state positions by the outgoing governor.

The trouble with the Graziano nomination – as with most, if not all, of the others – was how it came about. Not surprisingly, the nominee was among the last to know – Graziano found out about the nomination the night before it was made.

And so much for the advice of members of the state Board of Education, who had only a few weeks earlier endorsed the “visionary” (their word) Donohue for another term.

In fact, just days before the Graziano nomination, Benson had been telling all sorts of people – including state Board of Education Chair and Donohue booster Fred Bramante that he was going to reappoint Donohue.

Score another one for the Benson vetting process.

It’s been making the rounds…

The only people disappointed that Jeanne Shaheen decided not to seek the chair of the Democratic National Committee are the people who are scared down to their New Hampshire Primary commemorative undies that the quadrennial political feast is really on the chopping block this time.


It looks like former state rep Terry Pfaff will have some time on his hands, now that he’s lost his second full-time job as former House speaker Gene Chandler’s chief of staff. But at least he has his first full-time job to keep him afloat, as a Manchester firefighter.


Not that it matters much now, but members of the New Hampshire gay and lesbian community weren’t shedding any tears over Henry Mock’s failure to be appointed to the Human Rights Commission. Then again they – like everybody else, except for Mock and Governor Benson – didn’t even know he had been nominated for the position.


The news would have been if Bruce Keough DIDN’T say he was “seriously thinking” about an ‘06 bid for governor. His phone, in fact, has been ringing off the hook from Republicans eager to sign up.


Say it ain’t so John, but all signs point to a Kerry ‘08 race.


Kathy Sullivan hasn’t yet made up her mind whether she’s going to run for state Democratic Party chair again, although she’s expected to after a meeting in Washington with all the other state party chairs.


The last thing you’d want Craig Benson to do is work in your human resources office hiring employees.

They said it…

“How come nothing is ever named after us?” – Executive Councilor Peter Spaulding after approving the naming of two new state buildings after former governors Merrill and Sununu. With all due respect, if you have to ask you just don’t get it.

“There comes a point when you say, ‘Why continue to beat up on Craig Benson?’” – State Democratic Party Chair Kathy Sullivan after acknowledging she had dropped her legal fight over Benson’s use of “volunteer” advisers.

“I’ve never been to court, but I know by watching ‘Law and Order’ anybody who is denied the right to face their accuser is denied their constitutional right.” – Executive Councilor and ‘Law and Order’ fan Ruth Griffin offers something of an explanation into some of those judicial appointments while discussing an unrelated subject.

“This bodes well for the rest of the day.” – House Clerk Karen Wadsworth, after she pounded the speaker’s gavel, forcing it to crack in half, as she opened the Dec. 1 session.

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