Flotsam & Jetsam

Room to move

Mount Sunapee Resort owners Tim and Diane Mueller didn’t exactly win praise recently for the way they run their Crested Butte resort in Colorado.

According to a report issued by the Ski Area Citizens Coalition, Crested Butte has the worst environmental record of any ski area in the Rocky Mountain State.

In fact, in 2004, Crested Butte received an “F” on the coalition’s scorecard – dead last among 76 Western ski areas.

While the ski area won praise for its work in preserving water quality and promoting commuter buses from off-site to the ski area, most of its failing grade was due to its plans to expand onto nearby Snodgrass Mountain as well as plans for development near two of its lifts.

For his part, Tim Mueller said, “I think we are good environmental stewards. The reason we don’t do so well is because we have expansion plans.”

A matter of integrity

While there have been plenty of nouns and adjectives uttered in praise of former House Speaker Gene Chandler’s probity, honesty and uprightness, none has been spoken as frequently as the word “integrity.”

Chandler, you’ll recall, is the man who put us all through an ordeal over his ethically questionable, eager acceptance of donations from “friends” – the same pals who have been thumbing through Roget’s to come up with all those adjectives and nouns in admiration of the Man from Bartlett.

Exhibit A is the letter written by Chandler attorney Ovide Lamontagne to the legislative ethics committee. In it, he admits that Chandler violated the Legislature’s ethics rules – although it wasn’t a “willful” violation. Besides, he writes, no one has raised questions about Chandler’s “integrity, honesty and even-handedness in carrying out his official responsibilities.”

Lamontagne is right. No one has raised such questions about Chandler – at least not directly. But the recent revelation that the House has quietly settled a sexual harassment lawsuit it lost at trial almost a year ago – well, let’s say it raises some questions indirectly.

As reported in the Concord Monitor, under an agreement reached in mid-November and signed on Dec. 1, the House agreed to pay $85,000 to Dorothy Pike, a former committee secretary who claimed that former rep Ron “Tony” Giordano of Salem sexually harassed her in 2001 — the misbehavior included accusations that Giordano forcibly kissed and groped her at work, repeatedly asked her to have sex and made threatening phone calls to her home. She also said that top House staff retaliated against her when she complained.

That’s “top House staff” under the leadership of the even-handed Gene Chandler.

In fact, it’s apparent that the “top” staff tried to sweep the matter under the rug — and it would have stayed there if not for Pike’s suit. It’s also apparent that the even-handed Chandler wouldn’t have called for a sexual harassment policy covering lawmakers – or to hold sexual harassment training sessions for lawmakers in 2002 and 2004 during freshman orientation, if Pike hadn’t sued.

Though the then-speaker wrote a letter encouraging members to attend the sessions, many didn’t – because attendance wasn’t mandatory. Apparently letting the public know about the resolution of the first sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the House and a member wasn’t mandatory either.

Keeping it real

Gov. John Lynch’s inaugural address left a few of his listeners feeling uneasy, at least when it came to his mantra of honesty and “clean government.”

One of them was Rep. Saghir A. Tahir, R-Manchester, who told the Portsmouth Herald he “took offense at one word, and that was honesty,” quickly adding that the utterance of the word “implied that the government of Craig Benson was dishonest.”

Perhaps more tellingly, another of the less comfortable listeners was Rep. David Hess, the former House majority leader. Hess complained that “some of the references to free and open government were overdone, I think.”

He added: “We got the point the first time,” leaving the intriguing possibility that Lynch’s speech wasn’t the first time the state’s elected officials had heard about “free and open government.”

In the wake of recent events, you could have fooled us.

Take your pick

If you’re confused about the state of New Hampshire’s economy, you’re not the only one. Consider the following headlines about a briefing a group of economists gave House lawmakers earlier this month:

• “N.H. economy faces good and bad news” — Nashua Telegraph

• “Growth puts NH at head of pack” – The Union Leader

• “New Hampshire’s economy growing, but not at robust pace” – The Boston Globe

It’s been making the rounds…

Rumors are evaporating that political operative Patrick Hynes was going to take over as state GOP executive director on a commission basis. So is it possible that it was Hynes himself who floated them?

When Newt Gingrich says he’ll be visiting Iowa and New Hampshire to pitch his book and test the presidential waters – is that a promise or a threat?

The only thing in Gingrich’s favor as a potential president candidate: He’s not a U.S. senator.

Does anyone else see the irony in the efforts by Portsmouth to latch on to state money to help keep the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard open — while it’s fighting, as leader of the “Coalition Communities,” to make sure that property-poor districts get none of the Port City’s money for their schools?

There’s a growing suspicion in the State House that Governor Lynch’s budget will look much the same as a Benson-authored one. The only differences: a cigarette tax and the happy face affixed to the bottom.

The odds against passage of a gambling bill this year shot up to high double digits after the indictments of the general manager and assistant GM at Lakes Region Greyhound Park in a nationwide mob-linked gambling ring.

U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg’s timing seems off in his efforts to gut the independent-board of directors provision of Sarbanes-Oxley, considering that he’s the same guy who wants to give Wall Street a shot at managing our Social Security accounts.

There’s no truth to the rumor that if you call the Corner Office and ask for the governor you get Jeanne Shaheen’s voice mail.

They said it…

“New Hampshire is a wonderful state. But 35 years ago — let’s get back to the important thing — 35 years ago I moved to Vermont.” — Otto Iannantuoni, who owns the Green Brier Inn in Killington, Vt., explains why he’s more than a little skeptical about some of his fellow Killingtonians’ continued efforts to secede and join the Granite State.

“There is something basic in males that defines us more about what we do (for a living). It’s part of who we are. Women are a lot more comfortable either caring for children at home or not working but staying active in other things. I only did that once and it was difficult for me.” — Craig Benson, in an interview shortly before stepping down as governor.

“I’m not advocating that this is a picture-perfect public administration exercise. It certainly hasn’t been.” – Manchester Finance Officer Kevin Clougherty, after the revelation that city taxpayers are liable for $230,000 in legal fees associated with construction of the new Fisher Cats ballpark – money that it had been thought was already covered by a multimillion-dollar bond.

“I think she’s got two chances — slim and none.” – Executive Councilor Peter Spaulding on the likelihood that Pam Smart, convicted in 1991 of hiring the teen killers of her husband, would be pardoned by the council.

“All the L’s and J’s are on the keyboards, that’s all I can say.” – Alicia Preston, former press secretary to former Gov. Craig Benson, in response to reports that the Corner Office was left in a mess after the Benson staff departed.

Categories: News