The Shriver-N.H. connection
Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of President John F. Kennedy and wife of former vice presidential candidate R. Sargent Shriver, died the second week of August at the age of 88. Founder of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation and its programs, Special Olympics and Community of Caring, Mrs. Shriver was a dynamic force for good in the world.
While much has been made of Mrs. Shriver’s contributions, life and fine family, her connection to New Hampshire is not as well known.
The smaller of the programs of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, Community of Caring, provides a value-based educational setting model for schools. Two of the schools that adopted the program early were Parkside Junior High School and Manchester High School West in Manchester, under the leadership of then-Principal Robert A. Baines, later mayor of Manchester. Mrs. Shriver got to know Baines well, and when the program needed an interim director in the mid-1990s, she asked him to Washington and direct it.
In Washington, Baines had the opportunity to have an office two doors down from Mrs. Shriver and got to know Sargent Shriver as well.
On a visit to see Baines, I had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Shriver.
Going to Mrs. Shriver’s office, she was in a tizzy about something or other that the federal government had recently done. She said, “You know, these people in Congress, they just pass these laws and leave it to the rest of us to have to deal with them. They don’t know anything about the ramifications of their laws. You know, I have three brothers who were United States senators.”
Baines and I looked at each other and one of us said, “Yes, Mrs. Shriver, we know who you are.”
She was dedicated, she was spirited, and she left her mark on a grateful nation.
Another 88-year-old veteran who has made great contributions is former New Hampshire House Speaker and Senate President Stewart Lamprey.
Recently, Lamprey sent me a letter demonstrating his continued interest and involvement in the state.
He served as Senate president when Walter Peterson served as speaker of the House and then as governor and, as part of that team of responsible moderate Republicans, helped transform the state and, in the process, became experienced in the budget process.
Lamprey wrote: “ … 30+ years ago, I got a grant from the federal government to make a study of the transition from bi-annual session to annual. Many of the suggestions were followed except for the budget process …
“During the ’08 session, Lou D’Alessandro asked me to help with the budget from the standpoint of improving the process and to make a report to the Senate Finance Committee. For 10 weeks I listened to all the budget testimony. I have enclosed a copy of my report, but it did not go any place as mental exhaustion had taken place with everyone concerned …
“Now is the time for leadership to come forward to plan the 2011 budget and for both political parties in the legislature to join together for if they don’t, the system may break down altogether. For those that don’t think it can happen, all one has to do is look at California.”
Lamprey also mentioned the work of John P. Eager, a student in the University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore School MBA program and a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland. He spent several weeks this past session as an intern for Senator D’Allesandro and wrote a report on the state budget process that Lamprey referred to as “the best I’ve ever read on the whole process.”
Eager’s 19-page report provides interesting and insightful reading. Some of the sections are suggestive of the content: “Cost Management Techniques: Lack of Financial Expertise”; “Obstacles from Legislators”; and “Group Think” — all suggest where he might be going. The last section is, “Why Does Government Cost What it Does?”
As Lamprey notes from the perspective of his 88 years, a train wreck might be coming. It might be averted if someone has the ability and foresight to get past “mental exhaustion” when a session ends. Whoever does so, whether governor or legislator, will provide a needed service.
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.