Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tyranny and trash talk in NH

It sure sounds like the Granite State isn't living up to its license-plate motto, "Live Free or Die."

New Hampshire's Tea Party speaker of the House, island-paradise dweller Bill O'Brien, has a stranglehold on lawmakers, stifling debate, discussion and dissent. When O'Brien isn't gazing at sparkling Caribbean waters, he's using parliamentary tricks to further his obsession with passing a right-to-work bill to destroy unions.

You'll recall that Gov. John Lynch vetoed the right-to-work (for LESS) bill, saying it would do nothing to create jobs and had the sole purpose of eliminating unions. O'Brien scheduled a vote to override the veto, and then abruptly canceled it -- presumably because he didn't have enough votes. He's expected to try again in the fall.

Epsom state Rep. Tony Soltani, a Republican who doesn't march to O'Brien's beat, just wrote a tremendous letter to the Concord Monitor accusing the speaker of tainting the honor of the House. Here are some choice excerpts:
...the House has lost its way amid tyranny of the majority. The rules, intended to ensure open and fair debate, are often disregarded and, even more often, blatantly broken. Dissent is not tolerated. The art of persuasion has been replaced with brute intimidation, petty retaliation and open bullying.
I have seen more elected representatives ejected from the rostrum during the 16 weeks of House Speaker Bill O'Brien's administration than I have in 16 prior years put together...
O'Brien's reign may be tottering, however. The New Hampshire Business Review's peerless Flotsam and Jetsam column reports the state's Republican Party is in a bit of a mess. New Hampshire's GOP has suffered a series of embarrassing special election defeats, fundraising is lagging, its chairman can't get his foot out of his mouth and now they're fighting because a Seabrook firefighter -- who was backed by labor -- won a five-way Republican primary. Republicans posted comments on Facebook saying the firefighter, Kevin Javrin, wasn't one of their own. Writes Flotsam,
But perhaps most interesting -- anthropologically speaking, at least -- was the comment of Goffstown Rep. John Burt, who at first wrote, rather offhandedly: "Kevin is a fireman. That is a no vote for RTW."
Fine enough. But then a few minutes later Burt added a post that said, :I hope I am wrong but those paid firemen are an entitled bunch or people. Volunteer Firemen are a great bunch of guys. They do there (sic) job for the love of there neighbors. Not against them."
Asked by a Concord Monitor reporter to explain exactly what he meant, Burt replied, "I just have a lot more respect toward the volunteers. They do it for the love of their neighbors, whereas some of the paid firemen and the paid policemen, they just seem to have this attitude that, 'Hey, we should be up on this pedestal.'"