Rep Steve Vaillancourt



Wednesday
Nov192014

Election Kills Death Penalty Repeal Chances

A great wag once said, and now we can all borrow the phrase without attribution, "Elections have consequences."

One of the consequences of the 2014 New Hampshire election is that an attempt to repeal the death penalty will most likely either not even be filed or will arrive dead on arrival.

No, I didn't hear this in the halls of the State House, but rather at Shaw’s Market last night.

That's where I ran into one of the most ardent supporters of the death penalty repeal (no names please, but insiders would certainly recognize it).

Before I could even explain how his forces might be able to get repeal through the House but never the Senate, he told me exactly the same thing.

This past year, repeal passed by a two to one margin in the House but failed due to a 12-12 tie in the Senate.

Elections have consequences, and two anti-death penalty senators appear to have been replaced by two who would favor keeping the penalty on the books. Republican Bob Odell, a last minute conversion to the anti-death cause, didn't run again and was replaced  pro death Republican Jerry Little in District 8. Republican Kevin Avard defeated Peg Gilmour in District 12, so it's tough to see how advocates of repeal could cobble together more than ten votes in the new Senate.

If you can't get to 13, why even go through the long, arduous, and painful (for both sides) process in the House?  Besides, the 2016 election is not that far away (the next election is never all that far away) and whle most people don't vote on the issue of death, support for repeal could hurt on the margins.  Republicans used it against Distict 18 State Senator  Donna Soucy and other pro repeal Democrats this past year, and why risk that again if you can't win anyways? 

Projected new House Speaker Bill O'Brien is pro death penatly, and one of the few Democrats, other than Senator Lou D'Allesandro, to be pro death is long time party chair Ramond Charles Buckley...hey, hey, hey, Buckley and O'Brien together again!

Of course, any one of 424 Reps and Senators can file a repeal bill, but chances of success appear to be close to zero.

Last year's prime sponsor, Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, barely survived his election. He was tied for the fourth and final spot in Hampton and won by four votes in the recount. Actually, last thing I heard, that race was headed for the Ballot Law Commission Monday, so we're not 100 percent sure Cushing will be back (odds are he will), but my guess is that he's realist enough not to even file a repeal bill next year.

If he needs reinforcement in that thought, he should hang out at Shaw’s (I always meet the most fascinating people there, from lobbyists trying to bet me a steak dinner on an executive council race to a former Supreme Court justice...twice).

 

Tuesday
Nov182014

16 Year Old Portsmouth Student Pleads For Decrim

As promised in another posting, here’s my response to a 16 year old Portsmouth student who wrote me an eloquent plea for decriminalization of marijuana last week.  I won’t reveal his name or the names of other pro-decriminalization Reps here, but all is as exactly as I sent it.  I mention Rep. Adam Schroadter, R-Newmarket, because he will be filing the decrim bill and Larry Gagne, R-Manchester, because it’s my guess (and it’s only a guess) that he could be Speaker O’Brien’s choice for Criminal Justice Chair.

Ironically, the letter arrived within a day of New York City announcing that it was no longer arrest anyone spotted with less than 25 grams of marijuana (slightly less than an ounce).  It’s truly a step toward sanity that such people will, in the future, not be arrested but merely ticketed.  That’s the good news.  As David Letterman joked, the ticket will be to a New York Jets game.  Funny stuff…here’s my letter.

 

November 14, 2014

Dear ____,

Thanks for your letter.  While my term is ending in a few weeks and I will not be back as a State Rep, I remain committed to reforming our marijuana laws, first with decriminalization and hopefully with full-scale legalization in the near future.  Most likely any new bill will begin in the Criminal Justice Committee.

Unfortunately about a dozen Reps most committed to the cause will not be back.  However, I trust new Reps will take up the cause.  Obviously I agree with everything you say in your letter.  The time is coming (all opinion polls show a dramatic shift) to reform our laws, but work still needs to be done.

The race for Speaker will indeed matter, and from all past indications, Bill O’Brien would be better for the cause of decriminalization than Gene Chandler who not only has been an opponent in the past but is surrounded by at least two people (Shawn Jasper and David Hess) who have been among our biggest opponents. 

I will pass your letter on to some of the Reps who will be back and in the forefront of the reform effort in the coming year.

Among these are:

Adam Schroadter who sponsored the decrim bill this past year and most likely will again.  PO Box 564, Newmarket 03857.

Larry Gagne (who was on the Criminal Justice Committee and could be the chair next year, depending on who is elected Speaker), 126 Lakeside Drive, Manchester 03104

[Here I enumerate several other decriminalization supporters for the young man to contact]

Sadly among our opponents last year was one of your Portsmouth Reps, Laura Pantelakos who chaired the Criminal Justice Committee.  She will be back.

Thanks again.  I wish I were your age again.  Make every moment count and hopefully ours will be a better world by the time you get to be my age.

Sincerely,

Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, 161 Faith Lane, Manchester, NH 03103

Tuesday
Nov182014

The Race For Speaker--5 Theories On Why O'Brien Won

                When you win by only four votes out of 228 votes cast, anything could be said to have meant the difference.

                That’s where we stand tonight as former New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O’Brien defeated former House Speaker Gene Chandler 116-112 for the Republican nod to become the new Speaker.

                Republicans hold a 239-161 edge after all the recounts have been concluded.  Democrats won two of the three tie-vote recounts, and the Independent elected in the Concord-Hopkinton area has decided to caucus with Democrats.  However, I personally know of two Democrats (no name please) elected in Manchester who, like Tim O’Flaherty and Michael Garcia this past year, are really true Libertarians and can be expected to vote with Republicans 8-90 percent of the time.  

                Be prepared  to hear all kinds of crazy conspiracy theories in the next two weeks how anti-O’Brien Republicans will unite with Democrats to deny O’Brien the Speakership.

                In fact, one theory has already surfaced that Laurie Sanborn, R-Bedford, didn’t really drop out of the race due to her husband’s illness, but so that she could surface again as a candidate come December 3; apparently Republican candidates for Speaker had agreed that they would not continue to run if they lost in their party’s caucus.

                Anything, of course, is possible, but most likely O’Brien’s win today means that he will in fact be the next Speaker, so we can return to the question of what made the difference.

                Here are five quick theories, all of which are valid.

                Theory 1--Word is out that Salem Representative Bob Elliot, of gambling-happy Salem, switched his vote from Chandler after O’Brien assured him he would support gambling.  In fact, when O’Brien was Speaker two terms ago, his Ways and Means Committee passed a gambling bill with a favorable recommendation to the House floor where the usual alliance of anti-gambling Republicans (like Chandler) teamed up with Democrats to defeat it.

                Theory 2—An Republican Rep inside the caucus told me what I’ve suspected all along, that Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, cost Chandler a handful of votes, certainly enough to cost him the election.  Many Republican rank and file are still angry with Jasper over his speech on the House floor attacking O’Brien and other Republicans on the gas tax increase last year.  I tried to tell Chandler that he needed to jettison both Jasper and David Hess, R-Hooksett, from his leadership team, but he refused to listen, and now there’s ample evidence that it cost him the election.  Having been defeated in the election, I didn’t have a vote today and was nowhere near the State House when Republican caucused (I was actually listening to the debate on the XL pipeline—I’m no fan of either Bernie Sanders or Barbara Boxer for sure), but I was on record as opposed to Chandler simply because of the “folks” he surrounds himself with. 

                Theory 3-There’s another reason I would have voted for O’Brien, a fact which might shock some in the main stream media considering our past history.  However, keep in mind that I have always placed issues ahead of personalities, and I tend to be much more in synch with O’Brien that Chandler on issues which matter most to me.  Yes, indeed the Concord Monitor was wrong once again (the Monitor is wrong more than it’s right, these days) yesterday when it ran the headline, “The choice for Republicans boils down to leadership styles.”  That’s totally wrong. For me (and I suspect many other rank and file Republicans), it was never about style, but about fidelity to Republican principles.  O’Brien’s ranking with the House Republican Alliance, was about 20 points higher than Chandler, Hess, and Jasper, and the HRA bases its scores on scoring on issues in the Constitution and the party platform.  No one could argue that O’Brien is “more Republican” than Chandler.

                Theory 4—When I saw last week that in a scenario which could well be termed “The Empire Strikes Back”, the good old boy Republican establishment was rallying to Chandler’s defense, my initial reaction was that this will not help Chandler; in fact, it’ll hurt him.  Kelly Ayotte, Steve Merrill, the Sununus, former Speakers Donna Sytek and Doug Scamman created more backlash than support by their ill-timed last minute letter.  Any Rep on the fence most likely resented being told how to vote by party “big wigs”.  The only person who might have been affected positively and I stress the word might was Rep. John Sytek, R-Salem, husband of Speaker Sytek.  But then, he was for Chandler anyway.

                Theory 5—And here I’m revealing a story I chose not to make public in this blog in advance.  As I’ve said before, I really did nothing to get elected this time because I had lost interest in most issues except one, decriminalization and ultimately legalization of marijuana, the number one issue when it comes to freedom of our time, not only for me but for at least a dozen Republicans, both old and new.

                Quite by coincidence last week, on the same day Laurie Sanborn dropped out of the race for Speaker, I received a pro decriminalization letter from a 16-year old Portsmouth student.  With that in mind, I reviewed decriminalization votes going back to 2010, and while the Concord Monitor, so fond of demonization O’Brien, will never tell you this, Bill O’Brien has been much more “progressive” on this issue than the likes of Chandler, Hess and the especially rabid Reefer Madness plagued Jasper.

                When he was Speaker and Republicans held a 298-102 advantage in the House, O’Brien could have killed a decriminalization bill by creating a tie, but he chose not to (the Senate ultimately killed the bill).

                While not in favor of full scale legalization, O’Brien has always supported decriminalization, a fact I pointed out to many Reps who, like me, I know care deeply about the issue.  In fact, I wrote a response to the 16 year old student (if you don’t believe me, I’ll reproduce it here) telling him that anyone who supports bringing sanity to our marijuana laws (my words here, not in that letter) should support O’Brien for Speaker.

                I suspect most of my contacs did, and in a four vote margin, that as much as anything was the difference.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

                But wait, just as I was about to post this, a Republican Rep, a pro Chandler Rep, popped in to say that “it’s not over yet” (as if to say he wouldn’t vote for O’Brien in two weeks).  I told him that if in fact 45 or so Chandler types decide to go against the party and oppose O’Brien on December 3, it would lead to utter chaos, he seemed to agree.

                I repeat, the four vote victory for O’Brien today should guarantee him the Speakership; even if he loses some Republican support, he would certainly pick up a handful of Democrats (decriminalization Democrats one would hope), but I doubt it will get that far. 

                You might hear a lot about a groundswell to stop O’Brien in the days before and after Thanksgiving, but my guess is it will be much ado about nothing.

Monday
Nov172014

This Week's Trivia--Delectable Election Leftovers

Better late than never.
 
Before the election fades too far into the rear view mirror, let's look back with the help of a matching quiz.  Those who say the 2014 election was boring certainly weren't paying attention to all the peripheral items, but I suspect most politico types will have no trouble identifying the races from just a few words.

First the words, then the elections to match them with and finally with the answers will come a few names we won't soon forget.

Which race featured each of these great moments?

1.  The fisherman's sons.

2.  Regarding Obama, "He has been a real drag".

3.  The Constitutional right not to reveal who she voted for.

4.  Michelle Obama got the Democratic candidate's name wrong seven times in one brief appearance.

5.  The "uncivilized" rest area closer.

6.  Snickers tops Kit Kat.

7.  All aboard the clown car.

8.  No fan of that fan.

9.  The crabber vote failed to rescue the incumbent.

10.  Senator Uterus.

11.  "I don't want her within three feet of anybody."

12.  The wheelchair commercial didn't help.

13. Blame Ferguson, Missouri and Trayvon Martin on the opponent.
 
A.  Texas Governor

B.  Maine Governor

C.  Vermont Governor

D.  Kentucky Senate

E.  Iowa Senate

F.  Colorado Senate

G.  New Hampshire Second C.D.

H.  Arkansas Senate

I.  Massachusetts Governor

J. Alaska Senate

K.  Florida Governor

L.  Kansas Senate

M.  North Carolina Senate

1.  I, a reference to Republican candidate Charlie Baker claiming he cried when he learned that two sons of a fisherman had to give up their football plans.

2. H, a direct quote from Senator Mark Pryor who lost by 15 points.

3. D, Alison Lundergan Grimes kept digging the hole deeper as she tried to avoid admitting she had voted for Obama.

4. E, Michelle called him Bailey, not Braley, seven times.

5.  C, The lady in the funny hat called Vermont Governor Shumway "uncivilized" for closing some rest areas.  You get the idea of how bad a year it was for Democats as Shumway failed to get to 50 percent, thus requiring the Green Mountain State Legislature (highly Democratic) to pick the Governor.

6.  G. In response to Channel 9's essential question about their favorite candy bars, Annie Kuster said Snickers, Marilinda Garcia Kit Kat.

7. L, Greg Orman didn't help himself when he referred to Senator Pat Roberts' supporters, including the venerable Bob Dole, as traveling in a clown car.

8.  K.  Some though Rick Scott had lost the Florida Governor's race when he refused to appear on the debate stage for seven minutes when Charlie Crist broke the agreed upon rules by using a fan to cool his lower parts.  Some were wrong; Scott won.

9. J.  Has Senator Mark Begich conceded yet?  The crabber and ballots-in-igloo get out the vote effort apparently didn't pan out. (I never thought it would).


10. F.  That's the disparaging nickname Senator Mark Udall received after he wasted so much time and money attacking Cory Gardner's positions on women's issues.
11. B.  Incumbent Republican Governor Paul LePage was in trouble until he played the Ebola card; hey after all, polls showed 70-80 percent of Americans wanted those who may or may not have been exposed to the virus quarantined.  Shades of the Japanese treatment in World War II, I thought, but then I was among the 20-30 percent minority.

12 A.  Wendy Davis was expected to lose by ten points until her wheelchair ad hit the air waves attacking her wheelchair-bound opponent; she lost by 20 points. 

13.  M, a reference to a series of attack ads against eventual winner Thom Tillis.
Monday
Nov172014

Boo To Fox Sports For Canceling The Packers In Mid-Game

Green Bay Packers
7-3, 2nd in NFC Northern Division
Yesterday, 4:25 PM
Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Philadelphia
Eagles
(7-3)
 
 
20 - 53
Final
 
Green Bay
Packers
(7-3)
  1 2 3 4   Total
Eagles 0 6 7 7   20
Packers 17 13 9 14   53
The Pack is back.

To the extent that I'm rooting for any sports team these days, it's the Green Bay Packers, not the Patriots.  Call it a throwback to my earliest days as a fan, those days when one of the best ever, Bart Starr, was at the helm.  I hear he's been ill; what a gentleman.

Bart Starr on road to recovery - Packers

www.packers.com/.../Bart-Starr.../60d481a9-101a-4cc...
Green Bay Packers 
Oct 4, 2014 - A statement from Cherry StarrBart and I have enjoyed all of the sweet cards and messages from packers.com. Your kindness has been so .

As I explained earlier this fall, I'm not rooting against the Patriots, but I find it impossible to continue to cheer for a team that had a double murderer (allegedly) on the roster a few years ago.  Oh, but Mr. Kraft and Coach Bellichick didn't know, their defenders say, but to that I respond--so much for Mr. Kraft and Coach Bellichick as judges of character.  Of course, this would be the same Mr. Kraft who kept Bellichick after he was fined a half million dollars for cheating a few years before that. If honor and integrity matter to any sports fan, it's tough to root for the mighty Patriots, at least it is for me.

How good are the Packers these days?

So good that as I was thoroughly enjoying the romp over Chip Kelly's Eagles in the third quarter yesterday, Fox Sports decided to cut the game off and take us to a closer game (Lions/Rams, ho hum).

What an outrage!  No wonder it's so difficult to watch any sports on TV any more; just when you're enjoying a game, the powers that be switch venues.

In case you're wondering, while much of the Manchester area is gaga over the Eagles due to Kelly, I'm a lifelong "hater" of all Philadelphia teams, from Wilt Chamberlain's 76ers to Bobby Clark's Flyers and I'm too old to change now.

When it comes to the Pack, they've always been my second (or third) favorite team.

Right now, they're number one with me...at least until I discover they were sheltering a triple murderer (alleged) on the team.
Aaron Rodgers, at least for me, is better than Brady; I was always a big Steve Grogan fan; I prefer my quarterback to be able to move, at least a little.

I suppose next time to Packers are on Fox, I'll have to root for a close game so the network doesn't take the game away from us in midstream.

Disgusting.  For those inclined to assume the PC mantle, give me a break.  I use the word "hate" in quotes, in a strictly sports rivalry sense.  It's kind of like "ugly as sin"; if you don't get it, you should be reading Huffpost and the incompetent Concord Monitor instead of this.  Speaking of hate, it just doesn't seem the same when the Jets are so bad they're not even worth "hating".  

But then there's always Seattle to "hate".  Yes, they're the Super Bowl champs, but Pete Carroll sucked when he coached the Pats and he sucked yesterday when, trailing 24-20, he passed up a sure field goal which would have moved the Seahawks to within a point and then they could have won it a few minutes later with another field goal.  Apparently I wasn't the only one thinking along those lines; Jimmy Johnson said the same thing on Fox.