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Entries in Political Activism (1511)

Friday
Apr242015

Josiah Bartlett Center - Agreeing on the problem isn't always enough 

How are they spending your money?
Be sure to check out our government transparency database to keep an eye on state spending.

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Weekly Update from the Josiah Bartlett Center

Keeping you up to date on our latest research
on the issues impacting New Hampshire

Agreeing on the Problem Isn't Always Enough

The political process often obscures truth and inhibits agreement. Too often each of us believes he or she knows what’s important but that the things you think are important are trivial and your insistence upon them is a sign of perfidy or cognitive dysfunction. On very rare occasions there is substantial agreement on a problem. This is good only because it allows us to attack someone else’s solution as near-sighted or disingenuous. It is inconceivable that an opponent might have a well intentioned idea that we simply think is a lower priority or might not work as well. Click here to keep reading.
 


The Josiah Bartlett Report:
Fixing NH's Economy

Charlie talks to Ken Cail about the difficulty in finding common ground on how to fix New Hampshire's stagnant Economy. Click here to listen.

 

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Tuesday
Apr072015

NH Council of Churches - Casino Free NH 

New Hampshire Council of Churches
 
Upcoming Event
New Hampshire Council of Churches
E-blast April 6, 2015
 
IN THIS ISSUE
Casino Free
Join Our Mailing List

Casino Free NH Hearing  

April 7 

The House Ways & Means Committee has scheduled a hearing on the newest casino legalization bill, SB 113, on Tuesday, April 7 at 10:00 a.m. in rooms 202-204 of the Legislative Office Building. The bill proposes to license two casinos. 
 
It is important that we have as many people as we can show up for this.  Even if you don't plan to testify, it will be important to sign in in opposition.

Please also see our team member when you enter the hearing room to pick up your Casino Free NH sticker, so the committee knows we are out in force. 
 
Please make every effort to attend! 
 
Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling 
& Casino Free New Hampshire 
   
 
 

New Hampshire Council of Churches 
 
125 Airport Road                                 PO Box 1087 
Concord, NH  03301                Concord NH  03302
603-224-1352
info@nhchurches.org                 www.nhchurches.org 
Thursday
Mar052015

Townhall - Don't Let Unions Get Your Phone Number & Email Address 

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Protect Your Privacy!

Starting April 14, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will require businesses to surrender lists of employees’ phone numbers and personal email addresses to union organizers. Giving away employees’ personal contact information violates basic privacy rights and will inevitably lead to workers being targeted for harassment at the hands of union bosses.

Congress is getting ready to vote on a Congressional Review Act resolution that will tell the NLRB to stop using government power to benefit union bosses.

Tell Washington that you want to protect your privacy by sending a virtual “Do Not Disturb” letter. Click here and send a letter to Congress. Your support is critical to protect workers’ privacy rights.

Unlike the government's proposal, this letter is voluntary!

Send a Letter to Congress

 

Tuesday
Feb102015

NHGOP CHALLENGES LIKELY SENATE CANDIDATE HASSAN'S INTERPRETATION OF RIGHT TO KNOW LAW 

Concord - New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn today challenged Governor and likely Senate candidate Hassan's response to a recent NHGOP Right to Know request. The party requested Hassan's political travel schedule for January 2015 and will submit similar requests for every month going forward as she gears up to use the corner office as a stepping stone for her United States Senate campaign:

Governor Hassan:

 

            This responds to your recent letter regarding my request under RSA Chapter 91-A, the State's Right-to-Know Law, regarding records relating to Governor Hassan's out-of-state travel.  Your letter raises several troubling issues that call into further doubt the Hassan Administration's commitment to transparency and compliance with the law.

 

            You state that it has been the "long-standing position of the New Hampshire Department of Justice that RSA 91-A does not apply to the Governor's office."  I am asking that you immediately provide all written guidance produced by the Attorney General to that effect.  On its face, this position appears to be completely inconsistent with the very clear legislative intent and requirements under New Hampshire's Right-to-Know Law, as well as Supreme Court precedent.  The preamble to that statute states:

 

Openness in the conduct of public business is essential to a democratic society.  The purpose of this chapter is to ensure both the greatest possible public access to the actions, discussions, and records of all public bodies, and their accountability to the people.

 

RSA 91-A:1.

 

            My request was made pursuant to RSA 91-A:4, I, which provides:

 

Every citizen during the regular or business hours of all public bodies or agencies, and on the regular business premises of such public bodies or agencies, has the right to inspect all governmental records in the possession, custody or control of such public bodies or agencies, including minutes of meetings of the public bodies, and to copy or make memoranda or abstracts of the records or minutes so inspected expect as otherwise prohibited by statute or RSA 91-A:5.

 

RSA 91-A:4, I.

 

            The definition of "public agency" is:

 

"Public agency" means any agency, authority, department, or office of the state or any county, town, municipal corporation, school district, school administrative unit, chartered public school, or other political subdivision."

 

RSA 91-A:1-a, V.

 

            The definition of "governmental records" is:

 

"Governmental records," means any information created, accepted, or obtained by, or on behalf of, any public body, or a quorum or majority thereof, or any public agency in furtherance of its official function. 

 

RSA 91-A:1-a, III.

           

            The governor's office is clearly an "office of the state," and the records I have requested are clearly "governmental records" within the definitions of RSA 91-A.  Even if there were any doubt, the New Hampshire Supreme Court has repeatedly stated that the statute is to be construed broadly:  "Our ultimate goal in construing the Right-to-Know Law is to further the statutory and constitutional objectives of increasing public access to all public documents and governmental proceedings, and to "provide the utmost information to the public about what its government is up to," Prof'l Firefighters of N.H. v. Local Gov't Ctr., 159 N.H. 699, 705 (2010)(quoting Goode v. N.H. Legislative Budget Assistant, 148 N.H. 551, 555 (2002)). 

 

As such, the Supreme Court long ago concluded that, "all State executive branch agencies and departments were meant to be and are included within the provisions of RSA ch. 91-A."  Lodge v. Knowlton, 118 N.H. 574 (1978).  The Attorney General's Memorandum on the Right-to-Know law, available at the Department of Justice's website, states the same thing.  Id. at pp. 3-4 ("The Right-to-Know law establishes a person's right of access to meetings of public bodies and to the records of public bodies and public agencies..."All State executive branch departments and agencies" are subject to records requests).  Over the years, the Supreme Court has determined that RSA 91-A reaches various quasi-governmental agencies, including the Local Government Center and the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority.  Union Leader Corp. v. New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, 142 N.H. 540 (1997).  In the latter decision, the Court noted that the Housing Authority was performing "public and essential governmental functions of the state."  Id

 

It is inconceivable that the Housing Authority meets this test and the office of the governor does not.  In fact, my records request is directed to the most essential of government functions: the discharge of executive authority under the State's Constitution.  As a citizen, the governor is, of course, free to leave the state at any time for personal and political reasons, in addition to official business.  However, as governor, her absence from the State - regardless of the reason - has significant consequences that are clearly matters for public concern. Specifically, Part II, Article 49 of the Constitution provides that, "[i]n the event of the death, resignation, removal from office, failure to qualify, physical or mental incapacity, absence from the state, or other incapacity of the governor, the president of the senate, for the time being, shall act as governor until the vacancy is filled or the incapacity is removed."

 

New Hampshire citizens are entitled to know when executive authority is transferred to the president of the senate under this provision of the New Hampshire Constitution.  Your letter is plainly not fully responsive.  Therefore, I renew my request, under both Part I, Article 8 and RSA 91-A:4, I, for all governmental records within the possession, custody or control of the office of governor, a public agency, relating to the absence of the governor from the state for any reason and at any time during January 2015.  To the extent you withhold any responsive documents, please prepare an index with detailed descriptions.

 

 The Hassan Administration's commitment to transparency has been troubling.  It cannot and should not be true that local boards of selectmen are subject to the Right-to-Know Law but the only state official elected by all New Hampshire citizens, the governor, is not.  Moreover, the recent invocation of "Executive Privilege" - made infamous during a Watergate-era attempt to withhold materials subpoenaed by a special prosecutor, see United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974) - in response to a recent Concord Monitor Right-to-Know request suggests an inclination to stonewall rather than be forthright with Granite Staters.  I hope that practice will end, and that the records I have requested will be promptly produced.    

 

Sincerely,


Jennifer Horn

Chairman

New Hampshire Republican State Committee

Tuesday
Feb102015

NHDP Calls on Kelly Ayotte to Release Information About Political Travel to Promote Herself as Potential VP Candidate 

Sends Letter Requesting Information Including Dates, Costs, and Purpose of Recent Political Travel
 
Concord, N.H. – New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley sent the following letter to Kelly Ayotte amid reports of her extensive political travel, including an upcoming trip to Missouri to co-headline an event with Rick Santorum.
 
Chairman Buckley writes in the letter, “We formally request any information about the costs and who paid for these political trips in the interest of transparency, as well as any information about other political travel you have undertaken in order to promote yourself as a potential Vice Presidential candidate.”
 
Chairman Buckley’s full letter is included below:
 
The Honorable Kelly Ayotte
United States Senate
144 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
 
Dear Senator Ayotte,
 
We write to respectfully request any information including dates, costs, and purpose of your extensive political travel outside of New Hampshire and Washington, D.C.
 
It’s no secret that you are seeking to position yourself for a Vice Presidential nomination with an aggressive political travel schedule to try to raise your national profile.
 
Particularly given the many legal and ethical questions surrounding your Utah “destination fund-raiser” at the ski home of a lobbyist with business before one of your committees, we believe it’s important for the people of New Hampshire to know where and when you are traveling for political purposes and who is picking up the bill.
 
Your extensive political travel that we are aware of due to media reports includes a trip to Iowa to campaign for Tea Party senate candidate Joni Ernst and a trip to Missouri later this month where you will appear at the 2015 GOP Reagan Lincoln Days event, which is being co-headlined by Rick Santorum.
 
We formally request any information about the costs and who paid for these political trips in the interest of transparency, as well as any information about other political travel you have undertaken in order to promote yourself as a potential Vice Presidential candidate.
 
Sincerely,

Raymond Buckley
Chairman
New Hampshire Democratic Party