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Entries in Transparency (116)

Friday
Jan232015

Citizens For A Strong NH - Accessibility in NH shouldn't be a partisan issue 

While Senator Ayotte and Rep. Guinta hold Town Hall meetings, Senator Shaheen, Governor Hassan, and 
Rep. Kuster still refuse to hold a single one.
 
Contact: 
Derek Dufresne  

Derek@RightOnStrategies.com
202-809-6013

 

(January 22, 2015) - New Hampshire once had a long, bipartisan tradition of its elected officials holding public Town Hall meetings with their constituents. That custom went by the wayside over the past couple of years as Senator Shaheen, Governor Hassan, Congresswoman Kuster (NH-02), and former Congresswoman Shea-Porter (NH-01) refused to join Senator Ayotte in holding open forums.

If the first month of the new Congress in Washington and the new gubernatorial term in Concord is any inclination though, it appears that once again, only the conservative members of the Granite State's delegation believe it is important to be accessible to their constituents. 

While none of the state's top Democrats have announced a single public forum, Senator Ayotte will close out the month of January adding a few more Town Hall meetings to the list of dozens she has hosted since 2011. Her tradition of accessibility even resulted in a Concord Monitor editorial this week proclaiming that "Ayotte should not stand alone" in holding Town Hall meetings.

According to the NHJournal, with Congressman Guinta (NH-01)'s Town Hall meeting in Hampton this weekend, he will now have held thirty open forums throughout the state after the twenty nine he hosted during his last term in 2011 and 2012. He too has received many accolades for his strong focus on accessibility and constituent service. 
Derek Dufresne, spokesman for Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, released the following statement:

 

"While Granite Staters have grown to expect a divide between liberals and conservatives on many of the important issues being discussed in Washington and Concord, accessibility, transparency, and public accountability are three that should bridge the partisan gap. Regardless of party affiliation or one's positions on the issues, all of New Hampshire's elected officials should make a point to hold Town Hall meetings with their constituents. The fact that this isn't happening already is shameful.

"We commend Senator Ayotte and Congressman Guinta for continuing to uphold our state's tradition of public forums and for giving their constituents the open venue to advocate for their beliefs. Conversely, we continue to be extremely disappointed in Senator Shaheen, Governor Hassan, and Congresswoman Kuster for hiding from those whom they swore an oath to represent."


 

Thursday
Jan082015

NH House Majority Caucus Supports Vote on Transparency 

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 -
The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted today to table the amendment to require twenty members to second a request for a roll call vote instead of ten, as proposed and unanimously passed by the House Rules committee chaired by Speaker Jasper. The vote was hailed by the House Republican Majority Caucus as a positive move in maintaining openness in government and to adhering to long-standing House traditions.

Rep. William O’Brien (R – Mont Vernon), who was elected House Republican Majority Caucus Leader by a unanimous vote of House GOP members in December stated, “This is a win for the people of New Hampshire who want continued accountability and transparency in our government.

The people of New Hampshire sent us to Concord to reduce taxes, balance the budget and reduce regulations, and they want to see how we do it,” said O’Brien. “Openness in government is essential to what we do here, and it is the intention of our caucus to support transparency at every opportunity. “

Friday
Dec192014

NH House Republican Majority Caucus comments on Rules meeting 

Today during the House Rules committee meeting, the Speaker, elected by a majority of the Democrats, showed his true colors for the first time.  When the motion to allow each caucus to independently select and vote for their own leader, Speaker Jasper voted along with the Democrats to oppose this change.  After years of allowing the minority party to nominate and select their own leader, Jasper potentially sets up a precedence where the Speaker can select who leads each party.

Upon learning of the pitfalls of this decision, Rep Stephen Stepanek - Amherst stated, "Given the fact that the past precedents of the House, such as the Minority Leader casting a single ballot for the Speaker or a fellow member of the majority party challenging the majority party Speaker nominee, have been violated, I feel this rule change is needed.  The precedent has not been followed.  We need to put in to Rules procedures to protect the integrity of the House and of the minority and majority caucuses."

 

The other major change the new House Leadership made during the Rules committee meeting was to suppress transparency by doubling the number of reps needed to second a roll call vote.  Traditionally, the House rules required 10 other members  to second a motion for a role call.

 Rep. Hoell - Dunbarton, speaking for the House Republican Majority Office voiced his frustration over this proposed change in making the following statement: "It is unfortunate that Reps. Jasper and Shurtleff are more interested in hiding their actions at the State House than supporting the
traditional transparency given to the citizens of New Hampshire."

 
Thursday
Nov132014

Franklin Center - How well does the government practice transparency?  

10 times the government stonewalled requests for information

At the center of Watchdog.org's mission is the goal of keeping citizens informed about what their government is up to. Doing that, however, often requires access to documents and data that the government isn't always happy to share.

In our investigations into government shenanigans, the Watchdog.org team has often encountered the harsh wall of bureaucracy. The list of opaque agencies goes on - the IRS, public universities, Immigration and Customs, and many more.

Here are 10 times the government stonewalled requests for information.


 

A Note From Our President

Dear Reader,

As advocates for a free press and an informed citizenry, we believe that one of the core values of the American experiment is the idea of transparency. The people have a right to know what their government is up to. They should be able to find out how their tax dollars are being spent, what public servants do while on the job, and why government makes certain decisions that affect their communities.

Sadly, this ideal of government transparency is not put into practice by our public servants all too often. Our Watchdog.org reporters have repeatedly run smack into the dead-end wall of bureaucracy. But even if they didn't get the information they wanted, these stories are still worth highlighting. After all, sometimes the refusal to hand over information is more telling than the information itself. 

Best regards,

Jason Stverak
President, Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. If you would like to help us keep up the fight for a free press, you can donate here!

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Saturday
Oct112014

Citizens For A Strong NH - E-Newsletter: Town halls behind barbed wire, protests, and more... 

 

Outrageous: Shea-Porter's town halls are behind gates and barbed-wire

 

Last week, Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire highlighted Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter's spokeswoman's false statement to the National Journal where she "dismissed charges that her boss is an absentee congresswoman as untrue and listed 10 public town hall events since Shea-Porter took office in 2013." This statement was contrary to the fact that throughout Carol Shea-Porter's term in the 113th Congress, she has refused to host public town hall meetings with her constituents.

 

As reported in the NHJournal, Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire asked Congresswoman Shea-Porter to release the list of alleged ten public town halls she claimed to have had. Considering her spokeswoman said they were "public," our organization also requested proof that she advertised each of these alleged ten town halls to her constituents to allow for their attendance either via her website, mail, an e-newsletter, or social media, prior to all of the events.

 

As a result of our pressure, Congresswoman Shea-Porter's office released what they claimed were "ten public town halls" to the New Hampshire Union Leader, but they did not produce proof that any of the ten events were made available to the public prior.

 

Here are the alleged events: 

  • Hooksett GE Workers' Town Hall, June 13, 2014
  • Birch Hill Town, May 12, 2014 - Shea-Porter listens to seniors discuss the Affordable Care Act
  • Conway Veterans Town Hall, May 2, 2014
  • Women's Economic Agenda Summit, March 21, 2014
  • Portsmouth Veterans Town Hall, Feb. 25, 2014
  • Dover Maple Suites Town Hall, Jan. 11, 2014
  • AARP Telephone Town Hall, Dec. 10, 2013
  • Manchester Veterans Town Hall, Aug. 21, 2013
  • WMUR Town Hall, July 29, 2013
  • Great Bay Forum, April 30, 2013

Upon our review, almost all of the events listed above were either not made available to the public on her office's website prior, or they were only made available to certain, pre-selected individuals, to control who would be attending.

 

For example, it would have been impossible for any member of the public, who wasn't an employee, to have attended the June 13th "Hooksett GE Workers' Town Hall," but Congresswoman Shea-Porter's office still listed it as a "public town hall" meeting. As a facility closed off to the public for security reason, GE is protected by barbed-wire and a security gate with guards at all entrances to ensure only screened employees are allowed on the premises.

 

In addition, you can click HERE to see what happened at Congresswoman Shea-Porter's May 2nd event, and click HERE to view her January 11th event.

 

It is now abundantly clear that Congresswoman Shea-Porter's spokeswoman's statement to the National Journal was blatantly untrue and the events she is now trying to pass off as 'town halls' were anything but 'public.' Shea-Porter is feeling the pressure from residents of the 1st District after a year and a half of hiding from them, however her untruthful attempt to now try and convince her constituents that she was accessible, despite that fact that she wasn't, isn't going to quell their frustrations.

 

If Congresswoman Shea-Porter thinks a meeting held in a heavily guarded facility that has a gate, barbed-wire, and only allows for employees to attend is a 'public town hall,' then she is more disconnected from New Hampshire values than we had originally thought.

 

 
 
Criticism From Within: Democratic State Senator D'Allesandro calls out Shea-Porter and Kuster for hiding

In a radio interview on Thursday, Democratic State Senator Lou D'Allesandro heavily criticized Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster for their notable absences in their districts. Since they won't listen to their constituents and stop hiding, will they at least listen to Senator D'Allesandro?

At one point during the discussion, Senator D'Allesandro actually said, "I wish Carol Shea-Porter was in Manchester more. I haven't seen her in Manchester. Manchester is the heart of the First Congressional District." 

You can hear the full interview clip by clicking HERE.

 

 
 

Missing: Still no answer from Kuster on why she is hiding
 
We caught up with Congresswoman Annie Kuster on Thursday to ask her why she continues to hide from her constituents and refuses to hold a single Town Hall meeting or public forum.

Apparently, as you can see in our video by clicking HERE, she still has no explanation for why she is hiding from Granite Staters like you. 
 
 

Protests: Visiting Shea-Porter at her Laconia fundriaser

On Wednesday, considering Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter refuses to hold actual town hall meetings, we decided to stop by one of her fundraisers in Laconia. 
While Carol might ignore Granite Staters like you, be assured that we will continue to hold visibilities like this one to remind her that she represents all of New Hampshire's First Congressional District, not just her supporters and donors.

If you are interested in helping with future visibility protests, please email Mike@StrongNH.com
 
 
More Calls: Hitting the phones for freedom!
 
We held even more phone banks in our Manchester office this week. As always, thank you to our volunteers for all of their efforts.

If you would be willing to come into our office and spend a few hours on the phones to help fight for the issues we believe so strongly in, please email Mike@StrongNH.com.

 

 
 
Editorial Cartoon of the Week