Rep Steve Vaillancourt


Gatsas And Union Leader Wrong In Calling For Alderman's Resignation

First a caveat--Ward 11 Alderman (and former School Board member) Russ Ouellette has never been one of my favorite elected officials.  I don't live in that ward, but I would most likely never vote for him if I did.

Having said all that, let me assert his right to serve.  He has been elected many, many times, usually by margins of landslide proportions.  It would be a slap in the face of the voters who elected Alderman Ouellette for him to resign as he faces charges which may or may not have any validity to them.

Thus I totally disagree with a man I greatly respect, Mayor Ted Gatsas, and with a newspaper for which I have virtually no respect, the Union Leader.

They have both called for Alderman Ouellette to resign.  Of course, the decision is his, but I don't believe he should be pressured to resign at all.  In fact, I found it most distasteful that both the Union Leader (in a story that ran across the entire front page a week ago Saturday) and Channel 9 (in numerous reports) decided to run with this story big time prior to charges even being filed.

Now that charges have been brought, Alderman Ouellette should be afforded the same rights as any other American, the presumption of innocence.

Why should anyone presumed innocent be forced to resign just because a mayor and a newspaper think he should?

The Union Leader managed to virtually cover up a report of former Attorney General and powerful lawyerTom Rath's DWI offense a few years back (I'll never forget; I kept the bold all caps headline from the Portsmouth Herald, but couldn't find even a story in the Union Leader; someone told me the paper had buried the story, obviously because of its FOT--friend of Tom--status).

The Union Leader never called on Representative Steve Stepanek to resign when his DWI surfaced just after the 2010 election, not even when Bill O'Brien picked him to chair the Ways and Means Committee.

For weeks, the Union Leader attempted to cover up the story of former State Rep Mike Brunelle's DWI arrest (in fact, he was not only drunk, he attempted to flee from police).

It's queer how some people are exonerated by this newspaper which chooses to virtually ignore stories, at least in positions of prominence, while other people (presumably those the paper dislikes) are singled out for special approbation.

Of course, it could be that it was simply a busy news day when Rath was caught and it was a slow news day when the report on Ouellette came in, but if you believe that, there's this tract of swamp land in Florida with your name on it.

More likely, it depends which side of the bed Joe W. McQuaid or Drew Cline get up on in the morning.  The paper suggests that if he's not guilty, Ouellette can always run again in the future.  What kind of perversion is that of the innocent until proven guilty American precept? 

That's a hell of a way to run a newspaper.

It's a hell of a way to run a city too, Mayor Gatsas.

There'll be time enough to call for Alderman Ouellette’s resignation WHEN and IF he is found guilty of these charges.  Until then, he should continue to serve the voters of Ward 11 who apparently like the job he's been doing for all these many years.

One would expect a little more caution, especially in the wake of calls for the ouster of the Frenchman--what was his name?--the head of the International Monetary Fund--who was charged with rape in the New York Hotel room.  Anybody can be charged with anything, but that doesn't make that "anybody" guilty, at least not in this country.

The Union Leader and others would do the public a much greater service if they focused on those who run for office and then decline to show up to do the work once elected.  There's a new attendance report on House members just out, and wouldn't it be refreshing if the Union Leader (and other papers) called for the defeat of all incumbents with less than a 50 percent attendance on roll call votes.  Yes, that would include both Katsiatoni, Tom from Ward 8 and George from Ward 10, who have a history of missing 70 or 80 percent of the votes and then sign up again.

Shame on the Union Leader and shame on Ted Gatsas for this headlong rush to judgment regarding Alderman Ouellette.


GOP Chair Believes O'Brien Will Lose

Having just returned from a three hour pilgrimmage to one of the most well connected Republican operatives in the state (no, I'm not going to reveal a name here), I am prepared to report that Republican State Party Chair Wayne McDonald is worried.

He may not be saying it publicly, but McDonald privately is confiding to GOP operatives that House Speaker Bill O'Brien will likely lose his election for State Rep in Hillsborough District 5 (Mt. Vernon, New Boston) come November (assuming he gets by the September primary).  Three Republicans, including Bob Mead whom O'Brien fired (or allowed to leave, if you prefer such niceties) as his chief of staff, are running for the two seats there.

In my projections released here yesterday, I didn't name whom I thought would lose, but I predicted the two member district would be split, one Republican and one Democrat come November 7.

Apparently the party chair is more pessimistic than I am, offering behind the scenes word that O'Brien will not be back.  Maybe Chairman McDonald fears Republicans will lose both those seats.  On the other hand, maybe he's simply hoping that O'Brien will lose and thus avoid further tainting the Grand Old Party in this Grand Old State.

Hint--My source and I spoke of our separate experiences in two of the world's greatest cities, Berlin, Germany, and Montreal, Quebec, Canada although I must say, he was in Berlin before I was born, a decade before the wall even went up.  Ah yes, those were the good old days when Berlin was the spy capital of the world. 

As they said in the West after that glorious November day in 1989, "Ich will die Mauer wieder haben."

Ich will nicht Bill O'Brien wieder haben!


Please Mitt, If Not Rubio, Make It Anybody But Pawlenty

Memo to Mitt Romney: 

I could accept just about any of the candidates floated as a Vice Presidential pick (assuming Huckabee, Palin, the Eft, and the Pennsylvania loser are not in the picture), but  please, please, please.  Don't let it be Tim Pawlenty.  There's no way he could help carry Minnesota.   He's dull as dish water, but the biggest strike against him is that voters rejected him prior to the Iowa caucuses.  In fact, as I recall, he was knocked out by none other than someone else I wouldn't want to see on the ticket, Michelle Bachmann.

Hopefully, it's just a rumor that Tim Pawlenty is the leading contender for Veep.  I'd probably still have to vote for Romney were he to pick Pawlenty, but it might cause me to look at the Libertarian candidate, and I doubt Romney can afford to lose people like me.

Ohio Senator Rob Portman doesn't thrill me either, but at least he's no Pawlenty whom I actually came to dislike last summer when he went out of his way to gratuitously beat up on other Republicans (like Bachmann, not that his fellow Minnesotan doesn't deserve to be beaten up, but Pawlenty's attack on her was exceptionally graceless).

Say it ain't Pawlenty, Mitt.

The Veep choice has always been a no brainer for me.  Marco Rubio is the obvious choice.

Take Florida.

In fact, Romney must take Florida.   Some say he needs to carry Florida on his own, but the chance to sew up 29 electoral votes should not be passed up so nonchalantly.

Besides, Rubio brings numerous other assets to the ticket.  Who else can possibly come close to shaving points off Obama's huge lead with Hispanic voters?  No one.  Even a five point shaving could be the difference between victory and four more years of the march toward socialism.

Rubio is well spoken, a  true fiscal conservative, and just plain likeable.  Sure, he's a bit young, but so was Kennedy; so was TR.  I can't for the life of me see why the talking heads are virtually ruling out Rubio (except Dick Morris and Sean Hannity; they apparently still like him).

I'm not a big fan of Chris the Blowhard Christie either; and Kelly Ayotte is certainly only mentioned to curry favor here in New Hampshire.  She can't see Russia from her house, but she's no more qualified than Palin was...although her coattails certainly carried numerous Republicans from Nashua into office in 2010.  That's hardly a qualification for President.

While I always opposed George Bush's war in Iraq, I never really held that against Condi Rice as much as against Dick Cheney, so Condi would be fine with me.  As a moderately pro choice Republican (like Condi), I was amused by the visceral negative reaction to her from the likes of Huckabee and Pat Buchanan who went so far as to proclaim that she would tear the party apart.

A quick check of Rasmussen's latest polling data will provide proof that Condi is probably the best choice (after Rubio).  Her favorability is at 65 percent (only 24 percent unfavorable), much much higher than either the Demagogue in Chief or Romney himself.  Sure, she'd be attacked and her negatives would undoubtedly go up, but the prospect of Democrats having to attack an African American moderately pro choice woman is just too delicious to pass up.

Marco, great.  Condi, great.

Even Jeb would be acceptable.

But please Mitt, make it anybody but Pawlenty.

Why do I get the feeling Pawlenty has already been chosen?


Rod Stewart Trumps Talk Radio

Stewart, Rod - Great American Songbook CD Cover Art
First a confession.
Prior to my July 1 trip to Montreal, I was in the library and happened upon a couple of Rod Stewart discs from his series, The Great American Songbook.
Sure, why not, I said to myself.  Normally a fan of talk radio while I drive along, I realized that there are certain parts of western New Hampshire and eastern Vermont (and indeed of southern Quebec) which fall outside radio range (at least in the daytime).
So I checked out volumes two and three of the four volume series even though I wasn't at all sure I'd spend much time listening to Rod Stewart.  No sooner had I gotten a few miles outside of Concord (doing my survey of cars breaking the speed limit) than I decided to give Rod a try.
I was hooked; I was captivated; I was bewitched immediately by the beauty, and I soon discovered that I preferred Rod Stewart to talk radio, at least much of the time.
Many of us fell for Rod back in the Maggie May days (I was at Plymouth State at the time; I remember doing sports at WPCR when the djs were playing the song constantly).  Then there was the over the top Do You Think I'm Sexy? (I was living is Ashland, writing for a weekly newspaper at the time--yes we grew up with Rod Stewart).  Of course, some punk friends of mine remember him from the Faces days.
The Killing of Georgie, in the mid-70s, about the gang slaying of a young gay man on the streets of New York, has become perhaps my favorite all time song, and I play it often on my TV show when I talk about gay marriage and other equality issues.
I've enjoyed Rod Stewart talking about his family, his voice problems and his love for soccer (he did a particularly great hour with Joy Behar before Headline News unwisely cancelled her show).
Thankfully, his voice is fine, as good--if not better than ever.
The Great American Songbook is, all things considered, not something rock and rollers will remember Rod Stewart for, but it's a tremendous accomplishment.  This collection of quiet songs, mostly love songs from the big band era, is a rare treat, a precious find.
Four duets (with female singers) stand out by themselves.  Hey, that's Cher I thought when I heard Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.  Sure enough, it was.
The duet with Dolly Parton for Baby, It's Cold Outside is especially delicious--cute might be too cute a word to describe it.
Then there's As Time Goes By with Queen Latifah and I'll Take Manhattan with Bette Midler.
These discs are due back at the library, but guess what--I think I'll break down and buy all four.
They're wonderful; they're marvelous (a song itself).
And they sure beat having to listen to Michael Savage screaming about how the Irish Mafia (Rupert Murdock, Bill O'Reilly, and Sean Hannity) has taken over Fox News.  That's what I was listening to on the way back July 3 when I decided, "Enough talk radio.  More Rod Stewart please."
My favorite track--Don't Get Around Much Any More.   Lest I forget, while no one could ever match Louis Armstrong with What A Wonderful Word, Rod Stewart's version is outstanding with a strangely appealing harmonica background from Stevie Wonder. 

Nepotism? O'Brien Should Look At His Own House

            House Speaker Bill O’Brien, always one to grandstand in the most provocative fashion, has headed off on a witch hunt demanding that executive department heads “investigate” and report back by July 30 whether any family members are working in their agencies.

            This is not some totalitarian state in which a single legislator can bully executive department heads into compliance although this is certainly not the first time O’Brien has disgraced the office he holds by attempting to bully those around him.

            Before O’Brien seeks to control executive departments, he could do the taxpayers of the state a favor by getting his own House in order.

            We may not know how many employees are on the payroll in agencies, but we know for a fact that O’Brien has one employee under his very nose who is there due to nepotism.

            Shannon Bettencourt, who according to House records is paid $45,458.27 a year as House media relations and constituent service specialist, is not only the wife of disgraced former Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, of Salem, she is also pregnant with DJ’s child.

            Thus there can be no doubt that there was (and most likely still is) a sexual relationship with someone paid by O’Brien and the man who until late spring was the number two Republican in the House.

            Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

            This is so obvious an area of nepotism that any sentient human being would have to wonder why O’Brien would make an issue of this.  It’s kind of like him ranting and raving about voter fraud when his own son was proven to have committed the most blatant type of voter fraud.

            Have you no shame, Mister Speaker?

            Shannon Bettencourt is filling a position which under former Speaker Terie Norelli was a part-time position.  With the House not in session and with Speaker O’Brien having drastically curtailed the amount of time Representatives can spend tending to their constituents, only someone dedicated to grade A nepotism and grad A cronyism could justify keeping Mrs. Bettencourt on the payroll for the summer.

            The since departed Cissy Taylor, a former Union Leader employee, was filling the same role for Speaker Norelli.  However, Taylor was released when the House session ended.

            Mrs. Bettencourt has not been laid off, at least not prior to her role as gate keeper in banning Concord Monitor reporters from an O’Brien press conference two weeks ago.

            Even as Speaker O’Brien continues to thwart State Representatives in their ability to do the job they were elected to do, he keeps a staff aboard way out of proportion to what other Speakers have done.

            When Norelli was Speaker, she had a chief of staff (Donald Manning), but no high paid policy advisor.  The first thing O’Brien did when he became Speaker was augment Chief of Staff Bob Mead with Greg Moore in a costly advisor position.  (Of course, Mead was later demoted and Moore moved into the Chief of Staff position, and Mead then left completely).

            With very little House business in the summer, why do we need to keep Greg Moore on board at a salary of $80,000 a year?

            Inquiring minds want to know.

            Of course, the House Finance Committee and joint Fiscal Committee oversee the House budget, but who sits on those committees? 

            You guessed it, people appointed by Bill O’Brien.  When I sat on Division I during budget time last year, I was alone in challenging such bloated expenditures.

            Oh yes, I was subsequently removed from the Finance Committee and slurred in every way possible by the Speaker.


            You better believe there’s nepotism in New Hampshire state government, and it begins right in Speaker O’Brien’s office.