Rep Steve Vaillancourt


Greg Sorg No Longer Judiciary Vice Chair

Rumors abound at the State House this noon hour that Greg Sorg, R-Grafton County, is no longer vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

Chairman Robert Rowe, R-Amherst, tells me Sorg is officially still Vice Chair ("He's still on the paper, yes"), but others insist Sorg has either stepped aside voluntarily or has been removed because he refuses to do what leadership tells him in each and every instance.

It isn't clear whether Sorg has been totally removed from Judiciary although he now appears to be on the committee on redress of grievances, a place where those...well, never mind...let's just say that many on that committee never bother to show up. 

Sorg told Redress of Grievances Committee members this morning that he had left Judiciary because he disagrees with the Chair (Rowe) too often.  The words "irreconcilable differences" were used, a second souce tells me.  Interestingly, both Rowe and Sorg were movers and shakers with the very conservative House Republican Alliance last session (when O'Brien served as co-chair of the HRA).

It's truly sad that all chairs and vice chairs must either do exactly what they're told or leave.

Earlier this year, Gary Hopper, R-Weare, was removed as chair of Fish and Game when he refused to do as Speaker O'Brien demanded, namely that he vote to override Governor John Lynch's veto on right to work legislation.

There was an eruption on the House foor yesterday regarding a Judiciary Committee bill which was recommended 16-1 as ought to pass (Sorg the one).  Rep Tony Soltani, R-Epsom, spoke against the bill and won (managing to get it tabled which is, in effect, killing least for the time being).

There is apparently no truth to the rumor that Lynn Ober, R-Hudson, has added Vice Chairmanship of Judiciary to her portfolio which includes of Chairman of the Special Education Committee, Chairman of Municipal and County Goverment, and Vice Chair of Finance, although some in Concord are wondering (with tongue in cheek) if Ober might be the only person left for O'Brien to appoint to anything.

Last week when Team O'Brien replaced Bev Ferrante. R-Londonderry, with Ober as Municipal and County Government Chair, a release went out saying that Ferrante was needed in Republican leaderhip.  Most Reps are convinced it was a demotion for Ferrante with Ober having been sent in to shore up an out of control committee.  It speaks loudly that former Municipal Chair Betsi Patten, R-Carroll County, was not given the gavel back, but then as reported here last week, she delivered a fantastic speech in opposition to O'Brien's position on taxing telephone poles.

We await the press release anxiously and will pay special attention to the official reason given for Sorg's departure (what are the odds we'll see those two words "irreconcilable differences?).

The clerk of Election Law, unhappy with Chair David Bates, R-Windham (boy, I could tell stores about this one, but I'll hold them for when I have more time--hey, this is NH Insider after all), stepped down last week as well and was replaced by Susan DeLemus, R-Strafford County.

It just gets funner and funner.


Is The Good Sullivan (Peter) Back?

UPDATE--Sullivan won 122-27. Alas poor Muni, we knew ye well.

You wouldn't know it from reading kathythes's blog on the blueblogbigot site, but she and raybo both despise Peter Sullivan, the Democrat from Ward 3 in Manchester, who survived a primary challenge to go up against Repbulican Muni Savyon in today's race to replace the dearly departed (for Pennsylvania) Mike Brunelle.

A former Alderman (after serving one term, he lost to fellow Rep Pat Long in 2007) and State Rep, Peter Sullivan is about as much anti-Buckley anti-Kathy as you're likely to find in the Democratic party.  They despise him even more than I despise my fellow Republicans His Vileness and the Clown Prince (if such a thing is possible).

Peter Sullivan, some may recall, even chimed in with late information trying to bring raybo down back in 2007 when police could find nothing to hang around raybo's young-loving neck.  That's why it was especially bizarre, nearly Kafkaesque, to read about raybo gloating about Sullivan's victory Wednesday.  My guess is raybo would have voted for Muni had he lived in that ward; he often told me how he voted for Republicans back in the day, espcially against Dick Swett!  But I digress.  Suffice it to say that raybo and the good Sullivan are bitter enemies, almost as much as raybo and the bad Burling were enemies. 

Always placing party ahead of personal animosity, however, kathythes urged Democrats to get out and support her namesake.  Apparently not many people did.  Turnout was pathetically low but in this most Democratic of all Manchester wards, expect Peterthes to pull it out.

Computers were not used, so as I blog at 7:20, ballots were being handcounted.  It shouldn't be long before the good Sullivan is back.

No matter who wins, he'll most certainly be sworn in in time to provide another Manchester vote against the silly redistricting bill put forth by Mssrs. O'Brien, Mirski, Bettencourt, Bates, and MOSCA!


Tieing One On For Mickey


           As a lighter part of their column this week, Ann Marie Timmins and Matthew Spolar of the Concord Monitor write about Rep. George Lambert’s many ties.  Apparently he tries to match them with whatever is happening on the House floor on a given day.

            Been there, done that.

            Not that I have a long history of this kind of sartorial splendor, but lately, I’ve found myself reaching for a Mickey Mouse tie every Wednesday morning.  I bought it for times when I thought the House would be delving into Mickey Mouse stuff.  There’s hardly a day it doesn’t apply now.

            Two years ago, I wasn’t planning to dress any particular way, but it seems my subconscious was getting the best of me.  I was fond of a black shirt, solid white tie combination, and fellow Reps began to notice that when I wore that combination, I was in a dark mood, a mood for business, a mood when I wouldn’t suffer fools lightly (not that I ever do).

            I’ve largely given up the black and white combination this session.

            Sadly, Mickey Mouse seems more appropriate.

            Then there’s that donkey tie, a gift from Chris Spirou (before he sailed off to Greece to become President of Manchester's Hellenic University--I kid you not).  Sort of like education funding, I cherish this tie and seem to need it more and more every day as my fellow Republicans seem determined to hold our freedoms hostage and drive us back into minority status.

            Ah yes, what will it be tomorrow?

            I feel a mouse coming on--AGAIN.


The Reading Room--"And So It Goes" Gives Us Vonnegut Warts And All

Fred R. Conrad/The

Vonnegut always thought he would be killed by a dog.  He died in 2007 as the result of a fall from tripping over his frisky dog's leash.  How Vonnegutian!

The Reading Room, an occasional feature of this blog and of The Liberty Express on Manchestertv23 (Monday 10 pm, Tuesday 11 pm, Thursday 9 pm, Sunday at noon and always online at looks at recent books well worth a read.

Back in 1969 when I was supposed to be studying Plato and John Stuart Mill and others as part of a freshman philosophy course at Plymouth State College, a professor name Bob O'Neil provided me with probably the greatest gift of any educator before or since, knowledge of an up and coming writer named Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

I was so enamored by Cat's Cradle that I read everything this guy Vonnegut had ever written and looked forward to every new offering, usually about one every three years.  Since then, I have reread all Vonnegut's novels (except Time Quake--his last effort really was pretty bad--apparently written as he was "waiting to die").

I use that sardonic line because it's typical of Vonnegut and is in fact the final chapter of a tremendous new biography, 400 pages and more, just out by Charles J. Shields who previously wrote the biography of Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird and nothing more).

I suppose I could have put this book down, but as a Vonnegut lover, I didn't want to.  I tore through it in two days and have decided to re-reread all the novels (except Time Quake), beginning with Deadeye Dick which I nearly finished in one sitting last night.

Either you love Vonnegut or you hate him.  I'm in the former category.  I even loved Slapstick which critics panned and the author gave himself only a D for it (in the collection entitled Palm Sunday).

Much of Vonnegut's life story is not secret--he alludes to it throughout his novels, including the story about taking in his sister's four young boys when his brother-in-law is killed in a bizarre train wreck and the sister died of cancer a few days later.

As a student of German history, I've always been fascinated by Vonnegut's presence in Dresden during the firestorm caused by American and British bombers the day before Lent in 1945.  Vonnegut had been taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge and had been moved to Dresden where he was on work duty when the raid began.

Of course, Slaughterhouse Five was the result of that experience although it took Vonnegut more than 20 years to get around to writing the book, his classic.

That's an interesting story in itself.  The ideas behind all 14 of his novels are covered in this new biography, but the life of Vonnegut by itself would be worth a read even were he not my second favorite writer (John Irving, who was taught by Vonnegut at the writer's school in Iowa) edges him out for number one).

Unlike many biographies, the subject does not come across as an unadulterated hero in this one.  We get Vonnegut warts, Pall Malls, alcohol, crankiness and all.  His first wife is more like a saint (she died of cancer long ago); he second wife (still living I believe) a real bitch.  The parts about writing to put food on the table are especially good.  Vonnegut became fabulously wealthy but not until he was in his 40s--he'd take in $10,000 for a speech in which he didn't mind insulting his audience.

When I mentioned this book to a colleague, a liberal Democrat (before I'd read it), she was surprised that I'd be so enamored with someone who acquired quite the reputation as an ardent left winger (some would say left wing loonie).  In fact, as the book notes on several occasions, he came from a solidly conservative German family.  While he espoused many left wing causes and was known to rail against the monied element, he was quite the free enterprise capitalist himself--check out his stock portfolio to get an idea of how many "evil" companies he owned.

I also began to wonder why only two novels (Slaughterhouse Five and Mother Night, probably my favorite of them all) have been made into movies.  The author has an answer.  No movie could capture the main character of a Vonnegut novel--Vonnegut himself.

Let's see...I'll finish Deadeye Dick tonight and maybe go right into Galapagos.  Most of these books I have at home (low priced since I bought them so long ago), but you know what, I think I loaned Good Bless You Mr. Rosewater, Mother Night, and Cat's Cradle to a friend who never returned them.

You know who you are.  Please return them. 

I'm back into my Vonnegut mood.  He may not have been a really great man, but he was a really great writer who, unlike me, knew how to keep sentences short.  I get my sense of humor from Vonnegut (if not my writing style).

And so it goes.

Long live Kilgore Trout.

Long Live Billy Pilgrim, wherever he may, Dresden or the planet Tralfalmadore.


REDISTRICTING--Zibel Testimony Minutes

On more than one occasion, I've alluded here to testimony from Howard Zibel, of the Supreme Court, regarding the court's reluctance to get involved in redistrciting.  Here are the minutes from the tesimony Zibel presented in regard to House Bill 1718 which would have forced the court to rule on any redistricting law suit within ten days and limisted an appeal to five days.

Howard Zibel – General Counsel, NH Supreme Court:  Ask you to  ITL this bill.

I am not going to plead separation of powers.  Can never say whether something is constitutional –a higher pay grade than me decides that.

Problem – “Time frames are way to short … It’s just not possible.”

Appeal to Committee – respect branches of government have for each other.  Courts are well aware of time constraints.

No plan emerged ten years ago.  Court issued a number of orders basically begging the Legislature to get this done.  Court was a very reluctant participant.  Redistricting every ten years is a political process, but if the court gets involved, politics plays no role.

Ten years ago, the court hired an expert from South Carolina.  It was done by numbers.  The court was in contact with Secretary of State.

Court doesn’t live in a vacuum.  Promise courts will work as quickly as possible.  How much time needed depends on what the plan is.  House plan would take more time to do than a Senate plan.

Challenges could also be brought in federal court.  They would pay no attention to this law proposed.   I don’t think you need this bill- - expeditious statement “It’s a truism.”  A legal challenge would be quicker to decide than a factual challenge.  Court very happy not to see a case.

2002 Timetable  (Zibel)

April 24 – Senate Plan case brought

June 11 – Arguments

June 24 – opinion issue


April 9 – House case brought

May 2 – Arguments

July 26 – Plan issued

August 14 – Clarifying language

Supreme Court would not rule for factual findings; that would be superior court.

Section two of the bill is also unnecessary.  House counsel already is used.  Ten years ago nobody dragged their feet at all.

Atty Zibel:  I come back to the Nike principle “Just do it.”