Rep Steve Vaillancourt


Fast And Furious--Redistricting Law Suits Mount

Since I posted contents of the Manchester redistricting law suit here Monday, two more redistricting law suits have been filed (as reported by Mathew Spolar in the Concord Monitor), one by the city of Concord, one by a group of Democratic lawmakers and activists.  Since details of those are available in the main stream media, I won't go into details here except to note how strange it is (according to Spolar) that one of the petitioners in this latest suit is my own fellow Manchester Ward 8 Representative Tom Katsiantonis who has been absent for three out of four votes on the House floor this year--he's missed 81 of 105 votes--77 percent--on the HRA scoresheet, a good proxy for attendance (Spolar doesn't mention that--but that's fodder for another blog).

Katsiantonis can't do the job he was elected to do, but he's ready to sue!

You just can't make this stuff up!

However, I do know that at least one more redistricting law suit is in the works.  It's from a group of Republican law makers, one which I have signed on to as a co-litigant.

Whether the number will stop at four or increase beyond that is unknown, but as predicted here months ago, we're heading for a mess, one which could have been prevented had Speaker O'Brien accepted the compromise plan, one authored by Republican Seth Cohn and co-sponsored by such Republicans as former Manchester Chair Will Infantine and Nashua Republican Dee Hogan and agreed to by Democrats (a similar amendment was offered by Democrat Weber).  This plan had actually passed the House when O'Brien called a Republican caucus and bullied his members into reconsideration thus leading to the plan which is under assault today.

Again, you just can't make this stuff up!  (And Sean Hannity seems to be stealing my favorite line--or am I stealing his line?).

Some people have asked me if the court will consolidate all the law suits into one.  Of course, I am not a lawyer but I suspect that the court will do its best to accommodate everyone in as expeditious and timely a manner possible.  As I've said all along, the court has no interest in creating its own plan, just in guaranteeing that the final plan meets the letter and spirit of the law, which the House-passed plan clearly does not do.  If the courts strike down plans in specific areas, I suspect plans for other counties might be allowed to stand although I offer the caveat that at this point, your guess is as good as mine.

The real tragedy, I would like to say, is that hubris of one man, William O'Brien, has gotten us into this predicament.  However, that's not really true.  O'Brien could not have done this alone.  Had Redistricting Chair Paul Mirski, R-Enfield, not capitulated to what he knew (deep down inside) was wrong, O'Brien could never have gotten away with this. 

Never forget that it was Mirski (and O'Brien) who were behind the 2006 Constitutional Amendment which they flaunt with such relish today.  (Not to mention, a little mustard on the side).

Also never forget that O'Brien, supposedly a fiscal conservative, has already blown through $50,000 of taxpayer money getting bad outside legal advise.  Won't it be fun if he has to go to the Fiscal Committee on bended knee begging for more money to throw at a problem he created.  Yahwah help us if the House's third rate legal counsel/lobbyist/gendarme Ed Mosca is left to handle the suits.

Who was it that wrote, "Oh what a terrible tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive"?

We are in a terrible tangled web woven by O'Brien and company today, but very few Republicans do not share the blame.  Every Republican who stood by this awful plan must play the role of Lady Macbeth today, "Out, out damn spot."



In Praise Of--Of All Things--Four Democrats

I served with Liz Merry on the Local and Regulated Revenues Committee last term, and when I noted on this web site that she is helping manage the Jackie Cilley for Governor campaign, I felt compelled to point out that Liz was one of the finest Reps I've ever worked with in either party.  I wasn't surprised that she was defeated in her bid for re-election (I had predicted it would be a big year for Republicans), but I can honestly say that I miss her more than just about anybody I've ever served with.  Melissa Lyons, the Democrat from Rockingham County who defeated Ken Weyler, was another fine Representative who is greatly missed as is Rep. Susan Price from the Strafford County.  These are three Democrats we need back if the system is to work in a bi-partisan manner again.

As Democrats, they are all undoubtedly more fiscally liberal than I am, but we could use their intelligence and their diligence back in the House.  They never voted simply along party lines as too many Democrats and Republicans do.  Liz always spent whatever amount of time necessary to get the information required on a given issue, and at a time when Democrats were in control, she worked with other Reps across the aisle, a practice we rarely see these days.

Were I a Democrat, I would be supporting Jackie Cilley for Governor; she seems to be the most realistic pragmatic problem solver in the field right now.  No, I will never support an income tax, but the fact that Jackie Cilley refuses to take the pledge does not necessarily mean she'll push for such a tax; it simply means she's more honest than Maggie! The fact that Liz Merry is working with Jackie makes me all the more confident that Jackie Cilley would be the best choice for Democrats for Governor.  Of course, some would say that my endorsement for a Democrat is tantamout to the kiss of death.  Whatever!  There's always the write-in slot on the Republican ballot.


UNH Poll More Terrible News For Republicans

As if the Dartmouth poll (see yesterday's blog) wasn't bad enough news for Republicans, Andy Smith's UNH poll for Channel Nine is out this week, and it's enough to make a grown Republican cry.

Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney by nine points in New Hampshire, about the same as it was for the last UNH survey, and although that appears to be at odds with the Dartmouth numbers, look at it this way.  As I noted yesterday, Dartmouth oversampled Republicans by about seven points.  In fact, if you look at just the Undeclared voters in the Dartmouth poll, Obama leads by seven (44-37).  With Republicans and Democrats about equal in registration, I see no reason to oversample either party (Undeclareds should in fact be over weighted since about 45 percent of New Hampshire voters are registered as neither Republican nor Democrat, and while Undeclareds tend to vote less overall, that's not the case in a Presidential year).

Thus, the Dartmouth and UNH polls look amazingly similar in favor of Obama if you discount the weighting.  (I'm guessing that Andy Smith's weighting was proper).

But it's much worse.  As released today on Channel Nine, both relatively unknown Democrats, Maggie Hassan and Jackie Cilley, lead both Republicans, Ovide LaMontagne and Kevin Smith, in the gubernatorial race, and in two of the four scenarios, it's outside the margin of error.  For sure, the number of undecideds is huge at this point, but I suspect that to know Ovide is not to like him more (note my Magnificent Catastrophe series on the 1996 race last week), and I suspect that to know Kevin Smith is not to like him more either.

In other words, I would have expected an early lead for Republicans with Democrats scrambling to catch up.

In fact, Hassan leads Ovide 34-29, and she leads Smith 29-24.  Cilley leads Ovide by one, but she leads Smith by seven.

I've been saying for months that Republicans need another candidate for Governor, that Republicans need Ted Gatsas.

A rabid right winger on social issues, in the mold of Ovide or Smith or Bill O'Brien, will prove to be a disaster for the Grand Old Party, not just at the gubernatorial level, but up and down the ballot as well.

The UNH poll shows that Governor Lynch remains popular, 72-17 for a net plus of 55 points, not too much different from what we saw in the Dartmouth poll.  That should tell us that if any misguided House bills manage to get through the Senate, Lynch will most assuredly have the public's support with his vetoes as the House and Senate attempt to override.

This is terrible news for Republicans, and it comes the same day that Concord became the second city to sue to state over redistricting.  Manchester filed suit yesrterday; more are sure to come, forcing O'Brien to issue his just plain silly attacks on Republican leaders in cities and towns which do the right thing and sue.

You just can't make this stuff up!

The only way it could be any worse is that if UNH has news and Channel 9 is holding back word of the Legislature's approval.  Will we see a headline tomorrow that O'Brien's people are out of favor by a two to one margin?

That's not a prediction, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Or maybe American Research Group will weigh in with numbers.

Get ready for it, Speaker Norelli or Speaker Campbell and President Pierce!

Run, Ted, Red.  It's now a question of saving a Grand Old Party.   My bumper sticker is ready to go on; and I'm already wearing the cap (thanks again, Senator Gallus).


Oh Happy Day For Manchester Shoppers!

No this isn't about politics.

It isn't even about sports (although I have declared this the summer that I will concentrate on reading great baseball books--I've already completed eight and will talk about them here later).

This is only tangentially related to culture.

This blog is dedicated to a topic which affects all of us.


Oh happy day for Manchester shoppers!  After years of waiting, the city's new Market Basket, across from the Verizon Wireless Center on Elm Street, opened today to huge crowds, including me.

Last summer, I had planned to do a series on comparing prices at various chain stores, but I got in trouble at one of the chains of Manchester.  I was actually evicted from the store for having the audacity to actually write down prices.  I noted it on my TV show and also noted that I would never shop at that store again, but at the same time, I decided to kill the comparison series--apparently markets don't like their shoppers getting bargains.

Market Basket is the exception.  Until today, Manchester has never had a Market Basket (Hooksett, Londonderry, and Concord do but most people don't want to drive to shop).  For years, I've been shopping at Concord's two Market Baskets on my way home from the State House.  I started out at the smaller Storrs Street store, but moved on up to the Fort Eddy Plaza one (it's bigger and has a deli, including free coffee and snacks as you shop--what bargain hunter could possibly pass up such luxuries?).

When I used to do a live TV show, we'd occasionally get callers from people wondering when the Manchester Market Basket was going to open.

Today, today, today.  Not merely bargains on selected items each week (a tactic of Stop and Shop and Shaws) but great prices, great selection, and great specials.  A poind of bacon for $1.99; stock up on bacon.

Have you ever, like me, become aggravated when places like Shaws and Stop and Shop advertise two for one specials and the sale price is still more than you'd expect to pay.  Like, instead of offering bacon for $1.99, other stores would offer two for the regular $5.99 price or $2.99 each, hardly a bargain.  This come-in is very common with ice creams.

Deli and produce prices are much less expensive at Market Basket, often times less than half what you'd pay at the other chain stores.  If you don't believe me, check out the three great staples, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions (especially scallions...or as we used to say when I was growing up in Vermont--green tails).  Frozen foods are also much more of a bargain at the Basket.

I suspect we had our shopping habits ingrained at an eary age from our parents.

For that I need to thank my long since departed mother.  She knew a good bargain, and so do I.

Apparently so do most Manchester shoppers.  They've long awaited the Market Basket, and today it opened.

Dig this.  As I began taking bags from the shopping cart at my car, a young man came up to assist me.  Wow!  Next thing you know they'll be pumping gas for us.

One quibble.  I've long been accustomed to seeing roast chickens at a bargain $3.99 at the Concord Market Baskets, much less than Shaws or Stop and Shop or Hannaford.  However, today in my walk through the store, I noted the Manchester Market Basket priced the roast chickents at $4.69.  Is this just for Manchester or is the price going up in all the stores?  It's no big deal for me--I wasn't going to buy one, was merely price comparing.

Maybe I should attempt to do the comparison series again, and if a store manager tries to stop me, tell him to call the police and take me to jail.  Certainly, there can't be a law against writing down prices for comparison purposes!


First Redistricting Law Suit Filed

Let the law suits begin. 

It's kind of like the flag going up for the Indianapolis 500.  We knew it was coming, and now it's happened.  For the City of Manchester, Thomas J. Donovan, of the law firm of McLane, Graf, Raulerson, and Middleton, has filed what we suspect will be just the first of numerous redistricting law suits.

The nine page document, filed in the Hillsborough Councy Northern District April 23, lists Secretary of State William Gardner as the person being sued, but of course, the suit is against House Speaker Bill O'Brien who reacted swiftly to the suit by trying to blame the litigants for "wasting" tax payer money.

As we all know, Bill O'Brien has in fact already wasted $50,000 of taxpayer money on lawyers who advised him to stand by a redistricting plan that even its supporters, including House Redistrciting Chair Paul Mirski, R-Enfield, admit is in clear violation of the amendment passed by New Hampshire voters in 2006.  Rather than accept a plan which both parties were prepared to live with, O'Brien bullied, coerced, and cajoled Republican House members into overrriding a gubernatorial veto, thus setting the stage for promised law suits.

I've attempted to download a copy of the suit for your perusual here, but it doesn't seem to be reproducing well here.  Suffive it to say that as I've said all along, I believe Concord, Pelham, and dozens of other towns have even greaters standing to challenge this plan than does Manchester.

Speaker O'Brien's refusal to listen to reason now threatens the filing period for State Represenatives which was supposed to being in early June.








of Manchester


William M.

Gardner, Secretary of State








of Manchester ("Manchester"), amunicipal corporation, by and through its attorneys


Graf, Raulerson & Middleton, Professional Association, petitions this Court and


against William M. Gardner, Secretary of State as follows:


The inhabitants of Manchester, the largest and most diverse municipality in New


with twelve electoral wards and 8.3%o of New Hampshire's population, have been


deprived of representation in the State House of Representatives due to



defects with its reapportionment plan, adopted over the veto of the Governor.seeks a declaration that the reapportionment plan violates both the New Hampshire



United States Constitution and seeks injunctive relief to prevent the implementation of that


Parties and Jurisdiction


Manchester is a municipal corporation with an address clo City Solicitor, One

City Hall

Plaza, Manchester, NH 03101.



William M. Gardner is the New Hampshire Secretary of State with an address atNorth Main St. Concord, NH 03301. He is the chief election officer of New Hampshire,

RSA 652:23,

and is named in his offrcial capacity.


This Court has subject matter jurisdiction of this matter pursuant to RSA 49I:7


and RSA 498:1. Venue is proper in this Court pursuant to RSA 507:9.


Statement of Facts


Representatives from Manchester and the 2010 Census


The 2010 decennial census conducted by the United States determined that the



of New Hampshire was 1,316,470. The New Hampshire House of Representativesof 400 members. N.H.CONST. part. II art. 9. Based on the constitutional mandate that

representatives be


apportioned "as equal as circumstances will admit", each state representativerepresent close to 3291 people. Id.


The 2010 decennial census conducted by the United States determined that the

population of

Manchester was 109,565, or 8.323 percent of New Hampshire's population.



that percentage to the 400 members in the New Hampshire House of Representativesto the inference that Manchester would receive 33 to 34 representatives.



In recent years, Manchester voters elected 35 representatives, with 9 wards3 representatives each and three wards sharing 8 representatives. Therefore some

reapporlionment is required.


Manchester is by far the largest municipality in New Hampshire. Its population


that of six of New Hampshire's ten counties.


For electoral purposes, Manchester divides itself into 12 wards of roughly equal



RSA 44:4;Manchester City Charter $5.33. Following the 2010 decennial census,voters of Manchester approved an amendment to $5.33 to reapportion the city's 12 wards to

reflect shifts in

population. The average ward population is 9130, and when that is divided by


of 3291inhabitantsperrepresentative,thequotientis2.TT4representativesperward.



average ward population would make the population of each ward equivalent to


30th largest town out o1234 in New Hampshire.


House Bill592


Under N.H. CONST, part II, art. 9, the House of Representatives is required every


States. It

years to apportion its representatives in accordance with the last general census of the Uniteddevised a reapportionment plan for itself, HB 592, which it passed on January 18,


The bill later passed the Senate, but on March 23,2012 it was vetoed by Governor John

Lynch who

also provided a statement of his objections pursuant to N.H. CONST. pt. II, art.44.


objections to


Pursuant to N.H.CONST. pt. II, art.44,the Governor's veto along with hisHB 592 must be returned to the chamber in which the legislation originated, theof Representatives. The House must then "enter the objections at large on their joumal,


proceed to reconsider it" and only then may it again pass HB 592,bú this time by a twothirds




any other

The House of Representatives did not first "enter atlarge on their journal" or onwritten document the Governor's objections to the vetoed bill. The House of


gave no notice of any intent to take up the Governor's objections to the vetoed


Instead, William L. O'Brien, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, on the moming

of March


28,2012 called a closed door caucus for House members of his political party.thereafter, he called the House to order and ananged for the reading of the


veto message on HB 592 "without first being printed in the House Calendar" and

then presided over

2012 House Journal

a vote to override the veto. The vote was 246 - 112 to override the veto.No. 15. There were 38 House members not present for the override vote.



Senate thereafter voted to override the veto. HB 592 has now been adopted as Chapter 9 of


Laws. It repeals and reenacts RSA 662:5.


House Bil1592 makes a number of changes to the make-up of the House of


With respect to Manchester, each ward starts with two representatives, for a


of 24,leaving a deficit of 9 or 10 representatives to make up. Seven additional


are allocated by grouping certain wards together, called floterial districts. Two


of three wards each share two representatives, for a total of four. One grouping of


wards shares three representatives. That brings the total to 31.


But two wards in Manchester, Wards 8 and 9, do not share additional


with other Manchester wards. Instead, Wards 8 and 9 are gtouped with the Town

of Litchfield

to the south to share two additional representatives.


HB 592 therefore leaves Manchester with only 31 representatives, and it shares


additional representatives with Litchfield, which also receives two representatives on its



Manchester Wards 8 and t have 18,304 inhabitants and Litchfield has 8271


By allocating the two floterial seats in accordance with the combined populations of



8 and 9 and Litchfield, Wards 8 and 9 receive 5.38 representatives (3,402 perand Litchfieldreceives 2.62representatives (3,157 perrepresentative). Litchfield

therefore is overrepresented by

4% from the 3,291mean Inhabitants of Wards 8 and 9 are


by 3% from the 3,297 mean Applying this same analysis citylvide, and even

counting the

two floterial seats, Manchester is underrepresented by 3o/o, i.e. there are3,287


Manchester inhabitants above the mean number of 3,297 inhabitants per



which translates almost precisely into Manchester being shortchanged another




The House of Representatives considered feasible reappodionment plans which


at least 33 seats wholly within Manchester, which afforded Litchfield its own district,


which did so while maintaining in all area districts less than a ten percent deviation from the

ideal number

of inhabitants per representative.


Manchester has found no record of it sharing a representative with a surrounding


since its incorporation as a city in 1846.


Manchester and Litchfield Are Very Different Communities


Demographically, Manchester and Litchfield are very different communities.

About half of

Manchester inhabitants live in rental housing; about 90% of Litchfield inhabitants


in homes that they own. More than 18% of Manchester inhabitants are members of minority


household income

while the comparable number in Litchfieldis 4o/o. 2010 United States Census. Medianin Manchester is 552,906, while it is almost twice that, $97,591, in Litchfield.


States Census Bureau, 2009 American Community Survey.


Manchester is the state's largest school district, educating 15,762 students this



Of those students,3Io/o are members of minority groups and 460/o are income eligible tofree or reduced price lunch. Litchfield educates this year 1580 students, one tenth that of

Manchester. Of

those students, only 7%o are members of minority groups and only 9o/o are


eligible to receive free of reduced price lunch. New Hampshire Department of


2010 - 2011 School District Profiles.


Manchester and Litchfield do not share municipal or school services. For


the communities have entirely separate public school systems. They participate in



regional planning commissions. There is no common drinking water or wastewater

system. By

contrast, Manchester shares one or more of those services with every other town in


vicinity, including Deerfield, Candia, Hooksett, Auburn, Londonderry, Derry, Bedford,


New Boston and Weare.


received from the

Manchester has unique interests in dealing with state legislation. Manchesterstate this fiscal year $56,761,000 of annual education adequacy grants under a


learners, special

that currently targets additional funding based upon the number of English languageeducation participants and free and reduced lunch. RSA 198:40-a and 41 .


to this formula would affect Manchester profoundly. The re-establishment of school


aid is parlicularly important to Manchester, which hosts 22 separate public schools,

more than


any other community in the state. See, HB 533. Under the state budget, Manchesterfrom the state this fiscal year $4,894,000 in revenue sharing fi'om rooms & meals tax


Since 90o/o of that revenue is obligated to bond repayment on the city-owned Yerizon

Wireless Arena,

reduction or elimination of that revenue sharing would cause technical default of


bond covenants. A large portion of Manchester's budget comes from its receipt of federal

contracts that

pass through state govemment agencies. Those contracts, whether for public

health, human services, education

or refugee resettlement, all depend upon the contìnuation of

Manchester's strong

proposal to

relationship with state government. Finally, with the advent of a newbuild replacement state prison facilities in Manchester, Manchester requires strong


advocacy from its representatives.




Cause of ActionI (Unconstitutionality of HB 592)


Manchester incorporates into this Count I the allegations that it has made in


I through 22 of this Petition.


comply with

last federal


HB 592 fails to comply with N.H.CONST. part II, art, Il because it does notthe requirement that "[w]hen the population of any town or ward, according to thecensus is within a reasonable deviation from the ideal population for one or moreseats the town or ward shall have its own district of one or more representative


It also fails to comply with N.H.CONST. part II art. 9 because it does not comply with


requirement that the "house of representatives, lshall be] biennially elected and founded on

principles of

equality, and representation therein shall be as equal as circumstances will admit."


Specifically,HB 592 is unconstitutional because Manchester has enough


to entitle the city to be guaranteed a total of 33 or 34 representatives on its own, and



merely the 31 representatives plus a floterial district set forth in HB 592. Wards 8 and t haveinhabitants to entitle those wards, apart or together with other Manchester wards, to



its own district of one or more representative seats." Moreover giving Manchester itsto its own representatives will not deprive Litchfield of its own district.


As a result, this Court should declare pursuant to RSA 49I:22 that Chapter 9,


2012 is unconstitutional as not complying with N.H. CONST. part II art. 9 and 1 l.


. In addition , HB 592 deprives the Manchester and its inhabitants \Mith equal voting


and equal protection of the laws protected by N.H. CONST. part I art. 1,2 and 1 1 . These


may be interpreted in light of the experience of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments


the United States Constitution, as well as by Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act,42 U.S.C.


The right to vote and the right to be elected are afforded the status of fundamental rights



New Hampshire. See Akins v. Secretary of State, 154 N.H. 67,11(2006). Specifically, HB

592 impermissibly dilutes

and abridges the voting strength of all Manchester voters, including


who belong to racial and color minorities, and those who are economically disadvantaged.


As a result, the Court should declare pursuant to RSA 491:22 that Chapter 9,



2012 is unconstitutional because it denies Manchester and its inhabitants with equal votingand equal protection of the laws protected by N.H. CONST. part I art. 1 ,2 and 1l. See

generally, the Fourteenth

and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution ancl


2 of the Voting Rights Ac¡42 U.S.C. $1973.



This Court should also issue a preliminary and permanent injunction to preventSecretary of State from preparing for the 2012 primary and general elections for the House of


based upon Chapter 9, Laws 2072, which is unconstitutional. Manchester faces

irreparable harm


and there is no adequate remedy at law should the Secretary of State execute onreapportionment plan of Chapter 9, Laws 2012. Immediate injunctive relief is required


otherwise the Secretary of State will rely upon Chapter 9, Laws 2012 to determine the


within which candidates may file for election as representative during the primary


filing period which extends from June 6 to 75,2012. See, Secretary of State's 2012




the City of Manchesterrequests that this Court:


Issue orders of notice for a temporary hearing within fourteen days and for an

expedited hearing

on the merits of this matter;




Declare that Chaptet 9,Laws2012the requirements of N.H.CONST. partI, art.unconstitutional because it fails to comply


and 11 and part II, art.9 and 77:.



Order a preliminary and permanent injunction against the Secretary of State to


him from preparing for the 2012 ptimary and general elections for the House of


based upon Chapter 9, Laws 2012;


Respectfully submitted,

Order such other and further relief as may be just.



OF MANCHESTER.its Attorneys,






April 23,2012




Elm Street, P.O. Box 326



New Hampshire 03 105 -0326(603) 625 -6464


I, Theodore

L. Gatsas, Mayor, being duly authorized,have verified that the facts set forth

in the foregoing

Verified Petition are true and accurate to the best of my knowledge and belief.

Theodore L.






this 2.* 'day of 4p'i1,2072, Theodore L. Gatsas personally appeared before me and

swore that the


foregoing statements are true to the best of hislher knowledge and belief.


Graf, Raulerson & Middleton