Rep Steve Vaillancourt


Writing Is Not A Team Sport

As someone who has done my share of writing over the years, both in this blog and in numerous other venues, it's time to assert my firm belief that, except in very limited circumstances, writing is not a team sport.

Those of us who put pen to paper (or strike keys on a board these days) are not like the Kentucky Wildcats or the Kansas Jayhawks, feeding off words and phrases to one another or throwing up lobs of ideas for others to dunk home.

Thus it never ceases to amaze me how those who control editorial pages are so often taken in by the idea that an article or op-ed piece is authored by two, three or even more people.

The most recent example of this nonsense (and it is in fact only one of several examples I've been collecting over the pass several weeks) is the piece entitled "Last week's House vote on redistricting was legal and proper" on page A7 of today's Union Leader; it also appears in today's Concord Monitor under the headline "Veto override was conducted properly" (always remember that editors write headlines, not reporters or writers, thus the difference in headlines).  Credited for writing the piece are House Speaker William O'Brien, Speaker Pro Tem Gene Chandler, and Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt.  Their titles are all spelled out in the footnote beneath the article.

Does anyone actually believe that the three of them sat down and decided, "Let's write this article together?"  Perhaps the Speaker took paragraphs one through three and then handed it off to D.J. for the next three paragraphs or threw a pass downfield for Gene Chandler to add in a few clauses.

Of course not.

In fact, when you see an article with more than one name attached to it, you can assume that NONE of them wrote the piece.  Most likely, it was ghost written.  I'm not saying it's true in this case, but I've been privy to inside stuff on both sides of the aisle, and these multi-penned pieces are most often written by PAID STAFFERS.  They are ghost written.  In this case, the author could have been (and I'm not saying that it is) high paid House lawyer/lobbyist/gendarme Ed Mosca or perhaps redistricting guru staffer Aaron Goulet.

I know for a fact that when Sherm Packard was Republican leader and stuff would go out under his name or a team of names; neither he nor they ever wrote it.  I know who did write most of it, but won't mention the name here.  Back in my days as a Democrat, I ghost wrote a slew of stories which wound up under Ray Buckley's byline or some other party functionary.

The point I make is that you should never trust these op-ed pieces signed by numerous people.  Powers that be seem to think that the more names they attach to an article, the more veracity it is entitled to.


The more names you see on an article, the more likely it is to be little more than a public relations piece, sent out to dup the unsuspecting public that a great deal of team thought went into it.  Of course, the first people being duped are newspaper staffers.

They are complicit in the scheme of making it appear the article has more veracity than it really deserves when in point of fact, it is seldom worth reading at all.

I haven't read today's op-ed piece on redistricting.  I'd be more likely to read it if Mosca or Goulet or the person who actually wrote it actually signed it.  You can't make me believe that the trio of O'Brien/Chandler/Bettencourt wrote it.  Perhaps one of them did; perhaps not.  The three of them taking credit for it does little more than relegate it to the realm of anonymity.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not picking on these three.  I saw a team of Democrats supposedly write an op-ed piece recently, and alarms immediately went off as to authenticity then.

It was at that time that I promised myself to make note of it the next time a team article was forthcoming.

About the only time that writing is a team sport is when two authors collaborate on an extensive project such as an in depth book on a political election.  There were two such efforts on the 2008 elections, one of which, Game Change, was made into an HBO movie (which I saw and enjoyed this past weekend).  One of the writers handles various phases of the campaign and writes about that while his colleague goes off to cover other phases.  The late Bob Evans and his colleague Rowland Evans were excellent at this type of team writing, both for books and their columns, always reviewing each other's words.

I know Gene Chandler; I know Bill O'Brien; I know D.J. Bettencourt. 

Trust me; they are no Novak and Evans.

They are most likely hiding behind a ghost writer.

Take note, whenever you see a team-written article, it's probably bogus.  Rather than be duly impressed, you might consider passing it by altogether.


Evans and Novak were the exception.  They wrote as a team.  There are very few if any team writers penning op-ed pieces these days, no matter what editors try to foist upon an unsuspecting public.

  • Monday

    Weasels And Snakes Invade "Liberty Express"

    • That little white thing is the Manchester State Rep delegation.

    A trip to Montreal for the International Jazz Festival and Fireworks or to Amsterdam for a half hour of flowers at Kukenhof and Queens Day celebrations (orange everywhere) had been planned for the second half of this week's Liberty Express (Monday at 10 pm, Tuesday at 11 pm, Thursday at 9 pm, and Sunday at noon on ManchesterTV23 and always availalble at

    However, the show was overrun by weasels and snakes, and we never quite make it to Amsterdam or Montreal.  With the background song "War Is A Science" from Pippin (a great Broadway show with Ben Vereen and Irene "Granny" Ryan back in the early 70s), yes indeed we spend most of the hour inundated by snakes and weasels (aka The Manchester Seven) as we relive last week's redistricting vote.  Time flew.  The first half hour was gone before I even took a breath.  Those snakes just kept attacking!  Ugh!


    Need I say more.

    The seven Manchester Reps who broke their pledge to support the Governor's veto on redistricting and in so doing voted to take two additional Reps from their city know them by know, and if you don't, you certaily will by the time The Liberty Express finishes (maybe I'll run it again just prior to the November election).

    Will Infantine, Ward 6, Chair of the Delegation (since resigned, or so we hear)

    Mike Ball, Ward 2

    Leo Pepino, Ward 4

    Cathy Cusson Cail and Ross Terrio, Ward 7

    Carlos Gonzalez and Connie Souch, Ward 12.


    Since we've completed the first quarter of the year, this week's show also reviews our 12 for 12 predictions from back in January.  It appears we have two right (no gay marriage repeal and no casinos) and two wrong (speed limit increase and Gatsas for Governor) so far.

    C'mon Ted, there's still time...your press secretary awaits!

    I'll keep my predictions the same for the U.S. Senate (GOP takes over with a gain of seven seats) and only minimal GOP losses in the U.S. House, but I'm once again increasing the number of gains for Democrats in the NH House (it may reach 100) and am upping Democratic gains in the NH Senate from three, giving Dems eight, to a gain of five seats, which would give Dems 11 senators.

    I'm also backing off on a prediction of a Bass win.

    Yes, expect Republicans to take a big hit in Manchester...what more can one expect when the party is overrun by snakes and weasels. 


    Groen Helped Turn Gay Marriage Debate Around

    Before we leave the gay marriage debate behind, here's a bit of proof that the speech of  Rep. Warren Groen, R-Rochester, against gay marriage actually convinced one Rep to vote agaisnt the bill repealing it.  This is an email I received in the wake of my analysis of the vote last week.  Good work, Rep. Groen.
    From: Leonard, Frederick
    Sent: Friday, March 23, 2012 6:05 PM
    To: Vaillancourt, Steve
    Subject: Re: inside story of marriage repeal failure
    I went back and forth several times in my head...Warren Groen's speech pushed me over the edge...I just can't be that unkind to another human being!


    Nashua Telegraph Assails O'Brien

    Seldom have I agree with an editorial so thoroughly as I did this one from today's Nashua Telegraph.  While O'Brien deserves much of the blame, we should not ignore the role played by Ed Mosca, the high paid lawyer/lobbyist/gendarme, and Chief of Staff Greg Moore (former policy advisor) whose salary, in a position that didn't even exist under Speaker Norelli, is nearly $85,000 a year.  So much for Republicans beng fiscal conservatives.  In explicably, lots of taxpayer money is being spent to lobby House members!

    I can't wait to see how the Concord Monitor weighs in on the subject and then to see if the Union Leader attempts to defend the Speaker (it claims to be a fiscally conservative paper) and the Manchester seven (it claims to folow Manchester news).

    If anyone needs a fresh example of the blatant disregard for civility and fair play so common in government today, we offer up our speaker of the House of Representatives as Exhibit A.

    No stranger to procedural controversy during his first 18 months in leadership, Rep. William O’Brien, of Mont Vernon, did it again Wednesday when he thumbed his nose at House protocol – if not the New Hampshire Constitution – in calling for an unscheduled override vote of Gov. John Lynch’s veto of the House redistricting plan (HB 592).

    After fighting back a procedural challenge by outraged Democrats, the House voted to override the governor’s veto by the necessary two-thirds margin, 246-112. On Thursday, the Senate followed suit, 17-7, making the House redistricting plan law.

    This is the same plan that deprives Hudson and Pelham of their own seats – they will share 11 under the new law – even though they were deserving of seven and four, respectively, based on their populations.

    In calling for the vote, O’Brien appears to have run afoul of the state constitution, which says the governor’s veto message should be printed in the legislative body’s journal prior to an override attempt.

    Specifically, Part II, Article 44 of the state constitution states that if the governor vetoes a bill, “he shall return it, with his objections, to that house in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it.”

    In order to get around that, O’Brien halted proceedings Wednesday to call a 30-minute private caucus with House Republicans, during which he distributed a written opinion from House legal counsel Ed Mosca. The opinion concluded that the speaker has the authority to take up the governor’s veto, though the House could choose not to do so by a majority vote.

    Upon learning of the speaker’s intent, House Democrats asked for a 15-minute break to caucus on their own, certainly a reasonable request under the circumstances. Of course, their request was denied. Nor were they allowed to see a copy of Mosca’s legal opinion prior to the vote.

    And as would be expected in a chamber where they are outnumbered by a 3-1 margin, the Democratic objection to the speaker’s decision failed by a lopsided 255-97 tally.

    “I am at a total loss to understand why (O’Brien) continues to break Houses rules, to violate the constitution, to make up his own way of doing things day after day,” House Minority Leader Terie Norelli, D-Portsmouth, told the Portsmouth Herald after the vote.

    Given Norelli knows full well why the speaker does what he does, we’ll give her the benefit of the doubt she was speaking rhetorically.

    So is this much ado about nothing? We don’t think so.

    By telling reporters and others Monday that he didn’t intend to bring Lynch’s veto forward this week, O’Brien may have deprived some lawmakers the opportunity to participate. Of the 397 House members now serving, 39 were absent for a vote that exceeded the two-thirds margin by eight.

    What’s worse, the unannounced vote also denied municipal officials – particularly those in communities like Hudson, Manchester and Pelham that share seats – one last opportunity to persuade their lawmakers to sustain the governor’s veto in hopes of a better deal.

    But that no doubt was the speaker’s plan all along, yet another example of an ends-justify-the-means philosophy that is giving our state government a bad name.


    More Proof That Speaker Lied!

    Thanks.  I thought I was losing my mind for a minute there...just like I thought I had lost it when I recall EVERY MANCHESTER REP PLEDGING TO SUSTAIN THE VETO ON REDISTRICTING.  I went to City Hall today and sure enough, that's what they all had the Mayor and each other.

    From: Webb, James
    Sent: Friday, March 30, 2012 7:45 PM
    To: Vaillancourt, Steve
    Subject: RE: Speaker lies!

    I heard your call for the division and voted with you Steve on the ruling of the chair, as un popular as it was in my section , there is right and there is wrong and you did call for that division  I think there may have been some confusion because of the protest but the speaker could of handled better.




    James C. Webb SR.

    NH  State Representative

    Rockingham District 5