Considering the long history of absenteeism from Manchester Representatives, a practice which in effect disenfranchises voters, one would have thought that the Union Leader, as part of its Friday editorial urging citizens to seek public office during this filing period, would have stressed that if you file, you really ought to plan to serve if elected.
That should go without saying, but in recent years, people have been coerced into filing by their party simply to fill spots on the ballot or have filed simply to get the glory of being elected but with no real intent to serve.
It's sad, but it's ever so true. I intend to prove it here.
Don't get me wrong., Everyone has lives outside the State House, and no one should be expected to record perfect attendance, perhaps not even 90 percent or not even 80 percent...so let's quantify one's intentions. You should discover how much effort will be involved in serving and if you, for any reason--even the most noble--caluclate that you cannot be on hand for House sessions and committee hearings at least 75 percent of the time, you should not file to run. I would consider that a minimal number, but many Reps show up closer to zero than to 75 percent of the time.
By the way, the 75 percent landmark would disqualify Will Infantine, who as Manchester Ward 6 Reprsentative, served as chairman of the city delegation until the redistricting scandal. He's been on hand just more than 60 percnet of the time this year, and he was Labor Committee Vice Chair. Imagine someone in a leadership position not showing up! Infantine was supposedly considering run for State Senate. Go figure, but don't expect to hear of his absentee rate from the Union Leader. He is after all one of the paper's Golden Boys. Apparently the paper has no qualms about endorsing those with a No Show history.
You just can't make this stuff up.
Let's keep an eye on what Infantine does this coming week.
However, clearly people are already filing who have a no-show history and most likely will be no shows again if elected.
Take the Katsiantonis brothers from Manchester. In 2007-08, George from the West side had an attendance record in the 20 percent range yet actually got re-elected in 2008, then proceeded to not show up again, and he probably would have been re-elected again in 2010 but for the Republican sweep.
His brother Tom, from my own ward 8, has missed nearly 80 percent of House roll calls this years. For whatever reason, he's failed to show up for nearly four out of five votes, but he had no problem showing up down at city hall on Thursday to file so he can not show up again!
Then there's the case of Jean Jeudy, perhaps shades of Dan Healy.
Perhaps you remember old Dan--well, I guess he wasn't always old, but he sure was when I knew him. He's the Manchester Rep, a very conservative Democrat and a fine gentleman, whose picture is placed right outside Reps Hall because he served 50 years. However, maybe you've heard this story...his final term was my first term, 1996-97. During filing period, he apparently managed to get free from a New Jersey nursing home and somehow found his way down to file at Manchester City Hall (the details will not be revealed here). Of course he got elected easily, and he only showed up two or three times in the next two years (I actually recall him giving one very short speech on the House floor--nobody understood much of what he said). He had served honorably and well for decades, but he should not have filed to run that final time.
Earlier this year, the director at the Manchester public TV station asked me if I could come in earlier on Mondays to tape my show. Sure, I said, but why. He explained that Rep. Jean Jeudy had been taping earlier (in French as I recall) but he was extremely ill and could no longer do his show.
Now, I've never really liked Rep. Jeudy, not since the time he sponsored that Tawana Brawley fraudster The Reverend Al Sharpton in a Manchester appearance. However, as I saw Rep. Jeudy's seat vacant week in and week out at the State House, I actually began to feel sorry for him. I kept asking whether he is still alive.
Apparently he is because although he hasn't been able to show up in Concord, guess what?
You're way ahead of me.
The same day the House was voting on CACR12 and every vote mattered, Rep. Jeudy was not in Concord, but he was well enough to make it down to City Hall to file for re-election.
There was not a word of this in the Union Leader which in the past has had to call Reps to task for their no-show proclivities. Disbarred lawyer Michael Farley, for example, won from my ward and he actually ran again in 2010, only to lose the third spot to fellow no show Katsiantonis.
Also in ward eight, a few terms back, Democrats were afraid that I would get written in on both sides of the ballot so Chairman Raymond Buckley assured (lied to might be a more apt terminology) Maureen Nagle that if she filed and happened to get elected, she wouldn't really have to spend much time serving. Guess what? After filing (after all, it's hard to say no to Raybo), she twice tried to get off the ballot. However, the Secretary of State's office informed her that only death, leaving the ward, or a newly acquired illness would allow her to step aside. She met none of those qualifications, so her name remained on the ballot; and she was elected. Of course, she failed to show up most of the time, thus disenfranchising Ward 8 voters, setting the precedent for Farley and Katsiantonis.
Then there's the famous case of Democrat Judy Courchesne in Manchester, Ward 11. She won, never once showed up in two years (except to get her license plates), ran again (Peter Burling even came down to campaign for her), won again, and never showed up again until her absences were noted in the media--no, not the Union Leader (I believe it was the Lawrence paper)--and she finally resigned in disgrace.
Those all happen to be Democrat disenfranchisers, but it's not limited to one party.
This term in Manchester, Tom Beattie from the West Side has almost never been there. Word is that he works (or at least was working) for WalMart down in Arkansas. Once in a great while, I've seen him in the hall; and my first reaction is, "Who is HE?"
Another Republican, Norma Greer Champagne, accomplished the virtually impossilbe in November, 2010. She won in highly Democratic Ward 5 (Dan Healy's old ward). Her attendance was spotty at best in 2011 and downright awful this year (she spent the winter in Florida). She won a seat which Rick Olson, a blogger on this site, would most likely have otherwise won, and he would have served well.
When I saw Rep. Champagne in the hall Wednesday, I thought, "Great! Republican leadership has coerced her to be here soas to put another vote in the CACR12 column." I was wrong--she voted against the amendment. Congratulations Norma, if you have any idea of spending next winter in Florida (or anywhere else warm), do us a favor. Do not file to run (not that she'd win anyway--don't expect any Republicans to win in Ward 5 come November).
I know Manchester best, so I've covered only Manchester here, but we have about eight percent of the population, so you can imagine there are probably ten or 12 times as many no show stories from other parts of the state.
Attendance has been so bad this session that Speaker O'Brien has been forced a half dozen times or so to lock Reps into the hall, summoning police to force us to stay lest we fall below a two-thirds quorum.
It's true. Would I lie? Of course not.
When I first ran in 1994 (and first won in 1996), I promsed to take however much time was required to get the job done, in other words to be there all the time. In 16 years, I have in fact missed one session day. I'll never forget the day; Benson was governor; I was so sick that I literally fell back into my bed as I tried to get out the door.
I kid you not.
Yet we have shameful people like the Katsiantonis brothers who run with no intention of showing up to get the job done. Apparently the Greek government provides a free trip to Athens once a year for any elected official with a Greek heritage. No wonder Greece is going bankrupt!
Don't laugh. It's deadly serious when voters here are disenfranchised. Thumbs down to the Union Leader (and other media) for not stressing, during this filing period, the need to serve if a candidate is in fact elected.