Tom Fahey in his weekly column is reporting that Merrimack Superior Court Justice Larry Smukler has “rejected the petition of Pan Am Railways against the state Legislative Ethics Committee.” The decision of the Judge states: “The appeal deals with political questions that don’t belong in court.” Smukler said. I’m not a lawyer but I’d like to ask a question of the Judge:
Has justice been served here?
I don’t think that it has. The basis of this issue comes down to a state lease of the Milford-Bennington railroad line to a railroad company that is owned by Representative Peter Leishman who at the time of the lease sat on the powerful House Committee on Finance. At the time of the lease there were reports that Leishman used his influence to gain the state lease. The matter was later investigated by both the Attorney General and the House Committee on Ethics. And other than a letter of warning to Leishman it doesn’t appear to me that anything was done of substance with respect to this state lease of a rail line that services the southwest area of New Hampshire. I’m questioning whether justice was served here because according to at least one published report (Union Leader), the state lease application by the Milford-Bennington Railroad was submitted to the state after the deadline had passed but the state still awarded the state lease to the Milford-Bennington and its owner, Rep. Peter Leishman.
How can this contract be valid if it was submitted past the deadline?
Pan Am Railways is the largest privately held railroad in northern New England. It’s operations stretch from the Maine to New York State. According to statements that also appear in the press (Union Leader), David Fink who is president of Pan Am has stated that New Hampshire “might receive greater revenue from the lease of the state owned Milford-Bennington railroad line.”
The state of New Hampshire might have received greater revenue from this state lease and yet they still granted the contract to a railroad company that submitted past the deadline.
This doesn’t make much sense unless politics is in fact involved.