Sometimes in the agenda for the Governor and Executive Council there are items related to capital expenditures and the use of state loan guarantees used for business. The amts. on these expenditures can range from 250K to millions of dollars. These items usually appear under the Business Finance Authority but I've also seen them under Office of State Planning and DRED.
The agenda item usually starts off with a “request for public hearing.” And I understand the process works like this: The Governor moves to the item and asks if there is a request for a public hearing, if there is no request then he moves to a vote by the Executive Council if there is a majority vote then it passes.
But what happens if a NH citizen asks for a public hearing?
I’m going to speculate here but I think the real answer to this question is: nothing. And the process moves forward. So in other words in New Hampshire the process is now more powerful than the people.
I’ll now cite and example and my own experience. For years I’ve been opposed to the $45 million dollar grant application for the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad to upgrade its rail lines in northern New Hampshire. I think with the decline and fall of paper manufacturing this area of New Hampshire no longer needs this kind of capital investment in rail infrastructure. I’m also very skeptical that if this project is consummated it will lead to regional economic development and jobs. Lastly, the railroad has refused to give me a set of financial statements about this line; but if they did I’m willing to bet that this railroad line operates at a financial loss and yet-- they’re still asking NH taxpayers for a subsidy.
So I haven’t seen it yet but if an agenda item would appear on the G&C I’d raise my hand and request a public hearing. If Governor Lynch were to ask why I’d state that it is my belief that this line operates at a loss against a backdrop of promises that I don’t think can be realistically kept, namely the job creation. And here is how I think it would go: Governor Lynch would ask the railroad to respond to my statements and they would with Enron style accounting numbers and a well versed explanation about the history of the line dating from the 1800s and their corporate iniatives “going forward.” I’d attempt to counter this statement by asking for the specific financial statements and where exactly the jobs would be in New Hampshire? I’m confident that the railroad would respond by stating that it is against the law for the company to give out financial statements to “outside parties not subject to the transaction.”
Then seeing that the questions have been answered, or not, the Governor would then by pass my request and then move to a vote by the Council.
Though this is a hypothetical example, I think it is one that shows what is wrong with the process and the people who are serving this process. I’m not sure anyone is really even being served except large corporations and the flow of capital.
This is wrong.