July 13, 2012
Jeff Feingold is Editor of NH Business Review's print and
on-line editions. He has been a business journalist for more than 25 years, and recognized
by the Small Business Administration as National Small Business Journalist of the Year.
That was quite an interesting combination of power and paranoia put on display by House Speaker Bill O'Brien earlier this month when he barred two reporters from the Concord Monitor from attending his press conference on supposed welfare abuse.
The speaker, through Shannon Bettencourt, his press aide, told the reporters they were personas non grata because of a cartoon that had run almost two months earlier in the newspaper. The cartoon - not particularly funny or perceptive - depicted O'Brien wearing a Hitler moustache.
The speaker - who let Bettencourt handle all the hatchet-woman duties - said he had no comment on the Monitor ban. Actions, of course, speak louder than words.
Which raises a question, particularly in light of the apparent outrage the speaker takes at what he deems offensive, hurtful, nasty speech: When did he jump on board that bandwagon?
Consider that O'Brien, who fancies himself a Tea Party leader/favorite, never has called for a stop to the frequent depiction of President Obama as either Hitler or Osama bin Laden - to name just two nasty, inaccurate and hurtful depictions.
And O'Brien didn't utter a syllable of condemnation when the Republican state reps staged their mass temper tantrum last year at a Ballot Law Commission hearing over the phony issue of the president's birth certificate. To refresh your memory, that was when the state reps/birthers both issued veiled threats of violence against commission members and viciously attacked their patriotism.
Then there have been the various issues involving some members of his caucus issuing sometimes nasty, sometimes vicious insults against New Hampshire citizens who were born with disabilities. Not a word of condemnation there either.
And, not that he's seen in these parts very frequently, but the speaker didn't issue one of his persona non grata edicts against Paul LePage, the governor of Maine -- and one of O'Brien's political soulmates -- called the IRS the "new Gestapo" during a recent radio address.
But maybe this is all nitpicking.
Pay it forward
No offense to the people who produced or delivered the report on the salaries paid to the CEOs of New Hampshire's nonprofit hospitals, but wouldn't you think it would have more legs as a news story than basically one day?
Actually, it might, at least when it comes to the future of the man who commissioned and dog-and-pony-showed it, none other than Attorney General Michael Delaney.
According to Kevin Landrigan's recent piece on The LobbyNH.com, Delaney is essentially looking at the report as either job insurance or a steppingstone.
It's job insurance - or at least a bid for job insurance -- because at this point the morning line on the AG's reappointment after his term ends next March 31 isn't exactly looking like odds any prudent bettor would take.
But Delaney apparently has eyes on drafting legislation for the 2013 session to cash in on the report and some of the eyebrow-raising included in it. (Not to mention one that was hair-raising.) His aim: to bring more clarity and definition surrounding the salaries paid to non-profit CEOs in health care, as Landrigan reported.
The steppingstone part? Well, considering that Delaney probably has a better chance of being appointed to the next U.S. Supreme Court vacancy as being reappointed to another term as AG next year, there sure isn't anything wrong with being out front on an issue involving highly paid (and perhaps some overpaid) executives, particularly if politics is a future career possibility.
And even if it's not, it can't hurt to have the high profile such a campaign would bring.
Of course, taking over as the next head of the New Hampshire Hospital Association would probably be out of the question.
For those of you Snitcherinos out there who never took Bob the Mileage Man Mead for the sneaky sort - unless, of course, he was on a direct mission for Speaker Bully-O himself - new evidence offers a contrary view.
It also shows that Mileage Mead - Bully's former House running mate, chief of staff, and finally stool pigeon in the majority office -- had his fill of Bully's bullying.
Turns out that on the last day to file candidacies - 6/15/12 - Mileage Mead had a mole set up in the Mont Vernon selectman's office.
Shortly after the mole gave Mileage Mead the heads up that Bully and his new BFF, John Quinlan, had signed up to run in the GOP House primary in MV, Mead ran up a coupla miles hightailing it to the town hall to sign up himself. Just before the deadline. And unbeknownst to Bully and John Q.
Setting up a tasty morsel of a primary in Sept., says Snitch.
Snitch's Words to the Wise... Every crowd has a silver lining.
It's been making the rounds:
• Do you think David Souter called John Roberts to offer his thoughts on dealing with media overreaction after the Supreme Court's health care ruling?
• Some people - and they're not in the campaign -- are getting the feeling that Kevin Smith can actually do some damage in the GOP gubernatorial primary.
• If New Hampshire Republicans could run on only one issue this year, which would it be - taxes or the health care law?
• There's no truth to the rumor that John Lynch wants to replace Jim Cantore on The Weather Channel after his term as governor is up.
• If you believe Rob Portman was in New Hampshire at the same time Mitt Romney was in town and didn't somehow, some way, at least send his regards, then there's a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in buying.
Jackie Cilley: The Democratic gubernatorial hopeful gets the endorsement of yet another union - this one the New England Police Benevolent Association.
Ovide Lamontagne: The candidate for the GOP gubernatorial nod wins the backing of former U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey.
Kelly Ayotte: Once again, the state's junior senator is mentioned as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney.
Christopher Conley: The Carroll County sheriff announces creation of a task force to investigate criminal mortgage fraud in the county.
Kathleen Taylor: The rep from Franconia and the only Democrat on the Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee is kicked off the panel by House Speaker Bill O'Brien.