The mutiny of State Representative Shawn Jasper, Republican of Hudson, against State Representative Bill O’Brien, Republican of Mont Vernon, in the race for Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives succeeded yesterday. After hours of squabbling, parliamentary maneuvers and three very close votes, Jasper finally toppled O’Brien, who himself was chosen by a razor thing margin by his own caucus. On the first ballot against Democratic nominee Steven Shurtleff of Concord, O’Brien fell a mere four votes short of his goal. After the balloting, Jasper’s name was placed in nomination from the House Floor and Shurtleff withdrew from the race saying, his party members were free to vote their conscience. On the second ballot, Jasper, whose supporters voted blank ballots in the first round in sufficient numbers to deprive O’Brien of victory, fell one vote short of defeating O’Brien. On the third vote, he broke through. The winning tally was one hundred ninety five to O’Brien’s one hundred seventy eight.
O’Brien’s critics say he and his supporters have only themselves to blame for the loss. Rather than honoring the time honored tradition of a secret ballot, O’Brien’s backers moved to have an open roll call vote where every member, when called, would state the name of the person they wanted for Speaker, if any. After more than two hours of debate, the house voted two twenty two to one seventy one to do it the way it had most always been done. That move proved costly, not just in terms of time, but in votes. Sources tell Girard at Large that it was the difference maker for a handful of reps that chose to vote blank ballots rather than for O’Brien on the first ballot. By the time it was done, well more than five hours had elapsed and about twenty representatives had left the meeting due to prior obligations. Many if not most of the departed reps were, at least at one point, O’Brien backers.
Whatever the cause, Shawn Jasper, with the unified backing of the Democratic Caucus and fewer than three dozen G O P defectors will now wield the Speaker’s gavel in the House of Representatives. The deals he cut with the Democrats to get their votes will be known in the not too distant future as he names committee chairs and makes the other appointments that are the purview of the Speaker of the House.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Manchester Ward Eight Alderman Tom Katsiantonis has had enough of the power outages and wants to know what can be done to better clear trees away from power lines. He expressed his frustration at Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, sharing his exasperation with property owners who refuse to allow utility tree crews to trim or remove trees that threaten power lines. Frustrated, Katsiantonis said these wide spread power outages should’n’t occur in two thousand and fifteen in the United States of America. Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, who won universal praise from members of the Board of Aldermen for his efforts managing the city’s response to the storm and communicating with the aldermen, pointed to state laws that allows property owners to refuse to allow utility tree crews to address hazards. Katsiantonis, also a state representative, said it wasn’t fair that thousands of people could lose power because of a few who refuse to allow tree hazards to be taken care of. We here at Girard at Large have conducted interviews with P S N H officials in the past on this very issue and will dig them out of our archives as soon as possible and link them to this newscast at Girard at Large dot com. Here’s another archive on the topic.
During that discussion a couple of other items came to light. While Mayor Gatsas praised the work of city personnel responding to the storm, he also expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of written storm response plans and guidelines. He said he thought the city had addressed a number of procedural and communication issues after the last major storm, but discovered that the personnel involved had, in some cases, moved on and their replacements didn’t know what they knew. Gatsas said the stuff needed to be written down so that anybody in any position could find out what to do when the time came.
There was also an update on the conversion of the city’s street lights to L E D fixtures. The change over is expected to save the city about six hundred thousand dollars a year on electricity, though there will be some bonding costs to affect their installation. Public Works officials say they’ve received eleven proposals from the private sector to install and maintain the new fixtures and that they’re considering installing so called Smart Meters that would communicate a whole bunch of real time data wirelessly to a computer system that would be housed at the department. Everything from real time kilowatt usage to whether or not the light is even on would enable more efficient use and repair of the lights. However, officials say their review is incomplete and that they will have a better idea of what they termed the substantial cost to install the system will be after they’ve completed their review. Mayor Gatsas told Girard at Large yesterday he expected the re-lamping of the city’s nine thousand street lights will begin in January and conclude in June, making the net savings available to the city in the next fiscal year’s budget.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!