Legislation to legitimize the election results in towns that went rogue on March fourteenth has hit a snag. Senate Bill 2 4 8, introduced by Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn, Democrat from Whitefield, would sanctify all ballots issued and ratify all results in communities that didn’t vote on March fourteenth, as required by law, because of Snowzilla’s Attack. Several communities across the state, including many in our listening area, ignored Secretary of State Bill Gardner and rescheduled their elections despite Gardner’s admonition that quote “there are no snow days for elections.” Officials in the offending towns relied on a statute that authorized town moderators in towns that vote via a town meeting to reschedule elections for severe weather. That law, said Gardner, didn’t apply to S B Two towns that cast secret ballots at a polling place, either in person or via an absentee ballot.
Looks like the bill is going to be studied.
District Nineteen Senator Regina Birdsell, Republican from Hampstead and Chair of the Election Law and Internal Affairs Committee, issued a statement saying quote:
This legislation as proposed would inappropriately ratify elections across the state, including those elections that have yet to take place. We should not ratify any election results when we do not fully understand the potential consequences of those actions. We intend to study this issue further with our fellow House members and move as quickly as possible to ensure local election officials are protected, elections are ratified and we correct any confusion that may exist in our current state laws.
Editorial comment: While that may be the right thing to do, local election officials who defied the Secretary of State, and those who advised them the law was something different than it was, namely New Hampshire Municipal Association lobbyist and attorney Cordell Johnston, should , somehow, be held accountable for their violation of state law which impacted races across the state, particularly in cooperative school districts where some towns voted and some towns didn’t, potentially altering outcomes.
Governor Christopher Sununu announced he will nominate Manchester attorney Gordon MacDonald to serve as the state’s next Attorney General. The nomination will be made at today’s Executive Council meeting. If confirmed, MacDonald will succeed Attorney General Joseph Foster, who announced he will resign at the end of the month when his term mercifully expires.
In making the announcement, Sununu said quote:
Throughout his distinguished legal career, Gordon has demonstrated exceptional legal talent with the highest levels of respect for the rule of law. Gordon is widely respected across New Hampshire’s legal community and has earned a sterling reputation for his legal talents and commitment to public service.
MacDonald is a partner at Nixon Peabody LLP in Manchester, where he is a member of the Commercial Litigation Practice Group. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Cornell Law School, he has earned recognition as one of the state’s top attorneys for commercial and health care litigation by Chambers USA and Benchmark Litigation and has successfully handled a number of high-profile cases in both state and federal court.
MacDonald serves as the Chair of the New Hampshire Board of Bar Examiners and the Chair of the New Hampshire Supreme Court’s Commission on the New Hampshire Bar in the 21 Century. He was appointed to both positions by the state Supreme Court. He also works as a volunteer attorney for the New Hampshire Bar Association’s Domestic Violence Emergency Program and is a former chair of the Campaign for Legal Services Leadership Council, which raises funds for civil legal assistance. MacDonald received the New Hampshire Bar Association’s Distinguished Service to the Public Award in 2 0 1 4. He also served as Chief of Staff for former Senator Gordon Humphrey.
MacDonald’s nomination won plaudits from former New Hampshire Supreme Court justices John Broderick, a Democrat and Chuck Douglas, a Republican.
MacDonald said he was humbled and honored by the nomination. He is expected to be confirmed by the Executive Council on April fifth.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Manchester School Superintendent Dr. Bolgen Vargas was before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for almost two and a half hours last night as he made the school district’s pitch for funding in Fiscal 2 0 1 8. Aldermen expressed genuine appreciation for the presentation he gave along with Business Administrator Karen DeFrancis and School Board Vice Chair Arthur Beaudry.
Despite their praise for Vargas’ work and the decisions made by the school board to support his recommendations, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. Ward Six Alderman Nick Pappas quizzed Vargas about plans to respond to the decade long decline in enrollment, which looks like it will continue for the foreseeable future.
Ward Three Alderman and Board Chair Patrick Long, who is leading the aldermanic effort to assemble a budget, wanted to know whether or not the school board had implemented any of the items in its nearly five year old strategic plan. Beaudry admitted most hadn’t been done, but said they were something Vargas was working on. Long also wanted to know the specific costs of the items the district said it would add to its programming if funding was increased beyond the tax cap.
As predicted by yours truly, the school board’s move to cut city services wasn’t well received. Alderman at-Large Dan O’Neil, former Lord Emperor of the Board made that point pretty clear. He also said the decision to cut two school resource officers at the middle school level was “irresponsible” and “dangerous.”
Ward 1 alderman Kevin Cavanaugh roused the ire of Mayor Ted Gatsas when he said the increase in home and charter school enrollments led him to believe people were afraid to send their kids to public schools. Not so, said the mayor indignantly as he stated the he’s sending more honor roll letters to students than at any time in his mayoralty.
At the end of the meeting Alderman at-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur moved to fund the the schools at the one hundred sixty five million dollar level recommended by Gatsas in his budget presentation, arguing the school board failed to make necessary changes last year after the aldermen voted to override the tax cap to increase the district’s budget by two point five million dollars. Gatsas said the motion was out of order as the appropriating resolution, which was on the agenda, had to be on the table for five days before any action could be taken.
That’s NEWS from our own backyard! Girard at Large hour ___ is next!