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A Kinder, Gentler Speaker Bill O’Brien

The local press is gushing over the “kinder, gentler” Bill O’Brien as he was nominated to lead the NH House as Speaker again.

“The Bill O’Brien who will lead the House for the 2014-16 Legislature is all smiles and open arms.” (Drew Cline, Union Leader)

“The tone of O’Brien’s interview with Landrigan suggests he has learned from his leadership mistakes. But it is also clear that he will not back down from his core principles, which include shrinking the size of government.” (Nashua Telegraph Editorial)

Some were not a quick to praise O’Brien for his new game face.

Dan Touhy of the Union Leader wrote:

“… press reports yesterday portrayed O’Brien as a “kinder, gentler” leader. If there is a flower in his lapel, opponents may ask, will it squirt water?”

In multiple interviews with local media outlets yesterday, O’Brien talked about how he wants to find compromise and help move New Hampshire together, however his goals are pretty much the same as they were in 2010 when he was previously elected Speaker.

“The O’Brien agenda is to achieve significant reforms in key economic areas — business taxation, higher education, and public employee pensions — with as much Democratic support as possible, and to clarify the election laws so that only New Hampshire residents can vote here.” Drew Cline, Union Leader

His goals to make New Hampshire better, hinge on attacking public workers pensions and pushing a Right To Work law on New Hampshire.

I do not believe for a second that Speaker Bill O’Brien (2014) will be any different than Speaker Bill O’Brien (2010). Even now he is saying it is my way or else!

“You’re with us or against us and bad things happen to you if you’re in the against us category,” O’Brien said in an interview with the Union Leader yesterday.

I give it three weeks before the new Speaker O’Brien disappears and the old Speaker O’Brien reappears to brow beat legislators and threaten reporters who go against him.

Former NH Speaker Bill O’Brien Considers Run For US Congress

I just wanted to make sure that you all saw that anti-union Tea Party leader William O’Brien is once again making noise about running against Rep Annie Kuster for the NH CD02 seat.

From Kevin Landrigan at The Lobby /NT
O’Brien has eyes on 2nd

From Concord Monitor

From Concord Monitor

There’s no white smoke from the stack yet, but all signs point to a go for O’Brien to seek the 2nd Congressional District seat next year.

O’Brien is making the rounds meeting with GOP activists and wants to pump former Congressmen Charles Bass, Frank Guinta and Bill Zeliff for tips on how to make this work.

In his short tenure as House leader, O’Brien showed himself to be an able fundraiser, and he has gotten his hands on polling that cast a showdown with freshman Congresswoman Annie Kuster, D-N.H., as difficult, but winnable.

There won’t be any “I will run” decision until at least April 1, because you don’t want to make any decision during the first quarter of 2013. Why?

That’s because the shortened quarter gets used against your viable candidacy when you raise so little money in those first three months.

A decision is more likely to come early in the second quarter.

This handicapper says O’Brien goes for it.

With an ego as big as Bill O’Brien’s, I don’t know why he does not just run for President!

Once Again Former Speaker Bill O’Brien Spews Hate Filled Anti-Union Propaganda

Bill O'brienOver the last two years Bill O’Brien has never ceased to amaze when it comes to the garbage that he spews.  Do you remember when he blamed the ‘Union Thugs’ at the USPS for delaying his mail?  O’Brien used his facebook account to attack the hard working men and women at the USPS for what turned out to be his own mistake.

Once again the TEA Party leader used his Facebook account to go after another respected profession, Teaching.

From O’Brien’s Facebook page:

Screen shot 2013-02-12 at 6.54.42 PM“Government schools are failing in NH and throughout the country for one fundamental reason: teacher unions. 

Teacher unions maintain incompetence and inefficiency on the local level through collective bargaining and school district-based political activism. They don’t bargain for the children. Like any union they bargain for more pay for less work.

Teacher unions constantly fight to structure our state laws to obtain funding for their jobs and monopolistic control of our children.”

It is obvious that O’Brien is already pushing back against the possible repeal of the School Voucher program that he forced through.

O’Brien continues….

Who would not, if they could afford it, get their child out of a government school so he can obtain a useful education?

The mantra of the teacher union bosses and lobbyists is that it is all for the children; but that claim as a lie is personified in Maggie Hassan, who opposes a tax credit funded charitable scholarship program for the poor….”

He is using this statement as a way to get himself media attention and bring he opposition of voucher repeal to the front page.

The truth is that vouchers are wrong for NH schools and the different teachers unions throughout the state have been opposed to it from the beginning.  Schools need to be properly funded, yet the legislature continues to cut funding forcing towns to cut programs like art and music and staff increasing class sizes.  This is not a result of teacher bargaining, in many cases the collective bargaining has helped teachers and schools.  Teacher bargain for such outrageous things as like solid professional evaluations, professional development programs to help create effective teachers, class sizes, aside from pay, healthcare and other items.

It has also been proven that state with collective bargaining for teachers have a higher graduation rate than those who are “Right To Work States” and not support collective bargaining.

Vouchers take money away from the state through a tax credit.  Those credits result in a loss to local schools only making it harder for schools to pay their bills.  What O’Brien also omitted is that vouchers (or tax credits as he calls them) take public money to pay for private religious schools.

O’Brien and others like to say that Charter Schools provide a better or “useful education.” This is another fundamental flaw in O’Brien’s rant, there is no real evidence that charter schools are better than public schools.  Actually Diane Ravitch, a well known education advocate, reports that in Milwaukee public schools fare better than private schools.

Teachers unions are not to blame for O’Brien’s idea that education in New Hampshire is failing.  I wonder what changes would have been made in NH education if instead of making massive cuts he would have pushed more money to public education?

A Must Hear Report On NH House Speaker Bill O’Brien and Partisan Politics In NH

I wanted to share a radio spot from This American Life in which they talk with Annmarie Timmins from the Concord Monitor,  as well as many of the Representatives from the NH House.

A portrait of what it looks like when politics gets polarized, and how hard it is for people in the middle to hang on. Producer Sarah Koenig explains what happened when a wave of Republican politicians swept to power with a three-to-one majority in 2010. New Hampshire’s a small state, and the shift to a more divisive in-your-face kind of politics happened very quickly, so it’s possible to see exactly what’s gained and lost when that happens. (30 1/2 minutes).

A special report from Sarah Koenig (former Concord Monitor reporter)

The report covers everything from Union Busting Tea Party Leadership, Rep Vallencourt’s  German statement, and blocking the Concord Monitor reporters out of the press conferences.

Below is the full special report.


Before Romney Fired Big Bird, NH House Speaker Bill O’Brien Tried to Banish Him

Matt Sayles/AP/File

Extreme NH House Leadership voted to abolish funding for public television

CONCORD, NH – More than a year before GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney publicly vowed to fire Big Bird and his friendly Sesame Street crew,  the New Hampshire House voted to abolish state funding for public television in New Hampshire.

On February 15, 2011 the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted to pass HB 113, prohibiting the use of state funds for New Hampshire public television, by a margin of 263-102.1 The State Senate later tabled the bill.

Click here to see which legislators voted to abolish state funding for Big Bird, who appears on NHPTV six days a week.2 For more legislator vote records, visit the GSP State House Report Card of more than 200 roll call votes organized by issue and legislator, online at www.GraniteStateProgress.org.

UPDATED : NH Speaker Bill O’Brien Starts An Attack On A National Institution, the USPS

The shocking words against unions is nothing new from Speaker Bill O’Brien. Now he has moved away from the NH Workers to the beloved workers in the United States Postal Service.  On his Facebook page he attempts to blame National Association of Letter Carriers members of tampering with his mail.  He also goes further to blame American Postal Workers Union, and National Postal Mail Handlers Union members of not delivering his “red tagged” political mail.

O’Brien FB Status Update:  Here’s what union-controlled government has become in New Hampshire:

…And now, most recently, the postal service, which of course is staffed by union employees, have begun to delay and withhold mailers I am trying to send to voters. 

Red-tagged political mail that is delivered to the Manchester distribution center is supposed to get into mailboxes in my district the next day, two at the most. The first mailer I sent out two weeks ago took three days to be delivered. The second, which, similar to the first, was hand-delivered to the Manchester (Goffs Falls Road) postal distribution center, was posted last Wednesday. It was not delivered, however, in one of my two towns – New Boston – until Saturday, again three days later. The same mailer has yet to be delivered to the other town in district – Mont Vernon, even though it is five days later…

My sense is that there will come a time right before November 6 in this election cycle, or perhaps even before the primary, when the unionized postal employees will just stop delivering my mail entirely, cutting me off from having an effective conversation with my constituents…

WMUR was quick to catch this as well.  They ran with the story as a headliner on the 6:00 news.  On WMUR they also interviewed American Postal Workers Union’s NH legislative coordinator Janice Kelble who called the speaker “paranoid”.  In a written statement to the NHLN, Janice stated:

Clearly believing that he is the center of the universe, he has made unfounded ridiculous claims.  In a post on his Facebook wall, O’Brien claimed that “the postal service, which of course is staffed by union employees, have begun to delay and withhold mailers I am trying to send to voters”.

Not only are his accusation completely without merit, they are  also extremely insulting to Postal Workers who are working very hard to keep delivery standards high. Postal Workers throughout the country know very well that the future of the USPS is all about providing a service.  Postal Workers work days, nights, weekend & holidays doing their best to get mail processed & delivered in a timely manner. With the high level of automation that exists today workers are mostly moving boxes & containers of mail for it to be sorted.

In 29 years of working nights, weekends and holidays, I never once saw any Postal Worker intentionally delay mail or process it differently based on the mailer. It is absurd to believe that anyone would risk their job to delay Mr. O’Briens mail. Members of the American Postal Workers Union, the National Association of Letter Carriers and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union take pride in the work that they do and believe strongly in the keeping the SERVICE in Postal Service.

So after two years of attacking hard working middle class families throughout New Hampshire, the Speaker is going after the hard working postal employees.  These are the same people who have an 80+% approval rating, and deliver over 40% of the entire worlds mail.  The USPS office employs over 500,000 employees and is the second largest employer in the United States.  The USPS would be ranked 34th on Fortune 500’s list, if it were a private company, bringing in over 60 Billion dollars per year.   The USPS is a pilar of our economy and has stood the test of time.  For over 225 years the USPS has been delivering the mail to every person in America.

The Speaker is making a lot of noise over the fact that his mail was delivered to all 8,000 people in his town, and they did it all for less than 44 cents apiece.  He should be thanking the members of the NALC, APWU, and NPMHU who tirelessly deliver the mail to his house in any weather not falsely attacking them.

UPDATE 8/15 16:16pm

Yesterday, Speaker Bill O’Brien accused the workers of the USPS of tampering with his political mail.  In a follow up to yesterday’s post, I went out to talk to someone who could fill in some of the details to further disprove these outlandish allegations.

I spoke with Chris Howe, the president of the APWU local 230 at the Goffs Falls Road mail processing plant.   He told me in a phone interview that, “after he heard about the post he immediately went to research what exactly happened.”  I asked what the standard delivery is for this type of mail.  Howe stated, “It is a two day turn around if it is dropped off at the post off by a certain cutoff time of 3pm”.  Howe continued, “The Speaker’s mail was not received by the USPS in time to be processed that day (received at 3:49pm)”.  Due to the fact that it was not was able to be processed in the same day moved the delivery date back one day.  Howe re-iterated that “the Speaker’s mail was processed and delivered without any delay and with the same high level of service people expect from the USPS”.

In my research I also found that to tamper with the mail is not only wrong but it is a Federal Offense that could lead to a fine of up to $250,000 and up to five years in federal prison.

These claims are completely false and the Speaker is only trying to promote his anti-union agenda as he is campaigning for re-election. The USPS workers have served our nation for over 225 years, and is still the best in the world.

Update 8/19

In a story from the Concord Monitor

Tom Rizzo, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service’s Northern New England District, said O’Brien’s allegations were “unfounded.”

“The post service takes extraordinary efforts to provide our employees with the training and tools necessary to advance the mail entrusted to us, including political mail, in an appropriate and timely manner,” he said in an interview yesterday.

NH Speaker Bill O’Brien Public Whines About Concord Monitor Editorials By Barring Reporters

Speaker O’Brien has done it again.  He has made news for doing something that has nothing to do with any legislation.  Yesterday, Speaker O’Brien barred two news reporters from the Concord Monitor in protest to their editorial cartoon that showed O’Brien with a Hitler mustache.   While it is the right of the speaker to bar a reporter from a press conference it is definitely not wise.  The Concord Monitor is the third largest newspaper in the state.

I feel this is absolutely ridiculous.  First off the reporters have nothing to do with what the editor of the newspaper decides to publish.  Secondly, I bet Speaker O’Brien would not have any problem with the monitor publishing a picture of Obama with a hitler mustache.   This is just another example of the Speaker trying to use his “authority” over everyone.

I guess I should consider myself lucky that I do not have to actually sit across the table from the Speaker to write my editorials, because I am sure he would never even let me in the door.

Below I have compliled a couple of the articles surrounding the event, including Video from Annmarie Timmins (Monitor reporter who was barred) and Tony Schinella (Concord Patch).  Tony’s video show Mrs. Shannon Bettencourt, blocking Annmarie while welcoming all other reporters.

"If The Mustache Fits"

You can also read the statement from Concord Monitor Editor, Felice Belman, on May 23rd that starts: We make room for lots of different views in the Monitor Opinion pages.

Not the news O’Brien expected | Concord Monitor: “House Speaker Bill O’Brien apparently doesn’t like the rules that allow some welfare recipients to buy cigarettes on the public’s dime. He held a press conference this morning to say so. Trouble is, the news that got everyone’s attention had nothing to do with welfare.

O’Brien’s office sent out a notice of his press conference to most of the New Hampshire press corps but deliberately didn’t invite the Monitor. Our reporters got wind of the event, but when they showed up at the speaker’s office, they were turned away at the door by O’Brien’s spokeswoman, Shannon Bettencourt.

Reporter Annmarie Timmins asked for an explanation. At that moment, Bettencourt didn’t give her one – a non-answer captured on video that’s now making its way through cyberspace to viewers far and wide.”

Turns out O’Brien can be petty, too – NashuaTelegraph.com: “O’Brien hosted a press conference at 11 a.m. in his office on the third floor of the Statehouse to talk about possible welfare reforms that would prevent people on public assistance from using their benefits to buy cigarettes, alcohol or lottery tickets.

When reporters from the Concord Monitor showed up to cover the story, they were stopped at the door and denied access. Reporter
Annmarie Timmins recorded the exchange and posted the video on YouTube.com. A second video was recorded from inside the room and posted on the Concord Patch website.
“You know the issue,” said O’Brien spokeswoman Shannon Bettencourt, the wife of former House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt.

Later, O’Brien said through spokeswoman Bettencourt, “When the Concord Monitor proves they have chosen to become a responsible media outlet, we’ll be happy to
invite them to future media events.”

Well, he made the news of the day alright, but it was as much about him acting like schoolyard ninny and playing a childish game of keep away than it was about welfare reform.”

O’Brien keeps Concord Monitor reporters out of press event – NashuaTelegraph.com: “The Telegraph received a notification about Friday’s press event Thursday afternoon in an email from Bettencourt. There was no indication in the email that the event was by invitation only. The email was marked as an advisory.
O’Brien declined to comment about the controversy when reporters asked him about it.
Among those media outlets covering the event were reporters, photographers or videographers for The Telegraph, The Associated Press, the New Hampshire Union Leader, New Hampshire Public Radio, The Keene Sentinel, WMUR-TV, NECN, Patch and WHDH-TV (Channel 7) in Boston.
Timmins posted that a major Republican candidate failed to protest the shut out while walking into O’Brien’s event, referring to GOP hopeful Kevin Smith, of Litchfield.”

Video from inside the Speakers Office
Credit Tony Schinella
Newspaper Shut Out of O’Brien’s Press Conference – Concord, NH Patch: “Two Concord Monitor reporters were barred from attending a press conference this morning called by House Speaker William O’Brien to address possible reforms to the EBT program.

Monitor reporters Annmarie Timmins and Matt Spolar attempted to enter the media availability in O’Brien’s third floor Statehouse office, but were told they weren’t invited and were held at bay at the door.”<

RELEASE Speaker Bill O’Brien Attempts to Delay Legal Challenge to Flawed House Redistricting Plan During Superior Court Hearing

Thursday, May 03, 2012
Speaker Bill O’Brien Attempts to Delay Legal Challenge to Flawed House Redistricting Plan During Superior Court Hearing 
NH House Speaker Bill O’Brien pushes to delay challenge going to NH Supreme Court, citing “process” for one of the first times during his tenure as Speaker
CONCORD, NH – Over the objections of House Speaker Bill O’Brien, a Hillsborough County superior court judge today approved a plan for several legal challenges to the flawed House Redistricting plan to be sent directly to the New Hampshire Supreme Court for resolution.
A suit brought by a group of concerned community members and legislators will join challenges filed by the cities of Manchester, Concord, Gilford, and a group of Republican representatives to submit a briefing directly to the Supreme Court, which will ultimately decide the constitutional issues. Judge Ken Brown approved of the plan. 
The move was at first contested by a lawyer representing NH House Speaker Bill O’Brien, who has argued he has more standing to argue the case on behalf of the state than the Attorney General’s office, with whom that responsibility lies according to the state constitution and separation of powers.
“All other parties have agreed to this course of action, the only hold out is Speaker O’Brien,” Martin Honigberg, attorney for the community members, told reporters. “It is an example of the problems that arise when you have more than one voice representing the state. Suddenly there are two different positions on the state side.”
The State Senate opted for a different route: they have filed an amicus brief in the case rather than becoming a party to it. After the judge allowed time for a phone call to the Speaker’s office, David Vicinanzo, Esq., the attorney for Speaker O’Brien agreed to attempt the joint briefing. The plaintiffs and defendants will reconvene next Wednesday, May 9th at 3:00 p.m. to finalize details.
Online links to press releases available at www.GraniteStateProgress.org. Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

What Is The Best Way To Describe Speaker Bill O’Brien?

As I comb through the sunday newspapers as I do most sundays, I saw a very interesting theme.  The funny thing is it was a theme I have been trying to get people to realize.  The theme is that Speaker Bill O’Brien is a tyrant who will not listen to anyone whose opinion differs from his.  I have been saying this for months even as recently as last week when I wrote: “Speaker Bill O’Brien Lashes Out Against Another Rep For Opposing Right To Work”.

Just look at some of the articles written about Speaker O’Brien this week:Speaker may be most controversial in N.H. history  
Vaillancourt loses committee post: Speaker cites his ‘constant insults’  
House GOP leadership runs amok 
O’Brien sets a new standard as speaker  
LETTER: Has He No Shame

These are only a few of the articles I found. The big controversy this week is over the House Redistricting veto override vote.  Members of both parties are saying the speaker violated the rules in order to pass the redistricting bill.  Now as has been the standard, Rep Steve Vaillancourt was removed from his position on the Finance Committee for “By reason of your disruptive behavior, irresponsible rhetoric and constant insults of fellow members, you have disqualified yourself from participating on the Finance Committee, a committee that requires a greater degree of collegiality and responsibility than you seem to be able to muster” Speaker O’Brien wrote in a letter to Rep Vaillancourt (link).  While this may be what the “Bully” is saying publicly, what he means by this is “Do Not Disobey Me Again!”  Being removed from one of the most powerful and influencial committees in the NH Legislature is bound to make the always peaceful, quiet, and mild mannered Vaillancourt angry (sarcasm intended).

While Rep Vaillancourt and I do not agree on much, this is one thing we both can agree on.  Speaker O’Brien is a “Tyrant”.  Vaillencourt talked about it in his own blog: “O’Brien’s tyranny is a hundred times worse than anything Democrats ever did, and it would be hard not to imagine voters not taking note” (link).  Vaillancourt did not stop there.  He even went as far as to call Speaker O’Brien the same as Joseph Stalin.   In another of Vaillancourt’s blog posts, Vaillancourt talks about reading a book titled ‘Death Ride — Hitler vs. Stalin’.  Vaillancourt begins to connect the dots between the Stalin Regime and Speaker O’Brien’s tyranny.

“There are shades of a modern day fable in this effort, at least for those of use living the Bill O’Brien regime in New Hampshire”. (Link)

 Vaillencourt continues:

In fact, I cannot think of New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O’Brien as I read this book. Stalin would simply have had the likes of Susan Emerson, Tony Soltani, Rep. Copeland and I (and anyone who dared speak out against him) killed…no questions asked. O’Brien, realizing that he can’t just shoot us, goes to elaborate Stalinst efforts to lie about us and demean our reputations. 

Make no mistake, you can’t read this book without thinking that Bill O’Brien is a modern day Stalinst. Like Stalin threw millions of Russians to their deaths in senseless battles, O’Brien is throwing the Republican Party and dozens of Reps away as cannon fodder.
As Stalin tried to rewrite history, O’Brien hires legal counsel and advisors to make black seem like white and vise versa.

Of Stalin it was said, “Everything is true, except the facts.”
So too with Bill O’Brien. (Link)

So is Speaker O’Brien a Bully, a Tyrant, or Stalin?  Either way, none are good for New Hampshire!

Speaker Bill O’Brien Lashes Out Against Another Rep For Opposing Right To Work.

Today the Concord Monitor released an article talking about the battle between Speaker Bill O’Brien and Rep Tony Soltani.  For those who do not follow this blog regularly, I do not like Bill O’Brien or his dirty politics.  His dirty politics are dominating the local media outlets in the way he handled the redistricting override last week.  Now Rep Soltani is threatening legal action against the speaker for mistreatment.

“Between a bad fall in 2007 and a single-car accident last year, Soltani has sustained a broken pelvis and nerve damage to his left leg and thigh. He has only recently begun trying to walk without a cane, he said.

Soltani said his “left leg can not negotiate the obstacles between the seats, and my repeated falls and bruises are a mere gift from your offices.”

So how has the kind and generous Speaker O’Brien repay his friend and fellow party member?  By placing him in the middle of the back row.  Making it more difficult for him to even get to his seat or get up to speak against bills like Right To Work for less.

“It is no secret that I have suffered from several disabilities, which have caused me great pain, discomfort and sometimes rendered me unable to perform my duties as I see them fit,” Soltani said. “My limp and inability to walk quickly exclude me from participating in the parliamentary process.

This is not the first time that Bill O’Brien has used his position to punish party members who do not follow his leadership in voting for Right To Work.  He did the same thing to Tim Copeland after he left the party leadership.  Copeland refused to push the Right To Work for less bill then:

“Next thing I know I get a letter one day that said my seat assignment’s been changed. . . . No other explanation,” Copeland said. “It was just a form of retaliation from him.”

Full Article

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