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Republicans Brings Shame On New Hampshire By Voting To Take ‘No Action’ On Rep Fisher Before He Resigns

How many Granite Staters feel right now

Once again the NH Republican Party has brought shame to our great state.  

Today, the NH Legislative Administrative Committee met to vote on whether any action would be taken against Rep Robert Fisher for his comments promoting rape and Rep Sherry Frost for her personal tweets that were deemed inappropriate due to her use of “foul” language.

“The actions by House Republicans on the Legislative Administration Committee today were an embarrassing abdication of our duties as Representatives,” said House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff.

Republican Dick Hinch (Merrimack), chair of the committee, wanted to have one vote covering both Representatives implying that the tweets made by Rep Frost were somehow equal to the years of rape promotion by Rep Fisher.

“Decisions made by the majority today were clearly designed to provide cover for Representative Fisher and deny the ability to take any action against him. Dictating that the committee consider the actions of both Representatives Fisher and Frost in a single motion violates both legislative process and common sense, and violates the legislature’s right to discipline its members as it sees fit,” Shurtleff added.

“The NH GOP is sending a loud message that it will work to provide political cover for individuals like Rep. Fisher who promote rape culture and misogyny. There should have been no hesitation in calling out Fisher’s action and no hiding behind false equivalences.  The NH GOP didn’t want to hold Fisher accountable, so they chose instead to target a female legislator who speaks her mind. This is the same playbook that encourages rape culture in the first place – blame the woman,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress in a May 4th statement.

Just prior to the committee vote, Rep Tim Smith (D- Manchester) highlighted how Rep Fisher is still moderates the Red Pill Reddit under another alias.  Rep Fisher, under oath, denied having any continued involvement with the Red Pill Reddit, however the evidence provided indicates that he was lying under oath, a fact the Republican leadership did not seem to care about.

In his statement today, Rep Shurtleff announced the he personally would “ask the Attorney General to investigate the allegations that he still runs the Red Pill forum.”

Rep Smith also noted that the committee had received over 40,000 petitions to have Rep Fisher removed from office.

“Robert Fisher is a rape promoter who has no place serving in government,” explained Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet one of the advocacy groups behind the petition drive.“Comments like Fisher’s contribute directly to America’s rape epidemic by normalizing and excusing violence against women. Fisher’s promotion of this repulsive ideology puts women’s lives at risk and undermines trust in the New Hampshire state legislature to protect all citizens.”

The vote came out as expected, straight down party lines 8-6 to take no action on Rep Fisher or Rep Frosts.  The crowd was outraged, yelling “Shame, Shame.”

Democrats on the committee wanted to submit a minority report to all members of the House before the entire House votes as early as next week. Rep Hinch, rejected their request and ruled that no minority report would be accepted.

“The most egregious action by the Republican majority today was the denial of the minority to submit a report. How ironic that the majority recommendation of ‘no action’ was made under the guise of supporting free speech, while simultaneously denying the minority the long established tradition to formally oppose majority action by including a minority report,” Shurtleff added.

After the vote today, Rice-Hawkins said, “The NH GOP sent a loud message that it will work to provide political cover for individuals like Fisher who promote rape culture and misogyny. House Speaker Shawn Jasper, Republican Majority Leader Dick Hinch, and the entire Republican caucus of the Legislative Administration committee undermined the trust placed in them by constituents by putting party politics ahead of the women and children of our state and voting for no action to be taken on then-Rep. Fisher. There is absolutely no question this was about politics, since the Republicans required the motion on Fisher to be combined with a motion regarding actions of another elected official, leaving the committee with only the option to approve or condemn them both. It is hard to imagine a jury being ordered to issue a joint ruling on two different individuals charged with two very different offenses, but that is exactly the partisan game the NH House GOP played today. Furthermore, they refused to even allow a minority report.”

After the despicable action by the GOP voting to take no action, effectively justifying his rape comments, Rep Fisher officially resigned his position effective at noon today.

Prior to the committee session, members of UltraViolet, Granite State Progress and Action Together spoke out against Rep Fisher’s rape comments and once again called for his resignation.

“Action Together New Hampshire is pleased to learn Robert Fisher tendered his resignation following the executive session on his actions. While seeing Fisher out of a position of power was the outcome we were seeking, we are deeply disturbed by the extreme partisanship and blatant misogyny that this process exposed in the House,” said Action Together New Hampshire Executive Director Emily Morgan.  “Action Together New Hampshire remains committed to holding elected officials accountable regardless of party affiliation, and we expect honorable public servants to also hold their colleagues to a higher standard of behavior than Mr. Fisher demonstrated.”

“We are pleased that Rep. Fisher finally resigned, though we note his resignation only came after House Democrats threatened to take his statements under oath to the Attorney General for investigation. From start to finish, Robert Fisher has not been honest and transparent regarding his viewpoints that women are of a lesser class than their male counterparts,” Rice-Hawkins added.

“We welcome Robert Fisher’s resignation from the New Hampshire state legislature. Fisher’s repulsive ideology and cultivation of a pro-rape forum put women’s lives at risk–he directly contributed to America’s rape epidemic by normalizing and excusing violence against women.  It is deeply concerning that New Hampshire’s Legislative Administration Committee did not recognize what the rest of us did – that brand of dangerous misogyny simply has no place our government,” said Karin Roland, Chief Campaigns Officer of UltraViolet.

Ultimately the goal of removing Rep Fisher from the House was accomplished but not until after the committee brought shame our state by justifying his comments and actions by voting to take “no action.”

Activists Rally And Hold Press Conference Addressing Rep Robert Fisher’s Comments Promoting Rape

Rep. Debra Altschiller, members of UltraViolet, Action Together New Hampshire, and Granite State Progress take on rape promoter with joint rally and press conference

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE — Prior to the committee voting  to take “no action” on Rep Robert Fisher, members of UltraViolet, a national women’s advocacy organization, joined Action Together New Hampshire, Granite State Progress, and Rep. Debra Altschiller for a small rally, where participants appeared in costumes from the popular book and TV show A Handmaid’s Tale to address Rep. Robert Fisher’s online comments promoting rape. The group also held a press conference urging a New Hampshire State legislature committee to make an official recommendation that would expel Rep. Fisher from office. The full State House of Representatives will then vote on Fisher’s potential expulsion from the legislative body on June 1st.

The move to expel state representative Robert Fisher from the New Hampshire legislature came after a report last month from The Daily Beast, discovered that the two-term Republican was the creator of an online community dedicated to promoting violence against women. Fisher’s actions on the online forum included comments deriding women’s intelligence, and recommending ways for men to dodge rape accusations, as well as statements arguing that rape had specific benefits – especially for the rapist. Since the comments were discovered, Fisher has doubled down and publicly defended the idea that most women lie about rape and that men should put cameras in their bedrooms to protect themselves.

More than 42,000 members of UltraViolet have signed onto the petition calling on the New Hampshire State Legislature to discipline Fisher and expel him from office. State lawmakers and New Hampshire’s Governor have also called for Fisher to resign.

VIEW THE PETITION HERE: https://act.weareultraviolet.org/sign/pro-rape_nh_legislator/

“Robert Fisher is a rape promoter who has no place serving in government,” explained Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet.“Comments like Fisher’s contribute directly to America’s rape epidemic by normalizing and excusing violence against women. Fisher’s promotion of this repulsive ideology puts women’s lives at risk and undermines trust in the New Hampshire state legislature to protect all citizens. We urge the Legislative Administration Committee to recommend that the House expel Fisher from their ranks – and demonstrate to all New Hampshire residents that misogyny will not be tolerated.”

“Trivializing this horrific crime or minimizing it through pseudo intellectual arguments does not deserve respect or celebration,” said Rep. Debra Altschiller. “Representative Fisher’s actions deserve condemnation, and we should not try to make them go away by patting ourselves on the back for having a hearing. We need to take clear and concise action that speaks to our state and to the nation whose eyes are upon us because of the shameful behavior of Representative Fisher.”

Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress said, “The actions of Rep. Fisher rise to an unprecedented situation in the House. There should be no statute of limitations in considering how his rape culture comments and the misogynistic forum he created are detrimental to women. There should be no looking the other way when a politician promotes the false narrative that rape victims are liars. And we know from new information that Rep. Fisher has not reformed, and that he has continued to participate in the Red Pill despite his claims otherwise.

Emily Morgan, Action Together New Hampshire said, “The women of New Hampshire are not safe with men like Representative Fisher making laws and it’s a disservice to all of New Hampshire that the leaders of his party are going out of their way to protect him”

After the press conference, the Legislation Administration Committee led by Republican Dick Hinch argued over whether or not any action should be taken against Rep Fisher.  Rep Hinch recommended “no action” and straight down party lines, in a vote of 8-6, the committee agreed that the committee would take no action against Rep Fisher.

After the vote, female members of the audience began to shout “shame” to those members who voted to condone Rep Fisher’s actions.

Video caught by David Meuse on Twitter.

UPDATE 2PM: Rep Fisher has resigned his position in the NH House. 

NH Elected Leaders, Community Groups, And Healthcare Providers Speak Out Against Trumpcare Passage

Republicans Push Trumpcare Through House Despite Huge Opposition

Today the Republicans in the U.S. House pushed through their “repeal and replace Obamacare” legislation.  The bill passed with a four vote margin at 217-213.

“Today Republicans in the House put politics ahead of the wellbeing of millions of Americans and thousands of people throughout New Hampshire,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH). “The American Health Care Act threatens access to healthcare for hardworking families, removes protections for those with pre-existing conditions, increases costs for seven million veterans and Americans over 50 years old, and jeopardizes our response to the opioid addiction epidemic that is impacting communities nationwide. I’m extremely disappointed that my colleagues were so steadfast in their determination to appease the most extreme elements of their party that they disregarded the voices of their constituents. I’ve consistently expressed my willingness to work with Republicans and Democrats to improve our healthcare system for all Americans, but this misguided legislation is not the answer. I hope that as the seriously damaging elements of this bill become more clear the Senate will come together in bipartisan opposition to the AHCA.”

“The House just passed a terrible bill that will devastate so many of our citizens. I am disappointed that so many Congressional Republicans voted to take health care away from millions of Americans and to allow insurers to once again discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH). “While today’s vote was a setback, I will never stop fighting for the people’s right to health care. Now, I urge my colleagues in the Senate to send this bill where it belongs: history.”

Minutes before the vote, Shea-Porter spoke on the House floor to oppose the bill, saying:

“I oppose this cruel bill on behalf of my constituents, especially those it would hurt the most: people with pre-existing conditions, older Americans, veterans, and lower-income people. If this bill passes, we will go back to the days when people with pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage or charged more, when insurers could decide whether or not to cover basic care like hospitalization, and when sick babies might hit their insurer’s lifetime coverage limit before they could even walk.”

Both NH Senators spoke out against the bill and indicate they will oppose it in the Senate.

“There is nothing in Trumpcare that helps hard-working Americans. This dangerous Trumpcare bill would lead to higher costs for less care for people across New Hampshire and the entire country,” Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH). “If you have a preexisting condition – which under Trumpcare includes cancer, asthma or diabetes – you could once again be discriminated against with higher costs. And if you are between the ages of 50 and 65 you would face a new age tax, which is among the reasons the AARP strongly opposes this bill.

“Trumpcare would also dramatically hurt our ability to combat the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid crisis by ending Medicaid expansion and undermining the requirement that insurance companies must cover substance use disorder and behavioral health services. By cutting and capping traditional Medicaid, Trumpcare would also hurt people from students who experience disabilities to older Americans in nursing homes. And Trumpcare would defund Planned Parenthood, which provides critical health services to thousands of New Hampshire women and families,” Hassan concluded.

“President Trump and Republican leadership have recklessly rushed legislation through the House that would be devastating to the health and wellbeing of New Hampshire,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). “This bill dramatically reduces healthcare coverage across the country, increases costs for patients, and eliminates protections that prevent insurance companies from discriminating against patients with pre-existing conditions. Under this bill, insurance companies could discriminate on a wide-range of conditions and circumstances, including history of cancer, heart disease, C-sections, postpartum depression and even being the victim of sexual assault or domestic violence. It also eliminates funding for Planned Parenthood, jeopardizing access to vital preventative care services that more than 12,000 Granite State women rely on to live healthy lives, care for their families, and lead in the workforce.”

“The vote to take away health care from millions of Americans is a shameful display of partisan politics at its worst,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “House Republicans voted to take health care away from tens of thousands of Granite Staters, abandon Americans with pre-existing conditions, slash Medicaid, and raise health care costs for all families to give over $600 billion in tax breaks to the very wealthy and the big insurance and drug companies.”

“Trumpcare will take us back to the days when insurance companies made all the rules. It will eliminate any requirement that insurers cover basic health benefits like prescription drugs, preventive services, and maternity care. It lets insurers charge people with pre-existing conditions whatever they want and it radically restructures Medicaid, over time cutting services to seniors, children and people with disabilities and shifting huge financial burdens to the state budget.”

“For years Granite Staters donned ‘I’m a Health Care Voter’ stickers and called on candidates to fix our country’s broken health care system. President Obama delivered on that promise and health care advocates were continuing efforts to improve coverage while bending the cost curve. During all that time opponents to health care reform failed to offer any meaningful ideas and instead continued their partisan path of obstruction. Now they have blown up every opportunity American families had to gain the coverage we all need to be healthy and economically secure,” Rice-Hawkins concluded.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England highlighted some of the devastating cuts to women’s health in the new American Healthcare Act.

  • Take away health coverage for 24 million people.
  • “Defund” Planned Parenthood — by blocking people with Medicaid from accessing preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers — including birth control, cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment.
  • Eliminate protections that restrict insurance companies from charging people with pre-existing conditions unaffordable rates. Under this bill, health insurance companies could once again charge people tens of thousands of dollars a month because they had cancer.
  • Undermine Essential Health Benefits standards, including maternity coverage and prescription drugs, which disproportionately affect women.
  • Gut the Medicaid program, which approximately 1 in 4 women of reproductive age rely on to access no-cost, critical reproductive health care such as birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, and maternity care.
  • Reduce access to no-cost preventive services, including birth control.
  • Impose a nationwide ban on private insurance coverage of abortion.

“This is the worst bill for women’s health in a generation. It makes it harder for women to access birth control to prevent unintended pregnancy, harder to obtain maternity care to have a healthy pregnancy and harder to meet the health needs of children and families,” said Jennifer Frizzell Vice President for Public Policy, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “Alarm bells should be ringing in every house across New Hampshire.”

“If enacted, this legislation would block thousands of New Hampshire patients who rely on Medicaid from accessing the reproductive care that Planned Parenthood health centers provides. New Hampshire has some of the nation’s lowest rates for teen pregnancy and STI incidence and has been recognized for the best maternal health outcomes in the country. Under the terms of the House bill all of this progress will come undone.”

The NH AFL-CIO spoke out against the passage of Trumpcare and thanked NH’s Congresswoman for opposing the bill.

“The New Hampshire AFL-CIO was disappointed to see that the Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to pass a health care bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and confiscate health care benefits from millions of people, handing a big tax break to the wealthy few while taxing working people’s health benefits.

This new effort by Republicans in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act would be a disaster for all working families. This bill will gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions, take away health care from millions of people, raise health care costs for millions more and put money in the pockets of the superrich and corporate CEOs.

Our country needs a health care plan that expands coverage for all Americans, not one that cuts it. The New Hampshire AFL-CIO and its allies will continue to fight to protect and expand health care for all. We would like to thank Congresswoman Kuster and Congresswoman Shea-Porter for continuing to stand in Solidarity with New Hampshire working families and opposing this effort to roll back the progress we have made in providing health care to millions of our Brother and Sisters across the country.”

NH Healthcare providers also condemned the passage.

“Using Affordable Care Act repeal and replacement as a pretext, the vote today was a devastating attack upon traditional Medicaid funding that predates the ACA by decades,” said Brendan Williams, President and CEO of the New Hampshire Health Care Association. “The so-called American Health Care Act cruelly rations Medicaid funds for seniors and those with disabilities. It’s a real ‘death panel’ bill. I can’t imagine how care in New Hampshire ultimately survives this blow. We already have the nation’s second-oldest population and third-worst nursing home funding crisis.”

“We are deeply disappointed in the vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) today in the House of Representatives, as it will result in millions of Americans and tens of thousands of Granite State residents losing the health insurance coverage that they depend on to help them get the right care, at the right time, at the right place,” said Steve Ahnen, President of the New Hampshire Hospital Association.

“The AHCA will continue to cut more than $1.5 billion in Medicare reimbursements from hospitals in New Hampshire through 2026 that would be devastating to their ability to serve the patients and communities who depend on them. It downshifts costs to the states through the imposition of Medicaid block grants, which underfund the cost of providing care to Medicaid patients and undermine New Hampshire’s successful Medicaid expansion program.  And it puts at risk important consumer protections, which could leave patients without access to critical health services and increase their out-of-pocket spending.

“This bill is a significant step backwards on the commitment to ensure coverage and we cannot support it.  We will continue to work with Congress as this bill moves over to the Senate to ensure that any final legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act improves our health care system in a thoughtful and responsible way, rather than dismantling coverage for our most vulnerable residents,” Ahnen concluded.

Granite State Progress Statement on NH GOP Providing Political Cover for Rape Apologist Rep. Fisher

Concord, NH – The NH House voted today to have the Legislative Administration committee review online comments made by Republican State Rep. Robert Fisher (R-Laconia), creator of the online forum “Red Pill” which supports the degradation of women and promotes rape culture. The committee will recommend reprimand, censure, expulsion, or no action.  Prior to the vote, the New Hampshire House GOP added an amendment to the motion to also investigate a female Democratic lawmaker for expressing strong opinions online, including once using a curse word five months ago which she apologized for at the time.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“The NH GOP is sending a loud message that it will work to provide political cover for individuals like Rep. Fisher who promote rape culture and misogyny. There should have been no hesitation in calling out Fisher’s action and no hiding behind false equivalences.  The NH GOP didn’t want to hold Fisher accountable, so they chose instead to target a female legislator who speaks her mind. This is the same playbook that encourages rape culture in the first place – blame the woman.”

House Majority Leader Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack) also stated there would be a statute of limitations on the rape culture comments and the committee would only investigate comments Fisher made during the current legislative session even though he founded and contributed to the website Red Pill over the course of many years.

Dept of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut Holds Non-Town Hall, Town Hall

Concord, NH – NH Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut participated in an event this yesterday afternoon at New England College in Henniker. A moderator read written questions from the audience, though audience members were not allowed to follow-up, ask for clarification, or encourage Commissioner Edelblut to fully answer questions.

“We thank the sponsors and hosts of this event, but we look forward to Governor Sununu’s Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut hosting a real town hall where he engages directly with members of the public and honestly answers the questions posed to him,” said Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins. “Commissioner Edelblut refused to answer questions regarding his stance on full day kindergarten, he continued to lobby for SB 193 school vouchers, he spoke about the importance of safe schools but declined to state whether he still believes in guns in public schools, and he tried to present himself as a supporter of LGBTQ students when in fact he spoke out against the Obama administration guidelines on creating safe, positive learning environments for transgender students.”

“Commissioner Edelblut continues to put his personal ideology over the interests of Granite State students and should be held accountable for his words and actions,” Rice-Hawkins added.

During the event Commissioner Edelblut showed his lack of knowledge on several topics, including forgetting the name and mission of a DOE program he tried to name drop as well as completely boggling a question concerning alternative youth discipline measures in school settings. Granite State Progress will release a complete fact check and video next week. Members of Granite State Progress, Rights and Democracy, and other groups stood outside the event for an hour before it began to greet Commissioner Edelblut and send a strong message we are watching.

More pictures are available at @ProgressNH on Twitter.

Participants inside the event were polite and listened for Commissioner Edelblut’s answers, but vocally held him accountable to answer when he (frequently) attempted to evade direct questions.

Just two months into his position as Education Commissioner, Edelblut has already made waves for trying to re-open the Next Generation Science Standards that were just approved last year; he initially refused to come clean about making a donation to a school privatization lawsuit against the Department he now leads; he forwarded an internal job posting to one of his Free State Project friends and then sent that individual’s resume to the HR director (that individual is also on the Board of an off-shoot group organizing for New Hampshire to secede from the rest of the country); he is using his position to lobby for SB 193, school vouchers/privatization; and he tried to usurp the State Board of Education’s rule-making responsibilities by injecting himself between the State Board and JLCAR – all without informing the State Board.

New SB 3 Amendment Could Sent Vigilantes To Verify Residency

Amended Version of SB 3 Much Worse Than Original Bill, Still Sends Police to Voter Doors and Now Authorizes Vigilantes Too

In a rushed amendment vote, Senate Republicans try to replace section of bill that caused largest public outcry but instead leave same result and 10x worse 

Concord, NH – The NH Senate Election Law committee amended SB 3 on Tuesday to remove sending police to voter doors by name, but the amended version uses covert language to still actually allow the supervisor of the checklist to send police to your door – and now goes even further by allowing them to deputize the local town conspiracy theorist or vigilante group to do it as well.

There’s a section in the amended SB 3, as passed by Senate Republicans on the Election Law Committee yesterday, that states “agents” can be sent to voter doors to verify that they live there. There is no limit on who can be designated an agent for this purpose, nor are there any provisions for proper training or how to conduct these checks; an open carry activist or an individual ideologically opposed to college students voting could be among those deputized.

In the latest version of SB 3 the following was removed: “Requesting local law enforcement during their routine patrols to visit the address and verify that the individual was domiciled there on election day” and the bill language modified from “Requesting 2 or more supervisors or other municipal officials to visit the address and verify that the individual was domiciled there on election day” to “Requesting 2 or more supervisors or municipal, county, or state election officers or their agents to visit the address and verify that the individual was domiciled  there on election day.” (SB 3 Amendment #2017-0978s, Senate Election Law Executive Session on Tuesday, March 21, 2017)

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“SB 3 has been poorly written from the start but this latest amendment makes it ten times worse. Senate Republicans attempted to quiet public outcry over the provision of sending police officers to voter doors but in doing so they passed an amendment that actually allows that and more. Under the amended version, checklist supervisors can still send law enforcement or they can deputize others to conduct the checks, which could include deputizing voter suppression activists or even vigilante groups. In fact, there are now no limits whatsoever on whom they could send. It is shameful that Senate Republicans took credit during committee for removing the police officer provision by name while simultaneously opening the back door for the same activity and worse. SB 3 is nothing more than an attack on voting rights. It creates a poll tax by requiring financial transactions for many of the verifiable acts listed, and it penalizes voters $5,000 for being a day late with paperwork even if they did nothing wrong when registering to vote. In the hours-long public hearing, testimony highlighted that the bill will disproportionately impact eligible voters including students, low-income people, homeless veterans, and domestic violence survivors. New Hampshire politicians have many more pressing issues to deal with than needlessly attacking voting rights with harmful bills like SB 3.” 

Senate Republicans offered the amendment in committee Tuesday morning and called a vote less than 30 minutes later, denying Senate Democrats and voting rights advocates an opportunity to review the language and provide feedback prior to the vote. It is unclear whether the poorly written amendment was intentional or a result of Senate Republicans jamming the bill forward without regard for public input or voter impact.

Democracy Fails As Executive Councilors Vote To Confirm Edelblut, Against Constituents Overwhelming Objections

Today our elected representatives have failed us and took another step toward the destruction of our democracy.

With a party line vote of 3-2, the NH Executive Council voted to confirm, the completely unqualified Frank Edelblut, as Commissioner of Education against the wishes of their own constituents.

“Republicans on the Executive Council let down Granite State students and young families today by confirming Frank Edelblut, despite overwhelming grassroots opposition, a vote of no confidence by the State Board of Education, and a remarkably unqualified resume for this important position,” said Granite State teacher Matthew Gerding.

“As a school teacher and a young LGBT Granite Stater hoping to raise my family here, I find it incredibly disheartening to see Republican leaders chose to confirm someone who opposes full-day kindergarten, refuses to oppose the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy, and calls education a ‘product’ not a public good.”

“Governor Sununu has taken every opportunity in his short time in office to turn young people away from our state. From nominating Mr. Edelblut, to raising tuitions at our state and community colleges in his budget, Governor Sununu is sending a clear message that he values politics over people,” concluded Gerding.

“Like DeVos, Edelblut has no experience or inter­action with the public education system of New Hampshire. Overseeing a state department of education requires an in-depth knowl­edge of how public schools are governed, how they are man­aged, and the challenges employees in public schools face. Mr. Edelblut possesses no such knowledge or experience. Other than overseeing the management functions of the employees under his direct supervision, the business skills Mr. Edelblut possess are not transferable to ensuring our children’s educational experi­ence is exceptional. Our chil­dren’s futures are too important to rely on someone who cannot hit the ground running on day one,” stated NEA-New Hampshire.

“Educators throughout New Hampshire strive to reach every child in their classroom, develop effective and engaging lesson plans, spend hours correcting papers and encouraging students to keep persevering. Every day for educators the theory and practice of pedagogy becomes real in the lives of the young people entrusted to their care. To have the highest ranking education official in the state bring only system level management and communication skills to the job threatens the future of every public school student in New Hampshire,” continued NEA-NH.

“The fundamental promise of a great public education for all students is under attack here, and across the country,” said Megan Tuttle, NEA-NH Vice-president. “We’re not just arguing over budget questions any longer; we’re in a full-on ideolog­ical battle with people who do not believe that every child deserves the same opportunity to succeed.”

“We are disappointed that a majority of the Executive Council did not listen to voices of thousands of parents and educators across the state or to the concerns expressed by the NH Board of Education about the appointment of Frank Edelblut as our next Commissioner of Education,” stated Doug Ley, President of AFT-NH. “We remain gravely concerned about a Commissioner of Education who, when running for governor, supported further diverting much needed funding and resources from our public schools.   There still has been presented no evidence, after a lengthy public hearing, to suggest Mr. Edelblut either has the experience or qualifications in education to lead NH schools and serve more than 180,000 students, our State’s most precious resource.”

“Our teachers and school district employees pour their hearts into the education of NH’s students, are highly trained and have dedicated a lifetime to serving NH students. They deserve a Commissioner who cares deeply about public education.”

“AFT-NH will remain vigilant in protecting our public schools and our cherished public education system in NH. We will always extend a hand to anyone, including Mr. Edelblut, willing to strengthen and support public schools but we will speak up and act in fierce opposition to any extreme agenda or attack on our schools. We sincerely hope that Mr. Edelblut will retreat from his past positions and start anew by listening to NH parents, educators and stakeholders in our schools,” concluded Ley.

“During the confirmation process, Frank Edelblut demonstrated he lacks both experience with and support for our state’s public schools,” wrote Executive Councilor Chris Pappas just after the vote. “It is clear that Mr. Edelblut is unable to be the type of non-partisan, consensus-building commissioner that our education system deserves. He holds political views on a range of issues that place him outside the mainstream, from his opposition to full-day kindergarten to support for gay conversion therapy. We do not need a commissioner who will interject ideology into the role, and I didn’t receive assurances that he would abandon past positions or steer clear of political activities after he is confirmed.”

It is plainly clear that the confirmation vote for Edelblut was purely partisan politics as usual. Two of the Executive Councilors openly admitted that they would vote to confirm despite overwhelming opposition to Edelblut’s nomination.

“Executive Councilors Joseph Kenney and Russell Prescott told us all about the concerns they heard from parents and educators about Frank Edelblut. Instead of listening to their constituents, they decided to put in earplugs and vote to confirm him in a blindly political move,” said NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley. “It’s shameful that Governor Sununu didn’t consult the Board of Education before he made the pick. Instead, he followed the Trump model by appointing an unqualified businessman rather than looking out for the future of New Hampshire.”

“We are disappointed that Executive Councilors Russ Prescott, Joe Kenney, and David Wheeler decided to rubber stamp Governor Sununu’s blatantly unqualified nominee despite widespread opposition from the State Board of Education and their constituents,” stated Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “Councilors Kenney and Prescott specifically mentioned that their constituents were overwhelming in opposition to Frank Edelblut before going on to say that they would vote for him anyway.

“Community members should be on notice that Prescott and Kenney fully acknowledged that they were voting against their constituents on this nomination,” Rice-Hawkins added.

It is obscene that our elected representatives are completely ignoring the will of the people in a partisan political vote. It takes a lot to get people to engage in politics, especially when it comes to political appointments like this. Yet hundreds if not thousands of Granite Staters took the time to write letters, emails, and call their Executive Councilors asking them to oppose Edelblut’s nomination.

To Councilors Prescott and Kenney, those constituents do not matter.

This is where democracy dies. When our elected leaders only do what is good for their political careers and reject the will of the people we can no longer say we live in a democracy. The people spoke out and overwhelmingly opposed Frank Edelblut’s nomination, yet they confirmed him anyway.

This is a sad day for the future of our public schools and our democracy.


I would like to join Granite State Progress in saying:

“We thank Councilors Andru Volinsky and Chris Pappas for standing with the majority of constituents and experts who voiced concern over Governor Sununu’s unqualified nominee.”

(Featured image of Russ Prescott by Granite State Progress on Twitter)

NH Board Of Education Sends Letter Of No Confidence In Edelblut As Commissioner Of Education

Letter cites gaps in qualifications and overwhelming concern from “a broad and extensive cross-section of the public” that “virtually all have expressed concerns about the appointment”

Concord, NH – The NH State Board of Education released a letter of no confidence in Governor Sununu’s Education Commissioner nominee. The letter was sent to the Governor and Executive Council yesterday afternoon after the Governor’s late consultation with the Board; the Executive Council is scheduled to vote on the nomination this morning.

“The State Board of Education has a statutory responsibility to ensure the Department of Education is staffed with qualified individuals and that all children in our state receive an adequate education. We applaud the members for doing their due diligence on the nominee,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director ofGranite State Progress. “We strongly urge the Executive Council to vote down this nomination and urge the Governor to find a candidate better suited to the position.”

“After discussions with the public and among board members, we have to say, Governor, that we share the public’s concern about Mr. Edelblut’s qualifications for the role of New Hampshire Education Commissioner. The high level of concern parents have voiced about this nomination that is so important to them puts the State Board of Education on notice. We owe parents the Board’s full commitment to our statutory responsibility as the board of directors of New Hampshire public education.  We are prepared for that role and will exercise it with full transparency,”  stated Tom Raffio, Chairman of the State Board of Education.

Along with the letter from the Board, Raffio included 57 pages of individual messages, emails, and communications “from concerned citizens, mostly parents in opposition to this nomination.”

Full Letter here and below.

State Board of Education Consultation Letter to Governor Sununu

Video on Governor Sununu’s Consultation with the NH State Board of Education

Concord, NH – Governor Chris Sununu held a consultation with the NH State Board of Education this morning on his nominee for Education Commissioner, Frank Edelblut.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Governor Sununu was unprepared and delivered a standing, rushed overview of his education commissioner nominee, which is in keeping with how he has handled the entire nomination process to date. Governor Sununu could not answer simple questions regarding Frank Edelblut’s education policy stances, and he blankly rejected that the Education Commissioner, like all Department of Education staff, should be highly trained and qualified. When pressed, the Governor repeatedly retreated to campaign rhetoric, further demonstrating he is not taking the real work of governing seriously. Governor Sununu nominated an unqualified and unfit individual to serve as the state’s top education chief. He should withdraw the nomination and start anew.”

Granite State Progress filmed the State Board of Education meeting this morning. Granite State Progress as well as several community members also spoke in opposition to Frank Edelblut for Education Commissioner during the open comment period of the meeting. 

Science Wednesday: Frank Edelblut on Climate Change Denial and Creationism in the Classroom

In testimony Frank Edelblut said he would rely on the ‘experts’ – but NASA and the majority of climate scientists can’t convince him man-made climate change is real

CONCORD, NH – NH Commissioner of Education nominee Frank Edelblut told members of the Executive Council that he does not need a background in education because he will rely on the experts, but when it comes to creationism in the science classroom or whether humans contribute to climate change Edelblut has chosen not to listen to experts. At the same time, Edelblut asserts the Education Commissioner has no role in science curriculum, standards, or oversight.

Frank Edelblut on Creationism in the Science Classroom 

Edelblut refused to clearly answer a Union Leader reporter’s question about whether he’d support teaching creationism in science curriculum, stating: “In science, we should study all theories of human origins, all legitimate or substantive theories of human origins … What I would advocate is for good science, and good science should support all theories of human origins, whatever they might be.” [Union Leader, Former opponent Edelblut tapped by Sununu for top education post, 1.18.17]

Edelblut similarly refused to clearly answer Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky’s question of the same nature, instead punting the matter above and below the office he seeks and asserting the Education Commissioner will have no role in anything to do with science curriculum or science standards. “You will be the chief educator to whom all of the science teachers in our state will report,” Volinsky said. “Do you subscribe to this such that the science teachers need to worry about whether you will require creationism to be taught alongside evolution?” … “As an individual with a master’s degree in theology, there are other understandings of human origins,” Edelblut said. “And finally, as the commissioner of education, I will not have jurisdiction or responsibility for the development of curricula. That I believe remains in the domain of the science teachers and the local school boards.” … He said it would be a matter for the state board of education and local school boards to decide.” [WMUR, Education chief nominee Edelblut questioned on qualifications, ties to Christian college, 1.31.17]

 

Frank Edelblut, Climate Change Denier

During a WMUR political debate last fall, Edelblut claimed it is unknown whether climate change is man-made, despite wide-spread scientific consensus it is.  

WMUR’s Josh McElveen: Next question we’re all going to talk about touching on climate change. As you all know, we’re all in one of the worst droughts that New Hampshire has seen in decades. Parts of the country are on fire. Others are dealing with historic flooding. So, we’re going to start with you on this one Representative Edelblut. Do you agree with Donald Trump when he says “This is just weather” or even “a hoax”? 

Edelblut: Alright, so we do know that the temperature is warming.  What we don’t know is if that is man-made. We don’t know what the causes of it are, if there’s other causes. And we don’t know that all of the efforts that are being taken have any opportunity to reverse that. So, I would be very cautious to craft policy around what has become, really, in many circles an ideology about climate change. So, I would not support efforts that would limit our opportunities for energy which we need in our state and in our communities or other areas.

McElveen: You’re not sold that it’s real?

Edelblut: I’m not sold.” [WMUR Debate, Frank Edelblut, 9.6.16] 

Fact Check recently published an article detailing how NASA, climate scientists, and other experts all agree that human-caused climate change is very real.

Fact Check: “Scientific evidence supports … that human-caused climate change is real. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report states that human changes to the planet, especially the emissions of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels, “are extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” Human-caused climate change is also considered real according to 97 percent of climate scientists, as we’ve written. “Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities,” says NASA. A team of more than 300 experts at the U.S. Global Change research program are among that 97 percent. “The burning of coal, oil, and gas, and clearing of forests have increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by more than 40% since the Industrial Revolution, and it has been known for almost two centuries that this carbon dioxide traps heat,” the team explains in the Third National Climate Assessment report. The report adds, “Multiple lines of independent evidence confirm that [these] human activities are the primary cause of the global warming of the past 50 years.” [Fact Check, The Candidates on Climate Change, November 2, 2016] 

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins: 

“Frank Edelblut needs to finally give a straight yes or no answer about whether he believes creationism should be taught as a valid scientific theory. We are also very concerned about whether Mr. Edelblut fully understands the role of the Education Commissioner since he continues to punt on serious questions. Edelblut repeatedly told the Executive Council that he doesn’t need a background or training in education because he will rely on the experts, but apparently NASA and the majority of climate scientists are not expert enough for him when they release facts that interfere with his personally held political ideologies. There is a real conversation taking place in America’s classrooms regarding teaching children fact-based science around man-made climate change, and even Edelblut’s fiercest supporters brought this up– albeit in support of Mr. Edelblut and in opposition to the new science standards.”

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