• Advertisement

Linda Tanner A Real Candidate For Working Families

Linda Tanner NH Senate Candidate District 8

One of the goals of the NH Labor News is to help Granite Staters get to know the candidates who are running for office in New Hampshire. We focus on candidates who support working families, particularly those candidates who are working to rebuild the middle class and strengthen our rights as workers.

This week’s focus is on State Senate District 8 candidate Linda Tanner.

Linda Tanner NH Senate Candidate District 8
Background Information for Rep. Linda Tanner

Linda is longtime community activist, teacher, and coach. Linda has dedicated her entire life to helping others and improving her community. For over 30 years as a teacher and coach at Kearsarge Regional High School, Linda worked tirelessly to help her students succeed in and out of the classroom. During her career at Kearsarge, she served as a Department Chair, worked with the School to Work program and developed a state championship tennis program. She was honored by the NH Interscholastic Athletic Association for her years of service and elected to the NH Coaches Hall of Fame for Girls Tennis. She received her Bachelor of Science in Health Education from East Stroudsburg University and her Masters from Dartmouth College. In 2012 she was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives from Sullivan County, District 9.

 

As a public school teacher, were you involved with your local union?

I was president of my local association, the Kearsarge Regional Education Association for three terms. I participated on many negotiation teams, worked with members on issues at the local level, and worked with management towards better working conditions. I am a lifetime member of the NEA NH and have their endorsement for this campaign.

 

As a former teacher, I am sure you have a lot to say about the current public education system. Can you give me two things you would like to see changed?  And are these changes that you can enact from the NH Senate?

Public education has been under attack by those who would privatize education, eliminate compulsory education, and eliminate teachers’ unions. I ran for my House seat because I wanted to stop these political maneuvers that were undermining what, I feel, is the most valuable institution for maintaining democracy.

I think there is a great deal we could do to promote and fund our public education system in New Hampshire. I definitely feel the move from the punitive No Child Left Behind to the Common Core is a move that will help students. The Common Core sets standards but does not dictate pedagogy, deals with progress instead of achievement or failure and is the right course towards improvement and consistency. Just like other programs, it needs to be tweaked and re-visited. I would like to see educators who are working in the schools as teachers have a larger input into programs and initiatives.

As a high school teacher, I worked with a school-to-work program for the average student to encourage them towards further education and give some basic instruction in job skills. I taught Health Occupations Co-op for several years. I feel this is a very valuable program that should be expanded to teach not only content but job skills such as being on time, being able to speak to people, shake hands, show respect for co-workers and your product.  Recently I visited the Job Corps Training facility in Vermont. We are currently building a facility in Manchester. This type of program, which targets low income youth, is vital to providing vocational training in a setting that also emphasizes those job skills. It gives an opportunity for young people to better their position and at the same time provide workers for key jobs in our State.

As a Senator I will work to help New Hampshire schools become a model system that supports innovation, is relevant to the world of work and careers, and maintains rigorous standards for all school children.

 

You are running for the NH Senate Seat in District 8 that is currently held by Sen. Bob Odell. In what ways are you similar or different from Sen. Odell?

I found my voting aligned in many areas with Senator Odell.  I voted to repeal the death penalty, expand Medicaid, and deal with the issues around the Medical Enhancement Tax. However, Senator Odell voted against returning the period for teachers to be fired without cause or hearing from 5 to 3 years, voted against medical marijuana, and voted for the repeal of automatic continuation requirement for public employees’ collective bargaining agreements. These are three examples of bills he opposed that I would have supported.

IMG_0067This Senate seat has been, under Senator Odell, a moderate vote in a 13 to 11 Republican majority. My election to the seat will balance the parties at 12 all, which would make a major shift – especially on Labor issues. Medicaid expansion has a clause that requires renewal during this next session. Both Republican candidates have stated that they will try to repeal the Medicaid expansion, fight ‘Obama Care,’ and make NH a ‘Right to Work State’ as a priority. If either of the candidates opposing me wins this seat: Medicaid will be repealed, leaving thousands without medical insurance; and ‘Right to Work” for less will be passed along with other legislation that will hurt working men and women.

 

The current minimum wage is $7.25 and the GOP-led legislature repealed the NH Minimum Wage law. What would you do as Senator to help push NH toward a real living wage? Last year, one proposal was to raise the state minimum wage over two years to $9.00/hour. Do you think $9.00 is the right number? Or do you think it should be $10.10 as the POTUS is pushing, or even higher? 

First, we need to reinstate a NH Minimum wage that was repealed under the Republican leadership of Speaker O’Brien. I served on the House Labor Committee in this past term. The bill that was introduced should be reintroduced in this next term. This bill offered modest increases over time and originally had a provision for further increases based on economic indicators. I think we need to have a bill that will pass both The House and Senate. I hope to be one of those Senators to move this piece of legislation forward.

Do you have any legislation that you would like to see or have ideas on proposing if you are elected?  

I want to defend against the so called ‘right to work’ bills. If those bills pass it will let non-union workers benefit from our hard work in negotiations without paying their fair share. It’s a union-busting tactic.

I want to ensure fairness in workers’ compensation laws for those hurt on the job – so if they can’t work, they will still be able to keep their homes and survive. At the same time, I want to see how we can reduce the rate for employers. I want to establish a minimum wage and increase it above the present $7.25 so everyone has the dignity of a decent wage. I want to protect workers from pay cards and title loans that are stripping away hard earned money with excessive fees and astronomical interest rates. I want to offer solutions for the current lack of affordable and accessible elderly and work force housing.

 

If you could pick one issue from your campaign to highlight, what issue would that be?  

I am a person who is running for this Senate seat not to be someone special or advance a radical agenda but to work on legislation that will help the working men and women of this State. I taught for 35 years in the NH public schools and over that time, you see the communities, the State, through the lives of your students. I know the successes, the struggles, and the heartbreaking issues many of our citizens face. I want to be their voice in the Legislature.

 

Why should the labor community support your campaign?  

I am a lifelong union member. As a teacher for 35 years and continuing through retirement, I have been a member of the National Education Association. During my years at Kearsarge Regional High School, I was President of my local for three terms. I served on many negotiations and collective bargaining teams working for high quality education, good working conditions, livable salaries and benefits.  I proudly served as a State Representative for Sullivan County and as a member of the House Labor Committee.  I have the experience, knowledge and the political will to help the working men and women our State.

 

What can people do to help your campaign?

I can’t win this election alone. The opposition is well-funded and as committed to winning this seat as we are. I need your help to win this election. I need your vote and I need you to talk with family, friends, co-workers and neighbors to urge them to vote for me. Also, with this large, rural district, we need funds for mailings, ads, and signs. Any amount you can send to us will help us get our message out.

Please see our website lindatanner.org for more information

 

 

 

 

Nashua Legislators Honored For Their Work On “Paycheck Fairness Bill”

Nashua Paycheck Fairness Legislators

Nashua Area Legislators Honored for Their Work to Secure Equal Pay in New Hampshire with Passage of NH Paycheck Fairness Act; Advocates Call for Congress to Follow New Hampshire’s Lead

Nashua Paycheck Fairness Legislators & Supporters New law provides all employees with tools to combat wage discrimination; appreciation event highlighted Nashua legislators who led way and called on Congress to follow

NASHUA, NH – Nashua area State Senators and Representatives were honored for their work to advance the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act during a ceremony at the Nashua City Hall Plaza on Thursday, July 31st.

Senator Peggy Gilmour, Senator Bette Lasky, and State Representatives Melanie Levesque, Sylvia Gale, Jan Schmidt, Mariellen MacKay, Cindy Rosenwald, Pamela Brown, David Cote, Marty Jack, Mary Gorman, Suzanne Vail, and Mary Ann Knowles all received certificates of appreciation during an event celebrating the passage of SB 207 and HB 1188, which combined to form the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act. Governor Maggie Hassan signed the act into law earlier this month; the law officially takes effect starting January 1, 2015. All area State Senators and Representatives who supported the NH Paycheck Fairness Act were invited.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women who worked full time earned, on average, only 77 cents for every dollar men earned. The figures are even worse for women of color: African American women earned only approximately 64 cents and Latinas only 54 cents for each dollar earned by a white male.

Statements from Elected Official Speakers:

Nashua Paycheck Fairness Legislators“The Paycheck Fairness Act will eliminate loopholes, increase transparency in wages, and ensure that all workers have the appropriate tools and resources to help them earn a fair and equal paycheck, without fear of retaliation,” said State Senator Bette Lasky (D-Nashua), bill co-sponsor.

“This law builds on the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and provides stronger protections such as ensuring non-retaliation for employees who discuss their wages, and remedies to address pay inequity,” said State Senator Peggy Gilmour (D-Nashua), bill co-sponsor.

“On behalf of myself and my fellow legislators, I am honored to receive this token of appreciation for the long hours and hard work we put in to passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. No woman or her family should ever receive less than equal pay for equal work,” said State Rep. Mary Ann Knowles (D-Hudson), bill co-sponsor.

“This law will help protect all families. We know that when pay discrimination happens to anyone, that the individual, their spouse, and their children all suffer the ramifications of lower salaries, decreased benefits, and small retirements.  New Hampshire has taken an important step toward lessening that possibility,” said State Rep. Jan Schmidt (D-Nashua).

Statements from Event Host Organizations:

State Rep. Cindy Rosenwald Receives Certificate of Appreciation for Paycheck Fairness Work

State Rep. Cindy Rosenwald Receives Certificate of Appreciation for Paycheck Fairness Work (Left to right) Deidre Reynolds, Rep Rosenwald, Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Caitlin Rollo

“In America, we value hard work and initiative. The Paycheck Fairness Act honors that American tradition by taking steps to eliminate pay discrimination and inequality in the workplace. We appreciate the work of our local legislators to make this law a reality,” said OFA Volunteer State Coordinator Deidre Reynolds.

“Ensuring equal pay for equal work is integral to the economic security of individuals and families. On behalf of our coalition, we commend these legislators for passing the Paycheck Fairness Act and for their continued efforts to build a New Hampshire that works for all of us,” said Kary Jencks, executive director of NH Citizens Alliance for Action.

While the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act passed with bi-partisan support, efforts at the federal level have stalled.

“New Hampshire passed a bipartisan paycheck fairness bill that will protect women and their families, now it’s time for Congress to follow our lead,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Everyone should support equal pay for equal work. We call on our entire Congressional delegation to take a strong stand in support of paycheck fairness.”

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, and Congresswoman Annie Kuster are all co-sponsors of the federal Paycheck Fairness Act. U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte voted against the Senate measure in April, blocking the bill from moving forward.

Beware Of The Free Staters Running For Office

NHLN Logo .jpg

In case you missed it, the Nashua Telegraph (http://bit.ly/1tJQE9j) and the Concord Monitor (http://bit.ly/1tJQPRU) both ran an Op-Ed written by me, about the Free State Project and Dan Hynes a “Free State Mover” who is running for the NH Senate in Merrimack, Amherst, and Milford.

Here is an excerpt from the Op-Ed. Please visit one of these two site to read the full editorial.

You see, New Hampshire is the focus of a unique political experiment, started in 2001 by then-Yale University doctoral student Jason Sorens. His idea was to get 20,000 activists to move to a single state with a small population and an easily-accessible government.

As he said in his introduction to The Free State Project: “Once we’ve taken over the state government, we can slash state and local budgets, which make up a sizeable proportion of the tax and regulatory burden we face every day. Furthermore, we can eliminate substantial federal interference by refusing to take highway funds and the strings attached to them. Once we’ve accomplished these things, we can bargain with the national government over reducing the role of the national government in our state. We can use the threat of secession as leverage to do this.”

Snowplowing? Bridge safety? An adequately-funded judicial system? Public colleges? These things are nowhere on the Free Staters’ priority list.

Free Staters – at least those in Keene – seem more interested in marijuana and videotaping the city’s parking enforcement officers.

Senator D’Allesandro Announces Reelection; Endorsed by Manchester Fire Fighters and Patrolman’s Associations

Sen D'Allesandro with Manchester Fire Fighters and PFF-NH President Lang.  (Image from Facebook)
Sen D'Allesandro with Manchester Fire Fighters and PFF-NH President Lang.  (Image from Facebook)

Sen D’Allesandro with Manchester Fire Fighters and PFF-NH President Lang. (Image from Facebook)

State Senator Lou D’Allesandro was introduced by David Lang, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire. He was joined by other firefighters who came to show their support for the Senator. “Senator D’Allesandro has always stood for fire fighters and for working families. His passionate commitment to a safer New Hampshire has never wavered. His strong voice continues to be a champion for fire fighters in Manchester and Goffstown, and all over New Hampshire. We are honored to call Senator D’Allesandro a true friend, and we are committed to his re-election to the New Hampshire Senate,” stated Lang.

The Manchester Patrolman’s Association also came in force. President Ken Chamberlain said a few words as he was accompanied by other police officers of the Manchester Police Department. “Senator D’Allesandro is an advocate for law enforcement and public safety at the State House in Concord as well as here in Manchester.  He has always fought for legislation that would increase the safety of first responders and the general public.  He was there and continues to be there with the Dan Doherty Bill which extends workers compensation benefits to first responders who suffer permanent soft tissue injuries.  The list just goes on and on with examples of what Senator Lou D’Allesandro’s record shows he has done to support New Hampshire’s first responders as well as making New Hampshire a safe state to raise a family.  It is my honor to give Senator Lou D’Allesandro the endorsement of the Manchester Police Patrolman’s Association for his re-election to the New Hampshire Senate.”

Senator D’Allesandro stated, “It is with great pride that I stand here with the support of those who put their lives on the line every day for every one of us.  I have always had the utmost respect for the Firefighters and Police and look forward to supporting them.  I am happy to have them by my side as I officially kick start my reelection campaign today.”

6-16-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: The Session Comes To A Close, A Look Back At What We Have Done

AFT NH Legislative Update

AFT NH Legislative Update

We succeeded in defeating, once again, the so called “’right to work—for less” bill. Over the past two years hundreds of NH citizens voiced opposition to this bill with only a handful of people speaking in support. This attack on working people like you is led by out of state interests such as the National Right to Work Committee and ALEC.

We succeeded in defeating a bill that would have permitted audio and video recording of a public official while in the course of performing his or her official duties. All employees, both public and private, should have a reasonable understanding that when they are performing their jobs that they are not intimidated or harassed and should have a safe working environment.

We succeeded in passing a bill relative to the filing with a registry of deeds of a fraudulent document purporting to create a lien or claim against real property. As public employees just wanting to do our jobs we should not have to worry that someone unhappy with us could go the county’s Register of Deeds and file a million dollar false claim against your property.

We succeeded in defeating retirement legislation that would hurt public employees even more that the bad legislation passed by the Republicans in the 2010-2011 sessions. AFT-NH believes that:

  • Security in retirement is something every worker deserves after a long, successful career in public service. These workers, after dedicating their working life to educating children, enforcing the law, fighting fires and helping our communities run every day, have earned a benefit that must allow them to retire with dignity.
  • The benefit should ensure a predictable cost for the employers and employees, and it should create, and sustain, a high-quality workforce that is attractive to younger workers to invest a lifetime in public service, in turn adding value to the state’s economy.
  • In exchange for a lifetime of service, workers need to rely on defined and predictable retirement security that is protected against inflationary pressures. Their benefit should ensure sound investment options and strategies that will result in post-retirement stability, even against the economic concerns of today.
  • Public sector workers need to be able to look forward to long productive service. Retirement security should be defined through investments and contributions made over a long-term investment horizon.
  • Instead of encouraging the idea that working for the public sector is less valuable than working for the private sector, New Hampshire’s retirement system benefit for public workers should set a standard, and be something larger employers in New Hampshire should emulate.
  • Public service should be viewed as a respectful vocation; a commitment by workers of service and dedication to their home state. It is service that adds value to the quality of life for NH citizens and visitors. Public service is an investment in New Hampshire and retirement security creates a financial cornerstone of the NH economy.

We were not totally successful with the following but will be advocating for comparable bills to pass in the upcoming session.

AFT-NH supported bills that would have increased transparency within charter schools. We need laws and regulations requiring full transparency in how charter schools operate and making them directly and openly accountable to the public for student performance and their admissions and enrollment policies.  We need stronger policies mandating respect and support for teacher and staff voices in school policies and programs, identification of potential conflicts of interest via disclosure requirements, and the use of public funds by charter schools in the same rigorous manner required in our public schools.

AFT-NH supported a bill that would make sure we have the necessary resources, staff development and support in moving forward with Common Core and Smarter Balance. If these Standards are to succeed, we need to ensure that in each district the following are in place when implementing the Standards:

  • There needs to be planning time for understanding the Standards and time to put them into practice,
  • We need opportunities to observe colleagues implementing Standards in class.
  • We need to provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards.
  • We must ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards.
  • We must communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students.
  • We need to develop best practices and strategies along with providing coaching to help teachers teach content more deeply.
  • We need to ensure all districts have the equipment and bandwidth to administer computer-based assessments.
  • We must make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers.
  • We must be work to align Assessments to Standards indicating mastery of concepts.
  • We must insist that professional development and training in the Standards be offered.
  • We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards.

To read AFT-NH full statement click here.

AFT-NH supported the passage of SB 322: relative to the renomination of teachers. It is time we move back to supporting our teachers in New Hampshire. Three years is long enough to deny teachers their due process when non-renewed. When decisions with such high stakes are being made, all staff should be given reasons why, and should be given time to improve through an improvement plan.

AFT-NH supported bills that would have increased School Building Aid from the state for local districts. Keep in mind that 50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment. We also supported a bill that would lift the current cap of 72% on catastrophic special education funds and fully fund it.

We were not successful in passing our real pension reform bill, SB 364: relative to group II service retirement allowances and relative to establishing a supplemental savings plan in the retirement system. If nothing is done, New Hampshire will be in a situation where 30 years down the road, we are going to have public employees – at the end of a career – eligible to apply for food stamps, and other social services. This puts a strain on working families by forcing our public employees into social services. This is financially irresponsible for New Hampshire and undignified for our public employees.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

Thank you!

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

Please visit AFT-NH.org and AFT-NH Facebook page and clicked “Like Us”?
Late breaking news appears on our web site and on Facebook!

To read the full listing of EDUCATION BILLS click here

To read the full listing of LABOR BILLS click here

To read the full listing of RETIREMENT BILLS click here

To read the full listing of MISCELLANY BILLS click here

Senator Sylvia Larsen Announces Her Retirement From The Senate

sylvia larsen

sylvia larsenCONCORD – Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen announced today that she will not seek re-election this fall to the State Senate. After 20 years in the State Senate, Senator Larsen issued the following statement:

“I have decided to finish my time in this beautiful chamber of the Senate and not run for re-election. I have served for 20 years and look forward to spending more time with a law graduate son in Portland, a newly-married daughter who just moved back to Concord with our new son-in-law, and a retired husband who loves to explore.”

“I still love what can be accomplished through political involvement and I plan to stay involved, just not as a candidate this election. I believe the Senate Democrats are in a strong place to return to the majority after this election and I look forward to seeing a Democratic Senate President when the 2015 session begins.”

“As I look back on my time in the Senate, I thank the people in my district for the trust they have given me through these ten elections that has allowed me to accomplish much of what I came here to do.”

Senator Larsen is particularly proud that:

  • Universal access to public kindergarten is now statewide
  • A constitutional education funding plan is now in place
  • Her proposal for a tax-free college savings plan is now a $10B account that has also funded thousands of low-income student scholarships statewide
  • State has funded renovations at vocational high schools are now reimbursed, where heretofore it was only for new construction
  • A woman’s right to the privacy of her medical decisions has been protected
  • Our state’s domestic violence laws are the strongest in the Nation
  • We have affirmed that equal work deserves equal pay
  • Community treatment for mental health and substance abuse will be enhanced
  • A new women’s prison will finally be built and offer life skills training to the women
  • Affordable health care will finally be available to the low and middle income hard working families of our state

Senator Sylvia Larsen was elected to the State Senate in 1994. She is the Dean of the Senate, the honorary title given to longest serving member. Senator Larsen is the longest serving legislative leader in New Hampshire history. She has served as the Democratic Leader since 2002 and was Senate President from 2006-2010.

“Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen has long been a champion for her district and our state, dedicated to supporting middle class families and keeping New Hampshire’s economy moving forward,” stated Governor Hassan. “Just this past year, her leadership was critical to the passage of the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act and our historic, bipartisan health care expansion plan, as she worked across party lines to help strengthen the financial security and health of hard-working Granite State families.

Hassan continued, “I was proud to serve in the Senate with her when she became New Hampshire’s longest serving female Senate President and led the nation’s first legislative body to include a majority of women. During Senator Larsen’s distinguished ten-term career in the Senate, she advanced a variety of important causes that are critical to the well-being of our people and maintaining our status as one of the safest, healthiest and most livable states in the nation. I thank her for her friendship, her dedicated service and her unyielding commitment to the people of New Hampshire.”

“Over the course of her career, Senator Larsen proved to be a tireless advocate for not only her constituents but the entire state of New Hampshire,” said Senator Shaheen. “In fact, her unparalleled commitment to constituent service made her one of the best public servants I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with in Concord. I’ve been honored to call her a friend for many years and I wish her and her family the best as she begins the next chapter of her life.”

“Throughout her distinguished career, Senator Larsen has served the people of her district and the entire Granite State with enthusiasm, intelligence, and compassion,” stated Congresswoman Kuster. “Over the last 20 years, she has demonstrated a deep dedication to public service, and has proven to be an extremely effective lawmaker who fights for the best interests of her constituents. I know she will be greatly missed at the State House. Senator Larsen has also been a wonderful friend to me for many years, and I wish her and her family all the best for the future.”

The People Of NH Want The Senate To Do The Right Thing On SB 307 (Citizens United Amendment)

Jonah Head Shot
Jonah Head Shot

Jonah Minkoff-Zern Campaign Director, Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign

The people of New Hampshire and across the nation are outraged at corporate and wealthy interests, including individuals from the left and the right, spending billions of dollars to control the politics of our state and our nation. They are understandably opposed to having no right as a state to prevent this money from flooding our elections.

That’s why when polled, they support a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics by a 3 to 1 margin across party lines. And that’s why 54 New Hampshire towns have called for you, the New Hampshire Legislature, to join 16 other states and call for a constitutional amendment.

These individuals did not call for a study committee. They called for action from the Legislature.

SB 307 was written with a clear directive: The New Hampshire Legislature calls for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and related cases. It then creates a study committee to review the 16 different amendments that have been introduced in Congress to decide which ones of those, if any, are the right ones to recommend to the New Hampshire delegation (they can be viewed at www.united4thepeople.org).

SB 307 was not written to do what the Senate amendment does: simply study the issue. There is no doubt among the people of New Hampshire and our nation that our democracy is severely corrupted by the influence of big money and that the only way to reduce that influence is for a constitutional amendment to allow government regulation. There is no other way to address this problem, as there is no other way to undo what the Supreme Court has done in releasing a flood of money into our elections with Citizens United  v. FEC and more recently McCutcheon v. FEC.

Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that this amendment would attack or undermine the First Amendment. It would make clear that our founders intended to protect speech, not money that amplifies that speech. Further, even if campaign spending were a form of speech, our nation allows all sorts of regulation of speech. I cannot come into a legislator’s office with a megaphone and yell until she or he listen to me. I can’t get up and interrupt a Senate session. I cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theater. I am not free to threaten any one. And the ultra-wealthy and mega-corporations should not and cannot spend literally billions of dollars to buy influence and power over our nation. That is not a democracy. In fact, a Princeton study just showed that we are now literally living in an oligarchy.

This week, when SB 307 comes to conference committee, New Hampshire senators should heed the will of the House who voted by a two to one margin, the 12 senators who voted for language calling for a constitutional amendment, the hundreds of New Hampshire residents who organized and passed 54 town resolutions, and so many others to be heard. This has not been such a partisan issue in other states, such as Maine, which passed a resolution with overwhelming bipartisan support and was sponsored by a Republican senator who is passionate enough about the issue to have written New Hampshire legislators testimony asking for their support. It is not a partisan issue when New Hampshire residents are polled or when they vote in town meetings. There is no reason this should be a partisan issue in the New Hampshire Senate.

This week’s conference committee should vote for language that calls for a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics and restore democracy to the people. There have been hearings, marches, town meeting discussion and overwhelming votes, op-eds and letters to the editor. There has been ample time to study. It is time to act.

Sincerely,

Representative Bob Perry, Strafford

Ellen Read, Newmarket

Jonah Minkoff-Zern, Campaign Director, Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign

Opposing Ideas On How We Can Fix The NH Retirement System: The NH Labor News Vs Fosters Daily Democrat

Smashed Piggy Bank Retirement

Fosters Daily Democrat is basically a right-wing talking machine. Between Fosters and the Union Leader, they cover a majority of the state pushing half-truths and dis-information to drive the right wing, Tea Party agenda in NH.

Take for example this week’s Sunday editorial “Sharing the burden of reform,” talking about the NH Retirement System’s fiscal problems.

Fosters is arguing against a recent op-ed penned by John Broderick Jr., NH State Supreme Court Justice and the current Dean of the UNH Law School, entitled “State employee pensions are a promise, not a gift.” Both editorials agree that the NH Retirement System is not fully funded and that changes need to be made to protect the taxpayers, and the workers.

Broderick argues that the William (“Bully”) O’Brien legislature forced through pension reforms that were unjust, unfair, and unconstitutional. Since the NH Supreme Court has already ruled in Broderick’s favor, it is simple to see that he is correct.

Fosters, on the other hand, argues that fixing the “broken pension system” means gutting the defined pension system, and forcing all employees to pay more of their money to the pension fund. Forcing employees to pay more for retirement, Fosters argues, would relieve the overpaying, taxed enough already, taxpayers from having to pay more to fix the NH Retirement System. The part that Fosters ignores is that over 75% of retirees’ pension benefits are paid out from investment returns. Increasing employees’ contributions is NOT going to fix Wall Street.

Long gone are the days when companies, and municipalities cared about ensuring that their workers could live happily in retirement after years of dedication to their employer. As Pulitzer Prize winning author Hedrick Smith explains in his book, “Who stole the American Dream”: just three decades ago, 84% of large companies offered a full pension. In 2010, only 30% did. Companies and municipalities have been pushing workers away from pensions and into defined contribution (401K) plans – which makes employees responsible for funding their own retirement. Yet workers’ wages haven’t been raised to compensate for the benefit cuts.

This pro-business mentality of reducing benefit expenses while refusing to raise wages has made corporations billions in additional profits. Workers are getting screwed out of their retirements, while the corporate giants and Wall Street hedge fund managers add more zeros to their already inflated paychecks.

Fosters is arguing the same for the NH public workers: “make the workers pay more, to save the taxpayers money.” There are a few problems with this idea. The NH Retirement System is underfunded due to the Legislature over-estimating the investment returns (not putting enough in to cover their share of the cost) and the 2008 recession.

“As recently as 1999, the New Hampshire Retirement System was more than 100% funded.  But then the Trust Fund lost 10% of its value in the recession of 2001.  It lost another 25% of its value in the 2008 recession,” wrote Liz Iacobucci in her blog post entitled, “Going Behind the Rhetoric on Public Employee Pensions.”

During the O’Brien reign of terror, they created legislation to absolve the state from have to uphold their end of the retirement bargain. O’Brien and his Tea Party buddies re-wrote the pension laws to make employees pay more to cover the money. Thankfully, the NH Supreme Court has ruled those changes unconstitutional.

No matter what Fosters tries to tell you, the taxpayer already has an obligation to their public employees. They made an agreement when they hired the employee and that includes paying the costs associated with hiring these workers. Taxpayers and the Legislature have been avoiding paying their portion of the bill.

Avoiding a problem does not make it go away, it only makes the problem worse. I believe it was the GOP who really coined the phrase “kicking the can down the road.” Well, now that can is kicking back.

Our State Senators Are Not Listening To Us On Campaign Finance Reform

We the corporations

Written by Ellen Read

Ellen Read

Ellen Read, Newmarket, NH

For the jaded among us this isn’t a surprise.  We’re cynical because we know our government is bought and paid for by the highest bidders.  Our legislators no longer have constituents, they have investors—groups not even from legislators’ districts with whom legislators spend 70% of their time fundraising, and who donate in order to obtain favorable policy.  A recent Princeton study showed definitively we no longer have a democracy, but an oligarchy—rule by the wealthy few.  It showed that public policy is dictated by the 0.000042% of Americans who give substantial contributions, not by the People, as we all believe.  But we don’t have to resign to apathy.

New Hampshirites, true to our independent spirit, are trying to restore government to the People.  Building on work of years past, this March resolutions were on 61 Town Warrants calling for a constitutional amendment that would:  1) guarantee the right of the people to regulate political spending, and 2) clarify that artificial entities such as labor unions, SuperPACs, and corporations are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as actual human beings.  Out of the 61 towns, 48 passed the resolution —and most by an overwhelming majority. The people of New Hampshire have spoken.

Yet when this same resolution, SB307, came before our State Senate, twelve Senators rejected the original language, gutting it—although 32 of the 48 towns that passed warrant articles were in these Senators’ districts.  For example, Senator Forrester voted against the purpose of the bill, but seven of the nine towns in her district passed similar resolutions.  And although all five towns in Senator Bragdon’s district and all four in Senator Bradley’s district also passed these resolutions, both of them also voted no.  Why aren’t they listening to us?

A UNH Poll revealed 75% of New Hampshirites, across all political lines, want a constitutional amendment to return control of government to the People.  New Hampshire cares about this.  A lot.  There is a movement building in response to government corruption, and it stems from our collective innate sense of what democracy is–from the wisdom of leaders from James Madison and Teddy Roosevelt to Warren Rudman and John McCain.

It’s tempting to be apathetic, thinking the system is rigged.  It is rigged; that is why we have to fix it.  SB307 is now passing the State House, so it will go back to conference with the Senate, where our senators may try to weaken it again.  We have to make our State Senators hear us, on this more than anything else, because this is the one issue that decides whether we have a say in any other.  No matter your politics or cause, if you want to have a say in it then we have to get big money out of politics.  No one should have to have money to have a voice–not in a democracy.

 

Ellen Read, Newmarket

Bob Martens, Bridgewater

George Blaisdell, Bridgewater

Max Stamp, Bristol

Nancy Dowey, Bristol

Maria Weick, Dorchester

Herb Moyer, Groton and Exeter

Pam Martin, Plymouth

Kenneth McKenzie, Eaton

Richard Devens, Sandwich

Penny Voyles, Wakefield

Michelle Russell, Hancock

Gerald Debonis, Sharon

Lucy Edwards, Northwood

Peter White, Nottingham

Scott Abercrombie, Salem

George Manos, Danville

Carol Croteau, Kingston

Evert Lamm, Stratham

Joseph Bagshaw, Conway (passed previously)

State Senator Martha Fuller Clark, District 21, Sponsor of SB307

In Voting Against The Minimum Wage Increase, The Only Person NH Sen Andy Sanborn Is Voting For Is Andy Sanborn

Screen Shot GSP Video  Andy Sanborn

As an elected representative of the people, State Senator Andy Sanborn, should be working for the people, however his vote appear to tell a different story.

Last week the NH Senate voted against raising the minimum wage to $9.00 over the next two years.  Senator Sanborn spoke out against the minimum wage increase as a “job killer.” Sanborn stated, “How many jobs are going to exist in the State of NH, if there are no more employers?” Sanborn even went as far to say that raising the minimum wage ignites a “war on employers.

You can see his entire statement in this video:

Senator Sanborn knows a lot about how business works, so that means we should listen to him on this right?

Sanborn currently owns “The Draft” a sports bar where servers make the NH tipped minimum wage ($3.13 per hour), and other workers make a little more than minimum wage.

Personally I do not understand how Senator Sanborn did not at least declare a conflict of interest on the minimum wage vote, seeing that one could interpret his vote as protecting his own profits rather than representing his constituents (keep in mind 76% of Granite Staters support the legislation).  That is because Senator Sanborn is really doing what he does best, looking out for himself.

In late 2004 and early 2005 Andy and his wife (Rep) Laurie Sanborn were the owners of Banagan’s, a chain of bike and ski shops throughout New Hampshire.  The ultimate small business owner’s dream, a growing business and expanding to multiple stores.  Except that in 2005, Sanborn was forced into court after Banagan’s filed bankruptcy.   Sanborn and his company left his supplier holding the bag for over $600,000 dollars in claims.  The settlement allowed Sanborn to use the money from his “going out of business sale” to pay off part of his business debts.

The Concord Monitor reported on the story in 2008 and spoke with Jack White, the Nashua lawyer who took Banagan’s to bankruptcy court on behalf of four equipment dealers.

“White isn’t convinced that even Sanborn believed he could pay all his debts with a closing sale. He said he thinks Sanborn’s main goal was, instead, to make enough money in the closing sale to pay off his bank loan, for which he was personally liable. Once the case landed in bankruptcy court, White said, the bank had to stand in line for payment along with the other companies owed money. And Sanborn became responsible for any part of the bank loan left unpaid.” (emphasis added)

The Concord Monitor also reported that Banagan’s would only end up paying $31,000 of the over $600,000 they owed to equipment suppliers.

Thankfully Banagan’s had enough money in the bank to pay back the personal loans Andy took out for the business, otherwise he would not have been able to open The Draft restaurant.

Prior to the opening of The Draft, Sanborn said he spent over $100,000 on televisions alone.

Somehow Sanborn had $100,000 to buy televisions for his new business, but only had $31,000 to pay his previous business suppliers.

Now the Sanborns, a State Senator, and a State Rep (wife Laurie), are vehemently opposed to raising the minimum wage knowing full well an increase would effect their businesses bottom line.

The Sanborns are doing what is best for them, and ignoring what the people of New Hampshire want and agree is best for the state.

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement