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The Professional Firefighters of NH Call for Continued LGC/NHMA Changes

Concord, NH – David LangPresident of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, today issued this statement regarding the recent leadership changes at the Local Government Center and urges a real institutional change to follow.

Late in the day on Friday the LGC/NHMA announced their Board had changed leadership through the replacement of their current Executive Director with George Bald former DRED Commissioner. Media accounts over the weekend reported key LGC Board as saying the reason for the change was to foster a better relationship with the state’s regulators, as opposed to fostering institutional change within their organization.

“We believe a change such as this was necessary and a step in the right direction, however gauging the comments of key LGC Board members, leads us to believe this to be more window dressing than honest change,” said David Lang, President. “We call on the members of the Board and the senior management of the LGC/NHMA to be held responsible for the current situation. Real institutional change at all levels of this troubled organization need immediate attention and to be addressed and finalized,” Lang continued.

Mr. Lang offered the following comment on the temporary assignment of George Bald. “Mr. Bald has an opportunity to force honest institutional change, and it requires him to demand full transparency, ending the practices of the past, and to follow the decision of the hearing officer and the law,” said Lang. “Absent his ability to do that, subjects the taxpayers, retired, and active employees to further misuse and abuse.”

“Should Mr. Bald wish to clean up this mess, then he can count us in to help him. The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire will not rest until the taxpayers, retired, and active public employees are made whole and transparent institutional change has occurred.”

The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire represent approximately 2,000 active and retired fire fighters and paramedic across New Hampshire from 42 local unions.

NH Professional Fire Fighters Union (@PFFNH) Use Right To Know To Get Millions For Local Governments

Many of the right wing media like to tell everyone that unions are only out for themselves.  The truth is that unions are are out for everyone (and yes that means themselves too).  They are advocates for the middle class and a protector of the people.

In the corporate world, unions are the counter balance to corporate greed and worker abuse.  In the public sector their roles are similar only not only do public sector unions protect the workers (and the public) they work to protect their employer.  This is exactly the case when you look at the Professional Fire Fighters of NH (PFF-NH) and the ongoing case with the Local Government Center.

The case between LGC and the PFF-NH has been going on for over a decade now.  Most of the issues brought to light came from specific questions raised through “Right To Know” requests filed by PFF-NH President David Lang.

In todays Portsmouth Herald (SeacoastOnline.com) they praised President Lang for his work on this case.

“The next time you hear a government official complaining about annoying Right to Know requests, remind them of this: Thanks to New Hampshire’s Right to Know law, and the tenacity of David Lang and the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, local cities, towns and public workers are about to receive no less than a $77.5 million refund from state pooled insurance providers. SchoolCare has agreed to pay $8.5 million and Primex between $16 million and $21 million, and the Local Government Center has been ordered by the courts to refund $53 million.

And the amount the LGC owes cities and towns for overcharging and misappropriating health care payments could be as high as $100 million, according to investigators for the state’s Bureau of Securities Regulation.”

Thats right, nearly every town in New Hampshire owes a special thanks to Pres. Lang and the PFF-NH.  Many town and local government will be getting something back from the LGC.

“The LGC protested, fighting our attempts at openness, and after two trips to the Supreme Court, the Court ultimately agreed with our position and the LGC was forced to open its books,” Lang explained to a packed house at the Concord Civic Center, where he and his union received this year’s First Amendment Award from the Nackey Loeb School in November. “Our suspicions were confirmed, and what followed was an exhausting and frustrating multi-year campaign for public recognition of LGC’s funding scheme.”

The seacoast newspaper was quick to point out some of the money coming to area towns.

“Shortly before Christmas local cities and towns learned just how much they’d be getting in a round of payments this month covering just 2011, and some of the figures were significant:

  • Portsmouth: $643,462
  • Hampton: $143,103
  • Exeter: $106,833
  • Rye: $33,139
  • Newington: $23,067
  • Stratham: $20,169″

That is only the first round of payments.

“Then, in August 2013, there will be a second round of payments, including: School Administrative Unit 16/Exeter school district: $362,386, SAU 21/Winnacunnet: $244,485, Portsmouth School District: $192,070 and SAU 50 (Greenland, Rye, New Castle, Newington): $77,480.”

This article does not show the money that the LGC owes all local governments however using these towns as a baseline you can see where the chips are going to fall.

In an effort to protect the workers, Lang and the PFF-NH ended up saving the taxpayers $50 million dollars.

“As public employees we found ourselves in the uncomfortable position of publicly defending the rising cost of health insurance at the bargaining table and in the media, when we knew that the cost did not need to be that high,” Lang said. “Compounding the issue was that cities, towns, taxpayers and the media were calling upon firefighters to work for lower pay and benefits in order to compensate for the rising costs of health care. The dynamic had serious potential to reduce the number of firefighters on duty, which leads to increased response times to fires and medical emergencies and ultimately leads to reduced safety in our communities.”

Be sure to read the full editorial from the SeacoastOnline, then stop by the Professional Fire Fighters of NH Facebook page and say ‘THANKS’ to President Lang and all the members of the PFF-NH for all the do in protecting the public and serving the taxpayers.

Local Government Center Rhetoric Does Not Match Reality

An emergency board meeting of the Local Government Center was held last week in regards to dealing with the implementation of the Hearings Officer’s Order (Final Order) in the matter of the “State of NH vs. Local Government Center et. el”.  A statement from the Executive Director was issued post meeting.

The Executive Director claims (LGC ED Message) that the requirement to purchase reinsurance will add $5 million to the rates. A look at the financials suggests otherwise. Page 5 of the 2011 financials (2011 Audited Financials ) notes two things, first that there are no claims over $1million dollars (minimizing the cost of reinsurance) and second an actual cost of ½% of contributions for reinsurance . Based on the current health insurance contribution of 400 million dollars, this equals a cost of approximately $2 million, not $5 million as overstated by the Executive Director.

“Here is where the rhetoric falls far short of the reality. Just look and compare the financials 2010 to 2011, it appears the LGC reduced the amount of dollars for reserve by 18% from the previous year, and then they further collected 4% more in contributions while experiencing an increase in claims cost of only 1%*. What does this mean to those paying the bills? The LGC kept more money, while their net assets (surplus) grew by 19% or $20.5 million,” stated Dave Lang, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of NH.

“The management of the Local Government Center would have us all believe that in order to save us $2 million or $5 million for that matter in our rates they need to keep $106,155,206 the 2011 net asset balance. NH citizens expect a level of transparency when it comes to their local governments. These repeated actions by the Local Government Center defy on all accounts that expectation,” continued Lang.

An excerpt found on page 5 of the 2011 Financials

LGC HealthTrust purchased stop loss excess coverage to help defer the impact of large claims. LGC HealthTrust retained the first $1,000,000 of each claim through June 30, 2010; the stop loss carrier reimburses amounts above that level. LGC HealthTrust paid .5% of contributions for reinsurance. HealthTrust eliminated the purchase of stop loss reinsurance as of July 1, 2010. The Board asked the actuary to assess the risk of the elimination of this coverage. The actuary’s opinion noted HealthTrust had not sustained a claim over $1,000,000. The actuary also noted HealthTrust’s level of Risk Based Capital and size gave it the ability to eliminate this coverage and the resulting cost of purchasing reinsurance. Eliminating the purchase of reinsurance reduces the cost of coverage to member groups.

*A calculated explanation of President Lang’s explanation with page references found in the 2011 Financials (web link provided above):

NH Labor News 8/28/12: Private Prison: The Public’s Problem, LGC Battle Continues, NH DES Says Economy Slightly Worse, and more..

Private Prisons: The Public’s Problem – A Talk by Caroline Isaacs – Nashua, NH Patch: “The three companies that run for-profit prisons in Arizona have all submitted bids to take over New Hampshire’s prison system. Caroline Isaacs, who directs the AFSC’s Arizona Program in Tucson, has thoroughly investigated their performance and found it lacking.  Her report, published in Feburary, revealed widespread and persistent problems in the areas of safety, accountability, and cost.

She will share her findings during a three-day speaking tour in New Hampshire, whicih will come to Nashua’s Unitarian Universalist Church on Wednesday, September 5, from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Secretary of state in Dover about LGC ruling: ‘This is not a simple matter’ – Fosters: “DOVER — A public forum Monday night held to help area residents better understand the ruling against the Local Government Center left many questions unanswered and people still wondering when and how they will get their money back.

The LGC, a nonprofit organization that manages health insurance pools for public workers and retirees in New Hampshire, was found to have improperly collect and retain surplus funds for health and property liability funds it maintained for state and local employees and retirees. ”

Sec. of State Holds Public Forum On LGC Ruling | New Hampshire Public Radio: ““The public was very concerned about their money, where it’s parked right now, what’s going to happen to it.  I think those all  legitimate concerns.”

Lang, himself at one time was a board member of the LGC and researched the center’s finances.  His research resulted in a court order to refund $52 million dollars to public employees, retirees and municipal members who bought health and other insurance coverage from the non-profit.  LGC has already said it will appeal the ruling.”

Once again the media is blaming the teachers in the MHT School district for budget problem….

Manchester Begins The School Year After $8 Million Budget Shortfall and Teacher Union Impasse | New Hampshire Public Radio: “Manchester School District Superintendent Thomas Brennan says the teacher layoffs and program cuts came because Manchester schools faced the worst budget shortfall in recent memory.

“This year we’re talking about an 8 million dollar gap. And there’s no way that we’re going to make up 8 million dollars. In the past it might have been 1 or 2 million. It sounds a lot in some cases, it doesn’t sound a lot in others. So we always made it work. We’re not going to make it work this year.””

Goffstown selectmen deny firefighters’ retroactive raise | New Hampshire NEWS07: “electmen have denied a grievance filed by the Professional Firefighters of Goffstown that sought pay increases for three firefighters in 2011. At its regular meeting Monday night, Vice Chairman Scott Gross moved to “respectfully decline” the request of the firefighters.

Attorneys for both the town and the firefighters’ union presented their cases to the Board of Selectmen at its meeting on Aug. 20, with the union claiming that three firefighters were due a step increase pay raise in 2011, from $16 an hour to $17.28, an 8-percent increase.”

“ROCHESTER — The latest statistics released by New Hampshire Employment Security shows that the state’s economy is in slightly worse shape than a year ago. It is estimated that there were 629,000 private sector and government jobs in the Granite State in July, which is 2,100 fewer than 12 months ago, with the private sector accounting for all of this decline.

This assessment ties in with the state’s unadjusted unemployment rate for July. According to NHES, the July 2012 unemployment rate for New Hampshire was 5.7 percent, an increase of 0.3 percentage points from the June rate, which remained at 5.4 percent after revision. The July 2011 unadjusted rate was 5.5 percent.

The national unadjusted rate for July 2012 was 8.6 percent, an increase of 0.2 percentage points from the June rate and a decrease of 0.7 percentage points from the July 2011 rate.”

Lang’s battle with LGC results in state order for $52M refund | SeacoastOnline.com: “A firefighter’s nine-year effort to open the Local Government Center’s books to the public has directly resulted in an order that $52 million be refunded to public employees, retirees and municipal members who bought the LGC’s health and/or property liability insurance.

While the LGC announced Thursday it will appeal, much credit for the $52 million order can go to David Lang, a retired Hampton firefighter and president of the New Hampshire Professional Fire Fighters Association. Related agreements that the SchoolCare risk-management pool will refund municipal members $8.5 million and the Primex pool will refund between $16 million and $21 million can also be linked to Lang’s tenacity.

Secretary of State Bill Gardner said Friday that without Lang’s series of Right To Know requests for LGC information, “none of this would be happening right now.””

Sequestration budget cuts bad for New Hampshire | SeacoastOnline.com: As staff writer Aaron Sanborn reported (Ayotte: cuts reach ‘too far,’ Aug. 23, Portsmouth Herald), federal budget sequestration has dangerously real consequences for New Hampshire.

But only half of sequestration’s impact is on defense.

Non-defense cuts will also hit hard, costing more than 2,700 New Hampshire jobs. Why? Because sequestration makes deep cuts to investments that matter for New Hampshire kids and families.

More than 17,000 New Hampshire families would lose health services through the federal Maternal & Child Health Block Grant, and 1,400 would lose quality nutrition through WIC. More than 3,600 New Hampshire children would lose educational help, including nearly 2,300 with disabilities.

NH Labor News 8/24/12: LGC to Appeal $50 Mil Refund Order, Berlin Health Better With ACA, ED SHOW Says Save The USPS, OSHA

LGC to appeal $52M refund order | SeacoastOnline.com:The Local Government Center announced Thursday that it will appeal an order mandating that it refund more than $52 million to public employees, retirees and municipal members who bought its health and/or property liability insurance.

In announcing its willingness to take its appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, the LGC also stated it plans to lay off 18 employees, reducing its 2013 budget by $1.5 million.

Healthcare has improved in the Berlin area, but paying for it is a problem: “Only in physical environment does Coos County do well, scoring 5th among the 10.
At this point in the discussion, AVH CEO Russ Keene became the speaker.
“The issue with health care is that there is not much clarity,” said Keene. “The key event for the next 12 months is what happens with the Affordable Care Act. It’s still very muddled.”
Keene noted that if Romney is successful, there is a possibility that the Affordable Care Act may no longer be in effect.
“If that happens, two things are important to us,” Keene said. “What happens with the individual mandate and what happens with the exchanges (where individuals are supposed to be able to shop for insurance programs).
“We will be concerned if the individual mandate does not proceed as we thought it would,” he said.”

Ed Schultz:‘Most Dishonest Campaign Ever’: ““I want to tell you a little bit about what we’re going through at the Ed Show,” he told the delegates. “Every day we have to come to work and debunk a new lie.  This is the most dishonest national campaign this country has ever seen with Romney and Ryan.”

“It’s a misinformation campaign, and in some parts of the country it’s working.”

“They’ll tell seniors in Florida that ‘we won’t touch Medicare,’ but when you look at their budget, it’s a whole different story.”

“Postal workers are living what the Republicans are all about.  Republicans came up with the pre-funding requirement.  They want to privatize everything.

“If the Republicans had their way, you wouldn’t be here.”

AFSCME | Wisconsin Private Health Care Workers Vote to Unionize with AFSCME:
MADISON, Wisc. – Nearly 300 employees of Journey Mental Health Center voted overwhelmingly last week to join AFSCME Council 40.

Journey is a private, non-profit organization. Its employees provide mental health services from nine sites in Dane County, Wisconsin.

Last year’s historic opposition to Gov. Scott Walker’s attack on public employee rights helped sow the seeds of unionization at Journey, said Kevin McConeghey, a 20-year worker there who helped lead the union organizing drive. Journey employees identified with this larger struggle.

Image and Article to share:
From We Part Patriots: GRAPHIC: As OSHA’s Budget Drops, Workplace Fatalities Rise (and Other Obvious, Important Conclusions)

“Newly compiled data in the form of a stunning infographic from Compliance and Safety analyzes the latest information on workplace fatalities. While workplace fatalities have been dropping, there remains a clear correlation between the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) budget and the number of victims at work. Small steps could easily save lives on the work site, the graphic suggests.”

NH Labor News 5/25/12: PolitiFact Says O’Brien is Wrong on Jobs Claim, MHT Teachers Reject Contract, Education Reforms, LGC and More

Something to thing about.
This is the power that labor has!

PolitiFact: Wishful thinking, but O’Brien gets it wrong on jobs claim – NashuaTelegraph.com: ““There’s 400 more people working in health care today in New Hampshire than when we passed the budget.”
– Rep. William O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, speaker of the House of Representatives, on Monday, May 7, in an interview with The Telegraph editorial board.
Our ruling
The health care industry was a bright spot during the recession, but job estimates show that it didn’t rebound from the state budget cuts the way O’Brien reported. The most recent state estimates show that jobs in the health care industry, combined with social assistance, have remained flat or even decreased – not gained – since April 2011, when the House initially passed the budget. And since the state budget took effect in June 2011, the industry has lost about 700 jobs. There is one measure that shows some growth, but it was only a snapshot and doesn’t cover the time period O’Brien was talking about. Based on the most authoritative numbers that include the most recent data, we rate this claim False.”

Failed teachers deal opens state review | New Hampshire NEWS06: “MANCHESTER — A provision in a tentative agreement turned down by members of the Manchester Education Association may affect city contracts with other unions and how they fund the New Hampshire Retirement System.

Although the MEA provision is basically moot because the teachers voted down the tentative agreement, it did lead to a legal ruling from the state Retirement System noting retirees are not permitted to cover their own contribution to the state retirement fund as well as the employers’ share. “

Focus on extremes hurts common good – NashuaTelegraph.com: “Rather than valuing the incredible contribution of our public school teachers and continuing the hard work of fixing what might be failing in our schools, conversations now tend toward scapegoating teachers for our growing frustration as we lose job security, retirement security and employer-paid benefits. If we can no longer find an employer to pay our health coverage, why should public servants have these benefits?
Rather than insisting that we all have the security of health care and retirement benefits after a lifetime of work, we cede our future to those who desire greater instability.
Those who attack our public servants under a “liberty agenda” forget America’s greatness rests in its dedication to the “common good.””

Great Work by the members of the IAFF from Maine and New Hampshire for risking their live to save us all!

Firefighters on submarine hit intense heat, smoke | The Kennebec Journal, Augusta, ME: “KITTERY — Firefighters who confronted a blaze inside the nuclear submarine USS Miami encountered a dark, hellish atmosphere of intense heat and heavy smoke, two firefighters at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard said Thursday.

Assistant Fire Chief Glenn Whitehouse and firefighter Dan Tice said each crew sent into the 360-foot ship had only a few minutes to deal with the fire before they had to pull out and be replaced by others with fresh oxygen tanks.

They said it took time and effort just to navigate the narrow maze of submarine hallways in order to reach the forward section of the ship, where the fire was burning. The hallways were so narrow it was difficult for firefighters to pass each other. Then the heat and the dwindling oxygen supply in their air packs forced them to leave and be replaced by another crew.

“That’s why the guys were taking a beating,” Tice said. “We went through probably 75 shifts like that.””

NH education, business leaders aim to work more closely, better prepare students for jobs – NashuaTelegraph.com: “Local business leaders and education officials gathered at Nashua Community College to identify problems and talk about possible solutions to fixing the gap between education and manufacturing in New Hampshire – the state’s largest job sector.
Representatives came from the state Department of Education, the New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the state Business and Industry Association and the New Hampshire High Technology Council, as well as many employees and owners of small businesses.
Gov. John Lynch said state businesses need skilled workers, especially in manufacturing, and that the way to guarantee that is through education.”

GOP has pro-business agenda | SeacoastOnline.com: As for the cutting of higher educational funding, none of us wanted to cut our university system’s budget, but there was no choice. Democrats joined Republicans in not proposing any new taxes or any increases in existing taxes to avoid these or any other cuts. Dartmouth College, a private institution, when faced with financial problems during the same period, chose to cut some 30 non-core classes which were favorites of professors but not popular with students, and thus financial losers. That was a rational action on their part. Why is it when Dartmouth cuts $100 million from its budget over two years it is considered good management, but when UNH does similar cuts, those encouraging streamlining are branded as anti-education? Fiduciary responsibility is fiduciary responsibility, whether in the private sector or the public sector. There is no evidence that the quality of education at either Dartmouth or UNH has been diminished by the streamlining that has occurred. It should be pointed out that UNH President Huddleston is doing the best he can faced with an intransigent faculty union. Most states are faced with having to make cuts in their state university systems. N.H. is no different.

Insurers cite 3-year-old claim, refuse to pay LGC legal costs | SeacoastOnline.com:CONCORD — Insurers for the Local Government Center are refusing to pay more than $1 million in LGC legal bills because, they allege, the costs to defend ongoing allegations by the state mirror a lawsuit filed by the state firefighters union three years ago.

The disputed legal costs are for the LGC to defend against a Secretary of State complaint alleging the LGC failed to return $100 million in surplus funds to member municipalities and formed illegal shell companies in Delaware. The state also alleges the LGC improperly invested member money in risky investments and skimmed money from insurance pools to create a workers’ compensation program, from which only some members can benefit.

The LGC, which provides municipal health and liability insurance, filed suit against its insurance providers on Feb. 24 for refusing to pay legal bills associated with the state allegations and stated the cost will exceed $1 million. In spite of that, the LGC released a subsequent statement to its municipal members announcing that “like all responsible nonprofit organizations,” it “carries liability insurance.”

Risk Pool Measure Now in Hands of Negotiators | New Hampshire Public Radio: “Lawmakers will look to come to terms on how to regulate groups that sell insurance to New Hampshire cities and towns.

Some are concerned the House-passed plan could be hard on taxpayers.

This legislation comes on the heels of a Secretary of State investigation into the practices of New Hampshire’s largest public risk pool the Local Government Center.”

House, Senate school funding plans to be scrutinized | New Hampshire NEWS06: “CONCORD — Constitutional lawyers will parse every word in House- and Senate-proposed constitutional amendments on education funding over the long holiday weekend.

Key lawmakers hope the work may lead to a compromise between House and Senate leaders and the governor’s office before Thursday’s deadline.

If a compromise is reached, the House and Senate will have to approve it by 60 percent majorities to place the question on the general election ballot in November, where it will need two-thirds of the voters to be approved.

“This issue is bigger than any one of us,” said Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro. “That is why I continue to feel optimistic we will get this done.””

Education funding amendment panel: We’re not done yet | Concord Monitor: “House and Senate lawmakers working on a compromise over a constitutional amendment on education funding find themselves trying to balance the legalese desired by each side without creating a text that looks like gobbledygook to voters on the ballot in November.

The committee of conference tasked with negotiating the amendment reconvened for less than five minutes yesterday to tell those in attendance they haven’t quite figured it out and need to spend more time talking with attorneys. On Tuesday, the committee met for about a half hour to make brief opening statements. They have until next Thursday to sign a deal to take back to their respective chambers.”

Senate panel votes against new round of base closures – Fosters: “WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Senate panel on Thursday rejected the Pentagon’s call for another round of domestic military base closings as it completed a far-reaching, $631 billion defense budget for next year.

Members of the Armed Services Committee unanimously backed the budget, including New Hampshire Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, and Kelly Ayotte, Republican, and Maine Sen. Susan Collins, another GOP member.

Speaking before Congress in February, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta made the case for two new rounds of military base closures, beginning 2013 to 2015.

In order to close or consolidate military bases in the United States legislation from Congress is required to create a bipartisan Base Closure and Realignment Commission, which then studies the problem and makes recommendations to the president and the defense secretary.”

Campaign disclosure: Locally, nationally – Fosters: “The problem with Citizens United is not that it allows endless money to flow into Super PACs. It is that it does not hold donors accountable for that money.

Should the New Hampshire Legislature fail to do that on a local basis, it will have left a gaping hole in the law.

The voting public has a right and a need to know who is lobbying for whom or what. Allowing donors to anonymously hide behind a Super PAC or local advocacy group’s moniker should be a political sin, one not allowed by law.”

Now in Penn. they are going straight for the collective bargaining rights of the teachers.

After Cutting School Funding, Pennsylvania Republicans Are Going After Teachers Themselves « Main Street: “The Senate Education Committee in Pennsylvania is planning to fast-track a bill that could end collective bargaining rights for school employees.

Here’s how they’re doing it. First, in his first two budgets, Governor Tom Corbett and his allies cut almost a billion dollars from public education in Pennsylvania. Like his corporate-backed brethren Scott Walker and John Kasich, Corbett repeated the lie that the cuts were necessary because the state was broke, while ignoring the millions in lost revenue from corporate tax loopholes.

The second step is to use the funding “crisis” – the crisis that they created with their deep and unnecessary cuts – to attack the rights of teachers and other school employees. The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Republican Senator Jeffrey Piccola, is planning to amend House Bill 1307 to allow the state to cancel current collective bargaining agreements in “financially distressed” school districts.”


NH Labor News 3/1: PFF-NH Pres Lang Talks of New Firefighter Rule, Budget Surplus Sparks Debate, Occupy NH Clash With AFP, and more….

The New Hampshire Labor News Daily Clips 3/1/12

‘Fireman’s Rule’ needs a rewrite | Concord Monitor: “David Lang, president of the Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire fears that the court’s decision could lead people to delay or decide against calling for help in an emergency. We share that fear.”

LGC to fight release of meeting minutes in N.H. high court | SeacoastOnline.com: “The statewide firefighters union is scheduled to appear before the N.H. Supreme Court on March 13 in an effort to obtain unredacted minutes from the Local Government Center.

The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire seeks unredacted minutes from LGC meetings, during which topics of discussion included health insurance rates and the LGC’s “strategic plan,” which is currently under fire in a pending legal complaint by the Bureau of Securities Regulation.”

State ends 2011 with surplus | Concord Monitor: “A report released yesterday shows the state of New Hampshire ended the 2011 fiscal year $17.7 million in the black, as the governor and legislative leaders clash over what to do with the leftover money.

Last month, the Republican-controlled House passed a bill that would move the surplus into the state’s rainy day fund, which currently sits at $9.3 million.

Democratic Gov. John Lynch argues the surplus should instead be used to balance the budget for fiscal year 2012, which he said could be accomplished if a dispute is resolved with the state’s hospitals over how much they owe under the state’s Medicaid Enhancement Tax.”

Bradley: Reform school funding | SeacoastOnline.com: “The House and Senate have gone back and forth on the wording of the amendment. The House version gives the Legislature “authority and full discretion” to define reasonable standards for elementary and secondary public education, to establish reasonable standards of accountability, and to mitigate local disparities in educational opportunities and fiscal capacity.

Bradley said the Senate has amended CACR 12 to give the Legislature “full power and authority and the responsibility” to do all of those things. “That is the key ingredient, if you will, that I think Gov. (John) Lynch insisted on to win his support,” Bradley said.”

Welcome to N.H., Mr. President – Fosters: “On Thursday, President Barack Obama will visit Nashua as he continues to campaign for reelection and promote his plan for improving the American economy.

I want to be among the first to welcome President Obama to our great state.

Granite Staters, like all Americans, want to see the country’s economic engine roaring. They want to see new jobs being created, not new reports of rising unemployment numbers. And so, we look forward to hearing what the President has to say about how we can get American working again.”

The Americans For Prosperity a well know Koch Brothers funded PAC is hosting a rally in Downtown Nashua today. Members from Occupy NH will also be holding a rally at the same time, same place in response to AFP trying to steal their “Occupy” brand. For more information click here

John DiStaso’s Granite Status: “A COUNTER RALLY:
After President Barack Obama leaves Nashua today, the conservative groups We the People and Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire plan to hold an “Occupy Jobs Now” rally at Norton’s Diner on Main Street in Nashua. It’s scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

Local business owners and workers are scheduled to attend. GOP candidates for governor Smith and Ovide Lamontagne have confirmed they will also attend.”

“Occupy New Hampshire” criticized the two conservative groups for co-opting their “brand,” saying, “This is yet another dirty tactic by the 1 percent to use and exploit the rest of us for their own political gain.”

What Have Unions Done For Me Lately?: “Private working citizens may ask themselves “What has a public union ever done for us?” Weekends off, a minimum wage, the eight-hour work day and overtime compensation are just a few examples of what organized labor has fought for and won for more than a century. Here at UMass Boston, the Labor Studies program and the Labor Resource Center (LRC) continues to keep the fight alive for workers.

“Many students in the Labor Studies program are leaders – either stewards, presidents, treasurers or even just organizers in their union,” he said. “That allows [them] to analyze as well as learn and participate, so that [they] can effectively serve the working and middle class.”

Workers’ unions may be out of mind for most students but we depend on unions every day, from those who fix our roads to those who serve our food. Currently, the university relies on Ironworkers Local 7 to build the new Integrated Science Complex.”

This is a video created by the NH Labor News in partnership with many of the local unions in New Hampshire.  This video focuses on the effort put forth by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT-NH) .

National News

Occupy Takes Aim at ALEC Today in 70 US Cities | Truthout: “The Occupy movement, since its inception in September 2011, has been against corporate greed. And in 70 cities across the country, it’s found one target that best shows the rampant corporate control of our judicial system that Occupiers see as a central grievance: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

ALEC brings legislators and corporations together in a “public-private partnership” to draft model legislation that Occupy groups say serves the interests of the 1 percent.

Today, legislators and companies including Pfizer, Bank of America and Wal-Mart, that benefit from ALEC’s power in the legislative system will be the target of demonstrations, direct actions and various public shows of anger across the country under the banner of Shut Down the Corporations.”

A Civil Right to Unionize – NYTimes.com: “FROM the 1940s to the 1970s, organized labor helped build a middle-class democracy in the United States. The postwar period was as successful as it was because of unions, which helped enact progressive social legislation from the Civil Rights Act to Medicare. Since then, union representation of American workers has fallen, in tandem with the percentage of income going to the middle class. Broadly shared prosperity has been replaced by winner-take-all plutocracy.”

This is great video about how Facebook is using IBEW workers to build their new data center in South Carolina.

Official says state employee unions can’t participate in LGC hearings | SeacoastOnline.com

Isn’t funny that the people who have been screaming for months that LGC owes New Hampshire millions of dollars is now being force out of the hearings.

Official says state employee unions can’t participate in LGC hearings | SeacoastOnline.com: “Unions representing state employees and retirees will not be allowed to participate in ongoing hearings to vet allegations against the Local Government Center, an insurance pool formed to help municipalities achieve favorable rates.

In a Nov. 3 decision by hearings officer Donald Mitchell, the unions were denied a request to intervene in the hearings which were initiated by Bureau of Securities Regulation attorney Earle Wingate III. After hearing arguments on both sides during an Oct. 18 hearing, Mitchell ruled Thursday that the unions’ allegations “mirror” those of the BSR and it’s the BSR that’s charged by statute with oversight of the municipal insurance pools.”

New Hampshire Labor News for 10/27/11, Talks of LGC, Laconia Regional Hospital, Politics and more…

‘Obscene’ cost to fight LGC case sparks new controversy | SeacoastOnline.com: “CONCORD — When a Bureau of Securities Regulations lawyer told the Herald “there’s something obscene about two government-funded agencies involved in litigation, with taxpayers paying both sides,” it led to a closed-door meeting and, reported N.H. Public Radio, an attempt to restrict the speech of state officials.

The “obscene” comment was made by BSR attorney Earle Wingate III to the Herald last Friday when Wingate estimated the Local Government Center will spend $1 million “or better” on lawyers to defend itself against BSR claims alleging it skimmed and mismanaged $100 million of insurance money.

Two days later, both parties met for a hearing when, reported NHPR, “LGC attorney Bill Saturley asked presiding officer Donald Mitchell to restrict lawyers from speaking to reporters.” NHPR reported the non-public discussion was in response to the Herald’s story and that the hearings officer denied Saturley’s request to restrict Wingate’s access to the media.”

Schools will get better says new education chief – East Hampshire – The News: “Mrs Mitchell said: ‘There’s a view that schools in the city are not as good as they should be and we have a responsibility to change that.

‘I believe it is possible. It’s all about high standards, good teaching, good learning and making sure you know where each child is. Secondary schools have a legacy of underachievement but that is changing.

‘Heads and teachers believe, as I do, that every school should be a great school which helps children reach their full potential.’

Mrs Mitchell is under no illusions about the pressures schools are under with budget cuts, tougher Ofsted inspections and a secretary of state who is constantly raising targets.

And while local education authorities nationwide have been pared back to a bare minimum, she sees her department as vital to supporting school improvement – with the power to carry out inspections and even ask the government to intervene.”

Lynch Scolds LRGH | Laconia Daily Sun: “On Tuesday, LRGH announced that a dozen of its primary care offices will no longer provide services to some 3,500 current and new Medicaid patients after the middle of next month. Emergency services will continue to be provided to Medicaid patients at both Lakes Region General Hospital and Franklin Regional Hospital. Patients enrolled in the New Hampshire Healthy Kids program and those receiving pre-natal care at Caring for Women will continue to be served by their providers. Other patients will be directed to rural and community health centers in the Lakes and Twin Rivers regions.”

Hospital cuts 3,500 patients from rolls | New Hampshire NEWS12: “The Lakes Region’s largest health care company, LRGHealthcare in Laconia, plans to eliminate regular care for its 3,500 Medicaid patients next month.

LRGHealthcare cited the strain that new state budget cuts have placed on its finances as the reason for the decision. LRGHealthcare has a dozen medical practices throughout the region, including offices in Andover, Franklin, Laconia, Meredith, Tilton and Moultonborough.

Gov. John Lynch said the move is “irresponsible and unnecessary,” and out of keeping with the actions of a nonprofit.”

NH court clerk to take food stamp challenge, blog – Boston.com: “A New Hampshire court clerk says she’ll take a food stamp challenge to live on grocery budget of $31.50 a week.

Melissa Laferriere of Manchester decided to take on the challenge put before members of the State Employees Association. She also plans to blog about her dietary exploits on a platform provided by the union.

The $31.50 per week is the national average food stamp benefit for qualifying adults. This averages out to $4.50 per day.”


One person, one vote threat to NH constitution – NashuaTelegraph.com: “In 2006, voters amended the N.H. Constitution to try and ensure more towns and wards get their own state lawmaker. The Republican-led Legislature crafted this amendment in response to the New Hampshire Supreme Court having taken over the process of legislative redistricting in 2002. Court-created districts increased the number of state legislators chosen in large, multiple town districts, such as 13 chosen by voters in Hudson, Litchfield and Pelham.
But Mosca warned the federal principle of one person, one vote trumps the state Constitution and the population disparity between all districts cannot be more than 10 percent.
Once you give large enough towns and wards their own state legislator, you quickly end up with population disparity that far exceeds that standard, he continued.”

Hassan all about jobs, education | SeacoastOnline.com: “”We will be developing more policy proposals as the campaign proceeds, but what we do know is that the best way to attract businesses to a state is to have a work force that is well-educated and ready with the skill sets that businesses need,” she said. “What we need to do is create jobs and to be innovative, both in terms of job creation and in terms of how we run state government and the best way to approach that is to come together with people and find out what they need to create jobs.”

Hassan said, once those needs are identified, the focus then needs to be on generating funds to fill those needs and doing so within the state’s revenue structure. That’s where being innovative in both the public and private sectors comes into play, she said.”

First Read – First Thoughts: Is the economy picking up steam?: ” A day of backtracks: Yesterday’s news from the GOP campaign amounted to a day of backtracks. First, after declining on Tuesday to comment on Ohio’s referendum on its collective-bargaining law, Romney apologized. “I’m sorry if I created any confusion in that regard,” Romney said at a rally in Fairfax, VA yesterday. “I fully support Gov. Kasich’s, I think it’s called Question 2, in Ohio. Fully support that.” (It’s called Issue 2.) Next, Perry walked back his birther comments yesterday. “I don’t think I was expressing doubts,” he said of his previous comments about the validity of the president’s birth certificate in an interview with Tampa’s Bay News 9 to be aired Sunday, per the St. Petersburg Times. “I was just having some fun with Donald Trump.” Folks, neither candidate has had a very good week. Just read the paragraph again.”

Three New Articles About the LGC Case in New Hampshire

Hearing weighs who can intervene in LGC case – Fosters: “CONCORD — The second administrative hearing involving the Local Government Center was entirely focused on the term “interested parties,” as attorneys went back and forth Tuesday over which entities should be involved in proceeding hearings.

Attorneys Glen Milner and Peter Perroni, who represent the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire and the New England Police Benevolent Association as well as tens of thousands of individuals affiliated with unions and organizations looking to intervene in the proceedings, explained to Hearings Officer Don Mitchell that their clients should be considered “interested parties” because of the large amounts of money they have paid to the LGC.

The umbrella organization is currently under scrutiny for seeding a workers’ compensation program through a 1 percent surcharge that municipalities and their employees were paying through their involvement with the LGC’s HealthTrust program. An investigation by the Secretary of State and the Bureau of Securities Regulation suggests the LGC owes the cities and towns involved upward of $100 million.”

In midst of $100M claim, LGC seeks to change corporate structure | SeacoastOnline.com:CONCORD — The Local Government Center has filed to change the corporate structure of its subsidiary limited liability companies, two weeks after the Bureau of Securities Regulation filed a legal claim criticizing the formation of those LLCs.

Meanwhile, a hearings officer is deliberating whether to allow some 10,000 state workers and retirees to join as “interveners” in a $100 million claim the BSR filed against the LGC.

BSR attorney Earle Wingate III said the LGC, through Executive Director Maura Carroll, filed documents seeking to restructure its LLCs Friday afternoon in an effort to “fix the mess.” The LLCs pertain to health and property liability insurance pools that are funded with tax dollars and contributions by public employees and retirees.

In a legal complaint filed against the LGC two weeks ago, Wingate noted the LLCs failed to file annual reports from 2004 through 2011 and were improperly managed by single members — currently Carroll and, before her, retired director John Andrews. He said management of the LGC’s illegal limited liability companies was “flawed from the beginning” and because those LLCs are independent legal entities, they have “no connection” to the LGC and therefore “no proper management.”

Unions seek to enter suit | Concord Monitor: “Attorneys for the state’s biggest unions made their case yesterday for why they should be part of a lawsuit seeking about $100 million from the Local Government Center.

“We clearly meet the definition of an interested party that is set out in the statute,” said attorney Glenn Milner, representing thousands of teachers, firefighters and other municipal employees. “Our reasoning behind that is simple: Public employees – both active and retired – are the real victims of the alleged unlawful conduct by the LGC. It’s their money.”

Public hearings began earlier this month on allegations that the LGC – which provides municipalities across the state with services such as health insurance, legal help and lobbying – violated state law by failing to return surplus money from pooled risk programs that provide cities and towns with health and property insurance. The organization instead used the money to subsidize a workers compensation pool, according to a state investigation report in August.

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