This was the 2nd straight convention that my wife and I attended – and we’re glad we did. Both times, in my opinion, the biggest excitement was outside the SNHU Arena, though there was plenty of activity all around from 7AM well into the afternoon. If you think of the event as an elaborate Democratic pep rally, you’ll be pretty close to understanding the day.
Outside, from 7AM, there were groups of supporters for almost every candidate and cause positioned somewhere on the front lawn holding signs and chanting a slogan. It was packed and loud, but under control.
Tickets are available for sale, but if you have a connection to a candidate, they often provide tickets, as was the case with us. We were part of the Warren delegation. The event was Sold Out, though some of the higher sections of the arena had open seats.
Once inside, the aisles are surrounded by vendors selling Democratic wares (I bought a button) and booths representing local politicians, organizations and causes.
The event started at around 9:15 with Ray Buckley, NH Democratic Chairman. Each NH county (and Nashua specifically) had a delegation in the front of the arena marked by an identification sign similar to what you might envision on TV. I am not sure how much actual business is done on the convention floor – certainly none during the hours that we were there.
Each “major” presidential candidate (mostly those to be involved in the 3rd debate) had a section of supporters grouped together and got about ten minutes to speak. In between, our elected officers in Washington all had roughly equal time along with some local dignitaries. Made for a long day as it went well into the afternoon.
These are some scenes from outside the Arena before the convention officially started. Sorry if I missed your favorite candidate.
We were sitting pretty far in the back, but this what the convention floor looked like.
The accolades just keep coming!!
In August 2019, WalletHub (a personal finance web site) ranked Nashua 13th Best Run City in the nation. In 2018, WalletHub rated Nashua as the 9th best-run city in the US.
“Being repeatedly recognized by WalletHub and Money Magazine, as well as receiving a AAA bond rating from the Fitch and S&P, shows off the effectiveness and efficiency of Nashua’s city government,” Mayor Jim Donchess said.
In ranking Nashua near the top this year, WalletHub compared 150 of the country’s most populated cities in six categories: Financial stability, education, health, safety, economy and infrastructure and pollution. In making the rankings, other factors and an overall quality of services score was also given.
For quality of city services, Nashua ranks 18th. For total budget per capita, Nashua ranks 30th. Furthermore, the city ranks 51st for financial stability, 113th for education, 69th for health, first for safety, and 28th for the economy.
“The city of Nashua runs on teamwork,” Donchess said. “Dedicated, passionate, hard-working city employees come together every day to make sure Nashua is a safe, welcoming, happy place for residents and visitors.”
June 2019 – In the recent Ward 4 Town Hall, this issue got a lot of attention. The EPA continues to work with the local developer, Bernie Plante, on this remediation project. Mr. Plante currently has the work out for bid. At this time, it is not exactly clear how Mr. Plante will use the land once remediated. Funding would come from Mr. Plante, the EPA and the City of Nashua.
While this is not a Democratic issue, it is a city issue that impacts everyone.
The Mohawk Tannery on Fairmont St in Nashua operated until 1984, tanning hides for leather. It is an EPA Superfund cleanup site contaminated by barium, arsenic and carcinogenic dioxin.
A local developer is interested in converting these 40 acres into multifunctional housing and commercial uses along the parkway.
The community concern has been around how the cleanup is being proposed. The EPA and the developer are proposing that the contaminated lagoons be capped. Many in the community believe that removing the contaminated soil is a far better option, but is also much more expensive.
No decisions have been made. If you would like to know more, use the link below.
HB = House Bill / SB = Senate Bill
HB-455 – The NH Senate passed this bill repealing the death penalty by a 17-6 vote. The last NH execution took place in 1939. One individual is on death row today.
HBxxx – The House passed a bill 200-163 to legalize recreational marijuana. It would be taxed at 5% wholesale, 9% retail, producing in excess over $30,000,000 annually.
HBxxx – The House passed a bill to limit carrying guns on school property by a vote of 213-159. The only exclusions are law enforcement, members of the military and those authorized by the local school board. It applies to school buildings, buses and grounds.
SBxxx – Casino gambling again passed the NH Senate by a very close 13-11 vote. It would support two casinos generating over #100,000,000 in tax revenues per year.
HB xxx – These House bills will prohibit restaurants from providing plastic straws to customers unless specifically asked and will prohibit stores larger than 1000 sq ft to provide plastic carryout bags to customers. This plastic has proven to be harmful to wildlife. A whale beached and died recently off Sardinia with 48 lbs of plastic bags in its system.
HB xxx – This House bill requires a 7-day waiting period for gun purchases. It passed the House 199-147.
HB 397 – This bill would allow 15,000 undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license without a social security card. 23 of 27 Nashua House members for this bill which passed the House 204-137. The following did not vote – David Cote (Ward 4), Dan Toomey (Ward 5), Ken Gidge and Fran Nutter-Upham (Ward 6).
HB 186 – Increasing the minimum wage. 23 of 27 Nashua House members voted for this bill which passed the House 210-145. Ken Gidge (Ward 6), Latha Mangipudi (Ward 8) and Mike O’Brien Sr (Ward 9) did not vote. It would increase our minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $9.50 (Jan 1, 2020) to $10.75 (Jan 1, 2021) to $12 hour (Jan 1, 2022).
SB 185 – Establishment of a rail trail advisory committee. This bill passed by the Senate will fund a rail study for $200K. About 300 miles of rail trails exist for hikers / bikers etc. throughout the state today. DoT officials would:
Update the state’s rail trail plan
Provide an economic analysis on the value of rail trails
Compile / maintain a list of trail organizations throughout the state
HB 481 – Marijuana legalization. 22 of 27 Nashua House members voted for this bill which passed the House 209-147. Linda Harriott-Gathright (Ward 9), Paul R. Bergeron (Ward 2) and Latha Mangipudi (Ward 8) voted no. Ken Gidge (Ward 6) and David Cote (Ward 4) did not vote. This bill would legalize possession of up to 1 oz. Adults could grow up to 6 plants. A commission would be established to license and regulate this industry which could produce as much as $33,000,000 year
On Jan 31, Senate Democrats passed three bills addressing the funding gaps in job training programs and mental health services.
SB 2 – Increases funding for job training programs in New Hampshire
SB 5– Expands access to mental health and substance misuse treatment
SB 11 – Addresses the state’s mental health Emergency Room boarding crisis by increasing both reimbursement rates for hospitals and the number of beds available for patients.F
On Dec 20, BOE member Gloria Timmons received a commendation from the Governor for her commitment to improve the quality of life for people in NH through her work in family, school and community.
The NH Black Women’s Health Project also acknowledged Ms. Timmon’s efforts.
After over a year, Judge Brown ruled on a preliminary injunction preventing SB3 from taking effect before the mid-term elections, confirming the plaintiff’s argument that the new law places “a burden on the right to vote and disenfranchises low-income and minority populations” and many college students. Moreover, Judge Brown wrote “voter fraud is not widespread, or even remotely commonplace” in New Hampshire and the following:
“Most importantly, the SB3 law does nothing to actually prevent voter fraud …. instead of combating fraud, the law simply imposes additional burdens on legitimate voters.
The state immediately challenged the ruling to the NH Supreme Court, which unanimously agreed with the state having made the decision that Judge Brown’s ruling will create confusion and disruption on election day.
The full case is still working its way through the courts.
A summarized history and overview of the case is below.
On June 8, 2017, the Republican-sponsored New Hampshire Senate Bill 3, which may complicate same-day voter registration for New Hampshire college students, …… passed in the state Senate 14-9. It was signed into law in July. The bill changes what domicile means in the context of voting and stipulates that proof of residence is required for same-day voters, including a written statement that verifies voters’ home addresses. It also authorizes government agents to visit a voter’s home to make sure that it is the voter’s primary residence. A domicile exception is typically extended to college students. SB3 is designed to tighten this up by requiring that college students provide letters, or other paperwork, proving their domiciliaries when they register to vote.
The NH Democratic party, the League of Women Voters and three individual voters are suing the state over this law, under a single lawsuit, which they believe will keep people who are legally entitled to vote from voting.
In September, Hillsborough County Judge Charles Temple placed a temporary restraining order on the state to keep officials from imposing any of the criminal penalties part of the law. “The average voter seeking to register for the first time very well may decide that casting a vote is not worth a possible, $5,000 fine, a year in jail, or throwing himself/herself at the mercy of the prosecutor’s discretion. To the Court, these provisions of SB3 act as a very serious detriment on the right to vote, and if there is a “compelling” need for them, the Court has yet to see it.” Temple wrote.
In spite of this lawsuit, on Jan 3, the Senate passed HB372, which further tightens eligibility requirements for voters.
The state of NH has refused to comply with a request for a voter database, which the plaintiffs believe will prove that there is no issue to address. The state claimed that the information is not relevant to the case at hand and it contains privileged information that cannot be released.
In April, Judge Temple rejected these arguments and compelled the state to hand over the electronic voter database as well as make available communications about the law as it is being legislated. In addition, a protective order must be crafted to keep sensitive information private.
Three Republican legislators involved in crafting SB3 – Kathleen Hoelzel, Barbara Griffin & Regina Birdsell – filed motions to squash subpoenas seeking information that they had proving or disproving instances of voter fraud before last year’s vote. In July, Judge Brown ruled in their favor. However, the Judge granted the prosecution to right to depose attorneys Bud Fitch and Matthew Broadhead.
The parties are having difficulty agreed upon the content of the protective order. Asst Attorney General Anne Edwards wants the court to support keeping dates of birth, dates of naturalization and places of birth out of the public record when the database is handed over to the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs filed a motion in response.
A hearing on the protective order was held on May 8. At that hearing, Judge Temple suggested that he recuse himself as the judge in this case going forward due to a close friendship with Attorney Byron Gould, who was recently hired by the state Attorney General’s office. The litigants suggested instead that Attorney Gould be barred from the case.
In June, Judge Temple did recuse himself. Judge Brown has taken over the case, which has moved to Manchester. One of his first rulings will be to consider the state’s request that he prevent three college professors from testifying on behalf of the plaintiffs. Their testimony will cover:
The state now asserts that the issue is not voter fraud, but rather the opportunity for voter fraud.
With the move to Manchester, the trial, scheduled to begin on August 20, 2018, is being rescheduled.
In the meantime, in July, the Governor signed HB1264 into law after the NH Supreme Court ruled on its constitutionality. Heretofore, out-of-state students attending institutions such as Dartmouth College or UNH must have a NH driver’s license or NH non-drivers ID to vote in NH.
In January 2019, the NH Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision and denied the plaintiffs usage of the state’s voter database to argue that the law unfairly burdens those who are more likely to support their party.
And the saga continues …..
Is voter fraud really an issue in NH? The Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program is aimed at preventing voter fraud by identifying duplicate voter registration records among those voluntarily provided by states. Though there are some concerns over security and results, 28 states participated after the 2016 general election. Out of 94, 610 voters, approximately 140 records were required further investigation – 51 of which were sent to the Attorney General’s office.
Per the NH Grassroots Newsletter of Jan 2:
“Why this matters: On November 28th, an amendment to HB 372, authored by Republican Senators Regina Birdsell and Jim Gray, passed the Senate Election Law Committee on a 3-2 party-line vote. The bill would redefine “domicile” status for voting purposes, effectively forcing registrants to declare residency upon registering to vote, chilling the right to vote for college students in New Hampshire. By forcing students to declare residency, this bill would act as a de facto poll tax, moving the goal posts on students who are legally allowed to vote in New Hampshire.”