Portsmouth Memorial Bridge at night
Welcome to my webpage. If you vote at the Senior Activity Center, 125 Cottage St., you are considered to be in Ward 3 by the City and District 27 by the State of New Hampshire. On this page I'll highlight some of my local goals and issues important to me as well as providing some updates on current issues that affect either Ward 3 directly, or that affect all of us in New Hampshire. I'll also mention issues or bills that need immediate attention and will list individuals and contact information so that you, as a NH resident, can contact office-holders and decision-makers prior to important decisions. This is part of what democracy is all about today. Please be an active participant.

But First, A Reality Check for NH:

For those of you who have not spent much time in NH, and especially not in Concord observing state politics, you may be surprised (or maybe not) to discover, that despite which party has the majority in the House, the Senate and even has their governor in office, NH’s budgets and state administration does not seem to change noticeably. The truth (as I see it) is that our state is woefully underfunded (10-25% based on outside auditors) with respect to our obligations (e.g. education, infrastructure, social services, correctional facilities, mental health services, pensions, etc.) and relies too heavily on the local property tax. On top of this situation, our state has very limited sources of funding. For example, most businesses pay no or only a small amount of business taxes, since their profits can be distributed to partners or employees as bonuses, and go untaxed because we have no income tax. At the same time, there is a fear by lawmakers of raising any taxes or fees, whether gasoline, tolls, or business taxes, even when these are desperately needed, like during a pandemic or recession. Unless this situation changes, don’t expect any big improvements in NH’s quality of life issues. I personally think that our state needs to make fundamental and structural changes.

My Goals and Issues

Update on Current Local Issues

Unfortunately, despite a visit by the Governor’s senior assistant, Harold Parker (see Letters section-Local Topics), to the Pannaway neighborhood, on April 24, 2018 no action was undertaken by the Governor to assist this neighborhood. That visit included Bill Cass of NHDOT, who suggested he would work on this issue. In the meantime, NHDOT has become more involved by designating the Pannaway Manor project as their first pilot project for Type II noise abatement, that process included on-site measurements and evaluation performed by NHDOT. This first step was made possible by the efforts of the City of Portsmouth, which stepped up to fulfill all of the Type II requirements, including committing to an approximately 20% funding share. In the meantime, the gas utility, Unitil, has installed extra safety barriers between Route 95 and its gas utility shed. While planning to remove that installation by the end of 2019 intially, it now appears that as the result of the pandemic, a removal will not occur before 2021.

I have also reached out to our two US senators for their help, in light of the fact that this is a federal highway. Both Chris Scott of Senator Shaheen’s office and Kerry Holmes of Senator Hassan’s office have agreed to look into the matter, however, nothing has developed from this offer to date. I am greatly indebted to Representative Laura Pantelakos for her fervent championing of this cause, as well as Representative Jackie Cali-Pitts

Update on State Issues

The legislature has not been in session since March 2020 as the result of the pandemic. Because of the need to social distance, while the state senate was able to meet in Representative’s Hall(normally the home of the House of Represenative’s 400 members of the House, who have difficulty finding a space large enough to safely meet). As a temporary measure, the House met 3 times in July and September at the Whitemore Center of the University of New Hampshire to complete its legal obligations as a body.

While it was understandable for the Governor to issue an emergency order including specific restrictions, he also insisted that there be no oversight of how he spends federal appropriations designated for New Hampshire. While a majority of the legislature finds this current situation unacceptable, so far there has not been a resolution of the conflict either by the courts or by way of a compromise between the Executive and the Legislative branches.

The 2019 legislative session included the passage of a budget that, after resolution of issues with the Governor, provided more aid to municipalities, schools and general assistance, while at the same time not increasing business taxes. On the other hand, many good bill, some with bipartisan support, were passed only to be subsequently vetoed by the Governor. These bills included a minimum wage increase, increasing energy efficiency programs, targeted aid for education, and more support for renewable energy. Unfortunately, a 2/3 rds. majority was not reached to override most of these good bills.

On the positive side, the Governor finally gave a green light for offshore wind energy by agreeing to join the federal taskforce formed by BOEM(the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management), which works to approve offshore wind energy leases. I am grateful to have been appointed to this taskforce representing New Hamphire. This taskforce is comprised of representation from NH along with Maine and Massachusetts.

2020 got off to a positive start when many forward-looking bills with respect to energy issues (Net-metering increase to 5 MW and energy efficiency funding, and increasing the electric vehicle charging station network), as well as bills to make vehicle registration fees more equitable, while earmarking funds to support the construction of sound abatement project for Type II sites. Other bills included red flag protection orders regarding firearms, protective orders against the exploitation of elderly residents, criminal justice reforms, gun safety laws and additional funding of education. Finally, a major bill proposed the elimination of the death penalty in New Hampshire (which was lethal injection) and its replacement with life without parole. This resulted in an emotional and passionate debate and was an important moment in New Hampshire history, when despite a veto by the Governor, the NH House with a bipartisan vote eliminated the death penalty with a 2/3 rds. majority by only 1 vote.

Unfortunately, in March 2020 as the result of the pandemic, all activities in Concord came to a sudden halt, and has still not resumed at its normal level. One lowlight of the abbreviated session was, the time devoted to issuing reprimands to 13 Republican State Representatives, who after having been given over 1 year to attend a Sexual Harrassment Training course, refused to do so, even though by House rule this was required (passed on a 284 to 92 vote) of all representatives, staff and employees at the State House (made necessary by past incidences). Only 7 of these representatives were issued reprimands, while 6 others were spared when the time ran out for the House to meet. In addition, after this incident, Republicans blocked efforts to extend legislative deadlines that were casualties of the pandemic, but suggested that they could agree if Democrats retracted all 13 reprimands. Democrats, however, refused to be blackmailed.

During the summer of 2020, a number of the Democratic members of the ST&E committee, along with a state senator and other energy stakeholders, put together a white paper titled: “2020 Action Plan for NH Renewable Energy” (this document can be found on this website: go to Links to Documents, then State Topics, then 2020 Action Plan). Also, one of the accomplishments of the 2020 session was the signing by the Governor of a bill sponsored by Senator David Watters to create an Offshore Wind Energy and Port Development Commission to promote economic development of offshore wind energy to benefit New Hampshire. I am excited about being appointed to this commission which has a lot of work to do before wind energy starts to flow into NH’s energy network.

Independent of the legislature, which did not choose to act on my bill to enhance radioactive safety in the Emergency Planning Zone around the Seabrook nuclear power plant, I launched a private fund-raising effort, the Citizens’ Initiative for Real-Time Monitoring, which successfully raised $42,000 in private donations and is installing and upgrading 5 real-time monitors in New Hampshire (a capability that our state agencies currently do not have). The first such monitoring device was installed at a site in Seabrook in October, while a second monitor as well as the full update of 3 other sites will be completed by the end of the year. This network will record real-time data (updated every ~15 minutes) for beta and gamma radiation, will compile a monthly report and will make that report available to the public upon request.

Take Action on Issues

If you wish to contact Governor Chris Sununu (concerning noise abatement, energy issues, gun safety or state agencies ) his telephone number is (603) 271-2121 or by email: Chris.Sununu@nh.gov.

The Executive Council (concerning noise abatement, funding from tolls) can be reached at tel. (603) 271-3632 or by email: gcweb@nh.gov

NHDOT c/o Bill Cass, (concerning noise abatement, or state agency issues ) his telephone number is (603) 271-1484 and email: wcass@dot.state.nh.us

Speaker of the House c/o Steve Shurtleff (concerning state or agency issues) he can be reached at tel. (603) 271-2136 or by email: steve.shurtleff@leg.state.nh.us

Senate President Donna Soucy, (concerning state or agency issues) her telephone number is (603) 271-3040 and email: donna.soucy@leg.state.nh.us

House Majority (Democratic) Leader Doug Ley (concerning state matters) he can be reached at tel. (603) 532-8556 or by email: douglas.ley@leg.state.nh.us

House Minority (Republican) Leader Richard Hinch (concerning state matters) he can be reached at tel. (603) 261-6317 or by email: dick.hinch@leg.state.nh.us