Voter ID, political operatives and my one fan

It’s not often you get positive feedback in this business. So when someone pointed out that Jen Drociak had put the City Hall column down on the UL’s “40 under 40” questionnaire as one of her favorite websites, I was psyched I had included her item. Also, Alderman Bill Shea’s perfect quote made my day.

Aldermen urge state to quash the voter ID bill

The New Hampshire Municipal Association is against it. So are the League of Women Voters, the New Hampshire City & Town Clerks Association and the New Hampshire secretary of state.

And on Tuesday, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen joined the list of opponents to the Voter ID bill.

Manchester City Clerk Matthew Normand rarely injects himself into the political fray, but last week he asked the board to send an opposition letter to the Legislature. It took the aldermen less than 10 minutes on Tuesday to vote to do so.

“Throw this thing in the garbage as far as I’m concerned,” said Alderman Bill Shea. “I don’t think there’s been any record of people in New Hampshire abusing this.”

“The idea of requesting photo identification has merit,” Normand said, but the process laid out in the bill could prove costly and cumbersome.

Under Senate Bill 129, voters without an ID could vote on a provisional ballot. They then would have three days to present a valid ID. This could delay official results and drive up work hours for personnel.

“I’ve always believed if you go to vote, as with cashing a check, you should have a valid ID,’’ said Mayor Ted Gatsas, who in 2005 voted for a voter ID bill in the state Senate. “But I have a real problem if people say there’s a three-day window.”

With this delay, he added, presidential primary candidates could end up heading off to another state before learning who had won in New Hampshire.

The bill is now before the House Finance Committee and will be taken up again later this month.

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THE CHALLENGE OF A CITIZEN LEGISLATURE is balancing the people’s work with the legislators’ duties at their jobs back home. For Rep. Thomas Beattie, R-Manchester, his job at home is tipping the scales.

Since his swearing in, the West Side rep has cast nine votes during two House sessions, including votes to repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, to affirm the states’ powers based on the U.S. Constitution and the New Hampshire Constitution, and to name a bay in Meredith Johnson Bay.

In March, Beattie told the New Hampshire Union Leader he had taken a temporary assignment in Arkansas as an IT consultant and that the expensive plane tickets back home limited how often he could be in Concord.

“It becomes a case of being unemployed and not being able to fulfill my duties at all or (work and) fulfill them best I can,” said Beattie. “I do committee work and handle a lot of that through e-mail, sponsoring bills and heading up to testify.”

Beattie said he is “looking for something more local.”

Attempts to contact Beattie last week for a follow-up were unsuccessful. Calls to the number listed on his House website page went directly to voice mail, which as of Thursday was full.

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MUCH HAS BEEN MADE ABOUT THE LACK of a Democratic mayoral candidate, but city Republicans haven’t been lining up for public office either. The Manchester Republican Committee will meet Monday with the aim of recruiting GOP candidates for aldermen, school committee, moderator and ward selectmen.

“With 12 voting wards in the city and five positions within each ward, we’re looking for a few (well, more than a few) good Republicans who care about their city and want to make a difference in the community by running for office,” said an announcement sent from the MRC last week. “Currently, there is only one Republican on the Board of Alderman and two Republicans on the school board. Are you willing to help us bring a Republican voice to city politics?”

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LOCAL REPUBLICAN OPERATIVE Bernard “BJ” Perry has been nominated to succeed Board of Registrars member Edward Mosca, whose nomination renewal was shot down by the aldermen this month. Perry is director of operations at KRL Electronics, but is better known in political circles for his work with the NHGOP and U.S. Sens. John Sununu and Judd Gregg. The aldermen will vote on the nomination on June 7.

Last Tuesday, the aldermen confirmed James Dunfey, president and CEO of Hampshire First Bank, to the Manchester Development Corporation.

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TAKING ON DOWNTOWN LITTER armed with a 5-gallon bucket and reflective vest is what Curt Payne does. He can be found most days making his way down Elm or Hanover streets, sweeping up cigarette butts or snagging a stray napkin. Payne has taken on this humble task, he said, because he loves the city.

His good deed has not gone unnoticed at City Hall . Mayor Gatsas issued Payne a proclamation during Tuesday’s aldermen meeting. In prepared remarks, Payne thanked his mother “for always being there and raising me to be the man I am today,” his family and supporters.

Payne isn’t the only person keeping the streets of Manchester clean. Parker Diamond has taken on the cause as well.

Gatsas has suggested that drivers could thank Payne and Diamond for their work by giving them a friendly honk as they pass by.

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ANOTHER PROCLAMATION WENT OUT this month to recognized Jen Drociak and the Manchester Urban Pond Restoration Program, which was awarded the EPA 2011 Environmental Protection Award. For more than a decade, Drociak has been coordinating spring cleanups at the city’s six urban ponds: Crystal Lake, Dorrs Pond, McQuesten Pond, Nutts Pond, Pine Island Pond and Stevens Pond. This spring, about 70 people pitched in over three Saturdays, removing 134 bags of trash, 10 tires, seven shopping carts and many other illegally dumped items from the ponds and their shores. Since 2000, volunteers have removed more than 1,600 bags of trash, plus many more items too big to bag.

This despite cuts that have left Drociak and another colleague at NHDES to do the Manchester work on a volunteer basis. The work includes water monitoring that will help the city find sources of pollution and make real strides in improving water quality.

“Prior to the program, these water bodies were not being monitored at all. We really had no concrete data on what nutrients were entering the water,” Drociak said. “Now we have this data, and we’ve actually used this data to de-list Black Brook” from the state’s endangered waterways list.

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