In 2012 I was recruited to run for office to serve as state representative for Belmont. At the time, the filing period had closed and Republicans had no candidates for both seats. I was convinced to run, and had the good fortune to meet Dr. Chuck Fink. Together we ran a write-in campaign for the primary election that September. We both shared a desire for a limited government as was beautifully documented in our constitutions. On primary day hundreds of people made the effort to write-in Fink and Sylvia. We went on to win in November, serve the people of Belmont, and become good friends.
This year Republicans are fired up. The past two years with Democrats controlling the house and senate in Concord have shown us what happens when Republicans sit out an election, and that’s not happening this year. The only thing that saved the state from becoming Massachusetts North was the governor and his willingness to risk writer’s cramp vetoing that landslide of horrible legislation.
I am running to serve my fifth term in Concord to continue to hold the line against those seeking to expand government. Over the past 8 years I have gained an in depth knowledge of the legislative process in Concord and I will put it to good use for the citizens of Belmont.
Many new state representatives learn what a county delegation is, only after their election. The primary function of the delegation is appropriating funds required for county operations. Learning the ins and outs of the county budget took a few years. I can now confidently say I know it very well. I consider every dollar spent by the county to be a dollar taken from the person with the least to give. To say I take it seriously is an absolute truism.
Having seen many come and go through the seats in Concord, one thing is clear; those who get re-elected do so because they are true to their word. People may disagree on points here and there but when your actions match your words they cannot question your integrity. I believe I meet this standard.
In 2012 the people of Belmont took a leap of faith on an unknown man willing to make a commitment. In 2018 the Belknap County delegation made me their chairman. On September 8th I ask for your support and your vote in the Republican primary.
Our NH Constitution is the foundation of our republic, without it we would have no state government. Part I of this fundamental document speaks not about the government, but of the rights reserved to the people which are not necessary to the operation of a government. The process of establishing the state government, and assigning only those powers necessary, is outlined in Part II. The reservation of rights in Part I is commonly called the bill of rights.
“Part I, [Art.] 8. All power residing originally in, and being derived from, the people, all the magistrates and officers of government are their substitutes and agents, and at all times accountable to them. Government, therefore, should be open, accessible, accountable and responsive. To that end, the public’s right of access to governmental proceedings and records shall not be unreasonably restricted.”
If we place that in the context of rights reserved by the people, we can see that government should have no secrets. We can observe the qualification ‘unreasonably restricted’ and understand this to be a very high hurdle.
The statutes set the law enforcing Part I, Art. 8 in chapter 91-A, also called our ‘right to know’ law. It starts with a preamble: “Openness in the conduct of public business is essential to a democratic society. The purpose of this chapter is to ensure both the greatest possible public access to the actions, discussions and records of all public bodies, and their accountability to the people.” Greatest possible access!
The House of Representative also incorporates this noble goal in its rules: “110. Open Meetings. All meetings of any committee of the House and Senate shall be open to the public subject to the provisions of N.H. RSA 91-A.”
With all of this as background, the House will again be meeting away from our historic chamber, away from public view. You see our temporary accommodations in Durham excludes the public from the arena. The substitute for the gallery is a computer screen. The view for the public is selected by a camera operator. Interaction between the representatives and the public is eliminated. Greatest possible access?
Were this this worst violation of the people’s rights, that would be bad enough. It does get worse; public hearings on tremendous mash-ups of legislation were cobbled together in the senate. Did the public have access to their senators in that process? Was it a meaningful public hearing? Was the public heard?
The majority in the House has shown its disregard for the constitution, the statutes, and their own rules. Twice this year alone they ignored the rules and when the Speaker was challenged, they demonstrate the evil of pure democracy; might makes right. They are happy to toss away any glimmer of principles and deprive the minority of the justice found in a republican form of government. When challenged on their violation of the public’s access to their government, they will happily vote away the people’s rights; majority rule is their only rule.
The 2018 Democrat campaign theme was all about their desire for bipartisanship in government. Well, it looks like they’ll try to work that one again this year. They are going to have a slight problem with that old song and dance this year as the past two years have shown their true nature. Contrary to their words, their deeds told the truth, and their actions proved their only philosophy; my way or the highway.
If you recall their first year controlling the legislature in Concord, they pushed through legislation that would make Marx blush. Their ‘bipartisan’ efforts produced a record setting number of vetoes from the governor, almost all of them upheld by the legislature only because a 2/3 vote is required to override a veto. It’s pretty clear that their campaign promises of 2018 were nothing but hot air.
Continuing their iron fisted rule into 2020, when true efforts to work together were necessary as virus concerns short circuited all normal proceedings, they refused to include the minority in discussions toward an orderly continuation of legislative duties. Not only did their proposed calendar of business disregard Republicans, it cut out all citizens from hearings on proposed legislation. Having excluded the minority from the process their proposition was ‘take it or leave it’. With much of the legislation being retreads from round one of their record setting partisanship, it would be foolish to send this back to the governor for more vetoes. Once again I’ll be happy to claim the title of ‘obstructionist’ if the alternative is to passively accept tyranny. Not on my watch.
Unfortunately the minority will not be able to stop the D.C. styled
omnibus Senate Frankenstein bills coming to us on the 30th. Call the
governor, and send him some more red veto pens. We’ll need another round
of vetoes to stop these monstrous abominations disguised as legislation.
Friday March 13, 2020 started very early for the House of Representatives in Concord, as we where still working the session that had begun 14 hours prior to midnight. We were up late working because of the failure of the Democrat majority to properly handle the scheduling of House business. Perhaps they should have skipped the day wasted reprimanding legislators for NOT violating the House rules.
Earlier in the day (Thursday the 12th) there was concern that a member of the House might have been in contact with a person who may have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 in the recent past. COVID-19 was not yet a household word but it was becoming a lead story in the news. With a push to get bills to second committees prior to crossover, we finished our session around 4 a.m. By 5:15 p.m. the Governor would declare a state of emergency to deal with the coming pandemic of COVID-19.
In mid-March of 2020 no one would question the proper coarse of action taken by the Governor. The models touted by experts warned of hospitals being overrun with seriously ill patients, many of whom would be in ICU units and require ventilators to be kept alive. At the expiration of the first declaration of the state of emergency, preparations were underway for the coming surge of COVID-19 patients, hospitals stopped taking elective procedures and furloughed doctors and nurse to be ready for the surge.
At the end of the second 21 day state of emergency, it was becoming clear that our hospitals would not be overrun with COVID-19 patients. Hospitals operated with over 90 percent of their beds available through the surge.
With many executive orders in place limiting social behavior the Governor was in a difficult position. If he did not continue the state of emergency all of the executive orders would be removed and business would be restored to its regular statutory controls. People had been terrified by the media’s exaggerated claims and would proceed with extreme caution for the most part. He viewed the option to end the state of emergency as too risky, in part because he might be targeted with responsibility for those who would die from the disease.
While the Governor wrestled with running the state from the corner office, depending on information for the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization (much of which was backed by faulty models), the Democrat majority legislature sat back and only spoke up to fruitlessly sue for control of Federal funds. The abysmal reporting by the media would allow you to think the Governor prohibited the legislature from meeting. The only thing stopping the legislature from meeting was the Democrat leadership (the term used very loosely). Other than the inability to get their hands on the Federal funds they have been happy to leave all the work of managing a fading crisis in the hands of the Governor. There is little doubt in my mind that they love the precedent being set and look forward to using such powers with the flimsiest excuse in the future.
Now, at the start of June, it is very clear that this disease is almost entirely a problem affecting people in long term care facilities. Attention must be focused on the vulnerable and the rest of us need to be aware of contacts that may be connected to those facilities. We need to get on with living. Those who wish to isolate themselves waiting for a vaccine will be waiting for a very long time. The rest of us will be out building natural herd immunity and living.
House Speaker Shurtleff and Senate President Soucy have cooked up a pageant to give the appearance of ‘doing the people’s work’, by scheduling an abbreviated calendar of events to close out the session. The outcome they desire is to stuff the Democrats’ wish list into a few bills and send them off to the Governor for vetoes; campaign theatrics, pure and simple. Republicans, being in the minority, have one tool; stopping a rule change (which requires 2/3 of those voting). It is a tool that must be used to stop the sham of appearing to do the people’s work. Pretending to be productive is simply lying and wasting tax money putting on a show. Democrats will cry “obstruction”; that’s fine, stopping sewage from flowing into the lake is obstruction of which to be proud.
On Monday February 24, the Belknap County delegation met to complete its work on the 2020 budget. The grand total of expense lines total $30,829,837, an increase over the 2019 budget of $827,065. While the budget over budget increase appears to be in line with inflation at 2.75%, the increase as compared to the actual 2019 spending is approximately 5.7%. This means that in order to avoid out running inflation the administration will have to control spending to $30,053,004. This is far from a tall order as there is plenty of excess built in to provide for operational savings.
On the revenue side the budget expects to bring in $15,168,250 and uses $891,080 from undesignated fund balance, leaving $14,770,507 to be raised from taxes. This is the same tax level as last year.
In 2018 taxes were needlessly raised by over 14% which has led to a very flush fund balance held in reserve, which sits at approximately $4.2 million. You should understand that is money that was taken from taxpayers unnecessarily. It represents 13% of operational expenses sitting in the county’s bank account not the citizens’.
The delegation also, on Monday, approved cost items for three collective bargaining agreements. The unit covering the sheriff’s department gives 3% step increases each year over the 3 year term. The Corrections department and the Nursing Home both will receive 5% steps each year for the 4 years of the contract. Each of these contracts will, over time, bring the employee’s contribution toward health insurance up to 10%.
Harassment, particularly sexual harassment, is a serious issue. As one of those reprimanded by the House, I can assure you that I do not take sexual harassment lightly. I take it as seriously as I do our constitution. Contrary to the baseless false allegation made by the majority of the House, I did in fact attend sexual harassment training lead by Rep. Jess Edwards.
As one of the chairmen of the House Republican Alliance, I attended the first of Rep. Edwards training sessions on January 15, 2019. The HRA sponsored this training and raised funds for Best Buddies New Hampshire in the process.
Why didn’t I just say so? The so called ‘rule 67’ reads “All legislators, legislative officers, and legislative staff shall attend in-person education and training regarding sexual and other unlawful harassment and discrimination.” As you can see this rule says nothing about reporting the training has been completed, it does not instruct as to when it must be accomplished, nor does it say how often it must be taken. If this were a legitimate rule it would give guidance that would answer such questions.
On a more fundamental note, this rule is outside the constitutional authority of the General Court. Our constitution provides in Part II, [Art.] 22. [House to Elect Speaker and Officers, Settle Rules of Proceedings, and Punish Misconduct.] The house of representatives shall choose their own speaker, appoint their own officers, and settle the rules of proceedings in their own house; and shall be judge of the returns, elections, and qualifications, of its members, as pointed out in this constitution. Rule 67 has nothing to do with proceedings of the House, it is a mandate pushed for political posturing.
The letter writer seems to think that I was mocking the serious issue of harassment which is completely wrong. The Speaker of the House, and the Democrat majority were using the people’s House as a political platform from which they launched a campaign to humiliate Republicans. They disgraced themselves by turning the General Court into a kangaroo court.
Their show was lead by Rep. Lucy Weber, who went to the well of the House and repeatedly read a false charge against the accused. No questions were allowed to be asked about the charge. No evidence was presented to support the allegations. None of the accused would be allowed to face their accuser. The rule of the proceeding was what ever the Speaker allowed, and his rulings would be supported by the majority in a lock-step vote. There was no place for the rule of law in this farcical theater of the absurd. Mob rule is the way of this Democratic majority; and that I do mock.
Thursday February 20, 2020 will stand as the darkest day I have witness in my 7 years in the House. Democratic colleagues with whom I’ve worked cordially in the past shredded those relationships for the sake of scoring political points. They were once respected but now have revealed their true nature. Being civil will be the best I can muster.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 16, 2019 CONTACT: James Spillane, HRA Tri-Chair (603) 463-5623 James@jamesspillane.org Concord: On Tuesday January 15, 2019 the House Republican Alliance held a training session on workplace behavior, with the Honorable Representative Jess Edwards as instructor, to 31 Republican members of the New Hampshire House. The presentation by Representative Edwards gave the full range of possible problems that can arise in House business through deliberate or accidental encounters with others, as well as the actions that should be taken by those involved. Of primary focus was not only prevention of a Hostile workplace, but the legislative and litigious history explaining how Hostile Workplace and Harassment laws have reached this point. The handling of all sides of any unfortunate encounter was thoroughly discussed, providing insight and direction whether accuser or accused, and whether allegations be true or falsely sworn. The HRA raised $362 for Best Buddies New Hampshire through donations by those attending the class. Of the training Rep. Mike Sylvia said “I think the choice to donate to BBNH was excellent, they demonstrate that working together cooperatively produces the best results. This is in sharp contrast to the beliefs of the House majority who use bullying at every turn.” At the conclusion Representative James Spillane thanked Representative Edwards for a very professional, concise, and thorough presentation, and added “The information regarding the history of litigation and lawmaking that brought us to this point in history was especially of interest to us, as lawmakers, I believe.” The House Republican Alliance was established in 1997 and is the longest running caucus in the NH House of Representatives. Its goal is to pass legislation consistent with the US and NH Constitutions, and that represents the core values of the state Republican platform and fiscal responsibility.
In 2018 Democrats running for state representative seats in
Concord proclaimed the need for bipartisanship. They won a
majority in the house and senate with their campaign promises. The
truth became clear very soon after they swore their oath to our
constitution; they had the majority and they intended to subject
the minority to their rule.
Their first move in the house was to violate their oath to our constitution by making a ‘rule’ mandating training. The constitution reads; “Part II, [Art.] 22. [House to Elect Speaker and Officers, Settle Rules of Proceedings, and Punish Misconduct.] The house of representatives shall choose their own speaker, appoint their own officers, and settle the rules of proceedings in their own house; and shall be judge of the returns, elections, and qualifications, of its members, as pointed out in this constitution.” As you can clearly see rules are to govern proceedings in the house.
The rule passed by
the Democrats reads; “Rule 67. All legislators, legislative
officers, and legislative staff shall attend in-person education
and training regarding sexual and other unlawful harassment and
discrimination.” Not only is this not a rule governing a
proceeding in the house, it is an unbounded mandate imposed upon
duly elected members. As it is not in compliance with the
constitution, it is a nullity.
New members of the house came in promising bipartisanship, but what they actually intend to do is carry out their campaign of ‘social justice’. They intend to replace our common moral principles with their self aggrandizing ‘virtue signalling‘. They intend to replace the republic our forefathers bequeathed to us with ‘our democracy‘.
The democracy that
they seek is simply tyranny by the majority and this is undeniably
seen in their actions. They have put forward legislation that
would make California and New York blush. Fortunately, Governor
Sununu has stood firm against the most egregious of these assaults
on our liberties. Again in the second year of this term, having no
intention of putting forward sensible legislation, they have
brought back the same bills that were vetoed last year, and will
be vetoed again this year.
This campaign by
the social justice warriors is not about helping the citizens of
this state, it is political posturing of the kind found in the
District of Columbia. It demeans the dignity of our house and our
long standing traditions.
I will not submit
to this tyrannical, unconstitutional action. I will proudly accept
a badge of honor from those who will reprimand my stand against
this assault on our republic.
GILFORD, NH — Belknap County-owned Gunstock ski area is in
for some changes as its longtime general manager and its marketing
director leave. And legislation is proposed to give legislative leaders
more control over the makeup of its governing board and the ski area’s
The writer kicks off this article with a pretty clear bias
against legislators. The FACT is the legislators and the commission
worked together to address deficiencies in the law that unduly
restricted Gunstock from more efficient operation.
News of the change at the helm in the middle of the ski
season came a day before legislation was heard on a bill to give the
county legislative delegation more control over who operates Gunstock
and where the money goes.
As to management of the ski area, it is functionally the end of the year and time to begin planning for future operations. As to ‘the money‘, this is more than a small quibble for control of a couple of bucks. The ski area has been rescued by the county taxpayers twice in recent decades. The last was a $6,000,000 bailout in 2000. If you can be bothered to do the math, there is hardly a return on investment, if you chose to look at in such terms.
The current law states that no more than one person from
the same municipality can serve on the board but the bill looks to drop
that requirement and it would add term limits.
The current law states that no more than one two persons from the same municipality can serve on the board.
The Gunstock Area Commission has a regularly scheduled meeting set for Jan. 29 at 6 p.m. at the ski area.
As the year comes to a close, we will soon have final budget figures for 2019. There are two possible labor cost items that may effect the 2020 budget that will be considered on Monday the 30th. There are a number of items which were not in the 2019 budget for which the commissioners believe they can encumber funds. I consider this to be a misappropriation of funds from the 2019 budget; other than the funding for Community Health Services Network, LLC., the monies being spent are for items which lacked a 2019 appropriation.
A long running dispute over appropriation authority seemed to have been settled with a ruling from the Belknap Superior court. On March 3, 2015 the county commissioners signed off on a stipulation agreement. The ruling reaffirmed the provisions of RSA 24:14 and further acknowledged that the delegation has appropriation authority down to individual lines in the budget. With no regard for the law and the clear direction of the delegation, the commissioners have allowed 5 departments in the nursing home to exceed their appropriations for 2019. The commissioners, having been caught, are now claiming that the nursing home is a department all to itself. This is pure nonsense. Department defined; a category consisting especially of a measurable activity or attribute. In our budgets these are segments which are divide out and considered separately. For instance, ‘outside agencies’ are not part of the county government, yet they are grouped together as a unit within the budget. As to the nursing home, the minutes of the delegation’s votes on February 20, 2019 explicitly refer to 7 of the 11 distinct segments as “departments.” Even commissioner Waring asked about staffing in the “activities department” (only found in the nursing home) at the December 19, 2019 commissioners’ meeting.
The delegation appropriated $30,002,772 to cover county expenses in 2019. As we come to a close of the year we see that final figures for the gift to Community Health Services Network, LLC. has not been determined. So for 2019the only amount given was the appropriation of 2018 of $759,505. The remaining $1,152,510 will be included in the excess taxation figure which the commissioners euphemistically call ‘operational savings’. That will bring the ‘operational savings’ figure for the year to $1,735,763 (Dec 18, 2019). When we deduct that from the amount appropriated we get $28,267,009 that was needed to run the county in2019. Actually that number is a bit high and does not account for the misappropriations made during the year.
Now for the 2020 budget the commissioners have asked for $31,982,847 (which does not account for new labor agreements). This is a 13% increase over 2019 spending. Because the 2019 budget was so inflated they can claim it is ONLY a 6.6% increase budget over budget.
On the revenue side of the budget game the county brought in $810,932 more than estimated. This is money you were taxed and will be rolled into the fund balance. Fund balance is money the commissioners prefer to keep in their accounts so they have it available, and you don’t.
On Thursday,December 19, 2019 the Belknap Superior court issued its ruling in the case of Town of Belmont v. Mike Sylvia. The court ordered an injunction against the use of my property, and awarded attorney’s fees to be paid to the town. They held in abeyance any fines for prior use of my own property.
At the heart of this
issue is the people’s right to ownership of property. To own a
thing is to have control of that thing. If one owns and controls an
object then he has a right to use that property as he sees fit as
long as his use harms no other. If one is truly an owner there is no
need to ask for permission to use that which is owned. To be required
to seek permission to use ones own property, such as applying for a
building permit, is contrary to our right of holding property.
The New Hampshire
constitution, upon which our government claims authority, is a
beloved document which I hold in high esteem. It predates the
founding of the united States and is by far a better constitution
than the U.S. Constitution. It was made clear prior to the formation
of the New Hampshire state government that the construction of a
government could not come into being until the inalienable rights of
the people were documented. Therefore, before the republic was
established in Part II of the New Hampshire constitution, Part I
reserved to the people of the state all the essential rights which
were unnecessary to a proper government. Only after our rights were
reserved did we then parse out powers that would be necessary to a
We the people of New
Hampshire surrendered up only such authority as would be needed to
form a society which could work together for the protection of all
citizens. This exchange was to protect our rights to life, liberty,
property and the pursuit of happiness.
Among the proper
roles of our government is to assure against trespasses upon its
citizens. If the actions of one person reaches into harming the
rights of another citizen the state was empowered with what is know
as the police power of the state. All of the reserved rights of Part
I were held as private rights which would be protected by the state;
lacking that protection the constitution is null.
In the case at hand
the court has ruled that I have harmed the Town of Belmont. I did not
go to the Town and ask for permission to use my property. The harm
alleged is that I have violated a Town ordinance. I posit that the
Town’s ordinance is in violation of my Part I protected right to
the ownership and peaceful enjoyment of my property. As we all should
know, any law made in violation of our constitution is a nullity. The
Town has not protected my right to property, it has failed to do so.
As we go onward from
here, I want to express my gratitude for friends and neighbors who
have supported my efforts along the way. I have stood not only for
myself but for the people of Belmont and beyond. So, I ask you; do we
accept that our property is not our own?