It does not surprise that Gov. Maggie Hassan isn’t following the spirit of the new law created to bring citizens’ voices to the Site Evaluation Committee, which has been the voice of government to this point.
But with her first nominations to the new committee, the governor is also skating quite close to the line regarding the letter of the law.
How is it that with a straight face Hassan will seek Executive Council approval today for state Sen. Bob Odell and Rep. Amanda Merrill as “public’’ members?
District 1 Executive Councilor Joe Kenney has it right when he says, “It’s the wrong time and the wrong board.’’
District 3 Councilor Debora Pignatelli asked the right question when she said, “If we truly want a member of the public on the committee, is a lawmaker considered a member of the public?’’
Of course not, which is why people who pushed for the new bill, including fellow legislators, are aghast at Hassan’s choices, even while noting they have nothing against either Odell, who would be the “public’’ member, or Merrill, who would serve as his alternate.
State Sen. Jeanie Forrester, a sponsor of Senate Bill 245, noted her respect for Odell, but said she was “deeply disappointed that the governor did not appoint a member of the public to represent the public interest.’’
While neither nominee has apparently registered an opinion on the Northern Pass electricity project, we understand that proponents of that project are urging council approval. And Odell’s favorable view of wind turbine power certainly prompts questions in that regard.
Bottom line: Gov. Hassan in two short years has little to show for it in the crucial area of power generation. Her first two picks for a committee that is going to have an ever-more important role do nothing for public confidence. The council should reject them.
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