September 14, 2004, 11:30 A.M.
John Lynch: Not Just "Anybody But Benson" I was critical of Craig Benson prior to his election as Governor of New Hampshire and he has done nothing during his tenure to change my opinion. In fact, his actions and those of his staff of ex-business associate "volunteers"" have only serviced to convince me that Craig Benson has no business sitting in the corner office.
It all started with his vision of governing. Mr. Benson believed, and seems to still believe, that government is dysfunctional and that by applying the same techniques that he applied, apparently successfully, in business, he could "run" the government equally successfully. What is missing from the Benson approach is any sense of public trust or notion of what it means to be a public servant. Benson put cronies into government who took advantage of their situation and profited from it, at the publicís expense. He failed to effectively communicate and cooperate with the legislature and has gutted the budgets of numerous state agencies. Most recently, he and Dick Flynn inappropriately collaborated in forcing the resignation of Peter Heed.
Bensonís budget cuts resulted in the loss of troopers to the Department of Safety (but not in cuts to Dick Flynnís administrative budget!), the loss of judges and administrative personnel to the court system, and in serious cutbacks in health and human services, to name a few. Benson has actively courted the Libertarian Free State Project and walked out on the Republican National Convention before the Presidentís speech. Neither of these actions endears Benson to members of his alleged party, and thus render him ineffective in dealing with them. Assuming that there is a chance, now matter how slim, of Bush 43 being re-elected, there is no chance that Rove, Cheney and the Boys will simply "forgive" Bensonís little slaps at the President. A natural consequence is that our congressional delegation will have no easy time of ensuring that New Hampshire gets its fair share of federal money in the future.
Maybe in business Benson didnít really have to think about the long term political consequences of his whimsy. But in government, Benson has been ineffectual and has no real positive accomplishment to point to resulting from his first term in office. He has created a legacy of unethical conduct, cronyism, corruption and incompetence.
Benson may luck out and see a less severe budget deficit than he anticipated (as a result of higher than anticipated revenue, not from his draconian cuts), but still nothing like he promised. In the meantime, he has severely hampered the effective operation of government on many fronts.
Iím supporting John Lynch to replace Benson. John Lynch, like Governor Benson, has a strong and successful background in business. A major difference is that workers in John Lynchís company (Knoll, a large manufacturing company) benefitted from his work. Their kids got scholarships, workers received stock in the company and retirement accounts and most importantly, they kept their jobs. Benson, as governor, couldnít even keep his own company from relocating to Massachusetts.
We deserve better than the Enron-style, greed-driven, corporate philosophy that Benson has practiced. Lynch has demonstrated a strong sense of fiscal responsibility, as well as a sense of compassion and community. Lynch, as chair of the University System of New Hampshire, led the fight to keep tuition affordable for working families, such as those who worked at Knoll. He also fought to keep Catholic Medical Center in Manchester to benefit the community, while its corporate owners sought to shut it down. Fiscal responsibility, tempered with a sense of public accountability, seems to be John Lynchís way.
John Lynch does not support a sales tax or an income tax. Iím not sure that I agree with him and still think that we need to have an open mind on this issue. No solution that could be best for New Hampshire should be excluded. I do agree with him in his commitment to strengthening the stateís system of education, his plan to expand New Hampshireís Healthy Kids program, and to lowering healthcare costs, and his belief that lowering health care costs, improving schools and protecting our environment are critical to New Hampshireís economy and job growth. Now we not only have a candidate that is better than Benson, we have a candidate who is really right for New Hampshire.