Bragdon's wise call: No question of his integrity
A few thoughts on last week's events involving state Senate President Peter Bragdon being hired to head the troubled LGC (Local Government Center) and the reaction to it, including the scurrilous yet laughable questioning of his integrity by Democratic Party hacks.
It happens that Bragdon is one of the most honorable of men to have served in the New Hampshire Senate. As with his many years of service on the Milford School Board, Bragdon has put in long hours and done an admirable job in a voluntary but nonetheless important post at the State House.
His announcement on Friday that he will step down and call the Senate into session to choose a new president is the right thing to do.
It comes as no surprise to those who know him that, having had time to consider the matter, Bragdon would take this course. We suspect that it is the personal and political integrity of the man that prevented him from realizing sooner that the dual roles of Senate president and head of LGC would be perceived as potential conflicts of interest.
Bragdon knows that he would have recused himself from any conflicts between his Senate presidency and the LGC, as do those with whom he works. Trouble is, there are too many people who don't know him and the last thing the LGC needs right now is further mistrust.
The LGC is wise to want to hire Bragdon. His record of finding solutions in government speaks for itself (despite last week's knee-jerk Democrat smearing). His Senate Republican majority has been key to fashioning relatively sensible state budgets. His record in the private sector includes experience in the very kind of health insurance oversight with which the LGC is involved.
What is too easily forgotten is that a citizen Legislature, virtually unpaid, has members who need to work for a living, unless they are retired or well-heeled or both. Holding down a day job in the private sector is fairly common; and most legislators who have one are able to steer clear of conflicts of interest.
It can be argued, too, that being active in the business world is of great help in making sure government understands the real world's issues.
The alternative to this way of governing is to have a "professional'' Legislature with huge salaries and bigger benefits, which usually leads to a smaller body (because the cost is so high), and to continued conflicts and out-and-out corruption on a scale that New Hampshire manages to avoid.
We are happy to see, for the sake of his constituents and New Hampshire, that Peter Bragdon will remain the senator from District 11. His experience and thoughtfulness are needed now as much as they ever were.