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Friday, November 6, 2009

Bouchard: Nothing frivolous in court spending

House Public Works Chair Candace Bouchard justifies $17 million to renovate the Hillsborough County Courthouse in Manchester, when only $2 million is going towards asbestos removal.
There were significant safety concerns with the Hillsborough North courthouse that needed to be fixed. Asbestos had to be removed from the courthouse; not removing it was not an option.

Policy-makers looked at several alternatives and worked diligently to identify the most cost-effective approach to addressing this health safety issue. In 2007, the decision was made to remove asbestos from the courthouse. But after additional review and inspection, it turned out that this was not an option. Without renovating the interior, it would have been impossible to remove the asbestos and do necessary wiring and duct work.

1 comment:

  1. The Representative's rant was a respnse to my op-ed, which exposed this $15 million boondongle. Just a quick response to the Representative’s rant, which is really all it deserves.

    The Representative begins by claiming: “Edward Mosca gets his facts wrong.” According to her, what is a “fact” is that “Without renovating the interior, it would have been impossible to remove the asbestos and do necessary wiring and duct work.” This hardly qualifies as a fact. It is an assertion that the Representative does not support with any facts. It also begs a number of questions: Why not? Who says so? What is “necessary” wiring and duct work? That is, are we simply replacing what we have or are we doing more? Is the full $15 million in renovations necessary to remove the asbestos?

    It certainly does not appear that the full $15 million is necessary to remove the asbestos. The Representative writes that: “there is only one major improvement included in the renovation plans: a sally port to safely transfer prisoners in and out of the building.” So we are not just putting things back the way they were. Of course, what is a “major improvement” and what is “minor improvement” is in the eyes of the beholder. Just how much of the $15 million in renovations necessary to remove the asbestos, and how much constitutes “major” and “minor” improvements?

    The Representative cannot be taken seriously. She writes: “Furthermore, Mosca suggests this will cost the taxpayers $17 million in a year that budgets are tight. This is false and is an irresponsible attempt to scare the people of New Hampshire. The renovations will cost the state less than $1 million this year. Let's not confuse the state's biennial operating budget - the general day-to-day activities and expenses for all branches of state government - with the state's capital budget that deals with bonded projects for the construction, renovation, improvement and acquisition of buildings and facilities in the state.” What a totally fatuous argument! There is no money tree behind the Statehouse that pays for the “capital budget” versus the “operating budget.” The taxpayer pays for both.

    She also writes: “the renovation of the courthouse will provide construction jobs.” Then, why don’t we build new county courthouses in every county? Indeed, why don’t we have multiple county courthouses, if building county courthouses is such a job creator? What the Representative conveniently leaves out is that jobs are lost whenever government takes money from us to “create” jobs. Has she looked at the price tag for the jobs the “stimulus” has supposedly “created”?

    The Representative also misrepresents the op-ed to which she purports to be responding: “Asbestos had to be removed from the courthouse; not removing it was not an option.” Who said anything about not removing the asbestos “from the [Manchester] courthouse”? The two main points of the op-ed were that we don’t need the Manchester courthouse, given that the Nashua courthouse can accommodate both operations, and if we do keep the Manchester courthouse we shouldn’t be doing anything more than fixing the asbestos problem at a time when the Democrats out-of-control spending has bankrupted us at both the State and federal levels.

    According to the Representative, one county courthouse is not an option because “During the 18 months that the court is being renovated, there will be fewer judges in the Nashua court than the judicial weighted caseload shows is needed for Hillsborough County.” Representative, do you really expect the “judicial weighted caseload” to say that the judiciary can get by with less? The judiciary, like you, believe that only the taxpayers can get by with less.