Todd Bookman

Reporter

Todd started at NHPR in 2009 as an intern, and in 2011, took over the health beat. He spent two years at WHYY in Philadelphia covering health and science, before returning to NHPR in 2016 as a general assignment reporter with a focus on business and economics. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

Ways to Connect

Less than twenty-four hours after one of the bloodiest episodes in New Hampshire Law Enforcement history, a new class of police cadets graduated from the academy.

Friends and family of New Hampshire’s newest law enforcement agents filled the room to see the 157th police academy class receive their certificates.

But the mood in Concord was bittersweet as Governor John Lynch addressed the crowd.

New Hampshire lawmakers have reached agreement on a Congressional redistricting plan. With two incumbent Republicans in Congress, both wanted to keep their districts as GOP-leaning as possible.

Under the final plan, six towns will switch districts. Sanborton, Tilton and Campton move east from District 2 to District 1; while Deerfield, Northwood and Center Harbor will shift west to District 2.

After 18 months of federal and state review, Northeast Utilities has completed a $5-billion purchase of Boston-based NStar. The deal makes PSNH’s parent company the largest utility in New England.

During a conference call, CEO Tom May said the acquisition would help his company pursue the Northern Pass project.

"The new NU will, because of the financial strength of the combined companies, actually have credit rating upgrades, which should make it a lot easier to finance this project," said May.

Lawmakers hear testimony about school building aid

The State may be getting close to ending a school building aid moratorium.

Both the House and Senate have approved measures to restructure how aid is distributed. That’s good news for both schools districts and taxpayers.

“We need a change that will be both affordable for the State, as well as provide the necessary assistance to communities to keep their schools in good condition,” says Ed Murdough with the Department of Education.

Both bills call for the State to rank projects. Unsafe, overcrowded schools would get priority.

After sailing through the Senate, a bill that would have created a ‘Sexual Offender Management Board’ hit a wall in the House today.

The bill calls for the creation of a 19-member board that would evaluate policies toward sex offenders.

Advocate Chris Dornin told the House Criminal Justice Committee that laws are often rushed through after a high-profile child murder or molestation.

The most recent State budget slashed funding for legal services for the poor. Last week, the House passed a bill that would put even more aid at risk.

The legislation would change how something called IOLTA works.

IOLTA stands for ‘Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts’.

When a client hands money over to a lawyer for a short period of time, say, while a real estate deal is being closed, the lawyer puts the money into a pooled account. That account earns interest.

Mead in New Hampshire

Mar 29, 2012
Photo by Todd Bookman for NHPR

Starting a small business is always a challenge.  Starting a meadery? Yeah, that’s not easy either. Just ask Michael Fairbrother

“I talk to people about mead, and they go, ‘What kind of meat do you make?’ I’m like, ‘No, I don’t make meat. I make mead.’ And they don’t understand what that is.”

In 2010, Fairbrother opened Moonlight Meadery in Londonderry, NH.

He’s more than happy to explain that mead is a wine made from honey, not grapes. And like traditional wine, you can’t rush it.

Gambling in New Hampshire ran up against a stacked deck in the Statehouse today. 

The House has voted to kill a bill that would have brought four casinos and 14,000 video slot machines to the state. The bill would have used gambling revenue to reduce business taxes.

Supporters urged quick action to offset the recent approval of three casinos in Massachusetts.

"Since Massachusetts passed its own expanded gaming bill, doing nothing is no longer an option," says Representative David Campbell, a Democrat from Nashua.

The House rejected that plan by 40 votes. 

jphilipg via Flickr Creative Commons

You can add transportation to the long list of issues hitting a roadblock in Washington. Funding for New Hampshire’s I-93 expansion may get stuck in the beltway traffic jam.

 Mary Shelley’s gothic novel, Frankenstein has long been read as a cautionary tale about the limits of technology, and a warning against scientific hubris. The monster is a man-made creation run amok, seeking revenge on the scientist that harnessed electricity and brought him to life…a horror recreated many times on film.

Along party lines, the New Hampshire Senate today passed a second, more restrictive voter ID measure. Earlier this month, a bill requiring voters to show valid photo identification or sign an affidavit was approved with the backing of Town Clerks and the Secretary of State.

This new Republican-backed legislation would require those seeking to vote in New Hampshire to also register their vehicles in the State and apply for a New Hampshire driver’s license.

Marcia Blackman outside the Statehouse

The House is expected to vote this afternoon on a measure that would repeal the State’s 2009 law that legalized same-sex marriage. 

There is a decidedly quiet mood outside the Statehouse today, as both opponents and supporters of gay marriage await an anticipated vote on a repeal.  The Republican-sponsored measure attempts to re-define marriage as between a man and a woman. The bill would allow for civil unions.

Statehouse observers expect a close vote, in part because of a strong libertarian streak that runs through many House Republicans.

Photo by 'Images of Money' via Flickr Creative Commons

New data from the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority paints a mixed picture of the State’s housing market. 

288 New Hampshire homes slipped into foreclosure in January. That’s a 22-percent decrease from the prior month, but still well above pre-recession levels.

“It is not a case of 'bam', we wake up one morning and the foreclosure issue is gone,” said Jane Law with NH Housing. She said the market is showing signs of a slow recovery. 

Photo by John Lam via Flickr Creative Commons

"Mesh networks" are set up the way the original internet was envisioned to work – users hosting and transmitting as individuals, rather than using centralized networks. Back then, users also communicated differently with each other – on platforms with funky names like IRC and NNTP. Those systems live on today.

A select few are choosing to bypass Facebook and go old-school, with an online forum that lacks pop-up ads and animated banners, where there’s no double-clicking, no need for a mouse, and no graphics…

In case you forgot what a New England winter is supposed to be like, Mother Nature decided to drop in with a reminder. Snow impacts everything from checkbooks to yardwork in New Hampshire, but has gone missing for most of this winter. 

While I was busy shoveling my car out, a neighbor of mine was tackling a completely different winter chore.

Recovering alcoholics can usually pinpoint their rock-bottom. For Michael Hagar, it was the night of July 28, 2009. That evening, he met up with some friends to drink behind the Hannaford’s supermarket in Keene. 

“And that is where the whole incident took off from,” said Hagar.

Behind the grocery story, Hagar believes he drank about 18 beers. Then someone jumped him, hitting him in the face with a log. His pants and wallet were stolen. Gushing blood and enraged, he staggered into the store's parking lot.

The New Hampshire House has passed a bill giving lawmakers final say on collective bargaining agreements with the State. The legislation is just the latest effort by Republicans in Concord to rein in the costs of public employee contracts.

"This gives the legislature the ability to look at an entire contract and say whether it is fair, and whether we should fund it," says Republican Neil Kurk of Weare.

Flickr Creative Commons/Just Some Dust

A bill requiring New Hampshire students to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance passed a house committee today.

"Standing is a sign of national patriotism," says Republican Representative Lawrence Kappler.

Current law permits students to remain seated, as long as they are silent and respectful. The constitutionality of the bill is in question, however. Representative Gary Richardson believes that requiring someone to stand is clearly an issue of free speech. 

The New Hampshire House today voted to eliminate the Chancellor’s Office within the University System. The bill calls for many of the responsibilities of the Office to be shifted to the Board of Trustees and to school presidents. Created in 1974, the Chancellor’s duties include government relations, purchasing and audits.

50 Yard Line Seats, for the Homeless?

Feb 2, 2012
Photo by Ammar Abd Rabbo via Flickr Creative Commons

If you don’t like the thought of taxpayer money financing sports stadiums, you’ll like this story out of Florida. An obscure law passed 23-years ago says that professional sports facilities built with the help of government funds must serve as homeless shelters on the nights when no events are taking place. Florida lawmakers are now attempting to use this statute to recoup huge sums of money. Is this a Hail Mary?  

When thieves stole Patrick Symmes’ commuter bicycle in broad daylight, it’s not a stretch to say that he snapped. Late at night, he’d watch the surveillance tape again and again… plotting sweet revenge against the two men who’d methodically and nonchalantly pilfered his blue Novara Metro hybrid. Seven bikes and three cities later, Patrick has finally gotten his revenge…sort of.

Todd Bookman for NHPR

Richard Lowrance isn't surprised that Gingrich is only pulling 10-percent of the vote here in New Hampshire. "There was a huge undecided factor right up until today," says Lowrance. "It was really difficult to predict how this would go." 

As a volunteer for the campaign, Lowrance, a Nashua resident, has seen crowds grow at recent events. "I think South Carolina is going to go much better for us. This is still a very open race."

Todd Bookman for NHPR

With Romney being declared the winner, the race now turns to the rest. With less than 20% of the polling stations reporting, Newt is grabbing 10-percent of the votes. The mood here at his HQ remains upbeat, with the crowd starting to file into the ballroom in anticipation of the former Speaker's speech.

 

Todd Bookman for NHPR

Greg Carson, secretary of the N.H. Republican Party, is running out of steam. After a week of non-stop events, Carson said he is looking forward to tomorrow morning.

"I can't wait." 

The secretary isn't endorsing any candidate, but believes that having a large pool of choices is good for New Hampshire voters.

"The only bad thing is that the current mix of candidates is going to lead to some internal fighting," he says. 

Carson's wife, State Sen. Sharon Carson, has endorsed Mitt Romney.

 

 

Media Crush

Jan 10, 2012
Todd Bookman for NHPR

With less than an hour to go before polls close in New Hampshire, a huge crowd of reporters swarm Camp Gingrich. Flashbulbs and headphones are in the majority, as supporters are slowly starting to trickle in. 

Ready To Swing

Jan 10, 2012
Todd Bookman for NHPR

Strike up the band! Team Gingrich has hired Boston-based Tuxedo Junction to entertain the former Speaker's fans here in Manchester. The six-piece band will be playing a broad mix of tunes. Expect a few swing songs if polls look good...a dirge or two if Newt doesn't finish in the top three.

Todd Bookman for NHPR

Polls will be closing soon here in Manchester. Outside of the Gingrich Camp, NH House Representative Laurie Pettengill (R, Carroll 1) is hoping to sway a few more voters over to Newt Gingrich. After volunteering for Romney four years ago, the first-term Representative is attracted to Newt's ideas for balancing the budget. "The conservative party is important to me," she says. "He's the right mix that we need." 

 

 

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