Happy Friday! Whether you're looking for a deep dive investigation into one of New Hampshire's biggest developers or something a little lighter — in the form of tales of holiday lights, tiny cows or tiny inventors — we've got you covered. Don't forget to sign up for our weekly newsletter to get these and other headlines delivered right to your inbox each week.
Complaints About Toxins, Shoddy Construction Trail New England Developer
This week, NHPR's Jack Rodolico reported on years of complaints and lawsuits filed against and by prominent developer Brady Sullivan Properties.
He also talked with New Hampshire's Attorney General Joe Foster about whether the state has concerns about a potential pattern in the firm's business practices.
One of the big takeaways: Even if a company is the subject of multiple complaints, if those complaints are scattered across lots of different agencies, it can be really difficult for the average consumer to get the full picture.
You can read the full story right here.
So, About That ‘Serious Voter Fraud’ Stuff…
The Granite State’s polling places were under plenty of scrutiny on Election Day. And, despite what President-Elect Donald Trump tweeted last weekend, the people who were actually keeping an eye on elections here don’t have any evidence that large groups of people were voting illegally in New Hampshire.
But it’s worth noting that Trump isn’t the only one questioning the validity of New Hampshire’s elections as they’re run now.
Governor-Elect Chris Sununu (who previously claimed, without proof, that Democrats were abusing the state’s election laws by “busing” in Massachusetts voters) wants to get rid of same-day registration because he thinks it allows for too much “gray area.” And this week, he said voting reform will be one of his top legislative priorities.
Meanwhile: Former Massachusetts Senator and one-time New Hampshire Senate Candidate Scott Brown also suggested (without definitive evidence, in an interview with Boston Herald Radio) that out-of-staters could easily infiltrate the state’s elections. (Brown, some might remember, took some heat back in 2014 for suggesting that out-of-state voters should come take advantage of those very rules. His campaign later said he was just joking.)
Bottom line: Trump’s tweet might fade from the spotlight, but the debate over election reform probably isn’t going away anytime soon.
How’s this for political candor? As one rookie legislator observed this week: "When you think about laws, you think, oh, people representing me, they know what they're doing. But some of these people have no idea. And me included."
That first-time lawmaker, ideally, should be feeling at least a little more prepared after this week. New representatives and senators got a crash course on everything from how to draft a bill to how not to get lost while looking for the bathroom. There weren’t any catchy animated jingles, as far as we can tell, but the idea was that they left feeling a little more prepared to make sense of the state’s democratic processes. (That's the hope, anyway.)
In other news: After some intraparty jostling, Rep. Shawn Jasper just barely eked out a victory that positions him for a second term as Speaker of the House. (When we say “barely,” we mean by, like, just a few votes.) Jasper’s second term as Speaker won’t be official until the full House convenes again next week.
A new report warns that Seacoast communities should probably start preparing now for a stark future of rising water levels — and those rising water levels, the same report warns, could mean a serious hit to the local economy, not to mention plenty of flooded-out homes and roads.
Now, the question is: Will any policymakers (outside of those who were part of the group behind the report) actually pay attention? That remains to be seen.
But one Republican state representative from Hampton admitted that even he found these predictions alarming despite his previous skepticism about climate change. And he signed onto the findings as a way of showing that it’s not just a partisan issue: “When you’re talking about anything that has to do with climate change, sea-level rise, subjects of that nature, there’s an 800-pound gorilla in the room. And that 800-pound gorilla is that not everyone subscribes to those beliefs.”
Snooze on, Portsmouth Students...
...at least for an extra hour. After weighing the emotional and academic effects of asking teens to rise too early, the local school board OK’ed a plan that will push back the start time for middle and high school students until 8:30 a.m. (Right now, the school day starts at 7:30 a.m.) Portsmouth’s the second district in the state to shift its schedule — Oyster River School District made a similar change earlier this month.
(For more on the science of teens’ sleep schedules, check out this conversation from last year on The Exchange.)
Granite Staters Stand with Standing Rock
Former Strafford County Attorney (and longtime Democratic activist) is one of a handful to make the trek from New Hampshire to stand in solidarity with protestors trying to stop the controversial oil pipeline project in North Dakota. (Union Leader)
A group of Keene State students were planning to spend their Thanksgiving break at the protest site, too (Keene Sentinel) Closer to home, a group of local residents planned to hold their own satellite protest outside of the New Hampshire Statehouse on Thursday. (NH1 News)
A prominent environmental activist also spoke to a packed house at Keene State College this week, shortly before heading back to the site of the pipeline protests. (Keene Sentinel)
On Trade and Trump...
The 2016 presidential campaign saw plenty of tough talk on trade. Now that President-Elect Trump — perhaps the most outspoken opponent of trade deals of any candidate running — is preparing to take office, what does that mean for New Hampshire? NHPR’s The Exchange devoted a full show to this very issue, weighing the impact on businesses, employees and consumers.
It’s also worth checking out this recent piece from NH Business Review, in which a bunch of New Hampshire business owners talk about how trade agreements have affected their businesses (answer: a mixed bag) and how they’re bracing for potential shifts under the next administration.
NHPR and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with Mario Batali recorded in front of a live audience in Portsmouth. Virginia Prescott talks with author behind seven cookbooks on Italian food, wine and culture, one on Spanish specialties, and three of American recipes, including his most recent Big American Cookbook.
- You could probably use a video of a tiny cow right now. Especially since this tiny cow, who happens to reside in Hancock, might actually be one of the world’s tiniest. (Keene Sentinel)
- Exeter takes its holiday lights seriously. Very seriously. Which is why it was such a big deal when the town found out it might have to forgo the festive strands this season — luckily, though, it sounds like the décor can proceed as initially planned. (Seacoast Online)
- “Thanks, but no thanks.” — Laconia City Council, basically, after asking people to pitch a bunch of ideas for a new flag. (NHPR)
- A Portsmouth man who gained attention for building a teepee in his backyard (as a tribute to his late wife) is getting ready to say goodbye to his longtime home. (Seacoast Online)
- Concord firefighters are lending a hand on the front lines of wildfires spreading through thousands of acres across the South. (Concord Monitor)
- Remember that Manchester billboard that accused a bunch of business leaders and politicians of corruption and other crimes? A defamation lawsuit filed against the guy who owns the sign could be heading to the state Supreme Court. (Union Leader)
- “I wanted to show them some of the behind-the-scenes stuff,” might sound like something you’d hear from the kid who graduated but still tried to tag along on the campus tour. In this case, it’s actually a former lawmaker who tried (unsuccessfully) to tag along on this week’s Statehouse orientation… (Union Leader)
- Dartmouth students are pitching in to rebuild a reimagined version of an iconic wooden lodge that sat for 78 years at the base of Mount Moosilauke. (Valley News)
- If Mount Washington is more your scene, you might be interested in learning that the people who operate the iconic Cog Railway are looking to build a new hotel nearby — two-thirds of the way up the mountain. (Concord Monitor)
- Ski bunnies of the Southern Tier, rejoice: Nashua could be getting its own slope. (Union Leader)
- A Manchester organization that helps refugees says it’s seen an uptick in volunteer interest throughout the presidential campaign season. (NHPR)
- When two regular letter-writers at the same local paper have similarly spelled last names, that can, occasionally, lead to some confusion as to who holds what opinion. One of them, as you might imagine, is not pleased — and, appropriately, wrote a letter outlining his displeasure. (Laconia Daily Sun)
- Your best bet for an end-of-week pick-me-up: Try not to smile while watching Jimmy Fallon make a bunch of “Weare”/”Where?” jokes with a pair of sisters from New Hampshire. Sadie and Claire McCallum were there to show off an invention they devised to make getting around for people, like Sadie, who have to use a walker. (You can read more about their “Curb Climber” here.)