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Based on Value and Lifestyle, New Hampshire Tops ‘Cheapest Place to Live’ List

In New Hampshire, it may not quite be “Live Free,” but according to a new report, it’s pretty darn cheap.

Moving company northAmerican Moving Services ranks New Hampshire as America’s “Cheapest Place to Live” based on the overall value for Granite Staters compared to residents of other states. Its report says New Hampshire offers a “high quality of life at a lower price point.”

The company looked at average household income, median home price, average housing cost, average grocery costs, average utilities, inflation costs, and state income taxes for the rankings and determined New Hampshire is the best in the nation.

“These states offer a high quality of life at a lower price point, making them an excellent choice for anyone looking to stretch their budget further,” the report states.

Being first among 50 is something New Hampshire is getting used to. Last year alone, the Granite State was named first in overall freedom by the Cato Institute, first in public safety by U.S. News, and first in economic freedom by the Fraser Institute.

In his State of the State address this month, Gov. Chris Sununu touted New Hampshire’s leading economy and free society as a model for the rest of the country.

“Over the last six years, New Hampshire has become an island of freedom surrounded by highly taxed, highly regulated states,” Sununu said. “We are a harbor for citizens fleeing the states they once called home in pursuit of our Live Free or Die way of life … ‘We have provided leadership that puts ‘The Individual’ ahead of ‘The System.’”

Under Sununu’s watch, New Hampshire has become the fastest-growing economy in the nation, with record-low poverty rates and a booming job market. The state also ranks high for raising children, supporting families, and overall access to healthcare.

“New Hampshire is the envy of the nation, the gold standard of states, and number one place in America to live, work, and raise a family,” Sununu said.

South Dakota, Tennessee, Alaska, and Texas made up the top five cheapest states to live based on those metrics. No other New England state landed in the top 10.

That may explain why New Hampshire gained population last year while Massachusetts and Rhode Island suffered losses.

And a new analysis by the National Taxpayers Union released Thursday also named New Hampshire one of the best states for remote and mobile workers. Thanks to the lack of an individual income tax, the Granite State tied for first with other states that have the same tax policy. Massachusetts ranked 39th and New York was 47th.

Sununu attributes much of the success to New Hampshire’s commitment to small government. The Granite State makes sure that people get to make decisions for themselves.

“Big government authoritarianism might be how they do it in 49 other states, but that’s not how we do it in New Hampshire,” Sununu said.

Hawaii is the most expensive state to live in, according to the northAmerican Moving Services metrics, with Oregon, California, New York, and Utah close behind.

And Massachusetts? It was number 44, one of the 10 most expensive states in the U.S.

New Analysis Ranks New Hampshire’s Public Schools in Top 10

New Hampshire public schools rank among the top 10 in the nation, according to the data analysts at Wallethub.

Using metrics like academic performance, safety, class size, funding, and instructor credentials, the analysis ranked the Granite State as having the nation’s seventh-best school system.

Among New England states, known for high-performing schools, the Granite State ranked third, behind Massachusetts (1) and Connecticut (2). Vermont came in at 11, Maine at 12, and Rhode Island at 16. 

New Hampshire tied for fourth when it came to having the highest median ACT scores, the standardized test that gauges English, mathematics, reading, and scientific reasoning skills and is used for many college admissions. New Hampshire also ranked fourth in best reading scores and third for student-teacher ratio.

New Hampshire does, however, rank poorly when it comes to having a high bullying rate, ranking 47 out of 48 on a best to worst scale.

Despite the two current school funding lawsuits in the state, WalletHub finds New Hampshire to be among one of the bigger spenders in education. It spends about $16,000 per pupil on average, a little less than Massachusetts’s $17,000, and significantly less than Connecticut’s more than $20,000 per pupil.



Rhode Island spends about $16,000 per pupil, and Maine around $14,000. Vermont spends the least among New England states, averaging $9,300 per pupil.

School spending is not the key factor in having a high-quality education. According to Purdue’s Christine Kiracofe, the director of the university’s Higher Education Ph.D. program, the family and neighborhood count for more than the per pupil spending.

“A lot has to do with how the communities and families that students come from are supported,” Kiracofe said. “When students come to school having had access to an educationally supportive community (access to preschool programs, opportunities for extracurricular learning, museums, educational camps, etc.) they are at a distinct advantage over students who have not had access to these things. Thus, increasing school quality really involves increasing what is available to entire communities.”

Like many states, New Hampshire public schools took a hit during the COVID-19 restrictions, with many students falling behind due to remote learning. Those education gaps are starting to improve, the New Hampshire Department of Education reports.

According to the DOE, 2022 test scores are already showing an improvement over the 2021 data, which recorded declines in student performance at every grade tested. 

This year, however, New Hampshire students in grades three through seven improved their math assessment scores while eighth-grade math scores remained the same. Proficiency scores showed slight gains with 51 percent of third-graders proficient in math in 2022 compared to 45 percent proficient in 2021. 

The older grade levels showed slight declines in English proficiency in 2022, with 49 percent of seventh graders scoring proficient in 2022 compared to 52 percent in 2021. A similar scenario occurred with 46 percent of eighth graders scoring proficient in English in 2022 compared to 49 percent in 2021. 

“Assessment scores are inching upward and returning to near pre-pandemic levels, but it is clear that there is still work to be done to recover from the academic declines that resulted from COVID-19. New Hampshire has not fully regained ground, but these early signs of improvement are promising,” said Frank Edelblut, education commissioner.

As America Celebrates Independence Day, Are Young Granite Staters Willing to Serve?

As the nation celebrates its independence — and the Revolutionary War heroes who wrested it from the British crown — new data show fewer young Americans are willing, or even able, to serve in the U.S. military today.

That includes here in New Hampshire, where the percentage of young people aged 17-24 joining the military lags behind the national average. However, the quality of military recruits from the Granite State is the best in the nation, according to a 2019 report. That is a significant finding given the declining quality of the recruiting pool.

In congressional testimony, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said just 23 percent of Americans in the 17-24 age group meet the minimum qualifications to serve due to obesity, drug use, or criminal record. Those would-be recruits need a waiver to join.

Not that young people, obese or otherwise, are banging down the doors to get in. NBC News reports an internal Defense Department survey found just 9 percent of eligible potential recruits have any interest in doing so—the lowest number since 2007.

“It’s fair to say all branches of the military service, including active, National Guard, and Reserve are struggling to recruit,” said Lt. Col. Greg Heilshorn, Director of Public Affairs for the New Hampshire National Guard.

And while New Hampshire’s number may be below the national average, it still has the distinction of sending the most recruits to the military than any other New England state.

Unsurprisingly, states with large populations like California and Texas provide the most military recruits. However, the states sending the highest percentage of their enlistment-age population to the military are from the south: South Carolina, Florida, Hawaii, Georgia, and Alabama top the list.

The New England region ranks at the bottom.

Heilshorn said the high quality of New Hampshire’s recruits is due in part to having so few of them. That gives recruiters time to work with the recruits and prepare them for their accession into basic training.

“We can have a greater training impact on our new recruits – a more hands-on approach preparing them for basic training and their advanced individual training, collectively known as initial entry training,” Heilshorn said. “In the New Hampshire Army National Guard, we have a Recruit Training Company, which runs our Recruit Sustainment Program. As a result, recruits are better equipped physically and mentally to excel during their initial entry training. The N.H. Army Guard has consistently ranked among the top states among quality enlistments.”

Dave Medlock, 45, of Exeter, joined the military in 1999 when he was in his early 20s. He had dreams of attending officer training school but eventually ended up spending eight years in an Army Medical Evacuation Unit, serving tours of duty in Bosnia and Iraq. He said his time in the military has had a lasting, positive impact on his life.

“Overall, it was fantastic. The best part of it was the people,” Medlock said. “I have so much respect and admiration for the people that I served with, just an amazing group of people. Serving in a Medevac unit, the goal of saving lives drew the best people imaginable.”

Medlock had family members who served in the military, which gave him a sense of duty and responsibility. His grandfather served as a colonel in World War II. A father himself now, Medlock said the younger generation does not have the same sense of patriotism.

“The youth of today have a very different attitude on what constitutes freedom and responsibilities,” Medlock said. “They don’t even think of it as a pathway.”

The culture at large portrays military service negatively, and love for America among Americans continues to decline. According to the latest Gallup Poll survey, a record low 38 percent of Americans say they are “extremely proud” to be American.

Medlock said his military service gave him the training and education to succeed as a civilian. He works as an operations director for a private plane company managing 200 pilots and close to 50 aircraft.

“The reason I have this job now, at which I make a very good living, is because of my military experience,” Medlock said.

Heilshorn said he thinks there are many factors behind the overall decline in military service.

“Our current struggles to meet annual recruiting goals stem from a number of factors including a shrinking pool of eligible young men and women, higher standards to meet for enlistment, and tight job market,” Heilshorn said.

Heilshorn said there is an ebb and flow to military enlistment and, more importantly, retention. Military branches want to keep the personnel they have trained for as long as possible. For the New Hampshire National Guard, Heilshorn said the COVID-19 pandemic helped keep soldiers.

“Generally, our total number serving has hovered around 2,700 citizen-soldiers and airmen. We’ve dipped under 2,600 and been as high as 2,800. Since the pandemic, retention has been especially strong. We believe it’s in large part due to the fact so many of our guardsmen were activated for extended tours in support of the state’s pandemic relief efforts. There’s nothing more incentivizing than for a soldier or airman to be on mission, doing their job, whether that’s overseas or right in their own community.”

NH Top New England State on ‘Best Place to Retire’ List

The Granite State was one of the 10 best places to retire in the U.S, and the only New England state to crack the top 10, according to a new analysis of affordability and quality of life.

New Hampshire ranked ninth in the latest WalletHub report, well ahead of Massachusetts (19), Maine (27), Vermont (28), and Connecticut (29). Rhode Island came in last among the New England states at number 44.

While New Hampshire was not the most affordable state on the list, ranked 34 by WalletHub for senior affordability, it did rank high for quality of life and access to high-quality health care. The overall Granite State lifestyle is the main draw for people, according to Business and Economic Affairs Commissioner Taylor Caswell.

“Tourists, businesses, young families, and retirees all come to New Hampshire for our access to the outdoors, strong economy and wide array of jobs, and overall quality of life,” Caswell said.

Bedford-based financial advisor Arnold Garron said New Hampshire attracts people who are interested in pursuing new interests and activities while maintaining life in a small, friendly community.

“New Hampshire is a great place to retire with access to the ocean, lakes, and streams; colleges and universities for activities and events; close to Boston for traveling; and great access to airports and transportation. There are also activities galore: Skiing, biking, hiking, beaching, fishing, hunting, and arts. You can find it all without the hustle and bustle of major cities,” Garron said.

While New Hampshire continues to draw people based on the small-town lifestyle, recreation, and natural beauty, it is also the best financial deal for retirees in the region. Moneywise recently raked New Hampshire at 5 on its best states to retire list.

“New Hampshire boasts picturesque towns, mountains, and trails — perfect for an outdoorsy retiree who prefers a quieter kind of life. This New England state might not be the cheapest place to live in — you’ll pay high property taxes and a 5 percent tax on interest and dividends greater than $2,400 — however, it ranks well for quality of life and health care. It also has one of the lowest crime rates across the country,” they wrote.

And on Monday, also joined the bandwagon, naming New Hampshire the second-best state (behind Florida) for retirees.

“New Hampshire is ideal for active retirees, offering beaches, lakes, mountains, cities and countryside. Health care resources are readily available even in rural areas. Seniors make up nearly 20 percent of the population, so retirees can find many peers with similar interests,” according to their analysis. And they note, “there’s no tax on retirement income, so New Hampshire’s affordability index is above average.”

Erin Mitchell with New Hampshire AARP said the state offers a lot in terms of recreation, natural beauty, and community resources that can encourage people to retire here.

“To get people to stay in New Hampshire, we need to keep focusing on safe, walkable streets, public parks, and age-friendly housing,” Mitchell said.

Sixteen communities in New Hampshire are part of AARP’s age-friendly communities’ network. Those communities keep the over 50 population in mind when planning municipal projects. The goal is to keep people in their homes, and home communities, safe and happy, she said.

Garron said New Hampshire offers retirees what they want in the so-called Four Pillars of retirement.

“In 2019, Edward Jones first partnered with Age Wave on a landmark study, The Four Pillars of the New Retirement. We have continued this research and one of the biggest insights from this study is that the majority of retirees say that all four interdependent pillars—health, family, purpose, and finances—are essential to optimal well-being in retirement,” he said.

“When I meet with my clients I ask them, ‘What is most important to you?’ Their alignment to these four pillars and their focus on fun aligns with the activities we have in New Hampshire.

‘Shame On You!’ Rep. Perez Takes to House Floor to Call Out Hassan, Pappas Over Border Policy

In an emotional speech from the floor of the New Hampshire House, Rep. Maria Perez accused members of the state’s federal delegation of treating voters of color like “tokens” while supporting Trump-era immigration policies.

“I will say to the congressional delegation who’s been criticizing the previous administration about going to the border and speaking negatively about immigrants — What happened to you? You tokenized us to talk negatively about the previous administration, but now you’re utilizing immigrants to win some votes. Shame on you!” Perez said.

Perez echoed complaints from the New Hampshire Democratic Asian American Pacific Islander Caucus which is critical of U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan and Rep. Chris Pappas’ right turn on immigration.


“All of us feel like we’re tokens,” said Shideko Terai, a member of the New Hampshire AAPI Caucus. “This is not okay. You can’t use us and abuse us.”

According to multiple sources, leaders in the state Democratic Party have been pressuring Black and Brown activists to remain silent as Pappas and Hassan push for Trump-era immigration policies like building more of the border wall and continued enforcement of Title 42 authority against would-be migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I feel very disgraceful to calling myself a Democrat because a lot of Democrats have been calling people [of color] onto the carpet saying just to say ‘do not go out in public, do not talk about it,'” Perez said Thursday. “Shame on you! Shame on you for trying to silence our voices.”

Terai says she received the same message from Granite State Democratic Party leaders. “I was told, ‘We have to be really careful. We need Sen. Hassan’s fundraising,’” Terai said.

Last week, the New Hampshire Democratic Party Latino Caucus resigned from the party en masse over Hassan and Pappas’s new policies. Now, Perez said, it is a non-partisan organization promoting issues important to her community.

“I had to take a hard decision for my caucus to leave the NHDP,” Perez said. “We left the executive committee of the Democratic Party because my caucus doesn’t feel welcomed by the Democratic Party. I believe our community has been tokenized, and it’s time for us to win the respect.”

Sen. Maggie Hassan in front of the Trump-era wall at the U.S.-Mexico border in April 2022.

Hassan’s reversal on immigration, from repeatedly voting against Trump’s border wall to calling for more of it to be completed, has caught the attention of national media. According to Politico, Hassan is one of a handful of embattled Senate Democrats whose prospects for re-election are in trouble and are trying to distance themselves from Biden and his policy.

“On social media, where they shy away from praise of the president and instead focus on their efforts to prod the White House to action, it’s hard to tell they’ve voted in line with Biden no less than 96 percent of the time,” Politico reported Thursday. And, they add “Democratic operatives” say Hassan is making the right move politically by supporting tougher immigration policies, “even if it’s at the expense of alienating some progressives.”

Some of those progressives at the national level are speaking out.

“Attn: Sen. Hassan. We need you in the Senate, but going after GOP anti-immigration voters and introducing a bill to keep Ukrainian and LGBTQ migrants out will lose you more voters than you gain,” tweeted Douglas Rivlin, communications director with the progressive immigration group America’s Voice.

In a later tweet, he added: “Sen. Hassan [is] defining Dems as the party in support of Stephen Miller’s approach to excluding immigrants, and refugees.”

Stephen Miller was President Donald Trump’s lead immigration policy advisor.

New Hampshire’s lead immigrant’s rights advocate, Eva Castillo, is outraged by Hassan’s pro-wall politics.

“It was a slap in the face for us Latino immigrants,” said Castillo, director of the New Hampshire Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees. “She could have talked about anything other than the stupid wall.

“That’s not an issue for a New Hampshire incumbent senator to be running on. I’m sick and tired of people playing politics with immigration, on both sides. And it’s especially annoying when it’s the Democrats that are supposed to be friendlier to immigrants,” Castillo said.

Hassan apparently needs the help. A new UNH Survey Center poll found Hassan is in a statistical tie with her potential GOP rivals retired Gen. Don Bolduc, state Sen. Chuck Morse, and former Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith, despite the fact they have very little name ID.

Also problematic for Hassan: Just 35 percent of voters have a favorable view of the incumbent senator, while 51 percent view her unfavorably.


SHAUGHNESSY: There Was No Cover-Up In Bedford Ballot Case

Brian Shaughnessy, a candidate for Bedford Town Moderator in the March 8 municipal elections, played a key role in the November 2020 elections in which two sets of ballots were mishandled and town officials kept the mistake a secret for nearly a year.

NHJournal’s reporting on the story can be found here, here and here.

Shaughnessy has since been nominated by Gov. Chris Sununu to serve as a Circuit Court judge. One of the five members of the Executive Council has already urged Sununu to withdraw the nomination.

Shaughnessy posted the following on Facebook Friday:


My name is Brian Shaughnessy and I am running unopposed for Bedford Town Moderator.

There is a write-in candidate, Hanan Wiseman, who has a website that contains false and misleading information about me. Mr. Wiseman’s website states: “We CANNOT allow someone like Brian Shaughnessy who is compromised and came under investigation from the Attorney General’s office for mishandling the 2020 election, then lied about it to the voters here in Bedford to oversee elections!”

He also states that I have said I do not work for the voters. In his defense, he is getting this inaccurate information from several stories and social media discussions that allege my involvement in a cover-up, and allegedly lying to voters in a letter I did not author or send. Almost all of this speculation and innuendo are inaccurate at best, and purposefully false at worst.

I am not the Town Moderator, I am not under investigation, I did not send any letter to the voters. I did not handle any of the ballots that are the subject of recent articles, nor was I in any way involved with the mistakes that were made, training the dozens of new election workers required to process the 7,700 absentee ballots received by Bedford for the 2020 COVID general election, or communicating any information to the state, town, or voters. I am an unpaid election volunteer performing my civic duty.

An honest mistake was made. After the November 3, 2020 election, the Assistant Town Clerk could not reconcile the number of ballots issued with the number of votes cast. This is a standard report/ reconciliation that is required to be filed with the Secretary of State’s office to assure the integrity of the election and guard against any ballot box stuffing or other attempts to “rig” an election.

As required by law, the NH Attorney General’s office conducted an investigation. Its report dated October 21, 2021, found no wrongdoing and determined that an election worker inadvertently moved a container of 190 uncounted absentee ballots which had been pre-opened per COVID related protocols to the table where the empty absentee ballot envelopes, which are required by law to be preserved for 3 years, were being stored for eventual transfer back to Town Hall for storage. After finding the unopened uncast absentee ballots, the Town Clerk immediately contacted the Secretary of State’s office and reported the discovery.

I was not the subject of the investigation or at any time “under investigation.” I was a witness in that investigation.

There was no lie. A letter sent by Moderator Klein and Town Clerk Gellar to the 190 absentee voters indicated that they were advised to not discuss this matter with anyone, not even the Town Council, because it was the subject of a pending investigation. In a detailed letter I sent to the Town Council prior to a November 17, 2021, Council meeting (both of which are public record), apologizing to the Council that it was left in the dark for 11 months while the Attorney General’s office was investigating the matter, I acknowledged that the Klein/Gellar letter could have been more articulately phrased, but that letter did not state that Bedford election officials were “ordered” by the Attorney General’s office to not discuss the matter with anyone while the investigation was pending.

The advice to not discuss matters relating to the pending investigation came from me, as a lawyer, advising someone who is the subject [of] a pending investigation that could support criminal charges (see RSA 661). Any notification to the Town Council would be subject to RSA 91-A (the right to know law), and any public statements could become fodder for social media which could impact the pending investigation. Standard legal advice.

Despite an accusation made by a Town Councilor during the November 17, 2021, Town Council meeting that my legal advice was “haphazard’: it is the same legal advice Moderator Klein and Clerk Gellar subsequently received from the Town Attorney.

I did not state election officials do not work for the voters. At the Town Council meeting, I responded to a particular question to me that incorrectly stated that the Town Moderator, an elected official, had a duty to report to the Town Council. The Town Councilor who made the inaccurate statement demanded that all of the Town officials who knew about the uncast absentee ballots and did not report it to the Town Council should resign. I responded that both the Town Moderator and the Town Clerk are also elected officers, and as Election Officials, they report to the Secretary of State’s office on election matters, which they did in this case, and not the Town Council (see NH Constitution, Part 2, Article 32 and RSA 659:60).

I further pointed out that I could not resign as demanded because I was not an elected official and only serve at each election at the discretion of the Moderator that appoints me. There was no office for me to resign from since I am simply a volunteer who does not get paid and is not elected. Bill Klein was very pointed in his statements that election officials are accountable to the voters.

From those statements, it is being reported, and repeated, that I have stated that we do not work for the voters and have no obligation to be transparent to the voters. Simply not true.

There was no effort to hide the ball, or intention to cover this matter up. I would never be a party to that type of behavior.

The Secretary of State’s office was notified within 30 minutes of the discovery which was the appropriate chain of command. During a meeting after the discovery was made, I recommended, and everyone agreed, that we would notify the 190 voters and apologize that they were disenfranchised through an honest mistake. That would only be done, however, once we received permission from the Attorney General’s office. We had no idea that the report would not be finalized until 11 months later, but Moderator Klein and the Town Manager knew from the beginning that at the conclusion of the Attorney General’s investigation, a report would be sent to the Town at which point it becomes a public document.

I firmly believe every Bedford official acted in good faith, fully cooperated with the investigation, and did what he/she believed was in the best interests of election integrity as a whole.

I agreed to run for Town Moderator again after Bill Klein indicated he was stepping down, and no one else signed up for the job. Today, more than ever, we need experienced people running our elections.


EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story reported Shaughnessy is being considered for a Superior Court judgeship. It is the Circuit Court. NHJournal regrets the error.

EC Wheeler: Sununu Judicial Pick Has ‘Integrity’ Problem, Gov Should Dump Him

Executive Councilor Dave Wheeler says Gov. Chris Sununu’s troubled judicial pick Brian Shaughnessy doesn’t belong on the bench, and he should withdraw from consideration. And if he doesn’t, Sununu should pull the nomination himself.

Wheeler’s announcement adds to the growing speculation that Shaughnessy’s nomination will not make it through the Executive Council.

Shaughnessy, who served as assistant town moderator, is best known for his role in the town of Bedford’s bungled 2020 elections and urging his fellow town officials to keep their mistakes secret from the public. Rather than stepping back, Shaughnessy is currently a candidate for the town moderator position, a move that is raising its own ethical questions.

NHJournal reached out to all five members of the Executive Council. Only one would speak on the record, and his message to fellow Republican Chris Sununu was clear.

“I have received many calls from citizens questioning his integrity and asking me to oppose his nomination,” Wheeler told NHJournal. “Mr. Shaughnessy should withdraw himself from nomination.”

If he doesn’t, Sununu should pull his name from consideration, Wheeler added.

And, Wheeler said, “If neither happens before his public hearing, [Shaughnessy] has a lot of explaining to do!”

Assuming Democrat Cinde Warmington opposes Shaughnessy’s nomination, that puts the problematic pick just one vote away from defeat on the 4-1 GOP-controlled Council. Sources close to the remaining Executive Councilors say there is little support for Sununu’s nominee among Republican councilors, who are hearing grassroots opposition to the nomination.

Few Republicans want to criticize the popular Republican governor on the record; but behind the scenes, some of his supporters are irate that is he is recharging the election-integrity issue.

Sununu did not respond to a request for comment.

One person willing to speak was former Town Councilor Kelleigh Murphy, who cast a vote of”no confidence” last November over Shaughnessy’s mishandling of ballots and declaration that the councilors, and the voters of Bedford, had no right to know what election officials were doing.

“We don’t work for you,” Shaugnessy told the town council.

Murphy told NHJournal on Tuesday, “I don’t think it’s an appropriate nomination. The judiciary is the highest echelon of the legal profession, and nominees to and those holding that honor should (and typically are) reflective of the highest level of character and fitness.”

Days after the November 2020 general election, a tray of 190 uncounted absentee ballots was discovered in Bedford. Rather than reveal the mistake, Shaughnessy advised the town moderator and other officials to inform the Secretary of State but leave the town council and disenfranchised voters in the dark. It was nearly a year before the truth came out, at which time the town sent a letter falsely claiming the state Attorney General’s office instructed it to hide the error.

Shaughnessy has since acknowledged he was the source of the “haphazard legal advice” that kept voters from finding out what town officials had done.

A few weeks later, another stack of mishandled ballots was discovered by Bedford officials. Again the town refused to reveal basic details about the ballots to the public. The town is currently under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office over the second tranche of ballots.

And Shaughnessy’s troubles may not end there.

An email is circulating within Bedford legal and political circles raising questions about the ethics of Shaughnessy campaigning for the town moderator position in the March 8 election. The email includes a link to the American Bar Association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct, specifically Canon 4: “A Judge Or Candidate For Judicial Office Shall Not Engage In Political Or Campaign Activity That Is Inconsistent With The Independence, Integrity, Or Impartiality Of The Judiciary.”

A Bedford attorney who asked to remain anonymous said there was a general unease with the idea of Shaughessy running for office as a judicial candidate and, even more, serving as both a judge and the town’s top election official.

“Elections are politicized now. There are all kinds of questions and conspiracies. People aren’t saying it’s illegal or even wrong [for Shaughnessy to hold both jobs], but they aren’t happy about it, either.”

Hanan Wiseman is running for town moderator as a write-in candidate. He tells NHJournal voters are raising the issue of Shaughnessy’s judicial nominee when he’s out campaigning.

“I’m not finding any support for [Shaughnessy] or his judgeship,” Wiseman said. “And a lot of people don’t believe the Executive Council will approve him.”

Shaughnessy declined to respond to a request for comment.

Red-Hot NH Economy Struggles to Find Workers

New Hampshire businesses continue to struggle to find workers even as the state economy leads the rest of New England, according to data released this week.

New Hampshire ranks in the top five states with the most open jobs, according to a WalletHub study released this week. Alaska, Vermont and Wyoming top the list of states where employers have the most trouble finding workers, with New Hampshire coming in fourth.

According to the study, New Hampshire has had an 8.5 percent job opening rate in the last 30 days, with a 7.28 percent rate over that last year. This means New Hampshire businesses need to work harder to get and keep employees, according to Paul  Antonellis, director of Institutional Planning and Assessment at Endicott College.

“The employer should be open to identifying what employees today want/need to ensure that they are meeting or exceeding those wants/needs. Today the employer must be willing to think outside the box as to how they can recruit and retain employees, what worked in the past may no longer be a driving force today and the employer needs to be willing to pivot recruitment and retention efforts for the given occupation,” he said.

According to Anthony Farina, a professor with Baruch College, City University of New York, attracting and retaining employees might be a simple matter of paying more for front line workers. There are many businesses that pay executives big salaries while skipping on the front line workers.

“If you can pay someone millions of dollars plus stock, year, after year, after year, you can pay your people better at the lower end of the pay spectrum. People are aware of what goes on in the C-Suite and at board meetings, so get out of your bubble and be willing to pay people better. You might be surprised,” he said.

Rowena Gray, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of California, said a big factor to the number of employees who are taking advantage of the CVID endemic by switching jobs and careers, leaving low paying gigs for better situations.

“So, this is good for workers and the high turnover rate might then be thought of as a chance to make better matches between workers and employers, which might also boost productivity,” she said.

Gray thinks the economic pressure will continue to bear on businesses who rely on lower wages for employees. These businesses will continue to see unionization efforts and other pushes to increase pay and benefits,

“The biggest pressure right now is on the lowest-paid work, so I would expect pay and benefits to be the main focus. We are seeing the push to unionize in various employers which have used zero-hours contracts and avoided offering benefits to employees, and maybe workers will be able to end those scenarios in this era of higher worker leverage,” she said.

Gov. Chris Sununu boasted Thursday about the Granite State’s rankings that show New Hampshire is a regional leader in economic and population growth and as a national leader in freedom and public safety.

“Ranking after ranking shows that the Granite State is the place to be,” he said. “We are very proud that our life here in the 603 is simply the best of the best, but we did not get here by accident.”

Sununu Mocks Manchester Visit by ‘Infomercial Guy’ Lindell

My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell may be a rock star on the fringe right, but Gov. Chris Sununu tells NHJournal he is not impressed.

“New Hampshire isn’t interested in debunked political conspiracy theories from some infomercial guy. Our citizens can sleep easy knowing that our elections were safe, secure, reliable, and accurate – just as they are every year,” Sununu said Monday.

That stands in stark contrast to Lindell, who claims the Granite State presidential election was stolen by Chinese computer hackers and corrupted vote-counting machines that switched more than 50,000 votes.

Lindell, best known for his non-stop TV ads on Fox News and out-there theories about COVID-19 and the 2020 election, is bringing his conspiracy roadshow to Manchester’s Doubletree Hotel Wednesday morning. The New Hampshire state House of Representatives will convene at the same hotel, due to COVID concerns, that morning.

According to an email sent by state Rep. Susan Homola (R-Hollis), legislators and town officials are invited to “a presentation on the latest tools, techniques, and technology advancements in election security. This presentation is being hosted by Mike Lindell, and it is intended to be a forward-looking discussion on emerging election methods and supporting hardware.”

Homola declined to respond to multiple requests for comment, nor would she name any local organizers or participants. For a social media savvy figure like Lindell, there are virtually no mentions of the upcoming event, which is not open to the public.

Lindell, who is facing multiple lawsuits for his outlandish claims about voting machine companies, remains adamant that Donald Trump won a major popular vote victory in 2020, despite the available evidence to the contrary.

This won’t be the first time Lindell’s pitched his view of American politics in the Granite State.

“China picked our winners” in the 2020 election, Lindell told the group 603 Alliance during a speech in Manchester last August. “Everybody knows it — 100 percent this election was stolen,” Lindell said. “It was stolen by machines,” he added. “There had to be some kind of algorithm because it went across all states.”

And yes that includes New Hampshire’s election which, despite the work of then-Sec. of State Bill Gardner, Lindell claims was stolen by the Chinese Communist Party. Lindell declared that rather than losing the state by eight points (425,000 t0 366,000), Trump won the Granite State, 410,000 to 375,000 votes.

 “He crushed New Hampshire, he crushed it,” Lindell claimed.

Lindell’s latest project is making pillows for the truck drivers protesting in Canada.

“All of our employees are busy making pillows right now for the truckers in Canada,” Lindell told an interviewer over the weekend. “We’re going to try and get them through. I’m not going to say what day or you know there will be obstructionists.”

Sununu Hails SCOTUS Ruling Blocking OSHA’s Vax Mandate

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu today praised the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling shutting the Biden administration’s attempts to use a workplace regulatory agency to enforce a COVID vaccine mandate on private businesses.

However, the court permitted the vaccine rule to be imposed on healthcare workers at institutions that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding, unless those employees have medical or religious exemptions.

“I would like to thank the Supreme Court for listening to the countless businesses across our state that would have faced catastrophic workforce shortages had this mandate gone through,” said Sununu. “I am as pro-vaccine as they come, but today’s decision to halt the president’s overreaching vaccine mandate is good news for employees and the businesses that keep our supply chains running and economy open.”

New Hampshire was one of 27 states that sued the Biden administration in various venues over its attempts to use the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) to impose mandates on employers with 100 or more workers. The mandates, which required employees to either be vaccinated or undergo regular testing, would have affected 84 million workers.

OSHA issued its mandate in November, parts of which– including a mask mandate for unvaccinated workers — were scheduled to take effect this week.

Biden’s Chief of Staff Ron Klain re-tweeted a statement calling the OSHA rule “the ultimate workaround for the federal government to require vaccination,” a point noted by the court during its oral arguments last week. Klain’s attitude fed suspicions among some legal observers that the White House’s decision to issue the OSHA order is just the latest example of the Biden administration issuing a policy they know is unlikely to survive legal scrutiny for the sake of political messaging.

For example, when Biden issued a federal moratorium on evictions last August, he admitted, “The bulk of the constitutional scholars say it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster.” The Supreme Court swiftly struck it down.

It only took a week for the Supreme Court to do the same with the OSHA mandate, once it reached the high court. “Under the law as it stands today, that power [to regulate the pandemic] rests with the states and Congress, not OSHA,” Justice Neil Gorsuch said Thursday.

“By blocking the OSHA mandate, the Supreme Court showed that it’s possible to take statutory limits on federal power seriously, not just constitutional ones,” said Ilya Shapiro, director of the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute. “After all, even if we accept federal regulation of workplace safety as constitutional, there’s a difference between occupational risk and the general risk of living in a pandemic.”

New Hampshire Republicans have largely fallen in line with Sununu’s “Yes to vax, no to mandates” policy. State GOP legislators hailed the ruling as well.

“The Supreme Court confirmed what we already knew: the Biden vaccine mandate was a vast government overreach that reeked of despotism,” said House Majority Leader Jason Osborne (R-Auburn). “House Republicans have stood firmly against this assault on personal freedoms.”

It’s not just Republicans. While both Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen cast votes in support of the federal mandates, their fellow Democrat Rep. Chris Pappas, who likely faces an uphill reelection fight in a newly-drawn First Congressional District, broke with his party on the issue.

After Thursday’s ruling, Pappas released a statement reiterating his opposition to the mandates.

“I repeatedly expressed my concerns for small businesses as the Biden administration developed this standard, and I led a bipartisan call in the House opposing the requirement in its current form given the confusion and economic hardship it would have caused employers and workers,” Pappas said. “I continue to urge the administration to revise its approach so that we do not place unworkable or unnecessarily burdensome requirements on businesses who are still struggling to recover from the ongoing pandemic.”

Granite State business owners breathed a sigh of relief.

“The vaccine mandate was a giant overreach by the administration and the exact reason our Founders created the judicial branch to keep the executive branch in check,” said Tom Boucher, CEO of Great NH Restaurants.

In a new Scott Rasmussen poll, 55 percent of voters said they know a business that can’t find all the workers it needs.

“I’m proud that New Hampshire has one of the nation’s highest vaccination rates,” said Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro). “But firing people in the middle of a workforce crisis who don’t adhere to an unconstitutional federal mandate is not the answer.”