Case in point, Rep. John Burt (R) Goffstown. Rep. Burt is a three term state rep. First two terms representing Goffstown and his third term representing Hillsborough County District 39 (Weare, New Boston, Goffstown). He’s a pretty nice guy, has a tractor, raises chickens, married, does a local access show and has pretty good votes in the House for the party he represents.
So, what’s the problem? Well, the guy’s a goofball. One of those “Aw-shucks” not seemingly too bright guys, one who doesn’t appear to research a thing he says, kind of shoots from the hip, one might say. He also seems to speak without thinking, a lot. And that’s what gets him in the news. Not for his good votes or any bill he might have sponsored in the House, but for really dumb things he publically says.
Case in point, his recent speech on the House floor opposing HB 373 “Establishing the red-tailed hawk as the State raptor”. Now, you’d think that was a pretty innocuous bill brought forth by 4th graders from the Lincoln Ackerman School in Hampton Falls but, it turns out, Rep. Burt, along with a few of his cohorts, thought they might use the bill as an opportunity to excoriate the little tykes. Chastising them for “wasting their time”, mocking their choice with Burt wondering, “What’s next? A state hot-dog?”, yuck, yuck.
Another legislator mused the raptor would be a better mascot for Planned Parenthood because of the way the bird ripped the limbs off its prey. Wow! Now, you don’t get any more pro-life than me, but even I was taken aback by that statement wondering what has that got to do with the bill and why is this Representative thrusting such graphic images in front of innocent 4th graders and that’s pretty much how it went for the young students.
The bill failed. That’s okay. The students knew that might happen, they were okay with that. What they, and a good majority of the public was not okay with was the complete and utter disrespect shown to these students. To go through the process to have a bill sponsored, to lobby for it, to go to Concord to sit in the gallery only to be bullied, ridiculed and mocked for bothering the NH House of Representatives and to be further used to promote a legislators personal agenda or promote their pet event is inexcusable and shameful.
I won’t go on. The story, to use a reporter’s phrase, had legs and boy did it run. The boorish behavior exhibited toward the 4th graders became international news. Yep, the clip of our John Burt’s speech was on FOX news, in national papers and many blogs. Yay, Goffstown! Now, it’s not the first time, as I mentioned earlier, and Burt isn’t the only Rep. that stuck his foot in his mouth, but the other two Goffstown legislators that did are no longer serving, so shouldn’t be mentioned. But Burt is and he should be held accountable for his mockery of the students. After all, the NH House of Representatives IS the peoples’ house and the students should be accorded the same respect and given the same measure of seriousness Rep. Burt expects he should get as a legislator, they should not used for fodder for Burt’s inappropriately timed jokes.
To fully understand how bad the treatment of the students were, please click onto the links below.
Pam Manney is a former 2 – term state rep, former vice chair of the NH Republican State Committee, community activist and volunteer.