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My Turn: Running a state isn’t just business as usual

Walt Havenstein needs to bring more to the table than his business acumen.

Walt Havenstein needs to bring more to the table than his business acumen.

We have Walter Havenstein in the race for governor. I know nothing about him other than the sketchy background that has been reported in the newspapers. I saw a recent interview, and he seems like an amicable guy with a good moderate Republican core. But I will reserve judgment on his qualifications until closer to Election Day.

In that interview, however, Havenstein was already touting the same old line Craig Benson used when he showed up on the scene: “I’m a successful businessman therefore I will make a great governor.”

We all saw how the Benson bubble imploded as this top-down corporate chieftain disappeared feet-down in the complex quicksand of state government.

You simply don’t run government as you do a business. A business pedigree is not a “must-have” prerequisite for being the “chief executive” of a state. It may be helpful, if applied cautiously, but it is only a part of the mix.

A business exists to make a profit, government is there to serve. Businesses decide what the product line will be and then they build their entire operation around it. Government doesn’t have that kind of luxury. Yes, some basic governmental functions such as driver’s licenses, road repairs, State Police and running elections are generally accepted, predetermined activities. But responding to mega ice storms, health emergencies and sudden, unannounced economic dilemmas also fall within the purview of state government.

State health, prison, election, corporate and tourism efforts are not there to make a profit, they are there to serve. We would like them to run as efficiently as possible, and many people try to keep an eye out to make sure that happens. Their social benefit will profit us all.

Government, unlike the private sector, has a potential management change every two years as a new governor and Legislature come into office. Usually cooler heads prevail, and those arriving on the scene ready to make over the entire government infrastructure are closeted, and the statewide forces of government are not totally unpacked and upended. But understanding that balance is not as simple as merely reading the numbers on a balance sheet or rigidly following a chain of command.

In business, the CEO neither has, nor will tolerate, an in-house group that challenges lots of decisions that come out of the executive suite – “play ball or pack up and leave.”

A governor isn’t going to experience that kind of control because there are two other branches of government that run independently of the governor, and they may or may not share his agenda. But they all intersect at various levels.

Fifth-grade civics books talk about how a legislature legislates and how the executive branch, that includes the governor, carries out the laws that come from the legislature. That’s nice in theory but it is not the entire paradigm. For openers, most legislation cannot become law until the governor signs it.

Yes, there are veto overrides, but not many. So a governor needs to understand the legislative process and be able to work with it and not against it. And the legislative process bears little resemblance to a well-oiled corporate enterprise or a by-the-book military model.

Unlike the corporate world where there are a finite number of investors in the company, the “CEO” of New Hampshire has as many “stockholders” as there are citizens of the state.

The resume bullet that says “businessman” is not silver.

(Ted Leach lives in Hancock.)

Legacy Comments15

If the Republicans want a CEO whose enterprises don't get bigger, Walter Havenstein is their guy. SAIC's overall spending did not increase while Havenstein was CEO. Revenues didn't go up either, and the company's stock price went down 32% under his watch.

Anyone else like to see BlosephSHaas & PBR share a cabin on a cruise ship?

Ted, You "forgot" that this is what John Lynch the "businessman" touted too. And yes, thanks for " how a legislature legislates and how the executive branch, that includes the governor, carries out the laws that come from the legislature " but when "they" in the Executive Branch, quasi-Legislative, as Bill Gardner, The Secretary of State is Article 67 elected by a vote in the House and Senate, fail and even REFUSE to do their jobs, that's WHY we need a new CEO. Hassan REFUSES "to execute the laws of the state AND United States" BOTH as indicated in the current lawsuit against her as Case #297 at The Merrimack County Superior Court for her Article 51 failure to the penalty in Section 2 of the 14th Amendment on the non-election of judges is supposed to result in LESS M.O.C.'s from us, and Bill Gardner continues to merely quote his job description in his Annual "Reports' (so-called) of he REFUSES to count the # of RSA Chapter 123:1 papers from the Feds at Zero. Thus we need an executive who will do the job description! - - Joe P.S. This looks similar to your anti Bill Binnie letter-to-the-editor too at:

Joseph, you are correct in your comment about John Lynch. I think that being a "businessman" does not automatically qualify one to be the "CEO" of a state, because the tasks are different in many ways. I think you have to look at the personal qualities of a candidate, no matter what their background. John Lynch, in my opinion did an excellent job as governor and was rewarded by being reelected three times. Craig Benson, another "businessman", made a mess of it and was turned out at the first opportunity. As far as the rest of your post, I can't make any sense out of it.

It may not automatically qualify you to be the "CEO" of the state but it sure helps to have a person in that position who understands 'profit and loss' and is not just sitting in the office doling out money as if it is candy on Halloween. Craig Benson's issue, if you remember is that he was acting like Bill Clinton and was chasing a skirt.

The phrase “chasing a skirt” is a sexist relic some may even consider quaint, but few if any chauvinists who still use it would think it includes what Benson was doing -- sexually harassing and oppressing employees of the female persuasion. is there any meaningful distinction for you?

No, I was channeling what Clinton was thinking. I am absolutely sure that is his world view......don't you have some ambulance chasing to do?

"sexually harassing . . . " Yes that's what Benson was doing. But that's also what Clinton was doing. Unless you care to tell us how Jones, Lewinski, Flowers, Willey and Broaddrick, et al were NOT victims of sexual harassment, but Benson's victims were . . .

Thank B.C. Plus: Isn't that Craig R. Benson standing behind him? to give $x,xxx,xxx to his campaign? for the RSA Ch. 94:1-a,I.(a),MM $127,443.47/yr. job? as of Jan. 9, 2015. And as for that other stuff that's why we have judges with "legalese" toward the law and newspaper reporters to summarize the case in laymen's terms. Neither R nor D's are any good in my opinion for law-enforcement as a poor check and balance against the other branch of whacko's in the judiciary, of like when they rule on contempt of court they over-ride the limit set in Articles 22 23 to ten (10) days by their Article 72-a so-called co-equal branch of government. - - - - - When I went for a pardon for the State to apologize in writing to me for keeping me in jail for 62 days once back in the 1980s under the Judge Wm.R.Johnson regime in Grafton County that the Sheriff Herb Ash and County Commissioner Ray Burton REFUSED to do the executive check against as 52 days over the lawful limit, I went to the G&C and both Merrill and Benson thought it was some vote rather than an advisement, while Ray Burton as an Executive Councilor too told Shaheen at a Breakfast Meeting to at least give me a hearing, of that she said that she would negate any positive votes anyway and so told Ray to shut up! , and Lynch even worse by having his State Police expunge the record as #x years ago like what Councilor Raymond J Wieczorek said of for an annulment, but that wipes it out, of I wanted it to stay as a stain on the State's record of these State & County public servants in violation of their RSA Ch. 92:2 oaths of office to Article 84 of the N.H. Constitution, of every officer insured by RSA Ch. 93-B:1-9 to $100,000 for a "faithful performance of duty" to obey the law, not be oath-breakers, but oath keepers. The going rate of wrongful incarceration being $2,500 per day per the Veronica Silva case of the mid 1980s to the N.H. State Board of Claims for the 20 days for her at $1,250/day gross x 20 = the then $25,000 max minus 20% or 1/5th = $5,000 to her Attorney Andru Volinsky = $20,000 net to her of since increased to: $50,000 because of inflation. So when the State asks for $money from me, I say to take it out of my account. (;-) Of like the other day I paid the unlawful filing fee to the N.H. Supreme Court in 1977 quarters under protest as not by fee but free to Article 14 and so they got what others paid back then of $8.00 in these debased coins of from The Coinage Act of 1965 even though we only "consent"ed to the Coinage Act of 1792 in 1794 of that still on the books, but try collecting the "lawful money" from your local bank which director takes an oath to abide by the laws within the state in which he operates, of us RSA Ch. 275:43,I employees ought to "Occupy" with The "Oath Keepers" and DO something at the banks other than to just TALK, but like what Ben Franklin said of to ASK questions to be answered! Co-"Founding Father" Roger Sherman's quotes over at R.I.P.


I am not really sure, but I think Joseph has some kind of complaint with the judicial system.

Lynch was also involved with the university system which is a great precursor to working as a governor.

Since democrats elected Shaheen they have doubled the state budget - Heck just since Lynch they have taken the budget from 8 Billion to $$$$$11.4 BILLION. Any 5th grader could run the govt maxing out the checkbook, credit card and raising taxes. It takes an executive to make the proper choices to stop the democrats astronomical rise in State Spending - Walt will do well at that.

Yes Walt sure will do for the state what he did for SAIC in 2011 right before magically retiring. Did his job as CEO so well that three top executives defrauded NY City of $500 million dollars thru kick backs and fraud. And he avoid an ugly criminal prosecution the American way, SAIC agreed to a $500 million fine if prosecution was dropped. Yup this is just the type of leadership that NH needs. As far as integrity, he's lying to either NH or Maryland about residency. He took out a Homestead mortgage in Maryland that required legal proof that you are a resident of that state, now he says, oops, I have been a resident of NH all this time. Regardless which is true, this makes him trustworthy how?

LOL...NH's version of birthers...I'll call them (you) the "residenters"

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