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Play ball!

Upon hearing the word "disingenuous" uttered in any conversation involving politics, plain-speaking folks should batten down the hatches and get ready to-view a "discussion" worthy of Pay Per View.

That's because when political types reach deep into their vocabularies to utter the word, they're really holding back the word they want to use: lying.

Thus the heading-for-an-eruption back-and-forth between Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen and officials of the eight New Hampshire counties.

In a nutshell, the county folks have been saying for years now that they've been left holding the bag when it comes to ongoing budget cuts, particularly when they apply to social services. Their argument is that the state has long been balancing its HHS budget--particularly its Medicaid obligations--on the backs of the counties' property-tax payers, who have to make up for any shortfall in funding.

County officials have been harping on that argument for quite a while, and Stephen--who essentially says he's only following orders when it comes to the budget cuts--has long bristled over it.

But criticism of HHS, and Stephen's bristling, were each turned up a notch in a recent article in the Laconia Citizen.

In it, Stephen takes particular exception to recent comments by Belknap County officials, who recently had to vote for a $1.1 million appropriation to cover county nursing home costs.

"I'm very frustrated ... to say that we have shifted costs to the county is totally inaccurate, and you would have to ignore the facts to admit it." Stephen is quoted as saying. "To say that rates have resulted in some of the problems they have faced is disingenuous."

Wherever you stand on the issue, it's interesting to note who is among those being tarred with Stephen's "disingenuous" brush. None other than fellow Republicans Chris Boothby, a Belknap County commissioner, and state Rep. Fran Wendelboe, a member of the Belknap County delegation. Both have been critics of Stephen's actions--or inactions, as they see it--in helping out the counties. And both will likely play a role in helping out whoever would be running against Stephen in a GOP primary if, and when, he decides to run for governor.

That's pretty much inside baseball. And that "disingenuous" was definitely a brushback pitch.
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Title Annotation:city councils and services
Publication:New Hampshire Business Review
Geographic Code:1U1NH
Date:Aug 18, 2006
Previous Article:Thinking inside the boxed wine.
Next Article:In the bag.

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