LACONIA — Local Republicans were quick to condemn remarks of Belknap County Commissioner Ed Philpot of Laconia, who while speaking to fellow Democrats at the county committee's annual picnic on Thursday evening called the Republican leadership of the Belknap County Delegation "bad people looking to do bad things."
Alan Glassman of Barnstead, chairman of the Belknap County Republican Committee, promptly issued a statement calling on Philpot to make a public apology "acknowledging that his public comments were unprofessional, inflammatory, and inappropriate." Others, including two members of the delegation — Representatives Jane Cormier of Alton and Richard Burchell of Gilmanton — immediately sent letters to this newspaper reproaching Philpot.
In his statement, Glassman said that he was "appalled" to read Philpot's remarks, adding that his reaction was "exacerbated by the fact that The Daily Sun's headline at the top of page 1 was "Philpot takes aim at 'bad people' leading GOP delegation". He noted that The Citizen, which also reported on Philpot's remarks, headlined its story "County Democrats Looking to 2014 Elections."
"If Commissioner Philpot really feels that publicly uttering such a statement is going to help improve the strained relationship between the commissioners and the Republican delegation," Glassman continued, "he undoubtedly doesn't have a good understanding of human nature. Speaking on behalf of all Republicans in Belknap County, " he said, "I want to see the commissioners and the entire delegation able to work together on such critical matters as the county budget and the county prison." But, he closed, "to do so, at this juncture requires a public apology from Commissioner Philpot."
"I was very shocked to say the least," Glassman said yesterday. He said that he sent an e-mail directly to Philpot urging him to apologize quickly and publicly to put the matter to rest. He copied his e-maill to Philpot's colleagues, Commissioners John Thomas of Belmont and Steve Nedeau of Meredith — both Republicans — as well as to Representative Colette Worsman of Meredith, who chairs the convention, and Representative Frank Tilton of Laconia, the chairman of the Executive Committee of the convention.
Philpot's differences with the delegation began last December, shortly after the commission presented its budget, when the delegation claimed authority over the budget he believed was vested in the commission. The breach widened as the delegation prepared its budget, choosing to reject the commission's suggestions for reducing the amount to be raised by property taxes in favor of stripping stripping employee benefits from the budget.
After the commission shuffled money within the budget to fund the benefits, the dispute fell to the hands of attorneys. Meanwhile, the commissioners have spent much of the past year planning to replace the county jail with a new facility. The project has scant support among the delegation, some of whose members have challenged the process followed by the commission and openly rejected its findings and recommendations.