Bike Week, Speedway reps dispute prostitution comment

LACONIA — By suggesting that both Laconia Motorcycle Week and New Hampshire Motor Speedway are venues where teenage prostitution and human trafficking occur, state Rep. Brian Gallagher, a Republican of Sanbornton, cast a shadow on two of major attractions the Lakes Region has to offer.

Gallagher is the prime sponsor of HB 1525, which would make offering to pay, agreeing to pay or paying either to engage in sexual relations or to watch a sexual performance involving a person under the age of 18 a felony carrying a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

Speaking about the bill, Gallagher said that "sometimes folks think this is far away, but "it's right here in front of us in New Hampshire and the Lakes Region and New Hampshire." He mentioned "a couple of major events" — Laconia Motorcycle Week and races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway — as "occasions where this kind of behavior has occurred and does occur," adding that "the police chiefs recognize this as a concern."

Laconia Police Chief Chris Adams said he could not recall either an arrest or an investigation associated with prostitution during Motorcycle Week in his 22 years with the department. However, he added that law enforcement agencies across the country operate on the assumption that prostitutes may be drawn to events that attract large crowds. He said that the traffic on websites like backpages.com, which advertise adult services, may reflect the presence of prostitutes at a particular venue.

"Anytime there there is a large event, there is an opportunity," Adams said, "and while it is always a concern, we've had no experience of open prostitution."

Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, conceded that "large events attract unsavory people, but there are plenty of unsavory people living in New Hampshire right now." He saw no reason to single out either Motorcycle Week or the speedway , much less to suggest that prostitution has occurred at either venue when there has been no evidence of it.

"Luring minors to engage in inappropriate and illegal behavior is reprehensible," St. Clair said. "I applaud the effort to tighten the law and stiffen the penalties and have no problem with the bill. "But, why single out these events? The use of the Internet has opened the door to this stiff 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It's going on everywhere all the time."

In a prepared statement David McGrath, executive vice president and general manager of New Hampshire Motor Speedway, said "there has never been an arrest for this type of illicit activity at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. We do not foster this behavior, and we will continue to work collaboratively with law enforcement to be diligent and take all necessary precautions and actions to ensure there is no illegal on our property. Our goal," he closed, "is to be fan friendly and we will continue to take every necessary step to ensure safety for all of our guests."

State Sen. Andrew Hosmer, a Laconia Democrat, said that while he had no quarrel with Gallagher's intentions in introducing the bill, he thought it was "reckless" to cast suspicion on two events of such economic significance to the state and the region.

Carly Fiorina fills Wicwas Grange

MEREDITH — "It is my calling to return this nation to a citizen government," Carly Fiorina told a crowd that stretched the capacity of the Wicwas Grange to its limits on Thursday evening, proclaiming that "it is time to take our future back. It is time to take our politics back. It is time to take our government back. Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to take our country back."

Casting herself as "conservative, outsider, leader," Fiorina, the former chief executive officer of Hewlett Packard Company, has pursued a campaign promising to wrest power from the "professional political class and special interests that control it" and return it to the people. Three times during her appearance at the Grange he repeated the refrain "it is time to take our country back."

"It's not quick and easy," Fiorina acknowledged. "It's hard work. But, I'm prepared to do the heavy lifting." She outlined a "blueprint," consisting of a half-dozen priorities. She would begin by shrinking the 73,000 pages of the tax code to three, lower all tax rates and introduce a flat tax for individuals and corporations. Next she would require all federal departments and agencies to justify every dollar of expenditure applying "zero-based" budgeting. She would repeal Obamacare a replace it with a "common sense" health care system that would lower costs and improve quality. She would prohibit abortion after five months and deny funding to Planned Parenthood. Finally, Fiorina would secure the borders and reform the immigration system while denying a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

"We can do all these things," Fiorina said. "Every problem we have can be solved. All our wounds can be healed." She said that she would compel Congress to act to leveraging the power of citizens by speaking from the Oval Office, asking people if they want a three-page tax code, then saying "take out your smart phones, and press one for yes and two for no."

"We need a president who understands what leadership is," Fiorina insisted, adding that the "the highest calling of a leader is to unlock potential of others."

When Fiorina invited questions from the floor, Holly Tetreault, a Blue Star Mother from Meredith, changed the mood by challenging her — "mother-to-mother" — to restore the designation of POW/MIA, which was replaced by the less forthright term Missing/Capture in 2000, during the first 100 days of her presidency. "I am challenging you to show the world that you will be the woman who had the courage that the men didn't have," Tetreault said.

"I accept," Fiorina replied, as the two embraced amid thunderous applause.

After rising in the polls in September following strong showings in the first two televised debates, Fiorina has back among the also-rans. In a poll of New Hampshire voters released this week Public Policy Polling placed her with 4 percent of the vote. Headlines asking "What Happened to Carly Fiorina?" have appeared more than once in last several months.

Pundits have suggested that by repeatedly touting her international travels and relationships with foreign leaders, including Vladimir Putin, Benjamin Netanyahu and King Abdullah II of Jordan, she has compromised her claim to be an "outsider." Since October, Fiorina has struggled to capture significant attention from the media. The super PAC, CARLY for America, which is funding and managing much of her campaign, only began purchasing television time after her polling numbers fell to single digits. She stoutly defends her record at Hewlett Packard Company, but the performance of the firm under her leadership casts doubt on the value of her tenure to her campaign.

Undaunted, Fiorina said that when she announced her candidacy she was 17th in a field of 16.

"New Hampshire has listened to me and carried me this far," she said. "I hope you are going to carry me all the way."

Two Belmont teens arrested for pot, endangering minors

BELMONT — Two local teens have been charged with endangering the welfare of a child after police found then near Pout Pond allegedly smoking marijuana in a car with two minors in it.
Jason A. Reistrom, 18, of Belmont is also charged with possession of a controlled drug with intent to distribute, and driver Tishara L. Rollins, 18, of Belmont was charged with transportation of a controlled drug in a motor vehicle.
Lt. Richard Mann said police have been watching for slow-moving cars because of the recent BB gun vandalism spree and an officer noticed Rollins' car near Pout Pond.
He said there were four occupants in the car he found in the town parking area. The officer noticed a strong smell of marijuana coming from the car when he approached it.
Reistrom and Rollins have been released on personal recognizance bail and the two minors were released to their parents. Both are expected to appear in Laconia District Court on Feb. 18.