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NH 'Personality of the Year'

This person made headlines in 2012, inspiring and confounding and damning the torpedoes.

Burrow through the 2012 archives for year-in-review stories and one name keeps cropping up. Instead of a "Person of the Year," this file search steered NH Patch editors more toward a "Personality of the Year."

And that personality is William L. O'Brien.

The former House Speaker (R-Mont Vernon) wielded the gavel for one term, but it was a vital, memorable term. He inspired some Republicans and Tea Party members and infuriated opponents. He emerged as a Mel Thomson-like Speaker of the House. He began with a focus on limited government and low taxes and soon became a lightning rod for a canopy of issues – economic and social.

"To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing," as the wisdom goes. That very quote has been on display before in the Speaker's Office on the third floor of the New Hampshire Statehouse. 

It could have been an anthem for Bill O'Brien.

The Republican red wave in 2010 was a message from the people, he believed. And, he acknowledged in interviews, he aimed to do what he thought was right, not take hopscotch steps here and there to ensure re-election. Turns out, he almost didn't win re-election to the House of Representatives.

In 2012, with his feet firmly planted on the right, O'Brien pushed his political chips into the middle.

He confronted unions in trying to pass right-to-work legislation. He was an architect of the voter ID bill. He fought for welfare reform to tackle cases of fraud. Critics labeled him  but as the broadsides came his way, he showed he had no qualms of returning fire.

Then there was that "Sieg Heil" controversy with a state representative criticizing his leadership from the House floor. Soon after that, he blocked Concord Monitor reporters from attending a news conference in his office, piqued as he was over an editorial cartoon in the newspaper that depicted him with a Hitler-like mustache.

As he raised his profile, he essentially mobilized Democrats in the state – candidates ran against him, and Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan regularly tried to use O'Brien as a political pin-cushion.

O'Brien returns to the House as Representative O'Brien. He declined to pursue any House Minority Leadership post, instead directing more of his attention to his law practice. Still, in the next legislative session, he plans to fight for some of the legislation that got derailed, such as a right-to-work bill. 

This "Personality of the Year" designation does not endorse anything the former Speaker has done, nor any policy he has promoted. It reflects the definition of personality..."the quality of being a unique person."

Bill O'Brien was remarkable in 2012. He was, well, a real personality.

steve forte December 28, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Why is Don P a state rep? Should you not be held to a higher standard as a rep then the common man? If we are to trust you in making decisions that effect all of us, should the truth not matter to you?
Gary Patton December 28, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Bill O'Brien is best consigned to the dust bin of history. His misguided actions managed in 2 years to turn a 295 Republican supermajority in the House into a 180 member minority. I don't think that the ability to create such a political disaster qualifies him to be NH's Personality of the Year or even be the object of particular respect or interest.
Jan Schmidt December 28, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Another interesting turn of events - all I've said... and the only interest is in the $$$$. Well, illegal is a funny word when talking about politics - isn't it. For instance several thousands were given to O'Brien by the RTW out-of-state fake non-profit organization - to help elect Reps who will vote for this bill that has been turned down by every biennium - Democratic and Republican - with no businesses asking for it, and the general consensus among the people as - hey... it works, leave it alone. So it was a payoff and a bribe in my eyes... And how about that cigarette tax cut followed the next day with a meeting with the tobacco company followed closely by the corresponding hike in the price of a pack of smokes? And then there are the ALEC bills that come straight form the corporate-writing team after a little all-paid trip to their convention. Out of state bills? Come on, we can write our own bills! Whew - did I answer your question?
Rusty December 28, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Jan... You have way too much to say about every topic on this site.... give your Republican bashing a rest.
T Rex December 28, 2012 at 11:25 PM
@Rusty Don't you get it. Patch is a democrat site and not for everybody. It sure is not a local news site and never really was.
Rusty December 29, 2012 at 01:12 AM
@Timothy and others... maybe it is a Democrat site but lately it has turned into the Jan Schmidt site!
Tony Schinella (Editor) December 29, 2012 at 02:35 AM
@Timothy: We're not a "democrat site" - we're a local news site. We simply report and readers and contributors offer their opinions on the news. :-)
T Rex December 29, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Bull
ForThePeople December 29, 2012 at 03:32 AM
I always picture these folks that rave about socialist this and communist that, as rifling through newspapers from 50 years ago for evidence of a conspiracy, Jack Daniels in one hand and a rifle leaning up against the wall. There is a Bible in the coffee table drawer, although it's barely been read. Adjusting their one-inch thick bifocals, highlighting the news with a black marker, drawing arrows from one article to another. Glenn Beck raves on low volume in the background on a TV that still has rabbit ears.
ForThePeople December 29, 2012 at 03:36 AM
I think that our legislature could have collectively won the award.
Jan Schmidt December 30, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Everyone complains about taxes....
ForThePeople December 30, 2012 at 08:50 PM
You mean the Democrats that want a balanced taxation system instead of a regressive system? It's the Republicans stopping that from happening.
Dale Harrington December 31, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Whew.... was about to cancel my Patch account when I read it was a Democrat site... thanks for clearing that up Tony! ;)
Dale Harrington December 31, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Jan that's true, but you're the only one, at least in this thread, that complained that taxes were reduced, albeit the tobacco tax.
steve forte December 31, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Oh Im sure most non smokers are complaining about that Dale.
Just my 2 cents January 07, 2013 at 02:27 PM
Interesting some feel The Patch is slanted toward Democratics. I know Dems that think it is slanted to Rebulicans. I guess that means The Patch is fair and balanced. Keep up the good work!
Carol Robidoux (Editor) January 07, 2013 at 03:05 PM
I "Like" what Just my 2 cents said. We do try.
Tony Schinella (Editor) January 07, 2013 at 03:13 PM
Dare I say it? Sure: Ditto what Carol said. :-)
Survivor. January 07, 2013 at 03:24 PM
Gag me with a spoon. Or the current version thereof. Or how many more stories will schinella do about Obrien?
Patriot January 07, 2013 at 03:29 PM
Starting to sound like an ad for Fox, where is the MSNBC Patch work?
Patriot January 07, 2013 at 03:29 PM
Penny for your thoughts!
Patriot January 07, 2013 at 03:31 PM
If O'Brien did not want to be on the front page he would have taken the seat he has now along time ago.
Riley Reid January 07, 2013 at 03:31 PM
Mr O'Brien was nothing but a bully who pushed those in opposition to him around and tried to promote an agenda mostly from the National Republican party that would do nothing to better NH
Riley Reid January 07, 2013 at 03:34 PM
I'd give my vote for this to DJ Bettencourt. How do you spend all that time in school, not to mention the $$$$ and then screw it all up by fraudulently reporting hours worked in a law office. I'd think that the internship was probably the easiest part of the course.
Patriot January 07, 2013 at 03:55 PM
""He fought for welfare reform to tackle cases of fraud."" How Ironic!
Ray Guarino January 07, 2013 at 04:42 PM
In order to be Personality of the Year, I would think that it must be required that the award recipient actually have a personality. There isn't, nor has there been, any original thinking going on inside former speaker William L. O'Brien's head. He has been a tool of the rich robber barons that run ALEC. If you must assign O'Brien a personality then based on his behavior as speaker, it was one of a mean spirited bully. The Nashua Patch's choice of O'Brien as NH Personality of the Year is one of many reasons why the Patch languishes in mediocrity and obscurity.
Ray Guarino January 07, 2013 at 04:54 PM
Good Zinger!!
Seamus Carty January 07, 2013 at 04:56 PM
"He got pay-offs from ALEC and RTW and tobacco" Another allegation without any substance or proof. Typical of a democratic politician. Please provide a link to a news source or campaign finance database that proves this. Time to put up or shut up.
Seamus Carty January 07, 2013 at 05:01 PM
Is personality of the year the same as person of the year? If so, then I nominate Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney.
Carolyn Dube (Editor) January 07, 2013 at 09:21 PM
Seamus, as it was explained in the story, Personality of the Year is not the same as Person of the Year. "It reflects the definition of personality...'the quality of being a unique person.'"

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