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Hassan did fine: The governor's first storm

February 11. 2013 8:07PM

Gov. Maggie Hassan has weathered her first storm. Literally. How did she do? Quite well.

It can be so tempting to overreact when you are solely responsible for making decisions about public safety that could mean the difference between life and death for total strangers. For a recent example, just look south at Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

With last week's big snowstorm approaching, Patrick first asked the people of Massachusetts to be off the roads by noon on Friday. He later decided more drastic action was needed. He issued an executive order commanding virtually everyone to be off the roads by 4 p.m. The penalty was a fine of up to $500 and up to a year in jail. A year.

For the offense of not getting home by the time the governor decided everyone should be home, it was possible, however unlikely, to have one's entire life ruined. A term of much less than a year in jail can bring job loss, financial ruin and enormous family burdens. The chances of the state actually pursuing such a punishment are less relevant than the fact that Patrick was willing to threaten it - with about three hours' notice. Such is the relationship between citizen and state in the commonwealth whose capital was once the Cradle of Liberty.

Hassan took no such measures. She correctly declared a state of emergency, which sets in motion the mobilization of state emergency management resources. She recommended that people be off the roads by 7 p.m. Friday night. And she kept the people updated as storm conditions warranted without getting in the way of first responders.

If Hassan sticks with the good ole New Hampshire tradition of trusting the people to make important decisions for themselves, she might do OK.

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