Tom Beeler published an editorial in the Granite State News today that contains several falsehoods and misrepresentations.
‘The Grunter’ • Est. 1859
FRANK CHILINSKI, Publisher THOMAS BEELER, Editor
Editorials, while unsigned, represent a consensus of the views of the editorial board of the Granite State News
Toxic Tuftonboro indeed!
This week we publish an Other Voices commentary on this page from Tuftonboro’s Barry Ennis. As he does fairly regularly in his letters, Ennis comes close to unacceptable disrespect in his criticisms, but we publish this letter to allow our readers to see how far the attack on trust in government has gone in Tuftonboro.
Please read his remarks and then continue here.
Mr. Ennis seems to have joined the small group of Tuftonboro residents who have committed themselves to find something – anything – they can use to foment distrust of the board of selectmen. They have sued the town, accusing the selectmen of violating the right-to-know law, RSA 91-A, as it applies to meetings. The result? The court found one technical error in posting a meeting and an error in judgment when the selectmen allowed a department head who was being reviewed in nonpublic session to bring up and discuss his budget, a subject that should only be discussed in a public meeting.
Carroll County Superior Court ruled that the Tuftonboro selectmen had violated the Right to Know law.
It was not brought to the judge’s attention that selectmen made that budget a topic at the next regular meeting.
That is irrelevant and has no bearing on whether the selectmen violated the Right to Know law. They did.
They have tried to portray the current selectmen as exercising control over cemetery maintenance and denying the cemetery trustees the right to manage it.
Because the selectmen overstepped their statutory authority and exerted control over the cemeteries illegally.
It turns out that years ago – long before the current board members lived in town, and likely even before the law relating to the duties of cemetery trustees was written – that all town grounds maintenance was done by one contractor as a matter of convenience.
That is irrelevant to whether or not it was illegal for them to make decisions about the cemeteries.
When the subject was raised, selectmen promptly turned the maintenance of cemeteries over to the trustees.
Actually, cemetery trust fund chairman Sue Weeks informed them they lacked the statutory authority to make payments for work done in the cemetery. They ignored her and went ahead and made payments they weren’t authorized to make.
They have made an issue of being denied the right to speak at meetings, when anyone can ask to be placed on the agenda to discuss anything.
Carolyn Sundquist has refused to put me on the agenda when she did not want to hear what I wanted to say about automatic employee raises.
They have asserted a right to ask questions and make comments at any time rather than at the end of the meeting.
This is a mischaracterization of what happened. The selectmen were engaging in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination by allow Elissa Paquette to ask questions at any point during the meeting, but refusing to take questions from anyone else.
They have insisted that the board hold evening meetings and promised a petition warrant article requiring them to do so.
I asked the selectmen three times to please have at least one meeting per month in the evening so that more people could attend if they wanted to attend. The selectmen refused, stated they preferred having meetings during the day. I will be submitting a petition warrant article requiring them to have evening meetings, but only because they refused to hold at least one meeting — not all — in the evening.
They have requested thousands of e-mails, clearly trying to find some misbehavior they can pillory.
Tom Beeler has no idea what Bob McWhirter is looking for, because Tom Beeler has never asked Bob.
They belittle the fact that someone has to do their bidding, implying that town employees have nothing better to do.
I have no idea what this refers to.
They also dismiss the right to privacy of those sending e-mails and want their fellow taxpayers to pay for their fishing expedition as a matter of right.
Emails are government records. The readers of the Granite State News might be more aware of this fact if Beeler had published the letter I wrote to the editor on the subject, but he declined to print it. Furthermore, the law is extremely clear that the selectmen may not charge people a fee to inspect government records.
That issue has now been taken to Superior Court, where the town is seeking guidance on how it should handle these requests.
The selectmen have sued Bob McWhirter and me, using the power of local government to punish us for having the audacity to exercise our rights.
Now they are trying to make an issue about a property owner blocking access to a road.
Ennis does not go to selectmen’s meetings
Perhaps because he works and the meetings are during the day?
and there is reason to doubt he has even viewed the videos of those meetings available at the library.
What reason would that be? Has Beeler viewed Ennis’s library record to see what items he has checked out?
The issue he raises has been discussed (by our count) five times in open meetings, beginning with the July 25 meeting.
Beeler does not attend the selectmen’s meetings, so he may not be aware that what Sundquist said during public meetings is different from what she was communicating in private to the property owners.
The board as a whole – not Chairman Carolyn Sundquist alone – has taken seriously the issue of blocked access and has gradually escalated its response to the point where, as we report in this issue, they have asked Town Counsel Rick Sager to determine who controls the right-of-way at issue and what actions the town can take.
Perhaps they should have done that before Carolyn Sundquist advised the property owners to “go ahead with placing boulders in the access.”
This is not the secret conspiracy Ennis wants to accuse Sundquist of perpetrating. He should not take the misinformation someone is feeding him as truth.
Someone is being fed misinformation — the readers of the Granite State News.
The people involved in these actions have failed repeatedly to demonstrate lack of openness in town government or even a refusal to respond to questions and requests.
Does this look like “a refusal to respond to questions and requests”? How’s that for “openness in town government”?
To us, the selectmen are trying to do the job they were elected to do, conscientiously and openly.
The intention seems to be to sow distrust of Tuftonboro selectmen in general and Selectman Sundquist in particular.
Why this misguided effort? What is behind the open animosity (evident in Ennis’s letter) with which it is pursued?
The selectmen’s antipathy toward public oversight is what’s behind the distrust.
Clearly there are personal grudges involved – one member of the group has at least three – but getting even cannot be everyone’s motivation. What is it?
I have no idea who Beeler’s referring to.
To us this all started when the selectmen openly supported the library trustees’ third effort to get a new library built and used library reserve funds to have conceptual plans done to present to voters. Yet it’s hard to believe that successful opposition to a new library is driving this effort to make mountains out of molehills.
We think it is time for residents to say “Enough is enough!” and show their support for the selectmen and their town.
In fact, some residents are saying “Enough is enough!” And the Granite State News is doing its best to malign those residents.