Bill Marcussen: We Removed Chris Sawyer from Planning Board Because Postage Stamps

Claiming that Chris Sawyer had “bucked the system,” selectman Bill Marcussen cited the planning board’s use of postage stamps to send out the Master Plan survey as a reason she should be removed from her position. No, seriously. She’s out because the planning board used stamps… to mail letters. (According to Bill.)

Guy Pike to Lloyd Wood and Bill Marcussen: Resign!

Quoting from Oliver Cromwell’s speech to the Rump Parliament in 1653, resident Guy Pike (a member of the budget committee), told selectmen Lloyd Wood and Bill Marcussen to resign today: “You have been sat here too long for any good you may have been doing. Depart, I say; and let us be done with you. In the name of God, go!”

Earlier in the meeting Lloyd and Bill voted against reappointing Chris Sawyer to the Planning Board, after Chris asked the board to reappoint her. Selectman Chip Albee was the lone vote to appoint Chris. Bill’s stated reason for voting against Chris’s reappointment was that she had bought stamps from the post office at the general store. Chris pointed out that the planning board had a budget item for postage.

Fenton Varney and Tony Triolo, who were both present and had spoken in Chris’s favor, then resigned from the Planning Board in protest after the selectmen’s vote. Fenton averred that Lloyd and Bill’s actions amounted to the “biggest bullshit I’ve ever seen in 35 years of living in this town.” Guy then jumped out of his seat and called the two selectmen cowards. It is to that outburst that Guy refers to, and apologizes for, in the video.

More videos of the meeting to come in later posts.

Pandemonium at Planning Board as Selectmen Sack Sawyer

Chris Sawyer is scheduled to meet with the selectmen today, likely to discuss why they removed her from the planning board earlier this month. Chris was the chairman of the planning board and had asked to be reappointed to another term on the board when her term expired at the end of June. The selectmen decided not to reappoint her, however. Chris won a Right to Know case against the selectmen in 2015, when Carroll County Superior Court ruled that the board had violated RSA 91-A multiple times, including the improper use of nonpublic meetings.

It’s unclear when the selectmen decided to remove her, but she received a two-line letter dated July 10 signed by the selectmen informing her that she was no longer on the planning board. Her name has been removed from the planning board’s page on the town web site.

Steve Brinser has resigned from the planning board in protest and I’m told that John Lapolla also resigned. (Both their names have also been removed from the web site.) In addition, John Cameron’s term expired at the end of June, leaving the board with only four regular members — three of whom were appointed in June.

While the letter was dated July 10, the selectmen did not discuss the matter in public session at their July 10 regular meeting.

However, they did sign a “thank you letter to a board member.”

Chairman Lloyd Wood did not identify the board member they were thanking. The 7/10 public meeting minutes, which are in draft form at the moment, state, “Selectman Marcussen moved to approve a thank you letter to a board member, seconded by Chairman Wood with all in favor.”

Chris said her letter was just two lines long, and this screen shot of Selectman Chip Albee signing the letter midway down the page makes it clear that if it wasn’t the letter to Chris, it certainly was a very short piece of correspondence.

In order to have a letter ready to sign on 7/10, they likely reached a decision at the meeting on July 3, even though there was no specific mention of Chris Sawyer during the public meeting that day.

There was this exchange during the July 3 public meeting, however:

Chip: “Do we have a nonpublic for appointments today?”
Lloyd: “Pardon?”
Chip: “Are we having a nonpublic for appointments today?”
Bill: “I think we need to.”
Lloyd: “If you want, yes. We can have a nonpublic any time we’re [in a] legal meeting.”

By saying “for appointments,” Chip may have been referring to appointing someone to a board. However, at the end of the public meeting, the selectmen said they were going into nonpublic for a “personnel issue.”

The word “personnel” does not appear in the nonpublic meeting section of 91-A. The public minutes for July 3 read, “Selectman Marcussen moved to enter non-public session per RSA 91-A: 3 II (a) to discuss a personnel issue.” As you can see in the video, despite what the minutes incorrectly show, Bill didn’t cite the specific paragraph, which is a violation of RSA 91-A:3-I(b): “Any motion to enter nonpublic session shall state on its face the specific exemption under paragraph II which is relied upon as foundation for the nonpublic session.”

91-A:3-II(a) states “The dismissal, promotion, or compensation of any public employee or the disciplining of such employee, or the investigation of any charges against him or her, unless the employee affected (1) has a right to a meeting and (2) requests that the meeting be open, in which case the request shall be granted.”

Chris was not an employee, so if the selectmen relied on 91-A:3-II(a) to discuss her reappointment to the board, then they violated the law.

Regardless of whether they discussed Chris during the 91-A:3-II(a) session, they are likely in violation of RSA 91-A:3-III, which states, of nonpublic meetings, “minutes of such sessions shall record all actions in such a manner that the vote of each member is ascertained and recorded.”

The minutes for the 91-a:3-II(a) session read only, “the selectmen discussed various personnel issues.”

Furthermore, 91-A:3-II(a) does not allow the selectmen to discuss “various” personnel issues, only the specific issues as defined in the paragraph: “The dismissal, promotion, or compensation of any public employee or the disciplining of such employee, or the investigation of any charges against him or her.”

It seems likely that the selectmen either discussed Chris’s reappointment during the 91-A:3-II(a) nonpublic meeting, which would have been illegal, or they discussed it in a non-meeting, which would be illegal.

“Junk Yard” Property Owners Identified

According to the minutes of a nonpublic selectmen’s meeting on May 1, 2017, the property owners who are being sued by the selectmen for having “junk yards” on their land are:

  • Thomas Thompson, 23 Cow Island
  • David Straw, Mountain Road
  • Bill Holmes, Levitt Lane and Aspen Drive
  • Paula Gariepy, Union Wharf Road
  • Andy Brousseau, Ledge Hill Road

Theresa Masterson of Dame Road is named in the May 1 minutes, but as stated in the 7/10 nonpublic meeting minutes she has agreed to clean up her property before August 15.

Selectmen Sue Residents Over Junk Yards

The selectmen (Lloyd Wood, Bill Marcussen, and Chip Albee) have decided to file lawsuits against a number of town residents, according to the draft minutes of a nonpublic meeting held on July 10. The selectmen have determined that the residents, who they have not yet publicly named, are maintaining illegal junk yards on their properties. According to the minutes:

The Selectmen reviewed correspondence from Attorney Sager regarding junkyard properties. Per the Selectmen’s request, Code Officer Jack Parsons joined the meeting.

After much discussion, it was agreed to bring suit against all parties recently addressed by Attorney Sager, except for Masterson.

Masterson has avoided litigation for the time being, so long as the property is cleaned up:

Masterson has stated that they will have everything cleaned up by August 15th. In the event that the issue is not resolved by this deadline then the matter will be revisited.

My understanding is that Masterson’s property is on Dame Road.

There was also discussion of the Libby property on Mountain Road across from the entrance to the transfer station.

The minutes to the nonpublic meeting on 7/10/17 were obtained through a Right to Know request despite the selectmen attempting to thwart their disclosure by improperly claiming the meeting was not subject to RSA 91-A.

Karen Koch, the administrative secretary, wrote in an email:

On Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 11:35 AM, Tuftonboro Selectmen wrote:

Max,

In response to your request today to review the non-public minutes dated 7-10, the Selectmen considered the non-public meeting of July 10th to be only a review of ongoing legal actions and hence covered by lawyer-client privilege and hence not subject to 91-A.  Since your request was made we have been reaching out to Attorney Sager to confirm that those minutes are not subject to 91-A.  If we find that these minutes are subject to your 91-A request we’ll happily supply them.  Having not heard back from Attorney Sager this morning it may take until Monday for an answer.

Karen

Karen Koch
Administrative Secretary
Town of Tuftonboro
240 Middle Road
P.O. Box 98
Ctr. Tuftonboro, NH 03816
(603) 569-4539 X10
selectmen@tuftonboro.org

However, Karen immediately sent me the minutes after I responded to her here:

On Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 12:05 PM, Maxim Ledoux wrote:

Hi, Karen,

It was non-public meeting pursuant to 91-A. They had a roll call vote to go in to non-public meeting per 91-a:3:II-L:

Bill: “I move we go into non-public.”
Chip: “Non-public. Do we need to go into non-public? Do you want to take some actions…”
Bill: “To discuss these? I believe we do.”
Chip: “OK. Then I’ll second that.”
Lloyd: “Roll Call.”
Bill: “Marcussen: Yes.”
Lloyd: “Wood: Yes.”
Chip: “Albee: Yes.”
Chip: “That’s a capital L.” (Referring to 91-A:3-II-L)
Bill: “Yes.”
Chip: “Not the lower case L.”
Max: “What’s the specific provision?”
Chip: “Legal.”
Max: “Legal.”

As you know, but I’m stating here for the written record, I was just in the town office and reviewed the binder of non-public meeting minutes.

The minutes for the non-public 7/10/17 meeting were not in the binder.

RSA 91-A:III states in full:

Minutes of meetings in nonpublic session shall be kept and the record of all actions shall be promptly made available for public inspection, except as provided in this section. Minutes and decisions reached in nonpublic session shall be publicly disclosed within 72 hours of the meeting, unless, by recorded vote of 2/3 of the members present taken in public session, it is determined that divulgence of the information likely would affect adversely the reputation of any person other than a member of the public body itself, or render the proposed action ineffective, or pertain to terrorism, more specifically, to matters relating to the preparation for and the carrying out of all emergency functions, developed by local or state safety officials that are directly intended to thwart a deliberate act that is intended to result in widespread or severe damage to property or widespread injury or loss of life. This shall include training to carry out such functions. In the event of such circumstances, information may be withheld until, in the opinion of a majority of members, the aforesaid circumstances no longer apply.

The draft minutes of the public 7/10/17 selectmen’s meeting do not record a 2/3 vote to “seal” the non-public minutes. The public minutes do record that the non-public meeting ended at 11:19AM. It has now been more than 72 hours. While the public minutes are in draft form, I hardly think a reasonable person would find it plausible that you would omit something as important as a 2/3 vote to seal non-public minutes. You take very detailed minutes, and the selectmen only ever correct very minor points, such as typos.

Please provide Bob and me with an electronic copy of the 7/10/17 non-public meeting minutes today, before close of business (4PM ET). The minutes are created electronically, so you can provide them electronically.

Kind Regards,
Max

When I was in the office reviewing the binder of nonpublic meeting minutes, as I mentioned in the email above, I discovered that the minutes for a nonpublic meeting on May 1, 2017, were improperly missing. The selectmen are now attempting to withhold those minutes, even though, like the 7/10/17 minutes, there was never any roll call vote with 72 hours of the meeting ending to withhold the 5/1/17 minutes from public disclosure.

The public meeting minutes from 5/1/17 reveal that the nonpublic meeting was on the same subject — junk yards — as the 7/10/17 nonpublic meeting:

At 3:45 pm, Selectman Marcussen moved to enter non-public session per RSA 91-A:3, II (c) , to discuss junk properties with Code Officer, Jack Parsons[,] and Attorney Sager, seconded by Selectman Albee. Roll call vote: Wood – Yes; Marcussen – Yes; Albee – Yes.

At 4:00 pm, Selectman Marcussen moved to end the non-public session and move back into public session, seconded by Selectman Albee with all in favor. After a brief break, Chairman Wood called the public meeting to order at 4:07 pm and proceeded with the Pledge of Allegiance.

The selectmen have no more grounds for withholding the 5/1/17 minutes than they did for withholding the 7/10/17 minutes.

Selectmen and Road Agent Meet to Discuss Highway Budget Deficit

0:00:00 Pledge
0:00:25 Parks Rec
0:15:42 Lloyd “program budgets”
0:21:45 Jim Bean / Roads
budget review

0:42:30 seasonal expenditures
2016: Fall maintenance $28,309.50
0:47:25 Chip: take extraordinary events (weather) out of road budget. It makes it impossible to budget.
1:00:00 Lloyd: office space for road agent?
1:12:00 Trucks

Selectmen’s Meeting July 10, 2017

0:00:00 call to order / pledge
0:00:30 Public comment (no comment)
0:01:00 DEPARTMENT UPDATES
0:01:01 Library
Summer reading program
Library will need new computers in 2018
0:17:46 Buildings/Code/Health
0:21:30 Transfer Station
As of end of June:
$42,500 total revenue ($32k 2016)
45 solid waste containers (42 in 2016)
51 construction debris containers (49 in 2016)
13 plastic containers (same in 2016)
Buildings at transfer station repainted
Hazardous waste collection: July 29 in Meredith, August 5 in Ossipee (just need Tuftonboro transfer station sticker on car)
You can also go to Wolfeboro but you have to pay
0:46:45 APPOINTMENT: Sue Weeks
In regards to the CEMETERY HEARING on July 24 on Thompson-Moulton Cemetery, Cemetery Trustees would like the Moulton part of the cemetery to remained “abandoned” (legal term).
0:57:00 Road Agent (Continue DEPARTMENT UPDATES)
1:14:05 REVIEW AND APPROVE MINUTES
1:18:20 SIGNATURE FILE
1:24:15 CONTINUED BUSINESS (none)
1:24:30 SELECTMEN’S UPDATES
1:36:25 CORRESPONDENCE
1:40:00 Bill did research on RSA 31-95 Public hearing to accept donations in excess of $10,000 (cash or value of gift)
1:43:10 Public Comment
1:54:30 Non-public for legal

Selectmen’s Meeting July 3, 2017

0:00:28 Call to Order
0:00:50 Pledge
0:01:25 PUBLIC COMMENT
Max Ledoux — Durgin Road paved. Cars speeding. Spoke to Chief Shagoury about radar trailer
0:02:50 APPOINTMENTS
Road Agent didn’t come for appointment
0:03:30 REVIEW AND APPROVE MINUTES
0:05:00 SIGNATURE FILE
0:06:15 Lot 413-1-16 owes yield tax
Re-appointment of Michael Phelps to conservation commission
Mark Howard
0:08:35 Lloyd “we can go into non-public any time we’re in a legal meeting.”
0:09:00 Letter to county commissioners about county taxes
0:10:30 Lot 65-3-2 yield tax owed, owner has filed intent to cut.
0:14:40 CONTINUED BUSINESS
Hurlbut Trust
0:15:47 Oil / Diesel
Carroll County Oil prices: oil $1.799, diesel $0.15 over cost
price locked in for one year
0:19:25 Application for state aid for bridges — Sodom Road & Tuftonboro Neck Road
0:24:20 Lloyd says HEB was involved in several road projects in town in the past that have had issues, including overruns. Lloyd not sure HEB at fault, but wonders about putting out projects to bid. Chip says we’ll have to put out to bid and also points out that HEB didn’t select the company on one of the projects that ended up going bankrupt. Bill points out that HEB brought to the attention of the selectmen that Tuftonboro wasn’t on the state list of bridges to be repaired.
0:30:00 SELECTMEN’S UPDATES
Bill: Milfoil
0:32:10 Lloyd: Mirror Lake Protective Association, Mirror Lake Watershed Association, note to Chief Shagoury (No Parking ordinance at Union Wharf), letter from Carol Miller re TimeWarner/Spectrum transfer station
0:37:40 Discussion of Road Agent budget. Selectmen want to meet with Jim regularly (every two weeks) so that meetings don’t last two hours.

0:39:03 Video stopped by accident (off camera began discussion of cleaning up 19 Mile Bay beach.)

0:39:04 Trash at 19 Mile Beach
Suggestion to install motion-activated surveillance camera.
0:44:29 CORRESPONDENCE
0:45:06 OTHER BUSINESS
0:45:20 Selectmen to attend Ragged Island Day event (free donuts and coffee!)
0:46:15 PUBLIC COMMENT
Elissa Paquette: Federal election fraud commission seeking public information about voting from states.
0:48:12 Max: Clarify cost of Diesel (will fluctuate over the year)
0:48:50 Elissa: follow up on bridges
0:52:20 motion to go to non-public session to discuss personnel matters

Richard Sager Charges $20 for Paralegal to Watch YouTube Video

Richard Sager, attorney
Richard Sager
Photo credit: sagerhaskell.com

Richard Sager of Sager & Smith, PLLC (previously of Sager & Haskell, PLLC), in Ossipee, NH, charged the taxpayers of Tuftonboro $20 for his paralegal, Heather Wrigley, to watch a 12 minute YouTube video posted by yours truly.

The $20 YouTube-watching charge appears on Sager & Smith’s April, 2017, invoice to the town for charges related to the Tuftonboro vs. McWhirter & Ledoux case.

The selectmen sued Bob McWhirter and me in an attempt to avoid their duty under the law to make governmental records available for inspection at no charge. As Sager admitted in court earlier this month, RSA 91-A states that “no fee shall be charged for the inspection” of governmental records.

Taxpayers have spent $12,405.59 on Sager’s legal services, specifically related to this case, from November 2016, to May 15, 2017, according to a review of Sager’s invoices, which are public documents (i.e., governmental records) and were provided to Betsy Frago and me by the selectmen after we made Right to Know requests to inspect them. Contradictorily, the town did not attempt to charge us to inspect the invoices, even though the selectmen are suing Bob and me in order to try to get the Court to rewrite the law in order to allow them to charge us a fee to inspect governmental records.

The invoice notes a $20 charge for “.20” hours (12 minutes) billed at Wrigley’s $60 per hour paralegal fee for “Save defendant’s latest video to our file” on April 24, 2017.

The “latest video” at that time was this 12-minute, 28-second video that I posted on April 3:

I suppose we should be grateful that Sager did not round up the fee from 2/10 to 3/10 of an hour and bill us an additional $10 for that 28 seconds!

The hearing in this case was on June 12, 2017, in Carroll County Superior Court with Judge Ignatius presiding and can be viewed in its entirety here:

We have not yet received a decision from the court.

Selectmen’s Meeting, June 26, 2017

Selectmen’s meeting 6-26-17
0:00:00 call to order / pledge
0:00:20 PUBLIC UPDATE
Max Ledoux Durgin Road paving / RTK for Sager invoices
0:03:30 FD UPDATE
Replaced engine on one of the trucks
Ambulance went out four times for mutual aide to other towns since July 2016
0:17:40 Chip asks about mutual aide agreements for boat and ambulance
0:22:45 No billing process in place for ambulance
0:25:30 PD UPDATE
0:36:50 Kevin Fournier HEB – Bridges
0:52:40 BIDS for Rescue Truck (FD)
Winner: $8,777
0:58:45 REVIEW OF MINUTES
1:00:00 SIGNATURE FILE
1:07:50 CONTINUED BUSINESS
1:02:15 SELECTMEN’S UPDATES
1:19:10 Lloyd: Cleanup of town-owned property (Dore property)
1:20:00 Selectmen bring up possibility of selling properties again
1:20:45 Old business — oil/propane prices
1:25:00 CORRESPONDENCE
1:30:00 unlicensed dogs
Guy/Max ambulance mutual aide agreements
1:41:10 Joe Kowalski question about tent / dogs
1:42:50 Elisse Paquette