At Monday’s budget committee meeting, selectmen’s representative Carolyn Sundquist (term ends 2017) made the case for an additional $1,000 in overtime for the administrative secretary and administrative assistant in next year’s budget. Carolyn suggested that the extra funds for overtime next year would be needed because the selectmen have received a request through the Right to Know law, which she characterized as frivolous and “a fishing expedition,” for all emails to or from the selectmen, the administrative secretary, and the administrative assistant from March 1, 2016, to October 17, 2016.
It’s not clear who made the request for emails. [Update: The request was made by Tuftonboro resident Bob McWhirter.]
Carla Lootens, the chairman of the budget committee, seemed taken aback. She asked, “So we have to pay $1,000 overtime because someone wants…?”
Carolyn quickly said, “No.” That the work for the Right to Know request is part of their “normal work schedule.”
Despite Carolyn’s explanation that there is no connection between the Right to Know request and next year’s overtime request, despite her earlier linkage of the two things, Carla joined Helen Hartshorn, Bob Theve, and Carolyn in voting to approve the budget. Vice chairman Steve Brinser and John Libby voted against the budget, and Tyler Philips abstained.
Carla said that she thought it was a “poor use of taxpayer money” to respond to Right to Know requests.
The Right to Know law does not require any reason be given for a request for public documents, so Carolyn’s belief that the current request is frivolous is irrelevant. It does however show her negative attitude toward the public’s right to know.
In 2015, Carroll County Superior Court ruled that the selectmen — at the time Dan Duffy, Carolyn Sundquist, and Lloyd Wood — had violated the Right to Know law.
The selectmen, and the majority of the budget committee, need to understand that the public’s right to know is neither frivolous nor a poor use of taxpayer money. It is the law.
The video at the top of this post is at 2x speed. To watch at normal speed, see the full meeting video at the 58:52 mark: