Selectmen, Moderator Double Down: CHAOS Continues

At a packed emergency meeting with the Town Moderator, Dan Barnard, the Selectmen (Lloyd Wood, Bill Marcussen, and Chip Albee) declared their intention to plow forward on the library-addition warrant article even though they failed to hold a statutorily required public hearing on the library bond before Town Meeting. Because they failed to hold this hearing, the vote on the library-warrant article will have no legal effect and will not empower the selectmen to take out the roughly $1 million loan that will be required to complete the project.

If the library-addition article receives a vote of more than 2/3 of those present at Town Meeting, the Selectmen intend to call a second, so-called “special” Town Meeting in April to “ratify” the vote taken at the first Town Meeting. At the second Town Meeting,  the voters could vote to “ratify,” or they could vote “no” and decline to ratify.

In the interim, the selectmen will hold a public hearing on the the issue of the roughly $1 million loan  — this is the hearing that, by law, they should have held at least 15 days before the March 14th Town Meeting.

What Does “Overspending” Mean?

At Monday’s board of selectmen’s meeting, Gordon Hunt, a member of the budget committee, and the selectmen called into question something that Chris Sawyer wrote in the Granite State News.

Chris, who is running for budget committee, stated in response to a candidate questionnaire from the paper:

This past year the selectmen took $350,000 out of the undesignated fund balance to offset overspending.

Gordon, quoting from the minutes for the selectmen’s November 6, 2017, meeting, said, “the selectmen took $350,000 from the unexpended fund balance to reduce taxes for the upcoming year.“¹

He then quoted Chris’s candidate profile from the paper and asked, “Do I interpret that as being a mistake on the part of someone?”²

Selectman Chip Albee concurred, saying it was a “mistake on whoever-said-that’s part.” Bill Marcussen chimed in, “yup.”

But why would the tax rate need to be reduced in the upcoming year?

Because spending is up. Every year the operating budget increases, in recent years by 5-10%. This year the proposed budget is increasing spending by 4%, although the amount to be raised by taxes is increasing by almost 12%.

Gordon and Bill stated in yesterday’s meeting that by law the selectmen cannot spend more than the total budget amount, therefore they cannot “overspend.” This is a word game. Chris did not write that the selectmen had overspent the budget. She stated they used the $350,000 (raised from taxes in previous years) “to offset overspending.”

Many people in town believe that we spend too much money, that we overspend. Many others in town disagree and would like to spend even more.

This is a difference of opinion. 

We have an election next week on Tuesday, March 13.

If you would like independent thinkers who won’t automatically vote for every spending increase proposed by the selectmen, then please vote for Chris and Barry Ennis.


1. The terms “unexpended,” “unassigned,” and “undesignated” are all used interchangeably to describe funds that are left over in town’s bank account. The fund balance accumulates when money that is appropriated for a given year is not expended. For instance, if a department has a budget of $100,000 for the year but spends $95,000. In that case, $5,000 is left over in the fund balance.

2. In keeping with an obsession with secrecy that pervades in town, Gordon did not use Chris’s name even though her statement was published publicly in the paper and can be read by anyone.

“Moultonborough Taliban”

Tuftonboro selectman Chip Albee, a registered Democrat, referred to the “Moultonborough Taliban” when speaking about Republicans in neighboring Moultonborough. Albee alleged that Democrats had been forbidden from campaigning at the Moultonborough transfer station while Republicans had been allowed to, because “the Moultonborough Taliban was working its way.” Such viewpoint discrimination would be clearly illegal and unconstitutional. However, it’s not quite on the same level as the Taliban throwing acid in little girls’ faces, cutting off people’s heads, and carrying out suicide attacks.

I have asked Moultonboro Speaks blogger, Paul Punturieri, himself a Democrat, if he knows if Moultonborough Democrats were prevented from campaigning at the Moultonborough transfer station while Republicans were allowed to. I am a Republican, but if this happened then it’s appalling. Describing political opponents as the Taliban is also appalling.

Asha Kenney

Paul told me that it’s been longstanding town policy in Moultonborough not to allow campaigning on town property. He also said that he remembered an incident in 2010 when Chip was running for re-election as Carroll County Commissioner, and being challenged by Republican Asha Kenney. Paul said that Kenney had gone to the Moultonborough transfer station one Saturday to campaign, which prompted numerous complaints to the Moultonborough board of selectmen from residents. The board either informed Kenny of the no-campaigning policy or reminded her of it (it’s not clear to me whether she knew before she went), and she didn’t return. Kenney defeated Chip in the election and served one term as commissioner.

Bemis Report (Steinman vs Tuftonboro)

For those following the Steinman vs Tuftonboro lawsuit, please see the attached documents.

Report 9-7-17 Bemis FINAL (002)

Addendum to 9-7-17 Report – Bemis

Attachment 1 – 1966 Plan

Attachment 2 – PB 116-2

Attachment 3 – Plan

Attachment 4 – PB 172-67

Attachment 5 – DES Waterbodies

Attachment 6 – Topo Map

Attachment 7 – Topo Map

Attachment 8 – Teale Affidavit

Attachment 9 – Plan 489-136

Attachment 10 – Water Control Plan

Attachment 11 – 1842 Layout

17020WD-20SCALE 8-29-17

 

What Are They Hiding?

What could you do with $20,000? This past December, the Tuftonboro board of selectmen (at the time Carolyn Sundquist, Bill Marcussen, and Lloyd Wood) decided to spend what would end up being almost $20,000 of Tuftonboro taxpayers’ money on attorney fees paid to Richard Sager to pursue a lawsuit against Bob McWhirter and me for the “crime” of having made Right to Know requests to inspect government records. Our right to know what government officials are doing on our behalf is guaranteed by the New Hampshire constitution, and codified by RSA 91-A (the Right to Know law). I have that right to know, Bob has that right to know, and you have that right to know.

Rather than comply with the law, the selectmen chose to file a lawsuit against us — an action that is hard to interpret as anything other than an attempt to intimidate us and inflict personal financial harm. We are very grateful to the many fellow Tuftonboro residents who contributed to our defense fund, and also to our skillful attorney, Jim Cowles of Walker & Varney. The selectmen, bizarrely, filed a motion with the court to force us to reveal the “name, telephone number, address, and email address” of each of our benefactors. The court rejected this motion. Why would the selectmen want such personal information? I can think of no good reason.

The selectmen say that they were always willing to give us the government records — the emails. They just wanted to charge us a fee for them, even though the law states very clearly that “no fee shall be charged for the inspection or delivery, without copying, of governmental records, whether in paper, electronic, or other form.” Sager argued in court — unconvincingly — that this sentence in the law doesn’t make sense, because if read literally, it means the selectmen could not charge us a fee. Judge Ignatius agreed that the law, if read literally, means that “no fee shall be charged,” and she ruled on August 8 that the selectmen cannot, in fact, charge us a fee.

The reason this is important is that emails, being electronic, can contain a large number of pages. The selectmen wanted to charge us 25 cents per page, which would quickly turn into thousands of dollars. Records that you can inspect only after spending thousands of dollars are essentially records that you — and most people — will never be able to inspect.

Bob and I requested to inspect Carolyn Sundquist’s official emails because we and others in town suspected that she was making decisions about town business on her own (in violation of RSA 41:8), or with the other two selectmen but outside of public meetings (in violation of RSA 91-A). Our suspicious were confirmed when Guy Pike obtained 40 pages of emails concerning the Brown Road boulder fiasco. Those emails revealed that Carolyn had, apparently without the knowledge of the other selectmen, given Ted and Carol Steinman permission to block access to Lower Beech Pond, which is a state-own public body of water. The Steinmans followed Carolyn’s instructions and spent money placing boulders in the town’s right-of-way along the road. The current board then had to authorize the road agent to remove those boulders, which cost the taxpayers around $800. The Steinmans are now suing the town, disputing the boundaries of the right-of-way and alleging that the road agent trespassed. Perhaps they will win, or perhaps the town will win, but either way, it will probably cost taxpayers at least another $20,000 in fees to Richard Sager. All of this is due to Carolyn’s unilateral actions.

It makes you wonder what is in those emails Bob and I requested. Why were Carolyn and Bill and Lloyd willing to spend so much taxpayer money to make it nearly impossible to read them?

We still don’t know what’s in the emails. Even though Judge Ignatius ruled that the selectmen could not charge a fee for the electronic copies of the emails, and after eight months of legal entanglement, and almost an entire year after Bob first made his Right to Know request, the selectmen (now Lloyd Wood, Bill Marcussen, and Chip Albee) have, incredibly, still failed to turn over any of the emails that are in question.

Bob made his Right to Know request on October 17, 2016. The selectmen must comply with the New Hampshire constitution, with the Right to Know law (RSA 91-A), and with Judge Ignatius’s order. They must immediately — 11 months late — give us access to Carolyn Sundquist’s official emails.

Selectmen’s Meeting August 7, 2017

0:00:00 Call to order / Pledge
0:00:45 PUBLIC
Chris Sawyer: Federal Corner Road
Max Ledoux: RTK 91-A
0:04:40 REVIEW AND APPROVE MINUTES
0:06:50 SIGNATURE FILE
0:10:10 Chief Adam Thompson (Fire Department)
Ambulance payment processor agreement
0:28:20 Adam refers to accusations that he misled people at Town Meeting
0:42:54 Town Meeting 1994 authorized FD to go outside town lines to assist other towns or states. RSA 167
0:44:12 Adam doesn’t want to bill other towns for the airboat.
0:47:40 Chip: If you send the ambulance and do the work, then do the transport so we can get the billing
0:52:50 RETURN TO SIGNATURE FILE
0:53:00 Electricity contract
0:55:20 SELECTMEN’S UPDATES (none)
0:55:40 CORRESPONDENCE
0:56:15 Which line in budget to expend money for GIllum Excavation to clean Dore property
0:57:00 Trustees of the Trust Funds letter: Library Capital Reserve Fund is specifically for a new building so can not be used for anything to do with the current building
1:01:45 Lloyd: No action we can take other than pass on the memo to the Library Trustees
1:02:10 Chip: Well, I think we need to rescind our previous vote to pay the bill.
Chip makes a motion
Bill: But we made commitment to pay the bill. It turns out we can use the capital reserve funds, but we can’t just say “oh, never mind.”
1:05:30 Lloyd lists options
1:07:00 motion passes to reverse previous vote to authorize payment.
Selectmen will invite Library Trustees
1:09:00 Chip to clarify about minutes: you can add things, only correct
1:09:20 Resignation letters from planning board members
1:10:50 subdividing old cemetery
1:14:15 PUBLIC COMMENT
Max Ledoux, asking for Kathy Sutherland: Why are you paying to clean the Dore property?
1:14:55 Adjournment

Selectmen’s Meeting with PD Chief Shagoury August 4, 2017

BOS meeting with Police Chief Andy Shagoury
0:00:00 Call to order / Pledge
0:01:00 performance reviews
0:01:40 new cruiser
0:02:25 Union Wharf parking ordinances
Town Meeting 1989 no overnight parking
selectmen 2003 two hour maximum
0:05:00 19 mile bay parking
0:10:00
0:15:25 Union Wharf Dock: conflicting signs
0:23:45 Community policing
0:28:00 (or thereabout) Drug take back days
0:37:25 Carrying firearms on school grounds — constitutional right. Police wouldn’t remove someone unless they were disorderly.
0:39:00 Firearms training
0:44:50 Bill: Police are people too
0:45:30 Police in schools
0:51:30 Lloyd: people say “Andy does a great job on NPR”
Lloyd: We need you to make a 90 degree turn to community policing. You need to do this for us.
0:57:30 Coverage when Andy’s out of town for Chiefs of Police Association business
1:02:00 NEW POLICE STATION
1:09:00 Lloyd: what message are you hearing from the selectmen over the last hour?
Andy: Communications.
Lloyd: Public relations?
Andy: Sure.
1:16:25 Lloyd: My expectation is there will be a substantial effort on your part

OTHER BUSINESS (Not with Andy)
1:16:45 Old Woods Road cleanup (The Dore property)
motion to approve bill for $1,200 to Gillum Excavation for clean up
1:18:10 motion to adjourn.