Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Oh so familar .. just change the name of the town

Madness must be stopped 


Perhaps a review of events might clarify the political turmoil in Marlborough: 1. The board was sued for violating RSA 91-A, the right to know law. This is the keystone law in maintaining open government.
2. It lost the case and, in a 52-page order, members were placed under injunction not to violate the law again. The selectmen were found guilty of several different instances of violating the law.
3. Almost the first words spoken by Selectman Johnny Northcott after that was “It was a slap on the wrist” and it would be “business as usual.”
4. The board is now being sued again for living up to Northcott’s comments, by again violating the law. This time they are accused of not providing public information, holding illegal meetings, mishandling town meeting requirements for implementation of petitioned articles, and improper release of 35 sealed, confidential documents.
The board members’ defense? They claim the plaintiff didn’t give the documents back, she read them, and is talking about the contents. The other violations have all been denied. Kill the messenger!

The truth? The documents were not marked confidential, the only way to tell they were confidential was to read them, and she has not mentioned the names of the nine people whose rights were violated.
She has asked the county attorney and Department of Justice how to handle the documents. They advised her to petition the court for instructions and she has done so.
So, to recap, we have selectmen who were tried in court and found guilty of breaking laws, then attempt to minimize the event in their comments in news media and to the public.
They are again accused of violating the law, this time facing contempt of court, and now they turn down a chance to stream live meetings to the public free, without cost to the public.
One would think that the board would welcome public exposure, but this refusal keeps their exposure to a minimum, something they seem to be striving for
Take a look at www.townhallstreams. com/locations/north-hampton-nh to see how North Hampton handles its openness in government issues.
I have personally experienced periods of 20 minutes of silence where the Marlborough board has shuffled files and papers around without explanation of what they were doing, without a word being said to the public.
North Hampton is open, has respect for the public, and there is never a doubt that they are doing their best to keep their citizens informed.
But, what is the saddest thing about the whole issue is that the board has been getting away with it. Only a few people try to hold them accountable, others just don’t care, and some seem to enjoy the rumor mongering that is going on.

Someone once said that you get the government you deserve. I think it is time for some more people to get involved to stop this “Marlborough madness.” ( substitute Winchester )

Attend meetings, write letters, make phone calls. Stop accepting unfounded rumors as truth, speak up against falsehoods.

The Right to Know law is not perfect. It is one of the few laws that requires that the public go directly to the courts for relief. It allows the budgeted town funds to be used to defend the people who violate the law.

But, remember that in the last case, it was the selectmen who were declared lawbreakers, not the plaintiffs. Contrary to rumors, the plaintiffs get nothing. In fact they have to put court costs up front, only being reimbursed when the court finds in their favor.

Let me emphasize that point, the selectmen were declared by a New Hampshire court to have violated the law, and the citizens of Marlborough had to pay for their court costs.

Now the selectmen are sued again and will have the benefit of using the public’s money again for their defense.

Yet I hear comments that the plaintiffs have cost the town money.

So, let me see if I have this right, the selectmen get a pass for violating the law, but the plaintiff gets the blame for protecting her rights?

When you figure out that logic please let me know.

50 Oliver Road


Sign of the times? said...

WOW, Rindge, Winchester, Wilton, Hillsboro, and Marlborough, Whats going on?

Another One said...

Today's Sentinel 8/9, Group suing Antrim Board. Is there NO honesty anywhere?