Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A chance to say 'enough,' by Susan M. Newell

Posted: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 12:00 pm

It is unfortunate that shenanigans in town government are frequently unethical, but rarely illegal. They are always complicated.
On Aug. 31, 2011, Winchester Selectman Gus Ruth made a motion to tax deed three properties belonging to Terry Qualters. It passed 5-0. The parcel of interest here is 50 Rabbit Hollow Road. On Oct. 27, 2011, the tax collector deeded it to the town.
On Feb. 1, 2012, Ruth made a motion to proceed with the sale of the three properties. It passed 5-0.
On Feb. 22, 2012, selectmen voted to allow the town administrator to sign an agreement with the auctioneer, and the next day she did. Selectmen chose not to reimpose the tax lien and penalties, nor to require a minimum bid. They chose to wait two months until April 21, 2012, for the auction.
The property on 50 Rabbit Hollow Road was advertised (apparently approved by the selectmen) as being commercial, in the Agricultural District and having an existing gravel operation. All three statements are untrue. There was never a variance for commercial use, the district is Residential and there was never a gravel operation. Abutters who would have bid never received notice of the auction, and the property as advertised was not immediately recognizable because of the untruthful headlines and description.
The assessed value of the 1.15-acre lot with a garage was $119,300. Taxes, penalties and interest attached to the property were $35,184. Ruth purchased the property for $25,000 (Reported in The Sentinel as $12,500).
Selectmen didn’t have to accept this bid. Right-to-know requests revealed that in 2007 selectmen rejected bids on properties valued at $11,000 and $13,400, and that they are still owned by the town.
On May 22, 2012, Ruth transferred the deed to Gus Ruth and Irene Ruth and (town moderator) Ken Harvey and Claudia Harvey. On May 24, 2012, the property was listed with a real estate agent for lease as Commercial/Industrial for $800 a month. The property has no toilet facilities, water, sewer or septic system (required by law for occupancy of leased or rented properties).
Around November 2012, the property was leased for auto repair, and continues being used all days and hours by a group of young men with numerous loud vehicles. They are not at fault for believing what the owners told them they could do.
Following a complaint, the code enforcement officer issued a cease-and-desist order on Feb. 21, 2013. Due to delays because of enforcement paperwork errors, the Ruths and Harveys are still appealing the order and have applied for a variance. Their second scheduled hearing was held on June 13. Ruth’s argument boils down to a baseless claim that the town (i.e. selectmen) allowed Qualters to illegally use the garage for repairs (contested by Qualters and abutters), so, he contends, the alleged illegal use must now be grandfathered for the current owners.
What is apparent here? “Ignorance and mistakes” on the part of town officials allowed a selectman to purchase, dirt cheap at an erroneously noticed tax sale, a prime piece of residential real estate, at a town loss of more than $10,000. Because the sale was postponed until after April 1, it remained as tax-exempt municipal property until April 1, 2013, even though the sales agreement could have required taxes for the balance of the year (about $2,000). The owners have been able to continue to collect rent for at least six months, four since the first cease-and-desist order was issued. ($4,800?)
The June 13 hearing was continued until Thursday, June 27, at 7 p.m. If Winchester taxpayers are interested in justice, they are encouraged to go to the hearing and let the selectmen-appointed zoning board know that they will not tolerate it giving the Ruths and Harveys a “pass” to profit from the illegal use of the property.
Taxpayers may not be able to undo past “mistakes,” but they may be able to prevent further abuse of the zoning ordinance — at least in this case.
Susan M. Newell
3 Old Chesterfield Road


Sorry-Rabbit Hollow said...

Sad state of affairs, we have all heard the sayings, you cant fight city hall, it ain't who you know-its who you b---, and the rich get richer. Its Winchester, and they don't play fair in the town hall.

Anonymous said...

No selectmen or their family members should ever be allowed to bid on Properties that they had anything to do with taking from people.
Most you people forget who should be making the rules and running this town and its not the selectboard, its registered voters, petitioned warrant articles, the way and who you vote for etc etc.
We need a better policy on how properties are taken over and sold, and its our responsibility to make that happen.
Taxpayers foot all the bills and registered voters decide how to use that Tax money but we have a large portion of people who do not take the time to vote and another portion of people who think they are powerless to do anything and believe our selectboard has final decision on everything, you all have it so wrong.
Until we get more people voting and more people submitting petitioned warrant articles and supporting them this is what you will get.
You can always hope that your property doesnt catch the eye of a selectboard member.

Anonymous said...

The Harveys are great people, I wonder how Ruth was able to drag them into this mess?
Was he hoping their good name would would prevent people from realizing how wrong this whole deal is?

Anonymous said...

It's about time Gus is exposed for what he is doing TO the people while he's pretended to do things FOR them. With all the commissions, committees and boards he's served on, you can bet this only the tip of the iceberg. And it looks like the whole board helped him do it. Wonder what else they are ALL up to.

Anonymous said...

People have a way of changing when money is involved.

Anonymous said...

I was talking to a life long resident yesterday that can't believe how this town has changed, from no trust in the town hall to,in her words, the nasty demeanor of the police officers she has had contact with. Like Susan said, its time to say'enough'.

Anonymous said...

One point I would like to correct FYI, I have a different opinion of the Harvey's as being great people. Try living next to them. Another point I would like to make is Gus Ruth does not need to buy Qualters land for investments, Terry Qualters has been thorn in the Gus and selectmen side for a long time. If anything in my opinion it was personal and Gus used the Harvey’s to make the deal so it would look like a investment for cover. It was pay back. Outside of the fact buying the Qualters property looks shady, all Qualters had to do was pay his taxes like the rest of us.

As far as the life time resident who thinks the town has changed from no trust to a nasty demeanor is suffering from the Rip Van Winkle syndrome, the town has been and always will have nasty politics, no trust. Nothing will change until these people like the life time resident who is fast asleep wakes the Hell up! When brave people like Susan Newell and others step up started revealing the corrupting in this town and opening people’s eyes we need people awake to hear it. Low voter turn out has it’s consequences.

Anonymous said...

Wow Susan Newell and June 23, 2013 at 12:09 PM...

Guess you cannot trust anyone in this town..

Anonymous said...

Well it's said, "birds of a feather"
As for trust, hell that went out the window with the birds. What is there to trust other than getting misinformation twisted to hide the real facts that most are liars living off us for years. The elections are a joke.

Anonymous said...

Nothing but a den of snakes and has been for a long time now and why we don't bother getting involved or voting. This town has really become it's own worst enemy by having the people in office that it does.

Anonymous said...

Another 4 day work week coming up for the chosen few. Isn't hard to tell how overworked everyone is, between smoke breaks and driving here and there, I don't know how anything gets done. The town hall is a service job with very little service. If we ever get some responsible leadership maybe we can provide service or put a few people where they belong-PART TIME.

enough said...

If anyone is thinking of running for local office, the next election may be the time. Got a feeling there will be some pissed off people after the Dec. tax bill arrives. If I remember correctly, A few years ago our town clerk justified a full time tax collector, because the town clerk's window was going to be open a couple of Friday nights and a couple of Sat. mornings. What Happened to that lie?

Anonymous said...

Everything that is wrong with this town is our own fault.

People love to moan and complain (anonymously)on this blog but when it comes to the important things that can really change our town they cannot be bothered. Someone mentioned the town voting was a joke, the only joke about it is the people who stay home and dont vote or the ones who come vote but didn't take the time or effort to educate themselves before filling in the little boxes.

I've said it many times WE are supposed to be running this town and setting rules and procedures.

Stop voting idiots onto our boards, Planning board and Budget committee are a prime example.

Write and support more effective and sensible petitioned warrant articles,
for example

How properties are taken over by the town and then sold. If we are going to take a property over for back taxes then the minimum starting bid should be what the amount of back taxes are and any other cost accrued to do this, and selectboard members shall not bid on these property's! They should be advertised in the keene and brattleboro papers on the town's web site and even here, the more bidders who show up the better

We need a policy on when the minutes get posted on the town's web site, Like within 1 week of the meeting and should stay up for years, Other towns do this.

And yes all 3 jobs downstairs could be part time and include 1-2 weekday nights and A few hours on Saturday. Cross training will make this happen, any time i've been down there 2 out of 3 are just sitting and doing nothing sometimes all 3.

I dont believe this 4 day work week benefits anyone but the employees, it sure does not benefit us the townsfolk.

Listen to the citizens, in my opinion an overwhelming majority of people wanted the new business opening up on the 4 corner intersection across from rite aid, but our planning board catered to 1influential individual instead of doing what's right for us.
All this needs to stop.

I'm afraid none of this will happen, far too many of you love to post on here about all the doom and gloom but can't get off your arses get involved and make these things happen.
The very few that have tried have gone about it the wrong way, or were serving their own agenda or were just plain idiots to begin with, so too many people lose hope and give up.

not the other way around.

Anonymous said...

We work out of town, and getting to the town hall when its open is one big pain. By the way, we work 5 and 6 days a week and paying the people that serve us 3 and 4 days a week does not set well with a lot of people. Check out the TD BANK, that's service.

Anonymous said...

REF: Anonymous June 27 12:07 "The very few that have tried (to run for office) have gone about it the wrong way, or were serving their own agenda or were just plain idiots to begin with, so too many people lose hope and give up".

What a crock of $hit! You rather elect what we have instead of giving these others a chance. We have had many good people running for office with the intellectual and the gull to make a difference, just because you do not agree with them they are “idiots“. Instead you voted for the felons, the drug dealers the loose women and or any other riff-raff who’s names you just happen to recognize . Good luck changing things. Reading your essay I get the impression your are one-sided. I know some people that ran for office who had one agenda and that was to straight out the corruption in town. Maybe they weren’t brainier than you would like but their intention were pure. Your such a intellectual many be you should run for office or are you a mental midget with a big mouth.

Anonymous said...

RE: Anonymous said...
June 28, 2013 at 7:57 AM

What are you talking about? You completely misunderstood what Anonymous June 27 12:07 was trying to say.

That's the problem. Plain and simple. Misunderstanding. That's why this blog will never work. Everyone always thinks the other one is attacking them.

I've posted here before and was condemed immediately. I haven't posted since. And will never post again.

It just doesn't work. Good Saturday night reading though.

Anonymous said...

To the person above: Then what are you doing posting another ridiculous comment now? This blog "works' just fine. What's the matter, truth hurt?
The subject says it all, this town is run by unscrupulous people who use and twist the laws, or completely ignore them to get their own way and line their pockets. They do not work for us, quite the opposite, they do whatever it takes to pad their pockets. Lies, deception, complete misinformation and verbal attacks on anyone who questions or disagrees their action. Never seen a bunch like this in all my life.

Anonymous said...

June 28, 2013 at 7:57 AM

If you think a Bellan or Pasquarelli is what our boards need then I can see why our town is in so deep. Its full of IDIOTS like you. Moser, Davis or Towne can be included with that list also

The crooked selectboard as we all think accomplish their goals by showing their faces getting out and using their names.
Bitching and moaning anonymously from your keyboard will never beat them. Thats why many people dont think this site is accomplishing 1 single thing but creating a daily written drama for people to check in on and laugh.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

speaking of fools said...

Once again you prove yourself to be the name calling idiot. I'll bet you don't know one of those people you mentioned personally yet you speak about them like you do. Moser has been an elected official in this town before and remains one of the most knowledgeable and honest people still serving the town today. Ms Bellam, elected by the people of this town attempted to serve them, not the selectboard members or Ms Sharra as she constantly bumped heads with those who continue to serve themselves and not the town. As for Mr. Towne, who is pretty reclusive, I can attest he would have made a fine board member as his views and integrity were beyond reproach; but never got the support he deserved. Same with Bob Davis, who had nothing but the town's best interests in mind, but because he also bumped heads with the selectboard and Sharra time and time again, he too was ostracized and ridiculed. The fools in this town ,like you, continue to vote in all of the problems we have today and then run your mouth about how bad people who have come forward are. Really? Don't you think they all would have done a better job than the "crooked" ( your words ) selectboard we have now?

Anonymous said...

Just to get the facts straight bellan has never been elected to anything, she has lost every bid, she is a appointed alternate.
Moser bungled his 1 year as budget committee chair big time. and does nothing but cause the Planning board to be stagnet.
Mr. Davis is a hot head who looses his temper to often at meatings and seemd to always put his agendas ahead of the town.

Anonymous said...

Don't know why the June 27th, 12:07 poster was attacked, but you can rest assured that the Informer has changed the way they do business in the town hall. They don't like people being informed, imagine if no one was questioning what they are doing. Planning Board meeting on 7=15=13, will be taking up Dunkin Donuts again, show up, for or against, let the board know how you feel.

Anonymous said...

Enough people this garbage has gone on long enough. You have all pissed and moaned and the town fathers have read the blog. Once again Miss Maggie is going to get her way as Teo does not understand the word "NO". It must be the "O". I have never met such an arrogant SOB and yes, I had the opportunity to work with his wife many years ago. Some things in life never change and that is his attitude. So, all of you who say that nothing happens and the blog is worthless just wait until you get your tax bill. For your information I happen to be doing work on my house and so far the "town" car has driven by the property 3 times a day and that does not count the times that the Beaman's drive by to check out what is happening. Welcome to the wonderful world of Winchester!

Anonymous said...

What Leroy and others are doing by watching your place is nothing. Wait till Sharra and Gus hire an airplane and do a fly-over to take pictures like they did to Gary Chase. These people we elect or hire in their minds these people think they doing the people's business. The NSA has nothing on these "Bastards"!

and for the town employee that keeps inserting their babbling bull$hit in their attempts to interrupt what is being discussed, or throw-between crap of theirs that has nothing to do with the subject, with their demeaning attempt to change the subject by adding contemptuous untruths bull$hit about people who have run for office, just because your one of them and friends of “Beaver Dam Gus Ruth” in on his corruption. Just because you do not agree with those people doesn’t make them idiots.

Wait till the other shoe drops on the Gary Chase case and the thief of his property. ….You should all be in jail…HUH! .Gus, Leroy and Maggie??????????

Anonymous said...

Speaking of jail and totally of the subject, what ever happened with the death of Tammy King, when Corey Carpenter was driving his truck and she died, seems very odd that nothing ever was done, poor innocent girl with two children died while the driver is living the high life..

Anonymous said...

The negativity shown against the poster on June 27th, 12:07 is confusing to say the least.
I thought the idea's they were expressing was exactly what we need to do to take back control of OUR town.
Maybe its true and there are a few truly negative unhappy people on here who love to hate and dont want things to get better, maybe they love the hostility and hatred and dont want to see this change, Its the only thing that makes sense.
Some posters have posted great ideas on how to bring the change I thought you wanted just to be shot down. Could it be we have a few people that just love to be unhappy and will do everything they can to keep it that way?
I even bet these are the same people whining and crying the loudest but I bet they dont go vote or try to do anything to make things better.
Wish there was a way to force you to move so the rest of us could work on changing this town without you negative hostile idiots trying to take us backwards.
Get involved and work for change or just be your miserable self in silence and solitude.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...July 1, 2013 at 2:02 PM
You are so far out of line its not funny, no ones driving had nothing to do with this unfortunate accident, speed was not involved, She chose to have fun that night and ride in the back of a truck, as I said it was an unfortunate accident with no one to blame but the victim herself.
You are a low life scum bag to try to stir something up many years later and I'm pissed the Informer posted your comment.
This proves the above poster was right about people who just want to be miserable and not actually try to fix anything but just stir the pot and complain any chance you get.
Seriously, you're a scumbag to do this.
Informer wake up, we expect better from your moderators

Anonymous said...

The last poster is correct in posting the unjust double standards in this town. Anyone that is riding in or is around a vehicle is the responsibility of the driver. Can you say police cover-up. Just like any another other corruption in this town. It is who you are! Just like the stolen vault in the brook on Piney Woods Road. If that wasn't cover-up nothing is.

You people do not want the truth....

Anonymous said...

Thank you July 2, 2013 at 8:02 AM!

??? said...

June 27th-what happened?