Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Town Sued Again ..

Winchester police chief sues town after selectmen impose three-day, no-pay suspension


Winchester’s police chief is suing the town after he was suspended for three days without pay for allegedly threatening one of his former officers. Police Chief Gary A. Phillips filed a civil lawsuit against the town in September. In it, Phillips alleges selectmen violated state law by voting in nonpublic session to suspend him without pay before first giving him their reasons in writing. He also claims in court documents that selectmen acted without cause.
In the lawsuit, he asks the court for a hearing on the merits of the board of selectmen’s decision and for reimbursement of attorneys’ fees.
The parties will face a Cheshire County Superior Court judge Jan. 29 for the first time since Phillips sought legal action.
Attorney Andrew B. Livernois of Concord, who is representing the town, confirmed the board of selectmen suspended Phillips without pay for three days. Town officials allege in court documents that this was after Phillips had made a retaliatory threat against Officer Brooke Sharra during a nonpublic meeting Aug. 19. Sharra was not at the meeting; rather, selectmen held it with Phillips to discuss his work performance.
Phillips said, “Officer Sharra will be on the Laurie list before I’m done with her,” according to an affidavit prepared by Town Administrator Shelly Walker.
The Laurie List is a record of law enforcement officers whose credibility could be called into question if they testify in criminal trials.
Sharra is the daughter of Winchester Land Use Administrator Margaret Sharra.
Phillips threatened Officer Sharra because he believed selectmen’s recent negative evaluation of his performance was the result of feedback he thought Sharra gave to them during her exit interview, Walker wrote. However, selectmen told Phillips that their evaluation of him was completed before they met with Sharra, according to the affidavit.
Officials were troubled by his comment given his history in Winchester, Walker wrote. Selectmen had previously disciplined Phillips in 2011 after he threatened to retaliate against Officer Fred Ziegler, who told selectmen he was concerned about how Phillips was running the department, according to the affidavit.
The board of selectmen appointed Phillips, who is a resident of Swanzey, to the position of chief in January 2005. Prior to that he was acting chief in Winchester.
Phillips’ interactions with selectmen this past fall set in motion his decision to sue the town, alleging wrongful suspension.
After the Aug. 19 meeting, the board met without Phillips, in nonpublic session, on Sept. 9 and voted 4-0-1 to suspend him for three days, according to court documents.
The next day, Walker met with Phillips to inform him of the board’s decision, which was spelled out in a letter, Walker wrote.
Phillips met with selectmen Sept. 16 and tried unsuccessfully to appeal the decision, according to court documents. He was suspended without pay Sept. 21 through Sept. 24.
Even if a judge determines the selectmen had reason to suspend Phillips, “... it remains undisputed that (he) never received the written specification of reasons before he was suspended,” wrote Phillip’s attorney, Joseph S. Hoppock of Keene.
N.H. RSA 105:2 states that: “Such chief, superintendent, or city marshal shall be subject to suspension without pay or dismissal only for cause, and after he or she has been presented with a written specification of the reasons.”
The town’s attorney argues that Phillips did have notice of his three-day suspension well before it began Sept. 21, as Walker met with him Sept. 10 and provided him with written notice. Livernois said selectmen did not need to give that notice prior to their vote, whereas Phillips argues they did.
“So long as the notice was provided to the chief before the discipline was actually imposed, the statute is satisfied,” Livernois wrote.
By phone Tuesday, Phillips declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Roberta A. Fraser, chairwoman of the board of selectmen, said the town has no comment and does not discuss personnel issues.
Officer Sharra could not be reached for comment.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or Follow her on Twitter @ADandreaKS.


Anonymous said...

Frankly people I don't give a damn if Brooke is Margaret's daughter. She is entitled to pursue her career without being threatened by a boss. She has been nothing but professional when I have dealt with her. It was refreshing to have someone return to Winchester to help people. I will admit that I am biased. She was an exemplary student that had great integrity. I know that her goal was to work with children. Before any of you say nepotism just hope that your child turns out like Brooke. It took great courage to have your name published in the paper. Imagine walking down the street with people whispering behind your back. Do you have the guts to do that? Yes, imagine being Margaret and not being able to shout from the roof tops that your daughter was wronged! Think about it. We need to protect the innocent, children and those that will stand up for wrongs.

Way to go Brooke! Pat yourself on the back and take a bow. Thank you Shelley for sharing information to bring this to light.

Select board you need to put on your "big girl or boy panties and fire the chief". Take a stand.

Time to vote said...

Guess Gary didn't get the memo, don't cross Sharra or her three lackeys on the board. We get to vote soon, time to replace all three of them.

Anonymous said...

hmmm could this be about the Town truck Dayle Grey drove off into the woods, had towed, and THEN called Margaret to have her daughter cover it????

Anonymous said...

I have seen a list of all the law suits filed against the Town of Winchester researched by the clerk of the court at Cheshire County Superior Court for the past 10 years. If I remember right about 37, This filing by the chief is just another in a line that robs us of our tax dollars. Most of these law suit filings were caused by Sharra, her family and the stupid people we call the selectmen. Do your family a favor vote them out in March.

Anonymous said...

Yes why don't we just make Brooke The Chief, I'm sure she did a good job helping Dayle,,, Mina's well let them all control the town. Did you know Margaret's Husband was hired by the town? And who wants to bet they will just let him "slide right into" Leroy's spot when he finally retires

Wake Up Folks said...

With water and sewer and the first family of the town hall, plus the new position created at the school, Winchester is now a two family business.

Anonymous said...

No, it's not. Do not forget the relationship with the Sharra and Beaman families. I say it's 3.

As puzzled as a Pickle said...

Wow, what a quandary! the 3 things people seem to dislike the most in this town, The Select board, the P.D. and the Sharra family...... Doesn't really give you any side to support here.

Anonymous said...

Please let me help if I can with your dilemma a state of uncertainty. There are two type of people in this town, one; the money makers and two; their are money takers. Most money makers are honest have jobs, pay their tax on time, on the other hand the money takers most leach off the money makers, lazy, dishonest, do not pay their taxes on time, takes money makers tax money to -line-their pockets, makes rules to keep the money makes depressed and totally unorganized which helps them line-their-pockets.

The money takers call us morons..... idiots, us morons do not like to be called idiots because it hurts our feeling, we morons do have an IQ .

Clarity being offered said...

Well, "As Puzzled as a Pickle", how about we support the side of the townspeople? You know, the ones who pay the taxes that fund the salaries of the above-mentioned folks. I seem to vaguely recall a statement made quite a while back about "...a government of the people, by the people and FOR the people..." What a concept! Would be nice if we could make that work in Winchester, don't you think?

still puzzled as a pickle. said...

Clarity being offered said...Bingo, and I couldn't agree with you more. I also believe in the statement "...a government of the people, by the people and FOR the people..."
so we have 2 very important issues to take on, Getting people off their butts and to the Town hall to vote. And this brings up the second issue, someone to vote for. year after year its the same old deal, no one with a brain will run for any position, that leaves voters voting for the sale old, same old.
If we can handle the 2nd issue maybe the first one will work itself out.
We need some smart, involved, people willing to run for elections, but the people with the qualities needed, are smart enough to not want that headache in their lives. Most of these positions are thankless jobs, so the only ones interested in holding them usually have a personal agenda, and that would be self gain.

Anonymous said...

Do we need a new firetruck? The last one Barry Kellom and John Stetsor convinced the town we couldn't live without only missed by 3 inches of fitting in our firehouse.

Let me tell you a short story, a friend Bob Whitcomb was hired as the City of Keene's Purchasing Agent who replaced the previous one after he was fired for dishonesty of taken kickbacks. One day Bob was in his office a gentleman came in and said, "who do I make the check out to?" What check Bob inquired. The bonus check you get for buying the new firetruck. Bob took him to the mayor's office to made a large check of $10,000 to the city. I was in the process of proving Stetsor and Kellom received a kickback for our $445,000 firetruck. Now here we are again buying another not need firetruck. Does someone have the needs for some bonus money? Who will get this kickback this time?

Anonymous said...

Nothing happens if all we do is bitch.............. RUN FOR OFFICE, Unseat the ones causing this

Anonymous said...

Sounds a little like Dale, what's in it for me, Gray.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't do any good to run for office when your defeated before you run, the person is no good, the person is stupid, the person has their own agenda. Yet they will vote people like Stephens, Sepee, and Tedford into office. Just keep paying for kickbacks, what the Hell it's only your tax dollars.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...
Doesn't do any good to run for office when your defeated before you run."

Can you please explain this one to us?
Give us any examples?