Economic Development Committee…Where are your Minutes?????

red-flagI think we all have seen the spectacle that unfolded at the last Board of Selectman’s meeting regarding minutes:(https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_McRbuwg-Nzdql_elx_p-Q)

Currently, Chairman Blomback and Selectman Fortner are members of the Economic Development Committee :http://henniker.org/general/page/economic-development-committee Mr. Fortner’s committee assignment is here on page four Item #7:  http://henniker.org/sites/default/files/fileattachments/general/meeting/8392/4-5-16final.pdf

The Economic Committee has a web page: (click here)

The Board of Selectmen have been informed that the committee met in August and wishes to address the Board on November 1, 2016, regarding another town festival: economic-committee-minutes10312016

As of Monday October 31, 2016 @ 8:11 am, the committee’s August meeting has not been noticed nor have the minutes been posted on the town’s web page. click here

Please explain…Thank you.

 

 

Henniker’s Select Board Chairman states that the public is accusing the board of wrong doing…. let the straw man argument begin.

defamation At the October 18, 2016 Select Board meeting, the chairman states four times that members of the public are accusing the board of doctoring minutes and conspiracy. When pushed to name the person who has complained about this type of activity he identifies ME!

Apparently my Right to Know Request was perceived as an accusation. I suggest you read the request and decide if any such accusations were made. minute-creation-request

He also refers to emails that the entire board has been made aware of. You can read my entire email thread and you can make the decision if anything in there even remotely resembles an accusation of any kind. email-thread-policy-10-16

My request clearly has identified areas in which we are not using  best practices in the handling of our public documents. I have exposed that there in no policy for the creation of public minutes, there is no policy for the tracking of changes made to newly created documents (most municipal lawyers will tell you to keep a record of all document changes) and clearly there is no policy for emails to be copied to all board members! Ms. Trovato’s email to me was only to me and no one else on this board.

No wonder the videos show a totally confused and unenlightened board.

These are facts…gleaned from public documents… no accusations….and as the video above shows…the Chairman has chosen to identify me as the person who has leveled the so called accusations.

Everyone can see, from the public documents provided, no such accusations have occurred. Your comments about me were reckless.

In fact a simple request to learn how this town government works has been answered with a severe case of defamation of character.

Just listen to the press’ response at 6:05 of the video above.

Mr. Chairman…I will expect an apology from you regarding your comments.

You have shown every one what will happen to them if you ask questions and try to learn the policies of this town’s Government. No one should be treated this way, especially in light of the fact that I have exposed some truths about the weaknesses in our policies that can easily be corrected.

This is an unacceptable behavior from the Select Board Chairman and you should step down immediately.

 

 

 

Henniker’s Select Board cracks the whip…the Town Administrator Google snoops..and Henniker’s Attorney suggest a not so nice letter…Another day in paradise!

crack-the-whip-defAt the October 18, 2016 of the Henniker Board of Selectmen meeting Item #7 proved to be a bit confusing. One of the main issues of the discussion was a piece of property owned by Mr. Bill Russell.  In 2010 Mr. Russell’s property became mired  in the murky waters of development, improvement, frontage on roads and the town’s control over building permits. (ZBA case read here)

The case eventually was settled by a ruling of the New Hampshire  Supreme Court. (read case review here)

Once again the Mr. Russell’s property has become a topic of discussion by our town officials. I asked for a copy of all supporting information that was not subject to RSA 91:A exemption and Henniker complied. All documents in this blog have come from the Town of Henniker.

What I read and what the video shows, is very disturbing. The town without ever contacting Mr. Russell to discuss their concerns over recent findings, immediately took a very adversarial posture towards Mr. Russell. russell-property10282016_0001

Upon first contact, the town’s attorney speaks of “doomage” tax (4x the normal taxation) and sending a not so nice letter to Mr. Russell doesn’t seem tome to be a good place to start from…you be the judge:

“The starting place may be to send a letter, advising the owner of what you have discovered, and what the potential penalties are. He should be asked to permit an inspection, and to meet with the selectmen. He should be told that if he does not wish to cooperate the town will have no choice but to turn the matter over to the town’s attorney who will be instructed to seek an injunction, fines and attorney’s fees. Further, the selectmen will assess doomage in the amount of 4x the tax that would have been assessed on the property. I do not think the letter needs to be “nice.” Plainly, the owner knew what he was doing, and has deprived the other tax payers of the taxes that are do. I see no reason why the selectmen should not assess doomage. The land should be withdrawn  from CU.If he does not cooperate, you will need to turn the matter over to me. Bart”russell-property10282016_0001

Is this the path that you want your Board of Selectmen to go down? I wonder why this letter was not read out loud at the meeting????

I took the initiative to speak directly with Mr. Russell. I learned that the situation regarding the property in question appears to have changed significantly since that Supreme Court ruling in 2011.

I think the town should call him and cordially invite him to a meeting with the Select Board…treat all our property owners with respect…before we have another legal mess on our hands!

 

Did the Henniker Select Board violate policy? You decide….

confusion-iv The Henniker Select Board’s policy regarding the disposal of surplus equipment (Section III.2) is very clear;

“After making all departments aware of such surplus items, the Town Administrator   may authorize the sale of materials and equipment which he/she and the Department Head determine to be surplus to the needs to the Town where a single item or lot does not exceed One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) in book value.

In cases where such item or lot exceeds One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) in book value, the Board of Selectmen shall approve the sale of such materials.
All such surplus materials shall be disposed of by public auction, including internet auctions or competitive quotations.” (Section III.2 read here)

On Tuesday October 18, 2016 , despite having no report by the Town Administrator determining the “book value” of a certain piece of town property, the board voted to sell that property to Cogswell Springs Water Department Chairman Joe Damour.
Is this good corporate governance? You decide…..

If a picture is worth a thousand words…then how can this movie of Henniker’s Select Board leave you speechless?

 

confusion-i I have lived for sixty years on this earth. When I was a much younger man, many things people did perplexed me.

As I get older, fewer and fewer things have that effect on me. But nothing in my life has ever prepared me for what occurred last Tuesday, October 18, 2016. On that evening the actions of the Henniker New Hampshire Select Board,  left me permanently confused.

Following are two video clips, with my comments added, that I put together in attempt to try make sense out of a rather senseless discussion that boarders on the absurd. Hopefully, this will shine some light on two of my blog posts; one  from October, 19th. (read blog post here) and the second on October 21 2016. (read blog post here)

 

 

 

Thank you for watching…I hope that you all will comment. A discussion on this must happen….

If a picture is worth a thousand words…then this movie about Henniker’s Select Board will leave you speechless!!!!!

confusion-i I have lived for sixty years on this earth. When I was a much younger man, many things people did perplexed me.

As I get older, fewer and fewer things have that effect on me. But nothing in my life has ever prepared me for what occurred last Tuesday, October 18, 2016. On that evening the actions of the Henniker New Hampshire Select Board,  left me permanently confused.

Following are two video clips, with my comments added, that I put together in attempt to try make sense out of a rather senseless discussion that boarders on the absurd. Hopefully, this will shine some light on two of my blog posts; one  from October, 19th. (read blog post here) and the second on October 21 2016. (read blog post here)

 

 

 

Thank you for watching…I hope that you all will comment. A discussion on this must happen….

 

 

The life of an official government document and the words contained in the document…really does matter!

happy-face the current publication of The Messenger has an article regarding the donnybrook that broke out at Tuesday’s Select Board meeting. The Messenger’s article can be read here: messenger-article-minutes

In the article the writer mentioned I was contacted the next day, which is true, and says my “complaint” was with the town’s administrator for altering draft minutes prior to select board approval, which is inaccurate.

  There was no complaint. I requested  information to learn how documents  were created and handled. I actually research out the details before I write about them.

Be that as it may, I thought that my Wednesday October 19th blog  made this point very clear. I forwarded that blog post address to the reporter after my phone conversation.

I received two responses, one from the Town Administrator trovato-email-10-17-16-ii that clearly indicates that changes are being made outside of the Select Board members view and those changes may or may not be tracked:

” I will gladly answer your questions based on past practice.

  1.  The minutes are sent via word format so that we can make grammatical or spelling changes prior to a Board meeting.  The Selectmen meeting minutes are sent back to the recording secretary so they have the document presented to the Board at the meeting before approval.
  1. If the “track changes” is turned on then yes the changes are tracked. “

Christine Trovato, MPA Town Administrator

Anyone attempting to minimize the alteration of official records as  just “grammatical changes”or confuses the legitimacy of so called “draft” documents,  has failed to learn the lessons taught to us by the unprecedented impeachment trial of New Hampshire Supreme Court Chief Justice David Brock in 2000. (read here)

Observers say it was that same buddy-buddy tradition that caused the courthouse  chaos. In the small, collegial atmosphere of this Supreme Court, justices have for years sat in on cases from which they were officially recused, Brock and others reported. It also was not uncommon for drafts of opinions to circulate among all justices–again, whether they had recused themselves or not.

[snip] At a news conference before the impeachment investigation began, Brock, who will not comment while the inquiry is in progress, said recused judges never attempted “to influence the merits of a decision in which they were recused,” and only edited opinions for grammar.”

Justice Brock was indeed tried (first judicial impeachment in over 200 years in our state) and was acquitted. Brock did admit he committed errors of judgment in allowing these practices: “In testimony last week, Brock acknowledged making errors in judgment and offering misstatements during the investigation. But he denied lying, and he said he misspoke once because of confusing questions.” (paragraph 12 read here)

The second response I received was from Cheery Palmisano, a town secretary indicating there was no policy for the creation of documents (minutes) and only a retention policy:

“Bruce,

I was not in the initial email regarding your Right to Know Request.

There is no policy regarding document creation.
We follow the State of NH Record Retention Schedule.
Minutes are emailed to the Town Administrator from the Recording Secretary in Word

format. Minutes are posted on the town website as a .pdf.
We currently do not have an internal policy on emails, etc.”

Best regards,
Cherry J. Palmisano
TOWN OF HENNIKER
Executive Secretary/Land Use Coordinator

The fact that we have no policy on tracking document changes is unconscionable. The additional fact that we do not know who or how many times”changes” do indeed occur is unacceptable.

Once again…this is nothing more than an outstanding example of POOR CORPORATE GOVERNANCE.

 

 

Why all the confusion…the answer is in the emails….hint, “REPLY ALL”!

minutesWhy so much confusion over a simple Right To Know request???

The answer lies in the emails folks. Here is the email stream that was generated by my request. email-thread

Pay close attention to the email thread. Every email of mine was sent to the Every member of the SELECT BOARD, the town administrator and secretary. The only one that included everyone in their response was Cherry Palmisano.Thus everyone knows what Cherry wrote…thank you Cherry..maybe you can teach the group how to reply all.

Unless Chairman Blomback’s responses (October 1, 2016; includes only town administrator and secretary but no board members) were printed and sent to the board, they would have no way of knowing that he responded. We in the public have no idea if these responses were indeed sent to the board members.

The most perplexing email I received was from the Town Administrator dated October 17th. In that email she chose to write to only me…and no one else. The entire Select Board was in the dark as to how she responded. There is no indication as of this writing that the Select Board has even seen this official response. trovato-email-10-17-16-ii

I think it is unconscionable that the town administrator admitted to editing minutes, for whatever reason, prior to the Select Board members seeing the first draft.

I hate to keep repeating myself about good Corporate Governance regarding board conduct.There are procedures that need to be followed to give everyone assurances that good Corporate Governance is indeed taking place. Right now, that is not happening!

 

 

 

Wait a….minute! More hennikerleaks for your enjoyment….

confusion-iIt has come to my attention that the select board discussed (without notice) my request for information regarding the creation and editing of official minutes of select board meetings, at their meeting on Tuesday October 19,2016. minute-creation-request

Since the online agenda made no mention of discussing my request, I decided that I would rather spend the evening with my wife who had just returned home from a two day conference. Apparently, the board took advantage of this and decided to discuss my request without proper notice…too bad for me I guess! I will have to wait for the minutes to know for sure??????

My request was made so I could have an understanding of how minutes of select board meetings are created and how their contents are edited.

Town Administrator made it quite clear in point [1.)] in her email to me how the SELECT BOARD MINUTES are edited prior to the select board members open review. trovato-email-10-17-16

My attention was drawn to the following response provided by Town Administrator Trovato on October 17, 2016:

       I will gladly answer your questions based on past practice.

  1. The minutes are sent via word format so that we can make grammatical or spelling changes prior to a Board meeting.  The Selectmen meeting minutes are sent back to the recording secretary so they have the document presented to the Board at the meeting before approval.
  1. If the “track changes” is turned on then yes the changes are tracked.

        Christine Trovato, MPA

        Town Administrator

        Town of Henniker

I was deeply disturbed by the following response I received on October 6, 2016 from secretary Cherry Palmisano, which states that there is no policy regarding document creation:

—- Original Message —–

From: “Secretary” <hennikeradmin@tds.net>

To: “Bruce Trivellini” <molarsolutions@tds.net>, “Kris Blomback – Pats Peak Ski Area”  <kris@patspeak.com>, Bfrench479@comcast.ne, “dsosgood henniker” <dsosgood.henniker@gmail.com>, onehenniker@gmail.com, tiamhooper@gmail.com

Cc: “Chris.trovato@tds.net” <chris.trovato@tds.net>, secretary@henniker.org

Sent: Thursday, October 6, 2016 2:30:59 PM

Subject: RE: Right to know request Meeting Minutes

Bruce,

I was not in the initial email regarding your Right to Know Request.

There is no policy regarding document creation.

We follow the State of NH Record Retention Schedule.

Minutes are emailed to the Town Administrator from the Recording Secretary in Word     format. Minutes are posted on the town website as a .pdf.

We currently do not have an internal policy on emails, etc.

Best regards,

Cherry J. Palmisano

TOWN OF HENNIKER

It should be very disturbing to all of us that Select Board Meeting minutes are being created, sent to the Town Administrator & other employees and are admittedly edited prior to the Select Board Members first review.

It also in unconscionable that these documents are not required to have the “tack change” function on when editing.

What the heck is going on here!??????

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oscar Wilde once said, “always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”