In the April 21, 2017 edition of the Villager, Town Administrator Christine Trovato, in an attempt to minimize Chairman Blomback’s RSA 41:8 violation, made the following remark (page three) :
“Kris [Blomback] sent the emails individually, not one on one, no group discussion whatever.”
New Hampshire RSA 41:8 reads as follows (read here):
- 41:8 Election and Duties. – Every town, at the annual meeting, shall choose, by ballot, one selectman to hold office for 3 years. The selectmen shall manage the prudential affairs of the town and perform the duties by law prescribed. A majority of the selectmen shall be competent in all cases.
According to lawyers at the NH Municipal Association, the last sentence REQUIRING, “A MAJORITY OF THE SELECTMEN TO BE COMPETENT IN ALL CASES” [emphasis added] means the following see question #2 and answer #2;
- “Two major statutes guide the board in everything it does. The first is RSA 41:8, which says “[a] majority of the selectmen shall be competent in all cases.” In other words, a board of selectmen may take action only by majority vote. As is often said, a single selectman has no authority. The second critical statute is RSA Chapter 91-A, New Hampshire’s Right to Know Law. It requires the board to conduct any official business at a properly held meeting. RSA 91-A:2.” [emphasis added]
The statues are clear, the Select Board cannot conduct any business outside of a duly called meeting!
Villager reporter Michael Pond writes the following;
“But when Trovato spoke to Mayer [Town Counsel] in a phone conversation, she pointed out that the emails had been sent separately. She said Mayer responded, “You’re on the right track.”
This completely contradicts the record. Trovato specifically writes to Attorney Mayer in an email (no phone conversation was ever logged nor was it divulged in the town’s response to Only Henniker Bruce’s Right to Know Request) about the status of the violation on Saturday March 18, 2017 @ 9:34 am page 25of 25, NEC Community Support
- From: ChrisTrovato [mailto:Chris.Trovato@tds.net]
- Sent: Saturday, March 18, 20179:34 AM
- To: Barton L. Mayer
- Subject: FW: Town support
- Importance: High
- Kris sent the attached email to each Selectboard [sic] member individually. Assuming the Board agreed via email, the intent was to put the item on the consent agenda with emails attached for official approval at the next Select Board meeting.
- Ben Fortner is challenging this. As this is not a committing the Town of Henniker to anything, do you see any reason why we cannot proceed this way?
Town Counsel Mayer’s follow up email on Monday March 20,2017 @ 7:49 am fails to mention or confirm any phone conversation with Trovato;
- Barton L. Mayer <email@example.com> Monday, March 20, 2017 7:49 AM
- ‘Chris Trovato’
- RE:Town support
- Your question is at two levels.
- First, you must be concerned with the Right-to-Know law. If Kris sent this email to all of the selectmen, it would represent a “meeting” within the meaning of the RTK. To cure that violation, the emails and a discussion and vote, “ratifying” Kris’ signature on the community support document should resolve that problem. So you are on the right track.
- If the question focuses on the authority of the board to approve the document, I am persuaded the selectmen have the authority, as they are the elected representatives of the town.
- Does that address your question(s)? Bart
- Barton L. Mayer
- Upton & Hatfield, LLP
Trovato’s email clearly states what the board plans to do next…place the item on the consent agenda with emails attached for official approval at the next Select Board meeting.
Consent Agenda are not discussed and the vote is by signature! The public would have never heard one word of deliberation and discussion if Mr. Fortner has not pulled this item off the consent agenda on the night of march 21, 2017…thus continuing to keep the public in the dark.
Town Administrator Trovato also misrepresents Town Counsel Mayer’s response to her Saturday email;
- If Kris sent this email to all of the selectmen, it would represent a “meeting” within the meaning of the RTK. To cure that violation, the emails and a discussion and vote, “ratifying” Kris’ signature on the community support document should resolve that problem.
Clearly Town Counsel states in what order events need to occur in order to cure the violation. The emails need to be placed in the record, a discussion should take place and then a vote .
However, it is clear by placing this on the consent agenda, Trovato and Blomback had no intentions of putting this up for discussion and the public would be left in the dark.
The deception promulgated in this Villager Article is appalling!
Furthermore, we all should be a bit skeptical of our Select Board Chairman’s competence if Town Counsel has to direct the board on how to solve their violations of the Open meeting requirements!
OHB believes that the blatant disregard for public disclosure, transparency and accountability clearly demonstrates maleficence and incompetence on behalf of Chairman Blomback and Town Administrator Trovato.
Both should be removed from office immediately.
OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…..