Moultonborough selectmen want Planning Board member out, for 'neglect of duty & malfeasance' he says has never been specified

MOULTONBOROUGH — When the Board of Selectmen met last week it was revealed that they have asked Josiah Bartlett to tender his resignation from the Planning Board to spare him the embarrassment of a public hearing.

Reading from a written statement distributed to the selectmen, Bartlett's wife Diane disclosed that on July 25 he was summoned to a private meeting with Town Administrator Carter Terenzini and Peter Minkow, town counsel, who informed him that the selectmen, meeting in a non-public session, voted to request his resignation for "neglect of duty and malfeasance in office." She said that her husband was told to resign by the close of business on Monday, July 29, but has yet to receive a letter to that effect.

"After careful, prayerful deliberation and appropriate consultation," Mrs. Bartlett told the selectmen, "neither Josh nor I see any valid reason for him to do so. In fact , we think that doing so would be neglecting a duty to those he represents."

After listening to Mrs.. Bartlett, Russ Wakefield, chairman of the board, asked Terenzini why, when he and Minkow met with Bartlett, he was not offered a more "elaborate explanation." Terenzini replied that Mrs. Bartlett's remarks "don't in my opinion reflect what happened" and that "more specificity" was provided, but declined to comment further saying he was "truly uncomfortable" discussing the matter at a public meeting.

Bartlett himself then spoke, insisting "I don't know what specific incident we're talking about. Do I not get the courtesy of at least an explanation of which malfeasance I'm accused of and which dereliction of duty I'm accused of?" he asked.

"He had it, he responded to it and it was conveyed to this board," Terenzini countered, adding that the particulars would be spelt out in a letter in adequate time to prepare for the public hearing. When Bartlett said again he could not recall any specifics from their meeting, Terenzini repeated that he was "uncomfortable" discussing the details of a conversation at which town counsel was present.

Planning Board member Paul Punturieri noted that the law requires the Selectboard to hold a public hearing to dismiss an elected official and suggested the board must have already made its decision. Wakefield answered that the purpose of the hearing was to determine if there is sufficient cause to remove someone from office.

Bartlett said that since the selectmen directed Ternzini and Minkow to meet with him and ask him to resign, it appeared the board had made its decision. "True?" he asked. "No. It's not true," Wakefield replied. "Then why would you ask me to resign?" Bartlett asked.

He expressed concern with how the matter was being handled and repeated "I see absolutely no reason to resign. "I'm eager to have a public hearing."