LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners voted earlier this month to investigate leaks of information from non-public meetings with an eye to censuring Commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton). Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) has accused of providing a county employee with information discussed in a non-public meeting.
Burchell has denied the allegation, which DeVoy made at a June 4 meeting of the commission, and questioned the accuracy of the minutes of that meeting at yesterday's meeting of the commission.
DeVoy repeated his claim yesterday, saying that Burchell left a meeting off the commissioners which was still in progress and went to an employee where he shared information abut what was taking place behind the door he had just closed.
''You left the meeting and went right to the employee, where sensitive information was leaked out,'' DeVoy said, adding that when he went to talk to the employee after the meeting the employee told him that he already knew what he (DeVoy) was going to tell him.
DeVoy also said that Belknap County Sheriff Craig Wiggin had received a phone call about leaked information and that the call would be one of the subjects of an investigation which he and Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) have authorized.
DeVoy said yesterday that Taylor will contact the Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen about an investigation and that if she has reservations about undertaking one that Taylor will contact the state Attorney General's office.
Burchell has said that he has read quotes from newspapers of non-public records which were cited by Taylor, an allegation denied by Taylor, and said that if there is an investigation that it should look at all three commissioners.
DeVoy said that although the June 4 meeting was open to the pubic that news media were not present nor was the meeting videotaped by Lakes Region Public Access television.
There was also discussion yesterday of the Jail Planning Committee, which is headed by Commissioner DeVoy, and whether two commissioners could be at a meeting without it requiring the posting of public notice of a meeting of the commission. Burchell had said that he did not think it would be considered a commission meeting if he attended and felt it important that his views be represented, as he has a different view than the other two commissioners.
Burchell has said that he expects the cost of a proposed community corrections facility will be closer to $10 million than the $7 million which DeVoy has set as a target for the architectural firm working on a schematic design of the proposed facility.
Commissioners also took up Burchell's request for e-mail records of communications between County Administrator Debra Shackett and DeVoy as well as department heads. He said that he didn't think he should have to file a Right-to-Nnow request in order to gain access.
His fellow commissioners said that requests for specific information was fine but that broad requests for hard copies of a large number of e-mails which created a huge workload for the administration department were not.
Burchell said he had dropped his request for hard copies of the e-mails and his fellow commissioners said that blanket requests, which Taylor characterized as ''a witch hunt'', could not be undertaken without the approval of the other commissioners.
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