A+ A A-

County attorney will stay out of fight

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners are weighing their options now that Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen has declined to intervene on their behalf in a court case which limits their authority to transfer funds without the approval of the Belknap County Convention's Executive Committee.
Guldbarndsen cited a conflict of interest in representing one part of the county, the commission, against another, the county convention, in declining the request.
''I can understand why,'' said outgoing County Commission Chairman John Thomas (R-Belmont), who recalled that Guldbrandsen had been reluctant to represent the convention earlier this year when it asked for her to seek a court ruling on budget powers which were an issue between the commissioners and convention.
He said that he and other members of the commission are talking about which course to follow now that the convention's Executive Committee has rejected a request to transfer $28,000 from one budget line to another so that the county can pay the $24,000 it faces in unpaid legal bills.
''They are disallowing us from defending ourselves but I don't think they have that power,'' said Thomas, who said that the actions ''have definitely hurt the county.''
''We have 4 or five (legal) cases that have nothing to do with any dispute between the convention and the commission,'' said Thomas, who said he is hoping that the commissioners will be able to formulate a plan for getting a court hearing when they meet Monday at 5:30 to review the budget presentation they will be making at a 7 p.m. meeting of the county convention, which will hold a public hearing on the proposed county budget after it meets to elect new officers.
Commissioners said when they met Wednesday that the result of the committee's action is that the commission can no longer manage the business of the county and that violates the terms of a temporary injunction obtained by the county convention which prohibits the transfer of more than $300 between accounts without approval of the committee.
They maintain that the denial of the requested transfer violated the "good faith" part of the judge's ruling which anticipated the committee would show good faith in approving the transfers.
Incoming county commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) said that it is ironic that the current commissioners have asked the county attorney to represent them after having denied the convention's request earlier this year to have her represent the convention when it sought a clarification in Belknap County Superior Court on the line item budget authority issue.

Last Updated on Friday, 05 December 2014 01:55

Hits: 349

Children's Auction starts Tuesday; NH 1 News to play major role

LACONIA — WBIN-TV in Concord will be broadcasting live from the annual Children's Auction for four days next week according to Lee Kinberg, executive vice president of NH 1 News, who says that it is the station's goal to help the the auction reach a larger viewership.
He says the station will be running a commercial-free segment from noon to 2 p.m. on each of the first four days of the auction, which runs Dec. 9-13 and is broadcast in its entirety locally by Lakes Region Public Access TV (MetroCast Channel 25).
''Our signal reaches across the state and we'll be introducing the auction to a lot of new viewers by helping with our coverage,'' said Kinberg, who plans on being at the Opechee Conference Center on Tuesday for the first day of the auction. He said that Charlie Sherman, NH 1's special correspondent, and Shari Small, news anchor and reporter, will also attend the auction next week and will be talking to people and telling stories about what the auction has accomplished in the past as part of its coverage.
The auction was started on WLNH radio in 1982 by Warren Bailey and has grown over the years, especially after LRPA started covering it live in the late 1990s, to the point where it raised $510,801 last year.

From the start known as the WLNH (or just LNH) Children's Auction, the event is now being promoted as the NH 1 Children's Auction.
The WLNH is now owned by Binnie Media and broadcasts from the NH 1 bureau which is located in the former Laconia police station on Church Street.
''We're keeping our expectations modest. This is the first year we've broadcast and it's going to take us a little while to have an impact,'' said Kinberg. The WBIN news operation is now headquartered at the former Walker School in Concord, where people will be able to drop off contributions for the auction.
Kinberg and Robb Atkinson, WBIN news director, held a Skype discussion two weeks ago with members of the board of directors of Lakes Region Public Access TV abut the auction and the role they expect to play.
During the discussion, Nancy LeRoy of Laconia, a board member of LRPA-TV, asked ''Is all the money staying in the Lakes Region?'' which prompted the WBIN executives to say that what was raised will be distributed in the areas of the most need. They pointed out that the decisions are made by the board of directors of the children's auction, not by the television and radio stations.
Kinberg said this week that he wouldn't mind seeing the Boys and Girls Club of Concord, which now has taken over program management for the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region in Laconia, receiving funds, as well as the Friendly Kitchen in Concord.
The auction will be carried live on LRPA-TV from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. Patrick's Pub will hold it's annual Pub Mania event from 9 a.m. Thursday until 9 a.m. Friday.

WBIN is found at channel 17 on the MetroCast lineup and at channel 50 on DirectTV systems.

Last Updated on Friday, 05 December 2014 01:51

Hits: 354

Overall city property tax burden up 2.1% for 2015

LACONIA — The New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration this week set the 2014 property tax rate at $22.40 per $1,000 of assessed value, an increase of 32 cents or 1.4 percent, over the 2013 rate of $22.08.

The amount to be raised by property taxes rose by $839,730, from $39,311,468 to $40,151,198, an increase of 2.1 percent while the total assessed valuation increased by $11,442,821, or 0.6 percent, from $1,804,204,123 to $1,815,646,944.

The city rate increased from $8.55 to $8.73 and the school rate from $9.40 to $9.67 while the state education rate decreased from $2.66 to $2.58 and the county rate from $1.47 to $1.42.

The property tax rate is seven cents higher than the projected when the City Council adopted the 2014-2015 budget in June. On the recommendation of Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 3), chairman of the council's Finance Committee, the council aimed to limit the rise in the rate to 25 cents, or to a projected rate of $2.33, six cents less than the rate projected by the budget proposed by City Manager Scott Myers. The council trimmed expenditures by $115,000, enough to project a 25 cent increase in the property tax rate, from $22.08 to $22.33.

However, although the total assessed valuation increased, the growth fell $7,557,179 short of the $1,823,204,123 that was projected. Each $1million in assessed valuation represents a penny on the tax rate. Consequently, the $7.5-million difference between the actual and projected assessment resents the seven cents difference between the actual and projected increase in the tax rate.

Last Updated on Friday, 05 December 2014 01:44

Hits: 343

Supreme Court sides with pre-indictment 'discovery' of evidence rights in Belmont axe murders case

CONCORD — The N.H. Supreme Court ruled late last month that criminal defense attorneys are entitled to review the state's case against their clients through a process called discovery before their client is indicted.

The case came to the forefront in the aftermath of the double ax murder of Priscilla and Timothy Carter in their home in Belmont sometime on May 23 or May 24, 2013.

Police arrested Shawn Carter, 33, who was Priscilla's son and Timothy's brother, around 2 p.m. on May 24 — about three hours after Belmont police found the bodies after going to the home for a well-being check.

Carter was initially charged with one count of driving after revocation and was held in the Belknap County House of Corrections on $200 cash bail. He was either unwilling or unable to post the bail.

On July 9, 2013, the state formally charged Carter with four counts of second-degree homicide — with two counts for each victim. The case was bound over from the 6th Circuit Court, Franklin Division to the Belknap County Superior Court however Carter was not indicted by a grand jury until October.

Other than the affidavits that were made available to Carter's defense team and the public during Carter's probable cause trial on August 6, 2013, with no indictment, his team had no evidence.

In September of 2013, Carter's defense team filed a motion with Judge James O'Neill requesting that he order the discovery (evidence) be provided them. They argued that the state legislature provides for pre-indictment discovery according to RSA 604:1-a (2001).

O'Neill refused, agreeing with N.H. Senior Assistant General Jeff Strelzin that court rules don't allow for pre-indictment discovery and that the state law is inconsistent with more recent internal court rules.

Upon request, O'Neill did allow the defense team to file an interlocutory appeal (an appeal to the Supreme Court while a case is still pending).

The justices unanimously agreed that the intent of the legislature was to allow pre-indictment discovery and that the recourse was to have the legislature change the law.

Carter was indicted by a Belknap County grand jury in October of 2013 and his case is ongoing. Presumably, his defense team has the discovery it was seeking.

Local criminal attorney Matt Lahey, who has no involvement in the Carter matter, said the Supreme Court ruling is critical to defense lawyers — especially those representing clients in serious cases with lots of physical evidence.

He also said that in his experience, prosecutors are inconsistent with discovery.

"Sometimes I get it right away without even asking and sometimes I have to wait until after the indictment," he said. "Now it appears there will be some consistency."

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 December 2014 02:19

Hits: 343

The Laconia Daily Sun - All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy
Powered by BENN a division of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette