Published DateTo the editor,
On May 16th The Laconia Daily Sun wrote an article by Roger Amsden stating that, the Belknap County Convention majority had prejudged a proposal by the commissioners regarding a proposal to expand nursing services.
There were accusations and false statements made regarding what this convention had done or was about to do made by the Belknap County Commissioners and the Belknap County administrator to this reporter. There was not a response to the allegations asked for or sought by this reporter as to the facts or the intent of the Belknap County Convention and at our meeting on May 21st a response to these allegations was read by the chair of the convention at our public meeting.
Today (Tuesday) I read the article regarding the action and information given to the public as to what was done at this meeting and I was disappointed that the reporter failed to mention that those accusations were refuted, so I would like to submit a response that was given at this meeting so that the public can be advised of the whole truth. I for one am sick and tired of the way this convention is portrayed when we are only trying to do what we were elected to do — control government spending and look out for the best interest of our constituents.
Maybe the next election, if this is not what the public wants, they can elect a rubber stamp.
Our chairs response follows:
"On Thursday, May 16, 2013, in The Laconia Daily Sun an article entitled "Commissioners say convention majority has already prejudged proposal to expanded nursing services" IS ENTIRELY FALSE. I am not one to air dirty laundry but since a public accusation has been made the other side of the story must see the light of day so that the public can know exactly what has occurred and that their faith has not been misplaced.
There have been repeated claims that the delegation has made decisions in violation of the public's right to know. AND THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW THERE IS NO TRUTH TO THIS CLAIM.
Regarding this subject — the Supplemental Appropriation Request: I think it is relevant to go through the time line of events.
— On April 17, 2013, the commissioners proposed this subject to the convention. No information was available at this time.
— A motion was then made to hold a public hearing and it was scheduled for Wednesday May 1, 2013. A few days later the only information we had received was the top section of the hand-out, handed out tonight. This was clearly insufficient background information to foster beneficial discussion in the hearing and therefore, a request was posed by these members for more complete information.
— Regrettably, the first Public Hearing scheduled for Wednesday May 1, 2013 on the Supplemental Appropriation had to be canceled, as by Monday at 1:30 p.m. we still had NONE of the information requested. Unfortunately, the information was subsequently provided after the decision to cancel had been made. (In fact, it is interesting to note when I returned to my office later in the day, that within 50 minutes of canceling the meeting, the information was AVAILABLE and distributed to the delegates.)
— Through a glitch at the county office the next hearing intended to be scheduled didn't make into the papers until it was too late.
— It is around this time that THE ALLEGED "PREDECIDED MOTION" occurred.
— Last Monday (May 12), while reviewing the information, I contacted the county administrator to discuss this meeting's presentation. This was to clarify the request for the supplemental appropriation which began at $187,000, and was then changed to $197,000. Yet the number I heard articulated was that the request was actually for $200,000. In that discussion, in an effort to protect THE ADMINISTRATOR from any EMBARRASSMENT caused by varying figures and an addition error, I offered to send her a corrected spreadsheet to aid in her presentation. She welcomed the assistance. That spread sheet is on the bottom of the handout available for distribution this evening. And is by no means a motion.
— No discussion between the delegation members occurred in the development of the corrected spreadsheet. It was exclusively a conversation between the administrator and myself. FOR THE RECORD I WOULD LIKE TO ASK IF ANY MEMEBERS OF THE DELEGATION HAD SEEN THE SECOND SPREADSHEET PRIOR TO THIS EVENING COMING FROM ME?
— The administrator was then quoted in the May 13 Laconia Daily Sun as saying, "The intent of the leadership is not to deliberate issues in public. They're going to come in with a motion already prepared". This is in no way true. She was fully aware the context of the conversation and genesis of the information. She is also reported having said that it appears that the convention is intent on "not allowing the public to hear the discussion which led to the decision" but stopped short of calling it a violation of the Right-To-Know laws saying that it isn't clear how many convention members took part in preparing the motion.
— It is sad that such false information was presented by our county administrator.
— Yesterday, I thrice asked the administrator via an e-mail about this ALLEGED MOTION, to which she replied "we usually don't get copies until the meeting"; "as I said before, I don't have a copy of the prepared motion"; to the third request quoting her words in the newspaper to which I have received no reply.
— So either the information given to the commissioners is not true or the paper did not report the meeting as it occurred. To which occurred I have no answer.
— For the commissioners to rely on this information without checking the facts is also problematic.
— This convention has been entirely open in our discussion.
— Regarding the additional information requested; it is unwise to arrive at a meeting unprepared for effective discussion. We have a duty to our communities to make the best decisions available and information leads to a good decision making process. For example the census spreadsheets requested by Rep. Sylvia have helped us see trends in both population and expenses. Certainly the year-to-date expenditures per account are critical along with the fact that the expenses are primarily for outside services. Additionally, it is inefficient to digest information of any magnitude during a meeting. To suggest otherwise is foolish."
Rep. Robert Greemore