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Has Planning Commission become unaccountable rougue agency?

  • Published in Letters
To The Daily Sun,
On Sunday, July 7, I sent an e-mail to Jerry Coogan, an employee of the Lakes Region Planning Commission. He's the area contact person listed at the Granite State Future (GSF) website. The website says: "For additional information about our next regional plan, please contact Jerry Coogan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (603) 279-8171."
I prefer email because it's so much easier to keep track of information and who says what.
In my e-mail request to Jerry, I asked about the times, locations, agenda, etc. for all upcoming GSF meetings because the calendar at their website was blank for the next six months.
I asked why the GSF meetings were not published in event calendars in all the local papers.
I asked why only five minutes of time is given for a public question period at the end of GSF meetings.
I asked how do citizens get answers to specific questions about GSF.
Since they list an e-mail address at the GSF website, it seems that's an acceptable method to perform communications.
On Monday July 8, I didn't get a reply email.
All during the day on Tuesday July 9, I failed to receive a reply, so I called the above number around 4 p.m. The man who answered the phone said Mr. Coogan was busy and would call me back. It didn't happen that day.
Today, July 10, I failed to get a call or email from Mr. Coogan. Around 4 p.m., I called the Lakes Region Planning Commission office and asked to speak with Mr. Coogan. Once again he was busy. The woman said he'd call me back.
At or about 4:10 p.m. July 10, he called back. I immediately asked him if he'd received my July 7 email. He said he did.
I asked why he hadn't responded, as I'm a citizen who helps pay his salary. Many might not realize that the Lakes Region Planning Commission is a taxpayer-funded entity subject to the same laws as any town, county or state office. In other words, we, the citizens, are their bosses.
Mr. Coogan said he'd be happy to answer my questions on the phone. I declined that offer because it's hard for me to write down everything he would say, and then I'd not have any proof of what he said.
Mr. Coogan was well aware of that because he asked me during the call if I was recording the call. I said no, because believe it or not, New Hampshire is one of the few states in the USA that's a two-party recording state. That means both parties in a conversation must approve of the recording.
Mr. Coogan said I could come in for a face-to-face meeting, but I made it clear that meeting would be recorded. He bristled at that and would not commit to doing it, even though the Belknap County Attorney said he has no choice.
The call ended abruptly with Mr. Coogan not telling me when or under what circumstances he'd answer my current questions and any future ones.
This type of attitude from public servants is unacceptable. Why is Mr. Coogan reluctant to offer written answers to questions? Why is Mr. Coogan reluctant to be taped when a citizen asks questions about a massive planning project? What is Mr. Coogan hiding?
Here's the rub. The only thing I can prove in all of the above is the fact that I sent an e-mail to Mr. Coogan. I'm very sure that in a few days he'll rebut this letter of mine saying I'm not telling the truth.
Guess what? I can't prove what I said because it's illegal for me to record a simple phone call to a government office. Don't you feel that's not right?
The bottom line is the Lakes Region Planning Commission has possibly become a rogue agency that feels it doesn't have to respond to questions. It treats citizens with disdain. It's possible they feel they're above the law.
If you don't believe what I'm saying, I invite you to go with me when I make a visit to their offices with my video camera rolling. That's the advice I received from the Belknap County Attorney. It's a very sad day that one has to do that to protect their rights.
Give me a call and we'll go visit Mr. Coogan.
Tim Carter