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A chilling message to all who would volunteer in Moulutonboro

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

As an elected member of the Moultonboro Planning Board and speaking as a concerned private citizen, I am appalled at the recent actions of our Board of Selectmen to intimidate multiple members of the Planning Board by threatening them with removal by public hearing if they did not immediately resign. All without presenting any evidence to them. The Board of Selectmen in a " non meeting" with Town Counsel Peter Minkow, voted unanimously 4-0 ( Selectmen Chris Shipp was not present ) to have the Town Administrator Carter Terenzini and Town Counsel deliver the message to two sitting, duly elected board members to resign or face the indignity of a public hearing seeking their removal. The charges were "neglect of duty" and "malfeasance".
A deadline was presented and if the resignation was not delivered, a letter would be forthcoming with the public "lynching" soon to follow.
A tense selectmen meeting on August 1st enforced the lack of thought that the selectmen put into the process and the actions they authorized.
The "defendant' was not told who his accuser(s) were.
He was not told the details of the charges and despite the fact that only he, Carter Terenzini and Peter Minkow were present and their versions of the meeting vary widely, the selectmen chose to unequivocally believe Mr. Terenzini's version of events. In doing so they backhandedly called the defendant and his wife liars.
No selectmen was present at the resignation meeting. How can that be? A matter as important and as personally damaging as this can be , the chair and or vice chair should have had (I will use a phrase I read this week from Neil Young in the Weirs Times) the testicular apparatus to discuss this with the accused themselves. Unless of course the idea to send Terenzini and Minkow was perhaps suggested and even orchestrated by someone else in town hall. "Gee, that sounds like a good idea, let's do that".
Asking for an elected official's resignation with these two very serious charges, has the potential to permanently damage their reputations. Couldn't this have been discussed with each of the individuals before taking such a bold step? How about with the Planning Board chair?
Our Town Counsel also needs to brush up on the Right-to-Know law. Consultation with Town Counsel is indeed a non meeting, but then having a meeting during the consultation and taking votes is stretching the fabric of the RTK law to the ripping point. He should be advising his clients to be follow not only the letter of the law but the spirit of the law as well.
The selectmen seem intent to hold a public hearing "to decide what to do" in the words of the Chair Joel Mudgett, but the damage is done and it is almost irreparable. Do they not understand the implications of what they set in motion?
We have a shortage of volunteers. This sends a chilling message to all in any elected or appointed office that the Moultonboro selectmen will have you removed if you dare disagree with them or make decisions they do not approve of. No discussion, no chance for the individual boards to address their concerns themselves and no chance for the board members to even get the facts before the public execution. And your reputation will be permanently damaged.
Is this the American way? Is this the New Hampshire way? No to both, but it is apparently the Moultonboro way, and it is a wrong as wrong can be.
Our Planning Board has been very effective and accomplished a great deal despite the fact that we have a very wide range of opinions and often long-winded discussions that at times can get contentious. I don't object to that and in fact I choose to celebrate that diversity of thought, but in the end, when the votes are taken, we move on to the next item on the agenda. No one is asked to resign.
So our little quiet village will be in the spotlight across New Hampshire and not in a good way. If there are indeed public hearings, they will be very ugly and contentious and in the end there will be no winners. The selectmen should take a step back and withdraw their threat. And then apologize publicly to the people whose reputation they have harmed and to the public at large for their abuse of power.

Paul T. Punturieri