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Gilford selectmen handling situation responsibly; give them time

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

The Laconia Daily Sun has run at least two recent news stories assessing the costs to the Town of Gilford and it would seem attempting to get more specific details on what the basis is for two Gilford police officers to have been placed on administrative leave. While it is probably the job of a newspaper to pursue these lines of inquiry, some of the taxpayers who elect our selectmen to properly investigate and deal with these kinds of issues feel that they have acted most responsibly and probably in the long term, specifically in the taxpayer's interests in this particular, still unknown matter. The selectmen of Gilford are not just new on the job. They in fact have the previous experience in dealing with matters relating to our town employees and whether there have been instances of violations in social responsibility in the work place.

In the past we have had our assistant town administrator acting at that time as temporary administrator from our service untimely ripped and perhaps "poached" by the county commissioners. There was no interruption in the town's heartbeat in that case and another capable town employee stepped in for the weeks it took to find and hire another town administrator, who has so far served very capably and it would seem in tune with the selectmen's general views and objectives. The town also replaced the town's recreational director a few years ago as well and he has also proved to be a very capable fellow. The town has lost several others to recent retirements including a superintendent of schools, a couple principals, and now a DPW Chief. The town continues to demonstrate the ability to attract and keep excellent talent as replacements.

In the past the town has found that it can cost the taxpayers money if someone on our payroll ends up needing removal from a position for having been found not to be working in accordance with the directives and preferences of the duly-elected selectmen or the standards of a job description. We currently find in Nashua a news story that one of the state's leading political journalists — Political Director James Pindell of WMUR news — has termed in one of his columns a "Public Soap Opera". The mayor and the police chief there seem to be at odds as to whether one, the other or both have acted inappropriately in PUBLIC remarks they have made. In one case some remarks about a collective bargaining agreement and then another as to questioning a persons character and motivations. Our selectmen are also meeting of late in private sessions, not just to discuss the Police Department issues but also to discuss a pending collective bargaining agreement. It is hardly expected that collective bargaining in GOOD FAITH can be conducted in the newspapers and other news media.

Our elected selectmen go to great pains as do their respective department chiefs to find and hire the best talent they can get to serve our town. You cannot hire such a person and then suddenly decide they are not what they were when you hired them. You do not readily admit to mistakes in personnel decisions as generally if an employee is found deficient you are first inclined to try and work with that employee and get them on the straighter course and apply some positive motivational schemes. In any case, if an employee is not amendable to a positive change they may need to be disciplined or let go. Most of our taxpayers are not amenable with this, what might be dirty laundry, being turned into salacious grist for the news media to get scoops on or sell papers and advertising with. It is our town's experience and that of our selectmen that such may cause actual damage beyond what is reasonable to an employee and end with the town having additional expenses to the taxpayers for what may end up as valid enhancements to a severance package. Maybe The Sun could get us more up to speed on the "Public Soap Opera" in Nashua and leave our Gilford selectman to continue in private sessions to sort out these issues. There is an agenda schedule posted at each meeting and the Selectmen are in fact making it clear in those agendas that they are working quite diligently on sorting out these issues to EVERYONE'S best interest. They are in this case doing exactly what we have elected them to do.

Timothy Sullivan