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Gilford BudCom has devolved into inquisition-style demagoguery

To The Daily Sun,

I would like to thank Dale Eddy and Sue Greene for their common courtesy and honesty in their letters to the editor about why voters should reject Article 30 in Gilford earlier this month. Their behavior could serve as an object lesson to others who resorted to insults, misinformation, conspiracy theories, and outright lies about the facts and about my character as a former member of the Budget Committee.

In my experience, those "others" — who operate from the base assumption that all town and school employees are thieves and liars — bully, harass, and verbally abuse those employees, and do the same to anyone who challenges what little power they believe they have.

Verbal abuse was the only response the "others" gave for keeping the Budget Committee in place. Not once have they addressed the simple fact Fred Butler and I raised — that the Budget Committee spent thousands of hours in the last seven years to save taxpayers just $2 per year on a $200,000 home. In other words, the responses of those "others" to our petition weren't "germane" to the issue at hand.
Fred and I knew that actually disbanding Gilford's Budget Committee would be a long shot when we discussed the idea, as change is always difficult. But we knew that at least it would call attention to the fact that the committee has devolved into Inquisition-style demagoguery in recent years.

The placement of Article 30 on the Gilford ballot caused these fact-ignoring detractors to act in fear and reveal their true colors to the Gilford voting public at large, which is, even to my surprise, nearly as satisfying as seeing Article 30 get passed.

Allen Voivod

  • Category: Letters
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Ask your reps if they voted to kill HB-1417? Then ask why?

To The Daily Sun,

Public boards across the state can continue to meet in complete secrecy. This could have changed with HB-1417 but the House killed this bill. When boards meet with an attorney or negotiate with a union they don't have to do any of the usual things for public meetings: no public notice, closed to the public, and no record whatsoever.

HB-1417 was a bill that would have required a simple after-the-fact record of the logistics of these so-called non-meetings so members of the public can at least know they happened.

HB-1417 was defeated on the floor of the House on Wednesday by a vote of 183-135. It was not debated so the reasons for the defeat are sketchy. The House Judiciary Committee had recommended that HB-1417 be killed. The committee vote was 11-7. Rep. Timothy Horrigan of Durham, wrote for the committee that HB-1417 would have "complicated public bodies' attempts to deal with" collective bargaining and consultation with legal counsel. He further claimed HB-1417 would do this "without adding any transparency to their work."

You can judge for yourself whether an after-the-fact public record of the time, place, attendees and legal exemption is too complicated and doesn't make these otherwise completely secret meetings more transparent.

Even though there was no debate on HB-1417, Rep. Michael Sylvia of Belmont, the prime sponsor of the bill, made a parliamentary inquiry in support of the bill. He said "under 91-A a public body meeting with legal counsel or for negotiations is a thing that we refer to as a non-meeting, and ... these meetings lack transparency required by our Constitution, and" HB-147 would add "a very simple reporting requirement of basic facts about these non-meetings" that "will reduce 91-A requests."

In response, Rep. Charlene Takesian of Pelham made an inquiry opposing the bill. She said that "caucuses are part of ... non-meetings, and that our discussions in our caucus should remain private." She also said that "non-public meeting records are already defined in RSA 91-A:3, III which was just revised in January of 2016" and "any person aggrieved by a violation of section 91[-A] may petition the superior court for injunctive relief."

While Rep. Sylvia's comments succinctly described HB-1417, Rep. Takesian's comments were true, but misleading. HB-1417 intentionally does not apply to caucuses. The requirements for non-public meetings in RSA 91-A:3, III do not apply to non-meetings; that is the point of non-meetings. And further, since non-meetings have no requirements under RSA 91-A, a non-meeting is not a violation of 91-A so a person cannot petition a court for relief. Since the House was voting to defeat HB-1417 as Rep. Takesian spoke the damage is already done.

Fortunately, the vote on HB-1417 was by roll call, so there is a record of how each representative voted. If your representative voted in favor of the report to kill HB-1417, then you should ask them why. Further, you should ask them to work next year to finally let some light shine on non-meetings.

David Saad

  • Category: Letters
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