Atkinson Town Hall

Atkinson Town Hall
The Norman Rockwellian picture of Atkinson

There is a NEW POLL at Right--------------------->

Don't forget to VOTE!
Make your voice heard!

Welcome Message and Mission Statement

Welcome to the NEW Atkinson Reporter! Under new management, with new resolve.

The purpose of this Blog is to pick up where the Atkinson Reporter has left off. "The King is dead, Long live the King!" This Blog is a forum for the discussion of predominantly Atkinson; Officials, People, Ideas, and Events. You may give opinion, fact, or evaluation, but ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated, or published. The conversation begun on the Atkinson Reporter MUST be continued!

This Blog will not fall to outside hacks from anyone, especially insecure public officials afraid of their constituents criticism.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Another Civil Rights Lawsuit, Another $100,000 or so down the drain! Thanks Frank!

From the Eagle Tribune;

Resident barred from taking pictures at meeting
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Residents have rights at public meetings, but that can all come to an end when they cause a disturbance.

Resident Gary Brownfield was taking photographs at the town's deliberative session Saturday, but was told almost immediately that he had to stop.

Moderator Frank Polito stopped discussion and asked Brownfield to stop taking photographs, saying he was causing a disturbance. Polito went so far as to put the question to voters, asking the audience whether Brownfield's photography should be banned, and they overwhelmingly agreed.

New Hampshire's public meeting law states specifically that cameras are permitted at meetings. But the law also gives the moderator broad discretion to determine what constitutes a disturbance, according to Deputy Secretary of State Dave Scanlan.

But Brownfield, a frequent critic of town officials, says the ruling wasn't fair.

He said he was sitting in his seat, taking photographs of Polito and other officials, and was not causing a disturbance. Brownfield said yesterday he was hired by the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers to take photographs and was not causing any trouble.

"I was acting as a paid professional," Brownfield said.

But Scanlan said if a moderator believes something is disrupting the meeting, he or she can have it stopped or have the offender removed. Residents can always overrule the moderator so putting the issue to a vote of the people was perfectly reasonable, the deputy secretary of state said.

"He wanted the people to be the ones to decide and not just him," Scanlan said.

Polito said Saturday that Brownfield disturbed the meeting because he was distracting and intimidating other residents who didn't know where the pictures would end up. Brownfield was told multiple times that if he photographed the event or disturbed the meeting, he would be thrown out.

"I believe you are creating a disorder in the room because you are taking pictures," Polito said at the meeting.

Polito asked Brownfield to delete any pictures he had taken of him.

Brownfield said the rule was unfair since it was not in the moderator's rules that were distributed at the meeting and a newspaper photographer was allowed to take photographs.

After Brownfield was banned from taking pictures, a newspaper photographer arrived at the meeting and was allowed to photograph the event. The photographer was asked to identify herself and was given permission by Polito and the audience to photograph the meeting.

Brownfield said he has given his attorney a videotape of the meeting and he may pursue legal action against Polito and the town.


Anonymous said...

Gary, Just remember that Polito asked "as an individual" not to take the pictures. He was not asking as the moderator, he was asking as a private citizen!! Sue him personally. Then sue the town for letting the private citizen go to the podium and taking a vote against you that was not legal!!

Anonymous said...

yeah, we the residents have lots of money for you to waste. keep suing the town. i really appreciate
it. you have my support wasting my money under the guise of saving me from wasteful spending. thank goodness we have the taxpayer group out there to save us all this money! this started out as a crusade to end all the wasteful spending and now it is to stop the bully since your #1 mission to save the town from wasteful spending is clearly irrelevant to you.

Anonymous said...

YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AS A PHOTOGRAPHER IF HARASSED. If Someone has threatened, intimidated, or detained you because you were taking photographs, they are liable for crimes such as coercion or theft. In such cases, you should report them to the police. You may also have civil remedies against such persons and their employers. The torts for which you may be entitled to compensation include assault, conversion, false imprisonment, and violation of your constitutional rights.

The law in the United States of America is pretty simple. You are allowed to photograph anything with the following exceptions:

• Certain military installations or operations.

• People who have a reasonable expectation of privacy. That is, people who are some place that's not easily visible to the general public, e.g., if you shoot through someone's window with a telephoto lens.

That's it.

You can shoot pictures of children; your rights don't change because of their age or where they are, as long as they're visible from a place that's open to the public. (So no sneaking into schools or climbing fences.)

Video taping has some more gray areas because of copyright issues, but in general the same rules apply. If anyone can see it, you can shoot it.

And yes, you can shoot on private property if it's open to the public. That includes malls, retails stores, Starbucks, banks, and office-building lobbies. If you're asked to stop and refuse, you run the risk of being charged with trespassing, but your pictures are yours. No one can legally take your camera or your memory card without a court order.

You can also shoot in subways and at airports. Check your local laws about the subway, but in New York, Washington, and San Francisco it's perfectly legal. Airport security is regulated by the Transportation Security Administration, and it's quite clear: Photography is A-OK at any commercial airport in the U.S. as long as you're in an area open to the public.

Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Are you going to post this same thing everywhere?

Anonymous said...

That's right, instead of getting rid of the problem, blame the people who refuse to be bullied. If we have to keep paying lawsuits, maybe someone in this town will put a stop to the bad behavior.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it interesting that the Eagle Tribune reporter and photographer were present at Deliberative Session and they did not have the common sense to speak out or heaven forbid -- advise Mr. Polito or another town official of their liability? Were they deaf and dumb to the conversations about photography rights, civil rights, freedom of speech and intimidation going on right in front of them? Was it just ignorance? And will they report correctly and legally the events that occurred that day in their newspaper? Is the press responsible to protect our rights and freedoms? Why did they not speak out? It is shameful. The Eagle Tribune reporter can do a far better job of representing his profession and his newspaper. The photographer could have shut off the camera in protest, but did not.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that the article interviewed Dave Scanlon, Deputy Secretary of State, who seems to think that Frank was within his right to quell the disturbance. Yet why is the article titled the way it is?

If anything is should be Thanks Gary...and Leon...and Mark!

Anonymous said...

why are we always angry at the ones who sue?

Why dont we ever get angry at the ones who give them the reason?

Anonymous said...

because Frank called the Secretary of states office and said he was trying to maintain decorum, and the guy was creating a disturbance. When the truth is Frank created the disturbance.

Anonymous said...

i get angry when people sue to "save me" from the bad guys when i don't want to be saved. if i thought things were that bad for so many years then i would leave town. if you guys keep it up the new tax rate will drive me away. so much for your supposed tax group that would actually help me.
i'm tired of bending over.

Anonymous said...

No one is suing to SAVe you!

People are suing to get Phil to stop acting badly! And they have to sue because the selectmen dont have a ball among them to do their jobs and stop it themselves!

Anonymous said...

golly gee gosh, i hope leon wins and brings some balls to the board

Anonymous said...

Feb. 3 @215 Your question is well received by me . Its with out any question a good sensible one . When will the voters come to this realization. Voting day is coming and there shouldn't be any excuse to not vote ,especially when it comes out of every taxpayers pocket. Above all , do vote your conscience with the best of choice in your mind.

Anonymous said...

RE: February 3, 2009 2:15 PM

I've also made similar remarks. If our elected and appointed officials behaved in an ethical manner, and obeyed the law, we would not have these suits.

For those who blame those doing the suing: Look at the abundance of evidence and facts. You can't make this stuff up. What are we supposed to do? Just role over and let it continue? When I grew up I was taught the difference between right and wrong. Can all of you who support the chief and other officials agree that all of the chief's actions, which are well documented, were right, legal, and complied with the towns own rules?

It is not those who are suing the town costing the town. It is those who create the situations that require a suit to gain justice. And, what is most comical about this, the officials do it all on camera. They don't need private investigators. All they need is a video tape. IT IS OUR OFFICIALS WHO ARE ACTING BADLY. It is wrong to blame those who are affected by these actions.

What the chief has done, very effectively, is blur the lines between him as Chief of Police, and Head of Elder Affairs. He has repeatedly used the latter to get away with misbehavior as the former. He does good deeds for the Elderly, and in turn, they support him as chief. We saw this in abundance last Saturday. I bet the average age of the crowd was between 70 to 75.

And for all of those who state, "the public has spoken". Some 100 to 200, mostly elderly, is not representative of the town. Shame on them for not attending. Shame on you for declaring it a mandate.

Anonymous said...

"You can't make this stuff up"
Are you talking about Leon?
Your over used quote is like an old rotten diaper.

Anonymous said...

Oh, what a wonderful retort. Rather than present a counter augment this is the best you can do?

And no, I was not singling out Leon. There are plenty of other cases to draw from that makes my point.

Anonymous said...

The town budget in 1995-6 was 2 million now it's 4 million plus.Anybody's salary gone up that much in the same span.Let's try a level funded budget for the next five years and learn a new phrase"do without"

Anonymous said...

This has been discussed before, but if you really want a budget the is fully transparent there is a concept called "Zero Based Budgeting." Using this method requires that all budgets be set to zero every year and the department heads are required to submit a new one. It is a very good way to get all the details when you have to justify every one.

However, such an accounting method would never see the light in this town.