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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.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The warrant has been posted!

Well, the warrant has been posted on the Town's website. right on the home page! Thank you selectmen for finally using the town website to disseminate information.

There ARE some interesting points in the posted warrant that should make for lively discussion on Saturday. Please don't forget Deliberative Session is at 10:00am on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010.

The warrant starts out with some petitioned planning and zoning articles, that contain issues discussed and advocated by the planning board a number of years ago, when they ALSO contained language that would have effectively gutted wetlands provisions. These articles are obviously someones attempt to get the good language without the bad from before.

Then we get to our budget. Well it has come down in recent weeks, and now is being proposed at $3,927,687.00. But if you don't like that the default budget is $4,310,598.30 How the hell did THAT happen? Has our BOs taken default budgeting lessons at the Dick LaSalle school of budgeting?

We will put aside the budget questions for this article, but I believe expenditures this years were only around 3.65 million or so. In tight economic times when our fellow townspeople are losing their homes, do we really need an extra $300,000 in the budget? Plus warrant articles?

The next article is the chief's new Subaru for elderly affairs. There is a note at the front of the warrant article that will have to come off it before it goes on the ballot, that would be illegal. And yes, we know that the chief's private business is finally making a donation to the town after a year in operation to buy this car(but only if the voters pass it, otherwise there will be no donation) But do we REALLY NEED a FOURTH elderly affairs car, when there is almost ALWAYS at least two of the elderly vehicles in the PD parking lot( and why are they still there by the way, I thought those two depts. were SUPPOSED to be SEPARATED?) in addition to the EIGHT police vehicles. Surely if we NEED another elderly vehicle, we can give a police vehicle to them.

Next up is the chief's bid to make all of his elderly work pay. We actually think this a good idea. Make the Elderly Affairs Director an official town position at a salary of $100/yr. This should be a paid position. Maybe we can transform it into a true elderly service, rather than a political organization.

Next up is the Fire Dept. capital reserve, again can we put this off for a year? Yes we WILL pay for it down the road, but maybe when we have to buy that new ambulance or truck, Congress will not be spending a Trillion Dollars everytime they take a vote. To give chief Murphy his due, he has presented the town with a 30 year vehicle replacement and refurbishment plan. The capital reserve is calculated to have enough money at each point that an expenditure is needed to pay for it, without loans and leases.

Article 13 is something new this year. An attempt to create out of the general fund surplus, and expendable trust fund that can be used to fund plowing and winter maintenance beyond what is in the budget. A good idea as we saw last year.

The next 7 warrant articles are our Road paving articles. We actually applaude the budget committee and selectmen for breaking out each road this year into separate warrant articles. This should be fun... Leeetts geeeet reaaddddyyyy to ruuuuuummmmmmbbbbbllllllleeeeeeee!

Article 21 is the further development of the East Road Rec area! You've gotta be kidding me! Can our rec dept. take a break from shaking down the taxpayers for one friggin year? First there was the $400,000 to buy the damn land, then there was the study, then the site work done to date, now just another $80,000 friggin dollars, and we can have landscaping and walking paths! HELL NO! NOT THIS YEAR!

Recreation Cap reserve? Again HELL NO! NOT THIS YEAR! What the hell are you going to buy now?

Next we have the Woodlock Park Cap Reserve! NOT THIS YEAR! WE ARE BROKE, GET IT?

Next we have a generator for town hall. Well if the chief got one, then the town hall needs one, what the hell for? NOT THIS YEAR! People gt this through your heads, money is tight, quit asking for more!

Those damn mosquitos are going to cost us another $46,000, guess we can't avoid that one can we.

$35,000 for siding to the kimball house? Can't this wait?

Articles 27, 28, 29, and 30 all have to do with cable TV and shoudl be paid for out of the Cable Cap Reserve, which is funded by the franchise fee.

Those are the important articles, lets hear your thoughts?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Longtime Atkinson official resigns Town moderator quits over liability expenses

From the eagle tribune;

Longtime Atkinson official resigns Town moderator quits over liability expenses
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — After 24 years in local government, Frank Polito has resigned as town moderator and an 18-year member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, saying he is tired of being sued by residents and can no longer afford to defend himself.

Polito's sudden resignation comes only days before he was to lead the town's deliberative session on Jan. 30. He was the town moderator for 10 years and the zoning board's chairman for the last eight years.

In the four-page resignation letter sent to the selectmen Friday, Polito cited three lawsuits he has been named in by residents as the reason why he is leaving town government.

Polito learned Jan. 11 that his personal liability insurance policy was canceled as a result of the lawsuits, with the insurance company paying $20,000 to defend him in a case that led to his computer at work being subpoenaed.

"I believe that serving as Moderator at deliberative session in 2 weeks exposes me to the risk of additional litigation and resulting personal hardship," the letter states.

Polito was one of several town officials named in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court. Residents Leon Artus, Gary Brownfield and Steven Lewis alleged that Polito and other town officials violated their First Amendment rights. The lawsuit specifically alleged that Polito violated Brownfield's rights by not allowing him to take photographs at the 2009 deliberative session.

The lawsuit was dismissed by a federal court judge in October, but Polito said the residents have filed a motion to retry the case in Rockingham County Superior Court.

The other two lawsuits were filed separately by residents Carol Grant and Mark Acciard. Grant's lawsuit, settled two years ago for $30,000, accused Polito and three other town officials of damaging her reputation by talking about her during selectmen's meetings in 2005.

In the third lawsuit against Polito and other town officials, Acciard, a former Budget Committee member, also claimed his reputation was damaged during public meetings.

The town's insurance company would not cover all the expenses from the lawsuits and Polito said he was forced to hire private attorneys.

"I always believed that even if I were wrongfully accused in a law suit, the Town's liability coverage for its public officials would protect me from harm," he wrote. "However, while defending myself in the first of this string of law suits, I painfully learned that the accusation of wrong doing itself, and the corresponding need to mount a strong defense, inflicts serious personal hardship."

Polito also said in the letter he is worried about the town.

"I am saddened by the events of the past three years and I am genuinely concerned about the future of Atkinson," he wrote. "I fear that there will continue to be concerted efforts by some in Town to use the imperfections of our legal system to achieve their goals. The same goals they have been unable to achieve through the Democratic process of Town Meeting."

When reached last night, Polito said he felt sad earlier this week when his daughter told him he wouldn't be serving as moderator the first time she is able to vote.

"It has been just as much as educational for my kids as it has been public service for me," he said.

An interim moderator has already been named by the Supervisors of the Checklist.

State Rep. James Garrity, R-Atkinson, was appointed on Tuesday to fill the moderator's position for the deliberative session and the March election.

Martha McDonald, one of three members of the Supervisors of the Checklist, said they asked Garrity to attend their meeting Tuesday night to see if he would serve the rest of his two-year term.

"He is a very well-liked person," McDonald said.

Selectman Bill Friel, who was on the zoning board with Polito, said his colleague served Atkinson well over the years.

"He was a great source for the town," Friel said.

Garrity said yesterday he is taking a moderator training course this weekend through the New Hampshire Local Government Center to prepare for election season.

A new moderator will be elected to a two-year term at the March election, according to Town Clerk Rose Cavalear.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Only in Atkinson...

Borrowed from the Plaistow Town Crier, who re-printed it from NHInsider. Original Author Ed Naile of CNHT. Thank you Ed, and Mr. Herrick.

Posted by Dennis Herrick on January 20, 2010 at 10:22:40:

More from Ed Naile at

Bing! Round Two II

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 10:58AM

Atkinson has moved a step forward in bringing some measure of balance to municipal government with the resignation of Frank Polito the now former Town Moderator.

The Jan. 2009 video from my previous post shows Polito holding court instead of being moderator. In this case he was holding the meeting hostage FOR PERSONAL REASONS instead of allowing debate and votes.

Arrogance is what brought Frank Polito to the point he thought he could stop CNHT photographer Gary Brownfield from quietly taking photos, as any other photographer or journalist would. That arrogance was fueled by one simple thing – or should I say one simpleton, Atkinson Police Chief Phil Consentino.

Consentino runs a nice little deal in Atkinson any political hack would be proud of. He has a now non-profit, but still funded by taxpayers – Elderly Affairs unit consisting of old Atkinson police cruisers outfitted with Consentino as chief driver and vote buyer.

Normally in New Hampshire, voters shy away from giving a political animal, and huge legal liability like Consentino, any more authority or plum deals like a private taxi service for the elderly, but not Atkinson.

Slowly and steadily Consentino has set up a private account for donations to his non-profit and had much of it acquired with tax dollars. He shuttles little old ladies to appointments and collects the type of gratitude that encourages a small band of Deliberative Session “voters” to do his bidding. This is why only a small handful of voters in Atkinson challenge any budget or warrant article. Atkinson is democracy spelled, R.I.C.O.

Notice in the video how in an almost unanimous fashion, self-interested voters in the Deliberative Session cover for Polito and Consentino. They actually vote to deny a gentleman the right to quietly take photos while the whole meeting is being video taped and other people take photos.

By the way, the 10 photos Gary Brownfield took are professional and absolutely non-controversial.

As you attend town and school meetings in NH this year keep an eye out for this elderly affairs scam. What looks like a good deal can be, as Atkinson proves, an opportunity for political hacks to game the system and cost their town untold sums in litigation and credibility.

Until Atkinson sheds the last remaining, in this case bald, head on its political boil it will remain the laughingstock of NH town meetings.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Superintendent LaSalle robs from the taxpayers to build his empire!

Budget Committee believes him when he tells them it is HIS responsibility to prepare the budget!

From Just like private sector wages and benefits, there should have been a cut in the Timberlane budget last year and a second cut this year. Superintendent LaSalle you should be ashamed, Timberlane is part of the real world, not a fantasy farm for overpaid bureaucrats. Check out the official "Reading of the Budget" video at Unfortuantely, voting NO this year won't even help.


Selling the Budget, Selling Out the Community
January 17, 2010 By: len Category: Budget, Front Page, Front Page, Timberlane

Danville’s senior TRSD Budget Committee member read Mr. La Salle’s warrant article to the public Thursday. She went on to deliver Mr. La Salle’s pitch including an explanation that Mr. La Salle —not the budget committee — is responsible for preparing the budget and that School Board Policy — not New Hampshire State Law — governs the process. I disagree on all counts.

You should be outraged. Despite deflation, falling energy costs, declining enrollment, and a contracting tax base, Mr. La Salle has asked for a 2% increase in the budget PLUS a separate warrant to pay for raises negotiated in a new teachers contract. In an era of frozen wages, layoffs, and making do, Mr. La Salle has secured a 2% pay increase for SAU 55’s highest paid administrators.

If you think you can vote against this, you are wrong. Mr. La Salle’s default budget is HIGHER than his ‘approved’ budget. At the last budget committee meeting, there was a heated discussion of the legality of the default budget that ending with a red faced Mr. La Salle apologizing for his outburst. You can’t watch this because the TRSD Budget Committee refuses to televise its meetings. This is not detailed in the sanitized minutes.

If you think this is much ado about nothing, you are wrong. This isn’t just about taxes. Budget committees provide direction and set priorities. Our high school is underperforming. It has been designated a School In Need of Improvement for five consecutive years — despite ever increasing budgets.

Town legal fees can add up quickly Derry spent $270,000 last year

From the Eagle Tribune;

Town legal fees can add up quickly Derry spent $270,000 last year
By Jarret Bencks

Atkinson recently sued a town resident who refused to take down an addition to his home built without proper permits. The town has twice been taken to court by a company seeking to add antennas to a phone tower in town.

Town counsel Sumner Kalman said Atkinson can be a litigious town. That comes with a cost, although Atkinson appears to have a good deal with Kalman.

Unlike most towns that pay their lawyers an hourly rate, Atkinson pays Kalman an annual retainer to handle all of the town's legal matters. Last year, it paid him $30,000.

"The retainer gives them a number they can count on," Kalman said.

He has worked with the town since the 1970s, even though it has a propensity for controversy.

"They're a nice town — nice people," he said. "It's a pleasure."SClBSome Southern New Hampshire towns spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney's fees last year.

Towns seek legal counsel for various reasons — an opinion on codes and ordinances, and sometimes to file or answer lawsuits. How much municipal attorneys are paid and the way they are paid varies, depending on the town.

Derry spent about $270,000 on lawyers last year, and has $250,000 budgeted for 2010. Town Administrator Gary Stenhouse said it costs the town about $120 to $170 an hour when it is paying the firm that is its town counsel, but spend up to $300 an hour when it has to hire special counsel.

Stenhouse said towns have good reputations as clients — they typically pay their bills on time and can help give a firm a good name.

"Having a town listed as a client reflects well on them," Stenhouse said.

But Kalman, who also represents Newton, Kingston and Danville, said he wasn't sure that was the case. Lawsuits involving towns are very public, and can sometimes be bitter.

"We (Atkinson) sue a lot of people," Kalman said. "We get involved in a lot of controversial confrontations."

The $30,000 Atkinson paid last year compares closely with Kingston, which spent about $32,000 on legal fees in 2009. Plaistow spent approximately $36,000. Londonderry spent about $130,000 on lawyers last year.

In Salem, about $110,000 has been spent on legal fees for 2009, and the town expects to receive another bill later this month, according to Finance Director Jane Savastano.

Among town boards, Salem selectmen spent the most money on lawyers last year, about $44,000, she said.

Yes, it's true, Frank Polito has resigned from town politics.

Mr. Polito turned in his resignation letter the end of last week, citing the fact that his homeowners insurance has dropped him due to his personal legal fees. Mr. Polito reportedly said that he couldn't take the chance of moderating town meeting this year and being sued again. That is the official spin, and it is the truth as far as it goes. But as is usual in Atkinson there is a back story, and it goes something like this;

In early 2007, when the original Atkinson Reporter first started, the blog received a number of very nasty personal attacks, against a number of residents. These posts were unprintable, and the blog did not print them but printed them out and mailed them anonymously to the people being discussed. In one of the posts the perpetrator went so far as to accuse one of these people of contributing to the death of Ruth McPherson. Another told of a secret meeting between Fred Childs, Jack Sapia, and town counsel, Sumner Kalman, that then selectman, Paul Sullivan was purposely excluded from, and reported the contents of that meeting.

At this same time the selectmen and Frank Polito were the subject of a lawsuit in town. In the course of this lawsuit all the evidence of the posts was obtained, and laboriously traced IP's and proxies back to the original poster. All these posts came from a single hub in Lucent Technologies. A preservation letter to Lucent with all the details, including the IP's and evidence. The letter notified Lucent that legal action was being contemplated against Lucent and that this information must be preserved. Lucent went about tracing the information, and apparently descended upon Frank Polito's dept. Lucent seized his company laptop, and the relevant Internet server. Frank reportedly received some type of "dressing down" over this incident, putting, as he told the town "his job in jeopardy".

Frank responded to the preservation letter to Lucent, even though he was never mentioned in it, fighting the Grant's in court to try to block the production of this information. He got himself a private attorney to intervene in this matter paid for by his homeowners insurance. When it became clear that the plaintiffs were not backing down, and wanted this information, the insurance companies quickly settled, leaving Frank's homeowners insurance company with not only a lawyers bill, but the settlement check as well. And before anyone asks; NO, it was never proven in Court, due to the early settlement that Frank made those odious posts, But Lucent evidently thought so, they seized his computers, and the insurance company was apparently nervous, they settled awfully quickly after this incident.

Then we have Frank's frivolous lawsuit against the Town of Atkinson. When Brian Boyle started building Winslow Dr., on the original plot plan there was a paved path through the woods connecting Winslow with Woodlawn ave. The path ran off a driveway, and made a 90 degree bend in the woods to come out at the top of Woodlawn. Boyle offered the fire chief two live hydrants that he could put behind the Academy(an area of town that had always been a concern because of it's lack of water) if he would fore go the path. Chief Murphy agreed because the path was useless, he said, due to it's 90 degree bend, and the fact that the first 100' of it was someones driveway. Enter Phil and Jack, Jack was overheard to say in the town hall that they would sue, and the town would end up with BOTH the hydrants and the path as the path was "a life safety issue". Sumner reportedly informed them that as selectman, they could not sue the town, they would be on both sides of the case. Within a week, Frank had filed suit against the Town for alleged public safety violations. It appeared that they were attempting to manipulate the legal system to force Boyle to pay for both. The case was dismissed for lack of standing, the Judge telling Frank that he lived 3 miles away from this path, and therefore was not affected in any way.

Flash Forward to the ZBA meeting where Frank ordered the cameras shut off so that he could berate his board, swearing at Ellen McGrath. She resigned the following week.

And how could we forget last years deliberative session, where Frank told a guy sitting in his seat taking pictures of the proceeding that he was forbidden by law from doing that. Frank has been in town politics long enough to fully understand 91-A, and know that he was misinforming the town about it's provisions. He also had no problem with the other three people in that room taking pictures, only Brownfield. Curious. Brownfield sued, and once again Frank got a private attorney on his insurance, to work along side the town's insurance company attorneys.

In every one of these cases, the town's insurance company had attorneys working these cases, Frank wanted his own attorney to work with them, and his insurance paid for it, right up until they got sick of footing these repetitive and unnecessary bills.

So while Mrs. Childs can decry the "bottom feeders" that drove Frank to this resignation, maybe an objective view of the heretofore unknown details will demonstrate that Frank largely brought this upon himself.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Atkinson residents fight trucking firms

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson residents fight trucking firms
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — A group of residents is trying to ban trucking facilities in town after the zoning board denied approval for a 24-hour operation in April.

The town has received two citizens petitions, including one that would outlaw trucking companies in all zones. The other petition would limit business hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and restrict noise levels.

Resident Ed Tomasi, one of the lead petitioners, said the proposals are intended to tighten local zoning regulations.

"It seemed there was some ambiguity between the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals," Tomasi said yesterday.

The Planning Board initially approved P.J. Murphy Transportation Inc.'s proposal to build the 24-hour trucking facility in the commercial/industrial zone on Industrial Way, but the zoning board denied the plan after months of discussion.

The plan called for seven trucks and 14 trailers transporting petroleum and swimming pool water in the summer.

Atkinson's zoning specifically identifies what is allowed in the commercial and industrial zone but some board members said the trucking facility didn't meet the requirements.

Residents expressed concern about the facility generating noise in the middle of the night and environmental issues.

The Planning Board held a public hearing to discuss both petition articles Tuesday night and decided not to endorse them. The board can't amend citizens petition articles, according to Chairwoman Sue Killam.

Residents will still get to vote on the articles at Town Meeting in March even though they won't have the Planning Board's support.

But some Planning Board members said they would like to draft new versions of the petitions over the next year.

Vice Chairman Paul DiMaggio, who did not support the P.J. Murphy proposal, said the current petitions just had too many errors to support.

"It's tough for people to write a petition and do it right," DiMaggio said.

One issue was that trucking facilities weren't defined in a petition, he said.

Tomasi said the petitions are part of an evolving process and that he is open to working with the board this summer at some of its workshops.

"I'm considering talking to them at that time," Tomasi said.

Paul Murphy, owner of P.J. Murphy Transportation, appealed the town's decision in Superior Court but dropped his lawsuit in November, citing rising legal costs.