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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.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

SCOOP: The REDACTED version of the MRI report is out!

Yes it is posted on the town website, evidently posted without fanfare very recently it is available for public perusal.

It contains largely expected criticisms, including the following;

"Chief stated no(citizen's complaint) file exists. The citizens of Atkinson have not made any complaints"

As Laughable as THAT is, This exchange demonstrates that critics allegations over the last 5 years were well founded, and the chief's vehement denials were no better than falsehoods, and probably much worse;

"While this consultant was interviewing the chief, he received a call from an elderly person about finding a plumber, the chief pulled out a notebook, and said there are 4 plumbers approved by the police dept. he read off two of the names and told the caller to tell them they were recommended by the Atkinson Police Dept. to get their 10% discount. While it could be said that the chief was wearing the hat of elderly affairs director during this exchange(at his desk, within the police station, during his police working hours)receiving a recommendation from the chief of police raises CONFLICT OF INTEREST issues, using the name of the Atkinson Police Dept. to receive a discount on services may not be in the best interests of the dept. or the town. This service would be better by an ELDERLY AFFAIRS DEPT. NOT DIRECTLY CONNECTED TO THE POLICE DEPT."

"The chief feels there is no need to separate the elderly transportation program form the police dept. he feels it is not broken and is not in need of any modification"

Then the Report moves on to the chief's personal slush fund.... um.... charity.

"MRI had difficulty with this fund as currently constructed. The use of the Name Atkinson Police leads people to believe it is a public, not private endeavor. The books of a public funds would be open to inspection by the public or donors. Second, is a donation being used for the senior citizens program, or to acquire equipment for the police dept?Who decides how donated funds are allocated and to whom are they responsible?"

MRI Also recommends getting RID OF THE LT. AND DETECTIVE POSITIONS! Replacing them with two patrol sergeants with the flexibility during slow periods to return to the station to perform administrative paperwork.

MRI reports that the police dept. is OVERFUNDED to the tune of AT LEAST $40-50,000/ yr. Describing the usual balance left in the budget at the end of the year. Chief responded that he is frugal and only budgets what he needs, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

MRI also found that the police dept. operates without a current policy and procedures manual. Some procedures date back to the '80's, while officers claim they do not know if their policies are still active or not.

The report also shows the crime statistics reported by the chief to the attornies general's office for the last 7 years. 417 incidents in 7 years. THAT's right 59.5 incidents reported per yr. on average, 5 per month!

It also make a number of recommendations ranging from;
complying with the State records law to using ZERO BASED BUDGETING so that every line item can be verified as necessary, to weekly and monthly reports to the Board of Selectmen ROFLMAO!!!

They also suggest;
Atkinson should trade some of it's untrained, unsworn part time officers for one new full time officer. They also recommend doing away with having Atkinson dispatch 40 hours per week, and have Plaistow do it full time, instead of the 128 hours per week they do it now. The town should review the vehicle fleet, and develop a fleet plan based on demonstrated need! The Chief's Mercury should go, and he should assign himself one of the other existing vehicles in the fleet!

Separate the slush fund into TWO slush funds, one for elderly purposes, and one for police purposes.
"In order to avoid any conflicts of interest the vetting and recommending of contractors for the elderly should not be conducted by the police dept."
The police dept, should track normal statistics, such as mutual aid calls.

In short, this report verifies the criticisms made over the last five years by the likes of Mr. Acciard, Mrs. Grant, Mrs. LaFrance, Mr. Artus, Ms. Goodrich, Mr. Kaye, et al.

It is a fun read, go take a look

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Atkinson to hire four new police officers

From the Eagle Tribune;

September 27, 2011
Atkinson to hire four new police officers
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — A diminished Board of Selectmen approved four new police hires last night, two part-time and two full-time officers.

Selectman William Bennett handed in his letter of resignation yesterday, ending his term early after two and a half years on the board. Bennett has been ill and has been unable to perform his duties as selectmen for a few months.

"My health will get better eventually, but there is no way of knowing when," he said. "There is a lot of day-to-day workload the other selectmen are carrying and it's not fair to them. They should be able to appoint someone and have a third pair of hands."

But the two remaining selectmen continued working. They met with police Chief Philip Consentino for two hours in a non-public meeting about the $5,000 independent report on the police department management yesterday. Then, in a public meeting last night, the board approved hiring two trained, full-time officers at $23 and $21 an hour. They also approved one experienced part-time officer and one part-time officer who will head to the police academy for training.

"We got the report and we went over it, talked about it," Selectman Fred Childs said. "But this is about what we know we need at the police department."

The department has been working without two full-time officers since Lt. William Baldwin and Officer Justin Paquette left earlier this year. After months of conflict with selectmen and a hiring freeze, Consentino said he was happy to finally have approval to hire the officers he needs.

"I'm glad we finally got a good working relationship," Consentino said of his discussion with selectmen. "By giving me the chance to hire these four officers, it will take a lot of pressure off of me. It's good we came to a decision; I can't complain."

The board also approved a promotion for Officer William Butler to Patrol Corporal, giving him a raise. But the lieutenant position remains unfilled as selectmen did not agree to Consentino's earlier suggestion to promote Detective Sgt. Philip Farrar. Consentino said Farrar will be retiring today after 12 years with the department, as planned.

"Sgt. Farrar will be retiring and it's going to be a big loss for me," he said. "Butler will not be stepping up to the position. I need someone with administrative capabilities. It's going to take me a while to get someone to fill that position."

He said another of his daytime officers will probably be leaving in October, and he'll be back again to ask selectmen for more officers.

"I'll need to hire two more to get up to the five officers we need," he said. "Atkinson approved five officers and by getting the five back, along with my part-timers, we'll be in good shape."

Now selectmen will focus on filling the other vacant positions. Bennett is the second town leader to leave this month, since Town Administrator Philip Smith left for a job in New Mexico. Because of this, Friel said they are looking to find a replacement for Bennett quickly. Candidates interested in the position can submit resumes to the clerk's office by Friday.

"We're trying to be as fair and open as possible," Friel said. "Anyone in town is allowed to apply, but we don't have a lot of time. We'll move forward with interviews on Monday. It will be a mini-candidates night."

Todd Barbera, chairman of the budget and technology committees, said he plans to turn in his resume.

Interviews will be televised at the public meeting next Monday and each candidate will have two minutes to state why they should be a selectman for the next year. They will also take one question from the audience.

Friel said he hopes residents will watch from home or come to the meeting to give input on the next town selectman.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Consentino wants to promote Farrar to Lt. Here we go again

From the Eagle Tribune;

September 26, 2011
Atkinson chief fights to keep sergeant
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — The police department continues to operate under a cloud of uncertainty with another police officer expected to leave the force this week.

But police Chief Philip Consentino said a promotion could convince Detective Sgt. Philip Farrar to stay. Farrar is scheduled to retire tomorrow after 12 years with the department. He also spent 22 years with the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office.

Consentino said he's waiting to receive approval from selectmen today.

"My recommendation has been that (Farrar) be promoted to lieutenant and be given a dollar increase an hour in pay," he said. "If he gets this job offer, I think he'll stay. Right now, the selectmen are requesting him to do my job and the lieutenant's jobs with no recognition whatsoever."

A conflict over hiring a new lieutenant earlier this year led selectmen to pay a consultant, Municipal Resources Inc., $5,000 to study the police department's management. The report was finished Sept. 9, but not released to the public.

Consentino received a copy last week.

Selectmen will not allow Consentino to hire new officers until they at least discuss the report with him at a nonpublic session at 5 p.m. today, just before the board's regular meeting.

Farrar would be the third officer to leave the department this year. Lt. William Baldwin and Officer Justin Paquette left for other departments, and a fourth officer may soon leave for another job, Consentino said.

That would leave the department with only one other officer, William Butler, he said.

Farrar announced his decision to retire in June, just after selectmen voted to study the department. He planned to leave within the month, but stepped up to fill in for Consentino while he was out this summer recovering from open heart surgery.

"I'm doing my original job as detective and the lieutenant's job and the chief's job," Farrar said at the time. "I'm certainly not going to abandon the department."

When Consentino returned on a part-time basis in August, Farrar made plans again to retire.

"By Oct. 7, I'll be left with one full-time officer," Consentino said. "The only other officer left is Butler and I need him to work the midnight shifts. So during the day, if I lose Farrar, I'm going to have to ask the sheriff's department to come down and help out."

Consentino said he's been saying the same thing to selectmen since Baldwin left the department for Plaistow in April. He believes Farrar deserves the promotion and hopes selectmen and the consultant agree.

"If the selectmen go along with my recommendation, he'll stay on," Consentino said. "If they don't, he'll be gone."

Neither Farrar nor selectmen could be reached for comment.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Atkinson police review is still not public

From the Eagle Tribune;

September 21, 2011
Atkinson police review is still not public
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — Parts of a $5,000 study of the police department will be blacked out when it's finally released to the public.

In May, selectmen voted to pay Municipal Resources Inc., an independent management review company, to evaluate the police department. The study was meant to resolve conflicts between selectmen and police Chief Philip Consentino over hiring a new lieutenant.

Selectmen received copies of the report Sept. 9 and Monday night gave a copy to Consentino. But they're not sharing it with anyone else yet.

The Eagle-Tribune filed a Freedom of Information request Sept. 14, asking the town to release the document. Yesterday, the newspaper received a written response to that request from Selectman William Friel.

The public isn't going to see the report for at least another 10 days, he wrote. And when it's made public, parts of it will be redacted. In his letter, Friel cited the state's Right to Know statute. Specifically, he said, town attorney Sumner Kalman, selectmen and the police chief are "analyzing" the report. They will redact any information protected under exemptions in RSA 91-A:5.

That section of the statute exempts a body from public disclosure of certain information, including internal personnel practices, records involving emergency functions, personal student records and more.

Friel said the town needs at least until Oct. 3 before the report can be released to the public.

"We will disclose the report as soon as the protected and/or exempted information has been redacted," he wrote.

Consentino received a copy of the report 10 days after selectmen did, but he's not talking about what it says.

"I did read through it," he said yesterday. "But I got a letter with the report from selectmen, telling me to refrain from reproducing and/or releasing any information."

He said he couldn't talk about what he read.

"I don't know why they're not releasing the information," he said. "All I do is I just follow orders."

Consentino said he will be attending a non-public meeting with selectmen at 5 p.m. Monday to go over the report.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Atkinson selectmen release report to chief

from the Eagle Tribune;

September 20, 2011
Atkinson selectmen release report to chief
By Doug Ireland

ATKINSON — Selectmen gave a copy of a controversial police department review to the chief last night, but it's not clear when the report will be released to the public.

Meanwhile, police Chief Philip Consentino said he may only have one full-time officer on his staff by mid-October. Detective Sgt. Philip Farrar is scheduled to retire Friday and another officer is a strong candidate for a job with another department, he said.

Consentino, who said he usually has five full-time officers, asked selectmen at their meeting last night for an update on the report's release. Selectman William Friel said a copy was available for the chief, but wouldn't say when the report would be made public when questioned by a reporter.

Earlier this year, selectmen voted to pay a consultant $5,000 to review the department's management after numerous conflicts with Consentino over hiring a new lieutenant.

The conflicts between the board and the chief continued last night as they argued over the use of money from the town's elderly affairs account to gas up police cruisers. Consentino is also the elderly affairs director,

The town received the report from the consultant, Municipal Resources Inc., on Sept. 9 and gave it to town attorney Sumner Kalman three days later instead of releasing it to the public. Kalman said he had to analyze the report first to make sure it did not contain details that would endanger public safety.

The Eagle-Tribune filed a Freedom of Information Act request Wednesday to seek public release of the review. The town has five days to respond to the request. Today marks the fifth business day since the request was filed.

Friel would not say when the report would be available to the public.

"We will respond to your request by the deadline — whatever that is," Friel said. He would not discuss the report further.

After the meeting, Consentino said he was surprised to receive the report.

"That was news to me," he said. "It will be good reading material for me tonight."

Consentino said he couldn't comment on the report's findings until he's had a chance to review it thoroughly.

Regardless of what the report says, Consentino said he will have to abide by its findings and isn't worried about losing his job.

"It is what it is and there's nothing I can do about it," he said.

Before the meeting, Consentino said the report has held up hiring within his department as his staff leaves for better job opportunities elsewhere.

"Every time I ask them to do something in the police department, they tell me they can't do anything until they get the report," he said of selectmen. "I'm left in limbo. I can't hire anybody."

Consentino, who has been with the department for 43 years, lost his second in command this spring when Lt. William Baldwin left for a job with the Plaistow Police Department.

When Consentino, 71, was recovering from heart surgery this summer, Farrar covered for him and put his retirement on hold. Now, Farrar plans to retire and another officer will likely leave, Consentino said.

"That's going to leave me with only one full-time officer to cover five shifts," he said. "I can only do so much to keep things running"

Consentino had a heated exchange at last night's meeting with Friel and Selectman Fred Childs Jr., who was filling in as chairman while William Bennett recovers from an illness.

The pair questioned Consentino about gas being charged to an elderly affairs account instead of the police department.

There were several charges made to the wrong account in June and then July, Childs said.

"Some of it looks alerting to us, so that's why we're asking about it," he said. "I'm just concerned about the discrepancy where it's coming from."

Consentino said only about 30 gallons of gas were charged to the wrong account and that he would look into the issue immediately.

"I'll get back to you on that," he said. "I can't tell you tonight."

After Childs mentioned the first three charges in June and then spoke of three others in July, Consentino became agitated. He reiterated that he would look into the matter today.

"You can sit here and ask all night!" he said. Consentino went on to discuss other issues with the board.

In 2008, the state attorney general's office received complaints about the way Consentino operated the elderly affairs as a division of the Police Department. The two departments were separated, but Consentino still heads both.

Despite the heated exchange last night, Consentino said after the meeting he was glad selectmen finally gave him the report and answered other questions he had.

"Believe it or not, I'm very pleased with dealing with them tonight," he said.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Town won't release police review until lawyer says OK

From the Eagle Tribune;

September 15, 2011
Town won't release police review until lawyer says OK
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — An independent review of the police department is finished, but just a few people are privy to the results.

The town received the report on the day-to-day management of the police department from Municipal Resources Inc. on Friday, according to Selectman Fred Childs.

But instead of releasing the document, selectmen handed it over to town attorney Sumner Kalman Monday. Kalman said there would be a delay in the public release because he has to do an analysis of it first.

The Eagle Tribune has filed a Freedom of Information Act request, seeking public release of the review.

"The attorney has to look it over to make sure there's nothing that shouldn't be divulged to the public," Childs said. "We just have to make sure there's no information in there that's going to be illegal."

Selectmen voted to pay $5,000 to MRI, which specializes in management reviews, to study the department after numerous conflicts with police Chief Philip Consentino over hiring a new lieutenant.

Consentino said he hasn't seen the report yet and didn't know the town had a copy. He said he was frustrated by the delay.

"Why is this only a draft?" he asked. "If the guy did his report, he should finalize it and send it in. I want to find out if we can hire people and if I've still got a job."

Selectman William Friel said the report is still a draft and will be released when it is finalized.

But the exemption for draft reports under state statute, RSA 91-A, only applies to documents that have not been released to "a quorum or a majority of the members of a public body."

At least two of the three board members have seen the review, according to a selectman.

"Mr. Friel and I looked it over, but Mr. (William) Bennett has been sick and all three of us have to look at it," Childs said.

But Kalman said it's important to analyze the document before it is released to the public.

He cited the same RSA as providing an exemption for the release of the publicly funded review.

"There's exemptions over invasions of privacy and many other issues," he said. "There could be information in the study that could reveal when shifts change. It could help burglars decide that 1:30 is the best time to commit a crime."

Kalman said it's important to protect the safety of Atkinson's residents first, before releasing the report.

"Just because two selectmen allegedly read something doesn't automatically mean everything in the report is available," he said. "Until (the report) has been analyzed and understood, there will have to be a delay of the release of information."

Consentino said he was surprised to hear Kalman was looking at the report.

"If there's something in the study detrimental to somebody's character or reputation, that may be a case where they could be sued for that," he said. "But otherwise, nobody should be making any changes to the report. The gentleman that did the survey is supposed to be an independent person."

Sending it to a lawyer for review is standard procedure, according to Childs.

"It's nothing unusual to have an attorney look it over," he said. "We're not trying to hide anything from the public. It will be public as soon as Mr. Kalman gets done with it."

The town has five days to respond to the newspaper's Freedom of Information request.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Atkinson neighbors upset about sex offender

from the eagle tribune;
Atkinson neighbors upset about sex offender

By Cara Hogan The Eagle Tribune Wed Sep 14, 2011, 04:12 AM EDT

ATKINSON — Some residents are upset a convicted sex offender is living in their neighborhood and think the police should have warned them.

But police Chief Philip Consentino said the man has done his time, followed the law and has a right to live on Ridgewood Drive.

Fliers were posted around the street on Monday, warning the neighborhood about Michael Green.

Green, 54, a registered sex offender, is living at 16 Ridgewood Drive. He was convicted of aggravated felonious assault on a victim under 13 years old in 2009, served two years in prison, was released July 5 and is now out on probation.

Green said yesterday he doesn't want any problems.

But his presence is a problem only for some residents.

Count Scott Watkins, among them.

The Ridgewood Drive resident said he saw signs about Green all over his street when he left for work Monday morning.

"It said in red letters across the top, 'Let's protect our children,'" Watkins said. "It has his picture and name, his description and the rest of the information they have on the sex offender website. When I got home (Monday) afternoon, they had taken them all down."

No one knows who put up or took down the signs, but the neighborhood is in an uproar.

Another Ridgewood Drive resident, John Egan, said he was shocked when he found out.

"We're concerned about it," he said. "When my grandchildren visit, we would never allow them near Number 16."

Watkins — and many other residents — called police to complain that a sex offender is living in their neighborhood. Consentino said yesterday, Green has been living in town for a few weeks and has a legal right to be there.

"The state law requires him to file all his paperwork with us, and he's done that," he said. "He has to check in with us twice a year to register."

In addition, Jeffrey Lyons, spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Corrections, said Green must meet with a probation officer every two weeks.

"We have a risk assessment and, based on that, we determine the level of supervision," he said. "If he was considered a high risk of re-offending, that could result in daily meetings with his probation officer or with electronic monitoring. But (Green) won't be doing that."

Consentino said he was worried about how residents would react to the fliers.

September 14, 2011 8:37 AM