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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.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Atkinson officials question air-quality woes at station

From the eagle Tribune;

December 24, 2011
Atkinson officials question air-quality woes at station
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — Selectmen are questioning whether there are any air quality problems at the police station, after months of delay on the planned project to clean out air ducts.

Earlier this month, the state Department of Labor did a safety audit and found the air quality in the police station was "poor." The state gave selectmen until Jan. 13 to come up with a solution to the air quality problem.

But now selectmen are fighting back against the state mandate, saying there is no problem. Selectman Craig Schuster said the state has not seen some of the testing data.

"There's some data out there stating the air quality was satisfactory," he said. "That hasn't been verified yet. Until I actually see the data and the testing we've done, I question it."

Police Chief Philip Consentino said he can't believe selectmen are now doubting the poor air quality, which wasn't contested before.

"They've had two or three people the town paid to come in and do air quality tests," he said. "Why did the town put out a request for bids if there is no problem?"

The air quality issued was addressed in the independent Municipal Resources Inc. report from September, which analyzed every aspect of the police department. The report said there were three types of mold and fiberglass particles in the air at the police station, caused by water damage from the leaky roof. Selectmen said the air ducts would be replaced over the summer, but the project stalled.

Earlier this month, Selectman Fred Childs said the delay was caused by two bids from contractors that were much higher than the town estimated — almost $45,000.

But Schuster said the issue isn't the price, rather it's the existence of any problem.

"You hear reports from the police department saying they're having issues and people are sick, but we did testing and didn't find anything," he said. "We need to take a step back and find out the real information, then attack the issue."

Consentino said selectmen already have done some work to improve the air quality. They had the air return over the dispatcher's desk replaced and had all the ceiling tiles taped up to prevent particles from circulating.

"The tiles had stains on them from the rain and were turning moldy," he said. "How can they say it's fine? We've had expert upon expert brought in and right now I've washed my hands of it."

Schuster said the town put out initial RFPs with a plan to go up into the attic of the building, clean the ducts and explore what was going on in the ceiling of the station.

"Part of the RFP was looking into what we could find," he said. "But nobody wants to do it. If there is a problem, we will fix it. The timeframe will depend on how big the issue is."

Schuster said selectmen plan to hold a workshop to verify the data and find out what the real issues are at the department, before starting work.

Consentino said he's just waiting to see what the board will do.

"The Board of Selectmen is in charge and, hopefully, they'll realize something has to be done," he said.

Until then, Consentino said, he bought an air purifier for the dispatch office on Tuesday, to keep his employees happy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Budgetary Attrocities

Our Selectmen have requested $100,000 in the "other professional services-Legal line item, in the Town's operating budget. The line was funded at $10,000 last year, and was promptly overspent by $70,000 by our spendthrift BOS.

A little history is in order here.

This line was added to the budget by the budget committee last year at the request of the selectmen, because Primex had dropped the town's insurance coverage over the ongoing lawsuits, and the selectmen knew that a new insurer would not accept liability for the ongoing case, which was being wrapped up at that time. They asked for $10,000 to wrap up the Artus case. Now, that case is long over, we have a new insurer, and the selectmen want this line INCREASED to $100,000, WHY?

Fred claims it is for "the lawsuits coming down the pike", but THAT feeble excuse doesn't hold water, because any new lawsuits would be covered by our new insurer. In addition to the insurance, we pay Town Counsel $42,000 per year to defend the town. SURELY between the insurance, and our town counsel we can handle all these future mythical cases coming down the pike?

And what ARE these mythical cases, Fred cites? In the last five years the Town has been in court constantly, ALL over Phil Consentino's abuses of authority. There was the ethics case brought by Mark Acciard in 2005, which resulted in the Court ordering Phil to recuse himself form any selectmen's meetings that were delaing with police, elderly affairs, or town employee issues. Phil ignored the Court's Order, as we are sure every good law abiding chief law enforcement officer would do, right? and the Court then found him in Contempt of Court, and ordered him to now LEAVE the ROOM when those issues were being discussed, since he failed to follow their order the first time. Phil Ignored this order as well, preferring to spend MORe of the taxpayers money to appeal to the Nh Supreme Court. They dismissed. Then there was the Grant case, You all remember THAT one, Phil fresh off his Court Order to leave the room when police, elderly, or town employee matters were being discussed, sat in his selectmen's chair, when Carol Grant, came in to read a short statement about Phil's verbal abuse towards her in the lobby of the Town hall, Thus violating the Court's Order once again. he slammed his hand down on the table ROARING to the officer's he had directed Russ to call, to "GET HER OUT OF HERE". The officers dutifully evicted Carol, Her husband, and her wheelchair bound son out into the cold winter night, without even allowing them to stop and put coats on. This resulted in the Grant case, which after two years was settled with the payment of $30,000 to the Grants. Then there was the Acciard civil rights case, which dealth with phil's diatribes in publis official town business meetings, his letters to Acciard on official stationary threatening action, verbal threats in public, following him and his family through town, and other abusive actions, 3 years, and over $100,000 in legal fees later this case was merged into the Artus case. This new one over Phil calling elderly people that signed petition warrant articles and screaming at them "why did you sign this shit?"

So it is fair to say that if they want to cut legal costs they need to get phil to retire. It would save the town hundreds of thousands in legal fees and settlements.

And true to form, the budget committee, did not question the validity of the line, but began haggling over the amount! THE LINE SHOULD NOT EXIST! IT'S PURPOSE HAS BEEN FULFILLED! The question needs to be asked WHY DO YOU REALLY WANT $100,000?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Atkinson man indicted for road rage incident

from the Eagle Tribune;

December 20, 2011
Atkinson man indicted for road rage incident
By Doug Ireland

BRENTWOOD — An Atkinson man has been indicted in an alleged road rage incident in which a local fitness expert claims he was targeted.

Dean Bidgood, 21, was recently indicted on a criminal mischief charge by a Rockingham Superior Court grand jury. If convicted, he faces three and a half to seven years in state prison.

Bidgood was arrested by Salem police following an incident July 29 on Lawrence Road.

Scott Herman, a Salem High School graduate who appeared on the MTV reality show "The Real World — Brooklyn" two years ago, told police he was driving in his car about 2 a.m. when three men in a pickup truck gestured at him.

He told police he thought he knew the men and pulled his car over.

Herman, who drives a distinctive Toyota Scion that features advertising for his fitness company, said at the time he had no doubt the men knew who they were targeting.

Four years ago, Herman was recognized by Men's Health magazine for having the best abdominal muscles on the East Coast. He also works with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to combat bullying, but said he is straight.

Herman told police that two of the men, including Bidgood, jumped out of the truck, and kicked and pounded on his car. They tried to pull him out of his car and kick him, Herman said. He called 911 and the men fled in the truck. Herman followed them and the truck pulled over on Town Farm Road.

When Herman also stopped, one man jumped out of the truck, ripped off his shirt and charged the Scion. Herman put his car in reverse to escape. That's when police pulled up and found Bidgood standing outside the truck. The other man fled and the third person remained in the truck.

Bidgood was arrested on several charges, but only indicted on the criminal mischief charge. He was also charged with driving while intoxicated (subsequent offense), criminal threatening, possession of a controlled drug (Valium), transportation of a controlled drug, misuse of plates and simple assault.

He has been free on $5,000 personal recognizance and $1,000 cash bail.

Police also arrested Michael Leavitt, 21, of Atkinson and Michael Smith, 21, of Salem. Leavitt was charged with criminal mischief, simple assault and resisting arrest. He was released on $1,000 cash bail.

Smith remained in the truck throughout the attack, but was charged with possession of marijuana. He was released on $1,000 personal recognizance.

Friday, December 16, 2011

FINALLY, a Trained Police Force! Now if we only had a trained Chief.

From the Eagle Tribune;

December 16, 2011
Atkinson rebuilds police department
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — The police department is slowly rebuilding, but much of the recent hiring has come at the expense of neighboring Plaistow.

Selectmen agreed Monday night to hire Officer Stephen Lundquist at $22 an hour, bringing the department up to four full-time officers.

Lundquist is the fourth officer Atkinson has hired away from Plaistow.

In October, the town hired three veteran officers from Plaistow, Sgt. Patrick Caggiano, Officer Nicholas Fiset and Sgt. Scott Anderson.

Lundquist will start his new job on Jan. 10 and fill a much-needed position, according to Caggiano.

"The department is currently running at 60 percent of the workforce," he said.

"We have three full-time officers and we would normally have five officers. We're looking to fill that gap."

There has also been a high turnover rate in the Atkinson department, too, creating the openings.

Officer Christopher VanHirtum left the department in October and Detective Sgt. Philip Farrar retired in September.

Earlier in the year, Lt. William Baldwin and Officer Justin Paquette left the department.

Baldwin actually joined the Plaistow department.

In order to hire Lundquist, the town had to buy out his contract with Plaistow, adding $2,500 to his salary.

"Plaistow has made an investment in training him and, if he leaves, they lose it," Caggiano said.

"They spent about $33,000 on the cost of his training. Atkinson would only have to pay the rest of his contract until April."

Selectmen voted, 2-1, to hire Lundquist. Selectman Fred Childs voted against it because of the employment contract.

"It's like buying an officer," he said.

"I have a problem with buying people."

Childs also said he was worried about setting a precedent for future hires.

"We opened up a can of worms," he said.

"If the next officer comes and is asking us for the same thing, are we going to say no? I want to be consistent."

Caggiano said Lundquist is worth the investment.

"To get someone who has already proven himself, we're getting a considerable cost benefit," he said. "I'm comfortable putting (Lundquist) in a cruiser in three or four weeks. If I have another officer, I made have to put that off to the industry standard 12 weeks of training."

Lundquist has worked as a full-time officer in Plaistow for the past three years, including serving for a short time under Caggiano.

"I had the opportunity to work with Steve and I know the caliber of officer he is," Caggiano said.

"Within two years of becoming a police officer, he showed his ability to do detective work."

Plaistow police Chief Stephen Savage would not comment on the loss to his department, saying it's a personnel matter.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Atkinson: Selectmen surprise with announcement of new town administrator

From the Eagle Tribune;

December 13, 2011
Atkinson: Selectmen surprise with announcement of new town administrator
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — Selectmen have decided to hire William Innes as the new town administrator, filling the position that has been vacant for four months.

Innes, 63, agreed to take the job yesterday for a salary of $68,000 a year and will start full-time on Jan. 3. He is the chairman of the Recreation Committee and secretary of the technology committee, but has no other municipal experience.

"I've been to deliberative session and learned about how many things work in town, but I still have a lot to learn," he said. "I'm hoping over the next couple of weeks to come up to speed on a number of issues, take a look at what the previous town administrator was working on and start to put together a sense of what the job is going to be like."

Selectmen made the announcement quickly at the end of last night's meeting. Innes was absent, and said he could not attend.

"There was no public vote on it yet, but he we got him the contract today and he has accepted," Selectman Fred Childs said. "We'll have a public vote next week, but we've all decided on him."

Childs said the board felt Innes was the most qualified for the position.

"We interviewed 10 people altogether and he was the one we chose," he said. "I'm not worried about his lack of experience. He'll catch on pretty quick. He has a lot of experience dealing with people as a manager so I think he can handle it."

And Childs said Administrative Assistant Barbara Snicer will help teach Innes anything he needs to know to do the job.

Innes has a background in the computer industry, with degrees in electronic engineering and business management. He worked for 39 years as an engineer and manager at various computer companies like HP before being laid off. He currently works part-time with children who have learning disabilities at Hampstead Middle School, but will quit when he starts as town administrator.

"I can't continue that job," he said. "It's really almost a full-time commitment and I'm committing myself to the town at this point."

Atkinson has gone through a number short-term administrators in the past few years. The last town administrator, Philip Smith, left in August after less than two years on the job. Before Smith was hired in September 2009, the town went seven months without an administrator, after Steven Angelo quit after just five months. Before him was interim administrator Craig Kleman who worked on the job for about four months. Russell McCallister lasted the longest, working for about three and a half years before quitting in January 2008.

But Innes said he hopes to stay with the town for five to seven years before retiring again.

"I'm 63 and I would hope to work until I'm 68 or 69," he said. "I'm looking at this as a third career. I'm hoping to do the job well enough that they'll keep me around."

Innes has lived in town for 35 years with his wife of 43 years, Lorraine. They have two daughters and two grandchildren.

Monday, December 12, 2011

CART offering free bus service- Possibly to Atkinson?

From the Eagle Tribune;

December 12, 2011
CART offering free bus service
By Doug Ireland

A long-awaited free shuttle bus service is coming this week to Derry and Londonderry, with plans in the works to expand to Salem, Windham and possibly other towns.

The Cooperative Alliance for Regional Transportation (CART) plans to begin the service along Route 102 on Thursday, according to executive director Lee Maloney.

CART hopes to offer the other free routes by next year, she said. Those include a route that begins at Whispering Winds off Mammoth Road in Windham and continues to shopping venues in Salem, including The Mall at Rockingham Park, Maloney said.

Another route along Salem's busy business corridor is still being planned, she said.

"Everybody is looking forward to them," Maloney said. "It's going to be like a real transportation system."

The Route 102 service — with roughly eight stops along the busy corridor — was expected to begin three months ago but was delayed because of computer software problems, Maloney said. The software is used for tracking buses.

Cart's "Sun Bus" will run five days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., allowing residents — especially senior citizens — to visit shopping centers in Derry and Londonderry.

The bus will stop at local housing complexes, Hood Common in Derry and Market Basket in Londonderry.

The route, established in conjunction with Easter Seals and Rockingham Nutrition, also includes stops at the Meals on Wheels sites at the Marion Gerrish Community Center in Derry and the Londonderry Senior Center.

Rockingham Nutrition was able to obtain $24,000 in federal funding to help pay for the route, executive director Debra Perou said.

"We're very excited to get it underway," she said. "There is a huge potential there. I'm really hoping it becomes a real link."

While the Derry-Londonderry service has been in the works for a while, the two routes planned for Salem are relatively new.

Expanded service in Salem would benefit senior citizens, said Lynda Drouin, an employee at Salemhaven nursing and rehabilitation center.

"It would be extremely helpful," she said.

Drouin said she knows a woman who enjoys using the current service because it is so convenient.

CART has proposed a three-day shuttle service, possibly for free, connecting Hampstead and Londonderry.

A pay-your-way route running daily from Derry to Salem is also being planned. CART has received a three-year $600,000 grant from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program to fund the route in conjunction with the Interstate 93 widening project, Maloney said.

But a $100,000 match is required, she said.

It's hoped riders will donate money to help fund the free shuttles. CART began running advertising on some of its buses this summer to help defray costs.

The free shuttle service is a big change for CART, which has offered a ride request service since it began in October 2006. Anyone needing a ride in its six service towns could call up and ask for one at a cost of between $3 and $5 each way.

That service would continue for the approximately 1,700 people who use it.

CART serves Chester, Derry, Hampstead, Londonderry, Salem and Windham, with contributions received from the participating towns. These contributions are then matched with federal transportation funding.

Maloney met with residents Thursday in Atkinson, where there is interest in establishing a CART route.

CART has provided approximately 65,000 rides to local residents over the last five years. They are especially used by senior citizens going to medical appointments and grocery stores.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Jewelry stolen in Atkinson break-in

From the Eagle Tribune;

December 10, 2011
Jewelry stolen in Atkinson break-in
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — A Marilyn Drive home was broken into and jewelry stolen while the homeowners were away, police said.

Police responded to the home at 2:15 p.m. Thursday after a neighbor watching the home reported it was burglarized.

Officer Nicholas Fiset discovered the home had been entered by breaking a basement window, Sgt. Patrick Caggiano said.

"A check of the inside of the residence revealed a jewelry box on the floor inside the master bedroom," he said. "There was some jewelry still inside, but it is safe to assume that items had been taken."

The owners were not home, so police still do not have a complete inventory of what was stolen. Caggiano said two flat-screen televisions inside the home were not taken, despite their value.

"Atkinson has seen a significant number of burglaries over the past several months," Caggiano said.

"Atkinson is a prime target for would-be thieves as a majority of residents work during the day," he added. "We are asking all members of the community to keep a watchful eye on their neighbors homes and report any suspicious activity."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Atkinson Marine assists Thai flood victims

From the Eagle Tribune;

December 8, 2011
Atkinson Marine assists Thai flood victims
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — Christopher Brown is only 20, but what he's seen is more than anyone would want to witness in an entire lifetime.

The Atkinson resident and 2009 Timberlane Regional High School graduate is serving overseas with the Marines. Last week, the lance corporal returned to his base in Okinawa, Japan, from Thailand, where he helped with flood-relief efforts for two weeks.

His mission was to clean up mud and debris in the flood-ravaged country.

"Myself and fellow Marines got to go assist the royal Thai army and clean temples, a school and a medical center," Brown said in an email.

Thailand experienced the worst flooding in more than 50 years from late July through November. More than 600 people died and floodwaters swamped entire towns. More than two-thirds of the country's provinces were affected.

Brown said he saw devastation wherever his unit, the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force Flood Relief Command Element, traveled.

"I saw flooded airports, people taking shelter on the highways and living in tents on higher ground," he said. "(I saw) houses half-submerged in practically sewage water, eroded roads, and mothers wading through water carrying their children. People were riding their scooters and driving their cars through water almost 2 feet deep."

In Bangkok, the Marines helped clear out sandbags that had been stacked throughout the city in anticipation of the floodwaters that never reached them.

Brown, who joined the Marines only a few months after graduating from Timberlane, worked with the Thai army to hand out supplies. Members of the Marines, Army, Navy and Air Force worked alongside the Thai people, including monks, to clean flood-ravaged buildings.

"It was the most rewarding experience of my life and fulfilled my goal when I joined to help people," Brown said. "It was a great feeling when the locals shook your hand and hugged you, saying, 'Thank you so much, we're so glad you're here.'"

His mother, Patricia Brown, said she's very proud of her son.

"He's only 20 years old, but he's seen more of the world than I probably ever will see," she said. "I know he'd say he's just doing his job, but he's done great work."

She said his absence has been hard for the family, communicating only by Skype during odd hours because of the time difference.

"This will be our third holidays with him not here," she said.

Brown will come home in July, but he could be called up again, according to his father, Jim Brown.

"He's probably going to Afghanistan toward the end of the summer," he said. "I'm worried about him, but I'm proud of what he's been doing."

Christopher Brown, now back at his base in Japan, said he felt like he really made a difference in Thailand. He said the Thai military thanked his unit when they left and the two groups made strong connections.

"We proved to our allies that we have their back if they need our help and it really strengthened relations with both countries," he said. "It proved that the Marines are not just fighters; we help people too."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Atkinson home heavily damaged in blaze

From the Eagle Tribune;

December 6, 2011
Atkinson home heavily damaged in blaze
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — Firefighters responded twice to the same home yesterday after a fire rekindled hours after being put out.

Fire Chief Michael Murphy said the first call came in at 8:10 a.m. for a two-alarm fire in the bedroom of a home at 8 Rose Lane.

"There was heavy fire and smoke from the second floor," Murphy said. "Atkinson Engine 2 and Hampstead Engine 1 did an aggressive fire attack and quickly extinguished it."

Firefighters left at 9:38 a.m., but were called back at 12:49 p.m. for a report of smoke coming from the roof of the home.

"The fire rekindled, though it was smaller the second time," Murphy said. "Again, we quickly knocked the fire down. We're not sure how it rekindled."

He said the department did everything by the book before leaving the house.

"We investigated before we left, using thermal imaging," he said. "There was nothing there."

He said this type of rekindled fire is uncommon since firefighters now use thermal imaging to look for small burns, but it does happen occasionally.

"It's one of those things that happen in a tiny space," he said. "It continued to burn until it got oxygen. Then it spread."

No one was injured in the blaze. Murphy said he believes the cause was an electrical malfunction in the house.

The house is owned by Joseph and Rose Faro, who live in Windham and rent out the property.

A woman who is living at the residence was distraught yesterday afternoon and wouldn't give her name.

"I have no idea what the damage is," Faro said yesterday as he left the property,

Murphy said the damage to the house was extensive and mainly caused by the initial fire.

"There is damage to a second-floor bedroom, the attic and the roof," he said. "There is also heavy smoke and heat damage throughout the house. There is definitely structural damage."

The four-bedroom house, built in 1984, is assessed at $399,900, according to town records.

The Atkinson Fire Department is continuing to investigate. Firefighters from Hampstead, Plaistow and Danville also responded to the scene.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Phil's Legal cost to the town

This story begins roughly a year after he was appointed chief. In 1981, there was a selectman named Wayne Peak. Peak found that there was a misappropriation of funds in the police dept. It appeared that the little fees charged for reports and such were not being deposited to the town bookkeeper as they should have been but were being given to the Atkinson Patrolmen's association. The amount in question was $286.00. Peak brought this out in a selectmen meeting, and Phil ROARED that NO ONE was going to sully his good name, blah, blah, blah, you can imagine the rest. Peak asked the other two selectmen to take action, they refused, in true Atkinson selectmen fashion. Peak resigned in protest, and filed suit against Phil and the town. Phil retaliated by filing suit against Peak for.... YOU GUESSED IT! Slander, defamation, diminution of earnings capacity, and compensation for severe physical and emotional stress. These competing suit wound their way through the courts for 6 years, FINALLy reaching settlement in 1988.

BUT not before Phil fingered Peak, or agents of Peak for taking shots at the police station, and planting an explosive device at Phil's home. Peak was investigated by the FBI to no avail.

Not before an anonymous tip informed Mass Dept of Revenue of fictitious accounting irregularities at Peak's business in Lowell. DOR shut his business down for two weeks while they combed through his books. No impropriety found.

Not before Phil followed Peak through town arresting him for Reckless driving of his Cadillac, except that Peak was driving his Rolls that week, Caddy was unavailable. Case reversed.

The case file reads like an adventure novel. The final entry is an offer to settle for $500,000, declined. Case was settled 1 month later, under non disclosure agreement. Peak held a party at the KofC in Lawrence the week after the settlement to show off his two new caddy's bought with the settlement money, he claimed. Phil claimed in a selectmen meeting in 1988, that the case was settled for $15,000. "he didn't even cover his costs, he got nothing" This was apparently just another false statement.

In 1991, Lt. Rick Daniels left the dept. citing personal differences with the chief. Phil claimed in a selectmen's meeting that Daniel's on his way out had destroyed 12 years of police database. Only problem , the police dept. did not have computers in 1979.

In late 90's we had the infamous spitting incident in town hall between Fred Childs and Phil. Fred was running for selectman, and Phil was showing around the case files from Fred's Lawrence Pd days. Yes, this is illegal. Dale Childs filed a complaint with NHPSTC about the number of hours Phil worked, it was the second investigation of him in 5 years. NHPSTC admonished him to not exceed his legal limit of his training at 1,300 hours/ year. Phil retaliated by having Bill Anderson go to the Child's home and take pictures of the Hampstead animal control vehicle in her driveway. She raised hell, Phil whined in a selectmen meeting that he was "acting as Phil Consentino, Resident, NOT Phil Consentino, Chief" ONly problem is the he used his police officers to take the pictures, and wrote the letter on police chief stationary.

The following year, Officer Micheal Rivera sought to get a union into Atkinson to "get work rules down on paper that the chief would have to follow". he claimed that there was favoritism in work assignments, hours, benefits, and advancement. Phil retaliated by writing him up for not writing enough tickets on his shift, midnight to eight am. He followed this performance up by sending his officers the infamous "loyalty letter" which even Sgt. Baldwin testified was an intimidation tactic. Rivera filed suit with NHPELRB. They ordered the town and it's agent(Phil) to cease and desist from bullying, harassing, and intimidating his officers. Phil responded in the next selectmen meeting by saying he had never harassed or intimidated anyone, and his door was always open, any of his officers could come to him like a man and complain to his face. So much for not intimidating.

The following year, Officer Lorden filed an NHPELRB action claiming abuse of authority. Another settlement. There was another settlement around this time with another officer over hours violations.

Then we had the Town that hates Halloween, controversy when Phil spouted off in another selectmen meeting that, as they had done for 10 years, his boys would be out(halloween) to turn cars with Mass. plates around at the border. This was reported NATIONWIDE, and Phil was not smart enough to know this practice was illegal!

Then we had the conflict of interest complaints that next year. Phil voting, as selectmen, to approve his request, as police chief, to withdraw $2,500 from the police donation account. Followed by his approving for himself and extra $1,300.00 "union benefit". ONly problem was that as chief he is specifically excluded from the union contract. He later admitted that he knew there was nothing in the contract or the employee handbook authorizing him to receive this benefit.

In 2005, Rockingham Superior Court Ordered him to recuse himself from any police dept., elderly affairs dept. or town employee matters. Phil announced in a selectmen meeting that nothing would change, just that elderly and police matters would have to take place at the station or his house. He blamed Acciard for making it this inconvenient for the people. In August the Court found him in contempt of Court for ignoring the previous order. He responded by saying this judge had no idea how small towns work, and he would appeal(on the taxpayers dime, of course) to the NH Supreme Court. The Court dismissed on briefs citing lack of standing. Sumner spent hundreds of hours on Phil's legal issues in 2005, never billing the town for these extraordinary expenses. However, in October of 2005, Selectman Consentino negotiated a new contract for Town Attorney Kalman that ALMOST TRIPLED his retainer, claiming that he had not had a raise in 20 years and had so much more work to do lately. This $25,000 or so bump in retainer is a permanent quid pro quo for defending Phil for a year. And it will cost the town an EXTRA $250,000 over ten years.

In 2007, Carol Grant came to a selectmen meeting to read a short statement about the chief's abuse of authority in screaming at her in the town hall because her vehicle was running outside while she was updating the veterans board. She got 2 paragraphs into her statement before Phil Jumped up, Slammed his hand down on the desk, screaming at the camera operators to turn off the cameras! "I don't have to sit here and listen to this". The meeting adjourned to non-public, with Officer Baldwin and Fardella appearing together to stand in the two doorways. 4 minutes into this meeting Phil stands abruptly and Roars "GET HER OUT OF HEAR NOW!" Officer Fardella, ushered Mrs. Grant, her husband, and her wheelchair bound son out into the cold winter night, not allowing them to stop and put on coats. The Grants filed suit. Remember Phil was still under Court Order NOT TO BE IN THE ROOM when these matters were discussed. This case was settled a year later at a cost of $30,000 in settlement, PLUS as one of the attornies claimed they had over $50,000 in legal costs already.

Next came the Acciard case for abuse of office, harassment, following him through town, using the police dept. to investigate his company. This case lasted 2 years before being pulled into Federal Court. The Attornies for Primex claimed that they had "well over $50,000 in legal expenses" at the time of the Federal Removal.

Next came the Artus, Brownfield, Lewis Case. This case was the straw that broke the camels back. Winding it way through the courts for 2 years before Primex finally pulled the plug on insuring the Town of Atkinson. AFTER Primex dropped coverage for the town, the selectmen added another professional services- legal line to the budget, funding it with $10,000. 3 months later this line was $29,900 OVER SPENT! According to the attornies between March and July 2011 they spent $68,000 in legal expenses defending Phil's atrocities.

So to recap; We have 6 1/2 years of legal expenses in the Peak case. As it is under non- disclosure we can only surmise what the cost was, but the average insurance company attorney at that time was about $180/hr.x 100 hrs./yr. x 6.5 years = $117,000.

Plus the settlement of $500,000+

Plus the NHPELRB cases; $200/hr. x 25 hrs. $5,000

Plus selectman consultation for all of Phils foibles(halloween, Rivera, Lorden, Buco, Daniels, Acciard, COI, Abuse of Authority, harassment, illegal SUV purchase, illegal creation of Ft Lt. position, Shut down of scenic byway, water issues, Winslow drive harassment, etc. $200/hr. x 40 hours = $8,000

COI case, 1.5 years, 2 depositions, two hearings $200/hr x 80 hours = $16,000

Contempt of Court defense $200/hr x 12 hrs. = $2,400

NH Supreme Court Appeal $250/hr. x 12 hrs. = $5,500

Grant case: $50,000 claimed legal expenses + $30,000 settlement

Acciard case: WELL OVER $50,000 legal expenses + 1 year more in Federal Court. Total $110,000

Artus case: $68,000 in four months AFTER town loses insurance, PLUS two years insurance attornies..... $168,000

Phil's legal cost to the town and it's insurance companies, approximately $1,011,900.00 by best estimates, and extrapolations.

Isn't it time to end this debacle?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Atkinson opts out of prison trustee program for free labor

From the Eagle Tribune;

December 1, 2011
Atkinson opts out of prison trustee program for free labor
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — For the past nine years, a Rockingham County jail inmate cleaned the police station three days every week — at almost no cost to the town

But selectmen thought otherwise, voting to end the program and citing the cost of transporting the inmate from Brentwood to Atkinson and back.

The board voted Monday not to reapprove the police trustee program, which employed a minimum security prisoner for landscaping and cleaning.

Selectman Craig Schuster said the cost of the program seemed to outweigh the benefits.

"It was $10 a day for this person, which included a meal," he said. "But the chief did not understand the full cost. We were using a town officer to drive the trustee back and forth to jail, paying them $24 an hour. The real cost was well over $60 a day, compared to our current cleaning service which is $45."

The town employs a cleaning company for all other town buildings, Schuster said. The cost of adding the police station to that list would be $45 a day, he said.

But police Chief Philip Consentino said he worked out a plan to have Plaistow officers pick up two trustees in the morning and have an Atkinson officer bring them both back at night.

"They're saying it's too expensive and there were too many hidden costs," Consentino said. "But there would be no overtime involved."

Armed with information, Schuster said, he decided the program could be worth the money.

"I made a motion to approve it, but I did not get a second," he said.

Selectman William Friel was not present at the meeting and Selectman Fred Childs did not support the motion, so it didn't pass.

Now, Consentino said he will have to hire someone to do the work the trustee did three days a week.

"He cleans the station from one end to the other, empties the trash, cleans all the cruisers, rakes leaves, cuts grass and whatever we need," he said. "With one trustee, I got three rooms in the police department painted and all it cost me was a gallon of paint for each room."

There is a reason so many other towns also use the trustee program, the chief said.

Ask Kingston police Chief Donald Briggs.

Briggs said he has a trustee on staff full time. Sometimes, Briggs said, the trustee works on special projects on weekends.

"They have rebuilt the whole upstairs of the fire station, the town bandstand, painted the entire inside of the library," Briggs said. "The program saves thousands and thousands of dollars every year."

Jail superintendant Stephen Church said 10 local communities use the program, including Atkinson, Kingston, Plaistow, Sandown and Hampstead.

"It saves the municipalities an awful lot of money," Church said. "It's a very popular program."

Only a small number of prisoners, those without a record of sex offenses or violent crimes, participate.

"The benefit for the prisoners is they get to be away from the jail and interact with people other than fellow prisoners," Church said. "They generally get fed better which is a big deal. It's a highly sought after job and only very few are selected."

Hampstead police Lt. John Frazier said he was surprised Atkinson would cut the program.

"Not cost effective?" he said. "It's free labor."

A part-time, retired Hampstead officer supervises the trustee, who comes in on Tuesday and Thursdays to clean the fleet of police cars. It has worked out well, Frazier said.

Plaistow Deputy police Chief Kathleen Jones said her department also uses a trustee three days a week to maintain cars and clean up.

"It does take an officer a little time to pick them up, but I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks," she said. "It's just about a 20-minute drive to the prison."

Consentino said he's upset the program was cut, but can't change what happened.

"It's a shame the program went down, but I will live with the board's decision and move on," he said.