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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.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Baldwin takes his seat as Atkinson selectman

ATKINSON — It took a couple of years, but Bill Baldwin has finally took his place with the rest of the selectmen. Baldwin had his first meeting as selectman last night after being elected at Town Meeting.
“It feels wonderful,” Baldwin said. “The people were overwhelmingly supportive of me and I don’t take that for granted. I hope to do the job they elected me to do and then some.”
Baldwin, 42, said he is trying to get a feel of what is needed out of him and the dynamics of the board in his first couple of weeks. The new selectman said one of his first orders of business was addressing the state of the Elderly Affairs Department and Police Department following the firing of former police Chief Philip Consentino.
“I want to be as proactive in possible in having the programs move forward and having it be even greater than it was,” Baldwin said.
Since the police chief vacancy opened up, Baldwin said he has been encouraged by many to pursue the job. But he denied all interest in the job last night.
“I want to be part of the process and help lead the community in the direction that they want it to go in,” Baldwin said. “At this point in juncture, I have no interest in that police chief position at all. I’m happy where I’m at in Plaistow right now.”
Baldwin worked in Atkinson for 14 years before moving to the Plaistow department in 2011 where he is a lieutenant.
Because of his position in Plaistow, Baldwin said he’s heard skepticism that he won’t be able to vote on certain topics due to conflict of interest. But he doesn’t anticipate there will be any problems.
“I don’t see any conflict,” Baldwin. “I’m a resident here. I don’t work for this town anymore and I have experience and knowledge in other areas which will lend itself here.”
Baldwin defeated longtime selectman Fred Childs at Town Meeting earlier this month. Childs had been a selectman for 12 consecutive years. Baldwin ran after losing out to Todd Barbera for selectman last year.
Prior to the meeting, new Selectman’s Chairman Bill Friel thanked Childs for his service to the town and welcomed Baldwin to the board. Friel was voted as chairman by the board, as it is the third and final year of his term.
While Friel appreciated Childs’ service, he said he is looking forward to the future of the board with Baldwin on it.
“It’s exciting because you get a new perspective on things,” Friel said. “He knows more of the residents than most new selectmen because of his career. We’re going to lean on him for a lot of experience.”
That experience already came in handy last night. Baldwin was a key part of a discussion about switching health care providers for full-time members of the Police Department.
In addition to his police experience, Baldwin also served as a member of the Timberlane Regional School Board for 10 years. Last night, Town Administrator Bill Innes named him as the selectmen’s liaison to the Timberlane Regional School District.

Interim Atkinson Chief adjusts to new role

ATKINSON — For the last month, Patrick Caggiano has been a busy man.
Since longtime Chief Philip Consentino was fired, Caggiano temporarily has absorbed the part-time chief’s responsibilities in addition to his duties as sergeant.
“I’ve been busier,” Caggiano said. “I was handling a fair amount of day-to-day operations before the change, but I’ve taken on several additional duties as well.”
Budgeting, payroll and other administrative duties are now on Caggiano’s plate. He is still working as a 40-hour employee of the town, but has delegated some of his responsibilities to other officers.
Consentino, 72, worked 25 hours a week as chief. He was with the department for 45 years.
The system is working well right now, Caggiano said. Selectmen have yet to decide the future of the chief’s job and whether it will remain a part-time position.
Caggiano said he would be open to becoming the permanent police chief if it is offered to him.
“I enjoy working very much for the town in my current position,” he said. “The selectmen and the townspeople are the ones who have to figure out the future of the position. From there, I would love and welcome the opportunity if things fit for me in my current position. I don’t want to focus on it until there’s a definitive answer in the direction the town wants to go with the position.”
Caggiano was endorsed by the Atkinson Police Association just days after Consentino’s firing as their choice for new police chief.
“It was humbling,” Caggiano said. “Even prior to talking to the officers, I knew the support was there. But we are just trying to operate the same way that we were operating.”
Selectman Todd Barbera said workshops are scheduled with Town Administrator Bill Innes, Caggiano and fellow selectmen to get more insight into how the department is running.
“Making it a full-time position is something we’ll talk about,” Barbera said. “But for that to happen, it would have to go through a town warrant.”
When that decision will come remains unclear.
“There is no timeline right now,” Innes said. “We don’t want to rush things. We want to make sure the moves we make are what’s right for the town.”
Caggiano said he doesn’t plan to make a recommendation about how many hours the chief should work.
“Organizational structure is something that is in the hands of the elected officials and the town administrator. That’s where I’m going to leave that.” he said. “In law enforcement, we are trained to just look at a situation and then deal with the situation as is.”
Also up in the air is the future of the elderly affairs department. That department is run out of the police station, but Innes has said there is the potential to separate.
Caggiano said no drastic changes have been made over the last month. Rather, they are continuing to focus on long-term goals.
“Things that have been in the works for a while are starting to come into focus,” he said. “We want to upgrade our computers, so they are in every vehicle. We’re also trying to update our in-house records management system.”
Caggiano has been a sergeant in Atkinson since 2011. Prior to that, he worked in Plaistow for 23 years.
“I’m happy right now and I enjoy my position,” Caggiano said. “If things change, we will adapt to it.”

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Atkinson seniors worried about elderly affairs program

ATKINSON — More than 100 senior citizens packed the Atkinson Community Center yesterday, peppering Town Administrator Bill Innes with questions about the future of the town’s Elderly Affairs Department.
Innes held the meeting to address concerns seniors had following the recent firing of former police chief and elderly affairs director Phil Consentino.
Innes told seniors there would be no changes for the next 90 days while he serves as the department’s acting director.
“This is a good to great program,” Innes said. “I don’t anticipate a reduction in changes.”
Consentino attended the meeting and his firing Feb. 27 was raised by a few seniors. One senior asked Innes who fired Consentino and why. Consentino was employed by the town for 45 years. The reasons for the firing were not discussed.
Consentino declined to comment after the 90-minute forum ended. Selectmen have not given specific reasons for his firing following an independent investigation, saying only that it was “for cause” and job related.
Innes said he hopes to organize an eight- or nine-member committee that would recommend a new elderly affairs director to selectmen, who have the final say. The committee would also advise the director.
Under Consentino, the program was run through the Police Department. A dispatcher at the police station would take phone calls from seniors looking for transportation and assistance, and assign an elderly affairs worker to handle the request.
But seniors said they are worried about the program under new leadership.
“I never had a problem with it before,” said Jean Hardy, 82. “Whenever I needed something, someone would always go out of their way to help me.”
Consentino spoke against a plan outlined by Innes to create a town fund designed to track and audit all donations to the department. In the past, most of the money for the department came from a private charitable fund overseen by Consentino.
“If it goes into the town in a separate fund, (the department) doesn’t have control over that,” Consentino said. “It becomes a long, drawn-out process. The way we had it, was the way selectmen wanted it set up. It was open to the world.”
But Innes emphasized it wasn’t selectmen who wanted the system changed.
“I want to do this,” he said. “I want to be able to audit the books, I want to know where the money goes and how it’s spent.”
Innes said the town has $43,000 budgeted for the department this year, That money covers the salaries of the drivers, gasoline and maintenance. He added that he would like to see an extra car and driver added to the department.
One other issue that sparked discussion was the idea of separating the Elderly Affairs Department from the Police Department. Innes admitted there was potential for that to happen once the new director was appointed.
“I think they need to tread carefully before you spoil what’s really been successful,” said Wendy Doughty, 78.
Innes said he will look for volunteers for the advisory committee within the next few weeks. His ideal committee would include residents from several organizations and a mix of people over and under 60.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Elderly Meeting a Milestone

Imagine, an OPEN, FRANK, PUBLIC conversation on Elderly Affairs. It happened today. The night began with our fired for cause former police chief surreptitiously flipping off Mr. Leon Artus, by stroking the side of his nose with his middle finger, But, then again he is no stranger to childish gestures. Mr. Innis was professional, and a gentleman. He fielded questions from a contentious crowd that had obviously been spoon fed a truckload of falsehoods about the Elderly Affairs dept., The Donation account, and the selectmen, Gee We wonder who THAT could have been? Probably the same disgruntled former employee who has been doing the same for twenty years. Here are the FACTS, for any Elderly that may read this; Elderly Affairs is a TAXPAYER FUNDED Town dept. It has been for twenty years. It has NEVER been a charity funded by Phil. The taxpayers pay for the depts. budget. It is ALSO funded by the Donation account. Up until 2007 the TOWN OWNED the donation account. In 2007, the AG's office found that it had been operated illegally for years, and demanded it be turned over to the Trustees of the Trust Funds. As the Trustee at the time was Dale Childs and she took her responsibilities very seriously, Phil did not want this. Fortunately for him there was a second option that was right up his alley. He could form a private Non profit corporation, and make donations from it to the town. NO accountability. NO need to ask anyone for permission to spend the money. TOTAL DICTATORSHIP! Although many elderly in town think of the Atkinson Police Charitable fund as being the town donation account it, in fact in NOT AFFILIATED with the town. It is a private non profit corporation run by Phil Consentino to benefit those he wishes to bestow his largess upon. The PROBLEM is that he is SUPPOSED to make donations publicly to the town, and they SHOULD be accepted in an open selectmen's meeting, but this never happened, so we have no idea where that money went. However, what Mr. Innis proposed last night is open transparent AND LEGAL! For the town to establish a new donation account, run by the Trustees of the Trust Funds, open and accountable to the State. It will be established SOLELY for the purpose of donating to the town's elderly. Mr. Artus jumped in at this point to help calm the crowd with more info. At one point a number of elderly were demanding to know why Phil was fired. Mr. Innis gave the most generous, factual, but not detailed answer; The town received a complaint, hired an investigator, and when the findings came in fired Phil for Cause. At this point our former Bully with a Badge tried to bully Mr. Innis with his thinly veiled threat that he had better watch what he says because this is far from over. YES PHIL, YOU ARE FIRED, IT IS OVER! Thank God! Remember one thing, Phil, if you fight your firing, EVERYTHING comes out in open Court. On second thought, This blog thinks you SHOULD fight your firing, it is only right. To the town's elderly; The program will continue to operate. You will continue to get your rides, and services. And if you make your donations to the TOWN OWNED donation account instead of Phil's corporation, that money will ONLY be spent on elderly affairs, and STATE LAW GUARANTEES IT! And ANYONE who tells you differently is lying to you.

Delaney to leave NH AG's office

March 19, 2013
CONCORD (AP) — New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney says he's planning to step down and return to private practice after 14 years in state service.
Delaney sent a letter to Gov. Maggie Hassan with his announcement this morning.
Delaney's term is up March 31, although at Hassan's request, he has agreed to stay on for an appropriate transition period.
Hassan said she understands Delaney's desire to pursue new opportunities, but his steady leadership will be missed. She said she wishes him the best.

Delaney lauded for his leadership

Southern NH police chiefs praise his leadership

Southern New Hampshire police chiefs had nothing but praise yesterday for Michael Delaney after learning he’s stepping down as attorney general.
Delaney, 43, informed Gov. Maggie Hassan he was leaving public service after 14 years and returning to private practice. His term ends March 31, but Delaney said he would stay on as long as necessary to ensure a smooth transition for his successor.
Some local law enforcement officials said they were surprised to hear he would be leaving and wondered who would replace him.
Marc Goldberg, the governor’s spokesman, would not comment on whether there is a front-runner for the job and said Hassan would work as quickly as possible to select a replacement. The Executive Council must confirm the nominee.
Speculation recently arose at the Statehouse that Hassan wanted to appoint her own attorney general. Goldberg emphasized it was Delaney’s decision to step down and that Hassan “would have been happy if he would have stayed on.”
While Hassan supports allowing expanded gambling in the state, Delaney is strongly opposed.
Delaney has had his share of critics in his four years as attorney general, but he’s also had a lot of supporters in Southern New Hampshire.
“I thought he was a good attorney and a great advocate of law enforcement,” Windham police Capt. Michael Caron said. “We will miss him.”
Local police chiefs said although they didn’t necessarily have a lot of personal contact with Delaney, they liked how he ran the attorney general’s office.
“Every time we’ve had interaction with his office, it’s always been very professional,” acting Atkinson police Chief Patrick Caggiano said.
Derry police Chief Edward Garone agreed. As a leader of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, Garone said he had a good relationship with Delaney and lauded his work.
“My dealings with Attorney General Delaney have always been positive,” Garone said. “He was first and foremost a gentleman.”
He said Delaney was a credit to criminal justice and wished him well.
“I will miss that relationship and I hope when the governor makes that replacement, that the person has the same qualities,” Garone said.
Delaney would not comment on his future plans, saying it would not be appropriate while still in office.
Delaney said highlights of his career as attorney general include the murder convictions of Steven Spader and Christopher Gribble in the 2009 Mont Vernon home invasion and machete attack.
He also spoke of the conviction and 60-year sentence of Myles Webster for attempted murder in the shooting of Manchester police Officer Dan Doherty last year.
Yet Delaney expressed disappointment in the lack of an arrest in the kidnapping and murder of 11-year-old Celina Cass of Stewartstown in 2011 and the fatal shooting of Greenland police Chief Michael Maloney during a drug raid last year.
But Newton police Chief Lawrence Streeter praised Delaney for his handling of the Greenland shooting investigation.
One of Streeter’s own officers, Patrolman 1st Class Chris Thurlow, survived the shootout in April that killed Maloney and wounded four other police officers when they were confronted by an armed suspect during a drug raid.
“I had significant interaction with him in the Greenland investigation and I thought he did an excellent job,” Streeter said. “I thought he did a fair and thorough review.”
Rockingham County Attorney James Reams said although he didn’t always agree with Delaney, he respected him.
“While we have disagreed over some things over the years, I don’t think the disagreements carried over from issue to issue,” Reams said. “I like Mike and liked working with him. I am sure he will do well in private practice.”
Hassan praised Delaney for his service. He served in the attorney general’s office from 1999 to 2006, leaving to become legal counsel for former Democratic Gov. John Lynch. Lynch then appointed him as Kelly Ayotte’s successor in 2009 when she stepped down to run for the U.S. Senate.
Delaney thanked his colleagues at the Department of Justice for their “professionalism, work ethic and camaraderie.”
But Delaney had his share of run-ins with the Legislature’s Republican majority last session, including former House Speaker Bill O’Brien.
He was criticized for the independence of his office and his insistence that members of a House committee stop questioning state child care workers about cases.
O’Brien also wanted the Legislature to have the authority to order Delaney to join lawsuits brought by other states. Delaney told him it was unconstitutional.
Shortly after Delaney’s announcement yesterday, Republican State Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn issued a statement praising the attorney general and questioning why he was stepping down.
“After he announced his opposition to Maggie Hassan’s disastrous state budget that relies on $80 million in non-existent and illegal gambling revenue, the governor refused to discuss his reappointment,” she said. “There are serious questions about whether Governor Hassan decided to deny Attorney General Delaney another term because of his strong and principled rejection of her irresponsible policies.”
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Baldwin ousts Childs as Atkinson Selectman

ATKINSON — After 12 years as selectman, Fred Childs’s tenure came to an end last night. Voters elected Plaistow police Lt. William Baldwin, a former Atkinson lieutenant, as their new selectman.
Baldwin received 680 votes while Childs had 278 votes. Craig Schuster was third with 148 votes.
Childs admitted he was disappointed, but looked back fondly on his time on the board.
“I had a good run and made a lot of good friends along the way,” he said “I’ve put a lot of time in as selectman and I have no regrets.
Voters wanted a change.
“We’re due for a change,” David Jackson said. “We need to get some new ideas out there.”
Annette McClellan agreed it was Baldwin’s time.
“He’s got the experience we need as selectman,” Annette McClellan said. “He’s a good guy and honest man.”
Although there was a hotly contested selectman’s race, Town Clerk Rose Cavalear said turnout was disappointing. Only 21 percent of the town’s 5,279 registered voters cast ballots.
“I don’t know if the weather had something to do with it, or maybe people weren’t interested in the warrant articles,” Cavalear said.
In other contested races, incumbents ruled the vote for the most part.
Incumbent road agent Edward Stewart defeated Brian Klimaszewski, 776-313. Incumbents Susan Carroll and Bill Smith will serve once again on the Budget Committee, beating Harlan Cheney. Incumbent Kathleen Friel edged out Jean Sanders for cemetery trustee, 520-485.
Sanders did win a seat on the Conflict of Interest Committee, beating incumbent Joyce LaFrance, 512-375.
Incumbent Alan Phair and James Cobb were elected as library trustees, receiving 490 and 561 votes, respectively. Tim Dziechowski trailed with 388 votes.
Only three of the 25 warrant articles didn’t pass in town, but they were all close.
Voters elected not to add $10,000 to a capital reserve fund for the town’s legal fees, 510-509.
There was a tie in the vote to establish a Heritage Commission and heritage fund, 502-502. As a result, the article did not pass.
An article which would have added $15,000 to a capital reserve fund for recreation purposes failed, 518-504.
The $4 million budget was passed by a healthy margin, 583-483.
Voters approved a $212,000 fire tanker and $30,000 for the installation of six fire hydrants.
Insect control was a focus of Atkinson’s warrant and voters approved two articles relating to that. The town voted to allow bow hunting in the town forest and to add $47,390 to a mosquito control fund.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

NH AG Investigating Atkinson Officials for Electioneering

Yes, folks, you heard it here. We have heard that the New Hampshire Attorney General office is opening an investigation into the complaints of Atkinson Town Officials engaging in electioneering. At least ONE of the officials named in the numerous complaints that have been filed over the years has been our former police chief, Phil Consentino. Phil has been the subject of close to a dozen electioneering complains filed with the AG's office over the years, From sign holding at the post office, to placing his campaign signs on town property, to gathering signatures for his petitions in the police station, to gathering signatures from captive elderly while they were receiving service from elderly affairs. The level of political corruption that a few brave souls have complained about over the years, and paid a high price for doing so, is finally coming to light since his firing FOR CAUSE. It must be a vindication for those who tried to do the right thing for the Town in years passed. People like Wayne Peak, Lt. Rick Daniels, Off. Rich Buco, Off. Michael Rivera, Off. Gary Lorden, Fred Childs, Brian Boyle, Jane Cole, Barbara Stewart, Betty Stewart, Mark Acciard, Leon Artus, Gary Brownfield, and numerous others. As more details come to light we will continue to keep you posted.

Monday, March 4, 2013

NH Insider

Recognizing that the former Atkinson Police Chief/Thug Phil Consentino had to go, Town Manager William Innes had this to say to the Lawrence Eagle Tribune about the infamous “Elderly Affairs Department” run by the chief thug:
“The organization was a political base that was built and exploited in the past,” Innes said. “I just want to ensure that that there is a code of ethics in place that defines the roles and responsibilities of the director and drivers of organization. I haven’t been able to find a document that says what the elderly affairs department does.”
Innes said the salary and the hours of the future director have not been discussed just yet. Consentino was earning $100 a year during his tenure as director.
The elderly affairs department had previously done things like buy cigarettes and groceries for older residents, Innes said, something he would like to eliminate.
“That’s not the role of the department,” Innes said. “The role of the department is to ensure the seniors in town have transportation to medical appointments and for some other things which need to be defined.”
The role of the department is to ensure the seniors in town have transportation to medical appointments and for some other things which need to be defined???
A question for Town manager Innes: How about NO acting like a taxi service and leaving that up to taxis and private business. That would be nice.
The Town of Atkinson has been shuttling people around at other taxpayers expense for years and that is what has gotten them in trouble. There is no way to give free services to people that should be available from a private source of a true non-profit.
There is a NH Supreme Court case regarding plowing of private driveways called Clapp v. Jaffrey where the court ruled that plowing private drives at town expense was unconstitutional. There is little difference here, see:
Given a perfect opportunity to abolish the Elderly Affairs Dept. and all the trouble it has caused, this town manager still doesn’t get it – unless he wants to run the gig himself or have a minion do it. After all, dependant voters you have some private time with at town expense can be very helpful come town meeting time. And not cause dissention among the taxpayers who do not benefit from that service.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Eagle Tribune Editorial

March 3, 2013
Police officers have been in the news recently, and not for nabbing criminals. In some cases, the police themselves are accused of criminal behavior.
In Lawrence, a police officer was arrested last week and will face charges in Florida of raping a child.
In Haverhill, a police officer was charged with stalking his estranged wife and her date.
And in Atkinson, selectmen fired their longtime police chief after a month-long investigation. Town officials would not elaborate on their reason for firing Chief Philip Consentino, other than to issue a statement that it “relates to his employment.” Consentino’s lawyer said the firing was not over a criminal issue.
There have been many incidents of police misbehavior over the years. But to have three in just one week is unusual and troubling. We should expect better from these public servants.
Lawrence Officer Carlos Gonzalez was attending a class at the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover when city police and detectives from Haines City, Fla., arrested him. Gonzalez was arraigned Thursday in Lawrence District Court for sexual battery by a custodian on a person over age 12 and under age 18 and selling, delivering or serving alcohol to a minor. The alleged assault happened last July while Gonzalez was vacationing there.
Gonzalez, 48, a 24-year veteran of the Lawrence police, will return to Florida to face the charges.
In court for Gonzalez’s arraignment was police Officer Daron Fraser, who is facing assault charges after “belly-bumping” a superior officer at the police station just three weeks after returning from 29 months of paid leave while he was charged with and convicted of assault on his then-girlfriend.
Including Gonzalez and Fraser, there are now four Lawrence police officers on paid leave while facing criminal charges. Deputy Chief Melix Bonilla and officer P.J. Lopez were indicted in September for felony offenses.
In Haverhill, Patrolman Victor “Manny” Pellot was arrested after he allegedly chased his estranged wife and her date through the city and down Interstate 495. Police say that Pellot, who was driving his personal vehicle, at one point pulled his car in front of the couple’s vehicle, walked to it and punched the side-view mirror while yelling at his wife.
According to a police report, Pellot and his wife are in the process of divorcing.
Pellot was arraigned on two counts of stalking. He pleaded not guilty.
In 2004, Pellot had been demoted and was nearly fired for being present in uniform in 2002 and 2003 during illegal drug sales at his cousin’s house.
Pellot has also been commended several times in his career, including once for saving an 83-year-old woman from a burning building.
We expect better from our police forces and we do hold them to a higher standard. We give police officers guns and badges and ask them to swear an oath to uphold the law. That’s a extraordinary level of trust for a free people to grant. Those of us who respect the law also respect those we trust to uphold it.
When police officers violate that trust, they lose that respect. We cannot tolerate law breaking by those sworn to uphold the law.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Atkinson Police Union endorses acting Chief

ATKINSON — Members of the Atkinson Police Association know who they want as their next police chief: acting Chief Patrick Caggiano.
Caggiano was named acting chief Wednesday night after selectmen voted to fire longtime Chief Philip Consentino.
Before Caggiano could settle into his new role, the union endorsed him for the permanent job.
He’s not the only one settling into a new role. Town Manager William Innes has taken on the role of elderly affairs director — temporarily.
After 45-year veteran Consentino was fired, selectmen moved to fill his two roles with existing employees.
But the 15 union members want the word interim removed from Caggiano’s new job title.
“His skills are unmatched and he has an extensive knowledge of the profession,” Detective Nicholas Fiset said. “We recognize how good of a teacher and leader he has been.”
Consentino was a part-time chief, working 25 hours a week.
It’s possible the next chief will be full time, but that would require a Town Meeting vote. It’s early in the process. Consentino emailed selectmen Tuesday evening to announce his intention to retire April 2.
Selectmen men the next night and fired the chief, citing the results of an independent investigation into a personnel matter.
It’s been a busy week.
“There has always been discussion about making it full-time,” Selectmen’s Chairman Fred Childs said yesterday. “But we haven’t decided what we want to do yet.”
No one knows whether Caggiano would be interested in a part-time position; he didn’t return several phone calls yesterday.
“I don’t know if he would want a part-time or full-time job,” Fiset said. “The entire body feels he would be an excellent police chief, whatever fashion that is in is something that would have to be figured out.”
How long Caggiano could serve as acting chief isn’t clear.
But Innes said he only intends to lead elderly affairs for 90 days. While he does, he said, he plans to fully explore how the department operated under Consentino.
“The organization was a political base that was built and exploited in the past,” Innes said. “I just want to ensure that that there is a code of ethics in place that defines the roles and responsibilities of the director and drivers of organization. I haven’t been able to find a document that says what the elderly affairs department does.”
Innes said the salary and the hours of the future director have not been discussed just yet. Consentino was earning $100 a year during his tenure as director.
The elderly affairs department had previously things like buy cigarettes and groceries for older residents, Innes said, something he would like to eliminate.
“That’s not the role of the department,” Innes said. “The role of the department is to ensure the seniors in town have transportation to medical appointments and for some other things which need to be defined.”
The elderly affairs budget this year was $44,500, most of which to pay drivers, gas and maintenance.
The department also used about $30,000, Innes said, from an independent charitable fund run by Consentino. Innes said he hopes to create a new fund for those purposes, records of which could be kept by the town.
“I want to create an environment where money is being appropriated in the right account in town,” he said. “If donations that came into the charitable account now come into a town account, we will be able to provide similar services.”
In the meantime, Innes said they would be using money from the general assistance fund. The 2013 proposed budget calls for the fund to have $14,400.
Innes said he would also look into separating elderly affairs from the police department.
“By separating this out, we can figure out exactly what funding we need in the police department and what kind of funding we need with elderly affairs,” Innes said. “There are a lot of things in the departments that we don’t have a handle on right now because of the way it was being run.”
Innes wants to bring seniors into the process and plans to hold an open forum in the upcoming weeks to learn exactly what they expect from the department.
“I don’t want to do this without them,” he said. “I want to know what works and what doesn’t work. I want to know what they’d like to see changed. I want them to have involvement and input so the department can meet the needs of all of our seniors.”

Friday, March 1, 2013

Police Chief fired after independent investigation.

Selectmen cite results of independent investigation

ATKINSON — Just one day after longtime police Chief Philip Consentino announced he would be retiring, selectmen voted to fire him, citing the results of an independent investigation.
Selectmen voted unanimously in a nonpublic meeting Wednesday night to fire Consentino, 72, as police chief and elderly affairs director.
“The termination is effective immediately,” Town Administrator Bill Innes wrote. “Mr. Consentino is no longer a town employee.”
Consentino, who had been with the department for 45 years, announced in an email Tuesday night that he would be retiring April 2, citing health reasons.
He was not asked to attend the meeting Wednesday.
Selectmen made the decision to fire the chief after reviewing the results of an investigation into a personnel matter, they said in their statement.
Consentino was put on paid administrative leave from both positions Feb. 5, pending an investigation by an independent consulting firm, selectmen said.
After the board reviewed that firm’s report, selectmen decided it was “appropriate” to fire Consentino, according to the statement.
“Whereas the subject matter related to Mr. Consentino’s termination relates to his employment,” they wrote, “it is confidential and will be kept confidential.”
Only one of the three selectmen returned phone messages yesterday.
“This decision was taken really seriously,” Selectman Todd Barbera said. “This is not something we take lightly.”
Neither Innes nor Barbera would comment on the circumstances that led to Consentino’s firing.
Mark Giarrusso, Consentino’s attorney, said yesterday it was not a criminal issue, but would not elaborate further.
“We haven’t gotten anything official in writing,” Giarrusso said. “We have to find out why they are doing this and we will take it from there.”
Phone calls to Consentino yesterday were not returned.
Selectmen named Sgt. Patrick Caggiano as acting police chief. Innes will serve as acting director of elderly affairs.
Caggiano said the department did not wish to comment on the situation.
Innes said the decision to vote to fire Consentino in nonpublic meeting is allowed under RSA 91 -A:3. The RSA says, “Minutes and decisions reached in nonpublic session shall be publicly disclosed within 72 hours of the meeting.”
Giarrusso said town attorney Sumner Kalman called him yesterday morning to inform him of the selectmen’s decision. Consentino had not seen the independent report, according to Giarrusso.
“I don’t know why they took this step,” he said. “He wanted to leave gracefully. He wanted no bad feelings with the town.”
Consentino was frustrated with the town’s decision to put him on administrative leave, Giarrusso said.
“I don’t think there were sufficient enough details provided to (Consentino) to do that,” he said. “He was very surprised by that.”
Giarrusso said Consentino had been mulling retirement for several weeks. The attorney said he didn’t know whether Consentino had decided to retire before or after he was put on leave.
“He wanted to keep his health coverage until April,” Giarrusso said. “He wanted to have retired sooner, but he couldn’t financially.”
Consentino is a part-time employee, who earns less than $30,000 a year. He would not have been eligible for retirement benefits even if he had not been fired.
Consentino was hospitalized over the weekend, due to chest pains and shortness of breath, according to Giarrusso. He took a two-month medical leave in 2011.
Selectmen’s Chairman Fred Childs, Selectman Bill Friel and Kalman did not return phone calls.