Atkinson Town Hall

Atkinson Town Hall
The Norman Rockwellian picture of Atkinson

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

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

Welcome Message and Mission Statement

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

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

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

Monday, September 22, 2014

Timberlane board members continue to stir the pot.

By James Niedzinski Eagle-Tribune
PLAISTOW — Conflict and accusations continue within the ranks of the Timberlane Regional School Board and administration.
Donna Green, who represents Sandown on the board, is at the heart of much of it.
Even before her election to the board in March, Green challenged board members and Superintendent Earl Metzler a number of times.
She maintains a blog, dedicated to the district's budget, leaders and policies.
Before her election to the nine-member board, Green was on the Timberlane Budget Committee and had a thorny time of it there, too.
Some people appreciate Green's approach, her dogged pursuit of documents and figures, her dedication to keeping spending in line.
But her fellow board members are not among her fans. In July, a majority of the board voted to formally censure Green after they said she was posting misleading and inaccurate information on her blog.
Last month, School Board Chairman Nancy Steenson wrote Green a letter, outlining about 60 specific blog entries she said were inaccurate.
Metzler said the blog continues to be inaccurate. "It's disturbing, the truth is the truth, there is no need to make things up," he said. "We're trying to do the best for our kids here."
Steenson did not return phone calls seeking comment.
This week, Green struck back. Richard Lehmann, Green's attorney, sent letters to school district officials and Plaistow police Thursday. The concerns outlined include awarding a $50,000 contract to Metzler's wife, a security camera video of an incident in the administrative offices and the requirement that Green schedule an appointment before setting foot in the School Administrative Unit 55 building.
"I regret that it is necessary for me to take the step of retaining counsel to assist me," Green wrote, "but the administration leaves me no choice." Green is seeking clarification of the protocol for board members to visit the SAU office; a copy of the videotape school officials provided to Plaistow police; acknowledgement the board erred in its handling of the contract with Metzler's wife; and clarification of the existence of a no trespass order.
Three of those issues stem from a verbal exchange in July between Green and Cathy Belcher, Metzler's executive assistant.
That's one thing everyone seems to agree on, although not necessarily the magnitude of the disagreement. The exchange was captured on video tape, but Green has been denied a copy of that tape.
Metzler reported the incident to police and provided them with a copy of the tape. He said Friday he was unsure if the district still had a copy of the tape and noted there is no audio of the verbal argument.
Green claims administrators are holding her reputation "hostage" by not releasing the security video.
The water gets a little muddier here.
The incident is under investigation by police, acting Chief Kathleen Jones said, but would comment further.
Police Lt. William Baldwin is the former chairman of the Timberlane School Board and may be involved in the investigation.
Shortly after the incident, Steenson emailed Green and told her until the police investigation is complete she would have to schedule visits to the SAU office through Metzler. Green, through her attorney, is seeking clarification.
If there is not a no trespass order, Lehmann asks, then why must Green schedule visits through Metzler. She said it's affecting her ability to carry out her official responsibilities. Having Green schedule an appointment was done for the safety of employees and Green herself, Metzler said. "It's to protect both her and them from having a second incident or third incident," he said. Green also is treated differently, he said, because "other members of the board are currently not being investigated for the harassment of a public employee."
While other School Board members do not have to schedule appointments, Metzler said most do anyway. Finally, Elizabeth Metzler was hired to develop the curriculum for a foreign language program. She was recommended through the Southeast Regional Education Service.
Green claims the School Board violated the state's Right to Know law when approving the contract because they entered nonpublic session illegally.
There was no discussion about a request for proposals or contract, Lehmann wrote, and the contract "was done under the cover of darkness and hidden from public view."
But Metzler said it was a transparent process. Board members knew Elizabeth Metlzer worked for the education service and would likely be recommended for the job, he said. "I know how open and transparent I was about this the whole way," he said. "It was very transparent right from the start."
He said Green's numerous Right to Know requests are putting a burden on the district.
Under the law, he said, the district has five days to respond to a request if the information is readily available. "Everything is not readily available on a desk to hand her in two minutes," Metzler said.
On Friday, Green said she started filing Right to Know requests rather than simply asking for information because of her turbulent past with school officials while she was on the Budget Committee. "Based on that background, I did not have the belief that I would get my requests in a timely fashion," she said. "I felt I was compelled to file Right to Know requests." Green said she still attends board meetings regularly.
She considered how the letters from her lawyer might affect her working relationship with other board members, but it was not her biggest concern. "I have to call things as I see it," she said. "My primary consideration is representing the interests of my constituents."

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Plaistow police lieutenant investigated

PLAISTOW — The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office and Rockingham County attorney's office are investigating longtime police Lt. William Baldwin for "irregularities" that occurred during two recent traffic stops, Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald confirmed Friday the two agencies have begun looking into allegations that Baldwin, also an Atkinson selectman, may not have followed standard police procedures during the two stops.

But Baldwin said Friday evening he believes he is being unfairly targeted by another member of law enforcement who disagrees with the "discretion" he used during the two stops, both within the last month.

"I do the best to what my discretion allows me to," he said.

Neither Baldwin, Fitzgerald nor interim police Chief Kathleen Jones said they could comment in detail about the traffic stops nor the allegations while the matter is under investigation.

Baldwin, on scheduled time off for the next week, said he's only trying to do his job."It's just disheartening," Baldwin said. "There are two sides to every story, and I take my job very seriously to keep the community very safe." Baldwin said he's not sure who is making the allegations against him.

"I don't know the motive," he said. "I put my life and soul into the job. People just come after you and target you. It's someone who doesn't care for me here."

Baldwin said he's yet to speak to investigators from the attorney general's office or the county attorney's office.

Interim County Attorney James Boffetti said he could not comment on pending investigations. Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young could not be reached for comment Friday.

Fitzgerald said he's waiting to receive further reports and had yet to speak to Baldwin, who has worked in Plaistow since 2011. Jones has spoken to Baldwin about the matter, he said.

"We will make appropriate decisions to make sure we keep the highest standards of policing intact," Fitzgerald said.

Jones, who was deputy chief, has led the department since the death of police Chief Stephen Savage in July. She said town officials won't hesitate to act if Baldwin is guilty of any misconduct.

"If anything has been done wrong, we will take swift action as needed," Jones said.

Fitzgerald said despite the allegations against one of the department's highest-ranking officers, Plaistow police do an excellent job serving the community.

"We have an outstanding department," he said.

Baldwin was a member of the Atkinson Police Department for 14 years before leaving for Plaistow.

Earlier this year, he applied for the Atkinson police chief's job after Philip Consentino was dismissed by selectmen. Baldwin later withdrew his application, saying he had doubts about leaving Plaistow.

Baldwin also served in the U.S Marine Corps for 10 years and has been a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, taking leave from his police career to serve in the Middle East.

He is also a former Timberlane Regional School Board member.