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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.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Commissioner worried about assistant attorney's firing

By Kyle Stucker

Posted Nov. 11, 2014 @ 6:54 pm
Updated at 9:17 PM
BRENTWOOD — Local prosecutors and officials say they are “very frustrated” about the termination of a Rockingham County assistant attorney and whistleblower because they expect it will lead to a costly wrongful termination lawsuit against the county.
On her first day in office Friday, newly-elected Rockingham County Attorney Patricia Conway fired Jerome Blanchard, a prosecutor in her office and the person who earlier this year tipped off the state to the fact that Conway’s husband, former Salem police Sgt. Eric Lamb, was erroneously marked as cleared on the state’s so-called Laurie list.
“That smells like retribution to me,” said County Commission Vice Chairman Kevin Coyle. “It just really smells bad. To me this is clearly an act of retribution on the part of Pat Conway and others.”
No lawsuits had been filed against Conway or the county as of Tuesday, although Coyle said he expects Blanchard to file suits under the state’s whistleblower statute in addition to civil suits against any individuals involved in the firing.
Coyle said he and others consider Blanchard the “best prosecutor in that office” and said he doesn’t “know of anyone in law enforcement who would cast any dispersions on his ability to prosecute.”
“What I told her is she better hire a good lawyer, because she’s going to need one,” said Coyle, who wasn’t made aware of Conway’s decision until after Blanchard was terminated late Friday.
The confidential Laurie list contains the names of law enforcement officers who have been identified by their agencies as having engaged in misconduct that could affect their credibility if they had to testify in a case.
This information must be disclosed to defense lawyers and the court.
Blanchard notified the state in April that Lamb had been cleared in error. This prompted an investigation and Lamb’s name to be restored to the list after the state found former County Attorney Jim Reams, who later resigned from his post amid controversy, had indicated in letters to the attorney general’s office that Lamb had been cleared.
Conway maintained Tuesday that she had “no idea” Blanchard was the key whistleblower behind the Laurie list investigation involving her husband.
She also claimed that Seacoast Media Group and New Hampshire Union Leader stories published over the past few days about Blanchard’s firing contain “lies” because her decision had “nothing to do with retribution.”
“I had no idea about that,” said Conway. “I never knew about that. When I read that in the paper, that was the first time I ever learned about that.”
Conway also said that she “was not aware” that Blanchard and his girlfriend, former county prosecutor Jacqueline Docko, played key roles in the state’s investigation into Reams for sexual harassment, ethical violations and mismanagement of a forfeiture account.
“I didn’t know that,” said Conway. “I don’t know if that’s true or not. I was unaware of it.”
Reams, who served for 15 years, retired earlier this year after fighting for his return to office following a suspension. He has admitted no wrongdoing.
Conway has said she terminated Blanchard because doing so would be in the "best interests" of the county.
Beyond that, Conway said Tuesday that she “cannot comment” on why Blanchard was terminated because it “would be improper” to do that from a legal standpoint. She also said she couldn’t disclose whether her decision was based on poor job performance or wrongdoing.
Many local lawyers and law enforcement individuals expressed to Seacoast Media Group Tuesday that they couldn’t think of any possible job performance-related reasons for Blanchard’s firing.
“I can tell you that amongst the defense bar we consider him if not the best, but one of the best trial attorneys,” said Joe Plaia, a Portsmouth defense attorney whom Conway defeated during the Nov. 4 election. “I think he’s got without a doubt a fantastic whistleblower suit on his hands.”
Conway said her focus in her new role will be to ensure the office is running “efficiently,” “ethically” and “in a fiscally responsible manner,” although Coyle said it’ll be difficult to do that after her first official act was to “fire the person who made a legitimate complaint” against her husband.
“I don’t know if you’re ever going to bring back integrity to the office (after doing something like that),” said Coyle. “I think on her first day she really blew it with law enforcement and the public.”
Blanchard couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Update to: "Editorial: Spin won't solve Timberlane board's communications problem"

Surprise! Cozy Low Bid for PR Contract
Four bids were received for the district’s proposed Public Relations services.
$50,400 (Massachusetts)
$46,800 (California)
$39,500 (Massachusetts)
$18,000 (New Hampshire)
The low bid is from SERESC, the organization where superintendents go off to their final taxpayer funded reward. About SERESC Our former superintendent, Mr. LaSalle, now heads this organization and Dr. Metzler is one of six fellow superintendents from neighboring SAUs who comprise the Executive Committee. You might remember SERESC as being the organization that gave us Mrs. Metzler as the Spanish consultant for kindergarten.
SERESC is quick footed, if nothing else. They recently managed to snag Jason Grosky’s wife, Gretchen Grosky, as a PR consultant and have proposed her as the service provider in their bid. Mr. Jason Grosky is chairman of the Timberlane Budget Committee.
The Community Relations Committee, which disgraced itself by opening these bids outside of the publicly announced time and place for the opening, will be deciding on their recommendations at their next meeting in early December. Then they will put their recommendation forward to the school board who will bless the committee’s hard work and thank them for finding such a marvelous consultant right in our own backyard! Actually we don’t look in backyards. We climb up on ladders and peer into bedrooms.
Mrs. Grosky is a former journalist and editor who registered her own PR company, GMG Strategies LLC, with the state of New Hampshire in August 2013.
I should stress that no decision has yet been made and no contract has yet been awarded, but I smell her name plate being printed.
Only five short years ago our policy KDCA (student communications) said this:
“The best possible community relations grow from a superior teaching job in the classroom. Enthusiastic pupils with serious intentions, well directed by sympathetic and capable teachers, are certain to communicate with the parents and the community. The School Board believes this is the cornerstone of good community relations.”
That earnest and encouraging paragraph can no longer be found in any of our policies.
See Dr. Metzler announcing that he had given Rob Collins of the Community Relations Committee Mrs. Grosky’s name at the May 29 School Board meeting: FORWARD TO 3: 24: 40 .
Should you be concerned about the independence of elected officials in the district or the SAU, let me reassure you that there is nothing to worry about. It’s business as usual. The wife of SAU board member, Jason Cipriano, was hired as a full-time teacher at Timberlane in August.