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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hearing to remove Salem Selectman canceled

By Kiera Blessing - Eagle Tribune

BRENTWOOD — A hearing scheduled to decide the fate of Salem Selectman Stephen Campbell was canceled Wednesday after a series of closed-door conversations.

Campbell left Rockingham Superior Court with his lawyer, who declined to comment on why the hearing did not occur.

On March 29, Salem selectmen voted 4-1 to ask the court to remove Campbell from the board. 

Earlier that month, Robert Morin, a police captain and head of the Salem Public Administrators Association, accused Campbell of violating state public record laws by bringing information about the internal investigation of a former police employee to The Eagle-Tribune in 2014.

Though he was not named in Morin’s complaint, former Deputy Police Chief Shawn Patten is at the center of the dispute.

 A former Police Department employee, Steve Malisos, sent a letter to the town manager in October 2014, accusing Patten of falsifying records and theft, according to selectmen’s complaint against Campbell. Patten was eventually cleared through an internal investigation and by the attorney general’s office.

The official complaint filed against Campbell also mentioned an incident from February 2015, when Campbell posted comments about Salem Police Chief Paul Donovan’s suspension on his Facebook page. 

The suspension had previously been kept from the public as a private personnel matter. The board voted to “condemn” Campbell’s actions in 2015 but did not take the matter to court.

Campbell did not deny either accusation but denied any wrongdoing. He said that he received information about a town employee through a right-to-know law request years ago and believed this information fell under the same rules for public access, rendering it not confidential.

Town Manager Leon Goodwin and Board of Selectmen Chairman James Keller said they could not comment on why the hearing did not take place, or whether this marked the end of the effort to remove Campbell from office.

“We were prepared up until the last minute to have a hearing,” Goodwin said.

He declined to comment on which side of the legal battle approached the other prior to the hearing.

Keller said Campbell is still a selectman.

Campbell did not return requests for comment.

Morin, the police captain who made the initial complaint about Campbell to selectmen, said he didn’t know why the hearing was cancelled but that he “would imagine” both sides of the issue are “coming to a resolution.” 

“I think that the law and the violation is clear...and I think the remedy for that is to remove him from office,” Morin said. “Do I think that Stephen Campbell is going to terrorize Salem anymore? Nah, I think he’s done. I think he’s done, and even if he survived this, he’d be done at the polls in March.

“I, as a taxpayer in Salem, am disgusted that he didn’t resign when he had the opportunity to and save us all the aggravation.”


Anonymous said...

Moderator, you must be related to the Soup...

Anonymous said...

He must have pointed out an error in their plan.

Anonymous said...

That's a pretty strong statement to say the Soup was terrorizing Salem. Anyone have insight into why this remark was made?

Anonymous said...

TO much mouthwash?

Anonymous said...

TOO little upstairs?

Anonymous said...

Welcome SR

Anonymous said...

I was curious to see what the court would do about the soup. We have our our can of con to deal with.

Anonymous said...

SALEM, N.H. — Selectmen signed off on agreements with resigning member Stephen Campbell and former Deputy Police Chief Shawn Patten last week in an attempt to avoid some costly legal battles.
In addition, the board revealed for the first time it had struck financial agreements with Chief Paul Donovan and Patten. Patten will receive $45,000 from the town and its insurance company. Selectmen have not disclosed how much money was paid to Donovan, possibly in 2014.
The agreements were announced in an emergency meeting at Town Hall on Friday night, after weeks of turmoil related to the board's efforts to oust Campbell.
The board accepted his resignation last week, announcing he also agreed not to serve in any capacity in the town, either elected or volunteer, for the next 10 years.
The deal was spurred by the board's recent decision to ask Rockingham Superior Court to remove Campbell from the town board, claiming he had violated state law and town policy by revealing private information about a Salem employee to The Eagle-Tribune.
Campbell admits bringing information to the Tribune, but has denied any wrongdoing. He said at a public meeting in April that he received information about a town employee through a Right to Know request years ago, and believed this information fell under the same qualifications for public access, rendering it not confidential.
Campbell has not responded to requests for comment in recent days, but noted on his Facebook page that he's not been found guilty of any charge.
"No judge ruled on the matter between the town and myself," he wrote.
Campbell also said he agreed to the town deal to avoid an expensive legal clash with the town.

Anonymous said...

"Both sides had their reasons for settling," he wrote. "I have other responsibilities in my life and after serving the people of Salem for 21 years, I had enough of the insanity we call town government."
The issue with Patten, who now lives in Florida, apparently arose recently — just days after the late March meeting where the board took the unusual action of voting, 4-1, to ask the court to remove Campbell from office.
"Shortly after the Board of Selectmen meeting of March 28, the board was made aware of potential additional legal action against the town as a direct result of Selectman Campbell's actions," James Keller explained Friday. "This potential legal action was deemed to be both significant and potentially very costly to the town of Salem."
The board even asked the town's insurance company, Primex, to get involved. On Friday, Keller announced that the town would be paying Patten $20,000 and Primex would be paying him an additional $25,000.
"I want to thank former Deputy Chief Shawn Patten," Keller said at the conclusion of the meeting. "This process could not have happened and would not have happened without his cooperation, both in terms of the Selectman Campbell resignation as well as his accommodations from a legal perspective, (they) are unprecedented.
"Shawn Patten is the consummate professional," agreed Capt. Robert Morin, who is the head of the Salem Public Administrators Association. "He served this town with distinction and he didn't deserve what happened to him this year. And he made his agreement (with the town) contingent upon (Campbell's) resignation and the 10-year stipulation (that he could not serve the town.)"
At Friday's meeting, it was also announced that an undisclosed amount of money was paid to Donovan, likely in 2014
The payment was apparently linked to a claim that Campbell disclosed private information about the chief following a heated exchange with the selectman at a budget meeting that year. The information concerned the chief's apparent two-week suspension.
No town official ever confirmed or denied the suspension, but Donovan was away from his desk for more than a week.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating. A selectman can be forced to resign for leaking private information, even when he got it from the town via rtk. So who was the boob that filled the rtk and did they also lose their job?