Attorney Dowd and Our House of Cards

Geoffrey Dowd was the fourth highest paid business administrator in the state of New Hampshire, according to Department of Education online documents for the 17/18 academic year. Since Timberlane is one of the top 10 largest school districts in the state, this may not seem unreasonable until you learn that Attorney Dowd only recently became certified by the NH Department of Education as a Business Administrator. (July 23, 2018) He was previously on a “pathway to certification,” as it is called at the DOE.  And he has been temporarily suspended from the practice of law by a Massachusetts court, as of August, 2018. (See yesterday’s post.)

Our superintendent was the highest paid superintendent in NH in the 17/18 year.  It takes a giant of a man to hold up a house of cards, which is what SAU 55 has become.

You may recall that the audit for the year ending June 30, 2017 was very late in reaching the board, and it enumerated a number of worrisome deficiencies. The cards were swaying in the wind. Here is a scathing email sent to the Timberlane board about the risible excuses given by the administration for the audit’s delay. Read it yourself and be stunned.

From: Michael Campo <@plodzik.com>
Date: May 8, 2018 at 3:56:08 PM EDT
To: “susan.sherman@timberlane.net” <susan.sherman@timberlane.net>, “Metzler, Earl” <Earl.Metzler@SAU55.net>, “Dowd, Geoffrey” <Geoffrey.Dowd@SAU55.net>
Cc: brian boyle <Bjb63052@gmail.com>, “danguide@comcast.net” <danguide@comcast.net>, “kfarahsb@gmail.com” <kfarahsb@gmail.com>, “leedube@comcast.net” <leedube@comcast.net>, “kellyward9700@gmail.com” <kellyward9700@gmail.com>, “jsilvatrsb@gmail.com” <jsilvatrsb@gmail.com>, “shawn_oneil@rit.edu” <shawn_oneil@rit.edu>, “sarah.machemer@gmail.com” <sarah.machemer@gmail.com>
Subject: Plodzik & Sanderson, P.A. Responses to Comments related to Annual Audit from Timberlane Regional School Board Meeting dated 5/3/18

Members of the Board and Dr. Metzler,

I am sending this communication directly to the Board to correct misrepresentations made by management at your May 3, 2018 School Board Meeting regarding the status of the June 30, 2017 audit of the financial statements of the Timberlane Regional School District.

The CFO/Business Administrator, Geoff Dowd, indicated that he had not received a complete draft of the financial statements, and that “I have nothing complete from them,” and he later affirmed a board member’s comment that he had just pieces of information from us. A completed draft was sent to Mr. Dowd on April 27, 2018. A copy of this communication and draft will be forwarded separately to all included on this email. As you will see, upon reviewing the draft financial statements, we were still pending several items from management needed in order to complete our audit. Due to missing and insufficient information, and a lack of response to numerous requests for this information, we issued the draft financial statements based upon the information provided by management as of that date. As a result, the District received modified opinions on the general fund and governmental activities opinion units.

The District did not provide adequate supporting documentation for a material intergovernmental receivable balance in the amount of $562,950. We received partial support for this balance on May 3, 2018 at 10:11 pm, see EXHIBIT 1.1. The actuarial valuation for the District’s other postemployment benefits liability has not been received, despite us notifying the District on August 10, 2017 that this information was required. I have had direct communications with the actuary who had sent emails, as late as March 13, 2018, offering the District assistance in gathering the information needed to complete the actuarial valuation. As of today, this information has not been received.

The District did not provide us with any information related to their capital assets for June 30, 2017, which compose the largest assets on the District’s Governmental Activities Statement of Net Position. We received the capital asset information for audit from Mr. Dowd on May 3, 2018 at 4:54 pm, see EXHIBIT 1.2.

Mr. Dowd stated that the staffing capabilities of my office was a contributing factor in the delay of the audit. We scheduled the original fieldwork to begin on August 17, 2017. We arrived for fieldwork on August 17, 2017 and pulled our staff out at the end of the day, because the District was not adequately prepared for the audit. On October 10, 2017, and October 16, 2017, I proposed returning to complete the audit during the weeks of October 23, 2017 and October 30, 2017, see EXHIBIT 1.3. The District was not able to accommodate the audit on either these weeks. On November 6, November 7, November 17, and November 20, 2017 I contacted Mr. Dowd, via email to attempt to schedule our return for November 27, 2017, the Monday after Thanksgiving, see EXHIBIT 1.4. We returned on November 27, 2017 and November 28, 2017 to attempt to complete the audit fieldwork. The District was again not prepared and I withdrew my staff.

We scheduled Tuesday December 19, 2017 as another return date to complete the audit. In an email communication between Mr. Dowd and myself on December 18, 2017, Mr. Dowd indicated that he was “Definitely not 100% for tomorrow. Need to get this done of course. Will be posting to Dropbox as it comes available this afternoon into tonight. Might not be a full staff situation.”, see EXHIBIT 1.5. As a result of this communication, and a continued lack of preparedness on the part of management, I did not return with my staff on December 19, 2017.

Starting January 2018, several more attempt to complete the audit were made, as described below:

January 2, 2018 – I emailed Mr. Dowd again on indicating my desire to return in order to complete the audit by the end of January 2018, see EXHIBIT 1.6.
On January 12, 2018 and January 19, 2018 – I sent over limited staff to make progress on outstanding items, based upon communications with Mr. Dowd, as to what information he had completed for audit.
February 5, 2018 – I sent an email to Mr. Dowd, Superintendent Dr. Earl Metzler, and the Chairman of the Board, Brian Boyle, introducing myself to the chairman, and informing them of communications received from a citizen regarding the audit, see EXHIBIT 1.7. In this email I discussed scheduling another date with Mr. Dowd to return to complete the June 30, 2017 audit.
February 28, 2018 – I emailed Mr. Dowd to schedule another return date for my team to complete the audits, see EXHIBIT 1.8. I informed Dr. Metzler of our return via email on March 7, 2018, see EXHIBIT 1.9.
March 16, 2018 – I followed up with Mr. Dowd and Dr. Metzler to remind them of our return on Monday March 19, 2018, and of my desire to have the audits completed by Friday March 23, 2018, see EXHIBIT 1.10.
On March 19, 2018 we arrived for fieldwork with a full team in order to complete the audit. Much of the information we needed was provided by Mr. Dowd on a piecemeal basis. We continued with fieldwork through Friday, March 23, 2018. On Monday, March 26, 2018, I sent Mr. Dowd and Dr. Metzler detailed updates of the outstanding items for the Timberlane Regional School District, Hampstead School District, and School Administrative Unit No. 55 audits, see EXHIBIT 1.11. I indicated that I was available to assist with any questions regarding the pending items, and that I would wait to receive these materials in order to complete the audits. Having not received a response from the District, I again emailed another summary of the outstanding items to Mr. Dowd and Dr. Metzler, on Friday March 30, 2018, and requested completion of all items no later than the start of business on Friday, April 6, 2018, see EXHIBIT 1.12. We received no communication from the District from this point on. I instructed my staff to complete the audit report based upon the available information, and the audit draft was sent to Mr. Dowd on April 27, 2018, as noted above.

I refer you to certain comments made by Dr. Metzler during the May 3, 2018 school board meeting, beginning at approximately marker 1:32:26. Dr. Metzler stated, “I just found, at least with the auditing firm, not to blame anybody, I don’t feel that they are all that prepared or in a schedule either. I think it’s kind of hit or miss with them in some of these things, you know what I mean. So if they were on us for particular things at certain times, and I need this by…”, Dr. Metzler further states that “I didn’t hear from Mr. Campo, he basically alluded that he is all set”. Please note that I emailed Dr. Metzler on January 2, 2018, to set up a phone conversation on January 3, 2018, in order to give him a status update on the audits, see EXHIBIT 1.13. Dr. Metzler was also included on email communications on February 5, 2018, March 7, 2018, March 16, 2018, March 20, 2018, March 26 2018, and March 30, 2018. I also had a face-to-face conversation with Dr. Metzler and Mr. Dowd on Friday March 23, 2018, in which I relayed the status of pending items for the 2017 audit, and some serious concerns that came to my attention the prior day about current year (fiscal year 2018) financial activity. I do not construe my written or oral communications with Dr. Metzler as conveying the message that I was all set.

While attempting to review subsequent accounts receivable activity on March 21, 2018, a member of my audit team discovered that no cash receipts, other than minimal refunds associated with accounts payable transactions (less than $3,000), were recorded in fiscal year 2018. We obtained a detailed posting report of all revenue accounts for the fiscal year 2018, see EXHIBIT 1.14, which shows the lack of posting of receipts. Next, we obtained an account level balance sheet as of June 30, 2018, which showed a recorded cash deficit of -$45,213,020.40, see EXHIBIT 1.15. We consider this a serious matter, and strongly urged Mr. Dowd to remedy this situation.

We have mutually agreed upon a report release date of Friday, May 18, 2018, with management. We have been informed by Mr. Dowd that he will provide us with the completed actuarial valuation by Friday May 11, 2018. We will provide you with a final draft of the financial statements and management’s representation letter for your review and approval by the close of business on Tuesday May 15, 2018. We will issue the final report and governance letter based upon the information received from the District by close of business on Friday, May 18, 2018. We request that the written draft approval, and signed management’s representation letter be provided to us by 10:00 am on Friday, May 18, 2018, in order to issue the financial report.

We have gone above and beyond the normal course of business in order to complete this audit on behalf of the Timberlane Regional School District, the board that has engaged us, and members of the public that rely on an independent audit. In this process, the integrity of my firm, and my personal integrity has been brought into question. I will vigorously defend any misleading or false statements made against me or my firm. We hope this communication clears up any confusion and misleading statements regarding the status of the audit, and clearly outlines what is needed to complete the audit.

Sincerely,

Michael J. Campo, CPA

Director/Shareholder

Plodzik and Sanderson, P.A.

193 North Main Street

Concord, NH 03301

Your board read this email, too, and did nothing at all. Oh, except give Dowd a “consultant” to assist him.  Somehow your elected officials think it is always the number of people at issue and not the skill set and managerial oversight of the people they have hired. That mentality goes hand in hand with throwing money at problems instead of actually managing them.

The deck has long been stacked against taxpayers. Your elected officials have smoked cigars and slapped each other on the back while watching the house of cards grow taller and taller. The trouble is that when the house tumbles down, you will be on the hook to put the cards back in order while those responsible suffer no consequences thanks to your spineless board.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Sandown Issues

Attorney Geoffrey Michael Dowd

Could this Massachusetts court order concern our very own Attorney Geoff Dowd, SAU 55’s Business Administrator?   (Readers please note that I have not confirmed that this is the same individual as is currently employed by SAU 55.)

https://bbopublic.blob.core.windows.net/web/f/bd18-050.pdf

For those interested in how our Attorney Dowd was promoted from Assistant Business Administrator to Business Administrator, I would urge you to watch this 7 minute SAU 55 meeting video.  The meeting resulted in sealed minutes under “reputation.”  I voted against going into nonpublic to discuss a done deal.  I voted against sealing the minutes, and I voted against promoting Mr. Dowd simply on the grounds of lack of prior experience in another school district.

More detailed commentary will follow tomorrow.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sandown Issues

More Lawlessness

If you had the misfortune of watching the Sept. 6 Timberlane school board meeting, you would have witnessed verbal gymnastics of an amazing sort.

Three board members, Kim Farah, Shawn O’Neil, and Jennifer Silva, called out the SAU 55’s administration for undertaking a contract with a consultant when the money the board had voted to pay for this contract was no longer legally available.

You see, the Timberlane board had voted to use $20,000 from the 17/18 budget year to pay for a consultant to the SAU to help them mop up the bookkeeping mess that was all over the floor at audit time.  This vote took place close to the end of the 17/18 fiscal year. In order to encumber the money, allowing it to be spent in the forthcoming fiscal year, a legally enforceable obligation had to be established BEFORE June 30, 2018, the end of the fiscal year. This is a requirement of NH state law, specifically RSA 32:7, which you can read below.

The consultant’s contract was signed on July 21, 2018 – three weeks into the new fiscal year.  This means that the $20,000 for the 17/18 year was legally no longer available to pay the contract.  The contract was presented for signing anyway.  To be clear, the board did not authorize the payment of any monies from the 18/19 budget for the purpose of an SAU consultant.

When Dr. Metzler was confronted by the knowledgeable board members, he accused them of making up their own rules!  As I always tell my children, when someone falsely accuses you of something, you can be certain your accusers are doing exactly what they are falsely accusing.

In the superintendent’s defense, another board member pointed out how such things had been done before.

CHAPTER 32
MUNICIPAL BUDGET LAW
Appropriations
Section 32:7 Lapse of Appropriations.
Annual meeting appropriations shall cover anticipated expenditures for one fiscal year. All appropriations shall lapse at the end of the fiscal year and any unexpended portion thereof shall not be expended without further appropriation, unless:
I. The amount has, prior to the end of that fiscal year, become encumbered by a legally-enforceable obligation, created by contract or otherwise, to any person for the expenditure of that amount; or …

CHAPTER 32
MUNICIPAL BUDGET LAW
Expenditures
Section 32:12
32:12 Penalty. Any person or persons violating the provisions of this subdivision shall be subject to removal from office on proper petition brought before the superior court. Such petition shall take precedence over other actions pending in the court and shall be heard and decided as speedily as possible.

How did this end?  Dr. Metzler offered to ask our auditors for their opinion about the availability of the 17/18 money.  Dr. Farah, Mr. O’Neil, Brian Boyle and Mrs. Silva all knew the SAU could not use 17/18 money to pay the consulting contract, yet they agreed to defer to a third party. The notion that a contract would be presented for signing when the funding for it had lapsed disturbed no one.  I’ll take bets the issue will never be revisited and SAU 55 will do as it pleases with your money because your elected officials charged with its oversight huff and puff and do absolutely nothing.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sandown Issues

The Perversity of SAU 55

School Administrative Units (SAUs) were invented to assist school boards.  The SAU that is supposed to serve the Timberline Regional School Board has turned into a grotesque monster that breathes fire, belches lies, and paralyzes elected officials with sweetly poisoned carrots  or sticks wrapped in slimy legal letters.

Invest 4 minutes to see for yourself.  In a world order in which elected officials are supposed to rule the superintendent, behold the state of your elected officials.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sandown Issues

A Pattern of Intimidation Using Your Money

Every power needs a counterbalancing power. That is the foundation of our republic and a profound observation about human nature. Below you will find a series of correspondence (in chronological order), authorized in one way or another by Superintendent Metzler. I guarantee you that you will find these communications riveting – even if you don’t know the pernicious politics of the Timberlane Regional School District and SAU 55. You will see patterns. You will see strategy. You will see untruths. Most of all, you will see legal services completely unrelated to education.

You can draw your own conclusions about the character of the people making decisions about your children, and spending your tax dollars.  Faithful readers may have read some of the communications below, but almost certainly not all. Remember while you read these that every year your superintendent has received hefty salary raises, maximum or near maximum bonuses and lavish praise from the SAU board.

1) July 24, 2014

Metzler Imposes Restrictions on Sandown Representative to the Timberlane Regional School Board Via Email

(6:14 pm)
Mrs Green – Today it was reported to me that you were both disrespectful and harassing to several employees. Of course I will investigate this report and if validated I will need to limit your access to the SAU. This is both disturbing and unfortunate. I will also be consulting with both the Plaistow Police Department and district council.
Respectfully,
Dr. Earl F. Metzler II
_________________________________________
July 28   4:55 pm

Mrs. Green,

It has been reported to me that an investigation is being conducted by the Superintendent’s office concerning your interactions with an SAU staff member on July 24, 2014.  Until such time as the investigation is complete, you are hereby barred from entering upon the SAU #55 premises without the expressed written permission of the Superintendent of Schools.  Dr. Metzler will make appropriate arrangements for you to conduct your duties as a school board member.

Nancy

[Nancy Steenson, Chiarman Timberlane Regional School Board]

Readers, SAU 55 was completely disgraced in this tangle with me, thanks to the assistance of my lawyer, Richard Lehmann, and a kind reader who did some software magic to make the security video playable on my blog. See: Do you see any harassment? See also: Green pushes back with legal letter

2)   June 20, 2015

Metzler Sends Ominous but Unspecific Email to Three Journalists Suggesting He Would Launch a Countersuit.

From: “Metzler, Earl” <Earl.Metzler@timberlane.net>
Date: June 20, 2015 at 7:11:38 PM EDT
To: “matt_rittenhouse@yahoo.com” <matt_rittenhouse@yahoo.com>, Niedzinski <JNiedzinski@gloucestertimes.com>, Penny Williams <penwil1@ix.netcom.com>
Subject: Fwd: Counter lawsuit
Dr. Earl F. Metzler II
Begin forwarded message:
From: <Earl.Metzler@timberlane.net>
Date: June 20, 2015 at 7:09:31 PM EDT
To: [redacted]
Cc: “nancysteenson@comcast.net” <nancysteenson@comcast.net>, Rob Collins <robcollins89@gmail.com>, Peter Bealo <pbealo@comcast.net>
Subject: Counter lawsuit
Ms. [redacted] – Please don’t forget the counter lawsuit…misrepresenting facts and defamation of one’s character are certainly going to be a factor. Personally and Professionally we will be represented by the best attorneys…locally and nationally. I hope that taxpayers understand what that means. I am all in!
Respectfully,
Dr. Earl F. Metzler II 

Readers, I tried to get a meeting called to discuss this email by the superintendent, but only Stefanie Dube would support this. Three members are necessary to require a special meeting.  

3)  July 2, 2015

Drummond Woodsum letter to Donna Green, Fiscal Conservative Elected School Board Representative from Sandown:

DW July 2 2015 A

DW July 2 2015 B

 

For the cuious, but not necessary to the trajectory of this blog post, here is my reply to the false statements in this letter: Your Tax Dollars at Work.

4)  January 20, 2016

Jorge-Mesa Tejada, Hampstead Fiscal Conservative Budget Committee member, receives “No Trespass” letter:

SAU55 Jan 20 2016

Mr. Mesa-Tejada is a veteran and a respected and long-serving elected official in Hampstead. He is also 80 years old.  His threat is only to those in the administration who repeatedly ask Hampstead taxpayers for an unnecessary school addition.  His efforts have repeatedly thwarted a successful bond vote.

5)  June 12, 2016

Drummond Wilson Sends Yet Another Letter to Jorge Mesa-Tejada:

Dinola letter

Readers, who is doing the harassing here? 

6)  January 1, 2018

Timberlane’s Lawyer Writes Belligerent Email to the NH Commission of Education:

O'Shaughnessy letter to Commissioner.JPG

O'Shaughnessy letter to Commission II.JPG

7)  February 2, 2018

Timberlane’s lawyer Makes Unnecessary Right to Know Request of Department of Education:

From: James A. O’Shaughnessy [mailto:JOShaughnessy@dwmlaw.com]
Sent: Friday, February 2, 2018 2:27 PM
To: Edelblut, Louis (Frank)
Cc: Fenton, Diana; SAU 55
Subject: Green v. SAU 55, Case No. SB-FY-18-10-007

Good afternoon Commissioner Edelblut:

I am writing to request a copy of the minutes of the State Board meeting held on January 11, 2018, whether they are in draft or final/approved form in accordance with RSA 91-A:2, II (requiring all minutes to be promptly recorded and open to inspection within 5 business days after the meeting). Said minutes are not currently posted online. Please include all minutes of non-public meetings, including the minutes of the deliberations in the above-referenced matter. If you cannot provide the minutes requested, please provide an explanation of the reason thereof.

Additionally, please provide copies of an any all communications or documents, in electronic form or otherwise, regarding the above-referenced matter, including but not limited to communications between, to, and/or involving the Commissioner, Frank Edelblut and/or any employee of the Department of Education, the Chair of the State Board of Education, Drew Cline, the Petitioner, Donna Green, and/or any other member of the State Board of Education. This request includes any communications/documents which may reside in personal devices, email accounts, or servers to the extent they are responsive to this request. If the Department believes such documents contain confidential information, please identify the confidential information and provide a redacted copy of such records or documents.

Please provide these documents in electronic if available, and make these documents available for inspection as soon as they are available, rather than when they are all complete, and please notify me immediately when they are available in either electronic form or in hard copy for inspection.

Sincerely,
James A. O’Shaughnessy
Attorney
603.716.2895 ext. 223
joshaughnessy@dwmlaw.com
1001 Elm Street, Suite 303, Manchester, NH 03101-1845
800.727.1941 | 603.716.2899 Fax | dwmlaw.com

Readers may want to see my comments on this waste of tax dollars at Runaway legal Activity at SAU 55

8)   February 3, 2018   

Metzler Restricts Access to Schools by Maxann Dobson, Fiscal Conservative Plaistow Candidate for Timberlane Regional School Board:

Dobson email from Louiselle

Ms. Dobson was an outspoken critic of Timberlane’s budget.  The “investigation” concluded just before the election finding no grounds for restricting her access, but the damage to Ms. Dobson’s candidacy was done. 

August 2018   Drummond Woodsum Writes Another Letter … more on that coming soon.

Readers should know these are not the only letters sent out to elected or formerly elected representatives of which I am aware.  These are only the ones I have been given to publish. Taxpayers should know that not one of these communications was given the blessing of a board vote or a board discussion before being sent.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Sandown Issues

A Four Year Old Legal Letter Reveals Tyranny at Timberlane

Below is a masterfully written letter by Attorney Richard Lehmann on issues at Timberlane way back in 2014.  I am sad to say that not much has changed. Unpopular school board members must continue to make Right to Know requests to see public information pertaining to their duties. Ask Dr. Kim Farah, representative for Danville. Then the SAU administration enjoys leaving a reply to the end of the statutory 5 day deadline, something my lawyer correctly objects to on the basis of law. One thing has changed, however. Rather than involving a friendly police officer in intimidating elected officials as with me, the game has become more sophisticated and now involves Timberlane’s  lawyer writing letters to them or their former colleagues.  This may make me sad, but it should make taxpayers angry.

Here is a most instructive blast from the past.  Tomorrow I shall post many more contemporary examples of Timberlane tyranny of the legal sort.

Lehmann letter 1

Lehmann 2

Lehmann 3

Lehmann 4

Lehmann 5

Lehmann 6.JPG

Lehmann 7.JPG

Lehmann 8.JPG

Leave a comment

Filed under Sandown Issues

Golfers: Your Chance to Support the Cause

This coming Saturday, golfers among my readership have a chance to support The School District Governance Association of NH. So hope you can! SDGANH is a non-profit organization whose mission is to empowers elected school district officials to be responsive to their electorate instead of towing the line of SAU administrators. SDGANH was founded two years ago by a dedicated group of former and current school board and school budget committee members who saw a desperate need for education in responsible governance and budgeting among elected school district officials.

On Saturday, the SDGANH is holding its first ever fund raiser. Registering to play at the event, bringing some friends or sponsoring a hole would help a great cause and be a morning of good fun.

Saturday, August 18, 2018
Stonebridge Country Club, Goffstown
8 a.m. to noon.
Breakfast and lunch included.
$79 per golfer, $20 for non-golfers
Registration and more information: http://tinyurl.com/y9j2j2vh

Golf Tournament Flyer

Leave a comment

Filed under Sandown Issues