TRSD Election Results

Timberlane’s elections in Atkinson and Plaistow were conducted yesterday.  Sandown and Danville’s elections were conducted during the storm on March 14.  Here are the results as released by SAU 55:  March 2017 Timberlane Voting Result

Congratulations to Kim Farah and Brian Boyle for being newly elected to Timberlane’s board.

The town of Hampstead will vote on March 28 so the composition of SAU55’s board is still undetermined.

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Boyle Wins Atkinson TRSB Seat!

Brian Boyle has won the open Atkinson seat on the Timberlane Regional School Board.

This is fabulous news.

Last year the voters smashed the troika of Collins, Steenson and Bealo by denying Steenson re-election.

This year Danville’s Collins had the wisdom not to seek re-election, opening the door to the highly competent Kim Farah. With Mr. Boyle from Atkinson, you are finally going to see some common sense deliberations taking place on the school board – and a board that respects itself enough to be jealous of its rightful authority.

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TRSD School Board Candidate Gets Cease and Desist Order

Ty Vitale got a nasty surprise in his morning mail a few days ago — a cease and desist letter from the law firm Upton and Hatfield telling Mr. Vitale to stop contacting the auditing firm of Plodzik & Sanderson, P.A.

Plodzik & Sanderson, P.A does the financial audits for the Timberlane Regional School District, and the Town of Plaistow. Ty Vitale is a Plaistow candidate for the Timberlane Regional School Board.  He also put himself forward for Timberlane’s Budget Committee.

Mr. Vitale was a CPA by background so he knows his way around audits and financial statements. He’s been trying to get ten years’ past audits for the Timberlane district directly from the auditors. (Only 2015 and 2016 are posted on Timberlane’s public website.)

Mr. Vitale has also been complaining to state and regulatory authorities concerning what he believes to be issues around the last few audits in Plaistow.  He is also doing his best to alert state authorities to the intent statements on ballots in Timberlane and Plaistow. It is widely believed that intent statements should not be on town or district ballots.

Mr. Vitale kindly wrote a summary of his complaints for this blog:

1 – Complaint dated December 22 2016 regarding Excessive Government Advocacy by the Town of Plaistow.  This complaint resulted in a letter from Plaistow’s Town Counsel, Sumner Kalman, to Sean Fitzgerald, Town Manager, stating that Sumner had been advising a succession of Town Managers for decades that “intent” sections on Warrant Articles are illegal.  It also resulted in a letter from the AG’s office confirming that intent statements are not permitted by RSA. Unfortunately, despite legal counsel and the AG’s letter, Plaistow’s 2017 Warrant still has intent statements on the ballot (Z-17-01, Z-17-02, Z-17-03, Z-17-04, Z-17-05, Z-17-06), as well as other prohibited statements such as “these funds are in the Capital Improvement Program as approved by the Planning Board” (P-17-04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19).  Not including the Operating Budget and Collective Bargaining Agreement articles, total value of all articles placed on the 2017 Warrant by the Board of Selectmen equal $1.1MM.

On November 29 2016, before making the complaint, I laid out my case regarding the legality of the Intent Sections through an email to the Plaistow Board of Selectmen, in that email I strongly urged them to seek legal counsel before proceeding with the use Town resources in the creation of intent statements.  Through right to know requests, I discovered that the DRA had been advising the Town to seek legal counsel.  The DRA also provided me with emails dated January 2016, whereby other concerned Plaistow Citizens were questioning the intent statement’s bias. One concerned Citizen, who introduced himself as a member of Plaistow’s budget committee, mentioned that the wording seemed biased and wrote “they are definitely worded to elicit a vote in favor of the board of selectman and town managers wishes”.   The same concerned Citizen wrote “In my view, P-16-02 & P16-14 are sales pitches”. P-16-02 was a Bond Issue for ‘Public Safety Complex Expansion Bond Issue’ of $8.5MM which passed by 10 votes after a recount, construction of the Complex is now near completion.  Article P-16-14 was for ‘Highway Department Front End Loader Replacement’ for $120k – The board of selectmen instead voted (3-2) on May 23 2016 to purchase one for $152k.

2 – Complaint dated January 7 2017 against the Town of Plaistow regarding Hiring practices and various elected positions.  The Attorney General’s office did not respond acknowledge this complaint in writing.

3 – Complaint dated February 13 2017 against the Town of Plaistow and/or Plodzik & Sanderson, PA regarding budgeting practices and the 2015 Audit release.  This complaint was sent to the NH Attorney General’s office and the Board of CPA’s.  On February 15 2017 the Town’s Finance Director sent me the completed Audit which was dated February 10 2017.  I filed an addendum to the complaint to the Board of CPA’s via email for subsequent events.  The Attorney General’s office did not acknowledge this complaint in writing.  The Board of CPA’s did respond and are going to review when the Board meets next in April.

4 – Complaint dated February 16 2017 against the Timberlane School District, Town of Plaistow, James O’Shaughnessy, Sumner Kalman, Steve Ranlett and Sean Fitzgerald with regards to Intent Statements on Warrant Articles and Excessive Government Advocacy.  The NH Attorney General’s office acknowledged receipt of this complaint.  Unfortunately, Timberlane’s 2017 Warrant still has intent statements on its $250k ‘Capital Reserve Fund’ request (Article 3) and ‘Three Year Collective Bargaining Agreement’ (Timberlane Support Staff Union) (Article 4).

5 – Complaint dated March 9 2017 against the Town of Plaistow regarding the timing of the Town’s Annual Reports and the publication of their Audited Financial Statements.  This complaint was made to the Attorney General’s office only; my intent is to forward it to the NH Board of CPA’s with regards to Vashon Culkay & Company, PC (predecessor auditor) and Plodzik & Sanderson, PA’s (successor auditor) work contained in the reports.  The Attorney General’s Office has not yet acknowledged receipt of this complaint.

You can read the Cease and Desist letter here: Upton and Hatfield (2)

Plaistow, Mr. Vitale deserves your vote. His concerns should be reasonably addressed and he should be applauded for the determination he has demonstrated in trying to understand and probe audits, annual reports and state law with respect to ballots.

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More Voting Fallout: Timberlane’s next board meeting must be postponed

In yet another ripple from Atkinson and Plaistow’s decision to postpone voting day, the next Timberlane School Board meeting must be postponed.

The relevent law applies to both towns and cooperative school districts. It says that no one shall assume public office until after the period for requesting a recount.

Atkinson and Plaistow will be voting on March 21.  The recount period will expire at the end of business on March 24.  The school board’s re-organizational meeting is currently scheduled for March 23.

I’ve written to the chairman and the board informing them of their duty to postpone the meeting in order to accommodate the newly elected members. I’m awaiting a reply. Thank you to a former selectman in Atkinson for making me aware of this issue.

669:9 Oaths of Town Officers. – All town officers elected as provided in this chapter shall take an oath of office as provided in RSA 42 before qualifying for office.

 669:10 Term of Office. –
I. Except as otherwise provided, the term of office of any officer elected under this chapter shall begin upon his election and qualification for office and shall end upon the election and qualification of his successor.
II. No person shall assume a town office until after the time period for requesting a recount is over. If a recount is requested for a town office, no person shall assume that office until after the recount is completed.
 669:30 Recounts; Application. – Any person for whom a vote was cast and recorded for any office at a town election may, no later than the Friday following the election, apply in writing to the town clerk for a recount of the ballots cast for such office, the clerk shall appoint a time for the recount not earlier than 5 days nor later than 10 days after the receipt of said application.

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Farah and Caruso Won Danville School Election: It’s Official

Thanks to the power of New Hampshire’s Right to Know law, the terrific advice of my lawyer, Richard Lehmann, and the reasonableness of Danville’s Town Moderator, Barry Hantman, I have obtained Danville’s voting results for the school board  and the school budget committee positions.  This information came directly from Danvile Town Administrator, Patricia Shogren.

  • Kim Farah: 515
  • Kris Munson: 287

 


  • Jennifer Caruso: 471
  • George Manos: 319

I cannot adequately express my overwhelming delight in these results.  It will be a pleasure and honor to work with these fine individuals.

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Sandown Voting Results

This is how Sandown voted on Timberlane district issues:

Article 2  TRSD Operating budget:  420 Yes   155 No

Article 3 TRSD Capital reserve fund:  291 Yes       287 No

Article 4 TRSD Support staff agreement:    304 Yes     283 No

Article 7  TRSD Change of auditing firms:  404 Yes     166 No

Article 8 Vote of confidence in Superintendent:  207 Yes     357 No


The Town of Sandown elected Bruce Cleveland and Steve Brown as new selectmen.

All other warrant articles for the Town of Sandown passed except for a study to expand town hall offices, and the citizen’s petition to establish a Heritage Commission.

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Why Auditors are so Important: Windham’s reckless bookkeeping

Listen to Rich Girard interview Tom Murray and Ken Eyring of Windham School Board about the alarming internal control deficiencies uncovered in their school district.

Eyring and Murray talk to Girard March 10, 2017

Interestingly, Ken Eyring assembled an independent finance committee from experts within his community.  Their collective influence got the Windham Board to commission an internal controls audit of their district.  This audit is above and beyond the normal scope of a financial audit, which is the regular sort of audit Timberlane and SAU 55 are subject to.

Timberlane is long overdue for an internal controls audit.  Why do I say that?  Well, our audit for the year ending 15-16 came out on Wednesday, March 8. Our financial auditors noted

  • “…numerous stale dated checks for both accounts payable and payroll.  Outstanding checks should be canceled as a part of tight control over cash disbursements.  These outstanding checks should be investigated, adjusted for separately, and payment stopped at the bank, as necessary.”
  • “…a receipt from the State of New Hampshire that represented reimbursement for a federal grant that was run through the student activity fund.  Grants are activity of the School District and do not belong in the fiduciary funds.  By doing so, the grant is not being properly accounted for and bypasses the School District’s main control procedures.  In addition, federal grants may be be subject to additional testing and reporting requirement, including a single audit.  We recommend that student activity funds be limited to use strictly by students groups.”

I’d like to know how many stale dated checks are hanging around and what steps have been taken to ensure checks are going to living people and still active businesses.  Like all my questions, that too, will go unanswered because that’s the easiest thing to do and the majority of board members just don’t care.
SAU55’s audit also came out on March 8. It had this note about adjusted journal entries:

“…[W]e noted that no approval is required for an adjusting entry to be made, and no formal review is documented of adjustments that have been made.  In order to provide greater control over the accuracy of the School Administrative Unit’s financial reporting and great security over its general ledger, we recommend all adjusting entries made by the Business Administrator be reviewed for appropriateness and signed by a member of management other than the individual responsible for making the entry.”

Ya think?

When you have an AWOL board, you absolutely need rigorous auditors and we are long overdue for an internal controls audit.  Windham had the guts to do it and so should we.

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