Atkinson’s Conflict of Interest Committee has found Atkinson’s former police chief and current selectman guilty of two violations the Town of Atkinson’s Ordinance Section V Prohibited Conduct. On Feb 26, 2014 the committee judgment said: “The committee recomends [sic] that Philip Consentino be censured and instructed to publicly state all possible conflicts of interest in the future and recuse himself when necessary.” The second judgment, dated March 7, said: “The committee recommends removal of Phillip Consentino, by the other Selectmen, or Mr. Consentino should be allowed to resign.”
The first offense involved an inappropriate non-public session with the other two selectmen to discuss the Timberlane School Board replacement after Atkinson representative, Michael Mascola, resigned. The committee found that Mr. Consentino had undisclosed conflicts with a number of the candidates that Mr. Constentino should have stated publicly.
The second offense resulted when Mr. Consentino voted for police pay raises which would benefit his wife without stating this publicly before his vote.
Mr. Consentino is up for re-election as a member of the Board of Selectmen. Let’s hope Atkinson voters value the wisdom of its Conflict of Interest Committee and put in office one of the other more suitable candidates. My choice is Leon Artus, who brought these complaints forward and has made a mission of calling out illegal non-public sessions.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST COMMITTEE DECISION
The Conflict of Interest Committee was created to help control the ethical behavior of all public officials, town employees, and school districts. The Committee is designed to help take the appropriate steps to maintain the highest level of “Code of Conduct” and the integrity of it’s government members, so that they perform their duties without conflicts between their private interests, and those of the citizens that they serve.
The Committee had a complaint issued by Petitioner Mr.Leon Artus, and was scheduled for a hearing on 02/24/2015. At that time, the Respondent Mr. Phillip Consentino stated on video and also recording to the COI committee that both his son, and his wife had submitted their resignations prior to his vote on the Police contract.
The Selectmen meeting was on December 1, 2014 for the first motion that all union and non-union police employees would get the same rate of pay increase. The second Selectmen meeting was on December 15, 2014, a motion was made to revise the motion made on December 1, 2014 to reflect that the union, and non union would still get the same pay rate as stated in the union contract, except step increases are only for the certified Police Officers.
The committee advised Mr. Consentino that his hearing dated 02/24/2015 would close until further proof of the resignations were submitted to the COI committee for review. The committee received a copy of a resignation letter from Mr. Consentino on his son Officer David Consentino one dated 08/09/2014 at the 02/24/2015 hearing. The board was still pending a copy of his wife’s (Joanne Consentino) resignation letter from her position, as a police dispatcher. The next day the Chairperson Ray Fournier received from Barbara Snicer assistant to the Town Administrator, another copy of David Consentino’s resignation letter dated 09/01/2014, and Joanne Consentino’s resignation letter dated 01/26/2015. The Committee requests clarification from Mr. Bill Innes (Town Administrator) on which resignation letter was correct on David Consentino, and was advised to contact the bookkeeper. The COI committee scheduled another hearing on 03/05/2015 for review of all letters received. Neither Mr. Leon Artus, nor Mr. Philip Consentino attended this public hearing.
The COI has voted 4-0, 1 members have recused themselves from the vote. The committee suggests that Phillip Consentino has violated the Town of Atkinson’s Ordinance Section V Prohibited Conduct:
This committee finds: It is a violation of this code for any member to
1. In his or her official capacity as a Selectman, introduce discuss, deliberate, approve or vote upon any matter in which he or she or any member of his or her family has an interest known to said member being his wife (Joanne Consentino) who was a police dispatcher at the time of the Selectmen meetings on December 01,2014, and December 15, 2014.
2. As a Selectman, knowingly enter into any discussion, testimony or deliberation without first, publicly and for the record, stating all dealings, interests, relationships, and possible conflicts that may exist between said member and his or her family, the principals and the issue under deliberation, as may be known by the member, who is his wife the police dispatcher (Joanne Consentino).
3. As a Selectman, knowingly participate in town business without disclosing all potential conflicts of interest, with his wife (Joanne Consentino) who was a police dispatcher at the time of the Selectmen meetings on December 01, 2014 and December 15, 2014.
The committee does believe that Mr. Phillip Consentino should have stated his FAMILY conflicts publicly, and for the record, and request if anyone has an issue or opinions on his discussions, deliberation, and voting on Police pay raises as his wife Joanne Consentino was still employed on both Selectmen meetings dated December 01, 2014 and December 15, 2014, and would receive a monetary benefit from this vote. At both Selectmen meetings, he did not
recuse himself from voting on any monetary benefits that involved his family.
Pursuant to RSA 31:39a, violating this code shall be grounds for recommending disciplinary action to be taken by the Board of Selectman if found by the majority vote on the Committee.
This is the second violation of the Town of Atkinson Code of Ethics in 2 months, by Mr. Phillip Consentino. The Board of Selectmen knowingly allowed Mr. Consentino to vote while his family member was employed by Atkinson Police Department. Mr. Consentino was Chief of Police for many years, he should recuse himself as a Selectmen from any police matters while family was employed, he should also leave the room, until which time the vote has been processed and recorded.
The committee recommends removal of Phillip Consentino, by the other Selectmen, or Mr. Consentino should be allowed to resign.
Failure to comply with Section V Prohibited Conduct, the Conflict of Interest Committee shall petition and file with Superior Court and retain an Attorney utilizing the Town of Atkinson Legal Line.
Per the Conflict of Interest Ordinance, Section VII, Paragraph G the Selectmen have 45 days from the date of finding to act on the Committee’s decision. Please see attached Conflict of Interest ordinance.