Election Law Complaint re: Josh Horns

Joshua Horns is a Danville representative on the Timberlane Budget Committee. He is also a Selectman in Danville. The Timberlane District believes the offices are incompatible according to law.

Here is what the chairman of the Danville Board of Selectman wrote on Facebook about the complaint:

“I guess the district is worried about more Town Selectmen and/or Town Budget Committee members serving offices at Timberlane. You see folks this is just a proxy fight because their real concern is that Dr. Kim Farah, currently a 2nd year Selectmen and college professor, will be running for Nancy Steenson’s seat this coming March for Danville Rep to the School Board. Do you think they are worried any?”

You can read the complaint in full via the link below. It includes emails from Mr. Horns.

Election Law Complaint

Advertisements

5 Comments

Filed under Sandown Issues

5 responses to “Election Law Complaint re: Josh Horns

  1. Mark Acciard

    More smoke and useless mirrors. While the District CAN make a conflict of interest argument, it wisely has chosen not to do so as it LACKS THE STANDING to challenge a perceived conflict within the Town of Danville. As for the incompatibility RSA’s and the common law doctrine, Both of which I used successfully in past cases against the town of Atkinson and Phil Consentino, They are wrong in their assessment here as well. BOTH doctrine and RSA deal with incompatibility WITHIN THE SAME political subdivision.

    As Attorney O’ Shaunessy should know, NH is not a home rule state. EVERY municipality and school district is a political subdivision of the state. and Danville, and TRSD are TWO SEPARATE political subdivisions, each with their own governing bodies and budget committees.

    There is no incompatibility between the two offices.

    • Curt Springer

      Mark, in this case it is not so cut and dry although I think there is not a conflict. The problem is that a town budget committee also serves as the budget committee for any school district wholly contained in the town. So they wrote up the rules for a town/school budget committee, where it makes sense not to have selectmen in the at large seats. Then they created a provision for a cooperative school district budget committee that partially uses the provisions of a town/school budget committee and partially supersedes them. The legal question is whether a particular part of the cooperative school district budget committee language supersedes restrictions on membership of a town/school budget committee or are they in addition. My take from the context is that it supersedes.

  2. mark Acciard

    While your comment about a BudCom is true, TRSD is a coop district and has their own budcom and is a separate municipal subdivision from any of the four contributing towns. This situation is akin to being a selectman in Atkinson and a BudCom member in Plaistow(leave aside the residency requirements) The RSA they cite is 669:7

    669:7 Incompatibility of Offices. –
    I. No person shall at the same time hold any 2 of the following offices: selectman, treasurer, moderator, trustee of trust funds, collector of taxes, auditor and highway agent. No person shall at the same time hold any 2 of the following offices: town treasurer, moderator, trustee of trust funds, selectman and head of the town’s police department on full-time duty. No person shall at the same time hold the offices of town treasurer and town clerk. No full-time town employee shall at the same time hold the office of selectman. No official handling funds of a town shall at the same time hold the office of auditor. No selectman, moderator, town clerk or inspector of elections shall at the same time serve as a supervisor of the checklist. No selectman, town manager, school board member except a cooperative school board member, full-time town, village district, school district except a cooperative school district, or other associated agency employee or village district commissioner shall at the same time serve as a budget committee member-at-large under RSA 32.
    I-a. No person shall at the same time file a declaration of candidacy for any 2 or more elected offices that are incompatible under paragraph I.
    II. The provisions of paragraph I refer to the actual holding of office, and are not to be construed to prevent the transfer between offices of information obtained in the regular conduct of business nor to prevent the personnel in any office from furnishing clerical assistance to any other office.

    NOTICE the bolding, this establishes the differentiation between positions within the town, and the coop school district.

    Even RSA 32:15 Budcom membership only covers conflicts within the political subdivision.

    TRSD has no authority over Danville. and Danville has no individual authority over TRSD

  3. Curt Springer

    Mark, I have read over a number of RSAs and several of them touch on this issue.

    The core RSA conflict is here:
    RSA 32:15 V. No selectman, town manager, member of the school board, village district commissioner, full-time employee, or part-time department head of the town, school district or village district or other associated agency shall serve as a member-at-large. Every member-at-large shall be domiciled in the town or district adopting this subdivision and shall cease to hold office immediately upon ceasing to be so domiciled.

    RSA 195:12-a I. …….. No member of the cooperative school board shall be appointed or elected to the budget committee except that the chairperson of the cooperative school board shall appoint a member of the board to serve on the budget committee with all the powers and duties of any other member of the committee. …….

    The question is whether the single prohibition of RSA 195:12-a I. supersedes or is in addition to the 4 prohibitions of RSA 32:15 V. I think it supersedes.

    I agree that the law read in context is that a town selectman should be able to serve on a cooperative district budget committee. You point out that Danville and TRSD are separate subdivisions, which is correct, but for example the Brentwood School District and the Town of Brentwood are also separate subdivisions but share a common budget committee. IMO the legislature did a sloppy job of distinguishing between what applies to all budget committees and what applies to particular types of budget committees:
    — Budget committees that serve a town and also any school districts and village districts wholly contained in a town
    — Budget committees that serve only a single town school district, rare but allowed when a town has a charter that does not allow budget votes by the town voters
    — Budget committees that serve (only) a cooperative school district.

    It would be cleaner for the law to say the following apply to all budget committees:
    — Each governing body of a municipal corporation (or political subdivision) served by the budget committee shall have an ex-officio seat on the budget committee
    — Each budget committee shall have at large seats to be defined and filled as follows (followed by detail for each type of budget committee)
    — No member of the governing body of a municipal corporation served by a budget committee shall be elected or appointed to an at large seat.
    — No full-time employee of a municipal corporation served by a budget committee shall be elected or appointed to an at large seat. If the municipal corporation is a school district, this prohibition shall extend to full time employees of the SAU associated with the district.

  4. Mark Acciard

    And Curt you demonstrate my point for me. An SD that is wholly within the town does not have their own Budcom. They must pass the towns. HOWEVER, a COOP SD like TRSD has its own governing body, and Budcom, and that is what removes the incompatibility. As stated in the above cited RSA’s.

    You seem to be extending the RSA’s, citing incompatibility within a unified budcom to the coop setting, it does not apply, as plainly stated in RSA 667:9

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s