Monthly Archives: August 2016

SAU55 May 12 Meeting Minutes

Quite the odyssey:

  • Sealed by the SAU board at Dan Guide’s initiative.
  • Donna Green’s motion to unseal at subsequent meeting failed (for want of a second)
  • Demanded via Right to Know by David Taylor – refused (for being sealed)
  • Lawsuit filed by David Taylor
  • Unsealed by the SAU board
  • Re-Sealed by the SAU board- sorta
  • Donna Green consults the RSA, finds that sealing minutes requires 2/3 majority, so sealing motion had actually failed
  • Demanded via Right to Know by Danville Selectman, Shawn O’Neil
  • Access granted by SAU office
  • Retrieved by Donna Green
  • Scanned by Arthur Green
  • Posted on Facebook by Mary-Jo Thomas Conlon
  • …  and  … finally for your reading pleasure:

SAU55 May 12 2016 Meeting Minutes

There is sooooo much more to be said, but not until the legal proceedings are over.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Sandown Issues

Report on Taylor v. SAU 55 Hearing

Presiding in the court today was Judge David Anderson, (the same judge who heard my Right to Know case at the lower court level).

Representing SAU 55 were James O’Shaughnessy and Demetrio Aspiras III from Drummond Woodsum.  Representing himself was David K Taylor.

Sitting beside Mr. Aspiras was Geoffrey Dowd and Jason Cipriano.

What follows is a recollection of some of the proceedings and is not a full representation. A CD of proceedings is usually available for purchase from the court.

SAU Business Administrator, George Stokinger, was questioned by Mr. Taylor concerning the cost per page of a photocopy at the SAU office. Mr. Stokinger seemed to agree that depending on the machine used the cost was between 2 to 5 cents a page. Mr. Taylor pointed out that the SAU’s Right to Know policy charges 50 cents per page. (Yes, it was referred to as a policy and not a procedure during the court discussion.)

Then Mr. Taylor questioned Mr. Stokinger about the cost of sending an email.  Mr. Stokinger noted that the SAU’s “robust communication lines” had a cost. Mr. Taylor asked about the reason for requiring a thumb drive in original packaging to receive electronic records in response to a Right to Know request.  Mr. Stokinger said it was for the safety of the network.  Mr. Taylor then asked if there were any safety issues with sending emails or posting documents on the SAU’s website.

Mr. O’Shaughnessy asked Mr. Stokinger if he himself dealt with Right to Know requests to which the business administrator replied, no – unless they involved financial matters.

Then Catherine Belcher was called to the stand.  Mr. Taylor asked after his Right to Know request of June 23 asking for an email sent to Jason Cipriano and Dr. Metzler. She explained how she went about retrieving this email to satisfy his request.  Later Mr. Taylor asked her, “Do you treat every person who makes a Right to Know request the same?”  Ms. Belcher replied affirmatively.

Mr. Taylor probed her working day, how she makes and retrieves photocopies, if she posts documents to the web as part of her job and if she uses email.

Mr. O’Shaughnessy noted that the SAU’s Right to Know policy was to ensure consistency to all requests, something Ms. Belcher had also stressed in her testimony, and to protect the network from viruses.

Mr. Taylor argued that posting information requested through Right to Know on the SAU’s website would also be  consistent to all requestors and also be safe from viruses, as well as imposing no costs/fees on the public.

During the proceedings Judge Anderson referenced the Green v. SAU 55 decision on electronic records.  He also made special note of the SAU’s RTK policy the requires requestors to collect their documentation at the SAU office.

Mr. O’Shaughnessy in his closing remarks said that the minutes concerning the superintendent’s raise had been unsealed by the SAU board at the August 29 meeting. He said since being unsealed the minutes had been redacted to remove one sentence the superintendent thought was demeaning to a “subordinate.”  The attorney also said that the public had not been deprived of knowledge of what happened in the May 12th meeting by the minutes having been sealed.

The judge gave both parties until Sept 21 to file briefs on the case.  The judge instructed Mr. Taylor to specifically address this issue of consistency and virus concern. The hearing took one hour.

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Sandown Issues

Letter to SAU

This was sent to SAU 55 Chairman Jason Cipriano on August 30, 2016.

Dear Mr. Cipriano:

I believe the SAU meeting last night started two minutes early.  The meeting was scheduled to begin at 7:30 pm.  I arrived at 7:28 pm and a vote had already been taken to enter non-public session.
By starting the meeting early, I was denied my vote and my voice in comment on that motion.
In future, please confirm that the clock in the meeting room is accurate before convening meetings especially when members are absent who you know are intending to be present.
Thank you for having all the public portions of the meeting recorded last night, as I had requested.  I hope going forward that will be your steadfast practice.
I am also very concerned that at no time did the board vote to pursue this litigation or any recent litigation, in evident violation of SAU policy.
SAU Policy BDG states in relevant part: “Many types of instances of legal assistance to the district may be considered routine and not necessitating specific Board approval or prior vote. However, when the administration concludes that unusual types or amounts of professional legal service may be required, the Board directs the administration to so advise it and to expeditiously seek either initial or continuing authorization for such service.”
Your assurance that board authorization by way of a majority vote will be obtained after tomorrow’s hearing for all future legal expenses on litigation issues is requested.
In furtherance to my email to you last night, please publish the second set of nonpublic minutes from May 12 that did not reach a two-thirds threshold vote for sealing.
I look forward to a reply to my questions and requests, which has not been forthcoming in most instances in the past.
Thank you,
Donna Green
Sandown

Leave a comment

Filed under Sandown Issues

Correction: Wed. Hearing Not Taped

Kind readers,

If you are following the David Taylor v. SAU 55 Right to Know lawsuit, please note that the hearing tomorrow morning will not be video taped and later made available.  This is a service done by the state Supreme Court.  I mistakenly thought it had also been implemented at the Superior Court level, but I cannot find that it has been from the court’s website.

Apologies.

Thank you to Representative Betsy Sanders for asking for further clarification on this point.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Sandown Issues

News flash: Board vote not sufficient to seal minutes!

I emailed this to Jason Cipriano, SAU board chairman, and the entire SAU board at 11:25 pm tonight:

Jason,

The vote tonight was not sufficient to in fact seal the minutes.  Sealing requires a two-thirds vote  as per 91-A:3 III

  III. Minutes of meetings in nonpublic session shall be kept and the record of all actions shall be promptly made available for public inspection, except as provided in this section. Minutes and decisions reached in nonpublic session shall be publicly disclosed within 72 hours of the meeting, unless, by recorded vote of 2/3 of the members present taken in public session, it is determined that divulgence of the information likely would affect adversely the reputation of any person other than a member of the public body itself, or render the proposed action ineffective, or pertain to terrorism, more specifically, to matters relating to the preparation for and the carrying out of all emergency functions, developed by local or state safety officials that are directly intended to thwart a deliberate act that is intended to result in widespread or severe damage to property or widespread injury or loss of life. This shall include training to carry out such functions. In the event of such circumstances, information may be withheld until, in the opinion of a majority of members, the aforesaid circumstances no longer apply.
Please inform the lawyer of this and forward me and the board the communication.  Thank you.


Thank you to Jorge Mesa-Tejada who urged me to read the Attorney General’s Memorandum on the Right to Know law before this meeting.  If only I had remembered it in the meeting and not as I was going to retire for the night.

SAU 55:  now you MUST produce the minutes. Anyone care to go down to the office tomorrow to get them?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Sandown Issues

SAU Votes to Re-Seal Minutes!

Tonight, in an astonishing development, the SAU board voted in public session to unseal and then seal again the controversial minutes of the May 12, 2016 meeting in which  Dr. Metzler was awarded his raise and bonus. Readers of this blog know there is a lawsuit filed against the district asking the court to make the minutes public, and to adjudicate a number of other Right to Know law issues.

The original single set of (sealed) non-public minutes was divided into two sets of minutes for this meeting.  The vote to unseal the first set was 10 in favor, 1 against (Dube).  The vote to unseal the second set of minutes was unanimous.

The vote to subsequently seal (again) the first set under the terrorism and security exemption was 9 in favor and 2 against (Green and Dinsmore).

The vote to seal (again) the second set of minutes concerning the superintendent’s raise and bonus under  “reputation” was 6 in favor and 5 against.  (Cirpriano, Dube, Dinsmore, Green and Spero against.)

Curiously, Mr. Collins, whose Facebook posting about the nonpublic minutes has led to a great deal of controversy and is cited in the litigation, was absent from the meeting.  He has much time for Facebook, but evidently not much time for critical votes of his elected office.  I heard there was a Red Sox game tonight.

Also absent from the meeting were Atkinson’s Jack Sapia and Sandown’s Kelly Ward.

This public session was preceded by a half hour of non-public discussion under the pending litigation exemption allowed under RSA 91-A.  An audio recording of the public session will be added to this posting within the hour.

The lawsuit is to be heard at Rockingham Superior Court at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, August 31.

In my opinion, it is an outrage that any taxpayer money is being used to defend this suit. Everyone who voted to reseal the second set of minutes should put their own money up to pursue this in court.

UPDATE: Link to the audio recording of the meeting

8/30/16 CORRECTION: Previously this posting said the hearing would be video taped by the court and later made available.  This is done by the state Supreme Court but not at the Superior Court level yet.

1 Comment

Filed under Sandown Issues

Grosky slighted no longer

Guest contribution by Arthur Green

This blog site has been rather hard on Nancy Steenson in her candidacy for the Republican nomination for State Senate (here, here and here), and we fear that Jason Grosky, who is seeking the County Attorney nomination, may feel somewhat overlooked. Let’s fix that.

We received Mr. Grosky’s postcard mailer yesterday, in which he promises to “bring a fiscal conservative approach to curb unnecessary spending”.

Did he bring this approach to the Timberlane school district’s $68 million budget when he chaired the Budget Committee?  I served on the Timberlane budget committee under his chairmanship in 2014, where he fought my efforts to bring fiscal discipline to the district.

The 2015/16 budget under Mr. Grosky’s supervision went up by 1.5% from the previous year, which sounds modest. But enrollment dropped by 3%.  The budget per pupil went up from $17,875 to $18,703, up 4.6% in a single year.

But Mr. Grosky’s postcard promises to curb “unnecessary” spending.  Was the 4.6% increase necessary?

I made a presentation to budget committee demonstrating that Timberlane school district was (in fall of 2o14, and still is) grossly overstaffed, by comparison with nearby school districts of similar size and composition and superior academic results.  I showed that staffing, which represents over 70% of the budget, could be reduced by about 10%, and still comfortably exceed the staffing of high-achieving neighbors.

The following exchange shows how Mr. Grosky prioritizes the demands of the beneficiaries of public spending as compared to the rights of citizens and families to keep and enjoy their hard-earned income and property:

Grosky: TRSD area’s largest employer

Taxes are confiscatory

(Sorry about using 2 clips – the full uninterrupted presentation and discussion are available at the link above.)

We know that we could deliver equal or better educational results with a much lower budget – we know that because similar school districts in NH are doing so.  But Mr. Grosky is an example of public office holders who fight tooth and nail to protect the level of staffing and spending.

While Mr. Grosky fought to protect the district’s budget, his wife was engaged by Timberlane as a public relations consultant at a rate of $1,500 per month.  Mr. Rob Collins of the Timberlane School Board told the Danville Board of Selectmen in public session in Dec. 2014 that the PR contract was needed to counteract what he called “sabotage” of the district, referring to me and to Donna Green.

Mr. Grosky is no fiscal conservative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Sandown Issues