Category Archives: Non-public session abuse

SAU Violates Policy to Offer Metzler Early Renewal

Not only did your SAU board vote to renew Dr. Metzler’s contract under total cloak of darkness, but they violated their own policy to do so last night. The policy was not waived nor was it even mentioned. (Thank you to a reader for bringing this policy to my attention*)

SAU Policy CBC

New contracts, renewals or extensions for SAU administrators will be considered at the spring meeting of the SAU each year. A majority vote by the SAU Board will authorize the Chairperson to sign the contract on behalf of the SAU with the SAU administration.

This irregularity has the result of stripping any newly elected members to both the Hampstead and Timberlane School Boards of any say in the continuation of the superintendent’s term. This disenfranchised the public.

Now look at all the irregularities associated with your boards’ actions concerning the Metzlers.

  • TRSB went into an illegal non-public to discuss a contract for hiring Mrs. Metzler back in March of 2014.
  • Mrs. Metzler was hired as a consultant to the district in a newly created role. The board was told she was the only person in the state with the necessary qualifications. We subsequently found out this is not correct.
  • Mrs. Metzler’s contract was renewed without a vote of the board and about six months before it was due to expire.
  • Mrs. Metzler’s contract was renewed, extended to five years and signed without the knowledge of the board as a whole.
  • Mrs. Metzler’s five-year contract does not contain a non-appropriation clause therefore by law it should have gone before the voters.
  • Dr. Metzler’s contract is voted to be renewed outside of the prescribed time as set by policy, which is the spring after elections, and without notice to the public.

It is important to note that all these actions were taken by your elected officials. Neither Dr. Metzler nor his wife are responsible for the behavior of your school boards (who make up the SAU board).

About the Contract

The superintendent’s contract itself has very unfavorable terms should the SAU board want to change superintendents. The contract must be bought out unless the superintendent is released “for cause,” and I can assure you that any “cause” would end up in court. This is why it is a very bad business move to offer long contracts and there is no need of it. Keep in mind that the superintendent by contract can leave at any time with notice so the length of the contract doesn’t protect the district from change but only subjects it to Draconian consequences should we wish a new superintendent.

Here is Dr. Metzler’s first contract:  Metzler 2012-2015 (3)

The first renewal added an addendum stating the contract was renewed on the same terms until 2017.

* The reason “superintendent contract renewal” should have been put on the agenda was to allow board members to do research ahead of time. Honestly, I doubt I would have looked at policy in this case, but I would have had a chance to do so – and compare our superintendent’s contract with others around the region.  That I would have done. Your board consistently abuses the discretion they have been granted to discuss things in secret and it only ever works to your disadvantage.



Filed under Non-public session abuse, Sandown Issues, SAU 55 Issues, School Board Behavior, Spanish Consultant Contract

House of Marked Cards

Danville Selectman Shawn O’Neil made a devastating public comment at last night’s school board meeting. He read a letter outlining the complete chain of events that resulted in Danville being given, mistakenly, information Danville had requested but which the school board refused to release. Let’s call this the Danville Impact Fee Controversy.

Here is Mr. O’Neil’s letter:

Dear Timberlane School Board and Dr. Metzler,

I am here tonight to address the false accusations that were annunciated by Dr. Metzler at the September 3, 2015 meeting when Dr. Farah notified the School Board that we did not need any support from the School District for our School Impact Fee analysis. Dr. Farah was asked by Mrs. Steenson if the school provided the student data and she responded that they had. She did not state that the data was used for the town study. Dr. Metzler’s response was that “It was not authorized and you have it illegally”.

I would like to point to you Exhibit A – Which is an email sent from the Danville Board of Selectmen Assessing/Land Use Clerk, Ms. Janet Denison, to Mr. George Stockinger, Ms. Kathleen Smith, and Dr. Earl Metzler outlining our request for information relative to this study. This email was dated January 22, 2015 at 9:34am. This was the email version of the request that was sent via US Mail as well.

On the same Thursday, January 22, 2015 at 4:59pm Ms Denison received an email from Mr. John Holland, Technology Director of TRSD, which indicated “As requested, attached is the list of Danville students by grade level and residence address, in Excel format.” This is illustrated by Exhibit B.

Then 22 minutes later a subsequent email was sent by Mr. Holland requesting to recall the message “Danville List”. Ms. Denison responded at 6:21pm to Mr. Holland via email, “What do you mean?” Ms. Denison called Mr. Holland’s phone on Friday, January 23 on two occasions asking for clarifications about why his list was being recalled. This is illustrated by exhibit C. Questions that Ms. Denison had included: was the data incorrect, incomplete, or outdate? Later that morning Ms. Denison forwarded the list to Mr. Bruce Mayberry from BLM Planning who was conducting the survey on behalf of the Town of Danville. Ms. Denison indicated to Mr. Mayberry that the data way be incomplete or incorrect. This was done after two phone calls went unanswered to Mr. Holland.

On Monday January 26, 2016 Ms. Cathy Belcher sent the following email to Ms. Denision as a high priority – Exhibit D which indicated ‘… the divulgence of this information may be in violation of FERPA laws.”

On Wednesday, January 28, 2015 Mr. Bruce Mayberry sent Ms. Cathy Belcher an email outlining the receipt of the recalled data, and supplied 2 pages of supporting documentation to ask for reconsideration – Exhibit E. No response followed from Ms. Belcher to Mr. Mayberry about this matter.

This information was never supplied to the School Board.

On March 12, 2015 I, acting as Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, sent a follow up to Dr. Metzler to discuss the outstanding issue that remains with respect to our School Impact fee Study – Exhibit F. You will also notice in this exchange that Danville Representative Mr. Collins was involved in this discussion and after a few email exchanges between him and me, indicated “this isn’t happening. I’ve confirmed it, it’s a FERPA violation.” This is illustrated by exhibit F.

I will disclose now that Mr. Collins and I had a phone conversation relative to this matter around this time frame and I disclosed to him that we already had the data from the SAU. His response was, “You didn’t destroy it yet?”

Now let us fast forward to the April 2, 2015 School Board meeting (Time 3:13:45 -3:24:05) when Dr. Metzler recommended to the School Board that they waive School Board policy to support the release of this information to the Town of Danville. This recommendation was based on discussions with Dr. Metzler, Dr. Farah, and Cathy Belcher in which it was noted there was no FERPA violation but rather a school board policy in place. Dr. Metzler’s office was in possession of Mr. Mayberry’s 2 page explanation of why the data was needed from Jan 28, 2015. This information was not provided to the School Board for your deliberations.

On May 7, 2015 I presented more information to the School Board which resulted in a May 21, agenda item on this topic which Mr. Mayberry attended at our expense.

On Sept 3, 2015 Dr. Farah indicated to the School Board that we had the data from the SAU but she did not indicate that we had used the data in our School Impact Fee study. Mr. Mayberry, as you may recall from his May 21, 2015 appearance is able to obtain this data in a statistical form from the State. It is not as accurate as having actual verifiable data as obtained from the District. The Town of Danville and Mr. Mayberry used the State statistical data knowing that the School District was not going to assist in our effort to obtain the data.

On Monday Sept 14, 2015 the Town of Danville received a letter from the District attorney outlining some of these events. This is illustrated as Exhibit G.

Dr. Metzler and Mr. Collins, how can you say that the District is ‘transparent’ to this community when you are not transparent to your fellow Board members? It is clear that Ms. Steenson, as Chairwoman, was not aware of the release of information by the SAU. I suspect than many of your fellow Board members were not aware either. I have seen in our schools, that you oversee, a very powerful and inspirational passage, “Character – Doing the right thing when nobody is watching”. How would you define your Character at this time?

Upon receipt of a written apology to the Danville Board of Selectmen and our staff, as a courtesy to the district, we will destroy the data, which we believe is NOT a FERPA violation but a School Board policy violation which is NOT applicable to the Town of Danville.

Thank you,

Shawn O’Neil


Board of Selectmen

Town of Danville, New Hampshire      10.1.15 ltr to the school (1)

The Danville Impact Fee Controversy: September 17th non-public session

At the school board’s previous meeting on September 17th, the board went into non-public session on the grounds of reputation (91-A:3, II (c)). The topic was Danville’s acquisition of data for their impact fee study. In no way does the law allow this topic to be discussed in non-public.  It is not one of the clearly listed subject matter exclusions from mandatory public discussion. S0oooo,  the name of an employee was used as a pretext to hide this discussion in non-public. Your school board regularly stretches the law to keep uncomfortable realities from you. Thanks to the Danville Board of Selectmen you now know how the information got to Danville.

This time the district was thwarted in its efforts to keep unpleasant truths from the public ear, but the board nevertheless continues to do its best to distance itself from the truth in its minutes. Let’s take the non-public minutes from that meeting of the 17th.  It says that I seconded a motion to go into non-public. I don’t remember doing this, though my memory is not perfect, but given my mistrust of non-public sessions generally, I don’t think I provided the second.  Wouldn’t you know it?  The Vimeo cuts off just at the moment a second is being requested.

Then the September 17th non-public minutes go on to say that “A brief discussion ensued concerning the Danville Board of Seletman (sic) and student information.”

This is a more accurate one sentence description than is normally provided; however, the brevity of the discussion is exaggerated. The minutes show exactly two minutes elapsed, when in fact the discussion lasted well in excess of ten and I would say closer to twenty minutes because it was a far ranging discussion with a number of people jumping in. I had time to eat an entire plate of carrots and grapes so you can be sure it was not a two-minute conversation.

Same Old: The August 27th non-public session

You may not think this abuse of non-public discussions and its subsequent misrepresentation in minutes is as big a problem as I do, so let me give you some recent background.

On August 27, 2015 the board went into another illicit non-public session to discuss the possibility of launching legal action against Danville selectman Joshua Horns should he refuse to surrender either his seat on the Timberlane Budget Committee or on the Danville BOS. During this meeting I protested that it was an illegal non-public and that I wanted my protest recorded in the minutes. Here’s what the minutes ended up recording:

A discussion ensued regarding the implied threat of legal action by an individual as it relates to a conflict of interest when retaining both Board of Selectman and Budget Committee positions.

Motion: Mr. Bealo motioned to authorize Madam Chair Steenson to compose a letter to Joshua Horns to accompany the attorney’s letter requesting he make a choice of which position to serve: Danville Board of Selectman or TRSD Budget Committee member, as serving on both constitutes incompatibility of offices. Seconded was made by Mr. Sapia.

With no further discussion the motion passed by a vote of 6-1-0 (Mrs. Green opposed).

These minutes do not faithfully describe the actual nature of the discussion or my protest of it being done in non-public.  To rectify this, I made the following motion during the next PUBLIC meeting on September 3, 2015:

MOTION:  “To correct the non-public minutes of August 27 to read: ‘A discussion ensued regarding the possibility of launching legal action against an individual as it relates to a conflict of interest when retaining both Board of Selectman and Budget Committee positions.  Mrs. Green objected to the non-public as being inappropriate and illegal.’ “

In another proud moment for your school board, they voted down the motion to amend the minutes which means

  1. the non-public minutes are not accurate in their description of this discussion;
  2. my protest about the non-public session was not recorded in the non-public minutes.

But it gets better.

When the minutes for the September 3, 2015 (public) meeting came out, here’s what was recorded:

“Mrs. Green motioned to change and add wording of the discussion held during the non-public session.

For those who may not know, all motions made at public meetings should be recorded and minuted as they were said – not some Cliff Notes freeze-dried version.

Soooo, on October 1, 2015 I tried once again to get into the public record my motion to correct the public minutes of Sept. 3, 2015…. and Mrs. Steenson cut me off. The board directed the recording secretary to go back, watch the Vimeo recording, adjust the minutes, and with that they blithely and irresponsibly accepted them.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the trouble with this is that all these minutes are legal records of events, which is why it is so important for the board not to record the truth and to substitute a facsimile for history.  What a fine example for the moral instruction of our students.

Post Script

Lest you think it is only I who have issues with honesty, read the Tri-Town Times article about Hampstead’s school board feeling duped.

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Filed under Closing Sandown Central, Non-public session abuse, Pinocchio Academy, Sandown Issues, School Board Behavior, Withdrawal Feasibility Study, Withdrawing from District

How Your School Board Hides the Truth

Last night’s school board meeting was a raucous one but most of the shouting happened before the camera started rolling.

First, the immature drama

Chairman Steenson instructed me to change my seat at the board table.  I calmly but emphatically refused.  Ms. Steenson reacted like a mother with few coping skills to a daughter in defiance. She insisted and moved the name plates.  I refused and helpfully suggested she call the police.  At that she stormed out of the room clutching her cell phone saying, “I just might do that!”  When she returned, she asked Mr. Sapia to please sit at the end of the table so Mr. Spero, who arrived quite late to the meeting, would not have to sit at the end of the table.  Mr. Sapia did not do so.

Then, revenge

Mr. Sapia later felt the chairperson’s wrath when she tried mightily to shut him down during Other Business. Coincidentally, Mr. Spero was the one who voiced his support for Mr. Sapia speaking to his issue about the athletic wing during Other Business. Mrs. Steenson’s vigorous attempt to shut down Mr. Sapia can be seen around 10:45 pm when the Vimeo is posted. (The Sept. 3 meeting is available now as a live stream capture in five parts but the last part of the meeting does not play….sigh.(

We mustn’t dress the mannequins in the window

Mrs. Steenson takes it upon herself to shut anyone down who wants to contribute something she doesn’t want to be heard. That is her idea of being a chairman, along with arranging the boardroom table. You can also see her shut me down when I bring to the board’s attention that Mr. Collins has a tactic of moving outrageous dollar figures forward so the board can feel virtuous in approving a more modest number that is probably larger than could have been hoped for in an honest approach to things. You can see this little drama at about 58 minutes into the meeting. The board voted to add $350,000 to the Fund Balance Retention on top of the $250,000 they previously voted to squirrel away. This is the harm that comes with running ridiculously high surpluses. It’s your money, but you can’t have it back. We need a rainy day fund…. that’s only prudent…even though we normally have a $2 million surplus. I called this fund a moral hazard and poor Messrs. Sapia and Bealo thought I was insulting the ethics of the towns’ selectmen!  A definition of “moral hazard,”  a term used in finance, is below for their benefit.

Now, the duplicity

At the beginning of the meeting Mr. Collins motioned that approval of the minutes should be moved to the end of our meetings. He argued that this is for consideration of presenters. I believe it is to keep the public from learning how controversial the minutes often are. Last night was a prime example.

The non-public minutes for Aug. 27 came up for approval.  Here is the summary of a 35 minute non-public session:

“A discussion ensued regarding the implied threat of legal action by an individual as it relates to a conflict of interest when retaining both Board of Selectman and Budget Committee positions.”

That is as false as a sidewalk Rolex in New York City .   Mr. Horns has not threatened to sue us or even implied that he would do so. We, on the other hand, have threatened to sue him, as evidenced in a letter the board subsequently sent to Mr. Horns.

I proposed this amendment to correct the historical record:

“A discussion ensued regarding the possibility of launching legal action against an individual as it relates to a conflict of interest when retaining both Board of Selectman and Budget Committee positions. Mrs. Green objected to the non-public as being inappropriate and illegal.”

The board voted against accepting my amendment by a vote of 1-7 (Mr. Blair abstained as he was not present during the non-public session.)

Why was it so important for your school board to hide the truth from you and history?  You will have to ask your own representatives, but here’s my guess: they had to hide the fact that they were not in compliance with the law…. but they overlooked one eency weensy provision for permitted non-public sessions:  the threat of legal action has to be in writing.

91-A:3, II    (e) Consideration or negotiation of pending claims or litigation which has been threatened in writing or filed against the public body or any subdivision thereof, or against any member thereof because of his or her membership in such public body, until the claim or litigation has been fully adjudicated or otherwise settled. Any application filed for tax abatement, pursuant to law, with any body or board shall not constitute a threatened or filed litigation against any public body for the purposes of this subparagraph.

As a point of information, this section of 91-A will be changing in January to permit non-public discussion of litigation contemplated by a public body, so you can decide how much the board should be beaten up about this violation. Lying about it in the minutes and not recording my objection to the entire proceeding is another matter altogether.

The moral** of the story:  Don’t trust what you read in TRSB minutes.

Moral Hazard:

  1. lack of incentive to guard against risk where one is protected from its consequences, e.g., by insurance.

Coming soon:  How the board spent $30,000 wastefully, and Superintendent “Goals.”

** “Moral” used in this sense means “a message.”

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Filed under Non-public session abuse, School Board Behavior, Taxes, Withdrawing from District

April 2 SB Meeting: SAU a Power onto Itself

Thursday night’s school board meeting convinced me that the board allows the SAU to behave as a power unto itself.

Within the first fifteen minutes of the meeting, Superintendent Metzler handed out a verbatim transcript – only partially complete – of the Feb. 28 public hearing on amending the Articles of Agreement (Petitioned Warrant Article #10 on the March ballot).  At the March 19 school board meeting, the board, dissatisfied with the skeleton minutes offered for approval, had instructed the recording secretary to go back to make the minutes more reflective of what actually transpired at that historic meeting.

Superintendent Metzler took it upon himself to send the Vimeo out to a transcription service charging $1.20 a minute, an expenditure not approved by the board. Perhaps the Superintendent would like to pay for this indulgence himself?  The recording secretary was tasked with the job.  That is why we have a recording secretary.  At the board meeting I called it malicious compliance: You challenge the minutes?  You must pay!

After 45 minutes concerning athletic and booster programs, the board turned discussion to the troubling issue of the district’s use of the Turnitin software. The issue of student privacy in blogs and in work submitted to Turnitin became of concern to the board and the administration following hair-raising public comment by two parents at the March 5th school board meeting,  According to the parents, two years of work submitted to the global database of Turnitin had been submitted in violation of federal privacy laws (FERPA) because parents had not given permission for their children’s work to be placed in this databank and  personally identifiable information had in many cases been included in these submissions. The administration has since sent out parental permission forms and has changed practices in the schools so that student privacy is protected.  The administration came to the board on Thursday night to explain corrective steps taken which included plans to delete all the work previously submitted to Turnitin without parental consent. After much discussion, the board decided that this work should not be deleted. The vote was not unanimous and was, in my opinion, a bad decision which could expose the district to legal risk.

Sometime later Superintendent Metzler called for a non-public meeting under “reputation.”  Once the non-public session was underway and I learned of the topic, I objected that it did not fall under the legal criteria for a non-public session. Superintendent Metzler invited me to leave. I did not leave.  Instead I stayed to hear a discussion of important administration action that should have been discussed in public and was of great public interest. I suggest those of you who are concerned about these things write to your board representatives and to Superintendent Metzler to insist that this matter be raised in public session as it should have been during this meeting.

I am currently researching whether my duty of confidentiality applies to matters in non-public session which are not properly non-public.  While I look into this, I cannot individually disclose this matter.

The board then took about three minutes to approve teacher renominations for the forthcoming academic year – explaining for the new member what a “continuing contract” was. Then a science  curriculum on “second reading”  was approved with no discussion. This was followed by brief discussion about starting a strategic plan and also a district-wide Wellness Committee. The board also briefly discussed their own self-evaluation and the administration’s evaluation of the board.

After this there was a vote on the Sandown withdrawal study, but not what you might think.  It was merely a vote to support Mr. Ward as a member of the study, without taking any responsibility themselves for this study. The school board consistently denies its legal responsibility to conduct a withdrawal study as per the explicit requirements of RSA 194:25.Procedure for Withdrawal.

Finally, around midnight, there was disrespectful discussion about the requirement voted by the school budget committee for a preliminary end-of-year-financial report in late July or August.  Superintendent Metzler was adamant that the budget committee is not going to get this because it is earlier than the SAU’s normal timeframe for producing such a report.  SAU personnel also made unsupportive comments about the budget committee’s apparent willingness to hold a meeting in the summer in order to help direct the budget process that starts in September. This, it seems, is an unreasonable imposition on the SAU’s resources.

What we have is not an overweening budget committee, but rather an SAU that doesn’t understand that its job and purpose is to support the elected officials who protect the interests of taxpayers and parents.

Mr. Collins said that if the budget committee doesn’t back down on its requests, the SAU will need more staff.  I wonder what would happen to the timeframe for budget committee requests if, instead, the SAU staff were reduced?

The meeting is here: 

Gentle readers, a happy Easter and Passover greeting to all.


Filed under Budget Committee, Changing Funding Formula, Expenditures, Non-public session abuse, Right to Know issues, Sandown Issues, School Board Behavior, School Board Functioning

Atkinson Conflict of Interest Committee Rules Consentino be Removed from Office

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.


DATE: 03/07/2015

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.

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Filed under Non-public session abuse

SAU has Police, Lawyer, on Speed Dial for Critics

When Leon Artus went to his mailbox today, he was surprised to find a card notifying him that a certified letter awaited him at the post office.  It was our tax dollars at work!  The firm of DrummondWoodsum,  which represents our SAU, was instructing Mr. Artus to no longer communicate with Superintendent Metzler. Metzler Attorney Letter to Leon Artus

Here’s a timeline of recent events in Mr. Artus’ life:

Dec. 4, 2014   While quietly waiting in his car around 8:30 pm in the Vic Geary Drop in Center adjacent to the SAU building, Mr. Artus is approached by two Plaistow Police officers.  He told them he was waiting for a school board member. As he handed them his identification, his concealed carry permit fell out which led to Mr. Artus to tell the police that he had a gun with him. The police also remarked that there was mouthwash in the car which Mr. Artus uses to freshen his breath after smoking. The police asked Mr. Artus to park his vehicle at a different angle so his headlights would not annoy households across the street, which he did.

Subsequent to this encounter, the police officers went into the SAU building still full of people from a just-adjourned school board meeting.  The police shared their encounter about Mr. Artus with someone on the board or the SAU.  Three days later  the incident was being discussed on the Atkinson Reporter 2 blog with innuendos about Mr. Artus “drinking mouthwash”.

Dec 11, 2014  An armed Plaistow Police officer  present for the Budget Committee meeting. An officer appeared at all subsequent meetings of the budget committee and school board – without a vote of either body.

Dec. 18: 2014  Timberlane School Board holds a non-public meeting on the grounds of reputation to discuss an incident in the parking lot of the Vic Geary Drop In Center.

Jan. 13, 2015  Mr. Artus submits a citizen petition warrant article to Atkinson Town Hall asking the voters to approve the first step in a process to begin withdrawing from the Timberlane School District.

Jan 15, 2015   Timberlane Public Hearing on the proposed 2015-2016 budget.  Mr. Artus asked pointed questions of Superintendent Metzler and refused to call him “Dr.”

Jan. 20, 2015  The Plaistow Police interview Mr. Artus over the phone concerning two emails Mr. Artus sent to the superintendent in Dec. 2014.  A few hours  later, the investigating officer called Mr. Artus back to say they were dropping the investigation.

Jan. 22, 2015   At the School Board meeting that evening, Mr. Artus took  great exception to the school board holding a non-public meeting which he believed concerned him without giving him the opportunity to be present. He requested his issue to be placed on the agenda of a future meeting.  He was denied. (That’s what Ms. Steenson means when she takes things under advisement or consideration.  History has never shown her ‘advisement’ to have resulted in any subsequent action.) I made a motion for same; it failed for want of a second.

Jan 24, 2015  Lawyer’s letter mailed to Mr. Artus.

Mr. Artus is the head of Atkinson Taxpayers for Fair Evaluations.

Readers might want to refresh their memory concerning Dr. Metzler’s police complaint about me “harassing” his assistant, Ms. Belcher.   Green Threatened with Criminal Charges

The Timberlane School District uses the services of the Plaistow Police department for police details throughout the year for sports, cultural and other events at the schools. Now can be added protecting elected officials and staff from “harassment.”







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Filed under Non-public session abuse, School Board Behavior, Withdrawing from District

Complaint to the Office of Public Integrity

Nov.24, 2014

Dear Attorney General:

We submit the attached letter of complaint for your attention with the faith that you will forward it to the appropriate investigative team under your supervision.
The first attachment in this email is our letter of complaint concerning the Timberlane Regional School District and SAU #55 for a repeated pattern of withholding public information for political purposes and charging people in elective office for that information. The second attachment is a very detailed history of municipal budget law violations at Timberlane supported by extensive documentation we have uploaded to Google drive. The budget infractions are just a part of our larger complaint.
Thank you for your attention to this matter and we hope to hear from you soon to learn who will be investigating our complaint.
Donna Green
Arthur Green


Filed under Budget Committee, Expenditures, Non-public session abuse, PR hire, Right to Know issues, Sandown Issues, SAU 55 Issues, School Board Behavior, Spanish Consultant Contract

Your Board at Work Doing All the Wrong Things

Here are two very telling clips  from the Nov. 6 Timberlane School Board meeting.  Watch it if you want to understand why your School Board is so impotent.

Better to Ask Forgiveness Than Permission

In this first clip you will first see me make a motion to review a publicly announced educational goal of offering online courses for credit. (This was announced during the department heads’ presentations of their budgets at the PAC in October.)  Developing online courses has never been discussed at the board level or anywhere else it seems. When Superintendent Metzler was asked directly if he had instructed a staff member to pursue this goal, he would not give a straightforward answer. See my motion go down in flames.

Refuse to Put Contracts Out to Bid

Then (at 6 minutes, 36 seconds) I make a motion to have the rubbish removal contract go out to bid because at the same public session in the PAC, the Facilities Director said the contract had gone up $12,000.   I asked about the length of the existing contract and when it was last put out to bid.  I could not get an answer out of Mr. Stokinger, who despite being asked, refuses to bring his computer to a meeting. Some districts post this information on their websites.  In our district school board members can’t even get an answer. Watch the school board tie itself into ridiculous knots worming its way out of not putting this contract to bid.

For the record, the Facilities Committee does not deal with contracts. That was a complete canard. It hardly needs to be said that this is your tax money being gobbled up by an inexplicable refusal to put contracts out to bid. (At the beginning of the meeting not captured on these clips, the board voted against getting competitive quotes for our liability insurance.) You should also watch Ms. Steenson make a virtue of ignorance by protesting that contract review is not the job of the board. Subsequent to this board meeting, Mr. Hughes announced to the Budget Committee on Nov. 13 that he had made a mistake and the rubbish removal service is going up only $6,000 and not $12,000.

Have Serious Errors in Financial Projections

Next there is Mr. Stokinger publicly admitting that he was in error when he projected hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra Adequacy Aid for the district with the expansion of full-time Kindergarten. Thank you to Arthur Green for catching an error so material that it changes the whole financial complexion of the program. (One of the sheets Mr. Stokinger “regenerated” and distributed at the subsequent Nov. 20th school board meeting still included the erroneous Adequacy Aid. Sigh…)

Use Illegal Non-public Sessions to Hide Discussion of Issues

And finally, in the second clip,  you will see the board going into yet another illegal non-public session. Why am I claiming it was illegal?  The topic concerned facilities and this is not a permitted exclusion under the Right to Know law.  The board deliberately misstates the Right to Know law provision under which non-public sessions can be called to make it seem this topic is permitted. They call it safety and security, but the RSA is exclusively for terrorism. When Mr. Collins called for a non-public under 91-A, subsection (i), I read the SAU’s version of the so-called RSA out loud.  A day later I  checked the actual RSA and found, as I had thought, that what was purported to be the RSA wasn’t the RSA at all!

This is what the SAU self-servingly misconstrues as the provision in the RSA allowing non-public discussion.  It is this which  I read aloud at the meeting:

i) Consideration of matters relating to preparation for and the carrying out of such emergency preparations to prevent widespread injury or loss of life [security].

Here is the actual RSA:

(i) Consideration of matters relating to the preparation for and the carrying out of emergency functions, including training to carry out such 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. 

Even without the benefit of the actual RSA, the moment I learned what the non-public was about, I motioned to exit non-public because the public, I said,  had a right to know the information we were discussing.  My motion didn’t get a second and the non-public session lasted 20 minutes.


Filed under Budget 2015-2016, Expenditures, Fill-time Kindergarten, Non-public session abuse, Pinocchio Academy, School Board Behavior, School Board Functioning, The Mushroom Farm

Press Weighs in on Lawyer’s Letters

Attorney Richard Lehmann’s letters have made quite a stir in the press.

Rich Girard, radio commentator, was first off the mark devoting an hour to the controversy at Timberlane.  You can listen to his September 19th segment here:

Girard on Timberlane Sept. 19, 2014

Rich’s outrage is absolutely well founded.  I’ll be going on Rich’s show on Monday morning, Sept. 22, 2014 starting around 6 am.

The Union Leader’s story said: “She [Green] was issued a formal censure for violating open meeting laws and posting ‘disrespectful, inappropriate’ messages on a personal blog.” This sentence gives the reader the impression that the accusations in the censure letter were proven fact.  They are not and I dispute them.

Union Leader article Sept. 19, 2014

I do not believe I have violated any Open Meeting laws.  Writing to a quorum of a board is not a crime in New Hampshire. Furthermore, my blog is about Timberlane school district issues and is both accurate and professional.  Before moving to New Hampshire, I was previously a freelance writer with a number of respected publications.  (I was, for instance, the Canadian stringer for the Economist‘s Finance and Economics section for two years.)  The superintendent and my school board peers simply don’t like what I say so they discredit it as inaccurate and disrespectful when it is simply truthful or a fair expression of opinion.

The press has also reported that the letter of censure detailed 60 examples of inaccuracies in my blog.  The letter in fact pointed out 16 quotes and did not state what was inaccurate or otherwise objectionable about them.  I stand by every single word I have written. See these quotes for yourself.

Here is the letter of censure in its entirety: Letter of Censure Aug 28

The Eagle Tribune did a much better job of reporting the story, though it, too, reported inaccurately about the censure letter when the reporter wrote: “Last month School Board Chairman Nancy Steenson wrote Green a letter, outlining about 60 specific blog entries she said were inaccurate.”  The Eagle Trib’s James Niedzinski  did an otherwise outstanding job on a complicated subject with a long history and he has my thanks.

Here is the Eagle Tribune story:  Board Member Stirs the Pot

UPDATE:  Sept. 22, 2014:  Listen to Rich Girard interview me at the crack of dawn:  Girard interviews Green     Thank you, Rich!


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Filed under Budget 2014-2015, DELIBERATIVE 2014, Expenditures, Fill-time Kindergarten, My censure, Non-public session abuse, Right to Know issues, School Board Behavior, Spanish Consultant Contract, Taxes


Timberlane should be applauded for finally posting their non-public minutes online and open to the public.  They should be censured, however, for the paucity of information in them which is an  affront to citizens of this district.

Below is a typical example of Timberlane’s non-public minutes in their entirety.  (Time numbers are time stamps relating to the video recording.) It  is excerpted from the May 2, 2013 public meeting minutes, a meeting in which Peter Bealo got censured. In this case, the non-public minutes are embedded in the public minutes and found under “Other Business.” After the vote to go into non-public, the camera was turned off so the subsequent public part of the meeting was conveniently not televised or recorded.  This happens a lot and you’ll see why this is so convenient from reading these minutes. (It was to save Mr. Bealo the embarrassment of a televised censure.)

Other Business 02:11:18
Motion: Mr. Mascola motioned to enter into a non-public session under RSA 91-A: 3, II[c] Matters which, if discussed in public, would likely adversely affect the reputation of any person. Mr. Blair seconded.
The board was polled Blair Yes Barczak Yes Bealo Yes Collins Yes Delfino Yes Mascola Yes Steenson Yes Ward Yes  [DG: video turned off.]
Motion: Mrs. Barczak motioned to exit the non-public session; seconded by Mrs. Delfino.
The board was polled: Blair Yes Barczak Yes Bealo Yes Collins Yes Delfino Yes Mascola Yes Steenson Yes Ward Yes
The board exited the non-public session at 10:10 pm. No action was taken in non-public session.
————————————–END OF NON-PUBLIC MINUTES————————————————
The May 2, 2013 public  minutes continue:  Chairman Collins asked Mr. Bealo to explain a breakfast he attended in the capacity of a school board member after the April 4, 2013 school board meeting. Mr. Bealo recapped the discussion and stated his lack of judgment in attending this meeting and offering advice. Chairman Collins explained that Mr. Bealo’s actions in holding a secret meeting to conduct/influence school board business violated the ethics statement signed by Mr. Bealo. A brief discussion ensued.
Motion: Mr. Blair motioned to authorize Chairman Collins to write a letter of censure from the Timberlane Regional School Board to Mr. Bealo. Mr. Mascola seconded.
With no further discussion the motion passed by a vote of 5-1-2. (Mr. Barczak opposed, Mrs. Steenson and Mr. Bealo abstained.)
You will notice that the non-public minutes of May 2, 2013 do not give an indication of what was discussed. That is characteristic of Timberlane’s non-public minutes.  They are a waste of the paper they are printed on.  By some oversight, we are given a clue of what I suspect took place in non-public by the subsequent discussion of Mr. Bealo’s censure.  Of course, the board could have been discussing a problem with a vendor…  Read more to see why I say this.
Here are the non-public minutes from the July 16th meeting. (July 16th is when I was censured.)  If you watch the video recording, you will see Mr. Collins hand Mr. Bealo a handwritten note from which Mr. Bealo subsequently quotes an RSA to go into non-public under reputation.  He would not say whose reputation was at issue, nor was a non-public session indicated on the agenda.
Here are the draft non-public minutes from the July 16th meeting with minor formatting changes to be blog friendly:
Non-public Meeting SAU No 55
July 16, 2014 30 Greenough Road
9:30 PM Plaistow, NHBoard Members Present
Mr. Bealo, Mr. Blair, Mr. Collins, Mrs. Delfino, Mrs. Green, Mr. Mascola, Mrs. Sherman, Mrs. Steenson, and Mr. WardAdministrators Present: Dr. Metzler, Superintendent of Schools; Mr. Stokinger, Business Administrator; Mrs. Danahy, Director of Human Resources and School Board Clerk
Motion: Mr. Bealo motioned to enter into a non-public session under RSA 91-A: 3, II[c] matters
which, if discussed in public, would likely affect adversely the reputation of any person; Mr. Collins seconded.
The board was polled at 9:30 pm:
Bealo Yes; Blair Yes; Collins Yes; Delfino Yes; Green No; Mascola Yes; Sherman Yes; Steenson Yes; Ward YesMrs. Green objected to the need to go into nonpublic session and exited the meeting.
The board conferred on the need to address an issue with a vendor.  [My emphasis]
Motion: Mr. Bealo motioned to exit the non-public session; seconded by Mr. Mascola the board was polled:
 Bealo Yes; Blair Yes; Collins Yes; Delfino Yes; Mascola Yes; Sherman Yes; Steenson Yes; Ward YesThe board exited the non-public session at 9:35 pm. No action was taken in non-public session.

The law pertaining to non-public sessions does not permit non-public discussion of the behavior of public officials, but that’s OK because they were talking about a VENDOR.   I guess the problem just popped into Mr. Collins’ head and it absolutely, positively couldn’t wait to be properly noticed, so imperative was this issue to be addressed in secret. And fortunately the rest of the board was happy to go along with him, not knowing what the issue was.

See the Video of this meeting, specifically 1:57:07 where Mr. Collins passes a handwritten note to Mr. Bealo and  1:58:42 where the non-public is called under “reputation.”

In this instance, video recording of the meeting resumed following the non-public session, so you can see the board proceed to the matter of censuring me.  Neither “censure” nor “non-public meeting” was included on the agenda of July 16, 2014.


Filed under My censure, Non-public session abuse, School Board Behavior