Court decision gives taxpayers standing to sue on default budgets

I’m proud to report that Attorney Richard Lehmann successfully argued that a New Hampshire taxpayer had standing to sue over a default budget in his town.  Not only did the judge grant standing but also ruled that the town’s default budget had to be reduced based on the arguments.  Mr. Lehmann’s client was Neal Kurk, Chairman of the House Finance Committee, representing Weare.

This is a momentous decision and is the thin edge of the wedge in helping taxpayers regain their standing to demand their towns and school districts actually follow the law.

via The Kurk Decision


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My Response to Eagle Tribune Reporting Error

Letter to the Editor:

In “BOE Reverses January Decision about Green Complaint,” published on Feb 21, Kristen Giddings reported that subsequent to the Board of Education’s Jan. 11 decision in my favor, SAU 55 filed an appeal. In fact, SAU 55 never filed an appeal.

Any reader of your article would infer from your reporting that the BOE’s action to rescind their Jan 11 decision and issue a new decision was as a result of SAU 55’s appeal. This is not true.

In fact, the Board of Education rescinded it’s original order in my favor and issued a different decision that was even more in my favor. At the Feb. 8, 2018 BOE meeting, the board heard a similar complaint to mine, Verville/School Administrative Unit #53 – SB-FY-18-07-000. Based on their decision in that case the board decided to treat both cases the same and so rescinded their previous decision and ordered both cases to be investigated by the Department of Education. This new decision saved me the pointless exercise of an SAU 55 public hearing that would only have resulted in another appeal to the Board of Education.

It is my contention that SAU 55 is in violation of RSA 194-C:5 with respect to setting SAU employee salaries, and the sooner the merits of this complaint are addressed, the better for Timberlane and Hampstead taxpayers. So far, thanks to the bottomless well of taxpayer money being used to pay legal fees, I have not had a chance to argue the material facts of my complaint which began in July of 2017.

I have not hired a lawyer through all this and there was no need for SAU 55 to use legal services either.

They simply have an aversion to following the law when it works in the interest of taxpayers and not their own.

My thanks go to the NH Board of Education for putting an end to the delays and dilatory legal arguments in order to finally grapple with the issue of a lawless SAU.

Donna Green

_BOE Reverses January Decision about Green Complaint___

Eagle Tribune Editor’s Note [from Feb 22]

This story has been updated to clarify that a notice of appeal was filed with the state Board of Education, but no official appeal was filed after the board’s January meeting.


Could a kind reader let me know if the EAgle Tribune publishes this letter?  I’ve given up my subscription in favor of the Union Leader which is why, presumably, I can’t comment on the article online.

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Aftershock: SAU 55 behaves badly again

If the revelations of last Thursday night’s public comment leave you complacent about the good will of SAU 55, this may push you over the edge.  Below is an email sent to school board members tonight from a singularly articulate and witty NH resident.

Dear School Board Member,

I do not live in the SAU 55 District, a fact for which I am now eternally grateful, but I would like to give you an account of my dealings with them in trying to extract some very simple information.

Unable to locate from the District website an email address for how to contact SAU 55, I sent an email to Ms Sherman , who I determined, at that time, to be the Chairman of the School Committee, on December 15th, 2017 asking for two items of information. They were:

1. total legal costs incurred for the Right to Know case of 2016 (Green) and:

2. total legal costs for the Right to Know case of 2017 (Taylor).

Ms. Sherman did not deign to reply so on December 30th I wrote a letter to SAU 55 requesting the above information and enclosed a check for $15 to cover any costs. Ms. Belcher’s initial response of January 8th is a glorious illustration typical of an obdurate regime resistant to transparency or accountability. She writes of a requirement for redaction’s and taking 30 days (or more) to complete them. As I said in my response to such nonsense, quoting Richard Feynman, “Surely, you must be joking.”

After a series of prolonged exchanges, as of February 19th , I have received none of the information requested, i.e. over 60 days following my original request.

A record of the correspondence on this matter until February 12th is contained in the attached file.

For believers in accountability in government the standing of New Hampshire is cause for concern. According to the Center for Public Integrity, an organization that received a Pullitzer Prize in 2014, New Hampshire ranks 49th in the Nation with respect to access to public information. It is quite evident that SAU 55 is intent on being the shining light leading the race to the bottom.

And all I asked for were two simple numbers.

In the tech world and probably in most corporations, the perpetrator of such an archaic procedure as that devised by SAU 55 to handle 91-A requests, a procedure completely at odds with current standards of efficiency and costs and demeaning both to the word and the spirit of RSA 91-A, would be summarily fired.

You probably gave him a raise.

Even the NH Legislature, never noted for its alacrity to an urgent issue unless it involves freeing up more guns or restricting voting, has been shocked into action. SB 395, subliminally labeled by the underground cognoscenti as the “Metzler” bill, in honor? of your Superintendent, is designed to directly challenge the procedure so artfully created by SAU 55. Not at all surprising is that some public officials, presumably of the same genetic makeup as those in SAU 55, are opposed. Perhaps the locals can expect an article on the next School warrant to build a tall wall around the offices of SAU 55 for the express purpose of keeping inquiring minds at bay.

Over the years I have contracted with a number of municipalities. Many years ago, one of them encountered a sudden spurt of 91-A requests. The advice from their lawyer at the time was that, unless it was specifically excluded by 91-A:5, “give ’em everything, give it to them quickly and ask if there is anything more they need. Then grin and bear it.” SAU 55, evidently, does not have the same lawyer.

Since your lawyers received over $100,000 in 2015-2016 exceeding the approved budget by nearly 50%, fighting lawsuits, for them, is much more lucrative than avoiding them. But what do your taxpayers think?

School Boards have a well earned reputation for sometimes appointing people to the positions of school principal or superintendent that is at least one rung above their level of competence. Perhaps that is why so many of them are always on the move. As the old adage goes, those who can, do research, those who cannot, teach and those who cannot do either become administrators. They just push papers, tot up numbers and talk. And yet the system perversely pays the administrators far far more than any of the finest teachers – and then claims credit for a high school product that scholastically, on average, is about two years behind their European and Asian counterparts in a world with an increasingly global component. The Ancients of Greece must be growling in their graves at the debasement of an educational ingredient they considered essential to a civilized society. Or have we now become, as Evelyn Waugh once suggested. “a syphilised society.” It is quite possible that history will eventually establish the impotence of school committees as a major factor in the rapidly increasing decline of the United States as a major contributor to the common good in the world at large.

By way of reference, I asked a different municipality for information on their legal costs for 2016 through 2017. I was offered complete information either as print outs (incidently at 10 cents/page cf yours at 50 cents/page) or as emails or both. The total time involved, including printing, was significantly less than 5 minutes – far less time, I suspect, than that required to compose Belcher’s asinine response to my request of December 30th.

And all I was asking for – were – two – very – simple – numbers.

As an elected public official whose passivity has condoned the claptrap and nonsense detailed above and in the attached file it is most unlikely that you are even minimally embarrassed by it.

But shouldn’t you be?


What are you going to do about it?

David V. Maudsley

The learned gentleman took the time to attached all the correspondences, which are even more entertaining and infuriating than his letter.

SAU 55 Correspondence

In this we have yet more material to add to the Attorney General’s thick folder on SAU 55 and Timberlane.  As taxpayers and consumers of SAU 55 services, we should be ashamed and outraged that our public servants act in this manner.

To answer this gentleman’s concluding question:  no one will do anything about it whatsoever.  The elected officials like it just the way it is. As chair of Policy Committee I tried to get a citizen friendly Right to Know policy in place only to be filibustered by the administration and not supported by my colleagues on the board.

Here was the policy I introduced in the summer of 2017: Green’s proposed RTK policy

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Metzler is Subject to the Will of the Timberlane Board, but Neither He nor the Board Knows It.

Recently I was perusing the Education Administrative Rules and discovered a gem. Contrary to Superintendent Metzler’s many declarations to the contrary, he is indeed subject to the will of the Timberlane school board. Education Administrative Rule 302.01 says this:

 (g)  The superintendent shall be directly responsible to the local school district or districts within the school administrative unit board.

Administrative Rules have the force of law. This means that if the Timberlane board should suddenly find its mind and votes to direct Metzler to do something, like, oh,  rescind the letter to school board candidate Maxann Dobson restricting her access to Timberlane schools, then he would have to comply.

Do you hear that Timberlane School Board members?

He would have to comply or be be subject to dismissal for insubordination.  “Insubordination” is a grounds for dismissal in Superintendent Metzler’s contract.  Here are the other grounds:

Termination for Cause. This agreement may be terminated by the SAU at any time for immorality, incompetence, insubordination, failure to follow SAU and/or School District policies or failure on the part of the Superintendent to conform to the laws of the State of New Hampshire, the rules and regulations of the State Board of Education, of the School Administrative Unit and of the local school boards within the School Administrative Unit. If a conflict arises, the rules and regulations established by the SAU Board will prevail.

Now the trick to all this is that the SAU board as a whole will never take any action against the superintendent other than throw money at him.  The Hampstead portion of the SAU board will give Superintendent Metzler anything he wants so they can enjoy the services of the Assistant Superintendent. And as loyal readers of this blog well know, the Timberlane board is split along very stark lines– those who wish to delegate all their authority to the superintendent and those who wish to retain a modicum of responsibility.




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Earthquake Hits Sandown Twice: Once by nature, once by politics

This morning a 2.7 magnitude earthquake hit Sandown.  I ran to my window thinking the oil delivery truck I was expecting had flipped over and exploded near my house. As exciting as that was, it didn’t compare to the explosive revelations at the school board meeting tonight.

Shawn O’Neil of Danville read an email during public comment that he said he had obtained from SAU 55’s printer.  The email was allegedly sent from someone he didn’t identify in the SAU office at around 1:15 pm on Feb. 9, 2018, the afternoon after Timberlane’s Deliberative Session.  The email tells the printer that the default budget was not yet finalized.  The email writer than asks how long they had before having to submit the final ballot for printing.

Why is this a seismic revelation?  Well, for one thing, the school board had finalized the default budget.  Further, upon direct questioning last week, Mrs. Belcher explained that the ballots always go to the printer the day after deliberative session. By law, the default budget can be changed up until the ballots are printed.

It’s no secret that the superintendent and certain elements of the board are unhappy with the fact that our default budget is actually lower than our proposed operating budget this year.

If the email is proven to be genuine, (and there’s no reason to suspect it isn’t), then certain unknown party or parties at our SAU appear to have been delaying printing the ballots in the hope that elements on the school board would succeed in increasing the default budget. My resignation gave them this sliver of a hope.

Without me, the board was split 4-4 on controversial votes.  Motions such as increasing the default budget, for instance, would fail. This is why certain members of the board worked hard to get Lee Dube, my replacement, to vote by phone tonight even though he was not legally qualified to do so because he had not physically signed his oath of office. (Thank you to Dr. Farah for that perceptive catch.) Mr. Dube ended up being unavailable by phone and thus was not compromised by any of these dealings.

Did four people on the board know Mr. Dube would be favorable to increasing the default budget? Or were they just gambling?

Note to Sandown’s newly appointed representative, Mr. Dube:  be careful who your friends are.

A motion to bring this matter to the attention of the Attorney General’s Office failed by a vote of 4-4, with the usual SAU sycophants  voting against  – Sue Sherman, Dan Guide, Kelly Ward and Peter Bealo.  Chairman Boyle said he would pursue the matter privately.

Funny, how even Mr. Boyle is turning into a Donna Green.  What is it about Timberlane and SAU 55 that drives elected officials to seek the assistance of state authorities?

Personally, I see nothing to disturb the Attorney General with.  If the email proves to be genuine and the reason for it merely a hope for a better default budget, then we have a simple case of political interference by the SAU.  Surprise!

Even though we know nothing will improve at SAU 55, there is good reason to now fear that there is no bottom.




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My Certified Letter to TRSD Auditor

During tonight’s school board meeting, Chairman Boyle pretended he knew nothing of my complaint to the Timberlane auditors. In fact, every board member knew of my letter to the auditor.  They just chose to do nothing about it and shame on them.

Instead of accepting responsibility to look into the issues I question, Mr. Boyle goes on and on about how a single school board member is not authorized to direct an auditor.  Well, guess what?  I’m not directing an auditor.  I’m pointing out issues of interest that a prudent auditor would examine.  Mr. Boyle, as a former auditor himself, would know this very well.  Instead, he chose to throw me under the bus and most disingenuously.

My questions are simple.  Were these overexpenditures approved or weren’t they?  Surely Mr. Dowd has a quick answer to that, so there is no reason at all for the auditing fees to be increased because of my letter.

My letter was sent via email to the entire school board, Timberlane’s auditors, as well as the Commissioner of Education on Jan. 2.  I recently sent it again to the auditor via certified mail since I had not received any acknowledgement of my email.

Donna Green <>
Tue, Jan 2, 2018 at 1:48 PM
To:, “Edelblut, Louis (Frank)” <>, brian boyle <>, TRSD School Board <>, TRSD Budget Committee <>, “Metzler, Earl” <>

Dear Auditor:

By RSA 32:10, expenditures which exceed the line item appropriations in the voted
budget must be authorized by the governing body. By Timberlane policy DJB, our
superintendent has discretion on overexpenditures until a line is in excess of $25,000. Prior board approval must be obtained when a line is overexpended beyond $25,000.

In the school year 2016/17 which your firm is currently auditing, there were $710,000 of expenditures in excess of $25,000 over and above the voted budget line item
appropriations. A chart is attached for your reference.

The school board approved a $167,000 unbudgeted expenditure for online reading
program, Achieve 3000. The board voted to purchase this program without knowing
that our superintendent’s wife was associated with Achieve 3000 as a consultant. A
further approximately $30,000 was voted for a contract to construct batting cages which was awarded to a school board member on a no-bid basis. (See RSA 95:1) Other than these, I do not recall the school board authorizing expenditures that would require transfers of appropriations in excess of $25,000.

Were all these $710,000 in expenditures above the policy threshold amount properly

Furthermore, six of the overexpended lines have material discrepancies between the
voted budget and budgets reported to elected bodies. There are 60 budget lines in total that show discrepancies. A spreadsheet is attached for your reference. The amounts reported by TRSD as the 2017 budget line amounts (as it appears on monthly financial reports and the Timberlane Budget Committee preparation documents) differ from the final voted budget. If these discrepancies were encumbrances, one would not expect to see so many of these discrepancies nor would one expect to see negative differences from the voted budget.

For your convenience, monthly reports, budgets, and charts are available at:

I am bringing your attention to basic financial control issues which the administration has declined to explain.

Also please be aware that the procedure of your firm has been to deliver Timberlane’s school district audit to SAU 55 when it should be given directly to the school board via its chairman without delay or intermediary.

Please feel free to call me for further clarification or reference information.


Donna Green
Sandown representative on the Timberlane Regional School Board


cc: Frank Edelblut, NH Commissioner of Education
cc: Brian Boyle, Chairman Timberlane Regional School Board
cc: Earl Metzler, Superintendent, SAU 55
cc: Timberlane Regional School Board
cc: Timberlane Regional Budget Committee
2 attachments
Budget reporting deviations (3).xls 54K

Transfer of appropriations 2017 (1).pdf 54K


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Arthur Green Explains Sandown Tax Hike

The Sandown Board of Selectman got a tutorial on why Sandown school taxes are skyrocketing while the other towns in our school district catch a break.  What he neglected to say, but should have, is that three years ago we led everyone to the fire escape but the Board of Selectmen barred the door.

Withdrawing from the Timberlane Regional School District is the only way Sandown can grow as a town, welcome young families, and control our educational costs.  Not only that, doing it ourselves gives us a chance at real academic excellence.

Mr Green’s public comment is split into two short segments:

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