Derry Town government - crisis in leadership

The citizens of Derry turn to Town Council Chairman, Brian Chirichiello, for leadership in these increasingly troubled times.

But a growing number of taxpayers are asking questions about the embattled chairman…

A few scant years ago Chairman Jack Dowd expressed the idea that over 55 housing would provide almost limitless revenue for Derry with no conceivable downside, and the council gave him a resounding yes.

But times have changed across the region since those halcyon days, when the Town’s coffers were going to groan under the weight of the free revenue and Jack ruled the roost. Today these projects are being grossly over built across the region, while little or no attention has been paid to their long term costs to the communities ( ).

And now, with over 55 housing projects sprouting up all over Derry like mushrooms thanks to the planning board, with the first example on Fordway Drive nearing completion, Bunker Estates, we find that Chairman Chirichiello, of Prudential-Verani, is an agent responsible for the sale of its units ( ). You can see him at the site, answering questions and giving tours.

But the sales of Bunker Hill are stagnant, with only seven or so of its units sold - being located near the entrance to the dump and the DPW barns, and all. And pretty soon the developer will get on the agenda of the zoning board and beg for a variance and presto, the whole shooting match will be turned into apartments so he can pay the bank . Can the town’s people expect Chairman Chirichiello to remain neutral in this matter with a client involved?

But over 55 developments are still being approved despite the bad news, with Jack Dowd, now responsible for commercial development, showing up at the planning board meetings to show support for his friends, who are still slapping up these residential dinosaurs.

Then, after Jack baled out last July, the Town Council held an open meeting to select a temporary replacement for the dearly departed chairman, whose term would expire in March of ‘07.

After the briefest go at interviews, the council majority selected Ms. Pat Dowling of… Prudential-Verani. And Chirichiello, rather than recuse himself from the obvious ethical problems associated with voting for a friend and co-worker, decided to cast his public ballot for Dowlin g.

And now three current councilors, Chirichiello, Dowling, and Bev Ferrante, all work at the same office.

Then there was the late lamentable problem of Chairman Chirichiello’s embarrassing summertime slip about the location of the new fire station, the town’s fifth, to a potential real estate customer, which raised the ire of a few folks in town, who called for his resignation because he violated the RSA on divulging Town business garnered from non-public session.

Chirichiello then sought out a n expensive attorney for a meeting, who charged the solon over $900 for the session. Chirichielloquickly asked the Council (taxpayers) to foot the bill for his gaffe. But his reimbursement never got the OK from the Derry Council due to the public furor, and the poor man had to use his own money to cover the expenses he incurred as a realtor. He also refused to resign.

With Marcoux heading to Bedford (Derry News, 12/6/06, “Marcoux up for Bedford position”), with 90days left on his clock, Chairman Chirichiello will soon announce the immediate appointment of John Moody as the interim Town Manager for six months, in the middle of union negotiations, at the height of the budget season, without any kind of a search, interviews, and public discussion.

Uniquely, Moody is a member of Derry Village Rotary with councilors Bulkeley and Dowling, Jack Dowd, and Fire Chief Klauber; a former member of the DEDC with Dowd; and the one time superintendent of Derry schools. And he brings unique qualifications to the table: absolutely no experience in municipal management whatsoever, no previous exposure to municipal union negotiations in any form, and no Town budget exposure.

And now Chirichiello is engaged in a public disagreement with The Derry News about the nomination of John Moody. The paper believes that Chirichiello’s non-published, post-meeting discussion on Moody, conducted only after the public and the press had left the chambers, constitutes a lack of transparency (Derry News editorial, “Derry council wasn’t interested in public’s views,” 12/15/2006). But Chirichiello claims, in a letter, that the late night episode was completely above board (“Derry council has nothing to hide,” Derry News, 12/15/06), that the public could’ve remained and should’ve known, and that the paper is sensationalizing the matter in an attempt to boost its flagging sales.

Meanwhile, elections loom on March 13th