So now we have a statewide story about how sloppy the State of New Hampshire's "books" are, according to some guy from KPMG, the auditing firm from Boston that audits our state books.
I was intrigued by the story for a moment. But as I read the article I noticed a few differences in what I know to be fact and what the accounting firm is saying and the NH news media is interpreting.
As a former selectmen from one of the most crooked towns in NH, Deering, I know something about audits. Auditors audit what you give them and audit for what you ask them to audit. Like your lawyer who comes up with a plausible reason why you did not commit some crime you clearly committed. I lost all faith in auditors in NH once I was a selectman.
The same goes for the State of NH Dept of Revenue.
But I do know some other truths I learned the hard way.
The media in this state will target individuals they want out of office on behalf of Governor Lynch. It looks like Dept. of Revenue Commissioner, Phil Blatsos, is next. Here is why I think this.
The AP hit piece on Blatsos says he is holding back information from the auditors but doesn't describe WHAT the commissioner is holding. The Right to Know Law has exemptions. If there was some inkling of what the Commissioner was supposedly holding from the auditors review I could decide if he was correct in his actions or not.
About Commissioner Blatsos.
Several years ago I was working with the very sharp guys in the Lancaster Taxpayers Association regarding their new revaluation done by the firm of Earls Nieder and Perkins. ENP bailed on Lancaster without producing an assessing manual required by state law and the contract with Lancaster.
The assessment was a mess and created a fire storm of taxpayer complaints. A public hearing was called and Commissioner Batsos, other representatives from the DRA, the assessing firm, taxpayers, and CNHT (me) were there. Also attending were one state senator and two state Reps.
After all the cross talk was over I asked te commissioner why, since even though it was after the March 1 abatement filing deadline, couldn't taxpayers still file for abatements since ENP did not finish the contract for assessing on time. I was told it was against the law. March 1 is the deadline.
It seems assessing firms can ignore deadlines and contracts but taxpayers are held to the law. What else is new.
Next, I asked Commissioner Blatsos why I can't get documents from the DRA to find out we have a problem like this BEFORE it happens.
Commissioner Blatsos turned to his assistant, Guy Pettel, and told him, "Whenever Mr. Naile comes to the office give him whatever he asks for from the files." It has been so ever since. I have no problem getting documents from the DRA.
I don't ask for non-public documents such as personal income documents, or personnel information.
So what seems interesting to me is why it is statewide news that Commissioner Blatsos is "holding back information" from this auditing firm but the story isn't covering what documents are inquestion.
We have a rigged with lawyers Right to Know Commission that is happily and systematically stripping the effectiveness from RSA 91-A, our Right to Know Law, as we speak and the Governor and the news media don't seem to care. But THIS is news?
No. It is more like Lynch wants an excuse to dump Commissioner Blatsos and the NH Media will give him all the press he needs to do it.
If Governor Lynch REALLY wanted to look at an audit he has a fresh one sitting in his hot little hands - the audit from ten years of the NH Insurance Commission.
You remember the NH Public Radio story about Insurance Commission "scandal' with "volunteer" Linda Pepin that pummelled Governor Benson in the press day in and day out for several years. This was the basis for Lynch's ethics campaign. What a laugh that looks like now.
Well from the parts of the 136 page audit I read it looks like Linda Pepin was right about waste and non-bidding of contracts in the Insurance Commission under former Commissioner Paula Rogers - mother of NHPR radio journalist/muckraker Josh Rogers who broke the Pepin story.
How about cleaning up that mess Governor Lynch? Or are we too busy leaving our mark on NH with your new liberal agenda?
Could we be looking for a new DRA Commissioner like maybe Stan Arnold to come back. Or some other pro-income tax toadie?
Just a thought.