As usual, I got a tip that a public body was going to have a “non-public” meeting which was in all likelihood a public meeting that just innocently wandered off the path. In this case it was this Friday, Sept. 26 morning at the Attorney General’s Office – Charitable Trust Division in Concord. The attendees were to be two Atkinson Selectmen and their new Town Administrator. Throw in another guy, our surprise attendee, an activist Atkinson taxpayer we will call, “Mark”. Mark spotted a posting of a non-public meeting at the AG’s office and called me as well.
Terry Knowles of the Charitable Trust Division let Mark and me into the meeting, which turned out to be more educational than anything - and for good cause. (CNHT LIKES Mrs. Knowles, she is one of the State Employees we count on to do the right thing every time, she rarely disappoints.)
For some time, the Town of Atkinson has had to put up with a big, fat, sore spot known as - the part time police chief/full time huge liability. He is one, Chief Consentino.
Chiefo Consentino has had some “problems” with a slush fund of donated money he has control of. The donations were to the Town of Atkinson Police Department which is dominated by Chiefo Consentino and his merry band of Chiefetts.
Here is how the deal works:
Chiefo hauls grateful senior citizens to doctor appointments in a taxpayer-funded patrol car looking vehicle – at very questionable expense to Atkinson taxpayers, even the ones who don’t use his service. The grateful seniors make donations, write letters, defend the idiot chiefo through his many lawsuits and stupid actions – and prop up his political career with votes.
Nice gig if the Chiefo likes ya – not so much if you are subject to his tiny-minded wrath. (See lawsuits involving this dope on the CNHT web site.)
Enter the AG’s Office and the slush funds. They are not quite LEGAL.
This leaves the Atkinson Selectmen and the Chiefo in a quandary. From what I can see, several of the Atkinson Selectmen want to follow the law and are learning how to set up proper funds for tax-free donations to the PD.
Chiefo Carpentino, on the other hand, has already started his own 501(c)3 to stash donations without any supervision except the Chiefetts. This is most likely doomed to fail but until CNHT gets the MANDATORY filings Chiefo has to submit, we will not know for sure. I have a hunch Chiefo will use his expert bully skills to try something slippery here as well.
Back to the AG’s office:
When Terry Knowles introduced me to the Atkinson Selectmen she mentioned I was a former selectman myself. I let them know I was there in my capacity as CNHT Chairman.
What the Atkinson Board does not know is how far back Mrs. Knowles and I go. They should take a look at what can happen in small town politics, especially in light of what they are going through.
Back in 1991 Mrs. Knowles was a selectman in the town of Weare. My Right to Know case in Deering, right next door to Weare, led to the temporary arrest of three selectmen and the crooked road agent they were hell-bent on protecting. The Deering Selectmen had to abolish the police department and wait out their trial date to avoid prosecution.
Hmmmm, protect bozo, get arrested and/or humiliated. Sound like something that could happen in another town?
Just a few years ago, Terry Knowles, like every other citizen who attended, sat at her Weare Deliberative Session and watched me dismantle the career of the then Police chief, Miles Rigney, someone cut from the same bully cloth as the Atkinson Chiefo. The voters of Weare sided with my arguments regarding a warrant article to make Rigney’s position elected instead of appointed and what do you know – no more Miles Rigney.
Now Weare has gone from the laughing stock of local police departments to a quiet, stable one. There are few areas in need of improvement, but it is vastly improved.
Take a hint Atkinson Selectmen! Do the right thing. It will only hurt for a while but the whole community will be better.
Don’t let yourselves or any portion of your community be bullied.