Secret By Design

The Town of Londonderry has two big problems.

One is the Londonderry Design Review Committee. The other is the Town Manager,  David Caron.

As laid out in a series of stories here:

http://www.theunionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Town+manager+defends+Woodmont+meetings&articleId=b7d0473f-b1d9-4892-a862-84eede913590 there are some issues taxpayers in all NH towns should be aware of.

RSA 91-A requires all meetings of public bodies to be open to the public, as in; even the subdivision of a public body must publish and post when meetings will be held and keep minutes of the meetings,  the public can attend, and the public can get minutes and records from the public body.

The Londonderry Design Review Committee, by the admission of the Town Manager David Caron, consists of representatives from Londonderry's planning, public works, building, police and fire departments, a team of department managers and other board or commission members who report their findings to the town's Planning Board on an advisory basis.

This is a public body by any definition and is entirely subject to the Right to Know Law, RSA 91-A.

In the news article, the Town Manager described the committee like this:

"They offered comments based on design issues and other concerns," Caron said. "To be clear, these meetings are not in the context where minutes are kept or required."

Caron stressed that, unlike regular Town Council and Planning Board meetings, the town isn't required to post "these types of meeting."

"This is far from uncommon," Caron said yesterday afternoon. "The only difference would be the sheer magnitude of this project."

According to Caron, the committee regularly meets with developers before the public unveiling of plans in front of the Planning Board, with representatives from each department offering their feedback.

I find it almost impossible to comprehend a NH Town Manager trying to sell that bogus statement.

Here is the problem:

Town Managers are almost the single sole authority in any town that adopts that way of doing business. They are supposed to know and abide by state statutes. RSA 91-A is a basic statute any professional should be aware of, understand and comply with.

In the case of Londonderry there is a town charter which was adopted by voters in 1996 when they left the traditional town form of government and went “professional.”

Here is the Charter. The town manager powers are spelled out in Chapter #4:

http://www.londonderrynh.org/ch1_charter.pdf

Taxpayers in Londonderry should be aware of the fact that when a professional town manager tries to explain away his flagrant violation of RSA 91-A there may be more of a problem than missing meeting minutes.

Also, taxpayers may want to hear from Londonderry’s law firm and see if the lawyers you are paying represent the town manager or the taxpayers.

If your lawyers come up with some flimsy way of validating secret meetings by government bodies with developers it is time for action

Good luck!