Down in the bowels of municipal government there is a bond, a deep, deep bond between the local media and city or town managers. I would not call it love but it is definitely a fixation between the two.
Maybe it is because liberals, who often run local papers and news outlets of all kinds, have a great affection for other liberals in power who often act as municipal dictators.
In New Hampshire the town manager position falls under RSA 37:5.
But in the next statute, RSA 37:6, a town manager is given control of:
VII. To have charge, control, and supervision, subject to the direction of the selectmen and to the bylaws of the town, if any, of the following matters:
(a) The management of municipal water works, lighting, and power systems.
(b) The construction, maintenance, and repairing of all town buildings and of all town roads, highways, sidewalks, and bridges, except as otherwise specially voted by the town.
(c) The purchase of all supplies for the town.
(d) The police and fire departments of the town, if any.
(e) The system of sewers and drainage, if any.
(f) The lighting of streets, highways, and bridges.
(g) The sprinkling of streets and highways, the laying of dust, and the removal of snow.
(h) The maintenance of parks, commons, and playgrounds.
(i) The care of cemeteries when the town has adopted the provisions of RSA 289:6, II.
(j) The letting, making, and performance of all contracts for work done for the town.
In municipalities adopting the provisions hereof, the town manager shall supersede any board of commissioners or other supervisory officer or officers previously established, elected, or appointed to have superintendence of any of the matters specified in the foregoing paragraphs (a) to (j) inclusive; except that he shall not supersede, nor shall adoption of this chapter in any way impair the authority and duties of, fire engineers, the commissioner of transportation and his assistants, or any police commission created by act of the legislature.
If you are a progressive, then you believe in top down management by an enlightened being – not that old-fashioned voter approval nonsense. And do not let the supervision by selectmen get in the way of reality. Selectmen come and go, one at a time, through elections. Town and city managers are the real power in a municipality.
So there you have the connection and an explanation of why in Berwick, Maine the local reporter dismembered a story about a town manager leaving his post rather than respond to what amounts a right to know request.
New Hampshire gets some of its town managers from Maine where they are subject to similar wide open laws regarding their responsibilities.
Will there be a follow-up story about WHY the heralded town manager would rather skip town than respond to a right to know request?
And why is the local paper not making the right to know request?
That would be up to the local paper or a local taxpayer group if Berwick has one.
I will be on the lookout for Town Manager Jim McMahon should he wander south.
You should as well.