In the NH Town of Moultonboro you have what appears to be the classic power play of an unelected “expert” on all things municipal – the Town Administrator, who has a burning desire to see to it that all of the regulations in this town are followed to the letter – except the “letter” he sent to the Selectmen.
Here is how it goes from my perch:
The Planning Board has an issue regarding a structure built without permission, but this structure had the possibility of meeting all the requirements.
The Planning Board had various votes and with a final assembly of the needed quorum, granted approval for the pre-existing structure.
This would be the point any aggrieved party would ask for a re-hearing, appeal the decision, go to Superior Court, etc. That means in public by procedure.
But this was the point a “petition” showed up, out of thin air, accusing two planning board members of malfeasance and suggesting their removal from the planning board.
Instantly, and on cue, the Selectmen start the process – much like robots.
The Moultonboro Selectmen seemed caught in a trance. They were acting on the demands of their office that they abide by the mysterious “petition”.
But it turns out, thanks to good old RSA 91-A, our Right to Know Law, that the Town Administrator wrote a letter to the Selectmen suggesting the removal process. A letter isn’t a petition in this instance.
Here is what is involved:
You have a position in town called the Town Administrator. He has no real power such as a Town Manager would under statute and contract. But he can acquire as much power as the Selectmen grant him or he can connive.
The Moultonboro Town Administrator wanted several things desperately:
1. He wanted to show the people who got Planning Board Approval that the Moultonboro Zoning and Planning Regs. are not to be trifled with. After all, this is about (his) municipal power.
2. He had the need to be the unelected leader of the Board of Selectmen, especially if they are compliant and feeble. This is a Town Administrator priority.
3. And it all has to be done underhandedly through deception and manipulation.
4. Oh, and the town lawyer will help a bit.
5. And don’t forget, that the targets have to be publicly humiliated so no one else will mess with the all powerful Town Administrator! (Chest pump here.)
Enter some suddenly aware taxpayers and the whole plan hits the skids. A little unfavorable newspaper stories, the Right to Know Law, a blog or two, and peace and harmony will begin with the next election.
In the mean time the Selectmen can choose to stand on their own two feet and dismiss the silly charges brought deceptively by the Town Administrator or they can ride the wave and see if taxpayers are happy with losing the upcoming court case to oust two Planning Board members without probable cause
Does everyone know where they stand, because this will only get worse if it isn’t straightened out?