It came like a bolt out of the blue.
Everyone in Derry had pretty much settled down to the change in the town's power balance after last November's election, which swept the old powers that were away. Former chairman Brad Benson was reduced to a council onlooker, where he sits next to councilor Neil Wetherbee, and both seethe with the anger of the newly displaced. At least Wetherbee has finally had his private road taken over by the town and paved, dramatically increasing his property value folks said.
The latest town manager in a long curious string, John Anderson, was riding high, treating the new councilors who now hold the power with unusual disdain, since they are his new bosses. John still openly chooses, or did, shall we say, to answer to the angry minority of Benson and Wetherbee. And from his power chair on the left he also mocked the occasional citizen who rankled him with a question which he found beneath him. He was often joined in his excess by the sniggering offered up by Benson and Wetherbee. And sometimes these Gold Dust Twins would join him in skewering the citizen attempting, in many cases, to offer a better way of doing business.
It seemed, despite councilor Al Dimmock's pointed chastising of Anderson and Al's pointing out whom the town manager now worked for a number of meetings ago, that John Anderson would maintain his haughty position forever. And his level of bluster could easily be determined by the redness of his cheeks.
Out there somewhere, late on the evening of July 11th and 12th, Thursday night and early Friday morning, Anderson's bravado came to an abrupt end as evidenced by a phone call from Derry's hard working and honest police chief, Ed Garone, to the assistant town manager, J. Lawrence Budreau. Chief Garone advised Budreau that a criminal investigation was being launched into the activities of John Anderson, Derry's Town Administrator, that the activities did not involve the town, and further that the New Hampshire State Police will be handling the investigation. Chief Garone quickly recognized the need for an outside agency to be called in to remove any sense of a conflict of interest.
On Friday, July 12th, the Derry Town Council, under the guidance of Chairman Mike Fairbanks in a non-public meeting because it dealt with a personnel matter, placed Anderson on immediate administrative leave.
Councilor Wetherbee is said to be animated to an unheard of degree, the most since he publicly demanded that his private road be bought by the town and then paved, all done on the night he threw caution and voted for it all without recusing himself. And Wetherbee is said to be heating up the need for the next nationwide search for a town administrator. The same sort of search that brought Dowd, after he jumped the table from council chair to DEDC chairman as soon as he had procured funding for the latter post, and Gary Stenhouse of Rochester, police commissioner in the latter town who was found still commissioning well after he had stated he had resigned that position. Stenhouse also brought in a keen economic outreach director from Dover who, as soon as she was vested in her benefits, left on an endless sick leave. Dowd would leave and start a sub shop out of town and eventually disappear, while Stenhouse's tenure was marked by four items: the enormous early buy out clause contained in his contract to be executed if the powers that be or were grew tired of his madcap hijinx; his unique living arrangements where he rented a bungalow by the lake to meet the requirements of his contract, yet drive by's during the winter work week revealed frost on the inside of the windows, a single lamp lit way in the back, and a snow covered porch where the occasional newspaper broke through the unblemished white surface, nope, nobody home; and Stenhouse's unique work week agreed to by the old boys which amounted to very little; and lastly, his widely publicized arrest of the hot dog man out near the dump, another long saga of promises and betrayal.
You see, historically, Derry's vaunted nation-wide searches have usually reached as far MRI's (Municipal Research Association) list of unemployed members. And thanks to Wally Stickney and MRI, Derry has ended up with such luminaries as former Town Administrator Carol Granfield and Fire Chief George Klauber.
But when it comes to John Anderson today, everybody remains mum, really mum, waiting for that next heavy NH State Police high gloss black brogan to fall with a pronounced thud. Even folks who have known each other for years are following the Mafia code of 'omerta'.
Yup, in Derry, tear drops will fall tonight, tear drops will fall.
It came like a bolt out of the blue.