CONCERN IN THE COMMUNITY
March 4, 2017 by Ryan Thibeault
I am writing this article to simply inform the community and ask for their involvement in a solution to eliminate the reoccurring dark overcasting cloud on the town of Milton Board of Selectmen. Looking at the past several months, unfortunately there have been several occurrences that have led to an undesirable image of the Board of Selectmen. Several of these issues were highlighted in the recent BOS meeting, but I would like to focus on the most recent one: several Right to Know request turned in against two selectmen. This was a very “hot topic” on the Our Milton Home Facebook page on February 26, 2017 and seems to be the topic of discussion throughout the community. This was brought up in public comments at the February 27, 2017 BOS meeting; during this meeting it was clear the board was trying to avoid the subject (see recording of meeting on town website around minute 45:30); the issue was not clearly addressed.
First off, I would like to challenge everyone to focus on the issue at hand and set aside any current or past conflicts while removing personal feelings. Let’s focus on the RTK request that include emails, phone conversations, and text messages since December 1, 2016. We have one board member submitting to see phone records, text messages, and emails between two other board members. If two members of the BOS were consulting about town business without it being posted as a public meeting, this is a violation of RSA 91-A.
I have reached out to all board members with the current statement, “In order for the town and BOS to move forward, I see a real need to put the concern of private meetings and conversations between members on the BOS to bed. What is your current plan to address this issue?” Each member was also informed that I was considering writing an article in regards to this concern. I received the following replies: Tom Grey replied that he cannot comment too much during an ongoing investigation. Mike Beaulieu replied to bring it up at the next selectmen meeting and would not comment any further. Andy Rawson did not answer the question and would not comment any further.
Over the past few weeks I’ve had conversations with each individual board member, all members have told me at different times they have absolutely nothing to hide on their phones. It was suggested that all board member’s release phone records (including calls and texts) and emails between each other at the last BOS meeting to ease the concerns of the public that nothing has been done wrong. Tom Grey agreed he would be willing to release his phone records, Andy Rawson seemed open to the idea, and Mike Beaulieu would not comment. Once again, I would encourage you to watch the recording of this meeting, which can be found on the town’s website, so you can see first-hand how the board responded.
As a citizen, I find a couple things very alarming: the possibility of an RSA violation and the lack of response from the board members to end this concern with the community. I’m hoping the reason for a lack of response is simply because the board is unsure how to address the issue and end this reoccurring concern.
In an attempt to solve this disconnect between board members themselves and the community, I would like to make the following proposal. Each BOS member release phone records, text messages, and emails sent between any two individuals on the board. I realize these phones are member’s personal cell phones, so it would not be appropriate or fair to ask for the release of the entire record, but it is very important to have a 3rd party review the records. Therefore, I would make the recommendation that each member’s phone record and text message documents from cell phone providers be sent to the police chief(if willing to participate), where he can black out all irrelevant information to this issue.
Actions speak much louder than words and this would be a great opportunity for the board to lead by example. Solving this concern as a community, should lead to a boost in community spirt. If all statements made by board members are true, there should be no hesitation or concern with this proposal and it will help ease one concern many citizens in the town of Milton have.
March 14th we have the opportunity to select a new board member, regardless of who becomes the new member on the board, I think it is very important that this issue be resolved and put to rest prior to the election. I would encourage everyone in the community to attend the next BOS meeting on Monday, March 6, 2017 6:00PM at the town hall or politely, respectfully, and professionally encourage each selectman to participate in a solution to end this concern. I would encourage everyone to share this with all of your friends, family, or neighbors in Milton. Let’s put this issue behind us, so we can move forward in a positive direction as a team, to focus on the real needs of the community.
Don’t forget to vote Tuesday, March 14, 2017!
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