Corrupt Gang of Four Railroads Anderson
Those who missed the channel 26 broadcast of the January 20, 2004 meeting of the Farmington Planning Board missed an outrageous, successful attempt to railroad the chairman of the Zoning and Master Plan Subcommittee (ZAMPS), Brad Anderson, who is respected by all members of ZAMPS with the exception of Hiram Watson, who, having it in for Brad Anderson for a long time now, eagerly—if a bit nervously—was quick to second Bill Tsiros's babbling reasons for removing Brad from the ZAMPS.
Last summer, the citizens of Farmington voted, 208 to 68, to enact an Interim Growth Ordinance (IGO). They know that a root cause of the problems in our town is uncontrolled growth, and have faith in the ZAMPS's ability to work hard during the year the IGO is in place to update the Master Plan and Zoning regulations, with—it is hoped—an eye to managing Farmington's growth rate before all our small town character is lost altogether—before our schools are overburdened, and our water, sewer, police and fire services are unable to handle the problems growth brings without more and more hikes in our taxes. The people of Farmington know what is happening, and want those who represent us to do all they can to alleviate these problems.
Unfortunately, we have in Farmington a relentless gang who, even before the citizens voted for the IGO, connived at every turn to kill the process. And even now they continue to distract and pester and make demands on the ZAMPS, month after month, keeping them from doing the work they are willing to do, and are capable of doing, if left to their own devices.
Farmington has seldom seen such a bright, talented, willing, eager group of volunteers as the ZAMPS. They spend endless hours in meetings, sometimes several times a week, away from their families, their jobs, and other obligations. They want nothing more than to do the job they were entrusted—by the voters—to do.
But alas, there is a bunch of good ole boys in this town who don't want the efforts of the ZAMPS to succeed. It's clear they just plain have it in for Brad Anderson. They are jealous of his brains, his dedication, his abilities, his fresh, forward-looking ideas, and his total lack of any moneyed interests resulting from the thousands of hours he has given to this town. After all, the good ole boys hate it when someone steps out of line, interferes with their hijinks, and threatens their profits.
At the end of the January 20 Planning Board meeting, when most of the public had gone home, Hiram Watson, as he is wont to do in self-righteous, moralizing fashion, scolded the ZAMPS for their letter responding to Bill Tsiros's attack on Brad Anderson. He would have everyone know that he found it inappropriate that a group of people would sign a letter responding to an individual. But who is Hiram to silence anyone? Where does he get off, dictating to a group of responsible, dedicated volunteers who, not insignificantly, very much like their chairman, Brad Anderson, and felt they ought to let their approval of him be known. They did so in appropriate fashion, though they might have been tempted to really let Tsiros have it with both barrels for his wild charges against Brad.
So, near the end of the January 20 PB meeting, in such rapid-fire succession that it is hard to believe the whole thing wasn't set up (read the transcript), Hiram Watson scolds ZAMPS, a dumbfounded Charlie King (one of the decent, smart ones on the PB, and a signee of the ZAMPS letter rebutting Bill Tsiros's outrageous letter) disagrees "100%" with Hiram's assessment. And before we could catch our breaths, Bill Tsiros asks for the floor, and Horgan recognizes him, adding, "Be gentle." (What's with that instruction from Horgan? Did Horgan know what was Bill was about to pull?). Tsiros rummages around for some lame reasons for painting Brad as a crooked devil and detriment to the town and makes a motion to bounce Brad from the chair of ZAMPS.
Horgan asks for a second on Tsiros's motion, which Hiram, a tad nervous, provides, but for different reasons, he says, from Bill's reasons. And what his reasons amount to is a rehashing of his obsessive complaint that he, a member of ZAMPS (though not a very active one; in fact, the least active member), is being ignored in his demand that the town pave all our dirt roads (actually, he would settle for having the road in front of his house paved) according to the 1998 Master Plan. What Hiram has been told, but apparently can't digest, is that the Master Plan is a living, breathing document, and more people than he are aware now how perhaps it might be desirable not to pave every last scrap of our 12 miles of dirt roads in Farmington. Apparently Hiram sees not everyone in town is all that eager to spend more tax money on more paving, and might just like driving "out in the country" on our dirt roads, and so he goes after Brad Anderson as a scapegoat—the arch-enemy who would not "honor" the Master Plan version of 1998.
So Hiram Watson seconded Bill Tsiros's motion, ending with a faux-self-effacing, "but that's just me." In that, he is right, but the thing is, his seconding that motion was just one step in the Gang of Four's sleazy effort to get rid of Anderson.
What happened next was almost predictable. Horgan asked for the vote. Tsiros, Watson, and Barry Elliott, the selectmen's rep to the PB, voted to ax Brad, while Charlie King, Gary White, and Troy Robidas voted not to do so. Ah, so then it was up to Horgan to cast the deciding vote.
Keep in mind that Horgan never votes except to break a tie, and then when he does, he invariably votes along with the Good Ole Boys. True to form, after emitting a soul-searching sigh, Horgan voted with the Gang, making the Gang a Gang of Four.
Here is the time to recall that last spring, Horgan, then acting chair of the PB, wrote a letter to the selectmen recommending that Brad Anderson be bounced from the PB. To refresh your memory about all that, read Troika Axes Anderson, which has a link to Horgan's letter, which was the sole basis for the Troika's bouncing Brad—well, that, and some mean-spirited grumblings from Barry Elliott, who has always had it in for Brad anyway.
What this most recent axing of Anderson all means—in a nutshell—is this:
There are people in our town government who want to see the work of the ZAMPS committee fail, and who are doing all they can to bring about that failure. Here are some examples:
Right from the start, all the ZAMPS has asked for is a little planning help from Mike Garrepy, a planner already working part time for the town. They have worked like demons, getting out those surveys, holding the three Gatherings for everybody in this town who wanted to give the ZAMPS input for their work on the Master Plan and Zoning Regulations.
Chairman Horgan has sternly said, repeatedly, that there were "limited resources" available for that assistance, and then he proceeded to create yet another committee, the "research committee", which, he said, would require a lot of the money set aside for this effort. And he appointed his buddy, Don MacVane, to chair that committee. In a spirit of helpfulness, Margaret Russell, John Wingate, Chris Purdum (who all have considerable expertise doing research), all joined that committee, months ago. Chairman Don called one meeting, but stormed out saying there wasn't a quorum to hold that meeting, though what having a quorum has to do with doing research was never explained. Chairman Don hasn't been much of a leader, since there have been no meetings, no direction from him to his committee members.
So, we have Horgan issuing controlling mandates left and right: every cent ZAMPS wants must be begged for from the PB, Mike Garrepy wouldn't be on call for ZAMPS without prior approval by Horgan.
Then we have others who naysay the will of the people who voted for the IGO, denigrating the process at every turn. Barry Elliott was the only member of the PB who voted against sending the IGO to the voters. He welcomes growth of any kind, apparently, advocating spot zoning all over the place if it will make it "easy" for his pet "economic development" schemes and dreams—no matter what deleterious effect his welcome-all-comers might have on the community. But what do we expect from Elliott who once said that he was "against open space." Apparently he would pave over the whole town, heedless of what effect that paving might have on our watersheds, our air quality, etc. At the Planning Board meeting on January 20, without giving any specifics, Elliott sarcastically dissed the Cluster Development Ordinance, aiming to kill it (gee, interesting that Brad Anderson advocates Cluster Development, as does the Planning Board's own "advisor" from Strafford Regional Planning Commission, Gerry Mylroie) while all the while, in that jocular, phony self-effacing way he has, said stuff like, "Gee, I'm not a planner, but this doesn't sound right to me," and "I have so many questions about all this." When Gerry Mylroie patiently explained the obvious benefits of cluster development to a community, Elliott continued to play dumb and be critical. Ah, but remember, Elliott is "against" open space.
As one of the ZAMPS members said, the committee has done every thing it can possibly do to line up its ducks in perfect order, and no matter what they do, those who would undermine their efforts keep hammering away, tossing down yet more roadblocks, distracting them, belittling their work, canning their chairman, without—and this is important—ever asking the committee members themselves if they want Brad off the committee. In fact, they do not. Yet, their work is disrupted, Brad is asked to step down, and by a very small Gang of Four, who haven't themselves, with the exception of a disgruntled inactive member of ZAMPS, Watson, even attended a meeting of ZAMPS to have so much as a clue what the committee members are doing during all the endless hours they are volunteering to carry out the mandate of the voters, to make Farmington a better place to live. If the Gang of Four's attempt to remove Anderson from ZAMPS isn't technically illegal, it is certainly outrageous, obscene, shady, sleazy, selfish, and down-and-out dirty, and Farmington ought not allow their nasty business to stand, but ought to toss them out on their ears and rears.
Transcript of the relevant part of the January 20 Planning Board meetingHIRAM: I recently read a response [from] the ZAMPS committee in the Rochester Courier [sic] and I think it's in very bad taste for the committee to be writing articles about someone and I don't think the ZAMPS committee should be doing that. If someone puts an editorial about an individual and if that individual wants to respond I think he can but when the ZAMPS committee takes it upon himself [sic] to sign something like I just read there I think it's in very bad taste to be doing that, so I recommend that they don't do it anymore.
CHARLIE: I disagree publicly, 100%. I'm a member that signed that, and that letter was not derogatory towards anybody. It basically explained some things that were mentioned that the volunteer board wanted to be sure was clear to the public - on what was actually the case on the few points [of that letter]. Members of the board are citizens to write a letter. There are a lot of people that sit on this board that use the [Rochester Times] for their own personal agendas, and this letter was not directed towards any specific agenda except (to) clarify some issues that another letter [i.e., Tsiros's letter of January 1] brought. up as an issue.
HORGAN(recognizing Tsiros): Go ahead, Bill. Be gentle.
TSIROS: Mr. Chairman, I'd like to withdraw my vote in support for the chairman [of] the ZAMPS committee chairman, and I make a motion so I'd like the whole board to take a vote to withdraw the confidence for the ZAMPS committee chairman. The reasons is because I stated in my letter, he's very biased, he's not objective, he created more problems than is necessary. Second it was a mistake for this board to appoint him to the ZAMPS committee, where he does not enjoy the support of of our elected officials. They're the ones who delegate who is appointed or not. On the top of it . . .
[Note: Audio tape change here. This is what we hear on a tape of the Channel 26 broadcast.]
HORGAN: I'm out of [audio] tape, Fran.
[Fran is the secretary]
TSIROS: . . . I'd like to share . . .
HORGAN: Before you go any further with that, let's get Fran back here. Is this a document she is going to get a copy of for record purposes?
[No answer from Tsiros.]
[Here Horgan inserts new audio tape.]
TSIROS (continuing, after the audio tape change): . . . a document which is an agreement with the town of Farmington [and] the state of New Hampshire, a document [docket?] number 02-E-157, which the town of Farmington signed as a supplement of the [a?] lawsuit that: no board, no commission member or anyone shall not keep to have a designated secretary and keep the minutes accurately. So he violated that order. So I think it's a liability and I think we have two members that represent this board to the ZAMPS committee and they [are] the ones they testified that he violated the right-to-know laws. So I think when you violate the law, you violate it once, that's it, that's enough, that's a liability. So I don't think this board itself [from what] I can see [not audible here] . . . it will really function because his credibility now is on the line [?], and I don't think as a member of this board that I will accept any document that he will present as a true document as not being altered. So therefore I make a motion for this board to take a vote to request his resignation and to withdraw the vote of confidence for the chairman [Anderson].
HORGAN: Got that, Fran?
FRAN: I've got the general idea.
TSIROS: Need a second.
HORGAN: I have a motion; do I have a second?
HIRAM: I'd like to say something.
HORGAN: I have a motion; do I have a second?
HIRAM: Yes, I have a second, but I'd like to explain why.
HORGAN: I have a second. Any further discussion? Hiram seconded it.
HIRAM: My reason's not what Bill's is. I've been a member of the board—the [ZAMPS] subcommittee for a year and a half, I've done projects, I've done several things [that] have not been used. Everything I've done or said has not been used and I've asked to have things put on the survey and they were not on there. I've got other reasons. You've probably heard 'em before: some people say I want all the roads in Farmington paved. It's not true. I don't care about that. But my concern is last year they changed the objectives. The chairman of the board said that we're not gonna change any objectives when we did that a year ago. It was just we were gonna clarify some things. One thing in the master plan it says: the adopted policy is to have a paving program to pave the roads. It was changed last year by.people sitting on that [ZAMPS] board, and one was Brad Anderson and I stood up and read this to the town the adopted policy and it was still changed. It was ignored because several people that voted on it—one was a selectman, one was the chairman of the board [what board is he talking about here?] and another one was Brad Anderson. So I just went along. I didn't want to cause any problems; I just went along and agreed with it. But it just keeps coming back, and it keeps coming back. Now I look on these surveys and there's one question on that survey that's on there three times: "Keep the dirt roads dirt." "Keep the gravel roads gravel." It's on there three times, on those surveys. It just—you know, anybody in a leadership position as chairman should somehow—you know, leadership regarding influence and directing people to get things done in the proper way and not doing that he's got his own little agenda in my eyes. But that's just me. That's just me speaking and everybody else on the committee I think they're great; I think they're doing a fine job, and jeez, I'm sorry, I just can't stop myself from saying it, or seconding this motion. It may not go anywhere but that's how I feel. I'm not going to give up on the subcommittee; I think they're doing a good job.
HORGAN: Thank you. Any further discussion?
TSIROS: I have. Furthermore, I think the way he (Brad) designed the questionnaire, it violates a privacy law, because he has—and the confidentiality. He has the residence in here and then in order to send it you have to fold it, so the data that he keeps, he knows who voted for what . . . and a lotta . . . my personal question is, I don't want my name to be in any data that he chose how I answered the questions. And who knows what he is gonna use these data for, for any future retribution, maybe? He's very well known for that. Besides the conflicts that this board has seen and already brought out to attention to this board on many other times in the past. So I think that this board shall recommend and appoint a chairman for that [board who] is neutral, is a professional, and has no personal agenda or objectives.
HORGAN: Anybody else? Other comments? I have a motion. I have a second. Hearing no further discussion, all those in favor of removing Mr. Anderson and requesting his resignation from the ZAMPS subcommittee, say "aye." Horgan counts. One, two three. Opposed? Another tie.
TSIROS: On you, Mr, Chairman.
HORGAN: (heaves a huge sigh): I vote in favor [of] removing him from the chair. With permission of the board, I'll draft a letter to that effect.
TSIROS: I would like to read just two paragraphs from the ZAMPS committee . . . [letter? Horgan cuts him off]
HORGAN: If this is about the issue we just discussed, it's over.
Someone makes motion to adjourn.