EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 20, 2013

Sounds of official silence troubles some in N.H.

More boards appoint spokesman to speak for all


“It is really frustrating because I think people have a right to know,” she said. “I don’t like this being kept behind closed doors. It just really bothers me. The taxpayers have a right to know what’s going on.”

Osborne said he would usually comment on any town issue — except the administrator’s case, because the town charter forbids councilors from speaking about personnel matters.

“We have to abide by that,” he said. “People need to know what goes on in government and they have a right to know. ... Even the guy who casts the minority vote is bound by the entire council.”

Wetherbee said no Derry residents have approached him to ask about the matter. They realize it’s not an issue he can comment about, he said.

“I think people pretty much understand,” Wetherbee said.

Cathy Willis is chairman of the library trustees in Plaistow.

Willis said it’s not a board policy, but trustees usually refer calls to the chairman.

Trustees do so to be accurate in what they are presenting the public and to get the best answers to the community, she said.

“It’s just something we’ve always done,” Willis said. “The chairman knows more about what’s going on. That doesn’t mean other people won’t be involved.”

Seasoned board members are likely to respond to a question from the public or press, while newer members refer it to the chairman, she said.

“Nobody’s trying to hide anything,” Willis said.

Trustees might choose to defer public comment on a legal issue, she said.

“We’d probably want to get advice from legal counsel,” she said.

Adams acknowledges there can be situations, what he describes as “really dicey personnel matters,” potentially leading to lawsuits, that might require officials to be circumspect in their statements.

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