EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

October 20, 2013

Sounds of official silence troubles some in N.H.

More boards appoint spokesman to speak for all

(Continued)

Pelham selectmen this summer presided over a rare public termination of a police officer.

The chief recommended his removal; the officer appealed to selectmen and asked them to hear the case in public.

Selectmen made clear they were acting as judges and would not comment about the specifics of the case, but did make people and the press aware of the hearing, discuss procedures and announce their decision.

Citizens deserve to have their questions answered in Adams’s view.

“When people have a legitimate question about, say, what’s going on in their school system, that should be answered,” he said. “People have a right to know.”

Some taxpayers are finding that’s not always the case, Adams said.

“They don’t get the answer they are looking for,” he said. “They get the old Washington two-step.”

Elected officials need to be accountable, Adams said.

“The people who are paying the bills need to know what’s going on,” he said.

“There needs to be accountability,” Eyring said. “You can only have accountability when you are responsible, ultimately, to the taxpayers.”

Eyring said he would give Windham officials high marks for the most part in responding to questions.

He also maintains appointed officials also need to be accountable, not just elected ones.

“When a public employee refuses to answer a question that is related to a service they are providing, I believe they violate a trust and an obligation that comes with their job,” Eyring said.

There’s something at stake for democracy when public officials are mum about the people’s business.

“We lose transparency of government,” Adams said.

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