EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 23, 2013

Editorial: Anderson has lost ability to lead


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — If a sworn affidavit is to be believed, Derry Town Administrator John Anderson has embarrassed himself and the community with his unprofessional behavior. It is impossible for him to continue in a leadership role in the town. He must go.

The Town Council met Tuesday for more than two hours in nonpublic session. They emerged only to announce Anderson would continue on administrative leave, but he would no longer be paid.

The council should have fired him. They didn’t, so now it’s up to Anderson to resign — after he turns himself in to authorities on his arrest warrant.

Anderson was charged last week with indecent exposure and lewdness, and an arrest warrant was issued.

While the charges are misdemeanors, they are conduct inappropriate for a public official, who must maintain the trust and respect of the people he serves.

The charges stem from an incident the evening of July 11 at Anderson’s Lane Road home. According to a police affidavit, a satellite television service salesman called at Anderson’s home. Anderson did not answer the knock at his door immediately, but soon stuck his arm out the door and waved the salesman inside.

According to the affidavit, the salesman was startled to see that Anderson was nude. The salesman assumed that Anderson had just stepped out of the shower and would soon get dressed. So, keeping his back to the town administrator, the salesman began his pitch.

But Anderson did not get dressed, according to the affidavit. Instead, the salesman heard a slapping sound. As his turned, he saw that Anderson was masturbating.

The salesman said Anderson told him it was a “nudist home” and invited him to take his clothes off as well, according to the affidavit. Anderson asked the salesman if he was gay and invited him to return later for a party.

The salesman left and called his supervisor. The supervisor arrived and, seeing how upset the salesman was, called police. Before police arrived, the two saw Anderson run from the house and drive off in a blue Toyota, according to the affidavit. The license plate indicated the car was Anderson’s and the salesman later identified Anderson from a photo lineup.

Derry police handed the matter over to state police to avoid a conflict of interest. The state police presented the results of their investigation to Rockingham County Attorney James Reams.

Anderson faces up to a year in jail on each of the two charges.

The Town Council placed Anderson on paid leave July 12 and named Assistant Town Administrator Larry Budreau the acting town administrator. After the arrest warrant was issued Friday, the council voted to conduct its own inquiry into the matter. Budreau said Tuesday that inquiry would continue into September.

That’s simply ridiculous. The New Hampshire State Police and the county attorney are the experts here and the results of their “inquiries” were two charges against Anderson. The Town Council is hardly equipped to do any better.

Anderson, who earns $124,962 a year, has taken the town’s money for more than a month without providing any work in return. His three-year contract is up for renewal this fall.

Some defense attorneys we questioned say it may be difficult to convict Anderson on the charges as the behavior occurred not in public but in his home. Others said the venue does not matter; more relevant is that the behavior was unwanted by the victim and caused offense.

Whether Anderson can be convicted on the charges is irrelevant. This is not the kind of behavior taxpayers should tolerate from their public officials. Anderson’s behavior as described in the affidavit was childish, offensive and unprofessional.

Anderson has embarrassed the town enough. He must go.