by Ed Naile
Well I went to the Atkinson Deliberative session on Saturday to behold the spectacle of democracy at its worst – I was not disappointed.
Here is how it works:
The police chief has a following built with taxpayer dollars in the form of a nifty little program called “Atkinson Elderly Affairs.” The chief uses town resources to “help” people and in return is allowed certain privileges such as bullying anyone he dislikes.
The chief has a long record of suits filed against him and the town of Atkinson regularly pays for damages and defends thuggish behavior. It is an undisputable matter of public record not worth debating with his loyal clan of sycophants.
But try as he might, the chief can not stop the last few good people who are standing up to him, there are only a handful that show up in person at meetings so he seems to have it in for anyone who would sign a citizens petitioned warrant article for this small band of warrior/taxpayers. This would pull the rug out from under their ability to put something on a ballot for the larger vote on Election day in March.
As luck would have it, chief thuggo’s second attempt at intimidating petition signers in the last eight years has lead to a lawsuit based on the petitioners civil rights. The Town will lose this suit in court and with public opinion this time because it will get statewide publicity. The local press will not be able to save the chief this time and I think some of Atkinson’s power elite can smell it in the air.
This Saturday it looked like there was a bit of a muzzle on the chief and it was the job of two former selectmen to show the obstinate minority who was boss one last time.
No sooner had local taxpayer Gary Brownfield (trouble maker) quietly taken a handful of pictures with his professional camera than the Atkinson Moderator Frank Polito told him to stop – exercising his right to privacy as a private individual. Polito was quickly reminded by taxpayer Leon Artus that as moderator he was not a private citizen and he could simply hand the gavel over to anyone else and leave if he did not want his picture taken in a public meeting.
This lead to a unique rendition of RSA 91-A, where under Moderator Frank Polito’s learned interpretation the Right to Know law allowed FILMING and TAPE RECORDING of public meetings but no right to take pictures with a camera.
Polito even went to his police department sycophant power base for support and called for a vote of his decision to stop Mr. Brownfield. This is called: putting a cherry on the butterscotch sundae, all in the name of ego.
Later, Polito had the members vote to allow the Lawrence Eagle Tribune photographer to take pictures – jimmies on the cherry. And after that, one of the cookie ladies in the back of the room cranked out a camera just like Brownfield’s and took some pictures without a vote or comment by anyone – sprinkles on the jimmies.
But the crowning/clowning glory of the Atkinson Deliberative session was his “in-your-faceness,” Frank I-Forget-His-Name, who would leap to the microphone at the slightest opportunity to comment on his own comments, after amending his comments. Sad, sad, sad. Frank even sat as far from the microphone he so dearly covets so he could enjoy the walk to it every three minutes – ALL DAY LONG!
Atkinson should have an ordinance against abuse of the municipal limelight to slow the two Franks down a bit but they are too busy trying to crush every single vestige of opposition to kissing the thug of a police chief’s posterior. Let’s hope they don’t crack their heads if the chief snaps his fingers.
One other personal observation: I spotted the reporter for the Tribune, who was sitting in front of me in the Visitor section, clapping at the appropriate brown-noser opportunities the “moderator” allowed.
Ed Naile is the Chairman of CNHT and attended the Atkinson Deliberative Session