What Happens When a Selectwoman Challenges the Town of Piermont? – Part 1

If you still don’t understand that your own NH town is a good place to start draining the swamp, please read on…

Piermont is a small town in Grafton County, New Hampshire. When we say small, we mean it — the population of Piermont was a mere 790 at the 2010 census.

When Teran “Terri” Mertz, wife of George Mertz, Commander, USN (Ret) was elected to a seat on the 3-person Selectboard in 2016 for a three-year term, she never expected that her attempts to insure the town simply follow rules and procedures would lead to harassment, threats of arrest, and even an attempt to ban her from entering the town offices.

Sound familiar? This is all too often the case in small towns that have tight-knit operations and receive little to no scrutiny from the taxpayers.

So, what exactly what did Ms. Mertz discover? Mertz suggested that her two male colleagues, Randy Subjeck and Colin Stubbings, violated New Hampshire’s Right-to-Know law by holding illegal meetings, making payments to vendors without having followed legal contract procedures, and mismanaging meeting minutes, for starters.

When she began questioning their actions, she immediately found herself under personal attack from not only both of them but one of the Town attorney’s who made specious “rulings” against her, not to mention those “citizens” who benefited from the alleged corruption.

After months of attempting to work with the other Board members, their offenses and personal attacks against her only increased to the point where she had no choice but to file a Right to Know suit against them dated July of 2016 in Grafton County Superior Court [215-2016-CV-00168]. The case has now advanced to a final two days of hearings in Grafton Superior Court on March 21 and 22, 2017.

The lawsuit alleges in part:

– Selectmen Stubbings and Subjeck, acting in concert with one another, have repeatedly and consistently caused the defendant, Town of Piermont, to violate the State of New Hampshire rightto-know law, specifically RSA 91-A:2, RSA 9r-A.2-a, RSA 91-A:3, II(c), and RSA 91-,{:4

– The town has not provided meeting minutes in a proper or timely fashion

– Citizens are being hired and paid without proper contractual agreements, sometimes made without discussion or being voted on at any Board meeting, despite the fact that Selectwoman Mertz objected to such agreements when she heard about it in a nonpublic session held at the request of the citizen in question

– That she, Mertz, was subject to coercion when she refused to go along with what she felt were illegal procedures

– Meetings that should have been public were held in private, and for an invalid reason, specifically on May 5, 2016 and her subsequent request to correct the matter was ignored

– Meetings that were supposed to be public were not properly noticed

– Mertz suffered public denigration over the issue of her business cards which she had printed when the town was taking too long, which referred to her as “Selectwoman”, which is legal according to NH RSA 2I:28. She was attacked for titling herself as “Selectwoman” instead of “Selectman” as Stubbings and Subjeck apparently preferred

– Job hirings for critical town office positions were not properly approved or advertised per law

– The court is asked to find that the Town of Piermont has violated
RSA 91-A on one or more occasions and that Selectmen Stubbings and Subjeck have
caused those violations to occur and that they be fined and required to correct their actions and receive remedial training in addition to paying all attorney’s fees and expense

– As a result of Selectwoman Mertz’s efforts, she and her husband have suffered extreme alienation and public threats, including unwanted visitors to their property, and financial hardship such that they are seeking lawyers fees which are now in excess of $60,000, and projected to go much higher because Selectmen Subjeck and Stubbings have rejected all reasonable offers of settlement. Apparently, as long as the Town continues to pay for their defense, they are happy to spend the taxpayers money to protect themselves.

The problem the citizens of Piermont face was best stated in a recent Right to Know NH article:

“Unlike the citizen who filed the lawsuit, public officials don’t bear the burden themselves. Public officials, use taxpayer money to hire lawyers to fight on their behalf against the citizen’s right to know. They spread their financial risk across all the unwitting taxpayers within the community. The deep pockets of taxpayer funding and trivial personal financial risk, breeds disincentives for public officials to resolve the citizen’s complaint outside of court.”

The question is: “When will the citizens of Piermont wake up to the corruption rampant in their town?”

This lawsuit alleging violations of the Right to Know laws is not the end of it.

Coming in Part 2 will be Piermont and allegations surrounding issues of attempts to defame the Mertzs, inconsistencies with tax assessments by Avitar, and residents with unpaid taxes.