, Derry, New Hampshire


April 24, 2014

Editorial: Taxpayers deserve some pledge protection

There's a pledge drive of sorts within the Derry Town Council and it appears members are on board.

Council Chairman Mark Osborne wants councilors to sign a pledge, vowing to keep the names of the candidates for town administrator secret.

Osborne said the candidates' privacy rights are paramount, greater even than the public's right to know.

At least three other councilors agreed.

Concerns include losing some well-qualified candidates who might not apply if they thought their names would be made public. Some employers might not take kindly to a current employee publicly seeking another job.

Those are valid concerns during the initial screening of candidates. To date, the town has received more than three dozen applicants for the post empty since John Anderson's contract wasn't renewed last fall. But there's plenty of time left; the application deadline is June 1.

But, more unsettling, Osborne suggested councilors might not even reveal the names of the finalists after they winnow the field down to three or five.

That's the point at which taxpayers have a right to know who the council, without benefit of an outside search firm, is considering hiring. The town's recent track record is less than outstanding when it comes to choosing town administrators.

Citizens should be invited to interview the finalists, whether through an open question-and-answer forum or as part of a citizen panel, named for that very purpose.

Candidates for most jobs recognize their applications cannot be kept under wraps forever. Ask Plaistow Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald or Salem Town Manager Keith Hickey, both of whom have applied for jobs in other municipalities. true, it may result in some discomfort, but that goes with the process. Neither of those managers lost his job when his current board learned he was looking elsewhere.

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