, Derry, New Hampshire

September 5, 2013

Editorial: Speak up, councilors

Derry News

---- — Derry’s Acting Town Administrator Larry Budreau has been on vacation, no doubt well deserved with all that’s been going on in Town Hall of late.

In his absence, Public Works Director Michael Fowler filled in, the fill-in for the fill-in. Budreau is in the position because Town Administrator John Anderson has been on administrative leave since mid-July, pending the outcome of first a police investigation and now criminal charges against him.

Meanwhile, the Town Council has held several closed-door meetings to deal with the mess this has become. They’re certainly entitled to do so, given the nature of the indecency charges against Anderson and the personnel issues at hand.

The Town Council has silenced itself publicly, opting instead to make Budreau the only person with the authority to address the situation. Councilors have been operating under a self-imposed gag order.

That doesn’t sit quite right with some residents, not with at least one town councilor.

When the council met last month and ultimately voted to change Anderson’s status from being on paid leave to unpaid leave, Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores wanted that conversation to take place in open session.

“Going to nonpublic all the time is an injustice to the public,” she said. But she was on the short end of a 6-1 vote to go behind closed doors.

Last week, when Anderson finally turned himself in on the arrest warrant, Budreau was out of town. Fowler couldn’t be reached for comment and a secretary told our reporter he couldn’t speak to that issue anyway.

Now, there’s a problem. One person is allowed to speak to an issue and he’s on vacation. Again, Budreau certainly deserves a vacation, but someone has to step up in his absence. We’re not faulting Fowler, who no doubt was following orders.

Once again, Katsiakores spoke up.

She didn’t have much to say, but at least she spoke, expressing satisfaction Anderson had complied with the warrant and saying it was time for the town to move forward.

Indeed it is and councilors need to keep residents in the loop.

We understand the need to tread carefully, but, ultimately, councilors answer to the people and they ought to be trusted enough to answer questions with putting the town in any legal jeopardy.