Sunday, March 10, 2013

PLEASE Don't Vote for Henry Brackett for Lee Selectman

I try to stick to the topic of the Oyster River Cooperative School District here at ORCSDcleanslate. I generally avoid mentioning the goings-on in the three towns except as they relate to the schools.  So why am I talking about the Lee Selectman race?

It's because none other than former ORCSD School Board Chairman Henry Brackett is on the ballot Tuesday.

I'm going to make to case to vote for Scott Bugbee for Lee Selectman in two steps.  First, in this post, I ask people not to vote for Henry Brackett, who's already shamed us all as the Lee representative and chairman of the ORCSD school board through twice being found guilty of violating NH's Right To Know law, as well as condoning hate speech in the form of Jim Kach's tweets

In the following post I'll ask you to please vote for Scott Bugbee, who has a great record serving Lee since 1994, has indicated he'll let the school board do their job while he focuses on the town, and who appears to be the favorite to win.  

The third choice, Carole Dennis, is married to the town’s Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) and Planning/Zoning Director, Allan Dennis.  Unfortunately, this would necessitate Ms. Dennis often recusing herself, leaving only two selectman to conduct business, and potentially no majority.  While I would love to see a woman in the position, I think this problem with recusals makes Ms. Dennis a poor choice.

Ms. Dennis has resolved this issue of conflict of interest as her husband announced his retirement today (the day before election day) on the Lee Police facebook page.  Nonetheless I still think Mr. Bugbee the better candidate, which I detail in the next post.

Don't Vote For Henry Brackett

The candidates have issued statements which are posted on the Lee website.  In a low-information race like this, these statements may be the only chance a candidate has to make an impression on the voter.  It's obviously in each candidate's interest to review their statement carefully, checking formatting, syntax, grammar and tone as well as content. It would be a good idea to solicit some honest feedback from friends before sending it out.

Henry Brackett's official candidate statement begins:
I am a Father of three young adults and Grandfather of three children. Two of
which who live in Lee.
I think this shows the kind of attention to detail, grammar, and random capitalization we can expect from Mr. Brackett in the future.  No thank you.

As the Lee representative to the school board, Henry Brackett has demonstrated he is a deceitful and incompetent governing board member.  Under his direct leadership the board was twice found guilty of violating New Hampshire's Right To Know Law.  I don't just mean two counts at the same trial.  There was the first trial, at which the board under Chairman Brackett was found guilty of having illegal, secret board meetings in the Durham Police Station, among many other things.  They were basically working in secret for months on replacing the superintendent before they passed a motion in public authorizing the work.  This is a big no-no in New Hampshire governance, and they promised the judge they would never, ever, ever violate the RTK law again.  Then the board, again under Chairman Brackett's leadership, had a secret ballot as part of the selection of the new superintendent search committee.  Given the recent promise, the judge in the second trial was understandably angry, and imposed the maximum available penalty on the board.

That penalty is still in effect: ORCSD board members now serve under the risk of contempt of court, including jail time, if they again violate the RTK law.   Though Henry is long gone from the board, having been defeated soundly last March by the good people of Oyster River (835 votes to Maria Barth's 2,020), the legal consequences of his leadership linger on indefinitely.  Is this what we want to happen in the town of Lee?

Mr. Brackett's sordid history does not automatically disqualify him from seeking and holding office in the future.  It's up to us to remember the disruption and embarrassment to the community his service has already caused each time his name appears on the ballot.   I talked so much about Henry Brackett last year, especially here, that I really don't want to do it again.  But just in case you think I'm exaggerating, click on these pictures to enlarge.  They're just two pages out of the voluminous court documents, in this case from the first trial.  The first is a page from the rulings describing the illegal, secret meetings in the Durham police station in early June. The second is a bill from then-Chairman Brackett's secret lawyer that was sent to his house instead of the SAU office (where it would be a public record), indicating work on Superintendent Howard Colter's termination was going on March 24, 2011.    Both these are examples of violations of the Right To Know law, because Mr. Brackett acted to keep the facts from the public, and no vote authorizing such work was taken until June 15th, 2011.

I was trying to recall if Chairman Brackett had ever done anything in particular to the voters of Lee.   You know, in addition to shaming us for ever electing him by violating Right To Know laws.  There was the time he tried to disenfranchise all of us on 12/21/2011.  The ORCSD Deliberative Session, as has been traditional, was scheduled for a Tuesday evening.  Chairman Brackett, claiming he and Jim Kach had consulted with some constituents (probably each other), passed a motion moving the deliberative session to Saturday, February 4th.  At the time it seemed to me a pretty low form of election manipulation, changing the time to be more inconvenient to parents who at the time were quite inclined to vote against Mr. Brackett.  Several public comments pointed out that the Lee Deliberative session was also Saturday, February 4th, and that it would be impossible for Lee voters to attend both.  Chairman Brackett refused to reopen the question of changing the date back.  In other words, Henry Brackett, elected representative of the town of Lee, our elected representative, acted to disenfranchise us, the voters of Lee,  by preventing us from voting in all elections in which we were entitled.  He's lucky there wasn't another lawsuit.  The story is all in the minutes.  (The DS was on a Tuesday, so they must have come to their senses at a later meeting.)

Then there was the first time I encountered Henry Brackett, at the meeting at which the public overflowed the room to vent their outrage over Jim Kach's tweets.  Chairman Brackett was in California, participating by speakerphone.  Shortly after public comments had begun, a loud dial tone emerged from the speakerphone.  The board scrambled to quiet it.  Henry Brackett had hung up on the public.   Here's the clip.

Let's close with the clip of Chairman Brackett blaming his lawyer for giving him "permission" for his bad deed.  Blaming the lawyer makes the chairman sound like convicts everywhere.  The chairman is of course referring not to the school board's usual attorney, but the secret attorney, who happened to have no experience in New Hampshire local governance.  And chairman, weren't you even a little surprised when the lawyer gave you permission to have secret superintendent interviews with two other board members in the Durham Police Station?  One remarkable fact about the invoice above is Chairman Brackett got all this wonderful legal advice for nothing, and was still overcharged.  

Sorry about the quality of the video, but it's kind of amazing that we live in a world where we can dredge up recordings of obscure meetings.

So in conclusion, please don't vote for Henry Brackett for Lee Selectman on Tuesday.  Please vote for Scott Bugbee instead.


  1. It's bad enough the he repeatedly violated the Right-to-Know law and wasted our money. But he still thinks he did not do anything wrong! The citizens of Lee deserve better than this.

  2. I forgot to mention the waste of $185,000 on a spare superintendent in FY12. But the real cost was the way Henry went out of his way to be divisive. The decisions the school board has to make are controversial enough without stoking the divisions the way Henry did.