Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes: Tuesday, March 11, 2014

RFPL Board of Trustees Minutes
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
4:30 PM at Meeting Room, RFPL, Bellows Falls, VT

Present: Carolyn Frisa, Pat Fowler, Doreen Aldrich, Ray Massucco, David Gould & Carol Blackwood, Trustees; Absent: Jan Mitchell-Love, Hope Brissette & Paige Pietrzak, Trustees; Emily Zervas & Samantha Maskell, Librarians & Mary VanHartesveldt, Staff; Steve Ankuda, Atty.; Alison Teague, The Commons, Chris Garofolo, Eagle Times, Chris Mays, Brattleboro Reformer, Susan Smallheer, Rutland Herald and Dagan Broad, FACT8, Press; Diane Brown, Donna Stevens, David DeRusha, Robert DeRusha, Betty Haggerty, Roberta Streeter, Susan Lampe-Wilson, Joseph Brissette & Joel Love, Others

Call to Order:
Pat Fowler, the only constitutional officer present, called the meeting to order at 4:36 p.m. Joel Love immediately called for a “Point of Order”. He said first off, this is an illegal meeting. It was improperly warned by your Article 2 and you do not have a quorum by Article 2 of your By-Laws. Fowler responded that we do have a quorum. Love read from the By-Laws: “A quorum shall consist of five members including the chairperson”. The chairperson is not here; you do not have a quorum. He added it is amazing you can accuse other people of breaking open meeting laws and you continue to do whatever you darnn well please when it suits your purpose. He asked to go on record that the trustees are breaking the open meeting law and violating their own By-Laws with this meeting which should be held next week. Fowler said there are situations where the chair is not re-elected. We have a co-chair that was not re-elected. The chair chose not to be here. Massucco said the By-Laws also provide for a vice-chair. There is no point in having a vice chair if they don’t serve in the absence of a chair. Mr. Love left the meeting at that point. Massucco continued, if Mr. Love’s argument, which is nonsensical, were to hold water we could never have a meeting. All the chair has to do is elect not to show up. That interpretation is absurd. We have a vice chair by our By-Laws. That position is currently vacant. The secretary’s position is currently vacant. The chair is not here. The only constitutional officer we have present is Pat Fowler. He added that he would take the position, as an individual board member, until we elect some of the other officers, Fowler is the acting chair. She is the only officer who can call this meeting. Six board members asked to have this meeting called. This is a regularly scheduled meeting, not a special meeting. The board had previously established the second Tuesday of each month to be the regularly scheduled meeting. The board has never changed that; they did not vote to change that. He understands the chair made an attempt to postpone or cancel this meeting. As long as she is chair, call a special meeting for next week. That may or may not occur depending on the outcome of today’s meeting; but for the time being Pat is the only constitutional officer we have. He didn’t see any other option for this board to function other than to call a meeting to proceed. The chair can simply elect not to attend and prohibit this board from ever meeting at any time. That makes no sense. The By-Laws also provide that the trustees shall assume their duties immediately upon their election which would have been 7:00 p.m. last Tuesday. This is the first opportunity we have had to meet as a board. Fowler said they did try to have an earlier meeting; but it was negated by the prior board. Brissette asked if the board feels it is acting in accordance with the By-Laws established by the library. Fowler responded, “Yes”. Brissette said he understands Massucco’s interpretation; but is that written in the By-Laws? Carolyn Frisa read Article 2 of the By-Laws to clear up the situation. Blackwood explained that because there has been an election and the By-Laws are a little bit vague about the first meeting, in essence, the person who held the chair from last year. There’s been a new election so you can have several scenarios. That person could still be on the board, that person could no longer be elected so really, right now there is no chair of this board and that is what this meeting needs to resolve and elect a new chair for the next year until the next town meeting. There is no provision in the By-Laws for the chairperson elected last year to continue to be chair to hold sway over a board that did not elect that chairperson. Steve Geller said this is a cynical attempt to prevent this board from carrying on its business. The way those By-Laws are written he believes from his experience, means the chair may be included as one of the numbers that make up the quorum. In order to distinguish the normal practice from the normal practices, the chair doesn’t vote except to break a tie. What that is saying is that there are five people including the chair that would be a quorum. The chair’s existed presence there is not excluded as the fifth member. It is in no way saying that the chair must be physically present in order for a meeting to take place. There are no By-Laws written on the face of this earth that are written that way. Serena Hickey asked if anyone had recognized that our librarian, Sarah Maskell, has been awarded the Ink Award by the Greater Falls Connection. There was applause. She added that hopefully we were going to vote on new officers and get on with hiring a library director soon. Bob DeRusha said he has had experience with other town boards and an understanding of the open meeting laws, an understanding of conflict of interest and also of nuisance requests. He agrees with Mr. Massucco’s reading 100%. He was speaking as former Zoning and Planning Commission chair. Blackwood said we have heard Mr. Brissette’s comments, that further debate on whether this is an illegal meeting is simply a waste of our time. She suggested that we continue with the meeting and if he chooses to discuss the legality with a lawyer, he has that option. Fowler asked Mr. Ankuda for his opinion. Ankuda responded he was asked by the chair to attend this meeting and as he understands it, it is a regularly scheduled meeting. By interpretation of the quorum, it takes five members of the board to have a quorum. He counts the chair as part of that quorum and you have six. His view of it is not so much governed by the By-Laws; but Vermont Statutes which says you have elected members of the library board of trustees and you are to have an organization meeting forthwith and the next regularly scheduled meeting though it may not be forthwith, may be later than forthwith. You could have met on town meeting night and had that meeting. He would think the constitutional officers, the appropriate person to initiate the meeting, the highest ranking officer who is also the lowest ranking officer that the first order of business would be to elect a secretary. Following Roberts Rules, the first rule is to keep order and that you hand over your role as soon as the chair is elected. Gould asked Ankuda for clarification; there was some statement about this meeting being illegal. His concern is that the board intends to take action that would not be legal without a proper quorum. He asked Ankuda if in his opinion we have a proper quorum and there is nothing illegal about this meeting. Ankuda responded that is his interpretation about the situation. His concern is that we are involved in some litigation and as the board’s attorney, he was reminding us not to talk about this. Ankuda added, that was his interpretation of why he was invited here today. Fowler asked Brissette if he wanted to say something else. Brissette said Mr. Ankuda’s interpretation was fine with him. Geller respectfully suggested that the former chair unilaterally requested the town attorney without hesitating, without board approval and that any charges that Mr. Ankuda levies should be charged to her individually and not the library. Fowler responded that is something for the board of trustees to discuss.

Organizational Business of the New Board:
Election of Officers: Massucco nominated Doreen Aldrich as Secretary, seconded by Blackwood. There were no other nominations. The motion carried. Blackwood nominated David Gould for chairman, seconded by Carolyn Frisa. There were no other nominations and the motion carried. Massucco nominated Carolyn Frisa as co-chair, seconded by Fowler. There were no other nominations and the motion carried. Gould then took over the meeting. Gould then nominated Fowler for treasurer, seconded by Frisa. There were no other nominations and the motion carried. As the new chair, he welcomed all of the board members and the new board members. He said it is a privilege to be serving the community. He thanked the public for being supportive of the library in its operation and helping us to get off to a good start. He also thanked Ankuda for being here and getting us started on the right foot. Thanks to the media for being here to help the community have an understanding of what is going on. Thanks to FACTV for filming the meeting. Ankuda said often governing bodies will elect to be governed by Roberts Rules for running a meeting. Massucco asked Ankuda if there was any preference to Roberts Rules or Roberts Rules for Small Boards. Ankuda responded, one of the questions that comes into play is whether the chair makes motions; whether the chair votes. Someone should make a motion and then discuss that. Massucco moved to adopt what is known formally as Roberts Rules of Order as distinguished from Roberts Rules of Order for Small Boards, seconded by Carolyn Frisa. Massucco added, as Mr. Ankuda mentioned, for small boards, because of the difficulty of obtaining quorums, etc. the chair would normally not make motions and only vote in case of a tie. Under the large board rules, the chair would be a fully participating member for purposes of motions, voting, etc. With nine members, he thought we could sustain adoption of the full rules; but would leave it up to the board to decide. There was no discussion and the board voted to adopt Roberts Rules of Order rather than Roberts Rules of Order for Small Boards. The motion carried.

Approval of Minutes of February 11, February 18 and February 25, 2014:
Frisa moved to approve the minutes of February 11th as printed, seconded by Gould. The motion carried. The secretary abstained. Frisa moved to approve the minutes of February 18th as printed, seconded by Massucco. There were two abstentions. The motion failed and the minutes of February 18th will be taken up at the next meeting. Frisa moved to approve the minutes of February 25th, seconded by Massucco. The motion carried with the secretary abstaining.

Establish Dates and Time for Trustee Meetings:
Gould asked to put off the “public comment” section until the board gets through the organizational portion of the meeting. Emily pointed out that Robert DeRusha submitted a letter that we might want to look at now. Blackwood said multiple board members have the same issues so it is not going to be a problem. Fowler asked the secretary if there is a conflict with Tuesday of the month. Aldrich responded that the only time it would be a conflict would be the Annual Town Meeting. She does prefer a later time. She works until 4:30 and had to leave at 4:00 today in order to have time to set up. Frisa said she was one that had requested a 4:30 time last year; but she had a two month old baby who is now 14 months so her life is very different. Blackwood added that she has similar issues with the time. She finishes work at 4:30 so the earliest she can get here is 5:03 if she leaves on time. Massucco moved to establish our regular meeting time on the second Tuesday of each month at 5:00; Carolyn Frisa seconded for discussion. Fowler said our member of the public asked that it be at 6:00. Frisa said she is open to that. DeRusha explained that 5:00 is still early. It is much the perception of access and being open. He finishes work at 5:00 and it takes a half hour to get here. He doesn’t have to come to meetings; but would like to. Blackwood added that the other thing about the perception of openness and she doesn’t know if the town or library has bought into this is to think about a subscription to something like “Go to Meetings” where people can observe the meeting over a PC of their choice in their own home to save the commuting issues. Massucco said he would welcome a friendly amendment if folks would like to push the meeting out later. Aldrich amended it to 6:00 and Massucco accepted that. Celina Houlne pointed out that Tuesday night is the same night as the select board meetings. Sometimes we have to go to those meetings. Frisa said she didn’t want to speak for Paige; but Tuesdays worked for her. Fowler added that Jan does not teach on Tuesdays so if we changed, it might not be good for her. Gould repeated that we have an amendment to establish our regular meeting time on the second Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. Frisa asked about also having an end time. Gould said he would encourage the board to work toward two hour meetings max and maybe set policy saying at the end of two hours we are adjourned unless the vote that night is to continue the meeting. Maybe we don’t need it; but lets work diligently toward two hours. The motion carried.

Agenda Preparation and Meeting Warnings:
Massucco asked what the current confusion is. Gould said the confusion has been that the former director was charged with doing the warnings and that was changed so the chairperson was doing it. He just wants to know who is responsible from this point on. Massucco said from a statutory and By-Law position, the chair has the responsibility. The chair has the ability to delegate to the director. Massucco added, by establishing a regular meeting schedule, we are not obligated to warn the regularly scheduled meeting each month. If we wish to change the time, the day or the location we do. Special meetings have to be warned, emergency meetings not necessarily; but notice immediately given as we are able to do that. Even though we don’t have to warn the regular meeting now that it has been established, we still have to have an agenda. It would be nice to get them in advance. Frisa read from the Manual For Vermont Library Trustees that the librarian and board chair should develop the agenda together; but individual trustees should be able to add to it. She would like to follow those guidelines. Gould agreed. Blackwood moved that the board follow the recommended procedures by the Vermont Department of Libraries in its Manual for Vermont Library Trustees, seconded by Fowler. Blackwood said in addition, she would like to see the warnings in addition to the required paper locations be put on the town website and perhaps the library website. Frisa asked that the agenda also be posted there. Garofolo, Eagle Times, formally requested copies of the warnings and agendas. Zervas explained that the press has a standing request for special meeting warnings and agendas. Maskell added that it is a calendar year request. Frisa said we should discuss physical locations at which to warn meetings. She recommended that we be consistent with board and committee meetings. We posted this meeting at the bookstore, the kiosk and the library. Gould added that we should post at the store in Saxtons River. Zervas said she could post there. It was agreed to post at the clerk’s office, town hall lobby, the kiosk outside town hall, the public bulletin board in Saxtons River and the library. The motion carried. DeRusha brought up the necessity of having the minutes available five days after meetings. It can be done electronically and they should be noted “Draft”. Frisa added that they are posted on the library website and possibly the town website. Robert McBride suggested posting them on the screen before the movies begin. Geller asked that warnings and agendas be posted not just in as little time as required; but in as much time as possible and be made available for the public. It would be nice to put even the regular meetings on it and it would be good to have a regular procedure to put a notice in the calendar of the major newspapers that circulate in this area. Frisa asked when the chair feels the need to call a special meeting, that he call as many trustees possible first before setting the date.

Trustee Contact Information:
The chair asked for an up-to-date list of each board member’s name, email address, home address, etc. There were forms to be filled out and turned in by the end of the meeting. It was suggested that it be turned in to the Secretary. Frisa added that last year we established a specific email address which we would use. It would just be used for library business. Mary VanHartesveldt advised that the library maintains that list and will continue to do so if the board wants as they also need the information.

Trustee Contact Person with Attorneys Ankuda and Pell:
The chair asked to establish a contact person between the board and attorneys Ankuda and Pell during this time of litigation. Fowler suggested getting the full board’s approval first. Ankuda interjected that really is not workable because you have to have a meeting in order to authorize the chair. He added that is why you have a chair, the chair is the conduit. That’s how he works with every other board he deals with. Massucco supported Ankuda on this 100%. Massucco moved that we appoint the chair of this board to be the point person/contact person to interact with the attorneys for the board.; Steve Ankuda on behalf of the board and Connie Pell on behalf of Vermont League of Cities and Towns for the town and the board and that he use his discretion in those contacts with the request that he reports to the board on a regular basis and, if in his judgment, feels it necessary to call meetings, he do so. Frisa seconded the motion. Betty Haggerty asked why we would want to limit it to Ankuda and Pell; why not “attorneys”. Massucco said he would accept that as a friendly amendment; Frisa seconded the friendly amendment. The motion carried. DeRusha suggested the chair write a letter to the attorneys so it is unambiguous that there is one contact person. If anyone else wants to talk with them, it’s on their nickel. Secondly, Ankuda was requested to be here today by the board chair who is not now here. He suggested that since the board has gone through the open meeting law and public records access Mr. Ankuda could leave unless he chooses to stay here. Ankuda responded that he is happy to leave any time. He asked if next Tuesday’s meeting will be an executive session. He would like to be here to talk to the board about some things. Ray moved that Mr. Ankuda be invited to attend the special meeting of Tuesday, March 18th at 4:30 p.m. Frisa seconded the motion. The motion carried.

Review of Public Records Requests:
The chair advised that this is just a friendly reminder. If you are a new member, please review the Open Meeting Law. It is in the binder. Frisa asked that the board receive some training on this issue and on the next item, Review of Public Records Requests, in the near future. The chair advised that it will be discussed under Old Business, Invitation to Amy Howlett.

Committee Synopsis and Reports:

The chair said he had hoped there would be enough committee people who had committee experience to give about a two or three sentence description of what their committee does and then give a report on that committee. Budget & Finance: Fowler said she was on the budget & finance committee. They need more members. She is now the only member so she is looking for more board members and perhaps a member of the public with some expertise. She’s treasurer. She just went to the bank and reinvested our funds. The $125,000 she was designated to invest has been moved into a five year account at a bit over 2%. Unfortunately, that is as much as we can get. A copy of the paperwork has been given to Mary VanHartesveldt. Fowler said she would like to establish a binder where all this information is kept because it was difficult when she took over not knowing what the treasurer’s duties were. She has been working with Mary VanHartesveldt on the budget and with Sam & Emily on things and signing the warrants on Fridays. There was a By-Law change where we discussed that we would have two people sign; Hope has indicated that she would go; but we need to redo the By-Laws.

Policy: Frisa said in the most recent years, there were two policy committees and she was chair of one. The main thing done last year was to start reviewing the By-Laws. Her suggestion would be that there only be one policy committee going forward. Other than that, policy is pretty self-explanatory. The recommendation is that every year all library policies be reviewed by the board.

Communications/Fund Raising: Fowler advised that they did not meet the whole time and she suggested that there be no communications and fund raising committee. Rather there were questions and historical collection where either some fund raising or grants need to be looked at. There are questions about Buildings and Ground where there might be grants. She feels this committee should probably be disbanded and other committees assisted by the Budget and Finance group on whatever they want to do to develop a grant. She doesn’t think that having a stand-alone communications/grant group makes much sense.

Historical Collection: Frisa said the committee is responsible for the care and overseeing of historical collections from the library. This year there will be a lot of work bringing those things back to the library from temporary storage. They also want to start having rotating displays in the library as well. They have a couple of fundraiser projects they’d like to do. We just met last week and would like to come up with a work plan for the year. They also need new members.

Committee Assignment Requests: The chair asked board members to think about which committee the board members might like to serve on and put them in an order of 1-4. Blackwood asked about the By-Laws and Frisa explained that they are already outdated. The current By-Laws only establish three standing committees, Book, Building and Finance and such other committees as may be established. Ray & Laryssa Howard were on the book committee and they banned the books if necessary; however they never had to take any books off the shelves.

Fowler recommended that the personnel committee be made up of the officers of the trustees as is similar to the BFFDA Board and the Chamber Board, Parks Place and Our Place Boards. It is usually the chair, co-chair, secretary and perhaps the treasurer that are the personnel committee and they only meet when they have to. It is not a regularly scheduled thing. That is typical of all the organizations she has been involved with.

Frisa thought it would be a good idea to bring the board up to speed as to where they are on the By-Laws. A couple of weeks ago, the old board did meet to make the first round of recommendations; but those still have to be reviewed in writing twice and approved twice. The chair said his concern with the By-Laws is a description of what the committees do. Frisa said that is addressed in the Trustees’ Manual that each committee have something written down explaining their purpose.

Mary VanHartesveldt explained to the new trustees that what is in our binders are the By-Laws before any work was done on them, the policies before work was done on them. Any paperwork that has been generated that she did not have, the board does not have.

Public Comment: David DeRusha thanked the board members for their service. Joe Brissette asked who put together tonight’s agenda. Gould said he did with Pat Fowler. Brissette asked if she said last year’s board authorized the chair to put together the agenda and now this year you voted to have the chair get it together. Generally, it’s the job of the chair. Fowler said she being the treasurer did it. She and David discussed it, we came up with ideas, he printed it out for her. Joe’s point was that Jan was still chair so technically, it was still her job to make up tonight’s agenda. Massucco said he would take the position that she abdicated her responsibility. Brissette continued, she abdicated her responsibility now by not being here; but until this moment you didn’t know. Massucco replied that Jan indicated that she wouldn’t be here. Brissett said that this was an issue last year that citizens would come to the meetings citing violations of the open meeting law and it is not clear to him that David had the authority to make tonight’s agenda with Pat’s help. Fowler replied that she is sitting treasurer and Jan indicated that she probably would not be attending. This meeting was warned back in February. Frisa said if there is no chair coming to the meeting, it goes to the next lower down officer. Robert DeRusha said to move forward, there is other business to get to and every citizen always has the right to question through the Secretary of State’s Office open meeting issues. Serena Hickey said she appreciates the difficulties in getting this meeting going and appreciates that it was held now because it is convenient for her being a member of the public to see what this public board is up to. She also appreciates that the board has an agenda to work on and not just sitting here twiddling your thumbs. Steve Geller had a lengthy comment and submitted his written comments to be included in tonight’s minutes.

Director’s Report: The report was received. She asked if there were questions. Frisa asked Emily to explain the second to last item under “Other” concerning the E-rate grant. Emily said the E-rate grant is a federal grant for telecommunications funding for libraries and schools. We get a chunk of the state’s application monies because we have the state centered cyber connection. This is the first year that we are having it and we get it subsidized through the state. They do an application for all the different cyber libraries for the E-rate funding. We get a chunk from there and also a smaller chunk to help with the telephone service. The state chunk hasn’t come through yet in terms of what the rates were going to be. She has just been notified that it has just been processed. We will see a large credit on our Sovernet bills and from then on, we’ll see our Sovernet bills diminished. Right now it’s about $200 per month. We were anticipating the cyber internet was going to cost $100 per month. She thinks it will actually cost a little bit less based on what they’ve told her. She’ll know once the money comes down. We will get credit from Sovernet for the money already paid because the state money goes directly to them. One thing not on the agenda was to invite Mary Vanhartesveldt to take the board to the financial projection that she put together for us. Mary said she also wanted to let the new board members know about the reports they will be seeing monthly. There is a balance sheet, a budget status report both which come from the town and they reflect our account. At this point, they reflect the debt to the town largely due to the renovation. She asked if there were any questions. If anyone wants to come talk to her about the accounts, she will be happy to talk to individuals. The budget status report which comes out every month reflects our budget, our expenses and revenues so far and the per cents that we have achieved of our budget. The categories are grouped. At this point the renovation money is blended into it and reflected in the sub total for both revenues and expense. It can be taken out to look at the library’s month to month operations. The other report is a spreadsheet for the projections and has the same information but she has taken another step forward and tried to project to the end of the year what she thinks is going happen in different categories. She went over the financials with the board. Massucco thanked the public for supporting the library budget this year. He added that he thought Jiggs McAuliffe’s comments were also appropriate to be looking at how we eliminate our shortfall.

Old Business: Invitation to Amy Howlett for Trustee Training – The chair said he tried calling her today; but was not able to make contact. Fowler suggested an on-line package with meetings. We can get some dates from Amy and then people can comment. Gould said we will work through it. Library Grand Opening – Frisa said she has been thinking about this. One thing talked about at our most recent Historical Collection committee meeting is there is a date, May 8th where there is going to be a presentation here at the library. Emily said the library and the Historic Preservation arm of town hall have partnered to have Bill Hosely come and do a presentation about libraries, specifically historic libraries and how their services have changed and also about historic preservation of library buildings. He is available on that date. Frisa said her thought is that if that is an agreeable timeframe, it might be nice to plan a number of grand reopening events somewhere along that date of May 8th. Gould asked if anyone had stepped forward to chair this event. The response was “not yet”. Gould said this will fall under her bailiwick and he will be happy to step in. Frisa said once he has made the decision of committee members she would like to know as soon as possible. The committee is Carolyn, Pat, Paige and Emily at this time. We can adjust that if needed.

New Business: Copy Machine Lease – Zervas said she needs the board’s approval to sign a lease agreement with Canon. They are talking about doing a 16 month fair market value lease and the price with maintenance per month is $101 and then there is a charge for black & white copies and colored copies. It would be both the staff and public copier. The public computers will be able to print in color. Fowler asked what the cost per copy. Zervas responded that the copy for black and white is .0123 cents per copy. Our cost for colored copy is .08 cents per copy. We will charge more than that. Canon supplies the toner. It has been budgeted for since the beginning of the year; but because it’s a new contract she needs board approval. Frisa moved to approve the new contract for the copier as presented by Zervas, seconded by Blackwood. The motion carried.

Executive Session: Not needed.

Other: No other business.

The next meeting is scheduled for March 18, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. in the Library Conference Room to discuss pending litigation with Connie Pell, Attorney from VLCT and to conduct any other trustee business.

Frisa moved to adjourn at 6:25 p.m. seconded by Fowler. The motion carried.

Respectfully submitted
Doreen Aldrich, Secretary

Letter read by Steve Geller

Good afternoon. I’m Steve Geller. First and foremost, I want to congratulate the 4 new Trustees on their very successful campaign and election to the Board, and the voters of Rockingham for their good judgment and commitment to get out and vote in such large numbers to send such a clear and unequivocal message. What was that message? That they deserve a Board they can trust to serve the needs and interests of the Library, its patrons, and the community, in a transparent, civil and integrity-driven manner, instead of the narrow interests of a few individuals’ personal agendas.

How clear was that message? The election results tell it all. Let’s look at what they say: Deb Wright was the only member of the previous majority- the 5 whose actions drove the formation of the Trustees You Can Trust campaign -who ran for re-election. She was the embodiment of that majority- one of its primary leaders, and the architect of the allegations that were fabricated about the Library Director’s performance in order to justify their relentless drive to fire her, the truth be damned.

For that performance, Ms. Wright was fired by her employers, the residents of the Town of Rockingham, who soundly rejected her bid to remain on the Board to keep doing what she had been doing for the past 3 years. But the big news was not just her defeat; it was the scale of the defeat that is most significant:

• In the previous 4 elections, not a single Library Board candidate received as many votes as any of this year’s candidates, except for Wright.
• Wright, an incumbent (usually a large advantage), received only 143 votes, compared to 685, 757 & 837 for the other three-year-term candidates, which was only 6% of the total votes cast in that race; i.e., 94% of voters said essentially “Anyone but Wright’
• The next lowest vote-getter received 28% of the votes, compared to her 6%.
• If she had tripled her votes, she still would have been 128 votes short of getting elected. She would have needed to quadruple her votes to win a seat, and then it would have been by just 15 votes.

Let me be clear: My aim in focusing on the vote counts is not to disparage Ms. Wright’s re-election effort. Rather, it’s to make the point that elections have consequences: They convey the will of the voters to either maintain the status quo or to make needed changes going forward. The good news for the new Board is that you don’t have to guess about how to interpret the voters’ will in this case. Here’s why:

Ms. Wright was unambiguously, unapologetically clear and articulate in her defense of the previous majority’s actions and viewpoint: She insisted that they did the right thing every step of the way, had nothing to be sorry for, and would continue to do the same if given the chance; therefore the voters should re-elect her to fight to maintain the status quo for another 3 years. The scale of her defeat speaks volumes about the vehemence with which the voters rejected that argument, and by extension, the actions of the previous majority: The voters’ will was obviously to demand change, and for it to be immediate and dramatic.

This message is so self-evident that the term “message” is really inadequate to describe it.

It is truly a mandate…a mandate for the Board to:

1. Move forward toward community healing by swiftly turning back the reckless actions of the previous one-vote majority, in the areas of open meetings, public involvement, proper procedures, and, not least, the wrongful termination of the Library Director

2. Re-focus your efforts on the big picture – the mission, vision, direction, & fiduciary oversight- instead of micro-managing library operations. Empower and allow the Director and staff to do what they were hired for, and have the skills & professional experience to do best, instead of standing in their way and second-guessing them on every minute detail.

3. Stop worrying about how little community outreach and meeting notification, and public comment you can get away with doing, based on the minimum legal requirements, and start focusing instead on how much you can do to maximize the involvement of town residents, patrons, and other elected officials. Welcome and encourage community partnerships beyond what’s required rather than push away and discourage them.

4. Conduct your meetings, business transactions, relationships, and yourselves with the maximum feasible transparency, civility, and integrity.

The people of Rockingham have registered their demand for change with their votes and will be watching to see if their mandate is heeded and fulfilled. I know the new Board majority is committed to making that happen, and I and hundreds of other concerned individuals are excited to have contributed to that and to being a witness to, and a partner in its implementation going forward.

Thank you for your time and for listening to my comments. I request that they be made a part of the official record of this meeting.