Can You Believe This Guy?

By John S. Frum | December 16, 2019

We received today the following demand letter from the Town Treasurer, Mr. MacKenzie Campbell:


Name: Mackenzie Campbell, treasurer

Email: [omitted]

Comment: Hello I read opinionated and categorically false information relating to the Treasurers position. I am happy to give an interview that I can back up with facts and additional information. The article was about an upcoming Selectman’s meeting and I need to reach someone to discuss. If no contact attempts are made to me within 5 business days or 1 calendar week. I will follow up to request your proof in writing. If proof cannot be furnished within 30 days I will proceed accordingly to avoid defamation to my name and character as well as my ability to serve in the role of treasurer.

You are herby notifies to cease and desist the information regarding to the treasurers position without providing substantial evidence.

I appreciate your time and have a great day!

[phone number omitted]

[*misspellings and typographical errors are original]


Well, this Treasurer guy certainly thinks a lot of himself, doesn’t he? More than I do anyway.

I will thank him to keep his empty threats between his teeth for the next 5 business days, 1 calendar week, 30 days, or pretty much until the sun winks out. As an elected official, he is a public figure. This is black-letter law. I might suggest he seek satisfaction in a nice long walk on a short pier, and that he should “have a great day” while doing it.

Doesn’t he know that the Board of Selectmen (BOS) meetings are recorded? Nothing has been said here that was not said aloud in recorded public meetings.

(Some might even recall that when Selectman Lucier was obsessed with trash in yards, it was said aloud – for a recording – that Mr. Campbell’s yard was among the worst of them).

Mr. Campbell did not specify which part of our meeting notice was “categorically false.” I’m going to call just plain nonsense on that. Facts that you do not like are not false because you do not like them.

In the BOS meeting of December 3, 2018, the Town Clerk’s reluctance to be the Town’s Depository was discussed at length (minutes). Mr. Plissken wrote about it at the time (Town Clerk Working-to-Rule), and quoted both the Treasurer’s remarks and those of the BOS directly from the recording at length.

In the BOS meeting of December 17, 2018, the Treasurer was among those trying to browbeat the Town Clerk. According to the minutes.

M. Campbell suggested the Town Clerk/Tax Collector remain the central location as determined with the bank and auditors this past spring.

The Treasurer, the bank and the auditors had “determined” that the Town Clerk should do the work. Nice of them. Might I ask which of them, if any of them, asked the Town Clerk? Don’t you just love it when other people “determine” things for you? I know I do.

They went around and around, but she did not budge. You see, she is not the handmaiden of the BOS or anyone else in Town government. She is a duly elected constitutional officer, as opposed to most down there. She promised certain office hours for the taxpayers, as a constitutional officer might. This central depository thing would interfere with her promises to her constituency. She explained all this.

I invite you to watch the video. You have never seen such a confused bunch in your life. Like ducks hit on the head. (You will admire her determination: steel true, blade straight).

Vice-chairwoman Hutchings suggested a drop safe, but Treasurer Campbell said that lacked security and accountability. The Police Chief agreed. Selectman Lucier liked the drop safe idea. Chairman Thibeault disagreed with the drop safe idea. He did not want to go against the opinions of lawyers and auditors. (He thinks “outside the box”).

Remember, the Town Clerk is an independent elected official in her own right, with constitutional responsibilities of her own. Her responsibilities do not include being a central depository. No amount of others wanting it to be so makes it so. She is not answerable to the selectmen or treasurers, and even less so to their hireling police chiefs, lawyers, and auditors.

The BOS stopped finally the merry-go-round by asking that the Town Administrator call a meeting to iron out a solution by the end of January. Yeah, good luck with that. There was no mention in end of January minutes of any ironed-out solution.

How were the problems attendant to the “solution” devised by the Treasurer, auditor, and lawyer ultimately solved? They had to give the Town Clerk the assistance she requested. The additional cost of that assistance is not being paid by the Treasurer, the BOS, nor the departments, but by the taxpayers, as our meeting notice said.

Should we have said that we need to thank the Treasurer, and the auditors, lawyers, banks, selectmen, police chief, town administrator, butcher, baker, and candlestick-maker for this “solution”?


A camel is a horse designed by a committee.


 

Ready for a Second Helping?

By John S. Frum, Publisher | March 23, 2019

We at the Milton Observer are coming up on our first anniversary, which naturally occasions some questions.

As its publisher, I first had to ask myself, “Is the game worth the candle?” I think so.

Why the Observer?

Mr. Brown once made a strong case for the Milton Observer in a Public Comment before an October Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting. He spoke to a desperate need for local papers as a watchdog on the doings (and takings) of local government. I very much doubt that he meant the Milton Observer specifically. He cited Foster’s Daily Democrat as his exemplar but, in fact, they barely notice Milton’s existence even a few times a year.

I resolved early on that we would take little notice, as do some publications, of the foibles, failings, and arrests of private persons: they are innocent until proven guilty and are often not in a position to speak for themselves as they might wish. And there are so very many bad laws. (We are said to be all unknowingly committing “three felonies a day”).

Social media and other venues deal thoroughly with Milton businesses and social events. I am as interested in those as anyone else, but felt that they get the coverage they need.

The Milton Observer has established its own eclectic niche. And I do not think we are fully formed even now, a year later.

We have enjoyed some measure of success in our niche. I do glance at the statistics occasionally. The Milton Observer‘s content has had many thousands of views. We have even had some few foreign visitors. (Sorry, no Russian “Bots”).

Our Writers

I asked our writers whether we should persist. (After all, they do most of the work). Ms. Bristol, Ms. Starr, Mr. Forrester, and Mr. Plissken, (their pseudonyms or pen names), have all expressed a desire to continue for the time being.

Ms. Bristol feels that her foray into Milton history has been fruitful. She has managed to correct several errors in familiar standard histories and has even managed to supply some original material never before covered.

It has been largely a documentary history so far, although she did break new ground with her early census analysis (1790 and 1800). My personal favorite was the Milton Schoolteacher of 1796-05, but her pieces on Milton’s Railroad, Ice Industry, and Rusticators have proved quite popular. (She should finish Enoch Wingate’s tale).

She feels too that she may try to connect up all her Milton historical documents as a new history. I would like to see that. And maybe I can, but only in the Milton Observer.

Mr. Forrester has still a universe to explore. He has hardly begun to cover the cycle of constellations and other phenomena visible from Milton. I have long been able to recognize the Big and Small Dippers, and thereby the North Star, as well as Orion, but he has enabled me to leverage that knowledge to find Sirius and other celestial objects too.

Now, the sky from Milton is much the same as the sky from Farmington, or Dover, even the whole northern hemisphere. It might surprise you to learn that Mr. Forrester has several fans in other parts of the world as well as Milton.

Mr. Plissken is, well, Mr. Plissken. His articles do occasionally get shared elsewhere, which he does appreciate. Sometimes a disclaimer is attached, which always makes us smile.

Some might regard Mr. Plissken as being a bit of an iconoclast. Perhaps. He does try to address the arguments, rather than the man (or woman). You will have noticed that he frequently reproduces the things that are said exactly (and even links to the video). No one but the public officials themselves put those words, arguments, or justifications into their mouths.

He has of necessity focused in this last year on what has seemed to be the font of Milton’s political and economic errors: its Board of Selectmen. It is certain that we have been poorly governed for quite some time. But hope springs eternal: it might be that our wise overlords will introduce reforms any time now, or as they used to tell me, “straighten up and fly right.”

I do wish I could duplicate Mr. Plissken’s coverage across all the offices, boards and committees, even those as far away as Concord, or even Washington, but he can only be stretched so far and we are, after all, the Milton Observer.

Ms. Starr has not been able to contribute as much as she had hoped. That is fine. Her occasional observations have been interesting. We might hope to hear more from her in the future.

I do wish to enlarge our pool of writers. I am trying to persuade a particular movie buff that they need to write for us. I envisioned a broad survey of the “great” movies available on DVD or through streaming services, rather than the latest film releases at the box office. Something we might have overlooked or never even known about. But this writer I have in mind might have their own ideas.

Ms. Bristol has occasionally shared historical recipes that she came across during her researches. (See the Milton Mills Oyster Fritters Recipe of 1895, and Milton Cookies of 1895-96). Maybe someone could give us more.

I have considered changing up the paper’s physical format too. I am still thinking on that.

Maybe You Have Something to Say?

I created a space for guest writers and have occasionally offered to publish (and have even published) pieces by others. It might be that you have something interesting that needs to be said. Or something of general interest. Or a rebuttal. I do favor Milton writers, but Strafford County, New England, and the world are out there too. The content should be such as would interest Milton readers, but that takes in a lot of territory. I recommend the use of a pen name.

I do not interfere much with what writers might say, but we do have an editorial point of view. You may say whatever you like – even that the Observer is a hopeless scandal sheet full of unsubstantiated rumors – but you should expect that there may be some pushback or rebuttal from other writers. That is how free speech works.

I ask primarily that a writer not get us sued, if such a thing is even possible within the parameters I have set. It is necessary also to support or enlarge upon any facts cited in concluding References.

We try to avoid criticizing or even mentioning “civilians” by name, but the public pronouncements of our wise overlords are fair game. (They are asserting a right to rule over us, and to realize their fevered dreams at the public expense).

That gentile avoidance sort of includes you too. Your work might not be quite as relevant, or interesting, if you get too personal. (We might be embarrassed). Try to speak to wider interests, topics, and concerns. You might ask, as they do with children, “Did I bring enough for everyone?”

(In terms of textual presentation, I prefer full justification; I do not care for left justification).

So, the Milton Observer and its writers have contracted for at least another year. And it might be that some of you might have something suitable for us. (You may reach me by e-mail, which I check at least occasionally).

Do not expect to get paid. Well, maybe some experience and satisfaction will be forthcoming.

References:

Laissez Faire Books. (2012, March 25). Three Felonies a Day, a Review by Wendy McIlroy. Retrieved from lfb.org/three-felonies-a-day-reviewed-by-wendy-mcelroy/

A Reply to Chairman Thibeault’s Rube Goldberg Machine

By Lynette McDougall | March 20, 2019

I have never replied to the Milton Observer because I have felt it entertaining to a degree plus well written. I am afraid I am disappointed in this review, it is so easy to shame, and make those who we have voted in office look bad when they too are citizens. They are in the constant hot seat taking hits.

May I ask who on the Milton Observer use their real names? – it’s sort of a hit and run. No one can hit back if they don’t know who you are. Yet these people, board members, are our neighbors, and friends putting their time in to do what no one else has stepped up to do. I may make my political thoughts known publicly, but I don’t hide and I do respect our Town Planner, town board for trying their best.

It takes guts to try and help this town who resists so much effort to grow. I don’t agree with Ryan on some things but he’s my neighbor and I respect he is out there doing the best he knows and the same for Andy and many others.

Right now, I believe my remark to the BOS was wrong: “who do they work for?” I should have asked what can be done to work together for a common goal. We have forgotten why public meetings are so important; to exchange ideas, work out problems, and be open to new ideas or respectfully listen. This is town business we pay for.

I took a picture of the audience at last night’s Planning Board, as usual there was no public attendance. But there was plenty to say about Warrant Article 3 but not where citizens could hear the RSA’s, professional definitions, etc., etc. It’s amazing that propaganda can so easily be disguised and manipulated by colored pamphlets. The public missed the main objectives of the article and took the ride of misinformation. That’s ok, it was talked about at last night’s meeting that the public didn’t attend.

You might wonder who I champion … it’s freedom of speech, it’s public involvement, it’s commerce, low taxes with regard to what you have to give up in return, everything comes at a cost.

Freedom comes at a great cost we are all on the hook to pay the toll.


Ms. McDougall is a member of the Milton Planning Board. Her husband is a member the Budget Committee


See also Chairman Thibeault’s Rube Goldberg Machine