Dedicated to Restoring Integrity to Goffstown Government


Voters Order Board of Selectmen to Stop Merger Efforts

Exposes intentionally misleading language, succeeds in amending Article 24

GOFFSTOWN - By a nearly 4-to-1 margin, Selectmen's Article 24 - originally seeking a non-binding endorsement of the Board of Selectmen's plan to consolidate the police and fire departments - was voted down at the March 14th town vote.

The Article, as it eventually appeared on the ballot, bore no resemblance to the one originally proposed by the BOS.

At the town deliberative session on Wednesday, February 8, 2006, Nick Campasano, now one of two newly-elected selectman in Goffstown, exposed the intentionally misleading language of Article 24 to an audience of hundreds of Goffstown voters.

Campasano was not fooled by the cleverly worded Article 24 as proposed by the Board of Selectmen, noting that the term endorse was used to mislead Goffstown voters into believing that should the article fail, the BOS would be forced to abandon their plans for consolidating Police, Fire,EMS and Code Enforcement services into a single, Public Safety Department.  Former Chairman Gossett McRae, when pressed by Campasano, finally admitted that this would not be the case.  Indeed, the Board of Selectmen would have been free to proceed with their consolidation plan regardless of whether voters endorsed it or not.  Effectively, Article 24 meant absolutely nothing as submitted by the BOS.  Simply put, it was an attempt to mislead voters into believing a NO vote would have stopped the BOS, when in fact it would not have.

But Campasano - and the voters - were not fooled.  

Campasano submitted a proposed amendment to correct the misleading language Article 24, which succeeded.  Although the article remained advisory in nature and is not legally binding on the BOS,  the GRA believes that with Robert Wheeler and Gossett McRae - the main forces behind the attempted merger -now out of office and replaced by Nick Campasano and John Caprio, the BOS's attempt to consolidate our emergency services will, once and for all, come to an end.

ARTICLE 24 as proposed by Selectmen ARTICLE 24 as amended at Town Meeting

To see if the Town will vote to endorse the Board of Selectmen's decision to consolidate Police, Fire, EMS, and Code Enforcement services into a Public Safety Department administered by a Public Safety Director. The savings from this administrative consolidation will result in a reduction to the operationg budget of Seventy Seven Thousand Sixteen Dollars (-77,016). (This appropriation is a reduction to Article 9.)
Recommended by Selectmen and Budget Committee

To see if the Town will vote to direct the Board of Selectmen to stop any and all efforts to consolidate Police, Fire, EMS, and Code Enforcement services into a Public Safety Department administered by a Public Safety Director. 
Article 24 as submitted by selectmen and as subsequently amended at town meeting


Campasano spoke to the audience just prior to submitting his proposed amendment.  A copy of his speech is seen below:

Ladies and Gentlemen: 

     I have spent most of my adult life building a career in the fire service. I am a District Chief with the Manchester Fire Department. Over twenty-three years ago, I began that career as a call firefighter here in Goffstown. I will tell you that I have a great deal of respect for the firefighters here in Goffstown, both call and full-time. We should all be very proud of them. I could go on and detail the many reasons why I believe a consolidated Department of Safety services is not in the best interest of the Town. However, I won’t. I don’t believe that tonight is the proper forum for that. As we can all tell, this is a very emotionally charged issue. I am sure that if we stayed here until the wee hours of the night and debated this, we would leave tomorrow morning with individuals still firmly entrenched on one side or the other side of this issue. I am sure that this Board of Selectman would be very happy if we did. For we are doing exactly what it is they hoped we would do, which is, focusing on arguing the merits of consolidation rather than looking at the true issue. And that issue ladies and gentlemen is one of process.   

     The “plan”, which we will be asked to vote on in March, was conceived in haste and in secret. We are being asked to vote now and ask questions later.  We are being told, “Trust us”, and “we don’t have the plans yet, it’s a work in progress”.  As far as I am concerned, a work in progress is fine for a sculpture or a painting, but when it comes to the safety of my family, “a work in progress” just doesn’t cut it. Selectman McRae referenced the MIS report when he first suggested consolidation during a non-public session in November. It is a twenty-four-page document of which 16 pages outline formulas, equations, and evaluations, which must be made before a decision is made as to whether or not consolidation will benefit the community. None of these evaluations have been performed. This is a classic case of putting the proverbial cart before the horse.  While it is true that in some communities, Public Safety Consolidation has saved money, it is also equally true that in others consolidation did not yield the desired effects. To decide now, without all of the details, would be premature and irresponsible.   

     What is most disturbing is that after all of the debate and discussion, our Board of Selectmen does not intend to honor our decision. Article 24, in their opinion, will be advisory only in nature. Despite State Statutes, a Superior court decision and an overwhelmingly negative response to their actions from the public, this Board of Selectmen has thumbed their noses at the voters and is continuing with their consolidation plans. In fact, in the appeal the Town has filed with the Superior Court, the Board of Selectmen state,” the warrant article to be presented to the Town Meeting does not seek permission to make changes….” They go further to say that they phrased the article in this manner based on their belief that they have the final say not the voters. Ladies and Gentlemen, that is just plain wrong. As voters, each and every one of us has the right to determine the type of police, fire and EMS service we are provided with. Join with me in sending that message to the Board.  

     Mr. Moderator, I would like to make a motion. I move to amend Article 24 to read:

"To see if the Town will vote to direct the Board of Selectmen to stop any and all efforts to consolidate Police, Fire, EMS, and Code Enforcement services into a Public Safety Department administered by a Public Safety Director."

     This amendment makes it quite clear that we want the Selectmen to stop their attempts to consolidate our emergency responders. Any future discussions of consolidation should only be undertaken after intensive study and review. All aspects of a consolidation must be presented to the voters, including final costs, complete implementation time, and final organization structures, before we are asked to make a decision. And I emphasize “we”. As the legislative body of the town, we, the voters, demand the right to decide to what level we want our emergency services. I urge everyone here tonight to support and vote for this amendment. 




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