March 8, 2010

Allard responds (finally) this morning
School Board chairman waits until day before Town Vote to provide "explanation", but the damage is done.


Keith Allard is one slick individual.  

Back in January, he orchestrated an attempt to find a loophole in state law to negate the budget committee's recommended budget of $35.6 million.  Thinking he had found it, he did not contact Budget Committee chairman Dan Cloutier.  Instead, he quietly contacted the school district's attorney, Ed Kaplan, for verification.  Kaplan erroneously verified Allard's hopes that the Budget Committee had erred, and Allard then notified Cloutier of the school board's intent to publish their own budget on the Town Warrant rather than the Budget Committee's.

Allard, it turns out, was dead wrong.  So was his attorney.  So both of them came to the next Budget Committee meeting to apologize.

Chairman Keith Allard

Then in February, Allard did his best to add $837,529 to the proposed operating budget at deliberative.  Despite the best efforts of the school district to "muster their troops", Allard's motion was defeated.

Now comes March, Allard's last opportunity to push for the default budget, which is $803,254 higher than the proposed operating budget.  In addition to his public campaign to get voters to vote for the default budget, the school district suddenly announced what Allard this morning calls "a misunderstanding" between Mr. Ray Labore and Goffstown News writer Sarah Lebrun:  they had provided inaccurate numbers (in favor of the default budget they hope is passed) to The Goffstown News.

After repeated demands for information from Cloutier since Thursday, Allard finally sent an email at 10:40 AM this morning to answer Cloutier's demands.


Below are direct quotes from Allard's email to Cloutier and the rest of the Budget Committee this morning, along with a few more questions to him about his responses:

Allard:  "Now that Monday morning has come, I have had the opportunity to speak with both Ray Labore and Sarah Lebrun to hear both sides of the story..."
Question:  Why did you wait until Monday, Keith?  Did everyone have the day off Friday?  Don't you have phone numbers and email addresses for your school district personnel?  Or perhaps you needed the extra time to huddle together and concoct your reply?

: "
...and have concluded that it was a misunderstanding between Ray and Sarah Lebrun
Question:  A "misunderstanding"???  Are you asking taxpayers to believe that you, Stacy Buckley, Ray Labore and the rest of the school district are so bumbling and inept as to have provided completely inaccurate tax rate and tax impact numbers to The Goffstown News by accident???  If so, perhaps it's time for all of you to resign and turn over the reigns to a professional management team.  If you're not asking us to believe you're that inept, then the only remaining conclusion is that it was no accident.  It's also very interesting to note that the school district only stood to benefit from the misinformation you provided to The Goffstown News.

Also, The Goffstown News didn't think it was a "misunderstanding" either.  In the corrected article they published online this morning, they clearly stated, "
Editor's note: This story corrects inaccurate information originally provided to us about the school default budget tax rate."

Allard: "The school district did not calculate the difference in the tax rate or effect on a $250,000 home for the article. This was done by Sarah Lebrun."
Question:  So what's your point, Keith?  That Sarah can take the numbers the school district gave her and add & subtract from there?

Allard: "I do not believe Ray or Sarah meant to share any incorrect numbers..."
I don't know about Ray, but Sarah Lebrun had no clue she was sharing incorrect numbers, Keith.  That's because she, along with all taxpayers in Goffstown, have a right to expect - and demand - that their elected school officials, as well as the high-priced SAU folks hired by the school board, should KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING.   Is it possible they did know what they were doing, Keith?


Allard: "The Goffstown School Board as not orchestrated a movement in the public to support the default budget over the recommended budget committee's number since it was moved to the ballot at deliberative session."
Quesion:  Is that so, Keith?  Then how do you explain this quote in the very article we are talking about: "Maybe the community will vote in the default budget and we won’t have to make cuts (within the district),” said School Board Chairman Keith Allard."

You were quoted as saying this in an earlier article as well.


Unfortunately, the damage is done.  "Misunderstanding" or not, Allard continues to hope, as he stated in the article, that taxpayers will vote-in the default budget, costing us all another $803,254.  And this supposed "misunderstanding" goes a long way towards helping Allard attain that goal.

The vast majority of Goffstown Residents do not read The Goffstown News online.  Rather, they pick up a copy at one of numerous locations around town.  Allard knows this, and knows that the correction to the inaccurate figures the school district provided to The Goffstown News will not appear in the printed edition until after the Town Vote.

Very cleverly orchestrated, Mr. Allard.  Very clever indeed.

I have no doubt that should the school default budget pass, there will be an immediate public outcry for your resignation and those of Stacy Buckley and Ray Labore.  

You and the entire school district have, as Dan Cloutier said to you in his email, done an incredible "disservice to the voters".  Again.

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Should any readers wish to obtain a complete copy of Mr. Allard's email response this morning, please feel free to contact us at ... and be sure to wear your wading boots before you read it.

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