By Ray Carbone
WARNER –At the board of selectmen’s meeting scheduled for this Tuesday, Jan. 15, Jim Bingham, the town administrator, is planning to discuss recent public comments aimed at him by members of the budget committee and other residents.
Kimberley Brown Edelmann, the chairman of the selectmen’s board, said that Bingham requested the opportunity to publicly respond to the remarks, especially those made by John Leavitt, a member of the budget committee, at the Dec. 27 committee meeting. The criticisms, which have been aimed at both Bingham’s integrity and abilities, should be aired in a public forum, she said.
he slings and arrows, it takes a toll,” Brown Edelmann said of Bingham. “It needs to be done.”
‘It was brutal.’
– Kimberly Brown Edelmann, selectman, regarding criticism recently aimed Jim Bingham, the town administrator
The chairman does not believe the critiques are valid.
In recent weeks, Bingham has been at the center of disapproving comments aimed at the selectmen regarding its adoption of a new wage/compensation plan for town workers, particularly raises for some employees instituted before the end of last year.
In addition, when long-time town clerk, Judy Newman-Rogers, resigned her position in October, she charged that a “hostile, unpleasant and dysfunctional environment” had developed at town hall, and that the selectmen weren’t managing Bingham appropriately.
According to the unapproved minutes the Dec. 27 budget committee meeting, Leavitt said that Bingham was not always transparent when communicating important data about the new wage proposal with either the selectmen or the public.
“All the (relevant) information was going to the administrator (and) he was only telling you what he felt you should know, because he filters out what he thinks you don’t need to know,” Leavitt told John Dabuliewicz, the selectmen’s representative to the budget group. Leavitt later said that there was “plenty of room in here for interpretation and manipulation” of information that Bingham manages for the three-person board of selectmen.
At the next budget committee meeting on Jan. 3, Mike Cutting, the chairman, read an email message from Bingham. In it, the administrator said he wouldn’t attend any more of the group’s meetings until the conversational tone changed. “The history of sarcasm, condescension and personal attacks by some of its members towards myself, the department heads and our professional predecessors, makes the whole experience of attending budget committee meetings demoralizing and extremely unproductive,” the administrator wrote.
Afterwards, Brown Edelmann said Bingham doesn’t need to go to meetings where he’s treated disrespectfully. “It was brutal,” she recalled, referring to some of the comments aimed at Bingham.
Late last week, Leavitt defended his remarks. “I didn’t make any allegations of wrongdoing, just procedures,” he said. “Nothing illegal.”
Leavitt also called Bingham’s email response “ridiculous,” and said that attending budget committee meetings should be considered to be part of his job.
The agenda for this week’s meeting of the selectmen includes this item: Discuss allegations made by John Leavitt at the 12/27 Budget Committee meeting.
Brown Edelmann said the focus would primarily be on Leavitt’s claim of manipulation of data by Bingham.
Bingham was unavailable for comment.
This story first appeared in the InterTown Record weekly newspaper, published in Sutton, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, January 15, 2019.