Derry Town Administrator John Anderson is on paid administrative leave after an undisclosed incident that occurred Thursday, July 11, placed him under investigation by the New Hampshire State Police.
This comes just weeks after the Town Council awarded him a 2 percent raise on a 4-3 vote.
The Town Council met in an emergency nonpublic session Friday afternoon, July 12, and made the decision to put Anderson on administrative leave.
Anderson was at his home at 8 Lane Road at the time of the alleged incident. As of press time Tuesday afternoon, July 16, he had not been arrested and had not been charged with anything, nor had any court hearing taken place.
He remains on administrative leave pending the investigation by the State Police. A listing in the July 11 police log may be related. According to the log, police were summoned to a Lane Road residence for “suspicious activity.” Three patrol officers and a sergeant responded to what was listed in the log as an “offense.” Police responding to the first call were Sgt. David Michaud and Patrol Officers Mike Moulton, Raul Rivera and Stephen Clark. The follow-up call to Lane Road involved Michaud, Rivera, Clark, Patrol Officer Robert Corwin, and Detectives Edward Budroe and Dana Park.
According to Derry assessor’s records, the home at 8 Lane Road is listed as purchased in 2010 by Anderson and Catharine Sherrill. The Nutfield News filed a Freedom of Information request for the complete narrative on the police log item, which was rejected by the Derry Police Department.
Derry Police Capt. Vern Thomas, who handles media inquiries, wrote in a response, “Your request is hereby denied for reasons highlighted in the referenced Supreme Court decision regarding police documents and investigations.”
Thomas cited Lodge V. Knowlton, a case in which the Supreme Court adopted relevant portions of the federal Freedom of Information Act for determining whether police investigative records are subject to disclosure. Thomas wrote that records could be withheld if producing the records would, 1: interfere with enforcement proceedings; 2: deprive a person of a fair trial or impartial adjudication; 3: constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy; 4: disclose the identity of a confidential source; 5: disclose investigative techniques or procedures; or 6: endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement personnel.
Thomas declined to comment, referring all questions back to Acting Town Administrator Lawrence Budreau and the State Police. Thomas also declined comment on the two Lane Road calls.
The State Police did not respond to telephone calls or a Freedom of Information Act request as of press time.
Anderson came to Derry in September 2010 after unanimous appointment by the then-Town Council. He was Town Manager in Boothbay, Maine for 10 years before that. On the MyLife social networking site Anderson is listed as “John P. Anderson, born in 1963 and currently living in Derry, New Hampshire. Before that he is listed as living in Pittsfield, Mass. and Boothbay Harbor, Maine.”
Last week’s meeting was called under RSA 91A:3 II (a) and III, regarding “the dismissal, promotion or compensation of any public employee or the disciplining of such employee, or the investigation of any charges against him,” and minutes of nonpublic meetings.
After the 45-minute emergency meeting, Council Chairman Michael Fairbanks announced three resolutions, all passed unanimously by the Council. The first was to put Anderson on administrative leave.
The second resolution appointed Larry Budreau, the assistant town administrator and human resources director, to act as administrator during the investigation, and the third authorized Budreau to be the spokesperson for the town regarding Anderson.
Budreau said in a statement to the media, “Certain allegations involving our Town Administrator have been brought to the town’s attention. These allegations do not involve the town. The matter has been referred to the New Hampshire State Police.”
During the investigation, he said, Anderson would be put on administrative leave with pay under the provisions of the charter until the investigation was complete. Budreau said the matter was referred to the State Police because Anderson was not performing his official duties for the town at the time of the alleged incident.
Budreau said he did not know why details of the incident were being kept from the public by state and town police. “It’s the beginning of the week,” he said on Monday. “I expect to talk with them today.”
In a special Town Council meeting June 24 to discuss a raise for Anderson, councilors floated several numbers before settling on a 2 percent raise. The nonpublic session was held Monday, June 24, at 6:30 p.m. for the stated reason of RSA 91:A-3, II (a), the dismissal, promotion or compensation of any public employee or the disciplining of such employee or the investigation of any charges against him or her, unless the employee affected (1) has a right to a public meeting, and (2) requests that the meeting be open in which case the request shall be granted.
Six Councilors voted to enter nonpublic session. Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores was not present but participated later by telephone. A motion was made to give Anderson a 2 percent raise. Councilors Brad Benson, Neil Wetherbee, Fairbanks and Katsakiores voted yes, with Thomas Cardon, Mark Osborne and Albert Dimmock voting no.
Cardon’s “no” was mostly in line with the town belt-tightening, he said in a phone interview. He said Anderson was a good manager. “He’s smart, and I’m impressed with what he knows,” Cardon said. But Anderson, at an annual salary of $122,000, was “already making a pretty good salary,” and Cardon did not think this was the year for a raise.
“It was in the best interests of the town to vote no,” he said. Dimmock said he wasn’t against a raise for Anderson, he was concerned about the amount. While others suggested as high as 4 percent, Dimmock held out for 1 percent.
“Other Councilors wanted him to make more than anyone else in the town,” Dimmock said, noting that it wasn’t fair to administrators like Public Works Director Mike Fowler, who had been with the town a long time, or Ed Garone, its police chief for 4“I am trying to save the town money,” Dimmock said.
Osborne, who ran on a platform of fiscal conservatism, pointed out that Anderson had gotten a raise last year. Like Cardon, Osborne said his vote was in no way a criticism of Anderson’s work, but a recognition of fiscal realities. “This is a good year to put a freeze on everything,” Osborne said. “He could afford to go one year without a raise. People in the private sector have gone longer.”
Benson, Wetherbee, Katsakiores and Fairbanks voted against sealing the minutes, while Cardon, Dimmock and Osborne voted in favor of sealing the minutes.