Russ Harding asked to resign from BOS

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Should Selectman Russ Harding Resign?

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Russ Harding asked to resign from BOS

Postby curt » Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:59 am

August 29, 2012
Danville selectman asked to resign

By Doug Ireland direland@eagletribune.com

DANVILLE — Selectman Russell Harding is weighing his options after fellow board members asked him to resign.

Harding was given a week to make up his mind after Selectmen’s Chairman Shawn O’Neil told him he was censured and requested his resignation at a meeting Monday night on behalf of the board.

Harding superseded his authority as a selectman Aug. 18 when he ignored police Chief Wade Parsons’ decision to cancel the town’s Movie Night because of a threat of rain, O’Neil said yesterday.

Harding, convinced it wasn’t going to rain, asked Parsons for the key and dragged the town’s projector, inflatable screen and other equipment to Day Field, even though residents were notified hours earlier that the movie would not be shown, O’Neil said.

It didn’t rain and one family showed up for the postponed event. But that doesn’t matter, O’Neil and other selectmen said yesteday.

“This is an issue where he far exceeded his authority as a selectman,” O’Neil said. “I used to admire his enthusiam, but enthusiasm doesn’t replace stupidity.”

Harding, 35, was elected to a three-year term on the board in March 2011.

He said he regrets what he did, but doesn’t think he should resign.

“If people were asked to resign for every mistake they made, no one would have a job,” he said yesterday. “Personally, I thought it was a little extreme. At this point right now, I’m a little frustrated.”

Harding helped organize the event, sponsored by the Recreation Committee and Police Department.

Harding said he received a text message that the movie would be canceled because of rain. Afraid the first-time event would be canceled for the second time and perhaps for good, Harding said he checked several forecasts.

There was only a 20 percent chance it would rain after 10 p.m., he said. Harding said he and Parsons exchanged many text messages that day, but the chief was firm in his decision.

Parsons could not be reached yesterday for comment.

Harding decided he would show the movie himself.

“I had spent a lot of time and energy hoping to make this work for the town,” he said. “I should have just let it go and I didn’t. I regret going overboard with it. In the end, I should have handled it differently.”

Harding said he’s gotten along with fellow selectmen and doesn’t know why they would ask for his resignation for making a single mistake.

“We have an excellent working relationship,” he said.

O’Neil and board Vice Chairman Chris Giordano said, generally speaking, Harding has been a good selectman.

Harding said he’s not sure if will he resign.

“I haven’t made up my mind,” he said.

O’Neil acknowledged there is nothing selectmen can do to force Harding’s resignation.

Giordano and Selectman Annemarie Inman agreed yesterday that Harding’s actions were inappropriate.

“We feel he overstepped his bounds,” Giordano said. “He was just adamant at going forward. It was just uncalled for. It’s unbecoming of a selectman.”

Inman said Harding showed a total disregard for authority.

“I really stand by the fact that as a selectperson, you have to be professional at all times,” she said.
Last edited by curt on Tue Sep 18, 2012 11:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Russ Harding asked to resign from BOS

Postby curt » Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:01 am

Doesn't sound to me as if this merits resignation.
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Re: Russ Harding asked to resign from BOS

Postby safety frog » Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:37 am

Sounds like a few deep breaths are in order, not resignation.

After some of the bizarre actions of one of our past selectman that was not asked to resign, this sounds like peanuts.
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Re: Russ Harding asked to resign from BOS

Postby SBinRockrimmon » Wed Aug 29, 2012 7:18 pm

Not sure if there's more to the story.....Not sure if this merits resignation either. I think his reaction to to TB Jr. during Candidates Night was worse than attempting to show this movie. I admit it was a bit foolish, but it appears as if Russ has already admitted that much.
Last edited by SBinRockrimmon on Thu Aug 30, 2012 5:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Russ Harding asked to resign from BOS

Postby curt » Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:29 pm

Town boards and school boards derive their authority from state law.

You will read in the paper how this or that board will "censure" a member, often in relation to something the member said. Most often it is when a member speaks against a vote of the majority.

Boards have authority to regulate their subject areas. But I have never found statutory authority for boards to regulate the conduct of their own members, including censuring them.
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Re: Russ Harding asked to resign from BOS

Postby JohnH » Thu Aug 30, 2012 12:00 pm

I agree that this seems extreme and don't feel he should resign over it. Yes it was a poor choice on his part, but in the end how is the town hurt by him showing the movie? At most you can fine him the amount it cost to show the movie and say lesson learned.
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Re: Russ Harding asked to resign from BOS

Postby Sheila » Thu Aug 30, 2012 12:28 pm

Home » News » Politics
August 30. 2012 1:23AM

Movie night turns into horror show for Danville selectman
ShareThisBy JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent DANVILLE — Selectman Russell Harding has been asked to resign after being accused of overstepping his bounds when he held a community movie night against the wishes of the town's police chief, who asked that it be postponed due to the threat of rain.

Selectmen asked for the resignation at Monday's board meeting after a dispute over a movie night held at Day Field on Aug. 18.

Harding has been given until the next board meeting on Sept. 4 to make a decision, but selectmen can't legally force him to quit.

“Did I overstep my boundaries? Maybe. But a resignation? I have a hard time with that,” Harding said.

Selectman Michelle Cooper said she felt Harding misused his authority, and she hinted at other problems that night.

“There could be more than what meets the eye, but at this point I really can't discuss it,” she said. “You have to be professional and there were poor choices made throughout the night.”

The idea to hold a movie night was suggested earlier this year by Police Chief Wade Parsons, who spearheaded the effort as a way to bring families together during the summer.

The town spent just under $5,000 on equipment and other related expenses to show a movie on a large inflatable screen at the field, while the police association also kicked in money to help pay for some of the movie license fees.

On the morning of Aug. 18, Parsons looked at the weather forecast and feared it could rain later that night when the town planned to show the movie “Transformers,” so he sent out a text message to a few other volunteers asking their opinions. He eventually decided it would be best to cancel the event because he said he was worried that the equipment could be ruined if it got wet.

Word spread quickly that the event was off, but Harding, who has also helped out with the movie night, said he was away during the day and didn't get the message until after it was already canceled.

Harding said he checked out three different weather services and only one showed a 20 percent chance of rain. He said he then contacted Parsons and told him that he thought it should be shown as planned. He contacted another member of the recreation committee who agreed, he said.

“I told him I didn't agree with changing it once I already changed the sign saying it was postponed,” Parsons said.

Harding eventually decided to haul the equipment to the field and show the movie despite the earlier announcement that it was postponed. He said it had been several weeks since a movie had been shown and felt it should go on as planned given the money invested in the event.

Harding said one family showed up at about 8:30 p.m., but at that point it was getting dark and he was already packing up the equipment.

“By the time we got down there it had been canceled for some time. The reality is I should have let it go because it was too late in the day,” said Harding, who was elected in 2011.

In hindsight, Harding said, he probably shouldn't have gone ahead with the movie night, but isn't so sure it warrants his resignation.

“I think this might be a little excessive to ask for my resignation over something like this,” he said. “Everybody makes a mistake.”


-
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Re: Russ Harding asked to resign from BOS

Postby timd » Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:39 pm

The question I would be asking is whether the police chief exceeded his authority. Selectmen have jurisdiction over town property not assigned by RSA to other bodies. The chief can certainly advise that an event should be called off, but I don't think the selectmen have to take his advice.
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Re: Russ Harding asked to resign from BOS

Postby safety frog » Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:46 pm

Running a movie as a town event sounds like a roll for an active recreation committee member(s). Outside movie with back up plan of inside at the Community building even better.
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Re: Russ Harding asked to resign from BOS

Postby C L » Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:44 pm

Was the projector and or screen destroyed or damaged as a result?

If not then drop it, waste of BOS time dealing with this, get back to running the town and trying to lower our property tax.

If it was then fine him for it and get back to running the town and trying to lower our property taxes.


FYI, I actually thought this was an Onion story its so ridiculous.
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Re: Russ Harding asked to resign from BOS

Postby SBinRockrimmon » Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:29 pm

timd wrote:The question I would be asking is whether the police chief exceeded his authority. Selectmen have jurisdiction over town property not assigned by RSA to other bodies. The chief can certainly advise that an event should be called off, but I don't think the selectmen have to take his advice.


The town spent just under $5,000 on equipment and other related expenses to show a movie on a large inflatable screen at the field, while the police association also kicked in money to help pay for some of the movie license fees.


I think the Chief was the person who started the event in the first place and was kicking in $$ that he raised. In past selectmen meetings the "movie night" was discussed. (I'm not going to go digging through old minutes). My impression was that during these discussions the use of the town property was approved for this purpose and it was agreed that Chief Parsons would head up running the program. I could be off base here, but that would have given the chief the authority to run the event.

As I previously stated, I can't help but to think there is still more to this story. The article in the newspaper also seems to hint there was something else that went on. I will hold off my judgement until (and if) we hear the back story.

Selectman Michelle Cooper said she felt Harding misused his authority, and she hinted at other problems that night.

“There could be more than what meets the eye, but at this point I really can't discuss it,”
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Re: Russ Harding asked to resign from BOS

Postby SBinRockrimmon » Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:21 pm

Was/is there a meeting tonight? It isn't on the local channel. Just curious what the outcome of the hubbub is.
I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. - Thomas Jefferson

To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical. - Thomas Jefferson

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Re: Russ Harding asked to resign from BOS

Postby curt » Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:06 pm

The minutes of the 8/27/12 selectmen meeting wrote:Chairman O’Neil stated that he needed to address an issue he wished he would never have to in his duties as Selectman. Chairman O’Neil read the following statement:
“The Board would like to address an issue that has come to our attention regarding the inappropriate behavior of one of our Board members, Russ Harding.
On Saturday, August 18th, the Movie night, which is sponsored by the Danville Recreation Committee and the Danville PD, was postponed by Chief Parsons due to weather-related concerns. Chief Parsons provided more than sufficient notice to the residents of Danville by
displaying the postponement on the playground sign facing Route 111a and spreading the word to patrons with the help of Mayo’s Market.
What concerns the Board are the events that occurred later that evening. We have been informed that Russ Harding contacted Chief Parsons and Ms. Judy Armstrong of Recreation insisting that the movie night should continue as scheduled. Chief Parsons again expressed concerns of possibly destroying the equipment should the weather worsen also citing public safety, while Ms. Armstrong had suggested an alternative date that would include a back-up plan requesting the use of the Community Center. During approximately two hours of back and forth communication between Russ and Chief Parsons, Russ insisted on running the movie night, in what could almost be considered an overbearing manor. Russ completely disregarded the concerns and opinions of the event sponsors, embarrassed Chief Parsons after the event had been postponed, and did so without the knowledge or support of any of the other members of this Board.
The four other members of this Board believe strongly that we have an obligation to act appropriately at ALL times. It should also be said that to give the appearance of acting or speaking on behalf of the entire Board is completely unacceptable and will NOT be tolerated by this Board. Every one of the Board members sitting at this table MUST realize that their actions could have far reaching consequences and take the steps necessary to conduct themselves with the utmost respect and professionalism and be held accountable for their actions.
With that said, as Chairman of this Board, I would recommend that Selectman Harding be censured for conduct unbecoming of a member of the Board of Selectman. And for the benefit of the minutes, the term censure is defined as a ‘strong or vehement expression of disapproval’ and in this instance is an official public reprimand of a Board member.”
Chairman O’Neil asked Selectman Harding if he had anything to say. Selectman Harding stated that he at no time stated that he was operating as a Select-board member. He agreed he should have let it go and not insisted on holding the movie but he believed we had made a commitment to the town and needed to hold the event. He could not understand why the movie was canceled; the weather was fine. He stated he was personally frustrated. If the Board wanted to censure him that was fine; the event should not have been cancelled. Vice-chair Giordano responded that Selectman Harding had no right to hold the event. The decision made by the event planners who canceled the event should have been respected and told Selectman Harding he used his Selectman muscle to hold the event, stepping in and changing the decision to cancel was overstepping his bounds.
Chairman O’Neil asked for a motion to censure Russ Harding for conduct unbecoming of a Board member. Vice-chair Giordano made the motion, seconded by Selectman Inman, to censure Selectman Harding. Motion passed unanimously. Selectman Harding did not vote.
Chairman O’Neil then read: “Instituting a censure is the only course of action this Board can make at this time, since there is no RSA to govern us otherwise. Therefore, it is the recommendation of this Board that we request your resignation and want your decision by the next meeting of the Board of Selectman.” The next Selectmen’s meeting is Tuesday, September 4, 2012.
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Re: Russ Harding asked to resign from BOS

Postby SBinRockrimmon » Wed Sep 05, 2012 8:55 pm

The plot thickens.

http://www.unionleader.com/article/2012 ... /709059890


Danville selectman admits mistakes, won't resign
By JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent

DANVILLE — Selectman Russell Harding refused to resign his position Tuesday night even after admitting that he “made a mistake” when he pushed a teenager during an incident at a community movie night last month.

Harding said he has no plans to step down despite criticisms from fellow selectmen who accused him off making poor choices when he went ahead with the movie night at Day Field on Aug. 18 against the wishes of Police Chief Wade Parsons, who had canceled the event earlier in the day because he was afraid it would rain.

Selectmen called for Harding’s resignation over the movie night flap at a board meeting last week, saying he overstepped his bounds. They made no mention of an assault allegation at the time but at Tuesday night’s board meeting told Harding that there was more to the story.

Vice Chairman Chris Giordano insisted that Harding “be honest” and tell residents what happened that night.

“I’m not trying to hide anything. I made mistakes,” Harding said.

Harding said the incident occurred at the end of the night when he was taking the town’s movie equipment down. Harding said he went into nearby Mayo’s Market for a moment and then began walking back over to Day Field when he saw someone standing by the equipment.

“I knew that there wasn’t anybody (who was) supposed to be there,” he said.

Harding said he yelled and asked the person to identify himself and explain what he was doing.

Harding then approached and stood between the equipment and the other person, whom he later learned was a teenager.

“The thing that was going through my head is that, ‘The last thing I need at this point after this entire ordeal is that this equipment gets stolen or damaged,’” Harding told selectmen.

He said he “touched” the teenager and admitted that it was a mistake.

After the meeting, Harding said in an interview that he “pushed” the teenager away from the equipment and that after the incident other teenagers on bicycles began making comments. The teenager he had pushed also claimed Harding had assaulted him, he said.

It’s unclear whether the teenager is pressing charges over the incident.

“All I know is I made a mistake that night. For that, I’m sorry,” Harding told selectmen.

Shawn O’Neil, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said the fact that Harding held the movie night after the town had already announced that it was postponed was “really just the surface.”

The incident with the teenager was more serious, he said.

“It’s unacceptable, period,” said Selectman Michelle Cooper, who is also a part-time Danville police officer and was on duty the night of the incident.

Harding said another resident who was with him at the movie night called police to report the problem with the teenagers and that Cooper responded.

Selectmen said Harding didn’t realize the seriousness of his actions that night.

“I think you’re really being just clueless right now,” O’Neil said.

“It would be nice if somebody would clue me in,” Harding responded.

“You will be clued in shortly,” said Giordano, who didn’t elaborate.

- - - - - - - -

Jason Schreiber may be reached at jschreiber@newstote.com.


I'm going to put the issue of should/shouldn't Russ resign aside......Looking at this from a parent's point of view. I understand that teenagers can be.....well, teenagers. If a reasonable adult informs me that my child was doing something wrong there is a very strong chance I will take them at their word and punish my child accordingly. However if you lay a single finger on my child we will have a HUGE problem. The second it becomes physical I will defend my child by any means necessary and at my disposal. If the story as written is correct Russ has crossed the line. You cannot put your hands on another person (teen or otherwise) and not expect consequences for doing so. As I stated if it were my child I could care less if it was a push, a "touch" or anything else physical I would not tolerate it. I think Russ would have been much better off grabbing his cell phone and getting any wrongdoing on video. If the kid was doing something wrong I'll bet it would stop real quick if he thought there would be video of it. This story doesn't have anything to indicate that this teen actually did anything wrong. This quote from the above article states....

“I knew that there wasn’t anybody (who was) supposed to be there,” he said.

Harding said he yelled and asked the person to identify himself and explain what he was doing.


I see several problems with this. I'll start by pointing out the obvious that (provided the article is accurate) that perhaps if this teen was approached in a different manner that was less confrontational the results may have been much more civil. I'd like to know why it is "there wasn't anybody (who was) supposed to be there"? Is there something illegal about being on town property? As residents don't we all own the town property? Harding is not a police officer and there is no duty for anyone to provide him with any form of identification (including just giving a first name) nor does anyone need to explain to Selectman Harding their reason for being anywhere in public. What if this was an adult resident that happened to want to check things out? Would demands be shouted by a person who has no authority to do so? I can honestly say that I would not respond well if I were approached in this manner.

I'm trying very hard to not judge the situation since I'm sure there are many facts missing, but so far the only info provided is the posted news articles.
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To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical. - Thomas Jefferson

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Re: Russ Harding asked to resign from BOS

Postby curt » Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:47 am

September 7, 2012
Danville selectman refuses to resign

By Doug Ireland direland@eagletribune.com

DANVILLE — Selectman Russell Harding has refused a request to resign, but admitted he pushed a teenager during a controversy over cancellation of the town's Movie Night.

Harding was asked to step down by fellow selectmen last week after he was accused of superceeding his authority by deciding to show the movie himself.

The second-year selectman was given until this week to decide if he would resign or remain in his post.

Harding was out of line Aug. 18 when he ignored police Chief Wade Parsons’ decision to cancel Movie Night because of a threat of rain, Selectmen’s Chairman Shawn O’Neil said.

Harding, convinced it wouldn't rain, also made the mistake of touching a teenage boy during a confrontation between the two, O'Neil said.

Harding helped organize the event, which was sponsored by the Recreation Committee and Police Department.

"He just doesn't ascertain the seriousness of what he did," O'Neil said yesterday. "I think it was one bad decision after another."

Details of the incident involving the teen were not revealed until the selectmen's meeting Tuesday, when Harding was asked for an explanation.

Harding said he had briefly gone to nearby Mayo's Market and spotted the boy near the town's movie equipment at Day Field.

He yelled at the teen and asked what he was doing, Harding said. He then stepped between the teen and the several thousand dollars worth of equipment, afraid it would be damaged.

"In doing so, I guess I came in contact with him," Harding said yesterday.

A Movie Night volunteer called police following the brief confrontation

Harding said yesterday he did not face any charges in connection with the incident. Police Chief Wade Parsons could not be reached for comment.

Harding brought the town’s projector, inflatable screen and other equipment to Day Field, O’Neil said. It didn’t rain, but only one family showed up for the postponed event.

Harding, 35, was elected to a three-year term in March 2011.

He admitted he shouldn't have defied the chief or touched the teen, but doesn’t think those actions warranted his resignation.

"I really think this whole situation is a bit blown out of proportion," Harding said.

He said he received a text message that the movie would be canceled because of rain. Afraid the first-time event would be canceled for the second time and perhaps for good, Harding said he checked several forecasts.

There was only a 20 percent chance it would rain after 10 p.m., he said. Harding said he and Parsons exchanged many text messages that day, but the chief was firm in his decision.

O’Neil and board Vice Chairman Chris Giordano have said Harding has been a good selectman, but the one incident overshadows anything good he has done for the town.

“We feel he overstepped his bounds,” Giordano said. “He was just adamant at going forward. It was just uncalled for. It’s unbecoming of a selectman.”
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