We post this story here to highlight what can go wrong at town meetings, and to show how other towns are also being invaded by groups and lobbyists who have no business steering the agenda.
Question 1: Why would the Town of Peterborough have placed an item on its May 2019 town meeting ballot knowing it was improperly formatted, and then sue the petitioners? Was this a calculated move intended to invalidate the item in the event that it passed? Considering the item passed, shouldn’t the item now be deemed enforceable?
Question 2: Why has town engaged in the questionable, but now-common practice of hiring “change agents” from private NGOs that hail from outside the state to mitigate the current sentiment over housing in Peterborough? These private consultant firms employ actors who meet with the public to help bring those in disagreement to a “consensus”. Did the taxpayers of Peterborough vote to approve the cost of such an operation?
Question 1: Amendment 15 Facts
Every citizen in NH has the right to file a citizen-petitioned warrant article, for example, to amend a zoning rule, to be voted on at their annual town meeting, usually held in any month between January and June. It is our opinion that the law states clearly: the town’s governing body (selectmen or town council) is required to see that the article is written in a specific format so that it can legally be enforced if passed. After consulting with the planning board, if an item is not written properly, the town is duty-bound to inform the petitioners about what they must do to make it comply. Otherwise, they are responsible for whatever happens next. While the law says one cannot alter the PURPOSE of an item once it has signatures on it, the town ignored the petitioners who assured us that they did seek help in making sure the item was correct.
Had they been guided, they said, signatures could then have been obtained once again on a final, approved version.
In a report from the Ledger Transcript, this fact was noted by another one of the petitioners.
“Libby Reinhardt, one of the group that crafted Amendment 15, said she was “blindsided” by this argument, which she said should have been addressed when the group first submitted the amendment to the town. If there was a legal issue with the way the amendment was worded, she said, the group could have re-written the articles and re-gathered signatures. But it wasn’t brought up at the time, she said.”
And why not, is what everyone is asking.
The town must also provide factual proof that any protest petition filed is valid by verifying that the signatures are those of 20% of the abutters. If not, the amendment stands as passed by a simple majority. The process should be fully transparent.
Further, we learned that the above-mentioned protest petition to require 66% of the vote for passage of Amendment 15, was crafted with the help of a member of the Planning Board. Why then weren’t the petitioners for Amendment 15 afforded the same courtesy?
The question now should be, was this a case of dereliction of duty on the part of the town? What right does the town have to sue petitioners for something they, the town, did, or neglected to do?
If the residents voted for it, should it not stand?
Question 2: International Groups Have No Business Making Decisions for Your Town
This is not a question but a statement. No town should be subject to the agenda of outsiders when it comes to making decisions that affect their everyday lives.
The town’s website contains a statement that claims they have no bias in the matter of Amendment 15. However, it would seem contradictory considering their behavior with regard to assisting the petitioners. Further, the selectboard seems to be opposed to the approval of Amendment 15 because it has created a “Community Task Force on Housing”.
Make no mistake — these discussion groups are an attempt to give the impression that everyone is involved in the decision-making process. They are merely created for the purpose of giving everyone the perception that the community is involved in a consensus on a particular issue, often something about which the public has already spoken! Usually, the Delphi Technique is employed by an unelected, unaccountable, out-of-town, privately-run group whose consultants are hired a “facilitators” to conduct sessions in which they speak the voters in the most patronizing and deceptive manner. (We have experienced this ourselves with Granite State Futures and Master Plan rewrite sessions.) It is a disturbing practice that has become prevalent in New Hampshire — for example, outside influencers are writing your Master Plans — and it has become a widespread problem of which most voters are unaware…
In documentation we obtained inviting people to join Peterborough’s “Community Task Force on Housing”, Lee Rush is referred to as a “practitioner of restorative conversation” — a deceptive title used to describe someone who is basically a thought manipulator. It states that Rush will “facilitate” some “community-based conversations”. Basically he will stroke the egos of the participants in an attempt to make them think certain ideas came from them. The documentation states that Lee Rush studied with Peter Block, author of “Community: The Structure of Belonging” and founder of “Designed Learning”. Task force volunteers have been asked to read Block’s book. We reviewed the book. Cloaked in cryptic language and fraught with references to “community”, Block’s book is nothing more than a propaganda tool for “new urbanism”.
Consultants such as Rush are at best, actors, if not clearly “change agents” who work on behalf of an internationally-bred agenda that has been adopted by the American Planning Association and numerous other NGOs that are often found interfering in local government. This process and these groups have infiltrated every town and city in the USA. Sadly most of the voters are unaware their elected officials are inviting in these biased organizations to steer what should be local town policy.
The documentation stated that Block’s company, “Designed Learning”, has been called to Peterborough “support community-based projects to encourage more collaborative and process oriented solutions to new and sometimes longer standing issues that have resulted in impasses”. (In other words, we could not convince the voters of something, so now we are hiring actors to brainwash them.) Part of the process will be that in addition to meeting with the group, Mr. Rush “would also meet separately with Task Force Members and town staff”. Translation: “We hired professional brainwashing teams, “agents of change”, to help shove an agenda down your throats, because the voters said no and that was not acceptable to the powers that be. Then they will meet in private with each of you, for a final shake-down, so that you will garner no support from others who also disagree.”
The residents of Peterborough should be outraged.
Think about it — this is an international firm, coming to Peterborough to lead the residents into a different direction than the townspeople have already indicated they wish to go. They are unelected and unaccountable and it is likely that not one voter approved of their hiring.
The residents of Peterborough who voted for Amendment 15 may not be aware of the overarching goal of turning their town into a member of a “global network of cities”. But by their vote in May, valid or not, they have already wisely rejected something that is being pushed on our NH communities to make them more “livable” when it is really about forcing a grander agenda upon them. The people of Peterborough should immediately see through the purpose of hiring of these charlatan “facilitators” and should vociferously oppose the practice while seeking to de-authorized any money that was spent to hire them.
The residents of Peterborough would do well to read what happened to Bedford to get an idea of what they’re up against.
Addendum: It’s come to our attention that we have been the subject of much disinformation surrounding Bedford’s new zoning laws that actually LIMIT, not EXPAND, the number of apartments that can be built, and which were written with town guidance so that they would be legal and enforceable. Our situation is in NO way similar to what is happening in Peterborough where the town was responsible for putting items they knew were improperly written, on the ballot and to makes such a comparison is completely disingenuous.