Dear Editor,

Let us discuss ethics here in Hampton.  There has been a lot of recent discussion regarding the Hampton Code of Ethics Policy; board meetings by certain selectmen and the public, deliberative session comments,  a petitioned warrant article, and of course, my favorite, social media.     

Here is my view, one as an experienced five-year selectman, a 40+ year Hampton inhabitant, and a prior bank auditor.  My view has to do with the Town of Hampton, as an Organization, something the current Board refuses to discuss in a public setting. 

What does “tone at the top,” mean?
The phrase, “tone at the top”, originated from auditing firms, where it was used to reference the attitude of a company’s management towards internal controls and ethics.

Tone at the top is the very first analysis performed by a financial auditor when beginning an annual or quarterly audit of a financial institution.  For instance, if a community bank has a senior lender and/or Chief Operating Officer who is not acting ethically, and/or in accordance with banking regulations, that would be a red flag for auditors to be on alert that fraud and unethical behavior “may be” condoned at certain levels of management and/or other key personnel areas within the financial institution.  Did I forget to mention that my father was the second highest ranking regulator in DC and the nation when he retired from the Department of the Treasury?  Let us continue.

The “tone at the top,” here in Hampton is, the Hampton Board of Selectmen, the governing body of the town.  In 2007, the Board adopted a “Code of Ethics,” as written, the Code is “voluntary and non-binding.”  In essence, the Code “holds not teeth.”   What is its purpose, you may be asking yourself?  That is the same question I have asked several times and there has been no appropriate response back.  Another question for readers of this to ponder:

Do ethical individuals require a Code of Ethics to behave ethically?

What is wrong with the “tone at the top” here in Hampton?  

In my view, here it is:

  • Chairman James Waddell – remember the ethics charge brought against him after he started a part time job with Hampton Channel 22?  Check out the Seacoastonline article from March of 2017.  Mr. Waddell actually thought he would be able to get away with it, that folks is “tone at the top.”   Mr. Waddell does not have a problem calling others out, perhaps he should look at his own actions and ethical standards.  Perhaps he should watch the recordings of the Board of Selectmen meetings so he may come to terms with how arrogant and disrespectful he proves himself to be.
  • Rusty Bridle – receives a firefighter union pension from Hampton and holds a paying management position at the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce.  According to our “Code of Ethics,” he should not be making decisions in regards to any issue that may affect the Hampton firefighter union or a chamber business in Hampton. Has this been the case over the years?  Does Mr. Bridle attempt to represent the Hampton Board of Selectmen when he is working at his Chamber job? Maybe concerned taxpayers should ask him at some point?  
  • Chuck Rage – Hampton Beach Chamber businesses owner, Chairman of the Hampton Beach Village District,  Commissioner to the Hampton Beach Area Commission, and town selectman, but no conflicts of interest exists here!  Mr Rage states he lives at The Pelham Hotel, one of his businesses in the Village District. It is a requirement that all District Commissioners live in the village district.   I wonder ifhis entire family lives with him at the hotel all year long? 
  • Oh, and by the way, John Nyhan, Bob Preston Jr, Dan Lanio, Dave Hartnett, and the other unnamed “good old boys” are elected to NOTHING in the Town of Hampton.  There is only one governing body and that is the elected Board of Selectmen. The problem we have in this town is that three current members of the Hampton Board of Selectmen, which is the majority; answer to special interests over the taxpayers of Hampton.  That is THE BIG problem for this town.  Hampton voters must be on alert not to elect a fourth special interest puppet to the Board this March.

The current sitting Board of Selectmen is incapable of behaving ethically. Any amendment made to the Code of Ethics would be a waste of time and effort, and result in a huge disappointment for the taxpayers, in my view. That is the ” tone at the top,” in Hampton.

Regina Barnes
Hampton, NH

Hampton’s “Tone at the Top”

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