NH Rep. Ed Comeau Carroll County District 05 (Ossipee, Wakefield, Effingham and Brookfield) has filed a formal Right to Know request with the Carroll County Commissioners for what appears to be a truckload of information ( some as far back as 1998) on the erroneous payments for dental insurance premiums for ineligible county employees over a number of years.
In October 2015, now retired County human resources generalist Deb Newlin, in a written response to Delegation Chair Karen Umberger's request for a full report, stated she knew about the problem since August of 2012. Over the ensuing years, 80 people were removed from the dental insurance plan, including three who were deceased. Twelve retirees elected to remain on the plan, and have been paying their premiums since January 2014, The County’s dental bill has been clean since the end of February 2014.
The problem was brought to light by the NH DRA in the process of their review of the county over the summer of 2015. At the October 19th 2015 Delegation meeting, it was noted by NH DRA that the county human resources generalist has a full accounting of the depth of monetary impact of this problem and noted the generalist has resolved the problem. In September 2013, the monthly dental bill was $11,197.67 per month. After clean up by November 2015, it was reduced to $7,326.34 per month. The approval process has been addressed and now involves three sets of eyes: a human resources generalist, finance manager, and an accounting department manager now approve all coverage payments. Newlin was also able to recoup about $19,000 from the insurance company under the three-month rule that allows employers to correct mistakes up to three months and receive a credit.
In Thursday's Carroll County Independent, Comeau's email press release announcing his request was printed. It stated in part: "When the people are afraid of their government there is tyranny, when the government is afraid of the people there is liberty." It is a quote mistakenly attributed to Thomas Jefferson and speaks volumes in my opinion as to the genesis of the RTK request.
We are after all talking about sloppy bookkeeping and poor financial practices at the time, again, practices that were long since corrected, right? It does not come close to the allegations made in his email.
I suspect that his real motivation has more to do with his Free State ideology rather than fulfilling his role a member of the county delegation or even as a private citizen.
Ed Comeau was elected to the NH House in 2014 and is seeking a second term. He moved to New Hampshire in 2010 as part of the Free State Project. According to Free State Project Watch : "Why is Ed Comeau’s FSP Affiliation Important?The ultra-extreme Free State Project voted on a state (New Hampshire) to move 20,000 people to, with the stated purpose to take over state government and dismantle it....Comeau does not believe in regulation. He told a reporter at Porcfest – the annual festival for the Free State Project – that FDA protocols regarding food handling are not needed because, “If [a vendor] poisons me, I won’t buy his food.” Comeau believes that the free market and competition will solve these problems – and would simply leave the next person in line to be poisoned as well. "
I believe that there are more responsible means to get to the information requested (again I will repeat that the root causes have been addressed and corrected) rather than a grandstand play with quotes about liberty and tyranny.
There will be two new commissioners next year and every legislator’s seat is up for election. We need reasonable people in Concord and Ossipee that can get things done and are willing to work for the good of all of Carroll County’s citizens, and not simply be in office to promote an ideology.