Ashby You Need to Know

About Steve Ingerson's misinformation campaign

What Steve Ingerson says:

If you are reading this then you have likely read my previous posts ..... concerning Mrs. Flinkstrom, Mr, McCallum and Mr, and Mrs. Pease. Apparently we have hit a nerve with them after revealing facts that reveal specifically how all three of them own properties in Ashby which are in direct violation of existing zoning bylaws. ....... I feel that after I am again done proving they are in violation they will regret trying to lie their way out of it.

The Facts

Mr. Ingerson's latest post is a repeat of previous allegations, namely that Mr. McCallum's house on Erickson Rd. has been empty for more than 2 years and therefore it is no longer a house, Mr. Pease' business at his home is illegal and Mrs. Flinkstrom's house on Richardson Road is also empty and therfore no longer a house. These allegations have been address here, here and here.


What Steve Ingerson says:

It will be interesting to see who purchases the Ashby Market with its new viability with Town water, paid for by you, without you being asked.

The Facts

Steve Ingerson implies there is a conspiracy to make clean and safe drinking water available to buildings around the Common including the Ashby Market. Steve provides three pages of text which appear to contain facts, but sadly, do not. Mixed in with the misleading statements and faulty logic are 34 factual errors which, when taken together, render the entire rant meaningless.  For the sake of illustration, here is one example.  Steve says “…the Ashby Market with its new viability with town water, paid for by you, without you being asked.”

Here is the actual chain of events: 1. The Board of Selectmen discussed the project numerous times at televised meetings starting in 2012. 2. The Board voted to put the matter before the Town at the Annual Town Meeting in 2014. 3. The Town Meeting warrant was mailed to every household in town. 4. At the Meeting, every attendee was given a handout explaining the details of the project. 5. The Town Meeting discussed the project before voting. 6. Town Meeting voted by a 2/3 majority to go forward with the project.

Does this sound like “not being asked”? But what is truly troubling is that Steve should know all this.  He was at most of the Board of Selectmen’s meetings.  His household should have received the Town Meeting warrant along with everyone else.  He attended Town Meeting.  He was there when the vote was taken and announced. Why is he so desperate to mislead everyone?  Is he trying to distract you from the fact that 500 people signed a recall petition because he refused to approve and sign payroll and vendor warrants?  

For more on this see the March 25 Selectmen's meeting video starting at minute 10:30


 

What Steve Ingerson says:

The following documents are proof that they have not learned anything, they also prove that they ignore the advice of the auditor, that the people of Ashby, hired to advise them. It will be proven that the Department of Revenue has been made aware of the situation and has deemed that the Town of Ashby, via McCallum, Town Manager, Treasurer and Accountant have broken the law and continue to act unlawfully and with impunity for reasons I suspect but have yet to fully uncover. Suffice it to say the Department of Revenue is aware and investigating Here is the story, As a town, all of us a taxpayers contribute our share, which together amounts to a fairly large sum of money. It is customary that these funds are to be invested in such a way as to accumulate interest. This money is actually "our" money and is to be spent wisely on our behalf. It is also required by law to be invested in an investment vehicle which is bonded and protected from loss (sound familiar folks?) Well, yes indeed, you have guessed it. Your investment of $800,000 has not, I repeat, has not been in a secured and bonded properly insured fund. This, as you can read for yourself, has been stated by the auditor along with a recommendation by the auditor that this needs to be corrected. IT WAS NOT. The town investment of $800,000 is not properly insured and is exposed to a potential catastrophic loss.

The Facts

The document refered to to is the 2010 Audit of Financial Statements, page 28, item B. Custodial Credit Risk. It says, "Of the total investments of $ 835,543, the Town has a custodial credit risk exposure of $ 795,007 because the related securities are uninsured, unregistered and held by the Town’s brokerage firm, which is also the Counterparty to these securities." The Treasurer states that the investments were insured but the insurance documents were not seen by the auditor and thus were written up as a risk exposure. Audits for 2011 through 2014 show the problem was corrected the following year and in subsequent years. All audits are available on the Town website.


 

What Steve Ingerson says:

It was criminal what took place [loss of the fire truck] and the players - ….. McCallum was subsequently defeated when he again ran for his seat, and to this day, when asked what happened, will not take any responsibility for his role in the fiasco and careless loss of taxpayers money

The Facts

What took place with the fire truck may have been criminal but you have the wrong player here Steve.  Michael McCallum was not a Selectman in 2006 when the Town meeting voted to purchase the fire truck, nor in 2007 when company went bankrupt causing the loss, nor in February 2008 when the residents were informed of the loss. The Selectmen during this time period were Gerry Houle, Peter McMurray and Geoffrey Woollacott.


What Steve Ingerson says:

The problem could have easily been solved when the B. Hunter Gelinas Estate, an Ashby property owner, offered the town a substantial lot of land directly behind the American Legion Hall for the small sum of $35,000.00, cheap relative to other valuations in the area. This seemed like an obvious potential solution to the common well water problem. The town could have purchased the plot of land, drilled a well and also retained ownership of what surely will be a strategic piece of property for Ashby for a multiple possible reasons going forward including a water source. In hind sight, it really makes no sense not to buy it. Never the less, Mr. McCallum fought against the purchase of the parcel while never stating any reason other than the town can't afford $35K at this time.

The Facts

The Hunter Gelinas Estate wrote a letter informing the Town of their intent to sell a 6.6 acre parcel of land with an asking price of $35,000 and asking if the Town was interested. The Gelinas parcel does not abut any other Town land and has no access to the properties in need of a public water supply. There is no evidence that that an adequate supply of water of suitable quality could be found on the property. In order to assess the property's potential as a water supply the Town would need to drill a test well and test water flow and quality at a cost of around $25,000. Weston and Sampson, the engineering firm the Town engaged to look at the water problem, says the best place for a new well is on Town owned land next to the elementary school.

In order to purchase the property the Town would need a vote of Town Meeting that would not happen until May. The Gelinas Estate sent a similar letter to the property's abutters offering the property at the same price. The issue became moot when one of the abutters, Harald Scheid, purchased the property. Mr. McCallum never had a chance to fight for or against the purchase of the property because it never came before the Selectmen or Town Meeting for discussion or a vote.


What Steve Ingerson says:

"In fact, the transfer of payroll funds happens with or without any signatures via a contract with Harpers payroll firm in Worcester,MA, .... There was never an interruption to the Town employees regular distribution of payroll."

The Facts

When Steve Ingerson refused to approve the payroll warrant in November 2014 the Treasurer could not issue checks to the Town employees. Some employees had arranged for direct deposit to their bank accounts. The direct deposit could not be stopped. However all employees who receive checks including employees of the Highway Department, Police Department and Town Hall were not paid. Mr. Ingerson offers as evidence a payroll print out from the Town Accountant that is marked "no check" in the check number column. He claims it is marked "no check" because all town employees receive their pay through direct deposit. This is incorrect. The Accountant's printout is marked "no check" because payroll checks are printed by an outside payroll service company. It is these check that were stopped by Mr. Ingerson's failure to approve the payroll warrant. Only checks printed internally have a check number in this column. Steve Ingerson has voted no or abstained from every payroll warrant since November.


What Steve Ingerson says:


Selectman Janel Flinkstrom, who votes in lockstep in almost zombie like fashion, with Selectman McCallum, also enjoys "special" treatment from the Building Inspector and assessor. She is listed as owner of a plot of land on 950 Richardson Road. ……A physical inspection of the property reveals that the structure has been torn down. This clearly triggers the abandonment and non use bylaw and dissolves any grandfather protection it may have had from 1978. The curious thing here is the assessors card, which is noted as updated recently as January 2015 by Regional Resource Group (president is the Tax Collectors husband), still showing the building and still establishes a value for the building which is now non existent.

The Facts


Mr. Ingerson was apparently lost during the physical  inspection.  The lot at 950 Richardson Road owned by Jeffery and Janet Flinkstrom  has a single family house on it and is assessed accordingly.  The house is on a nonconforming lot as are many of the houses around Lower Wrights Pond. Apparently the house is being repaired.The repair of nonconforming single family homes is permitted by state statute,


 

What Steve Ingerson says:

"Selectman McCallum owns a property located at 151 Erickson Road. The property is in a residential/agricultural district, the minimum required residential lot size is 2 acres and the minimum frontage is 200 ft. Based on these facts the lot would qualify as meeting the minimum standards for a potential house lot. However, the property is listed on the assessor's page as a residential property. Following is where the problem arises: Ashby zoning By-Laws include a regulation described as a 2 year non-use or abandonment by-law. This by-law was adopted and accepted by 2/3's of Ashby voters with the strict intent to be enforced along with the by-laws. Mr. McCallum has knowingly or unknowingly surrendered his grandfather protection of a residence by not using and/or abandoning the house located on the lot. The land is potentially a conforming lot but because the structure on the lot is less than 100 feet from the center of the roadway, and in violation of the current setback requirements of Ashby Zoning By-Laws, the structure is no longer considered a legal residence, and this should be reflected on the assessors page as simply land."

The Facts

Michael McCallum owns a single family house on Erickson Road. The house has not been occupied for some time. The state zoning law says that a use that is not allowed by local zoning retains its grandfathered status for 2 years after it is abandoned. Mr. McCallum's single family house is an allowed use under Ashby's zoning so grandfathering isn't relevant. The set back requirement along Erickson Road is 75 feet but whether the house meets this or not is not relevant because the house was there before the zoning was adopted. A lot of older homes in Ashby do not meet the setback requirements today. Mr. Ingerson concludes that the Assessors should just assess Mr. McCallum for the land and not for the house. Very kind of Mr. Ingerson to suggest the Assessors give a tax break to Mr. McCallum but they really can't do that.

When contacted, Mike McCallum said, "I was thrilled to learn that paying taxes on my derelict house qualifies as special treatment. It's nice to be special.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that all the homeowners in town receive the same special treatment and pay taxes on their homes too.  I guess we're all special here in Ashby."


What Steve Ingerson says:

" A complaint from a resident which exposes the fact that there is strong reason to believe that Alan and Lorraine (Ashby Town Clerk) Pease have been conducting a furniture manufacturing business, since 1986, in a R/A zone illegally and in violation of the very zoning bylaws that Mr. Pease, as Planning Chairman, had no problem enforcing when it came to Ashby residents who submitted applications for approval/denial for various activities within the boundaries of Ashby. To further add insult to injury the Town Manager and 2 other selectmen have refused to investigate this obvious potential conflict of interest due to the fact that the complainant wishes to remain anonymous. "

The Facts

Alan Pease has been operating a business on Richardson Road for a number of years. Twenty nine years according to Mr. Ingerson. Over that time Ashby has had 4 Building Inspectors. None of the Building Inspectors have seen reason to take action against him or his business. If Mr. Ingerson wishes, he can file a signed complaint about the property with the Building Inspector. James Hargraves has been the chairman of the Planning Board for many years. The Planning Board does not enforce zoning bylaws. That job falls to the Building Inspector. If the letter was anonymous how do you know it comes from a resident Mr. Ingerson?