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Solving council dispute? There's no app for that

DERRY - The debate over the gift of an iPad to departing longtime town councilor Brian Chirichiello has continued to be a subject of debate and some heat among the current council.

At a council meeting on March 26, newly elected councilor Mark Osborne made a motion requesting Chirichiello return the iPad to the town. That discussion was tabled until Tuesday night's council meeting, and some councilors were not happy that the debate has taken up a good portion of the council's time and energy over the past several weeks.

Typically, departing town councilors are presented with a chair valued at $356. However, when Town Administrator John Anderson approached Chirichiello about a gift for serving nine years on the council, Anderson said Chirichiello stated he would rather have the iPad he had been issued as a councilor.

When Osborne once again made a motion on Tuesday night requesting Chirichiello return the iPad, Councilor Brad Benson said he believed it was time to put the issue behind the council and move forward.

"I believe this is politically driven and not financially driven," said Benson. "This is not in the best interest of the community."

Benson said the weeks of debate over the council gift was the biggest and most ridiculous waste of time he had witnessed in his time on the council.

"The best thing the council can do is be done with the iPad issue and set a policy going forward," said Benson.

However, Osborne said he objected to what he believed was Benson making a personal attack and that he felt the iPad was town inventory that Anderson did not have the right to give to Chirichiello as a gift.

Osborne said his interpretation of the town charter and regulations was that Anderson cannot give away town inventory without the approval of the Town Council.

He also said he has received many phone calls and emails from citizens expressing concern about the iPad issue.

Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores said she is very well known around town, yet had only fielded one question about the iPad issue.

Councilor Neil Wetherbee blocked Osborne's motion by raising a charter objection, citing the fact that he did not know if the town has the authority to ask for the return of property retroactively.

Anderson said town legal counsel would likely have to decide the issue.

"Asking legal counsel will probably cost more than $350," said Anderson.

"I'd be happy to drop the charter objection if the motion is dropped," said Wetherbee.

Osborne did not drop the motion, keeping the charter objection on the table.

A motion to do away with gifts to departing town councilors in the future did pass, with Benson, Wetherbee and Katsakiores abstaining.

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