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Murphy wants open discussion of Denig complaints

TOWNSEND — During the Board of Selectmen’s meeting, an argument was sparked between two town officials regarding the hours the town clerk’s office is open.

Selectman Maureen Denig submitted a written complaint against Town Clerk Daniel Murphy stating that, on several occasions, his office was not open at 9 a.m.

Denig’s complaint was given to Murphy two weeks ago. Murphy had the option of responding in open or executive session.

Murphy requested the board read the complaint into the record to make it official before he began addressing Denig.

Denig’s letter cited a time when a delayed opening of the clerk’s office occurred and nothing was posted to state that fact.

“On the day you are talking about, my office was not open right at 9 a.m. It is a department of two people. I was at the Post Office doing town business, and my assistant was not in that day. My office was open by 9:15,” said Murphy. “I would like to know who made these comments to you.”

Denig said she would not give names since no one was there to defend themselves, but that most of the comments in the letter were from her.

“I did have information from two men from New Hampshire that came to get fishing licenses. They came from New Hampshire, and your office was not open at 9 a.m. Someone called you to come in, and you arrived shortly after 10 a.m.,” Denig said.

Murphy called Denig’s complaints “outlandish.”

When he was elected as clerk, Murphy said he immediately changed the operating hours to be more accessible to the public, and that is a standard that has continued.

“My office is the most accessible in Town Hall,” he said.

“The day before the Fourth of July, your office was closed for the long weekend when other offices in Town Hall were open,” said Denig.

Murphy called Denig’s complaints unfounded.

“I don’t see you in Town Hall very often, so I am not sure where you get your information,” he said.

Denig said just because Murphy doesn’t see her doesn’t mean she isn’t there.

“I come in to sign papers and just to stop at different offices to say, ‘hi,’” said Denig.

The other issue in Denig’s complaint spoke to a comment Murphy supposedly made that he only has to work one hour per year to maintain his position as clerk.

“Who said that one?” Murphy asked, “I never said that. If that were true, everyone would want to be town clerk.”

Denig said she overheard that statement made by someone in Murphy’s office while she was standing there.

“I didn’t say anything, I just looked at that person,” she said. “You are the highest paid employee we have, and I found that comment offensive.”

When Murphy asked who said it, Denig refused to give a name.

“You wanted this in open session, Mr. Murphy, so don’t put the onus on me for grandstanding,” said Denig.

“It is ridiculous that you contacted the attorney general’s office, and then you made further comments about not being accurate,” said Murphy. “You wasted a lot of time. If you had a concern all you had to do is stop in and see me.”

Denig said she stands by her complaint and finds an attitude in the clerk’s office that she would like to see resolved.

“I would like to see this resolved in favor of the town,” said Denig. “Because you are the clerk it does not behoove us to have to call you to come in.”

Murphy reiterated that his office is always open on time except on rare occasions, and Denig should produce the names of those who complained about him.

The discussion concluded with no motions from the selectmen.

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