For many months now, the whisper campaign has been spreading the news: “SOMETHING BIG IS UP AT GUNSTOCK! Something so very big that it’s bigness will surpass anything big that has come before! REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY BIG!!!!! Just wait. STAY TUNED IT’S SO BIG IT’S HUUUUUGE!!!!!!!!”
“Ooooh, what is it? Got any details?” The answer, of course, was always the same: “You’ll find out.” Well, not just THAT answer, really- but answers in MANY flavors and variations: “Just wait.” Or, “You’ll see.” And of course, the most popular one: “It’ll all be in the audit. There’s so much there that it will be really BIG! IT’S A SMOKING GUN!”
On and on it went. Social media accusations. Blog posts. Political meetings. Picnics. Gatherings. It was everywhere. Conspiracies! Skullduggery! High Crimes and Misdemeanors! Mayhem! Murder! (OK, well maybe not that, but…) Much of the disinformation came from a small cast of characters, some of whom ended up on the so-called “Audit Committee”- formed at the instruction of the Gunstock Area Commission’s (GAC) former chair. That’s where things seemingly went off the rails. With unfettered access to sensitive financial data and records, things began to appear out in the public realm. Copies of cancelled checks with sensitive bank routing information. Discussion of specific individual expenditures big and small- complete with conspiratorial “explanations” completely detached from reality. “Stop the audit.” And then, “Start the audit.” It seemed as if the whole operation was a sad combination of Moe, Larry and Curley and The Twilight Zone.
Ah yes, the Audit Committee. Digging. Searching. “Investigating.” And what have we learned this week? According to a detailed article in the Laconia Daily Sun (Which can be read in full by clicking HERE),
“The Audit Subcommittee of the Gunstock Area Commission was founded on transparency. However, it failed to comply with public notice and access laws around meetings…”
“The committee did not honor New Hampshire’s Right to Know law, or the commission’s bylaws…”Laconia Daily Sun, October 17, 2022
Yup. The people on that committee sure showed everybody. They showed everybody that they were so blinded by their own confirmation biases that it led them away from adhering to the law. It led them away from transparency. It led them to a train of leaks that, when spread throughout the area, began to resemble the “telephone game” in that each retelling became more fantastical and outrageous.
As we move forth past the wreckage of the disastrous primary season in which the local Republican Party finds itself in complete disarray, thanks to, in no small part, the issue of Gunstock, the moment is now at hand:
THE SMOKING GUN IS HERE!
It’s time for the big reveal. We’re gonna find out what the hubbub was all about! There will be justice throughout the land! Dogs and cats will cuddle. The lion will caress the lamb. Peace in our time! (OK, maybe not all that- it’s easy to get carried away sometimes)
The draft audit report was actually issued at last month’s GAC meeting. During that session, it was stated that there was no malfeasance or improprieties found. Wait, WHAT? Yup. Just click HERE and watch for yourself. Of course, none of the detractors and conspiracy pushers have, or if they did, they decided to just quietly skulk away…
Here at The Bastion, we DID take note. Since it was discussed and mentioned in the meeting minutes and thus, according to the same Right To Know Law (click here to read it) so recklessly flouted by the Audit Committee, lawfully available for review. We asked for, and received a copy. After a careful read, coupled with knowledge of how municipal audits work, and recognizing the auditor as a truly INDEPENDENT, lawful entity, the busy beavers of The Bastion staff can conclude, without a doubt that there WAS, in fact, a “smoking gun.”
The “smoking gun” is the fact that THERE IS NO SMOKING GUN!!!!!!
Here it is:
The Gunstock Commission meets this evening (Wednesday at 6PM, Gunstock Historic Lodge). The agenda notes that the audit will be officially presented and accepted. After all of the many months of accusations, rumors, finger-pointing and in-fighting, it will be nice to see this whole sordid affair be put behind once and for all. Let this be a lesson for those that allow themselves to be completely blinded and driven by confirmation-bias. Get the facts. Ask some questions (politely!). DO your homework. Be skeptical- especially of what you might reflexively think to be true at first blush. And THINK before you speak or accuse- because sometimes, the damage you can inflict might end up being very messy. Very costly. Very embarrassing. And very wrong.
Here are a few excerpts from the draft audit report:
We conducted our audit in accordance with auditing standards generally accepted in the United States of America. Our responsibilities under those standards are further described in the Auditor’s Responsibilities for the Audit of the Financial Statements section of our report. We are required to be independent of the Gunstock Area Commission, and to meet our other ethical responsibilities, in accordance with the relevant ethical requirements relating to our audit. We believe that the audit evidence we have obtained is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for our audit opinion.Independent Auditors Report, Draft Copy
“We have audited the financial statements of the business-type activities of the Gunstock Area Commission for the year ended April 28, 2022. Professional standards require that we provide you with information about our responsibilities under generally accepted auditing standards, as well as certain information related to the planned scope and timing of our audit.”Independent Auditors Report, Draft Copy
“Management is responsible for the selection and use of appropriate accounting policies. The significant accounting policies used by the Gunstock Area Commission are described in Note 1 to the financial statements. No new accounting policies were adopted, and the application of existing policies was not changed during 2022. We noted no transactions entered into by the Gunstock Area Commission during
the year for which there is a lack of authoritative guidance or consensus. All significant transactions have been recognized in the financial statements in the proper periods.”
“Accounting estimates are an integral part of the financial statements prepared by management and are based on management’s knowledge and experience about past and current events and assumptions about future events. Certain accounting estimates are particularly sensitive because of their significance to the financial statements and because of the possibility that future events affecting them may differ
significantly from those expected.
“The most sensitive estimate affecting the business-type activities financial statements was:
Management’s estimate of the useful lives of capital assets is based upon historical
records of utilization, necessary improvements, and replacements. We evaluated the key
factors and assumptions used to develop the depreciable useful lives of capital assets in
determining that they are reasonable in relation to the financial statements taken as a
The financial statement disclosures are neutral, consistent, and clear.”Independent Auditors Report, Draft Copy
And then, of course, there are pages of financial information included as well. Most likely, the Commission will make this document available with their minutes posted online, as they normally do.
[…] there you have it. As reported yesterday here on The Bastion, there is NO smoking gun. No malfeasance. No crimes or criminal acts. No nothing. […]
[…] Audit Report was released and discussed. Of course as we all learned in a prior Bastion posting (click here), the ballyhooed “smoking gun” turned out to be a nothingburger and instead the audit […]
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