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Head of Local Government Center resigns at board’s request

  • Maura Carroll (center), the executive director of the Local Government Center, sits in the back row of a hearing where State Securities Regulators question the LGC's pricing on services at the Bureau of Securities Regulation in Concord on Tuesday, October 4, 2011. <br/>(Andrea Morales/ Monitor Staff)

    Maura Carroll (center), the executive director of the Local Government Center, sits in the back row of a hearing where State Securities Regulators question the LGC's pricing on services at the Bureau of Securities Regulation in Concord on Tuesday, October 4, 2011.
    (Andrea Morales/ Monitor Staff)

  • Maura Carroll (center), the executive director of the Local Government Center, sits in the back row of a hearing where State Securities Regulators question the LGC's pricing on services at the Bureau of Securities Regulation in Concord on Tuesday, October 4, 2011. <br/>(Andrea Morales/ Monitor Staff)

    Maura Carroll (center), the executive director of the Local Government Center, sits in the back row of a hearing where State Securities Regulators question the LGC's pricing on services at the Bureau of Securities Regulation in Concord on Tuesday, October 4, 2011.
    (Andrea Morales/ Monitor Staff)

  • Maura Carroll (center), the executive director of the Local Government Center, sits in the back row of a hearing where State Securities Regulators question the LGC's pricing on services at the Bureau of Securities Regulation in Concord on Tuesday, October 4, 2011. <br/>(Andrea Morales/ Monitor Staff)
  • Maura Carroll (center), the executive director of the Local Government Center, sits in the back row of a hearing where State Securities Regulators question the LGC's pricing on services at the Bureau of Securities Regulation in Concord on Tuesday, October 4, 2011. <br/>(Andrea Morales/ Monitor Staff)

Maura Carroll, the head of the embattled Local Government Center, agreed yesterday to step down at the request of the board of directors to make room for “fresh leadership.” George Bald, former commissioner of the state Department of Resources and Economic Development, was named interim director.

“The board . . . has come to the difficult decision that fresh leadership would be best for the organization,” said LGC board Chairman Tom Enright in a written statement. “Maura has agreed to respect the decision of the board and step down.”

Carroll, of Concord, did not return messages seeking comment. Bald will start Monday and serve as interim director for six months, according to the statement. Bald also did not return a call seeking comment.

Carroll has led the municipal insurance provider since 2009, when she was named interim director. While Carroll inherited an organization already under scrutiny, accused of wrongdoing for its business practices and corporate structure, those battles have intensified during her tenure.

And Carroll has not shied away from that fight.

In August, the state ordered the LGC, which operates risk pools that provide local governments with medical, property, workers’ compensation and other insurance, to return $52 million in 2010 overpayments to its members. The LGC was also ordered to change operating procedures and become more transparent.

The LGC appealed the repayment order, arguing that it alone should be allowed to determine how much surplus to keep for future claims. The state Supreme Court recently agreed to hear the case but declined to stay the order, meaning the LGC had to begin making the repayments.

That quickly led to another dispute with the state and the communities it once insured.

In December, a dozen communities filed a complaint with the state accusing the LGC of unfairly denying them repayments. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Securities, whose investigation led to the order to return $52 million, has become so concerned about the LGC’s governance that it threatened to put the LGC into receivership to prevent it from squandering more money.

Carroll didn’t announce her departure to the municipal officials she’s worked closely with for years until midday, when she sent an email saying goodbye.

“It’s been a great run for me and these 25 years have been memorable,” she wrote. “I am blessed to have had the opportunities this organization has provided me, and I will miss it and you.”

She did not explain her resignation, which took effect yesterday. That came late yesterday afternoon when the LGC board issued its written statement. But even that did not explain why the board asked Carroll to leave.

Shelagh Connelly, a Holderness selectwoman and LGC board member, said yesterday the board has been discussing replacing Carroll for the last several weeks.

“I think it became apparent that there was not going to be success in having a more open and productive relationship with our (state) regulator,” Connelly said. “At a certain point, you need to do what’s best for our organization and its members.”

In December, officials with the Bureau of Securities Regulation told the Monitor they no longer trusted the LGC after several fruitless attempts to negotiate a settlement. Earle Wingate III, a bureau staff attorney, said then that he had been trying to reach a settlement with LGC lawyers for four months when he discovered in April 2011 that the group was seeking legislation at the State House that would have “eliminated, entirely,” the investigation he was conducting against it.

“After I took the knife out of my back, I realized that this was not an organization with whom you could discuss things,” Wingate told the Monitor in December.

When asked yesterday whether the board was unhappy with Carroll’s performance, Connelly hesitated and declined to answer directly. She said the board decided that Carroll wasn’t going to improve LGC’s relationship with the bureau and believed Bald, who enjoyed good relationships with state officials during his time as commissioner, would be a better fit.

“I have seen Maura in a leadership role for years,” Connelly said. “She’s very effective and very talented. She has a tremendous skill set. I think we are stuck a little bit in a historical quandary,” with legal advice that was given back in 2002 and 2003.

“We need to put that behind us,” Connelly said. “In terms of Maura and her role in the (Bureau of Securities Regulation) investigation, it just felt like we were at a logger jam.”

Attorney Andru Volinsky, special counsel to the Bureau of Securities, agreed that Carroll inherited some of the legal disputes the LGC is still fighting. He wasn’t convinced yesterday that her departure alone will resolve the LGC’s problems.

“If there is an interest in changing leadership, Ms. Carroll is one person,” he said, adding that the board has been a part of the decisions challenged by the bureau. “It looks to me like not much has changed. And I don’t wish Ms. Carroll ill at all. I happen to know her and like her. But one person does not an organization make.”

The details of Carroll’s severance package were not available yesterday.

Her predecessor, John Andrews, received a generous package when he retired in 2009 that later caused problems for the LGC. He was promised $20,000 a year, for five years, for consulting work, Volinsky said. But the contract did not require him to do any work, and he never performed any consulting, he said.

The Bureau of Securities regulation challenged that contract, and Andrews was forced to repay the third year’s money and to forgo the $40,000 he was to collect in the following two years, Volinsky said.

Connelly said she did not know the specifics of Carroll’s severance package but did say it doesn’t include payments for ongoing work.

(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323, atimmins@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @annmarietimmins.)

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