BANGOR — In the latest court filing in his lawsuit against the town of Bar Harbor, former Police Chief Nate Young has submitted exhibits from a town council member and others that he contends support his claim that he was not afforded due process during a February 2014 appeal of the termination of his job.
According to one of those documents, prepared by Young’s attorney Gregg Frame and filed in U. S. District Court on Jan. 22, some of the town councilors were “inherently biased” when they upheld Young’s firing after hearing the appeal. The council’s decision, Young claims, “was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, legally erroneous and is unsupported by substantial evidence on the record.”
One of the exhibits is a letter town councilor Robert Garland sent to chairman Ruth Eveland prior to the hearing. In the letter, Garland states his concern that councilors did not have enough time to study written material related to the appeal. As a result, he questioned the council’s ability to make an impartial decision.
“I am simply quite concerned about our collective ability to do just that without having adequate time to read, think about and absorb the written portion of what we are being asked to consider,” Garland wrote.
Another exhibit is an affidavit of resident Dessa Dancy, who attended the hearing. Dancy said she was “surprised by the absence of actual evidence of any wrongdoing or reason to terminate Mr. Young.” She claims she questioned councilor Gary Friedmann about her observation after the hearing. According to Dancy, Friedmann responded with a statement that led her to conclude there was more evidence against Young than presented during the hearing. She said she believed this additional evidence had been discussed by councilors during executive sessions prior to the hearing.
Young has claimed that he learned from Garland and then-councilor Christopher Walsh in April that the council allegedly discussed his employment in executive session numerous times after he was suspended in the fall of 2013. This, Young claims, violated his rights under state law to be present during discussion of an employee as well as Maine’s Freedom of Access Laws.
Young, in an affidavit submitted with the latest filing, claims he learned from the husband of Bar Harbor dispatcher Karen Richter that then-Town Manager Dana Reed had instructed town employees not to speak to Young during his suspension and “risked losing their jobs if they did so.”
As a result, Young claims he was deprived of support from fellow employees, as well as being deprived of relevant information surrounding the September 2013 incident in the village of Town Hill that led to his termination.
Young, in his affidavit, also states that he learned from Bar Harbor resident Lester Foss, who operates a vehicle repair business, that councilor Peter St. Germain allegedly told Foss in October 2013, months before completion of an investigation into the Town Hill incident, to “forget about dealing with Nate Young,” because the chief would never work for the town again. According to the affidavit, St. Germain, after making the statement, added the caveat, “But you didn’t hear it from me.”
Earlier this month, Mark Franco, attorney for the town, filed a motion to dismiss four of the seven counts in Young’s lawsuit. Young, in response, filed a motion to extend time for his response, which was due Jan. 28. U.S. District Court Judge George Singal granted that motion, extending the deadline until Feb. 6.
Young was placed on administrative leave with pay on Oct. 1, 2013, while an investigator hired by the town looked into an incident a week earlier involving a well-being check by Bar Harbor police on a truck parked at night at the closed Town Hill Market. Young was the sole occupant of that vehicle.
The investigator later concluded that Young was intoxicated when officers arrived to conduct the well-being check. Based on the investigator’s report, Reed fired Young on Jan. 22. Young appealed the decision to the town council, which on Feb. 26, upheld the town manager’s decision.
Correction: A print version of this story incorrectly identified town councilor Peter St. Germain as Tom St. Germain, the Islander apologizes for the error.