Greif loses appeal to law court

PORTLAND — The state’s highest court has denied an appeal by Bar Harbor resident Arthur Grief challenging a 2016 Town Council decision not to investigate claims of alleged misconduct by two councilors. Justices affirmed the judgment of Hancock County Superior Court justice William Anderson that the Town Council had not violated the town charter nor Maine Freedom of Access Act (FOAA).
The allegations stemmed from a meeting Code Enforcement Officer Angela Chamberlain said she attended at council Chair Paul Paradis’ home in 2013 with Paradis and former Councilor David Bowden. At issue is whether the councilors “gave orders” to Chamberlain to monitor another town employee’s use of a town photocopier to conduct a private real estate business.
Under the town charter, the council and its members only have authority over town employees through the town manager.
Greif and his wife, Donna Karlson, sent a letter in January 2016 to the five other councilors asking them to hold a hearing about the allegations. The council met in executive session at their next meeting to discuss their rights and duties in regards to the letter, then decided in open session “that the alleged facts and circumstances contained in the letter” did not “warrant further review.”
Greif claimed that the conversation in executive session necessarily constituted a “preliminary review” of the allegations and thus violated the FOAA. He had argued that the charter required the council to hold a hearing with him present, open to the public if either councilor requested it, to determine whether the alleged conduct was grounds for forfeiture of office.
In his November 2016 decision, Anderson said that such a hearing would only be required if the council itself had taken formal action charging a councilor in writing with conduct constituting grounds for forfeiture of office.
“Greif contends that the town charter requires the Town Council to convene an investigatory hearing into allegations of councilor misconduct upon receiving a written complaint from any aggrieved citizen,” the Supreme Court decision reads. “A plain language reading of the town charter does not support Greif’s interpretation … it is incongruous that a private citizen could ‘charge’ a councilor with ‘conduct constituting grounds for forfeiture of his/her office’ by invoking a section of the town charter that reserves to the council itself the power to determine what conduct warrants forfeiture.”

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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