BAR HARBOR — A chorus of criticism regarding how town manager Dana Reed handled the investigation into and ultimate firing of former police chief Nate Young has prompted an effort to block his contract renewal.
At least two of Reed’s biggest critics are running for seats on the town council. Both say they were spurred on by the events surrounding Young this past fall and winter.
Reed cited a lengthy list of violations of town and department policy in firing Young, including making a false official statement, immoral conduct, neglect or disobedience of orders, using coarse, profane, or insolent language and “mistreatment of a junior member of the Department.”
Other outspoken residents have been critical of Reed’s actions and have called for his removal on the social media site Facebook, most recently on a page titled “Bar Harbor Citizens for Regime Change.”
“My feeling is that Nate’s situation sort of coalesced and galvanized an awful lot of people that maybe wouldn’t necessarily have supported Nate just on that situation alone,” council candidate Tom Burton said.
In the days leading up to Young’s appeal of his dismissal before the Town Council in late February, Burton formed a Facebook page titled “Public Hearing in Support of Bar Harbor Police Chief Nate Young.” The site received a lot of activity, including more than 100 comments from dozens of individuals immediately following the council’s decision to uphold Reed’s action.
“We must do something to bring about change in OUR TOWN. After all, it is OUR TOWN and not Dana Reed’s or the Town Council’s,” Thom Ingram wrote.
Lindy H. Stretch said, “Todays (sic) goings on, demonstrate once again how very much we need some new councilmen and of course a new Town Manager.”
Burton’s page continued with activity after the hearing, with Burton posting an open letter to town councilors imploring them not to renew Reed’s contract. He urged others to copy it and send it as well, which several people did.
Several commenters on that page, including Linda Rowell Kelley, Kay Stevens Rosa and Judie Noonan, are now listed as administrators on the Citizens for Regime Change Facebook page. Kelley and Noonan turned down requests for interviews for this story. Stevens Rosa, a former member of the planning board, did not respond.
On Burton’s page, though, Stevens Rosa was not shy about her criticisms of the town government.
“The Town has engaged in systematic cherry-picking of employees through disingenuous façadism under the veil of the secrecy they find so ‘protective.’ We are being duped,” she wrote.
Town council candidate Jeff Dobbs said that he had been considering running for council because of “a general dissatisfaction with the way things have been going,” but that the situation with Young made the decision clear.
“A lot of people just didn’t feel like Nate got a fair shake. If he’d been a two or three year chief of police and gotten out of control it would have been a different story. But I think he deserved a little TLC.”
Dobbs said he is well aware of the sentiment against Reed, and that he agrees with it 100 percent.
Writing in a brief email response Wednesday, Reed said that the criticisms that he has “become the institution,” as Burton alleges, are unfounded.
“I’m flattered that Mr. Burton considers me an “institution,” but I certainly don’t see it that way. I consider our Town government as the ‘institution’ and me as only one small cog in that wheel of government,” he said. “Ultimately, the future of the Town is in the hands of the voters, not only at Town Meeting, but particularly at each election. I work for the seven members of the Town Council and abide by the decisions they make as a group. Certainly, they don’t always agree, with me or each other, but the majority rules, and I take my direction from the votes of the Town Council.”