Recall committee warned about illegal meetings

TREMONT — Members of the committee working on a recall ordinance for elected officials have been warned about email communications that could be in violation of the state’s open meeting laws.

In a Dec. 3 email to the seven committee members, Town Manager Dana Reed writes that discussion of public business by a quorum of members requires that notice be given to the public as to the time and place of the meeting. This requirement, according to Maine Municipal Association legal services, applies to “virtual meetings” such as might occur through email, Facebook posts and other forms of electronic media.

“Consequently, I must respectfully request that any substantive discussion of committee business take place only at a legally posted meeting,” Reed writes. “It’s fine to discuss inconsequential matters like meeting dates or attendance, but substantive discussion needs to wait for the next posted meeting.”

In August, selectmen voted 3-2 to form the committee. The item came before the board at the request of resident Mel Atherton. All seven seats on the committee were filled in October. They have been meeting with the goal of putting the ordinance before voters for approval at the annual town meeting in May.

In Tremont, the recall ordinance would apply only to selectmen. To eliminate what the committee sees as frivolous recall elections, they plan to require that the petition calling for the recall be signed by a number of the town’s registered voters equal to 25 percent of the number voting in the most recent gubernatorial election. State law surrounding recall petitions calls for signatures from only 10 percent of voters.

The committee has developed a working draft of the proposed ordinance. They meet next at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the town office.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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