Recall ordinance gets no traction

BAR HARBOR — A group seeking an avenue to recall elected officials was disappointed Tuesday when the council voted unanimously not to pursue creation of a recall amendment to the town charter.

Resident Pat Murphy brought up the idea during the public comment period at the Sept. 6 council meeting. Murphy emailed councilors with the wording of the 2010 recall amendment that is included in the Mount Desert Town Charter. “This should be used as a model for the Bar Harbor amendment,” Murphy wrote. Councilor Matt Hochman requested the issue be put on the agenda for this week’s meeting.

“We do have our ethics ordinance, and that covers some of the same issues,” Hochman said. “But I thought it was something we should at least have a discussion about.”

Councilor Anne Greenlee noted the request came from one person. “If this is a group effort, it would be important to hear that. Modifying the charter is a long, expensive process, and there needs to be a solid reason to do it.

“I haven’t yet heard adequate justification for why this is something we need.”

Town Manager Cornell Knight said he found a memo from 2001 where the council had discussed adding a recall provision. The town attorney at the time said the change would not require creating a charter commission.

Council Chair Paul Paradis said the most recent charter commission discussed the issue and decided the ethics and forfeiture of office provisions in place now are sufficient.

Vice Chair Gary Friedmann called the proposal “unwarranted” because of the existing provisions. “It puts councilors in a difficult position if they take unpopular stands. That’s not a healthy position for the council or the town to be put in.”

The proposed new ordinance could still be put forward by citizen initiative. That would require petition signatures equal in number to 10 percent of the total number of Bar Harbor voters from the last gubernatorial election.


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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