Letter to Editor: Lame ducks

The term “lame duck” refers to a public official who has lost an election and has a limited time remaining in office. Generally this means that an election loss in November would result in that official not being in their public position in January of the following year: three to four months after the votes are counted.

The Islander news article in the July 25 edition indicates a new meaning to the lame duck definition. At a recent meeting, the Town Council decided (by a split vote) to support a “legal” opinion on the term limits of the “ducks” on committees, those members who are not residents of Bar Harbor.

Rather than supporting the June town vote to require voting members of town committees be residents; the appointed, non-resident, voting members are to be permitted to stay in office for “one, two, or three years” The members of the Town Council supporting the motion were swayed by an opaque legalese reference to “due process” and “property interest.”

I don’t understand the logic nor the reasoning. My understanding was that non-resident committee members were included on committees to allow “outside expertise” to be considered in discussions. Couldn’t an “expert” provide his or her opinion and not vote?

After some discussion, the town resident members of the committee could then exercise their voting option and either agree or disagree with the “expert” opinion. This appears to me to be the more logical and reasonable method to achieve the “best interests” of Bar Harbor.

The outside experts do not necessarily represent the best interest of the town. There is no reason to presume that they are “neutral” when their “special knowledge” may represent a bias to some business, corporate, or financial interest. This raises some practical as well as some ethical concerns.

Has a non citizen member ever been known to “recuse” him or herself from voting to avoid any obvious or non obvious conflict of interest?

Other examples come to mind. It this were a recall vote (and in many ways that was the intent), or an “impeachment” proceeding, the officials affected by the action would be out of office and replacements promptly substituted.

Does it make any sense to have the voters decision of last June be delayed for one, two, or three years? What type of mischief can occur during three years?

To my way of thinking, a lot!

The current status quo is neither logical nor the intent of the voters. The “lame ducks” will be very aged before we see the last of their effects on our town. The decision of the Town Council is also lame: we could be having ugly ducklings waddling around for years to come.

Walter J. Healey

Bar Harbor

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