Another take on charter issue



To the Editor:

In early December, I wrote the Islander about a charter revision that would vest in nine town officials, rather than Bar Harbor voters, the power to make certain zoning changes. This revision breaks with the American tradition of checks and balances for our government.

On Dec. 19, 2019, Town Manager Cornell Knight wrote a column that, rather than address the merits of the proposed charter revision, attacked both me and Warrant Committee members. The American tradition is that we address the writer’s ideas, not attack his character.

Mr. Knight made many mistakes in his column:

First — There was no separate lawsuit called Moody v. Town of Bar Harbor. Ms. Moody was one of three plaintiffs in Murphy v. Emera Maine and Town of Bar Harbor.

Second — The Murphys prevailed in that lawsuit. Emera Maine surrendered its building permit for a Woodbury Road substation in exchange for the Murphys dismissing an appeal before the Maine Supreme Court. Emera Maine then built a compact substation on Prospect Avenue that is beautifully disguised as a carriage house.

Third — The Petition Committee for Article 13 included only one Warrant Committee member, not two.

Fourth — That Petition Committee member disclosed his involvement to the Warrant Committee which, acting on a legal opinion from the Town Attorney, found that there was no conflict.

Fifth — The alleged “strategy meeting” about Article 12 was held three weeks after the Warrant Committee had completed all its deliberations.

Sixth — The Town Council had no right to investigate the Warrant Committee. Mr. Knight told the Bangor Daily News on Feb. 15, 2018, that he “wasn’t aware of any authority” that the Council had to investigate another elected body. The Charter limits the Council to investigating appointed officials or its own members.

Mr. Knight claims that my mistakes “cost taxpayers money.” I prevailed in four of the five lawsuits I brought involving the Town; there has been but one “mistake.” In Greif v. Bar Harbor, I appealed the Council’s refusal to investigate two councilors for misconduct alleged by a town employee. The Maine Supreme Court didn’t consider the councilor misconduct and held that only the Council could initiate investigations of another councilor.

In the Murphy litigation, the Council could have saved taxpayer dollars by letting Emera Maine defend its building permit. Had the Council put two citizens’ initiatives on the June 2015 ballot and recognized the voters will, it would have saved taxpayer dollars in the Dunlap lawsuits.

In the recent Blanchard litigation, the Council spent $38,000 in taxpayer dollars to obtain the same result as a settlement proposal the Council rejected in 2017.

I would rather be writing about important issues that we voters will face in future elections rather than defending myself and the Warrant Committee against baseless personal attacks.

Arthur Greif

Bar Harbor

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