To the Editor:
I reluctantly filed a suit against the town of Bar Harbor seeking a hearing on whether Councilors Paradis and Bowden should forfeit their offices, because I still believe that we are a government of laws, not men. Too often, the council has ignored its duties under the charter, which each councilor has sworn to uphold.
Section C-11(C) of the charter expressly prohibits any councilor from exercising any “authority over town employees except through the manager.” Yet I believe Paradis and Bowden met secretly with Code Enforcement Officer Angela Chamberlain and asked her to spy on a fellow town employee.
Per the letter from Chamberlain attached to the pending complaint in Superior Court, both councilors made it clear to her that they were acting behind the back of the town manager.
Charter Section C-12(B)(1)(b) directs that a councilor who violates an express prohibition of the charter “shall forfeit his/her office.” Charter Section C-13 requires the council to rule on a forfeiture request.
Maine’s Freedom of Access Act mandates that a public body can meet in executive session to discuss charges of misconduct against another person, but only if the person bringing the charges of misconduct is “permitted to be present.” I was neither given notice of the council’s executive session on Jan. 5, 2016, nor permitted to be present. I did not seek a public hearing but did ask for a hearing that I might attend as the complainant.
Rather than perform its duties under the charter of hearing from witnesses and weighing evidence, the other five councilors voted to do nothing.
When the council violates both the charter and Maine statutes, the citizens should become concerned. Is it asking too much of our lawmakers that they not break the law?
Arthur J. Greif