Warrant Committee

To the Editor:

Now that the 2018 budget season is behind us, I’d like to respond to the “Town Drops FOAA Request” article, printed in the March 22 edition of the Islander.

First, the decision to drop the request was unnecessary. Following the Town Council’s March 6 decision to pursue a second, albeit this time legal, request for documents under the Freedom of Access Act (FOAA), every remaining Warrant Committee member had agreed to comply. Thus, with all outstanding documents definitely forthcoming, the Town Council’s stated reasons for suddenly dropping the investigation — to save time and to avoid additional legal expense—rang hollow.

Second, the decision also was puzzling. If there were genuine “grave concerns” about malfeasance by certain Warrant Committee members, why abruptly terminate the inquiry once the documents that would conclusively prove or disprove the allegations were at hand?

Finally, councilor Paradis’ statement that the “documents are out” was incorrect. Only a limited number of documents have been published, and these have been selectively read and paired with a strained interpretation of the law to create a narrative both misleading and one-sided.

As for Knight’s assertion that a point has been made and that Warrant Committee members “will be more careful in the future about meeting without notice,” that’s just begging the question. It’s also condescending.

To be clear: there were no meetings without notice, and Warrant Committee members have always abided by the requirements of the FOAA. Simply saying otherwise while misrepresenting the facts, belittling the Warrant Committee and denying the accused a chance to publicly respond does not change this. The ethics ordinance and the FOAA were enacted to promote better government not to punish good faith dissent, compel compliance or chill political association.

I’d also like to comment on Councilor Friedman’s column, “Let’s Roll up Our Sleeves,” also in the March 22 issue. Considering that just two weeks earlier he suggested that Warrant Committee members had something to hide and would break the law to conceal it, his change in tone was quite remarkable.

I would add that in my four-plus years of service, the Warrant Committee has never attacked the Town Council nor questioned the integrity, sincerity, intelligence, honesty or dedication of individual town councilors. The same cannot be said of the Town Council with respect to the Warrant Committee or its members. Despite this, I share Friedman’s sentiment and, as has always been the case, stand ready to work together to advance the interests of Bar Harbor and all of its citizens.

Seth Libby

Bar Harbor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.