Opinion Spotlight

A great demonstration

| Letter to the editor from Penny Hilton |

To New Gloucester Citizens,

The Board of Selectmen’s actions on their duty to appoint three people to the Charter Commission are a great argument for why we need a Charter, and why we need new people creating it.

First, the BOS turned down requests from citizens twice to put the question of whether or not to create a charter for the town, forcing the citizens to gather signatures on a petition – which they did – twice. During discussions before their negative votes, Steve Libby proclaimed he would NEVER be in favor of a Charter…but guess who got appointed? But wait…

Then, after the public approved establishment of a Town Charter Commission, the BOS ignored/claimed ignorance of the state statute that governs the Charter process, and did not appoint the 3 people they are allowed to appoint within the required 30 days after town approval.

Then, when pressed on the matter, they decided to delay again, saying, in effect, “Well, what are they going to do to us?” for disregarding state statute.

THEN, after citizen protest (and maybe a word to the wise from lawyers, who knows) they finally put it on the agenda for the first meeting in April, and invited applications.

Then tonight, FINALLY, they made their appointments. After 2 people during the public participation section of the meeting urged them to appoint the two people who applied who had direct relevant experience with the Charter process and the Home Rule Law, Scott Seaver and John Salisbury… Tammy Donovan nominated Steve Libby, Don Libby, and Linda Chase. Karen Gilles started the vote with Linda – then stopped herself and said maybe Linda should recuse. Linda said instead to take everyone else’s vote and come to her last, which Karen did. Tammy and Karen voted to approve the Libby brothers, plus Linda. Peter Bragdon voted against…. and then Linda voted for.

NOTE – there was NO discussion of the other candidates or the public comments. 

NOTE – there is no way on EARTH Linda Chase should not have recused herself for conflict of interest.

NOTE – In what other town would two brothers be appointed to the same Commission?

This is just the latest demonstration of why New Gloucester needs a town charter, one that includes a recall provision and sets requirements that preclude multiple family members from serving on powerful boards or committees at the same time.

The public will have the opportunity to vote for 6 additional citizens to be part of this Commission. If you want a charter that solves problems and does not cement in place the gaps that have allowed a small group of people to get away with unethical and unscrupulous manipulations of their power,  you must vote for people other than the “usual suspects.”

Disclaimer: Yes, I am running to be on the Charter Commission – but you don’t have to vote for me to fill the Commission with people of more integrity – there are many good people running. 

Penny Hilton

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