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NG Rx – PRN

NG Rx – PRN
An Occasional Column About New Gloucester Governance
By Penny Hilton
September 20, 2018

They Didn’t Say Yes, They Didn’t Say No…

…The New Gloucester Select Boards’ latest action on the citizen request to begin a Town Charter process brings to mind the lyrics of that old (old!) Mills Brothers song: they didn’t say yes, and they didn’t say no. Instead they asked Town Manager Carrie Castonguay to contact the MMA (Maine Municipal Association) for clarification and advice regarding the process, and put discussion off till – possibly – their October 1 meeting.

Previously, On “NG- BOS”
The Town Charter idea was first brought up at the August 20 BOS meeting by New Gloucester resident John Salisbury, speaking, he said, on behalf of a group of citizens. About 70 towns and cities in Maine have created and adopted Charters, which spell out in greater detail, and to that community’s agreed preferences, the form, structure, and policies of a town’s government. The process, which takes about two years in total, must begin with a vote by the community on whether or not the voters want the town to establish a citizen Charter Commission to develop a draft Charter. Such a Commission, which would comprise both members appointed by the Board of Selectmen, and members elected by town-wide vote, would work, with public input, for the better part of a year to create the Charter that the voters would then vote to put in place or not. The easy way to get things going, he explained then, was to have the BOS put that initial question on a ballot. The harder way, should the BOS nix the idea, would be for the citizen group to gather signatures numbering 20% of the last gubernatorial vote, which would trigger a referendum vote.
At the August meeting, the BOS pushed the matter to the September 17 BOS meeting, in order (depending on who you asked) to allow Castonguay to further research the state statute that covers creation and change to Town Charters; or to give the BOS more time in a less crowded agenda to discuss it.

Timing Is Everything!
But on the 17th, the discussion didn’t get past the first question to Castonguay, having to do with timing. In her interpretation of the statute, in order for the question to be included in the ballot questions this November 6th, the BOS should have made their decision to do so sometime in June.

The text of Maine Statute on Home Rule, Title 30-A, Part 2, Chapter 111 §2102 that appears to cover this issue reads:
5. Election procedure. Within 30 days after the adoption of an order under subsection 1 or the receipt of a certificate or final determination of sufficiency under subsection 4, the municipal officers shall by order submit the question for the establishment of a charter commission to the voters at the next regular or special municipal election held at least 90 days after this order.

By The Book – If Someone Can Explain It
At this point, BOS Chair Steve Libby, noting that the BOS would likely be criticized about how they handle the matter in any case, opined that they should have more clarity about the timing issue before discussion. BOS Joe Davis, who had unsuccessfully tried to bring the matter up as a discussion item in August, made the required motion, but emphasized several times that the BOS should get to the actual discussion, with an up or down vote, in October.
“We need to put it on the next agenda for discussion, “he said, “and not drag this out…We should [be able to tell the citizens] ‘we agree to it so you don’t have to do the next step’, or ‘we don’t agree to it, so you better start collecting your signatures. ‘ ”

The final motion included that the matter will be on the next agenda in October if Castonguay has received answers from the MMA in time.
As the song says, “(they) didn’t say ‘stop’ and (they) didn’t say go…”
Maybe in October.

Notes (by the author)
on the Charter Process as Prescribed in State Law

• The initial question of whether or not to establish a Charter Commission can come before the voters in either of two ways: the Selectmen can choose to put the question to town vote, or a committee of townspeople can gather sufficient signatures to have it put out as a referendum vote.

• There are specific stipulations about time intervals, between signature gathering and a vote, between a vote and election of Commission members, and between the onset of the Commissions work and its final vote by the town. In all, it is a process of one to two years.

• There are stipulations as to how the Commission is to be formed. Only one member may be a municipal/town office holder. The governing board of the town (BOS) may appoint three members to the commission. The voters then elect six additional at-large members.

• The issues that can be covered in a Charter range from the four options for type of town government, which includes versions with and without a town meeting; and then everything from the rules governing the Board of Selectmen, to committees, to handling of finances, protocols and processes for hiring and removal of town managers, and more.

See:
http://legislature.maine.gov/statutes/30-A/title30-Asec2103.html

Espling, Claxton vie for District 20 Senate seat

A key House Republican and former family physician-turned Democratic candidate are competing for the open District 20 Senate seat this fall.

Voters in Auburn, Mechanic Falls, Minot, New Gloucester and Poland will choose between Rep. Ellie Espling, R-New Gloucester, and Democrat Ned Claxton of Auburn on Nov. 6 when they elect a new state senator.

Current District 20  Sen. Eric Brakey is challenging U.S. Sen. Angus King in November. Keep reading

Tim Reimensnyder video

Tim Makes Chairs follows New Gloucester artist Tim Reimensnyder through the process of making a greenwood oak chair from felling the tree to steam bending the seat back. Watch on YouTube.

Patti’s Sept. 14 “Inside New Gloucester” Column

Carla McAllister and Tim Rice opened their Dragonfly Farm Little Free Library in early September. Rice built it to resemble the 1893 barn on the premises of their homestead at 585 Shaker Road.  Photo by SallyAnn Rogers

Novel Little Free Library

Little Free Libraries are in 88 countries and number more than 79,000. These  small libraries and can be found along many roads, in parks and at myriad other locations. The concept is for people of all ages to “take a book, share a book.” Courtesy dictates that if you take a book or two, return a book or two to either the location from which you borrowed or to another Little Free Library.

Carla McAllister, assistant librarian at New Gloucester Public Library for nearly 10 years, has had a hankering for an LFL for a few years now. Tim Rice, her husband, made her dream come true by building a LFL that resembles the 1893 barn on the premises of their homestead. Dragonfly Farm Little Free Library is lit so that patrons can stop by after dark to check out what books are offered.

Dragonfly Farm Little Free Library is located at 585 Shaker Road, one-half mile south of Shaker Village. You are invited to take away a book of interest and log comments about the overall concept or their LFL in particular. McAllister and Rice hope that their LFL will be respected, visited often, and fun for all.

For Patti Mikkelsen’s complete column in the Lakes Region Weekly, go to: http://news.keepmecurrent.com/inside-new-gloucester-151/

 

Merribrook Farm fields to Maine Farmland Trust


On September 11th, a portion of our family farm on Intervale Road, New Gloucester was sold to Maine Farmland Trust to be forever farm fields. Our parents Lowell (“Brookie)” and Barbara Brookings bought the farm on Intervale Road in 1944. Dad had a herd of Holstein cows that he milked up until the summer of 1979 and sold the milk to Oakhurst Dairy. They also raised vegetables and Mom took them to the Portland Public Market until 1950.  Many of the neighborhood boys and a few girls, worked in the summer helping to bring the hay in. After the milking herd was sold to an Amish farmer in Lancaster County Pennsylvania, Dad still had young stock for a while. Dad hayed the fields up into his late 80’s, and sold the hay to people with horses, sheep, cows etc.  We 6 “kids” all helped with the haying, the gardens, the cows and whatever else needed to be done. Our brother Gary, the youngest and only boy, worked the farm with a Dad for many years. Some of the grandchildren also had the experience of helping on the farm, especially with the haying. One of our parents wishes was that it stay a farm forever if at all possible. By selling to Maine Farmland Trust, that is going to be possible on a good portion of the land. Some is going to be kept in the family which they had also wanted. The fields can now be enjoyed by the people that pass by Merribrook Farm forever.

Barbie Seaver

Brakey campaign releases spliced King remarks

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eric Brakey of Auburn is criticizing his political rival, independent Angus King, arguing that King equated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks with recent Russian cyberwarfare during remarks Tuesday. Keep reading

Outside money pours into Espling-Claxton race for Maine Senate seat

Money from outside groups that can spend unlimited amounts on a campaign is pouring into state legislative races this year much earlier than usual – and at an exponentially higher rate.

Spending by party committees and political action committees, known as independent expenditures, reached $365,979 for all legislative races by Sept. 7, according to 60-day pre-election reports filed with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices. Keep reading

Gubernatorial candidates forum: follow live blog

The four candidates hoping to be Maine’s next governor are set to appear together for the first time Monday at a forum on workforce development at the Lewiston-Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

Democrat Janet Mills, Republican Shawn Moody and independents Terry Hayes and Alan Caron have all confirmed their appearance at the 4:30 event at the Ramada Inn in Lewiston.

In the two most recent independent Maine polls, Moody, a businessman from Gorham, and Mills, Maine’s attorney general, were locked in a dead heat.

Follow live blog here

Morrison Center plans residential facility at Opportunity Farm

The non-profit that has purchased the former Opportunity Farm plans to turn it into a residential facility for young people ages 10-21 with severe disabilities, according to its executive director.

The Morrison Center bought the 125-acre campus for $1.35 million from Wayfinder Schools, Executive Director Mark Ryder said.

“Maine has a critical shortage of residential services for children with complex developmental needs, and Morrison’s vision for their new property includes establishing a nationally recognized educational and treatment facility at the New Gloucester campus,” Ryder said in press release announcing the sale last week. Keep reading

Arata, Coolidge run for House District 65 seat

Only one of the candidates for House District 65 says she is related to a former U.S. President, but the two women squaring off this November have at least one thing in common: their birthday.

That’s not where the similarities end with Republican Amy Arata and Democrat Misty Coolidge, both of New Gloucester. They both own small businesses, both are originally from central Maine, both are married with three children, and both joke about being mistaken for one another by voters.

But in their race to replace Rep. Ellie Espling in a seat that represents New Gloucester and part of Poland in the Maine House of Representatives, the two candidates differ on whether they’d follow in Espling’s footsteps.  Keep reading