Thursday, October 30, 2014

Letter from D.E. Hines Ph.D

Dwight E. Hines, Ph.D.
Livermore, Maine 04253
October 31, 2014
Ms. Cindy Gilpatrick, Editor
Livermore Falls Advertiser
Livermore Falls, Maine
Dear Ms. Gilpatrick:
Please consider this email for publication in the Livermore 
Falls Advertiser. Please do not publish an edited version 
without my permission. dh

I wish this letter was about beavers who are being beavers in Livermore and damming up Livermore culverts.  So far at least 5 busy beavers have been subjected to rural renewal and there are obviously more left.  That is a series of stories that needs to be told because the outcome of the contests of beavers versus humans is still unknown, though given beaver and human histories, I’d bet on the beaver.

Now, the other bad part about writing criticisms of elected or appointed officials is that criticisms are cheap and often reflexive so don’t add information to the discussions.  So, if you run over my foot, my first thought is not to ask “What can we learn from this?” but mostly unprintable unspellable expressions.  So, to make a long story short, we need to answer the most important question first and the answer is: We need a system that allows for conditional approvals for license renewals.  So, a problem of an incomplete application arises, the solution is to tell the applicant that the are approved conditionally subject to getting line X, page 5 completed.  Now for the parts you can skip, unless you are a political process junkie.

On the night of October 21, 2014, prior to the regular 6:00 p.m. Livermore Selectmen's meeting, a local Owner of a restaurant, the only restaurant in town, came to the Town Office for a 5:30 hearing for the annual renewal of his liquor license. The hearing was delayed for 15 minutes or so while everyone waited for the arrival of two selectmen, Mr. Kachnovich and Mr. Newman. They finally arrived and the hearing began. Note that there are two other places in Livermore selling prepared food, both are convenience stores and lack the ambience of linen covered tables, soft lighting, and meals that require lengthy and complex preparation.  Two weeks ago the Owner submitted his annual renewal application, something he has been doing successfully for 12 years now, and the application was rejected because on Line X of Page Y, the reason for his arrest was asked and the Owner, having been arrested 14 years ago or so, put down "pot".  Well, that was not acceptable to the Mr. Kachnovich and Mr. Newman, so the Owner had to resubmit the applications, which he did, along with a letter about his arrest for "pot". 

I think everyone in Livermore knows what "pot" is and, as the Owner explained, after being forced to wait for two weeks for action to be taken on his applications, it’s important to note there has never been a complaint about his restaurant and in 12 years the Owner has never had a problem with the liquor board.  The Owner's letter and explanations were not adequate for two members of the Board, Mr. Kachnovich and Mr. Newman. The two selectmen wanted to know what type of marijuana arrest it had been. "Marijuana arrests can be for a little bit of marijuana or a house full of marijuana", stated Mr. Kachnovich.  After much discussion, with Mr.  Kachnovich appearing to be undecided on how to respond to the Owner's statement that he could get the requested information to them tomorrow, — they could sign it and he'd be able to get his licenses renewed — Mr. Rod Newman stated that he thought the Owner could come back in two weeks and get the signatures then.  Mr. Kachnovich agreed, even though the Owner was concerned about meeting the time requirements of the state licensing boards.  

Well, leaving aside the waste of time and energy that annual renewals costs small businesses each year, even after the Owners have shown to be legitimate and ethical, as well as being contributors to the community in other ways, it appeared to me that Mr. Kachnovich and Mr. Newman were not just on an arbitrary and capricious power trip but were acting hypocritical in their demands because Mr. Newman used to have a non-bidded contract with the town for heating oil.

Mr. Kachnovich’s situation is more complicated.  Before he was elected as a selectman, he might have won a annual contract back in 2011 or 2012 for mowing/maintenance of the Livermore cemeteries, for $15,000 plus.  Currently, $22,000.00 is budgeted for the Livermore cemeteries but I’ve not found the records for how the extra $7,000.00 is to be spent.  A public request to view the contracts found no contract that was signed by the selectmen or Mr. Kachnovich but did find the bid requirements and Mr. Kachnovich’s response. There are no records of other bidders.  There were records of payments for ads in two newspapers but I have not had time to go to the archives and see the actual ads.

Somewhere in this letter you need to realize that Mr. Kachnovich have not committed any criminal acts according to Maine law, unless they did more that what is in the records because the Board approved of the contract, and the unadvertised extension of the contract.  A Maine Judge made a ruling in another part of Maine about such situations within the past few months.  Please note that I do not have the minutes yet of the meetings where the contract was approved initially or when it was renewed.

Mr. Newman, following a complaint to the Maine FOAA Ombudsman, only recently took the required Maine FOAA course, after being in office for over a year, but his ignorance of the law did not stop him from opposing public participation at public meetings and opposing having the Town keep complete minutes of the selectmen’s meetings.

Given that Forbes Magazine has rated Maine as the worst of the states in being friendly to business for several years, it appears that an honest report to them has to state that some in Maine are not improving in how we treat the little business people, the ones who are paying significant taxes because the big business people are still leaving the state.  During the campaigns going on now for different political offices, much has been said about how Maine needs to attract new businesses, create more jobs.  Little has been said about how we need to be sure that the businesses we have now are being treated properly by our governments.

Dwight Hines

P.S. There is no action for anyone to take action on the Selectmen’s meeting — I just wanted to let people know that there is a real need for Maine to have a Civil Gideon law, with appropriate procedures, because the small business owners can not afford an attorney, and because civil actions by attorneys, like in Silicon Valley, stimulate economic development, and because if an attorney for the Owner of the restaurant had been at the meeting last night, the Board's treatment of the Owner would have been different. As it is, not being an attorney, I'm not sure if the Owner of the restaurant has a cause of action against the Board, although most people know that the Fourteenth and FIfth Amendments require due process and adequate notice is a significant and necessary component of due process.  Adequate notice was not present in the ambush tactics employed by Mr. Newman and Mr. Kachnovich.  Good government provides us laws and rules that increase predictability in all our lives, something all of us, including small business people, need in a world of uncertainty.  What happened at the meeting was wrong and unfair. The decisions were downright unfriendly.  

Petition for an ordinance for a method to recall Livermore elected officials with the ordinance attached.
Town of Livermore Ordinance for Recall of Elected Municipal 
SECTION 1. Establishment
Under M.R.S.A. Title 30-A Section 2602 (6) amended Oct. 13,1993 a town may 
enact an ordinance for the recall and removal of elected municipal officials with the 
exception of school board members as noted in Title 30-A M.R.S.A. §2602.
SECTION 2. Purpose and Authority
This ordinance provides the means and method by which citizens of the Town 
of Livermore may seek the removal from office of a Town of Livermore elected official. 
This ordinance is enacted pursuant to Title 30-A M.R.S.A., §2528, §2602, §3001, and 
SECTION 3. Procedure
a. The petition for recall must contain only signatures of the registered voters of 
the Town of Livermore, equal to ten percent (10%) of the number of votes cast in the 
last gubernatorial election.
b. The petition shall be addressed to those members of the Board of Selectmen 
having no interest in the subject matter of the petition.
c. The petition shall state the name and office of the person whose removal is 
being sought, and incorporate the petitioners' statement of the reason(s) such removal 
is desired as outlined in Section 3.d.
d. An elected official may be recalled for 
(i) failure to appropriately carry out duties and responsibilities of the 
office (such as failure to represent the will of the people of Livermore);
(ii) engaging in conduct which brings the office into disrepute; (iii) 
engaging in conduct which displays an unfitness to hold the office; or (iv) for the 
indictment or conviction of a crime under the laws of the State of Maine or a felony 
under the laws of the United States or entry of a plea of guilty to such an offense.
e. If recall of more than one official is being sought there shall be a separate 
petition for each official whose removal is being sought.
f. Each page of the petition shall provide a space for the voter's signature, 
address and printed name.
g. The petition blanks shall be dated with the date petitioner initiates the recall 
request. The petition shall be available for signatures for 30 business days. At the 
expiration of said 30 business days, the Town Clerk shall declare the petition closed.
h. All petition pages thereof shall be filed as one document.
SECTION 4. Incumbent Duties Continued
The incumbent (unless he/she has submitted a written resignation to the 
Selectmen) shall continue to perform the duties of the office until the results of the 
recall election are certified. If not recalled, the official shall continue in office of the 
remainder of the unexpired term, subject to the subsequent recall. If recalled, the 
official shall be deemed removed from the office upon certification of the election 
SECTION 5. Clerk's Certification
Within ten (10) days of receipt of the petition, the Town Clerk shall certify the 
signatures contained on the petition and shall determine if the petition meets all of the 
qualifications as set forth in Section 3 of this ordinance. Should the petition be found 
insufficient, the petition will be filed in the clerk's office and the voter who filed the 
petition will be notified.
1SECTION 6. Calling the Recall Election
a. If the petition is certified by the Town Clerk to be sufficient, he or she will 
submit the same with his or her certification to the Board of Selectmen at their next 
regular meeting and shall notify the official or officials whose removal is being sought 
of such action.
b. The Selectmen upon receipt of the certified petition shall within ten (10) days 
time of receipt order an election by written ballot, pursuant to 30-A MRSA § 2528, to be 
held not less than 30 nor more than 60 days thereafter, provided that a regular 
municipal election will not be held within 90 days of receipt of the certified petition. In 
this case the selectmen may, at their discretion, provide for the holding of the recall 
election on the date of the regular municipal election.
c. In the event that the Town Selectmen fail or refuse to order an election as 
herein provided, the Town Clerk shall call the election to be held not less than 30 days 
nor more than 60 days following the Selectmen's failure or refusal to order the 
required election.
d. If, between the time of ordering the recall election and the 21st day before 
said election, the official whose recall is being sought requests a public hearing, the 
Selectmen shall promptly schedule such a hearing to occur not fewer than 7 days 
before the election, and shall provide adequate posting at least 7 days before said 
SECTION 7. Ballots for Recall Election
Unless the official or officials whose removal is sought have resigned within ten 
(10) days of receipt of the petition by the Board of Selectmen, the ballots shall be 
printed and shall ask the question , "SHALL (name of official) BE RECALLED?," and 
provide adjacent boxes for “Yes” or “No” responses.
SECTION 8. Result of Election
a. In the event of an affirmative vote for removal, such vote shall take effect as of 
the recording of the vote tabulation into the records.
b. A tie vote will defeat the recall.
SECTION 9. Vacancies to be filled
A vacancy resulting from removal from office under this ordinance shall be filled 
in accordance with Title 30-A M.R.S.A., §2602.
SECTION 10. Limitations
a. No petition for recall shall be filed against an official with fewer than 4 months 
in office, or with fewer than 60 days of a multiyear term remaining.
b. If an official has been subjected to a recall election and not removed, no 
recall petition shall be filed against that official until at least twelve months (1 year) 
have passed since said recall election.
SECTION 11. Validity
It is the intention of the municipality that each section of this ordinance shall be 
deemed independent of all other sections herein and that if any provision within this 
ordinance is declared invalid, all other sections shall remain valid and enforceable.
SECTION 12. Amendments
This ordinance may be amended by majority vote of any legal town meeting 
when such amendment is published in the warrant calling for the meeting.
SECTION 13. Effective date as of the recording of the vote tabulation into the records.