Friday, October 2, 2015

WHAT GOES ON BEHIND CLOSED DOORS?? -- by Larry Fillmore



Ever wonder what goes on in Executive Sessions and is it legal?  I personally do not believe it is legal in accordance with Maine Statute 405 (6) (C).  So let’s take a look at the statue.  Below is the statute:

            C. Discussion or consideration of the condition, acquisition or the use of real or personal property permanently attached to real property or interests therein or disposition of publicly held property or economic development ONLY if premature disclosures of the information would prejudice the competitive or bargaining position of the body or agency; [1987, c. 477, §3 (AMD).]

As you can see it is very specific as to when you can hide behind this part of the statute.  Chairman Pesce and the Town Council agreed to have town owned property go out for bid in order to sell the property.  This is the same procedure utilized to procure a truck, fuel and winter sands.  Bidders submit sealed bids by a certain date and then the town opens the bids and recommend to the Town Council which bid to accept.  The Town Council then votes on which bid to accept without ever meeting the bidders.

Now let’s take a look at what took place in Executive Session on September 15, 2015.  This is straight from the minutes of the meeting for September 15, 2015.

                                                            EXECUTIVE SESSION

VOTE (2015-284 & 285) Councilor Bickford, seconded by Councilor Metivier moved to go into Executive Session per 1 MRSA Section 405 (6) (C) Acquisition or disposition of real property or economic development, and 405 (6) (E) Consultations with legal counsel.  Order passed – Vote 7-0.

Councilor Pesce announced that a vote could possibly follow.  Councilor Metivier, seconded by Councilor Bickford moved to return to regular session at 9:26 PM.  Order passed 7-0.  The Chairman resumed the meeting at 9:30 PM.

VOTE (2015 -285A) Councilor Pesce, seconded by Councilor Garrison moved to convey property at 3 Village Street to Lisbon Holding, LLC under terms to be negotiated by the Town Manager and Town Attorney and to authorize the Town Manager to execute all documents necessary to complete the transaction.

Order passed – Vote 6-1 (Opposed:  Lunt) Councilor Brunelle indicated Councilor Lunt wanted more information that he is just not going to get.

VOTE (2015-285B) Councilor Pesce, seconded by Councilor Bickford moved that the Town sell property on Ridge Road, Tax Map R05, Lot 1C, to Dale John Crafts for the Town’s asking price of $82,900 and to authorize the Town Manager to execute all documents necessary to complete the transaction.  Order passed – Vote 6-0-1. (Abstained:  Crafts)

VOTE (2015-285C) Councilor Pesce, seconded by Councilor Bickford moved that the Town offer a retirement incentive to employees with at least 35 years of continues service to the town as of September 1, 2015 that would all employees who select to participate to receive a monthly payment of $833 toward the cost of health insurance for a period of three (3) years following their separation of employment.  Order passed – Vote 7-0.

As you can see, the property at 3 Village Street and Ridge Road were sold.  If this was a result of bids received by the Town; why are these transactions in Executive Session because the bid process is the same for a truck, fuel and winter sands.  All of these items are decided at an “open” Town Council meeting.  Why were these two properties being decided in Executive Session?  Could it be the Town Council is conducting business behind closed doors illegally?

Also, it is nice to see the Town Council being so free with our tax money.  If we had to commit taxes this year because the town was low on funds and could not pay the town’s bills; where is all this money coming from.  It certainly cannot be the Undesignated Fund because that too is below the recommended level.

Isn’t it nice to know what the Town Council does behind closed doors?