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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Politics `a la` Lisbon!! Transparency and Open Government Be Damned!


Councilor Roger Cote and I have had several discussions about the manner in which the Executive Sessions are, and have been, being conducted.  According to Councilor Cote, there were numerous Executive Sessions which should have been open to the Public.  This prompted me to look into the Maine Revised Statute on Executive Sessions.  I have posted an article called “Residents Robbed of Rights” on both the and blog sites.

 Lisbon Council Chairman Fern Larochelle

Lisbon Council Vice-Chair Lisa Ward

At the last town council meeting, I attempted to introduce Maine Revised Statutes 401 and 405.  However, as we all know; this council does not listen to a word I have to say.  Prior to the council moving into Executive Session, I approached Chairman LaRochelle and Vice Chair Ward about my concerns.  Chairman LaRochelle refused to discuss it at all and Vice Chair Ward asked me to submit my concerns in an email to her which I did.  I believed at that time Vice Chair Ward would read the two statutes and recognize that the town was not complying with these statutes especially paragraph 4 of statute 405.  Paragraph 4 outlines the proper procedures to making a motion to go into an Executive Session.  The paragraph states “A motion to go into executive session must indicate the precise nature of business of the executive session and include a citation of one or more sources of statutory or other authority that permits an executive session for that business".  As you can see there are TWO parts to this motion. 

You can review the tapes of our town council and you will see that Chairman LaRochelle will say “I need a motion” and another councilor will said “So Moved”.  This motion is then seconded and voted on.  “So Moved” does not come anywhere close to indicating the precise nature of business of the executive meeting.  The reason this is important is because Chapter 13 of Title 1, statute 401 states “The Legislature finds and declares that public proceedings exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business.  It is the intent of the Legislature that their actions be taken openly and that the records of their actions be open to public inspections and their deliberations be conducted openly.”  To me this means that the people of Lisbon have a right to know what the precise nature of the business being discussed in Executive Session is.   This does not mean the people are entitled to know what exactly was discussed behind closed doors.

The very statute that the town council is hiding behind on Executive Sessions makes it very clear in the very first paragraph of the statute 405 which says “Not to defeat purposed of subchapter.  An executive session may not be used to defeat the purpose of the subchapter as stated in section 401.”  Vice Chair Ward sent me an email and she stated “As promised, I have read through your notes and, after careful consideration, I feel that the descriptions of the Executive Sessions and the motion to move into Executive Session were well within the required boundaries and guidelines.”  I was very disappointed in Vice Chair Ward’s response because I had a great deal of respect for Councilor Ward and felt she would make the necessary changes to comply with Maine law.  In my opinion, doing the right thing for the people and complying with the law would have been a positive change for Lisbon but instead Vice Chair Ward chose to quote the party line.  So much for doing the right thing!

I believe the people need to know the precise nature of the business being discussed behind closed doors because Lisbon belongs to the people.  It is the right of the people to be kept informed on what is going on in their town.

I would like the people of Lisbon to comment on how they feel about this issue.  Please comment!

Larry Fillmore
Concerned Citizen


Dot Fitzgerald said...

I too would have expected better of Lisa Ward. When she was elected to the Lisbon Town Council she indicated that she would be working for the citizens of the Town of Lisbon. Especially the senior citizens. Well, I am a TAXPAYING citizen of the Town of Lisbon. I don't see her working for me and others.

Councilor Cote said...

This brings to mind an Executive Session when the Brunswick Housing Authority was given the old Lisbon High School For a Dollar. But this was done behind closed doors so not to let the people of Lisbon know that a grant for 680 thousand dollars was also given away to Brunswick Housing authority in fear the people would stop it. This is the crap the council and Eldrige continually pull.