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Meeting gets heated; Board divided
PERU- The small town is seeing a rise in attendance at their Monday night’s selectmen’s meetings due to an uprising of citizens who are not satisfied with the way the board is handling business, specifically, the business of Secretary/Selectman, Kathy Hussey, who remains on the board after 380 citizens voted to have an ordinance in place to prevent the holding of two positions.
The meeting began with Chairman of the Board, Tim Holland, introducing a new Rules of Conduct & Procedures, which states that anyone in attendance will be asked to be seated throughout the meeting and “outbursts of questions, requests or comments will not be tolerated…If order is not observed, the first warning will be to quiet the person, the second request is that the person out of order will be told to leave. If the person does not comply, law enforcement will be called and charges will be filed.”
Selectman Ed Ferland questioned who made up the rules, Chairman Holland stated, “Apparently we have an issue respecting what everyone is saying and being able to hear who is speaking. There have been too many rude and obnoxious attacks on board members and I requested the rules.”
“You don’t have the right to put this in place without the board’s okay,” stated Ferland. “This is a full board and we didn’t approve that as a board.”
Selectman Dickie Powell stated, “Information is not always shared. It appears that things come into this office and you have a discussion with Kathy and it disappears. You have remained in power because you have controlled the flow of information.”
“I’m not naming names,” stated Ferland. “I’ve already stated it. This board is divided. It’s pretty hard to move forward when you have so many people who voted on an ordinance and you are telling them they don’t count. We’re choosing to ignore the vote.”
As the board was clearly divided, Chairman Holland moved the meeting on to regular business, but the issue of the Political Activity arose again during the public participation segment of the meeting.
Citizen John Witherell stated, “I hate having it out with you every week, Tim. But you refused to tell us any information you had when we wanted to join our ordinance with yours. There was a problem with the wording and you knew it and still you refused to give that information to us.”
Chairman Holland noted that there definitely needs to be an ordinance in place to prevent a town employee from simultaneously holding an elected position.
Currently, the town is still waiting on the Maine Municipal Association to rule how the town should handle the situation. The board is divided on whether they should allow 30 days for Selectman Hussey to decide which she wants to hold and the citizens want her out immediately.
Witherell requested selectmen, “Why don’t you vote right now! You know what we want. Why do we have to keep going through this each week? Why aren’t you supporting your personnel policy that’s already in place?”
Chairman Holland stated that the policy was made by another board and that there is an issue with the interpretation of it. “We all want the same thing. We just have to be legal about it. We don’t want anything to backfire on us.”
Ferland stated, “The ordinance was in effect the day after the vote. This board is not supporting that decision by the people.”
With a stalemate on the discussion, other citizens present brought forth concerns of efficiencies needing to be looked at in the town office with the town looking at $220,000 of debt and others who were not happy that the junk yard permit passed and presented selectmen with an appeal to that decision.
The town office will now accept credit cards as a form of payment, with a fee to the cardholder for using the service.
The public is welcome to attend the Monday night meetings at 6 p.m., but note that public participation is welcome only on the first and third Monday of the month.