Has issues with Peru town government
To the Editor:
Peru is a small town, less than 2,000 people. Currently, over $200,000 in property taxes are overdue.
Mr. Holland, who claims to be chairman of the Board of Selectmen, even though Ms. Hussey, who continues to ignore Peru’s personnel policy of forbidding a town employee from holding elected office, and continues to ignore the recent vote by taxpayers that an employee can not hold elected office, was the vote that enabled Mr. Holland to make a very dubious claim on the chairmanship.
If the courts rule that Ms. Hussey should not be a selectman, Mr. Holland’s election as chairman is a null event. In addition, Mr Holland is substantially behind in paying his property taxes. It is wrong for someone who is not current in his taxes to be making decisions on how others’ tax monies are being spent.
Second, and recent meetings have been videotaped so readers can see for themselves that Ms. Hussey has told the board that one person who owes taxes is not going to pay and so she is not going to bill him. It may be that the amount owed is only a hundred dollars or so but not to hold people accountable is a terrible action for government, any government at any level, to take. Complaining about how much trouble the “campground people” are is, I hope, offensive to people who know 99% of the “campground people” are hardworking, good people who pay their taxes. It rankles when someone receiving two salaries and reimbursements from the town criticizes the sources of those salaries and reimbursements.
For these reasons, and others, I have filed a formal complaint with the Maine Board of Accountancy against the Peru auditor for submitting at least three years of boilerplate in his audit reports. He did change the numbers, but there is no interpretation of the town financial conditions that vary with the different conditions for the different years. That may be why Peru has set up a likely illegal quasi-banking system that allows people who are behind in their taxes to make payments that are so low that they will never catch up on what they owe. Also, it may be that the lack of a decent, honest audit is why the town of Peru is not taxing forest lands, as is required by law.
Now, in addition to the facts above, the selectmen’s meeting atmosphere has been put into frigid mode by threats of arrest. In response to mostly civil, fact-based questions and criticisms, with only two or three individuals rarely being uncivil, Mr. Holland has gone into a hyper-control mode and has actually read rules of conduct that he wrote, rules not approved by the board -- with one board member objecting to the rules -- rules that state that after Mr. Holland gives one warning, anyone speaking out of turn will be arrested.
Mr. Holland, who is a sworn deputy and drives a large Oxford County Sheriff’s Office pickup truck to the board meetings, has written rules that he thinks allow him to call law enforcement to make the arrests. Mr. Holland did not state what law would be the basis for the arrests but one would think a simple ticket might be adequate and save a lot of time and money. Threatening taxpaying citizens with arrest for exercising First Amendment Rights, arrests that would be based on Mr. Holland’s arbitrary and capricious judgments (some people are allowed to speak out of turn), remind me of the threats made not that many years ago by members of the White Citizen Councils in Florida and Georgia and Mississippi, and other southern states, to those who questioned actions that were finally stopped by federal law enforcement and restrictions on state and federal funds.
Those are not good memories, even for the old white men like me, or for the old white men who actually had people arrested for asking questions. You know, even in those days, the white cops, they were all white back then, resented being called away from calls that were real police work to handle problems created by weak management and poor leadership.
This afternoon my wife and I saw the Rock Opera “Aida” at the Lewiston/Auburn Community Theatre. It was excellent, outstanding.
It made us laugh, it brought tears to our eyes, tears that ran down our cheeks. Loud, long, standing ovations only ended when the performers sang the song that was for all of us, “God loves Nubia.” There is no doubt that Maine has the talent, and the work ethic, and the desire to create and perform great art. We would be showing disrespect, and insulting the dignity of Mainers if we expected less than excellence in our local and state governments.