Comments made to Selectmen during
Public Comment 5/26/05 (7)

  1. Introduction

  2. Letter to Selectman with request for fulltime Harbormaster

  3. Email to members of Committee informing them of Selectman Weil's offer

  4. Email to Selectman Weil requesting advice on how to present amendment

  5. Flyer given out at Town Meeting

  6. Comments I have received

  7. Comments made to Selectmen 5/26/05

  8. Comments made at hearing for Harbormaster

Comments by Burr Taylor about
Selectman Weil’s opposition to his appointment to the Harbor and Waterfront Committee

I                     Introduction

A      At the last Selectmen’s meeting, Selectman Weil explained his reasons for opposing my appointment as a member of the Harbor and Waterfront Committee. He appeared to have several concerns about which he felt strongly. He even wrote down his statement.

B       I regret that he chose not to speak to me in person. I suspect we could have resolved many of these concerns without resorting to broadcasting over public TV. I think any citizen deserves this opportunity. To make it worse the town has still not informed me that I am no longer a member of the committee or that Selectman Weil made very negative comments about me at the meeting. Had it not been for a friend who told me, I would not have known I needed to defend myself.

C       I am not speaking with the goal of getting an appointment to the committee. I merely would like to correct the record.

II                 General

A      I believe that I did nothing wrong or inappropriate. All I did was to follow the Committee’s mandate to the best of my ability at the town meeting.

B       It appears to me that I am being singled out and perhaps punished for things that I said at Town Meeting. I think all of us, including Selectman Weil, would agree that it would be a very dangerous precedent for town officials to be allowed to punish citizens for what they say at Town Meeting.

C       Selectman Weil gave four reasons for opposing my reappointment, a summary, a footnote about how he defended me, and in a later aside an additional comment. Although Selectman Theberge continued to support my reappointment, Selectman Alexander apparently was convinced by Selectman Weil’s comments.

III              Selectman’s Comments

1. The Committee had repeatedly proposed for the last two to three years that the Selectmen place before the town meeting its proposal for a full time harbor master. Neither the Budget Advisory Committee nor the Selectman agreed and so informed the Harbor and Waterfront Committee. Mr. Taylor knowingly misled the 2005 town meeting by saying the Committee had never received a response from the Selectmen. He persisted in this statement even after the facts had been correctly stated by Selectman Knight.

A      In his first reason Selectman Weil said that I blindsided the Selectmen and misled the town meeting, even after being corrected by Selectman Knight.
On December 17, 2003, the Harbor and Waterfront Committee sent to the Selectmen a letter recommending a fulltime harbormaster. We gave reasons for our recommendation, a suggested change in the Harbor and Waterfront Committee Ordinance, and an offer to discuss it further. To my (and the Committee’s, I think) knowledge the Selectmen never responded to this letter. Nor did they provide any suggestions as to how the problems we mentioned could be solved. They did not seek our advice, even when they recently proposed a fulltime harbormaster. Personally, I think they would have benefited from that advice.
At the Town Meeting Selectman Knight said the Selectmen responded to our recommendation by considering it and refusing to act on it, because there was too little for a harbormaster to do in the winter. He said nothing about informing the Committee, nor about seeking the Committee’s advice about what a harbormaster might do in the winter, or about our concerns.

2. Selectman Weil provided an opportunity for Harbor and Waterfront Committee to present proposal for a full time harbormaster. Told Selectmen there would be no proposal.

B       Selectman Weil did tell me that there would be wording in Article 49, allowing us to recommend a fulltime harbormaster. I took this to a special meeting of the Harbor and Waterfront Committee. The Committee was not ready for a fulltime harbormaster and felt more time was needed to consider the issue. However, they felt strongly that there was a very great need for more time for the harbormaster to complete his responsibilities. Thus, came the proposal for a more-time, but not a full-time harbormaster. That evening, I told Selectmen Knight and Selectman Weil I thought there would be no fulltime proposal because I had left the meeting early to attend the Library Hearing.

3. Without any advanced notice to the Selectmen, he (Mr. Taylor) presented at Town Meeting a proposal for a pay raise for the harbormaster, normally a matter in the responsibilities of the Selectmen, although the town meeting can certainly take action on the matter. In any case he intentionally blindsided the selectmen after we had responded to the strong views he had expressed for a full time harbormaster by coming up with an entirely new, unsupported proposal

C       Selectman Weil said I blindsided the Selectmen because  we did not tell the Selectman and we came up with an entirely new unsupported proposal. NOT TRUE. Selectman Theberge was at the meeting when we came up with the proposal for Town Meeting. He even offered to have the town office help with writing and materials. Also, I sent Selectman Weil an email the day before the town meeting which detailed our presentation and asked his advice for how to word the amendment. He replied to the email, explaining how we should present the amendment. Therefore, contrary to what he said at town meeting, he knew, or should have known, about our proposal. Finally, the committee (and I) never thought of this as a new proposal. If a full-time harbormaster is OK, why isn’t a more time harbormaster OK.

4. At the town meeting he implied, perhaps inadvertently, but without correcting himself, that I (Weil) had tried to suppress information on his proposal, when in fact I knew nothing of it.

D      Reason #4 doesn’t make much sense and I do not know what he meant when he said I may have said Selectman Weil tried to suppress information. I do know that, for reasons that a lawyer later said were inappropriate, the town clerk would not allow me to distribute a flyer the committee had prepared for town meeting.

The Selectmen appoint the committees to provide them advice, to make proposals and to carry responsibilities out that may be assigned to them by law or ordinance. Ordinarily this system works well. But when a member manipulates the relationship and deliberately misleads the town meeting, I cannot support such a person for membership.

I want to state that twice during the last year that Mr. Taylor served on the Harbor and Waterfront Committee, I stepped up to his defense. Once he actually resigned because he wanted to see a specific person put on the committee in his place. To avoid a

E       Twice last year I considered resigning from the committee. Once was when I heard Frank Kibbe had not been reappointed. In my opinion Mr. Kibbe would be an articulate, pro-fishing, member of the committee who had experience in Maine where recreational and commercial boats shared territory. I suggested this to Selectman Weil. I had no expectation of confronting the Selectman and was prepared for them to choose someone else. Selectman Weil even said he thought it was a nice thing to do
Since the beginning of 2004, the committee had drifted without a chair. Jim Hays, a frequent visitor, and I had discussed this at length. When Mr Hays said he would be willing to be chair, Selectman Theberge called some members to see if they wanted to continue their membership. I was his last call. I felt pressured only because I believed someone had to resign for Jim to be Chair. I did not object to this pressure. I thought a chair was necessary for the committee to function.

F        I do not understand in what way I treated Selectman Weil in bad faith, nor how I treated him poorly.

G      In conclusion, this issue could, I think, have been resolved more easily and with less rancor if some effort have been made to deal with it personally.