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Once again I have gone to the Town website to look up information from the 2005 selectmen's meetings. Since you are no longer handling this for the Town it is behind in postings with some minutes under approved date instead of meeting date...agendas under selectmen minutes heading and vise versa.
Curtis Library site does not include 2005...but at least 1997-2004 (thanks to your efforts) is there with a decent search feature. Wonder if there is any chance these will be included on the town's site or how long they will be on the Curtis site.
The reason for the above frustration is because I wanted (on the request of several people) to see if the minutes gave any detail of the selectmen's explanation for reducing the property taxes for Bailey Island by 14%. Many feel that the Theberge "fight" to lower the property taxes there is wrong and that the other two selectmen were also wrong for going along with it. The law is valuations are supposed to be based on sales/market value why should others be forced to pick up those Bailey Island dollars??
First of all I would like to thank Burr for this opportunity to express my views. I'm sure I would not be allowed to speak at a selectmen's meeting and, in spite of the selectmen's accusations, I have a self imposed restriction on my use of the community TV station. As far as I'm concerned the station belongs to all of us and, because I am proficient in the use of all the equipment and knowledgeable in television production, it would be unfair of me to use the station to further my own interests. Because being the station manager at Harpswell Community Television puts me in the hot seat of public opinion and in order to avoid the image of bias for the station I find that I don't even speak at public hearings as much as I should. You can imagine my frustration as I watch the selectmen trying to create another division in our community over the charter issue while warning the TV station to remain uninvolved.
One thing I would like to straighten out is selectman Knight's grumblings about his bad experience with the TV station. When David Hill was trying to promote the Maine Land Bank program Jim got the bright idea of having David make a presentation on community TV. He arranged studio time for a live show with our board president purposely circumventing the staff. This program included a computer presentation which required a great deal of engineering and this had not been planned for. I got on the phone with David Hill and all the players to make sure the program could even happen. Selectman Knight had little or nothing to do with the production and accused me of trying to sabotage "his" program. If I hadn't gotten involved the program wouldn't have happened at all. As it was David Hill was very pleased with the outcome and used the video to promote his project with the legislature.
Now on to the charter issue....last year we voted to move the terms of office for Town Clerk, Tax Collector and Treasurer from one year to three years. While there are some merits to this I was concerned that these are the folks who handle all the town's money and we have no recall provision. After making my concerns known Gordon agreed to draw up an ordinance to address it. On June 10, 2003 we were asked, in a straw vote, whether or not we wanted 5 selectmen. After fights in the town office and several more resignations including a selectman and the town administrator, the vote was two to one in favor. To Gordon's credit he tried to place recall before the board of selectman along with the 5 selectmen issue for placement on the town meeting agenda. The other two selectmen wouldn't even second the motions for discussion. Soon after that meeting a group of concerned citizens got together and invited me to attend. The thrust was to get the 5 selectmen and recall on the town meeting agenda by petition. In 1999 and 2000 we voted on the 5 selectman question and it was rejected both times. In 2003, in what I believe was a knee jerk reaction to current events, the picture changed drastically. I suggested we might want to go a little slower and more purposefully by having a charter commission take a look at everything. I'm pleased that the folks listened and investigated for themselves what a charter would mean and decided to go forward. Strangely the recall and 5 selectmen questions were brought up again by the selectmen when the charter petition was begun and this time selectmen Knight and Theberge, with little discussion, voted to place it before the voters. Without being forced in some way this board of selectmen is unresponsive to the citizens and worse treat us as though we work for them rather than the other way around. I have lived in Harpswell my entire life. My family goes back many generations. I have served on the school board, the board of selectmen and many committees. I don't wish to see big changes in Harpswell's government but I think, given all that has happened, it's time to take a look at ourselves. In 2008 Harpswell will be 250 years old with the same government growing piecemeal and hodgepodge by ordinances and selectmen imposed policies. We can do better.
Last edited on 05/20/2012