AUBURN — A disagreement over City Council decorum and attire has two councilors angry at the incoming mayor.
Mayor-elect Dick Gleason said Tuesday he stands by statements he made last month calling for neater dress at City Council meetings.
"I'm not asking for a jacket and tie," Gleason said. "All I'm saying is that I've seen instances where councilors came to meetings in jeans and shorts. I think it's up to us as city leaders to set an example, especially for children who watch us."
Councilors on Monday later voted to downsize the Dec. 7 inauguration, a move one councilor said was being done to punish the mayor-elect.
Councilors Dan Herrick and Mike Farrell said they were offended by some pre-election comments Gleason made to the Danville Grange last month. Speaking at an Oct. 8 candidate forum, Gleason said he wanted to see more decorum at City Council meetings, beginning with how councilors dress.
"I think there have been times when they've come directly from the barn to the City Council meeting, and I don't think that's how it should be," Gleason told Grange members. "I think they should take a shower and at least put on a shirt."
Herrick, a contractor by trade, took offense at that.
"I have never come here without taking a shower," Herrick said Monday night."Believe it or not, I have hot water, too. I even have floors in my home."
Clothes don't make the man, Herrick said.
"I had a mind tonight to come here in bib overalls and straw hat, and just walk out of the barn without taking a shower," Herrick said. "This guy here is not wearing a suit, coat and a tie to do a good job. And if anybody out there feels they want me to wear a suit, coat and tie, in the next election in two more years, please come forward in a suit, coat and a tie and run against me."
"I'm asking what they think about that," Gleason said. He's not trying to get a legal dress code passed, but he wants councilors to be more aware of how they dress.
"I don't think councilors should be above the rules of behavior we expect of our employees," Gleason said. "They should represent the best the city has to offer in all ways. So, I stand by what I said. I don't think I'm barking up the wrong tree."
Farrell said he objected to being presented with the city's employee dress code.
"I don't feel that I am an employee of the City of Auburn," Farrell
said. "If I come into the meeting with my clothes all torn up and my
shoes on the wrong feet, am I going to get written up?"
Gleason and the City Council are scheduled to be sworn in Dec. 7, and the city usually turns the event into a celebration. But councilors said nobody being sworn in next month is new to the job. A big inauguration is wasted, they said.
"I'd rather see that money go to something worthwhile," Farrell said. "We had people that couldn't heat their homes last winter and now we're going to have a big party? I think it makes more sense to take that money and put it into the heating assistance fund."
City Manager Glenn Aho said Central Maine Community College was donating the space for the inauguration, but the city had planned to spend up to $2,000 for catered refreshments.
Councilor David Young urged councilors to simply cut the catering.
"Otherwise, we're just doing this to upset the mayor-elect," Young said. "Maybe that's the intention of all this, to upset him because he's upset all of us."
Councilors voted 4-2 to cut the catering and move the inauguration to Auburn Hall. Gleason said that was a shame.
"If we're that concerned about costs, just cut the refreshments," he said. "We don't need them, but we do need to celebrate Auburn. And that's what this is: an opportunity for the residents to celebrate Auburn."