Mayor, councilors spar over city administrator committee

LEWISTON — An evening of City Council harmony ended with Council President Tom Peters vowing to find a legal way for councilors to circumvent Mayor Larry Gilbert on Thursday.

Councilors were discussing the process for hiring a new city administrator and considering how people should be named to a citizen search committee. They agreed to a 13-member format, including one person selected by each councilor and the mayor.

But Gilbert said he interprets the City Charter differently.
Councilors are free to decide the format for the committee, but he's the
only one allowed to put people on it.

Gilbert said he might name councilors' choices to the committee. But he might not.

"Council, should we do this, figure out a way to get around the mayor?" Peters said. "Is that what we have to do?"

"You don't mean get around the mayor," Gilbert said. "You want to get around the charter." 

"No, Larry, I mean around you," Peters said. "You're being obstructionist."

"No, I'm not," Gilbert said. 

"Yes, you are," Peters said.

Councilors had called the special meeting
to settle their differences and to decide how to find a replacement for
fired City Administrator Jim Bennett. As of Thursday, the city had received 26
resumes from potential replacements — 12 from Maine and 14 from
out of state. Candidates run the gamut from high school graduates to
those with law degrees.

Councilors had agreed to create a rating system to select the best
resumes and had decided to ask the candidates if they would agree to let
the entire process be open to the public.

"I don't see the harm in at least asking," Councilor Robert Reed
said. "I suspect that most will say no and will want to back out of the
process if make their names public now. But, in the interest of
transparency, we should at least ask them."

Councilors also discussed who should be named to a citizens search committee. That committee would be asked to meet at least seven times over the next month, reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates. The group would ultimately recommend the best candidates to the council, which would decide who to hire.

Councilors finally decided to create a committee of 13. The Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council, the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council and the Lewiston School superintendent would all name one person to the committee. Each councilor and Mayor Gilbert would get to name one person.

Gilbert said he had a legal opinion from city attorney Martin
Eisenstein that appointing the committee was the mayor's right.

When a citizen asked Gilbert if he would agree to name the councilors' preferences to the committee, Gilbert said he would not.

"I will take their opinions into consideration, but the decision is mine, legally, and according to the charter," he said. "They might want someone on the committee I feel is completely wrong, and that's why the charter is set up the way it is."

Councilors Peters and Reed disagreed.

"I do not see how one person making this decision makes this a transparent process," Reed said. "I think, Mayor, you are a fool if you think you're making the decision on this list is a good idea at this time. I think it will backfire big-time and I don't think the citizens will stand for it." 

Councilor Peters said he would look for a way to legally have councilors' choices put on the board. Councilors are scheduled to meet again on this matter on Sept. 3 to finalize the committee members. They hope to meet with the final committee on Sept. 10.

staylor@sunjournal.com

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.

Advertisement

Comments

 's picture

you said that the Mayor got

you said that the Mayor got the lawyer involved when you fired Mr Bennett, but you didn't mention the illegality of that action.

Jeff Carleton's picture

Bennett has the best seat in

Bennett has the best seat in the house right now, home in front of his TV when the council meetings air....where he can watch the council & Gilbert fight like children, and doesn't have to deal with all the council (& Gilbert) brats...all while still earning a nice paycheck for the next 11 months...

Phyllis Rand's picture

Lewiston City Charter reads,

Lewiston City Charter reads, in part, "Sec. 2.03. Mayor. The mayor shall be the presiding officer of the council and shall be entitled to vote only to break a tie. The mayor shall be recognized as the head of the city government for all ceremonial purposes. He shall solely make appointments to committees and boards created under this Charter, to statutory boards and commissions as are required by the Statutes of the State of Maine to be made by the municipal officers and shall solely appoint citizens to ad hoc advisory committees." The Mayor is correct and Peters, et.al., are wasting their time trying to "find a way around the Charter." The Charter is The Charter--get over it, people. If the City Council doesn't like the fact that the Mayor is exercising his authority to appoint people to the Advisory Committee, then let's not have an Advisory Committee to appoint them to.

SCOTT THISTLE's picture
staff

Hey sorry folks, We had

Hey sorry folks,

We had the charter up there but it was causing a technical problem on our site so you couldn't comment. We will put a link to the charter in the story so you can find it. It's on the City Clerk's section of the City of Lewiston's Web site.

 

SCOTT THISTLE's picture
staff

Hey Folks, We added the

Hey Folks,

We added the charter as PDF you can peruse here. Hope that helps folks answer some of there questions.

Scott Thistle

sthistle@sunjournal.com

Regional Editor

Sun Journal

Sue Lussier's picture

Enoch you couldn't have

Enoch you couldn't have expressed my feelings any better. The show was quite entertaining they are always good for a laugh. It was nice to see the council not being Gilbert's puppets the only cowards were Poulin and Theriault. I hope that Peters can find a legal way to let them form their committee without Gilbert's input. It always amazes me that Gilbert always reverts to the city charter when it serves him personally, he seems to ignore it when it doesn't. As far as a minor on the committee let's pick people who are citizens of Lewiston and registered voters.
It really scares me to think that Gilbert will be representing the people of Lewiston in France. My father is from France and visits yearly. I would not want them to think that all people of Lewiston are idiots. Larry please do not use your canuck French there, cause they will laugh you out of the country!!!

RAYMOND FRECHETTE's picture

This council (mayor

This council (mayor included) does not seem to be acting in a professonal manner. I agree that to name a minor to this committee is not in the best interest of the City; there is a need for life experience here. That being said, the City charter is what should govern the naming of appointees. If the mayor is correct so be it; anyone not happy with this should amend the charter. Unfortunately we have grown ups acting in a very childish manner here. This is not anything new in local politics and is not limited to Lewiston. Hopefully some day this will stop and Lewiston can have a council to be proud of. It also looks like the council is trying to shield itself from criticism in the process of reviewing candidates and their qualifications. They should not do this; they are elected to make decisions for the City. They decided to terminate the previous manager and they have the responsibility to choose the new replacement. The new manager should also be willing to take the job serving at the pleasure of the council without a "golden parachute". A manager's job is tenuous at best and is known to be a very political position. Those that choose this career should be willing to live with it's conditions.

Nathan McCarron's picture

Just remember, it is all fun

Just remember, it is all fun and games until someone loses an eye (from all that finger pointing and wagging).

-- "I'm here for the beer and nuts. Only I've not found the beer here, but there are plenty of nuts!"

DANNY FITZSIMMONS's picture

the only use for a

the only use for a politician is for live target practice!the last bunch of council members were so corrupted and this one is just a bunch of babies fighting over candy, and the only the only one that has been on both is gilbert. You did a great thing in getting rid of Bennett now we need to git rid of Gilbert and this list of councilers too.

Advertisement

Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...