Paris selectmen debate board conduct, bylaws

PARIS — The Board of Selectmen discussed board members' behavior and bylaws Monday, and Chairman Ted Kurtz was asked to respond to criticism that his demeanor distracts the board from important business. Kurtz accused the board of breaking the law by ignoring a violation of the town's bylaws.

Tony Reaves/Sun Journal

Paris Selectman Robert Kirchherr, left, explains his concerns about Board of Selectmen members' conduct Monday while Chairman Ted Kurtz listens.

The discussion began with a motion for an executive session to discuss a member of the board. Selectman Robert Kirchherr moved for executive session because there was a possibility of harming a board member's reputation.

The board voted 4-1 to go into executive session, with Kurtz voting against it. Once executive session began, Kurtz submitted a written request to conduct the discussion in public.

Kirchherr, who raised the issue, said he is concerned the board is presenting itself to the public in a negative light. He said he wasn't just talking about Kurtz.

“We all need to do a better job communicating with the people we serve,” Kirchherr said. He said the board often argues with residents at meetings and among one another.

“It's making me very uncomfortable,” Kirchherr said.

Selectmen Jean Smart and Kenneth West criticized Kurtz for an email he sent to other board members about Selectman Ryan Lorrain, who abstained from a vote on suspending the town's bylaws on appointing board members at the Nov. 14 meeting.

Smart called the email “abusive.” “That is not helpful to the process,” she said.

West said he was “kind of shocked” by the email.

Lorrain, who said he never received the email in question, said he didn't have a copy of the bylaws with him at the Nov. 14 meeting and didn't understand the issue. Kurtz insisted he had to vote.

At Monday's meeting, he said he tried to send the email to Lorrain but that Lorrain had apparently changed his email address. Lorrain countered that he still received emails from other board members.

“We spend so much time on this every week, just nitpicking everything,” Lorrain said. He said he held office hours two months ago, and out of the five people who showed up, “probably four of them” complained about the Board of Selectmen itself.

“It's not a very good feeling to have,” Lorrain said.

Selectman Jean Smart suggested electing a new board chairman, but Kirchherr said the bylaws don't allow impromptu elections. The chairman is elected once a year after the town meeting, he said.

Kirchherr asked the board to be more civil in the future. Smart asked him how the board should proceed if the combative tone persists at future meetings. “Then we'll have to do something more aggressive,” Kirchherr said.

Kurtz countered criticism by taking the board to task for allowing Lorrain to abstain from a vote. He said Lorrain had “made a rookie mistake” but chastised other board members for allowing it.

He accused other board members of “violating the laws of the state of Maine” by not following the town's bylaws. “I was very, very disappointed,” Kurtz said.

Lorrain said he didn't understand the vote. Kirchherr noted that in the bylaws, there is a provision allowing the chairman to allow a board member to abstain if there is good cause.

Lorrain said he wanted to abstain because he didn't want to vote on an issue he didn't fully understand.

“In my judgment, based on my life experience, that was not good cause,” Kurtz said.

treaves@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Kim Waite's picture

Ted Kurtz is a right wing putz.,

The man obviously lives only by his rules and when he looks at himself in the mirror each day, he falls in love all over again.

I was there at the meeting when Lorrain abstained from voting. He had every right to not vote if he chose so. When Kurtz said to him he had to vote, myself and others came to Lorrain's defense by saying he doesn't have to. Anyway, did Kurtz ask who was opposed? Nope! Had he, then Lorrain would have raised his hand (or maybe not...his choice). See, the thing is: KURTZ DOESN'T LIKE ANYONE VOTING AGAINST HIM. He believes that if he thinks it's a good idea, then everyone does too and should show it by giving the man whatever he wants. The man appears to live in LaLa Land and I think he's becoming a little unhinged as the meetings go by because the board is not agreeing with him on every issue. Just look at his posture above in the picture! Does that look like a man who should be in charge of anything? I think he's scary acting to be honest. I don't blame the other selectmen for wanting a new chairman, because they see what happens when the wrong person has an ounce of power: that person becomes a dictator very quickly!

In conclusion: KURTZ HAS TO STEP DOWN AS CHAIR. He's not mature enough to be the chair as shown to those in attendance at the Paris Selectboard meetings for months now. He doesn't own Ryan Lorrain and someone needs to remind him that Ryan is a separate person from him!

 's picture

Posture

Just looking at the picture itself says a lot...Mr. Kurtz sitting back, legs crossed, head tilted back with arms folded across his chest reveals someone who is not willing or able to listen. It's not just the words that are said (or the tone in which they are voiced) but body language can quickly change the atmosphere as well.

Seems to me that all need to take a breath and evaluate what is 'really' going on here.

 's picture

First of all, the bylaws

First of all, the bylaws referred to are the bylaws of the Selectmen. If one goes to the Town office and requests a copy, they will note the final bylaw states something to the effect,"these bylaws may be set aside at any time...which means the bylaws can be used (or not) as the Selectboard sees fit - basically toothless...

I would say if the Selectboard can vote in a Chairman, then they also have the power to take another vote on a new Chair! In light of the fact that our sitting King, oops Chair, has become absolutely enthralled with the sound of his own voice and the wisdom he wishes to bestow upon the ill educated masses, I for one would be in support of a regime change. Mr. Kurtz has been absolutely tone deaf to any suggestion not of his own world view. His behavior since being named Chair is abhorrent to myself and many others who have had the temerity to question his methods or perspective.

I'm sure Mr.Kurtz was pissed at Ryan Lorrain and saw his failure to vote as some kind of betrayal. What I find more troubling is Mr. Kurtz allegedly critisizing Mr.Lorrain through e-mail.

If Mr. Kurtz truly possesses the wisdom he professes, he should understand that Paris cannot continue with "business as usual" and all Selectboard action MUST be performed by the light of day !

So Selectboard, I challenge you. Revote the Chair,complete all business in PUBLIC and have the spine to shut down over-the-
top bloviators within your midst !

Mike Miles's picture

Abstaining.

My take is that if you don't know what you are voting on, the act of abstaining has integrity. It is curious that Mr. Kurtz is both so insistent on Mr Lorrain casting an ill-informed vote, and so angry that he abstained.

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