PARIS — The town’s policy and procedures committee met Wednesday and proposed a set of revisions for the recall ordinance.
Jack Richardson, chairman of the committee, said the town manager requested that the committee look into the ordinance to correct grammar, add restrictions and clarify some matters that came up when recall petitions were submitted for four selectmen.
The town passed the recall ordinance by a vote of 1,555 to 537 in November. Soon after, petitions were submitted for the recall of Chairman David Ivey, Vice Chairman Troy Ripley and board members Raymond Glover and Lloyd “Skip” Herrick. Ivey and Ripley were removed at recall elections last month, and Glover and Herrick were retained.
The process set up in the ordinance was subject to a number of challenges before the elections. The Board of Selectmen did not set up an election within 14 days of receiving the petitions for Ivey and Ripley, as stipulated by the ordinance. This led some residents to call for a notary public to schedule the election before the board agreed to set up two elections in February.
Three days before his recall election, Ivey asked to have a public hearing on the matter. He said the ordinance was poorly written because it allows for a hearing to be held “at any time” between the ordering of a recall election and the date of the election, though it also says that the hearing should take place at least seven days before the election with another seven days given to post notice.
The ordinance survived an effort by resident and now committee member Greg Harris to replace it with a different document. This recall ordinance would have placed greater restrictions on the procedure, such as establishing only malfeasance or misfeasance as grounds for removal. The request was defeated at a special town meeting.
The amendments are:
• Requiring that 10 percent of the registered voters in Paris at the time of a petition’s certification, rather than a number equaling 10 percent of the last gubernatorial election, sign a petition to initiate a recall election. This raises the necessary number of signatures from 211 to about 360.
• Having the Board of Selectmen, within seven days of receipt of the petition, order a recall election to be held on the first Tuesday after the 45th day thereafter or at a regular municipal election if one is scheduled within 60 days. The current ordinance allows the board to schedule an election within 14 days of receiving a petition, with the election to be held 30 to 60 days after or at a regular election if one is scheduled within 90 days.
• Changing the public hearing process to say an official subject to recall may request a hearing “between the time of ordering the recall election and the 21st day before said election” to allow for public notification. The ordinance currently allows such hearings to take place “at any time between the time of ordering the recall election and the date of said election.”
• Having the town clerk notify the official subject to recall of the petition within two business days. Currently, the selectmen must notify an official.
• Adding a reference to a state statute allowing shortened filing dates so the town can hold a speedy election to fill vacancies.
• Clarifying that a recalled official will be removed “immediately.”
Harris, who was attending his first meeting as a member of the committee, said he thought the meeting was productive and brought the document into greater compliance with state law. However, he also felt the change in the signature count was a political move.
“Now that they’ve gotten their pound of flesh, now that they know they’ve got the board stacked in their favor, they want to protect it,” he said.
Richardson declined comment on the accusation.
The amendments will be presented to a Maine Municipal Association lawyer for review. They will then be presented to the selectmen for review before going to voters.