Firefighters sue city over records

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AUBURN — Local firefighters seeking city documents filed a complaint in court last week.

The civil suit, filed in Androscoggin County Superior Court by Auburn Firefighters Association Local 797 against the city, the city manager and city councilors, claims city officials violated state laws that allow access to public records. The union also claimed city officials violated members’ civil rights.

In a March 20 letter, Craig Bouchard, president of the local firefighters’ union, requested electronic and printed public documents showing communications among members of the Auburn City Council, City Manager Glenn Aho and Deputy (fire) Chief Geoffrey Low dating back to Jan. 1, 2010, having to do with complaints or concerns about the Fire Department and its vehicles on the road, fuel cost-saving measures and life-safety inspections performed by the department.

Bouchard said Friday that firefighters had been told by City Hall officials that they had received complaints about firefighters’ fuel consumption during nonfirefighting duties.

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The issue sparked debate at a recent City Council meeting.

Bouchard said Friday he had received documents from City Councilors Eric Samson, Belinda Gerry and Bob Hayes. Aho responded, saying he was having trouble complying with the request because of problems with his office computer, Bouchard said. One of the councilors said he doesn’t communicate on city business matters using email, Bouchard said. The city’s mayor said he had no documents meeting the description of the request.

The complaint seeks judgment compelling the defendants to comply with the request.

A phone call to Aho was not returned Friday afternoon.

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