Jamison back on Paris Budget Committee

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PARIS — In a split vote, but with little fanfare, selectmen Monday again appointed Janet Jamison to the Budget Committee after rescinding their appointment of committee member Richard Cassano.

Selectmen also voted to appoint Jamison to the Norway Paris Community TV board of directors, which has come under fire in recent months for apparent mismanagement and poor behavior by directors.

The board’s actions on Cassano and Jamison were added to the agenda by board Chairman Bob Kirchherr at the beginning of Monday’s meeting and were not included in the meeting agenda that was distributed by the Town Office on Friday.

Speaking after Monday’s vote, Kirchherr said it was important that the board vote on the items immediately so that Jamison would be able to contribute when the Budget Committee holds its first working meeting Wednesday.

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Selectman Sam Elliot and Town Manager Amy Bernard were absent from Monday’s meeting.

About five months ago, selectmen denied Jamison’s application to another three-year term on the Budget Committee, saying her confrontational behavior disrupted the committee’s operation. 

At many selectmen meetings since the vote, at least one resident has asked selectmen to reconsider their decision. Earlier this month, the board again denied Jamison’s application to the committee by a 3-2 vote. 

On Monday, Kirchherr and Selectmen Gerald Kilgore, Ryan Lorrain and Robert Wessels voted to rescind Cassano’s appointment to the Budget Committee. According to Kirchherr and Wessels, Cassano violated the committee’s bylaws by failing to attend almost all of the committee’s meetings last year.

Then in separate votes, Kirchherr, Kilgore and Lorrain voted to reconsider Jamison’s application to the committee and then to appoint her.

Selectman Robert Wessels voted against both measures.

All four voted to appoint Jamison to the NPC-TV board.

When asked after the meeting what had made him change his mind about the appointment, Kirchherr, who voted against Jamison’s appointment two weeks ago, said he took her willingness to apply for the NPC-TV board as a “demonstration of good faith.”

If the board appointed her to one town committee, it would have a hard time explaining why it would not appoint her to another, he said.

Wessels, in an interview outside the meeting, said he still didn’t think Jamison’s presence on the committee was productive, and it was “not in the town’s best interest” to keep her on the committee. 

Throughout the controversy, Jamison has maintained that selectmen took her frequent questioning and criticism of their actions personally and targeted her position on the Budget Committee because of it. 

After the meeting, Jamison said she was glad to be back on, but was unsure what changed selectmen’s minds. 

“I’m not sure why I smell less now than I did two weeks ago,” she quipped.

pmcguire@sunjournal.com

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