Paris board again votes down Jamison appointment

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PARIS — The Board of Selectmen, in a split vote Monday, again rejected an application to the town Budget Committee by controversial former committee member Janet Jamison. 

Selectmen voted 3-2 against appointing Jamison, who lost her seat on the committee last October after selectmen said her behavior as a committee member was disruptive and inappropriate.

According to Town Manager Amy Bernard, Jamison’s application for the committee was left taped to the back door of the Town Office on Feb. 7.

Selectmen Gerald Kilgore and Ryan Lorrain voted for her appointment, while Chairman Bob Kirchherr and Selectmen Sam Elliot and Robert Wessels voted against it.

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In an interview Wednesday, Jamison said she was disappointed the board decided not to appoint her to the committee, but she intended to attend its meetings and follow its work closely. 

Although a number of selectmen maintain it is Jamison’s reportedly inappropriate behavior that keeps them from appointing her to a seat, Jamison said she was being punished for her often pointed questions and criticism of Bernard and the Board of Selectmen.

“They have concocted this stuff, even though other people have spoken and said ‘its not the case,’ (the selectmen) will still go down this road,” she said.

“It’s totally personal. They can’t handle the criticism, even though they sit in the big seats,” she said.

When selectmen refused to appoint Jamison to the committee in October, they said her confrontational demeanor at committee meetings made other committee members uncomfortable and prevented the body from working smoothly.

At a selectmen meeting less than a month after her ouster, members of the Budget Committee, including the chairman, Vic Hodgkins, forcefully denied the selectmen’s claims and citizens have called for her reinstatement at nearly every selectmen meeting since November.

The calls have become particularly forceful since the Budget Committee still has an opening for at least one full member and three alternates. The committee was due to begin its work Wednesday.

In an interview Wednesday, Chairman Kirchherr said his reasons for voting against Jamison’s appointment Monday were the same as when he voted against her appointment in October.

Kirchherr suggested, however, that he could be open to Jamison’s appointment to another town body, including the troubled Norway-Paris Community TV board.

Lorrain, who voted not to appoint Jamison in October, said Wednesday that he changed his mind because he believed she could be a productive member of the committee, despite her sometimes “abrasive” personality.

Some selectmen may have taken Jamison’s barbed remarks at their meetings to heart as personal attacks, Lorrain suggested.

“You can’t take anything personally,” he said.

pmcguire@sunjournal.com

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