MEXICO – Verbal fireworks that erupted at Wednesday night’s selectmen’s meeting allegedly ended in a threat made to Town Manager John Madigan in his office, he and selectmen said after the meeting.
Chairman Barbara Laramee reported the incident to Patrolman Mike Richard, who said Thursday night that police Chief Jim Theriault would handle the case.
Rumford resident Seth Carey is alleged to have made the threat.
Theriault said Madigan told him that Carey had reportedly threatened him, saying, “You better watch out, or we’re coming after you and your job.”
“It was kind of a threat against his job, but it wasn’t a threat to harm him,” Theriault said.
When he gave Madigan options, Theriault said Madigan “was just going to let it go. But, it’s on the record. Nothing’s going to be done about it for now.”
Carey attended the meeting, as he has in the past, to support Mexico Taxpayers Association’s efforts to change town meeting voting to the secret ballot method. Despite his not being a Mexico resident, Laramee and Vice Chairman George Byam had allowed Carey to speak.
That changed Thursday night.
Madigan passed out his draft for a town meeting warrant article that asks residents if they want to vote on all warrant articles by secret ballot at the June 2007 annual town meeting.
Laramee then sought discussion from selectmen, but Carey interrupted, only to have Laramee tell him she was not going to allow him to talk.
“When did you decide that?” Carey asked.
“After the last incident when you were very rude, and I decided that you would not speak again,” Laramee responded.
Carey, 31, remained quiet while taxpayer group members Monique Aniel and Gary Coffin questioned the article’s wording.
They wanted to know why the one-sentence article had no preceding explanation, like they’d been expecting. Laramee said the explanation would be done at a public hearing.
Talk shifted to the group’s petition. When it was presented to selectmen several months ago, it was deemed to be illegal.
The fact that petitioner Marjorie Richard got 400 signatures was irrelevant, Madigan and selectmen said last fall, because a Maine Municipal Association lawyer had deemed the petition an opinion. It wasn’t written in the form of a warrant article, they said.
After four months of argument, committee meetings and research by both the taxpayers group and selectmen, Laramee said Thursday that the board decided to move on, and had Madigan draft an article.
Carey then interrupted Laramee.
“Our petition’s more legal than yours, trust me. This doesn’t mean anything,” he said of the warrant article.
Selectmen began yelling, “Point of order! Point of order!”
Laramee tried to tell Carey she was going to make him leave.
Carey continued speaking.
“I will talk. Be careful what you wish for, too, because we’ll do it our way. In the power to the people, you have no power over this situation,” he argued.
Laramee then told him to please leave the room.
Selectman Reggie Arsenault told Madigan to call the police, and Madigan walked out of the meeting to his office to do that when told the same thing by Laramee.
“You don’t have any right to speak. I mean, it’s ridiculous. You’re arguing about the …,” Laramee said until again being interrupted by Carey.
“There’s really no argument necessary, because all we have to do is get 100 signatures, and, we’ll do it our way. OK. That’s fine. Thanks a lot. I gotta go to choir practice, so I was leaving anyway,” he said.
“Say a prayer for me,” Laramee said.
“You’re beyond help, trust me,” Carey retorted.
“There’s no need of that, Seth,” Arsenault said.
Carey then left the room, but not the town office.
Theriault, the police chief, said Thursday that the town manager called him Wednesday night, telling him that while Madigan was dialing the police, he turned around to see Carey standing in front of him in his office.
Contacted early Thursday night, Carey declined to talk on the record about the matter. He also reacted with surprise when told that Laramee had reported him to police.
Explaining his outburst with Laramee, Carey said that they had allowed him to speak at past meetings.
“It’s in bad taste not to be friendly to citizens of neighboring towns that want to promote secret ballot,” he said.
Additionally, Carey said that he and the group were “tired of being pushed around and being told half-truths.”
He said he had drafted a warrant article on the secret ballot issue, then accused selectmen of trying to upstage him and the group by drafting an article themselves.
Selectmen tabled further discussion about the article and a vote on their recommendation to their next meeting in two weeks.