Working as equal partners

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Since voters at New Gloucester’s town meeting May 3 rebuked the selectmen for presenting a budget without funding for a full-time assessor, and sent them back to revise that article, the board has wasted time by blaming the voters and purposefully threatening to balance the budget on the backs of a handful of town employees who are innocent bystanders to the quarrel about control between long-time Selectman Steve Libby (who wants to dictate town affairs) and members of the public who have had enough.

But members of the board aren’t getting away with it, and things are beginning to shake out. A couple of selectmen are actually reaching out and trying to find a responsible way to work with a thinking public, while Libby and sidekick Pamela Slye still twist the facts, and the fifth says nary a word.

When Josh McHenry and Jean Couturier join the board in July, I hope the remaining incumbent selectmen will look on the change as a second chance to work as equal partners on a five-member team, in open consultation with town employees, committees, departments and the public. There will be nothing automatic about it, and in some ways they may even find it harder. But I bet they will find it exciting and rewarding.

And I bet — actually, I know — more than a couple of the selectmen who came and went while Libby dominated the board will tell them, “You are lucky! That’s what I wanted to do!”

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Penny Hilton, New Gloucester

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