One city councilor proposes a rule change that would disqualify another.

AUBURN – City Councilor Kelly Matzen, a lawyer by profession, is calling for a change in the city charter that would ban felons from holding elective municipal office here.

Councilor Bob Mennealy, who admitted guilt to cocaine-related charges nearly 20 years ago, called Matzen’s move “retribution.” Mennealy said he thinks Matzen made the proposal to get even with him for questioning Matzen’s ethics.

A city ethics panel will review Mennealy’s concerns at 9 a.m. Friday to determine if Matzen has conflicting interests. Matzen voted earlier this month in favor of a $5 million bond to pay for a parking garage at Great Falls Plaza. Matzen’s law firm lists Pasquale F. Maiorino as an associate. Maiorino is also a partner of Tom Platz, who is developing the business plaza that will be served by the garage.

Matzen called for banning felons from elective office in an e-mail sent Monday to Mennealy. It was also sent to Mayor Norm Guay, City Manager Pat Finnigan and assistant City Manager Mark Adams. The note was in response to an e-mail from Mennealy to the officials asking if work shouldn’t begin soon to develop a charter commission in time for November’s ballot.

“In recent weeks I have found myself rarely agreeing with Bob,” Matzen wrote in his e-mail. “In this instance I do agree with him. I think it is time for a charter commission. I have worked with Mark Adams to list many items worthy of particular attention of the charter commission. To that list I wish to add what has been recently suggested to me, namely, that felons be prohibited from elected office in Auburn.”

Matzen hasn’t returned calls from the Sun Journal.

Adams, though, said he didn’t believe the proposal was serious, calling it “an off-hand comment.”

He said he couldn’t recall what other proposals Matzen had made to him for charter revision.

Guay, who is also a probation officer, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Mennealy said he thinks anyone should be allowed to seek public office – even lawyers with conflicts of interest. “Let the voters decide,” he said.

Mennealy said he wants a review of the city charter to determine if voters think bond issues such as the $5 million bond for the garage should first be approved by referendum vote.

He said he’ll also propose term limits for members of the City Council.

“We already limit terms for members of the Planning Board and the Appeals Board,” he said. “Why not for the council?”

Mennealy, Matzen and Verne Paradie, an attorney in Matzen’s law firm, ran for two at-large seats on the City Council in 2002. Mennealy and Matzen, an incumbent at the time, won. During the campaign, Matzen spoke of the effectiveness of past councils, while Mennealy criticized council decisions.

Last year, Menneally began questioning the city’s decision not to tax property on which the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments sits, forgoing thousands of dollars in annual income. Matzen represents AVCOG. He later recused himself from voting on the matter.

Friction between the two men is not unusual. In May of last year, Matzen programmed his computer to automatically block all e-mails from Mennealy, saying he did not want to receive the information Mennealy was sending him and other city councilors, and that it was best discussed at the council meetings.

Last fall, Matzen, two other councilors and Guay soundly criticized Mennealy for requesting that the state launch an investigation into the way City Manager Pat Finnigan handled her job and treated her staff.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.