Is there a liar sitting on the Auburn City Council?

Last month, every single member of the council denied having leaked the names of the leading candidates in the (exceedingly long) search for a new city manager. But a leak there was.

The leak – in violation of state law that shields job applications and resumes – prompted Mayor John Jenkins to publicly apologize on behalf of the city, and caused Councilor Bob Mennealy to suggest that the culprit be “hung” for divulging the information.

Not wanting to believe any councilor could have acted illegally, it was immediately suggested by councilors and others that perhaps the information could have been made available through other means, that perhaps some member of the public took a quick and quite thorough peek at some resumes set on a table in council chambers.

It’s a stretch to believe that could have been the case, but with duly elected officials each ardently proclaiming they did not divulge information they shouldn’t, and not wanting to believe there is a liar sitting on Auburn’s council, there was no real choice but to accept the explanation that the leak came innocently from outside the council.

With a second leak after an executive session of the City Council Monday, that choice has vanished. There is no conclusion other than to believe a sitting city councilor was more interested in naming the city’s top job candidate in the public realm than observing state law to hold that information confidential, not just under Title 30-A, but under the rules of executive sessions in Maine’s Freedom of Access Act.

One leak can be explained with alternate conspiratorial theories. Two leaks can not.

After the initial leak, Lincoln Town Manager Glenn Aho withdrew his name from consideration out of respect for the people of Lincoln and his current councilors. He didn’t want anyone to think he was using the potential job in Auburn as leverage for bargaining a continued contract in Lincoln.

He seems, based on that action, to be a stand-up guy.

So stand-up, and so right for Auburn, that Jenkins drove to Lincoln to ask Aho to reconsider. It was Jenkins’ personal touch, among other things, that prompted Aho to accept Auburn’s unofficial offer. That offer was discussed by the council in a short executive session on Monday and, by Tuesday morning, the information was on the street.

So, despite the public disgrace of the first leak, it appears without a doubt that an elected Auburn official made a personal and quite purposeful decision to compound that disgrace through a second leak.

Aho, who says his foremost priority in his managerial role is to establish relationships, is eager for the challenge the bigger and more populated Auburn presents. The challenge will not only be in managing Auburn, though, but in continuing to shore up the city’s relationship with Lewiston, so there’s much work to be done.

In talking about his anticipation of the Auburn post, which is expected to be finalized Monday, Aho described himself as a servant of the public trust, fully understanding he must be responsive to the needs of the community.

We welcome Aho’s arrival to City Hall, and no one could blame the guy if he looks at his new council a little askance, knowing that among the group sits a liar. There sits a person who doesn’t honor the law or the sanctity of executive sessions. And, by extension, plainly doesn’t honor constituents.

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