LEWISTON – Councilors on Thursday maintained their silence about a closed-door discussion Tuesday night, saying the topic deserves to be discussed publicly.

But it was done in an executive session, “and I just can’t talk about that yet,” Councilor Robert Reed said. He referred all questions to Martin Eisenstein, the lawyer who met with councilors during Tuesday night’s three-hour closed-door executive session.

Eisenstein declined to comment Thursday, saying attorney-client privilege prohibited him from discussing the matter.

City Administrator Jim Bennett, who did not attend Tuesday’s closed-door meeting, said he had not been told what occurred.

“I haven’t heard anything, but I haven’t asked anything, either,” Bennett said.

Councilors went into the meeting saying they wanted to settle questions about their role concerning city staff: whether they are allowed to attend staff meetings uninvited, whether they can command staff without going through the city administrator and what can they say publicly.

Councilors declined comment when they came out of the execution session. They’ve maintained that silence ever since.

Councilor Tom Peters said Wednesday that he couldn’t reveal anything about Tuesday night’s discussion since it occurred in executive session.

“I’m hoping that everybody sticks to the law, which is we’re not supposed to say what goes on there,” Peters said. “I’m not going to be the one to violate, or be the first guy to screw it up.”

Peters said no part of the discussion was surprising and it all deserved to be heard publicly.

“I think that one of the hoped outcomes is that we’ll come up with a list of things to educate future councilors, city administrators and the public,” Reed said. He hoped there would be some sort of public hearing on the matter. The question of whether a councilor can attend staff meetings, specifically, needs to be answered.

“That’s tough, because I feel we need to be able to talk about it publicly,” Reed said. “So many fingers are being pointed one way or another, it would be good to say something. But we agreed that what was said in executive session needs to stay there, until the city attorney speaks.”

The question came up last week, when Councilor Denis Theriault attended Wednesday’s department head meeting hosted by Bennett. After the meeting, Bennett approached Theriault and told him it wasn’t appropriate for him to attend the meeting uninvited. Theriault disagreed, and councilors scheduled their executive session to discuss the matter.

Theriault has said publicly that he thinks he has enough votes on the council to buy out the remaining two years of Bennett’s $110,000 contract.

Councilors Larry Poulin, Peters, Reed and Theriault all declined to comment on the meeting’s specifics. Calls to councilors Nelson Peters, Tina Bailey and Betty Dube were not returned.


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