Two city councilors in Lewiston have gone public with their reasons for firing former City Administrator Jim Bennett.

Robert Reed and Denis Theriault gave a lengthy interview to a local publication that covers politics; Reed, as well, authored a letter to his constituents.

There’s no need to rehash it here. We appreciate their forthrightness; firing Bennett required explanation beyond what was provided. But one assertion made by Reed and Theriault demands further clarification. They claim Bennett would withhold information from the council.

In their interview, the councilors were said to say, “Theriault and Reed said that their requests for information from Bennett were often ignored. ‘If the city council asked to explore something, Jim would decide yes or no,'” Theriault said.”

This is more than a policy dispute or personality conflict. It’s an accusation of misconduct. As administrator, Bennett was duty-bound to fulfill councilors’ requests. Theriault and Reed have now alleged, in certain terms, he would not.

As the accusers, the councilors should produce specific examples of when this misconduct allegedly occurred. They have brought this issue into the open and should follow it through with facts, instead of letting it linger in vagueness.

We disagreed with the council’s firing of Bennett, because we saw it as a shortsighted decision based on little else but disagreements about policy, power and tension between the councilors. The litany of other reasons cited by Reed and Theriault for their decision confirmed this appearance. There was bad blood between them, since just about day one of their tenure on the council. (And perhaps even before.) 

Yet our opinion — and the opinion of many in this community who disagreed with the firing — has been shaped by this appearance of council infighting and the lack of a compelling reason to let Bennett go. If there is evidence of professional misconduct by the former administrator, however, this opinion could change. If his actions merited his termination, then so be it. 

Reed and Theriault, in their public comments, have hinted at this being the case, but nothing more. They owe the citizens of Lewiston more concrete information, as well as Bennett, since this allegation now calls his reputation as Lewiston administrator into question. 

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