MECHANIC FALLS — Interim Town Manager Fred Collins said the town’s legal counsel from the law firm of Linnell, Choate & Webber will attend the special Town Council meeting Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the Elm Street School gym.

Outside of accepting the minutes of past meetings, only two items are on the meeting agenda. One is appointment of residents to town committees and the other is an executive session dealing with poverty abatement.

Missing from the agenda are three items related to the firing of Zakk Maher of Poland as town manager last month that were tabled at the June 25 special morning council session: issuing a resolution letter from the town outlining the reasons behind Maher’s firing, accepting the resignation of Town Clerk Miranda Hinkley of Otisfield, and posting for replacements for those positions.

However, a crowd is expected at the Elm Street School meeting to address those items and Maher’s dismissal. At the end of the June 25 meeting, many residents left dissatisfied, not knowing why Maher was voted out of his position on June 17, which prompted Hinkley to resign three days later.

Talk has since surfaced about recalling the Town Council and an informal petition was circulated calling for Maher to be restored to the manager’s position.

At the June 25 meeting, councilors said they could not discuss things openly because of advice from Linnell Choate & Webber, specifically the resolution letter outlining the reasons for the sudden dismissal of Maher, which is required by law.


The Sun Journal filed a request for a copy of the resolution letter under Maine’s Freedom of Access Act, which defines final disciplinary records as public documents. In response, John Conway of Linnell, Choate & Webber denied the request in a letter.

Conway wrote, “There has been no final disciplinary action taken against Mr. Maher.”

Although Collins said Maher was fired, he retracted his statement the following week after Conway’s response to the Sun Journal. Collins, asked what Maher’s status was, quipped, “Suspended? Temporarily relieved?”

Maher has not responded to a request for comments.

The Sun Journal sent Conway’s letter to Adam Lee, Maher’s attorney. Lee stated in his written response that he advised the Town Council that their vote to terminate Maher on June 17 was unlawful according to state statutes. Lee wrote, “When a council is seeking to terminate a manager for cause it must file a written preliminary resolution with the town clerk stating the specific reasons for the proposed removal.”

The Town Council may have also failed to follow procedures outlined in the town’s charter. According to the charter, in the course of removal of a town manager, “At least thirty (30) days before such removal shall become effective, the council shall, by a majority vote of its members, adopt a preliminary resolution stating the reasons for the manager’s removal. The manager may reply in writing and may request a public hearing. … After such public hearing if one is requested, and after full consideration, the council by majority vote of its members may adopt a final resolution.”


Collins, council Chairwoman Cathy Fifield and Vice Chairman Wayne Hackett were asked by the Sun Journal earlier this week if those procedures had been followed.

Collins said, “This is a legal question that only the town attorney can answer.”

Collins was asked to forward the question to the town attorneys. To date no response has come from the attorneys.

Fifield and Hackett have not responded.

After the June 25 council meeting ended, Collins said, it’s been “mostly gossip. … People don’t know the facts. Until they know the facts they shouldn’t be commenting.”

The end of a letter posting Monday’s agenda reads, “The public is welcome to attend this meeting. Comments will be heard at the discretion of the council chair.”

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