MECHANIC FALLS — The Town Council will meet in executive session next week with the Planning Board, town attorney Jack Conway and Code Enforcement Officer Fred Collins before taking action on setting up rules for investigating complaints about Collins.

The meeting is set for 7 p.m. Monday in the Council Chamber of the Municipal Building.

The council and planning board met together Monday night and followed Conway’s advice not to vote on an ordinance governing an investigation without holding an executive session first.

“There is an employment issue, and this is not probably the correct forum,” Conway said.

According to the town charter: “The council may make investigations into the affairs of the town and the conduct of any town department, office or agency. For this purpose the council shall enact an ordinance providing for the compulsory attendance of witnesses, the administering of oaths, the taking of testimony and the compulsory production of evidence.”

Collins said, “Every complaint should be addressed one by one, letter by letter, so the facts come out and not a bunch of guff.”

He said he would prefer to meet in executive session to answer the complaints, and if an investigation is warranted he would encourage an independent third party who knows and understands code enforcement law.

“Fred is an employee of the town,” resident Milton Walker said. “This is town’s business. This is not a people’s business.

“Those rights,” Walker emphasized, “have to be followed. Bringing it out in public session is not the way to follow rules.”

Laurie Turton asked why Town Manager Zakk Maher was not present Monday, since he supervises Collins and would be the logical person to investigate the complaints.

Jimmy Vadenboncoeur said he has copies of the emails Maher sent to the council saying he was excusing himself on the advice of the town attorney and his personal lawyer due to the legal situation involving himself and Collins.

Vadenboncoeur said the legal situation involved a potential conflict of interest because Collins was investigating Maher while Maher was on administrative leave.

Vadenboncoeur said Maher stated Collins was still reporting to the council after Maher returned as town manager.

Council Vice Chairman Wayne Hackett responded, “That is a “baldfaced lie.”


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