LEWISTON — The process behind a Planning Board appointment has caused a rift in the City Council after a majority approved suspending the rules last week to appoint Michael Marcotte to the board.

The three councilors ultimately voting against the appointment were surprised by the nomination, calling into question whether the group of four councilors is coordinating outside of official meetings.

The Planning Board seat had remained open after the same councilors — Robert McCarthy, Rick Lachapelle, Laurier Pease and Lee Clement — had voted down Mayor Carl Sheline’s earlier nomination without having made public comments as to why.

Due to a recent charter change, the mayor’s appointments of full members to the Planning Board must be confirmed by the City Council. The charter also stipulates that if the mayor fails to make an appointment after 60 days, the appointment authority is passed to the City Council.

Last week, after a motion was made to suspend the rules and add an agenda item to appoint Marcotte, three councilors used terms like “blown away,” “disgusted” and “sneaky” to describe the process, which played out in the late evening hours following a long debate over a proposed moratorium on homeless shelters.

The same four councilors also voted to pursue the moratorium language.


The council eventually voted 4-3 to appoint Marcotte, a former councilor, but not before a heated discussion between councilors already tired from a long night.

“It just feels sneaky and yucky, and I’m disappointed,” Councilor Stephanie Gelinas said. “It seems like continued sidebar conversations are going on between some of our councilors, which is just shameful.”

Councilor Scott Harriman, who said the appointment was made “at the 11th hour of a very long meeting with no advance notice,” later submitted a column to the Sun Journal, calling the process “a wake-up call to all Lewiston citizens to pay close attention to what decisions are made and how our city is being governed.”

Reached this week, Clement said the council had already been contacted by members of the Planning Board asking “why the vacancy still existed,” and that if it didn’t take place that night, it would’ve been another three weeks before an appointment could be made.

He said he supported Marcotte due to his experience on the council and Planning Board.

“An accountant by trade, we felt he would be a good addition to those existing members,” he said.


During the meeting, councilors said the move went against rules of decorum that had been established by the council at the start of its term. Those included making sure agenda items were introduced several days prior to a meeting, and avoiding surprises and “gotcha moments.”

Lachapelle disagreed that the move was “sneaky,” stating conversations had taken place with Mayor Sheline on all appointments. He said the council was told Sheline would be seeking “new faces” for some board seats, and “we requested one.”

“It’s supposed to be collaborative between the council and mayor,” he said. “We’ve had zero input on some of the appointments.”

Harriman responded that he was not in on any of those conversations, questioning how many councilors were part of them.

Councilor Linda Scott said regardless of any talks that might have occurred between some councilors and the mayor, she felt “disrespected” by her fellow councilors.

“We were supposed to serve in good faith with each other,” she said. “Now I honestly feel that the four of you are in charge and what does my voice mean to anybody in this community?”


The council eventually went into recess to make copies of Marcotte’s application to the board.

When Harriman said he’d like to review the application because he didn’t know much about Marcotte, McCarthy questioned why.

“Well, there were several appointments we voted on that I didn’t know about, but if you want to spend some more time go right ahead,” he said.

Prior to the vote, McCarthy said he nominated Marcotte because he’s “well qualified” for the role.” He also said, “it bothered me when we get vilified in the press, for things that we do, unnecessarily.”

Harriman responded, “If this is the way the council’s going to operate, it’s going to be a long two years.”

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