2006 July 28
by Eileen Curry
At the Perry selectmen's meeting on July 24, Town Clerk Janice Scanlon reported her findings to town selectmen regarding a petition circulated by some Perry residents to enact a recall ordinance to eventually oust two selectmen, David Turner and Dick Adams, from the Perry board. The petition that was submitted about two weeks ago to her office was examined by Scanlon, who stated, "Of the 145 signatures on the list, five were invalid. I had received numerous phone calls from people who had signed the petition and didn't know what it was really about."
Immediately following her report, the meeting exploded into chaos. Accusations mounted, and some demanded that Scanlon provide names of people who wanted their names removed from the list. Some petitioners took offense at being cited as wrongdoers and lodged accusations of phone call harassment from others opposed to the petition. Shouting went back and forth, and people spoke out of turn. Board Chairman David Turner, after asking people to "settle down," read a statement saying that Scanlon had "done her job" and "a number of Perry residents who signed the petition have come forward to express concern with inconsistencies in the circulation process, including that pages two and three of the petitions were not provided to some signers. However, despite these discrepancies, it is clear that the minimum requirements have been met to place the ordinance question on the ballot."
In the four-page statement, Turner noted, "While some individuals involved in the recall ordinance have the luxury of focusing almost exclusively on the controversial LNG issue, the reality is that the business of the town requires a great deal of time-consuming work and thoughtful attention to detail." Turner defended his position as selectman saying, "It is important to note that if Selectman Adams and I are removed from office, the LNG issue will not go away. The fact is that the decision on the permitting of these facilities does not rest with the board of selectmen. Selectwoman Guisinger and her allies are fully aware of this or at least they should be."
Guisinger, taken aback by the statement, refused to accept the motion made by Turner to accept the ordinance as presented; to schedule a secret ballot to vote on the ordinance recall at the polls on Election Day, Tuesday, November 7; to schedule a town meeting on Wednesday, November 8, to accept the results of the vote; and to schedule a public hearing in late October to address both the Article 10 issue and the proposed recall ordinance. Guisinger was not satisfied with the date of the motion and asked Turner, "Why are you waiting until November? So you can work out another deal with Quoddy Bay?" Turner ignored the question, and the motion passed 2-1. In an e-mail response to Turner's statement, Guisinger wrote, "The statement Mr. Turner read, upon receiving the validated and certified petition at Monday's selectmen's meeting, marks a low point in his stewardship of our town. I'm sorry he has chosen to take the low road of innuendo and outright lies to try to justify his own biased and heavy-handed handling of town affairs by trying to discredit me and other citizens in Perry who simply feel the need to make sure a measure of accountability is built into our governing structure."
After a brief moment of quiet, Perry resident Sandi Yarmal made a statement saying, "You know, this town really needs to get down to business. I am hearing a lot of volleying and jockeying on both sides for a position on LNG. It is out of our hands folks. It's up to FERC [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] now. We need to focus on other issues here. Our school is underfunded, and our roads need repair."
An executive session held with the Eaton-Peabody law firm and selectmen on July 19 brought a motion from Turner, which he made after distributing a large packet of information. The motion stated, "That the [Perry board] chair be authorized to follow the recommendation of Eaton-Peabody briefing document to... give notice to Quoddy Bay LNG of all local permit requirements deemed applicable to the project; file similar notice with FERC; contact state coordinating agency concerning local safety concerns and start participation at meetings; file a petition to intervene in the pending license proceeding to better position the town to represent its interests in that proceeding and assure that the financial and other provisions of the final agreement are satisfactory to the town by making the provisions of the agreement relevant to FERC's final determination on the license." This motion passed, along with another to release this information to the public with an exclusion of a summary and "tab 4," which is "an incomplete document related to excerpts from the Harpswell report," according to Turner. The Harpswell report is a study by Yellow Wood Associates of an earlier proposal for an LNG facility in that town. Turner also said, "The summary is being held back for future negotiations with Quoddy Bay. It is all perfectly legal."
Eighteen street/road signs were purchased by the town and installed to replace stolen ones. The signs were posted originally as part of the E-911 emergency planning, a way for police and ambulance crews to locate homeowners in need of assistance. The signs are costly and a burden to taxpayers to replace. E-911 coordinator John Spinney said in a telephone interview after the meeting that the sign taking is likely "the work of pranksters" and suggested that the thefts be reported. Dispatcher Oakes of the Washington County Sheriff's Department was also contacted by telephone, and he stated, "These thefts are punishable by law. Homeowners may call the sheriff's department directly at 255-4422 if they see a theft in progress or they may report a missing sign to selectmen, who would report these complaints to our department." Oakes said violators could be arrested and prosecuted for sign taking.
Another bone of contention at the meeting was in regards to the appointment of Perry representatives to the Washington County Council of Governments. The committee position is an annual appointment, and last year Jeanne Guisinger and Nancy Asante served on the committee. This year, Dick Adams and David Turner are on the board. In a 2-1 vote (Guisinger opposed), it was decided the selectmen will represent Perry. Resident Georgie Kendall questioned the selectmen by asking, "If they [Guisinger and Asante] have done a great job already on the board, wouldn't it make sense to continue with these two?" Turner answered, "Jeannie volunteered for last year," and Adams said, "I don't recall agreeing to Nancy." Many comments were made in opposition to the appointment, and this issue resulted in finger pointing, literally, and Guisinger asked Adams not to point his finger at her. Adams' reply was that he would point his finger at her if he had to.
Selectmen are working on other important issues when not attending meetings. Guisinger is coordinating with an Environmental Protection Agency official concerning Fred Erb's property and investigating pay raise information for town employees. Turner and Adams are working on town road issues, municipal building improvements, bid notices, insurance issues, the town audit process and town assessor's reports.
The next Perry selectmen's meeting is on Monday, August 7, at 4 p.m. at the municipal building.
© 2006 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.