Bad Journalism + Biased Editor = The Gray News

Monday, September 04, 2006

Mr. Clark should not lie

In the September 1 issue, Ray Clark wrote: "Time is running out on the Town Council's effort to change the way Gray votes on its budget."

This is a lie.

The way Gray votes on its budget is at Town Meeting. That meeting is the people's meeting, and the people vote on the budget. Council's vote on the budget at Town Meeting has no more weight than the regular citizen sitting next to them. The process is written in the town's Charter, which is the governing document, like a town's Constitution. The Council cannot change it.

In order to change the charter, the council, or a number of certified voters who have signed a petition, MUST put the issue on a referendum ballot and the people decide if they want to change it at the polls. Therefore the Council does NOT "change the way Gray votes." The people do, at the polls. The disappointing thing is that Mr. Clark knows this. He was on the former Charter Commission and is intimately familiar with the charter process.

Therefore his lead sentence is a deliberate lie, designed to misinform the reader.


  • Time is running out...for Mr Clark.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:23 PM  

  • I wish,

    The dinosaurs on the board of directors of the gray news all have
    a vveerrrryyyy slllooowwww clock.

    Clark will play them out until he dies.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:21 PM  

  • Guess what? Ray Clark took it upon himself to contact Bill Dale directly about the charter amendment issue. Had a nice discussion. Hope the rest of Gray taxpayers aren't PAYING the legal bill on that one! Clark sure is a preumptuous ego-driven maniac.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:51 PM  

  • Julie ?, on council and the Ray 'Crue' want to leave things the way they are. They have the ability to stack the town meeting with special interest an get what they want.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:17 AM  

  • Biasbuster, I have a question that is being completely ignored by 'Management' and would dearly Love your expertise with this matter! Why are the Taxpayers paying $50,000 to Plow Private Roads??? Superior Court states very clearly that No Public Funds can be used for this Purpose, so How can this practice continue? Please Help, if you can, or direct me to the Proper Legal Channel. Your efforts would be greatly appreciated!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:56 AM  

  • Here is a 3 part answer, 3 parts because it is too long to put in one comment box.

    Winter Plowing/Sanding Issues
    Legal Questions & Answers, Winter, 2004
    Jim Katsiaficas Senior Staff Attorney
    Maine Municipal Association

    Question: Does your town plow private roads? If you do not, what do you tell individuals who want you to plow because “they pay a lot of taxes! If you do, how do you justify the increased costs/liability potential when this practice is illegal?

    Answer: Once again, because it is unlawful to spend public funds for private purposes (the “Public Purpose Doctrine”), it is unlawful for a municipality to plow private roads, including camp roads and logging roads. Municipalities are required to plow and remove ice from town ways. A municipality may, if so directed by the town meeting or town or city council, plow snow ands ice from public easements. However, it is unlawful to use public money to plow private roads. Moreover, although there are no court decisions in Maine on this issue, a plow operator who plows private roads may be outside the scope of employment and therefore liable without limitation, defense or insurance.

    By Blogger BiasBuster, at 1:11 PM  

  • From same MMA Katsiaficas Q&A:
    Question: What must the municipality worry about when it hires a private contractor to perform plowing and sanding?

    Answer: Private contractors are liable without limitation to private parties for property damage and personal injury caused by their negligent acts or omissions and intentional acts when plowing snow for the municipality. However, if someone is injured by acts or omissions of a private contractor, that person is likely to sue both the municipality and the private contractor. Therefore, the private contractor must have adequate insurance (at least $400,000) naming the municipality and its officers, agents and employees as additional insured and should be required to defend, indemnify and hold the municipality and its officers, agents and employees harmless against any and all claims caused by, relating to or arising out of the plowing operations. Also, the municipality should require the contractor to post a performance bond to guarantee satisfactory performance of work.

    From Maine DOT, advice to municipalities on how to develop a snow plan and what should be in it: focus on Number h:
    5) Explain the role of the public. Provide bullet statements explaining how residents should prepare for traveling on winter roads. These could include, how to:
    a. Be mindful of parking ban.
    b. Drive defensively with plenty of room when following others on the road, especially the snow plow !!
    c. Timing and tips on plowing/shoveling private driveways
    d. How not to plow snow into town roads
    e. Understand mailbox policy.
    f. When best to contact garage.
    g. Mention how bridges freeze first!
    h. Why municipality does not plow private roads or driveways.

    By Blogger BiasBuster, at 1:13 PM  

  • From York Coast County Star, they did plow private roads in 2002-03, but got voter approval. In Rockingham, they narrowly voted AGAINST plowing private roads.
    York newspaper article excerpted below and here:

    Rockingham article here

    Article 9 of the April town meeting required that all residents living on private roads who wished to have their road plowed to conduct a survey and title search at their expense and have an easement signed by each resident of the road. Each private road also had to be approved annually at town meeting.
    It was suggested to the town by the Maine Municipal Association that a survey and title search be done in addition to having private roads approved every year. However, questions were raised about private roads that have been plowed for years not being plowed this winter due to the new regulations. With the approval of the questions, those roads with easements can be plowed.
    Selectmen Chairman Karen Maxwell said previously that the reason Article 9 was passed was to protect town employees and the town should there be a situation that could result in a claim. The title search and survey would confirm that the person who signed the easement had the authority to do so, Maxwell said. Without the title search and survey the town exercises a calculated risk, but not a big risk, she said.

    You can do a few things to get your question answered.

    1. Make an appointment with the town manager to find out
    2. Ask the Council chair by e-mail or phone
    3. Send in an official request for information asking your question and ask that it be entered under council correspondence and read aloud (that way it gets into the minutes)
    4. Ask your question during the Sept 5 council meeting or any meeting, in public during non-agenda items
    5. bring the issue to your local newspaper. I recommend The Monument. The Press Herald might also be interested.

    But I first recommend that you gather all documents first and proceed on sold footing (if you haven't already). Nothing destroys credibility than being contradicted publicly. I also recommend going through the first few items on the numerical list before going to newsppaers or other means. Working with is always better, even if it takes a little while.

    By Blogger BiasBuster, at 1:14 PM  

  • Thank You for all of this information!! It is sincerely appreciated.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:46 PM  

  • With all the information regarding this UNLAWFUL practice of plowing private roads {not up to standards} I was amazed that everything was ignored; and that Andy Upham, who lives on a Private Road, was allowed to cast the Council's deciding vote?? Talk about Conflict-of-Interest, huh!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:30 AM  

  • That's what you get in a small town: councilors have to live somewhere. Pam W and Jack G live on private roads, Pam on the SAME private road that Andy lives on. They cast votes all the time for various things. Pam W, Matt Sturgis, Skip Crane, and John Welch live on lakes, and vote for things all the time for their lakes.

    The difference is, when a councilor advocates for something that would personally benefit him and/or the impetus comes form the councilor and no one else. Like John Welch advocating to spend town funds to fix a culvert on his lake, or Steve Chandler using town machines to clean up the trash on his own property or Steve Libby buying property, getting on the zoning committee to change the uses, and then selling the property at a higher proice, benefiting from the zone change he implemented...those are examples of conflict of interest.

    Otherwise, it's just the luck of the draw when they vote on minor things in or near where they happen to live.

    If the councilor thinks it'll be a conflict, he can recuse himself. If other councilors think it would be a conflict, they can ask for a recusal. If the citizens think it is a conflict, they can declare it publicly and challenge the councilor. There are mechanisms in place.

    By Blogger BiasBuster, at 11:46 AM  

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