China board reappointments hit procedural snag; one denied

by Mary Grow

China selectmen’s usually routine annual appointment (mostly reappointment) of town officials and board and committee members turned into a procedural tangle followed by a highly unusual refusal to reappoint a sitting board member.

The actions taken at the June 7 selectmen’s meeting are official July 1, when the new fiscal year begins.

Selectmen first made two new appointments: Paul Mitnik, of Vassalboro, as alternate codes enforcement officer and licensed plumbing inspector, when Jaime Hanson is unavailable; and Chris Diesch, of Palermo, as a member of the Transfer Station Committee.

Resident Brent Chesley recommended limiting Mitnik’s duties to inspections, not ordinance interpretation or permit issuance. Hapgood said Mitnik would do mostly inspections. If someone needed something relatively straightforward, like a permit for a new well because the old one went dry, Mitnik would act in Hanson’s absence.

Selectboard Chairman Ronald Breton asked Town Manager Becky Hapgood to read the names of others up for reappointment, including herself (to various positions), Hanson, Angela Nelson as Town Clerk, the animal control officer and her assistant, the three fire chiefs (elected by their departments) and board and committee members.

Breton told selectboard members that if they did not want someone to serve, they should not sign that person’s appointment paper.

After a motion was made to approve the entire list, Breton allowed Chesley to comment again. Chesley, referring to his own experience, said Board of Appeals member Virginia Davis, whose five-year term ends this year, in his opinion lacks “the ability to set aside conflict of interest and personal bias.”

Board members then approved the list unanimously, followed immediately by Selectman Janet Preston’s question: since the people were just appointed by vote, if fewer than three selectmen sign an appointment paper, doesn’t that action contradict the vote?

After a procedural discussion and several suggestions, board members rescinded their previous vote to reappoint everyone and went through the list by individuals and committees.

Breton, Blane Casey and Wayne Chadwick voted not to reappoint Davis to the Board of Appeals. Irene Belanger and Preston voted to reappoint her.

The other board and committee members were reappointed unanimously.

“We have too many committees,” Breton said at the end of the process.

But, Hapgood said and he echoed, “We appreciate everyone on them.”


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