February 20, 2013

Old Orchard Beach rescinds firing of town official

The vote follows a debate on who has jurisdiction over the public works director's contract.

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Public Works Director Bill Robertson attends an Old Orchard Beach Town Council meeting Tuesday, where a debate touched on his alleged threat to shoot the town manager.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

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Mark Pearson

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

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Robertson was placed on administrative leave Dec. 21, the same day Pearson requested an independent investigation by a private investigator.

In an interview with the private investigator, Robertson repeatedly denied he threatened to shoot Pearson, according to the report.

Robertson said he spoke to state police about the alleged threat, but nothing came of the investigation.

In the interview with the private investigator, Robertson said Pearson was upset with him for not attending a training session on filling out employee evaluations.

Robertson, who owns a BB gun and a handgun, told the private investigator that he told White he would "moon" Pearson. He said he otherwise ignores Pearson, who is his direct supervisor.

During the Town Council meeting, residents alternately defended Robertson and chided councilors for not going into executive session. Neal Weinstein, Robertson's attorney, said councilors "shouldn't be vetting all of your issues in public."

"You should have the dignity and maturity to allow a personnel issue to go into executive session," Weinstein said.

Richard Hornbeck, an attorney for Pearson, said he did not think it was appropriate for the council to discuss the matter, whether in private or in a public hearing.

"The town manager is the chief executive officer of the town. As the chief executive officer, he does have the power to hire and terminate," he said.

After the meeting, Robertson said his employees -- many of whom were in the audience -- were looking forward to having him back at work. He said he will seek reimbursement from the town for the two weeks he did not receive pay.

Robertson also took issue with the private investigator's finding that he was not a certified engineer. He said he is certified in Massachusetts.

"That report is seriously flawed," Weinstein said.

 

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

ggraham@mainetoday.com

Twitter: grahamgillian

 

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