West Bath voted overwhelmingly to withdraw from RSU 1 by about a 5-to- 1 ratio. There were some educational reasons for this such as more school choice and ensuring that the West Bath school remains open, and it may be less expensive, but a major reason was never addressed by RSU 1 — which was the fatal flaw.

That reason was that RSU 1, in consultation with the City of Bath, deliberately illegally overcharged West Bath $1.9 million during 2008-12, never admitted their fault, and forced West Bath to sue its neighbors for the overcharge (for additional information go to www.greatmaine.com/wbrsu1).

If RSU 1 had admitted its fault and repaid the overcharge as was the obvious “right thing to do,” I expect the RSU 1 partnership would have continued even if a bit tarnished. However RSU 1 and the City of Bath did the politically expedient but shortsighted thing which was to protect the crooks and stonewall everything hoping that West Bath would run out of money or will to pursue the legal civil case. In some respects they were right in that West Bath settled for $1.2 million from the City of Bath which is about one half of its effective costs ( which includes the $ 1.9 million overcharge plus interest for up to 6 years and legal expenses). Furthermore none of the perpetrators have suffered any significant consequences or even been fully identified let alone being tossed in jail, which is a failure of our justice system.

Tim Harkins, chairman of the RSU 1 Board, expressed disappointment that the residents of West Bath evidently do not share his sentiments as to RSU 1’s good stewardship of the West Bath students and school. I don’t think that is true. Rather, he and RSU 1 completely missed the real point here: You should learn in kindergarten not to cheat … and especially not to cheat your neighbors.

Everything has consequences: In this case … a withdrawal. Hopefully this will deter other crooks, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Shame on RSU 1 and the City of Bath.

Steve Winter
West Bath