A member of the Ogunquit Select Board filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the town manager in York County Superior Court alleging she has not provided him with public records he has requested.

Ogunquit Selectman Richard Dolliver listens to public comments during a meeting in January. Press Herald photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Richard Dolliver, a first-term board member, says in the complaint filed under the Freedom of Access Act that Town Manager Patricia Finnigan has not fulfilled requests for public records related to contractors’ bids on a beach rest station project; Finnigan’s phone records for a week in January; a request related to Dolliver’s public emails that were given to a resident; and Select Board emails from 2017.

Dolliver is asking the court to declare the documents public records, provide him with access to those records and award him costs and attorney fees related to the complaint.

The court complaint comes at a tumultuous time in Ogunquit, where three other Select Board members are facing possible removal from office in a May 9 recall vote. Residents and officials are waiting for a York County Superior Court judge to rule on a lawsuit filed by four residents seeking to stop the recall election based on what they say were problems with the process of getting the question on the local ballot.

Dolliver, who supports the recall effort, is one of two board members not facing recall. The recall campaign started last fall after the board voted 3-2 to support Finnigan’s decision to fire the town’s fire chief. In the weeks after that vote, recall petitions were filed seeking to remove Charles “Bunky” Waite, Robert Winn and Madeline Mooney from office.

Dolliver said in an interview Tuesday that he decided to file the complaint after becoming frustrated by Finnigan’s slow responses – and in some cases, lack of responses – to public records requests. Not having information mentioned at public meetings makes it difficult for him to do his job as a Select Board member, he said.

“I hate to have to resort to this, but at what point is enough enough?” he said.

Ogunquit Town Manager Patricia Finnigan Press Herald file photo

Finnigan did not respond to a phone message or an email message requesting comment Tuesday. She has not yet been served with the complaint, according to Brad Moulton, the attorney who filed the complaint on behalf of Dolliver.

About 20 requests for public information under the Freedom of Access Act have been filed with the town since September and the majority have been fulfilled, according to information obtained by the Portland Press Herald under the public records law.

Dolliver filed eight requests during that time period and the town has fully or substantially completed its responses to three of them, according to information provided by the town.

“It seems to be a problem here in Ogunquit that it’s not very transparent and you can’t get the information talked about at public meetings,” Dolliver said.

Moulton said Finnigan has repeatedly promised Dolliver that responses to his requests would be ready within weeks or days, but has not provided all of the information requested. One of Dolliver’s unfulfilled requests dates to August 2017, he said.

Dolliver said he sought help multiple times from the state’s public records ombudsman, but still was not able to get the public documents he requested from the town.

Brenda Kielty, the public access ombudsman, did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

“Protecting tax dollars is essentially one of our key jobs as an elected official, but it’s nearly impossible when I can’t get the information I request,” Dolliver said.

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

[email protected]

Twitter: grahamgillian

 

Related Headlines


Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: