For the second week in a row, the Clinton Board of Selectmen meeting drew a large crowd of disgruntled community members.

At Tuesday evening’s meeting at the Clinton Town Office, residents voiced their concerns about the legality of last week’s meeting because, according to Randy Clark, a former selectman of 15 years, the board violated the town’s charter.

The meeting, which was held on July 1 was opened by board Chairman Jeffrey Towne, as usual. But according to Clark, since Townes’ and Vice Chairman Stephen Hatch’s terms as selectmen expired June 30, the meeting and its occurrences, were null and void.

“Jeff opened that meeting and he’s been re-elected. So has Steve, but they hadn’t been sworn back into office yet,” Clark said. “Making that meeting illegal, no one who opened that meeting was technically a selectman. It says so right in the town charter.”

However, when Clark brought that to the board’s attention during the public comment portion of the meeting, Towne provided the legal opinion the board had obtained from the Maine Municipal Association.

According to the association’s Legal Services Department, the expiration of the Townes’ term of office is not relevant to the legitimacy of the meeting.

Because Towne had been re-elected, the legal office said, he himself was the successor to the position as chairman. There was no vacancy in the position and even though Townes’ term expired June 30, and his public oath of office at the meeting on July 1 was done legally because he did not exercise any duties of his position until afterward. The same applies to Hatch.

After the concern of legality were put to rest, attendees repeated some of the same grievances they had brought to last week’s meeting, which was about the termination of Michael Hachey as the director of the Clinton-Benton Solid Waste and Recycling Transfer Station.

Clinton Town Manager Earla Haggerty listens and takes notes during a July 1 selectmen’s meeting at the Clinton Town Hall. Morning Sentinel file photo by Michael G. Seamans

Attendees disapproved of the way Town Manager Earla Haggerty had handled the situation, which, according to Hachey, began after he spoke to Clinton and Benton residents and selectmen about his confusion over Benton’s delayed contract renewal.

“I had a Benton resident come into my site and ask me for a permit and I told them I had to wait because I didn’t want to issue permits if Benton didn’t have a contract,” Hachey said. “So, they went back to the Town Office, they didn’t know what was going on, they call Haggerty up and next thing I know, I have a screaming phone call from her. She basically threw me under the bus to the town of Benton.”

Hachey was officially given a termination letter by Haggerty herself at the transfer station on June 29.

In the letter, Haggerty alleges Hachey is being let go for a number of personal and professional missteps and discloses that he had an opportunity to meet with her on July 1 to appeal her decision.

But because of what Haggerty said was Hachey’s “lack of response” to the termination letter, she canceled that meeting and made her decision to fire him final.

At Tuesday evening’s meeting, residents continued to voice their disapproval with one unidentified citizen claiming that he and several other taxpayers would take their waste elsewhere until Hachey was back in the position. He also said he believed Hachey had “a target on his back” and that was the reason for the termination. The resident didn’t elaborate on his claim.

At the meeting on July 1, Haggerty was appointed interim director of the transfer station, and the facility has been operating on its normal Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule. As of Tuesday’s meeting, there is no update to whether the board had found someone to fill the position permanently.

Haggerty again declined to comment.

Hachey still is pursuing legal action about his firing.

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