The Winslow Town Office, off Benton Avenue, is seen on Thursday. Scott Monroe/Morning Sentinel

WINSLOW — A sitting town councilor claims that a quorum of Winslow town councilors have regularly met in private to discuss municipal business ahead of official public meetings, in violation of the state’s open meeting law.

Winslow Town Councilor Jerry Quirion says members of the council have been illegally meeting in secret to discuss town business. Morning Sentinel file

Jerry Quirion, 77, who has been a councilor for the past dozen years, said in an interview that the meetings have been going on for several years. Quirion said that two or three years ago, he himself attended seven or eight of these “secret meetings” that happen about once a month on the private property of the council chairman, Peter Drapeau.

While conversation would start out on topics like fishing, soon the councilors would begin to talk town business as well, Quirion said. He said he stopped attending as he was uncomfortable discussing town business out of the public eye. He knew, like all the other councilors, that the meetings were illegal, according to Quirion.

“I would leave just as they would start talking about town business. It was time to leave,” Quirion said Wednesday. “I told them that was not a good thing, I gotta leave. (Drapeau’s) got too many people here discussing what shouldn’t be discussed.”

There are seven members on the council: Quirion, Drapeau, Dale Macklin, Ray Caron, Joseph “Rocky” Gravel, Jeff West and Lee Trahan. They typically hold regular meetings at Winslow Public Library on Halifax Street, and a legal quorum would constitute four councilors meeting together.

Drapeau said Thursday that Quirion’s claims are false and part of a feud. Though he admits councilors regularly come out to his place of business at 150 Taylor Road, Drapeau said there’s never a quorum of councilors present and town business is “very seldom” discussed.


Quirion’s claims, Drapeau said, are the result of a personal vendetta he has against him and other councilors.

Informed of Quirion’s comments on Thursday, Town Attorney Bill Lee said it was the first he was hearing of a claim that a quorum of councilors were meeting privately to discuss town business. If asked by a town official, Lee said he would initiate an investigation into Quirion’s claims.

Peter Drapeau is chairman of the Winslow Town Council. Morning Sentinel file

Quirion said he began to attend the meetings accidentally. He would show up alone to Drapeau’s shop to see him as a friend, he said. But on multiple occasions, after he arrived, as many as two more councilors would show up, forming a quorum, he said. Drapeau and Macklin were regular attendees at these meetings, Quirion said.

Quirion said that since he stopped attending the meetings, he feels excluded by his fellow councilors and left out of the loop on important town decisions. Often during council meetings at least in the past year, Quirion said he is often the lone “no” vote on an otherwise unanimous decision.

“They thought that I was going to be one of their rubber stamps, and I wasn’t,” Quirion said Wednesday. “I work for the public.”

A couple Winslow residents, Quirion said, have told him that they have seen many councilors’ cars parked outside Drapeau’s Taylor Road property.


“I run a trucking business and a fabrication shop, and (councilors) stop in to see what’s going on in any particular day,” Drapeau said Thursday. “But no, there has never been a quorum. And we have checked with all of the attorneys.”

The chairman said that Quirion has only been out to Drapeau’s shop twice, two to three years ago. Only Macklin was present for one of those visits, Drapeau said, and at that time Macklin wasn’t on the council — he was first elected in November 2021.

Quirion has been on the council for 12 years, and Drapeau believes the councilor is upset with him because he regularly criticizes decisions made by the council in past years. Drapeau, who was first elected to the council in 2020, also suggested that Quirion may be looking for some pre-publicity ahead of November elections.

He, Quirion and Rocky Gravel are all up for reelection this year.

Despite denying Quirion’s claims, Drapeau said that in order to move the town forward and “get things done,” it’s necessary for two or three councilors to regularly discuss town business outside of council chambers.

“When we’re spending millions and millions of dollars, of course we talk about it other than in council chambers, right? How can you not? You cannot,” Drapeau said Thursday. “So, I am guilty of talking to other councilors, and I am guilty of councilors coming out here at times and talking to me, but never a quorum, and never in a position where we make decisions.”


Macklin made similar remarks at a November council meeting.

“One thing you’ve gotta understand in this job as a councilor — and it is a job — how are we expected to make decisions working in this council chambers one and a half hours a month?” said Macklin. “It can’t be done. So we have to talk outside. And we do, as long as we don’t violate the Freedom of Access Act.”

Macklin’s statement was prompted by a resident who expressed concern that council meetings move suspiciously fast and without much discussion, even when dealing with multi-million dollar projects.

“We don’t decide, the votes are here tonight, but we will discuss it. We will discuss (everything), we try to,” Macklin said in November. “We cannot possibly do that in an hour and a half’s time, sitting here once a month. It can’t get done, or nothing will get done.”

Macklin went on to tell that resident, Fran Hudson, that three councilors are able to meet together without violating the law. Lee, the town attorney, stepped in then to add, “Generally, try to keep it to two,” but Macklin and Drapeau went on to affirm that three are able to meet and discuss town business legally.

The need to “move things along” was the only defense fellow councilors offered Quirion when he expressed his disapproval with the secret meetings, he says. The fast pace of public meetings like that one in November, and many since, is why Quirion said he is convinced a quorum of councilors is still meeting monthly outside of chambers and out of public view.


Town business can be defined as any matter that could potentially come before the council for action, Lee said Thursday.

“With a seven-member council, if there are three together, it’s not a violation,” Lee said. “However, I don’t encourage it because it’s easy for public perception to be that meetings are being held in private.”

All town councilors should be well aware of open meeting laws, Lee said, as they are required upon election to complete training on the Freedom of Access Act. Lee said that in response to Quirion’s claims, he might send a memo out to councilors reminding them of their training, and urge them to be careful of not just violating the law, but of the perception of violating it.

“Public trust depends on people feeling that their elected officials are acting according to the law,” Lee said.

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