James Moorhead, left, and his husband, Clyne Hodges, carry a Hallowell Pride Alliance banner during the 2021 Hallowell Pride Parade along Water Street. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

HALLOWELL — The city manager was reprimanded recently in a letter from the City Council for his initial response to a complaint brought by the Hallowell Pride Alliance about the Fire Department’s not providing traffic and safety coverage for the alliance’s annual parade.

Responding to the concerns raised by the Pride Alliance this past summer, City Manager Gary Lamb had written in an email: “Fire department members have their own opinions, family and work schedules, and it is their right to not participate and not work on the weekend. Different citizens have different opinions on how they approach LGBTQ issues as you know well.”

Hallowell Mayor George Lapointe Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

The City Council called an executive session last month to discuss Lamb’s response. Mayor George Lapointe said that after a discussion, the council issued a letter to Lamb that addressed “the tone of his response and the language he used.”

Lapointe initially declined to release the letter, saying it was a confidential personnel matter, but he described it Monday as being disciplinary and said it sets up a process for further action if Lamb’s behavior is repeated in the future. He released the letter the following week, on Dec. 5, after conferring with the city’s attorney.

Hallowell City Manager Gary Lamb Contributed photo

“City Council apologizes for the tone of the response to your correspondence by the City Manager,” Lapointe wrote in a Nov. 3 letter to the Pride Alliance. “His response was inappropriate in tone and content, and Council understands how hurtful it was to members of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Meanwhile, Lapointe noted the steps the city is taking to remedy the situation: mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, training for staff members, and ensuring parades are fully staffed to ensure public safety and traffic control.


City Council members met last week at a workshop to discuss adopting training for themselves and staff members.

“We are developing a request for proposals that will go out around next week asking people what they recommend for DEI training and how much will it cost,” Lapointe said.

The original complaint by the Pride Alliance claimed the volunteer Fire Department was biased toward the LGBTQ community by declining to provide coverage for the group’s annual parade. City officials attributed the lack of coverage to miscommunication between the Police and Fire departments following Lamb’s initial reply.

Employees of Hannaford Bros. march June 3 during the Hallowell Pride 2023 parade, handing out treats to the those gathered along Water Street. Jessica Lowell/Kennebec Journal file

Lamb declined to comment on the disciplinary action against him. Instead, he said he has been directed by the City Council to ensure staff members complete training on sexual harassment and diversity, which in the past have not been the subjects of consistent focus.

Lamb added he has sat down with the chiefs of the Police and Fire departments to discuss their cooperation for future events.

“The important thing is that we will treat all these events the same in preparation for it,” Lamb said. “We haven’t been doing the emergency planning that the police chief will be doing now. Volunteer firefighters will know about events weeks in advance, instead of days or hours, which is what happened with the Pride Parade.”


The staffing for parades and other events will be the responsibility of police Chief Chris Lewis. He is to ensure the Police and Fire departments are aware of upcoming events and that each event is fully covered. If needed, Lewis is authorized to hire staff members from other communities to help staff an event or parade.

Kelly Allen, left, and Darci Smith celebrate June 3 during the Hallowell Pride 2023 festivities, which included a festival, parade, live music and a drag show. Jessica Lowell/Kennebec Journal file

Part of the city’s response also requires all parades to have liability insurance, which can be an expensive and timely process, as proven earlier this year when the Halloween Parade was canceled because organizers failed to secure insurance.

Hallowell already allocates funds to the Old Hallowell Day Committee and the Pride Alliance to cover the costs of getting insurance. Lapointe has suggested the City Council also allocate up to $500 to offset insurance costs for the Mardi Gras and Halloween Parade.

“The council has sent that proposal to the Personnel & Policy Committee for refinement and expects to hear back before it’s time to plan for the Mardi Gras parade, which is the next big parade,” Lapointe said.

The Hallowell Pride Alliance responded Nov. 19 to Lapointe’s letter with a letter of its own. The letter, signed by alliance President Alex AuCoin, and other board members of the Pride Alliance, asks various questions: Was their complaint against the Fire Department investigated? Had the city held interviews and discussions to see if the Hallowell Fire Department was biased? Why had it failed to assist with the Pride Parade for the past four years?

The Pride Alliance’s letter reads: “We appreciate your recognition of the ‘inappropriate and hurtful’ actions of your City Manager. However, this has limited value without a response from the actual individual who did them. Your letter merely acknowledges his wrongdoing without any real actions to ensure that similar issues do not occur in the future.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include a copy of the letter sent by the City Council to City Manager Gary Lamb. Officials would not release the letter before press time but sent it to a reporter on Dec. 5. 

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