LEWISTON — A union representing nearly 60 city employees, including code enforcement staff, approved a vote of no confidence in Mayor Carl Sheline earlier this month following weeks of controversy over a temporary closure of DaVinci’s Eatery and the removal of longtime Code Enforcement Director David Hediger.

On Tuesday, the local chapter president of the Maine Service Employees Association Local 1989 and Code Enforcement Officer Adam Jones called on the City Council to consider removing Sheline from office.

He said recent decisions to place 25-year city staffer Hediger on administrative leave for the purpose of not renewing his contract and the proposal to eliminate the city health inspector position has created a toxic work environment and has eroded trust regarding Sheline’s “ability to govern without apparent political favoritism.”

“The mayor has repeatedly shown a lack of respect for our legal rights and processes spelled out in our union contract, including conducting non-transparent investigations and discipline that blatantly goes against our collective bargaining agreements,” Jones said.

While the vote is only symbolic, it highlights the continuing political fallout and mistrust of city officials following the January closure of DaVinci’s and the subsequent city staff and policy decisions.


Reached on Wednesday morning, Sheline said, “I value our city employees and enjoy working with them every day helping to make Lewiston a better place. I am disappointed and surprised at this vote given that this group of employees hasn’t reached out to me to talk through their concerns and especially since the office of the mayor doesn’t have the power to hire or fire city staff.”

Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline gets ready Jan. 2 prior to the start of the City of Lewiston Inaugural Ceremony at the Franco Center in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“Nonetheless, I value the input of our unions, take their concerns seriously and look forward to working with all city employees to continue to make Lewiston a great place to work,” Sheline said.

Lewiston’s chapter of the Local 1989 union represents 58 of about 460 city employees. Jones said 95% of the union employees who voted approved the no-confidence measure, but he did not know how many of the union members took part in the vote Feb. 5.

Jones said that subsequent discussions with other city union leaders have made it clear that many city employees also support the no-confidence vote.

While the City Charter does not have specific language dealing with impeachment or recall, it does give the City Council the authority to remove a mayor or councilor on the grounds of “moral turpitude,” which requires the affirmative vote of at least five members of the council following a formal hearing.

During a previous council meeting, Jones had said the union was considering no-confidence votes for Sheline and City Administrator Heather Hunter, however the union ultimately decided against moving forward with a vote regarding Hunter.


Jones said that decision does not mean the union supports any recent actions of city administration, and that members are still considering other action.

“We understand that what’s going on here at City Hall doesn’t lie with just one person,” he said. “Our focus right now is on the mayor, but the union is still looking at other options moving forward regarding administration.”

Regarding his call for the council to “impeach” Sheline, he said the union wants the council to look at the charter and “its authoritative power and consider removing him from office based on certain things.”

Asked on Wednesday who made the ultimate decision to part ways with Hediger, a city spokeswoman said administration had no comment.

Council President Scott Harriman said Wednesday that he has not spoken to every member of the council about the no-confidence vote yet, but said, “We’re still digesting this information at this time and determining the path forward. I’m also planning to reach out to the union president to see if he can share more detailed information about their concerns.”

Ever since Hediger was placed on administrative leave and the health inspector position held by Louis Lachance was proposed to be cut, code enforcement staff has come to their defense, stating that city officials give preferential treatment to certain businesses.


Jones’ statement Tuesday night said Sheline has “actively demonstrated that the value of nonbiased service within the halls of city government is only expedient if it does not affect selected businesses.”

A proposal from Sheline to survey business owners regarding their interactions with code enforcement staff was also met with criticism from the union and the public, and was unanimously voted down by the City Council.

Emails from city staff made public through a Sun Journal Freedom of Access Act request show that in the aftermath of the DaVinci’s closure due to cockroaches, city administration tried to work with the state and DaVinci’s to settle on an agreement that if a reinfestation occurred, all parties would work to resolve it without another closure. However, the state didn’t agree with the language.

The city also worked with DaVinci’s on public messaging.

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