Code Red in Windham


“Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”
George Washington.

Because this particular column might just be full of controversy, I must first state that it is nothing more than my opinion of what occurred during the Windham Town Council meeting of 25 April. It was an interesting meeting only because of what happened during the councilor comment agenda item at the beginning of the meeting. The rest, in fact, was rather mundane as far as I was concerned.

I state that it was interesting because it shows a great divide happening between our town councilors, and I have suspicions as to why that has happened. During this meeting, one councilor brought up a point about the so-called stakeholders committee to help in the hiring of a new town code enforcement officer. This appears (in my opinion so there’s no confusion) to be a secretive committee with a lack of a good mix of Windham citizens.

That’s actually all well and good until I realized that there was a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals on that committee. The Zoning Board has dealings with the code enforcement office so this resembles the fox being put in charge of the hen house.

Since I am on that subject, if one looks at Maine Statute Title 30-A, Part 2, Subpart 3, Chapter 123, Subchapter 5: Board of Appeals, it states that “Neither a municipal officer nor a spouse of a municipal officer may be a member or associate member of the board.” This may or may not be a problem in the town of Windham because of so many legal challenges to the definition of marriage, but I believe that someone from our government in Augusta should make a determination if Windham has broken that statute. Windham has had too many iffy legal determinations in the past for me to trust the outcome and besides the town attorney is paid by the town in the first place.

Once the town councilors discussion got down to the brass facts, then the real ugliness began and showed how fractured the Windham town councilors have become. I have watched this council meeting over and over again in order to understand what happened. There was somewhat of a lengthy discussion about whether the committee formed to review applicants for the code enforcement position was what the councilors expected in the first place. I guess the answer is that the town councilors differed on what they expected and depending on who said what is the answer.

Confused? Well you are not alone. This has happened in the past as well. As the discussion progressed (or regressed if you think that way) one councilor stated he wouldn’t want his application placed on a bulletin board for everyone to see. The sad part about that statement is it would never have happened in the first place. The same councilor then stated that one member of the committee was a former town councilor and that was like having a councilor on the committee, which evidently shouldn’t happen. Actually a former councilor is not a present town councilor so I guess that decision should go to the United States Supreme Court.

Another councilor then mentioned the manner in which new police and fire chiefs were hired, which even I agree that it was a fine method indeed. However, there weren’t huge publicly visible problems with those two departments but there are problems circulating around Windham about code enforcement. It’s not up to me to discuss those problems, but when out-of-town contractors tell me that they will not longer do business in Windham, to me that means something might possibly be wrong. I also hate to tell this to the same town councilor that the problems probably go far beyond just code enforcement. Maybe it happens in other towns as well.

Can a citizen’s complaint can be successfully solved if the councilors continue their infighting? That’s exactly what started this mess!

Lane Hiltunen of Windham hopes that more citizens become more aware of what is happening in our town.