HAS CHATHAM GONE MAD? SHAME ON THE RECALL PETITIONERS
The provision in the town charter to recall a selectman has never been used for very good reason. Recall of a selectmen is akin to impeachment of a president or a judge. It's for serious crimes or malfeasance of great magnitude.
What basis did close friends of the Town Manager and favored town employees have to launch a recall petition drive against selectmen Florence Seldin, Tim Roper and Sean Summers?
They apparently did not like it that the selectmen decided to seek a new town manager to take over when the present town manager's five-year contract expires according to its terms on June 30, 2011. Two selectmen wanted to sign a new contract for the present town manager for one year, but the majority decided this was no time for delay since several very difficult years for the town lie ahead.
That's it. No moral turpitude, no theft of public monies, no perjury, just elected people using their judgment as to what is best for Chatham.
The recallers have been out on the sidewalks, at the dump and filling town lobbies with their three petitions containing affidavits charging Seldin, Roper and Summers with voting to terminate the Town Manager's employment. These are obviously false statements made under oath.
The Town Manager's five-year contract will end according to its terms on Jun 30, 2011. No selectman voted to terminate the Town Manager's contract. This fact was known to the organizers of the petition drive before they began the drive. Why did they then make false statements such as this? Did they decide that stating that the selectmen voted to terminate the Town Manager's contract without just cause would be much more inflammatory and more likely to get people to sign their petitions?
Infomed legal opinion is that these false affidavits invalidated the petitions from the beginning. These were not accidental misstatements, but false statements that were knowingly made.
The recall petitioners have created a poisonous atmosphere, unjustly raising suspicion amongst the population about the integrity of the selectmen. They have unjustly sought to damage their reputation and to do them harm. There can be no question that those making these false accusations knew that such accusations, knowingly and deliberately made, would be likely to cause mental anguish as well.
For such situations the law provides remedies. Making a false statement in an affidavit can be a criminal offense. Civil damages can be sought for unjust damage to reputation and mental anguish.
After an early flurry of letters to the local paper supporting the recall petitioners, people began to grasp the magnitude of the unjust insult to the selectmen and last week's letters were strongly in favor of the three selectmen's position and against the present town manager, suspicion being voiced that he was the one principally behind the recall drive, something we do not know.
The deadline for filing sufficient signatures is 5 p.m., Tuesday, December 21. Hopefuly, the three separate petitions will fail. If not, steps will be taken immediately to have the petitions invalidated because of their falsity.
In addition to the letters to the editor this past week Fran and Jackie Meaney paid for an ad that appeared in that issue of the Cape Cod Chronicle. It can be read here. FranJackie Meaney Statement.pdf