Chamber board upholds firing of its president

Posted July 09, 2009, at 9:19 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The full board of directors of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce voted Thursday to uphold a decision made last week by the board’s smaller executive committee to terminate the employment of longtime president Candy Guerette.

John Diamond, the Chamber board’s chairman, made the announcement of the board’s decision, which he called difficult but appropriate and timely.

Diamond also indicated that the board of directors would immediately move forward with the process of conducting a search for a new president and CEO. Board member Jerry Whalen, vice president of business development for Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, will be chairman of the search committee.

“The Board is confident that it will attract a strong pool of candidates with leadership and business advocacy experience,” the board chairman said in a statement. “Meanwhile, the Board continues to move forward with the communication and implementation of its long-term strategic plan.”

Despite Thursday’s decision, a special meeting open to all members of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce scheduled for 3:30 p.m. today will proceed as scheduled. The meeting will not reverse the decision by the executive committee and the full board, but could determine whether or not an advisory committee will be formed to investigate the matter further.

The meeting was scheduled as allowed under Chamber bylaws after 22 members signed a petition on Guerette’s behalf.

Guerette, who held the position of Chamber president for nearly 13 years, was let go last week in a somewhat contentious fashion. Since the decision was made by the Chamber board’s seven-member executive committee, each side has gotten lawyers involved over a potential severance package.

The Chamber has offered Guerette four months’ pay plus benefits. Guerette’s attorney, Charles Gilbert, has said his client is seeking eight months with benefits, plus a truthful letter of recommendation and assurance that Diamond is not and will not be a candidate for the job.

Diamond said he has never had intentions of taking over as Chamber president.

Gilbert did not return a call Thursday for comment. It’s not clear whether the matter of Guerette’s severance package has been resolved.

Neither side disclosed the financial figures involved.

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