Ex-lawmaker at odds with city over yacht

Posted Oct. 09, 2009, at 9:43 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A former state senator and city councilor has threatened to sue the city over damage caused to his boat while it was docked at the municipal pier in October 2008.

W. Tom Sawyer, who now lives in Dedham, claims that the 39-foot yacht the Dirigo Pilot had more than $40,000 in damage after it apparently was untied from its dock and set adrift by vandals.

Since the vessel was docked on municipal property, Sawyer filed a claim for damages with the city’s insurer. That claim was denied, according to City Solicitor Norman Heitmann, because boaters use the city’s dock at their own risk, and Bangor is not liable for any damage or injuries.

Sawyer spoke during the public comment period at the City Council’s Sept. 14 meeting and outlined his displeasure with the insurance company’s decision.

He explained that on Oct. 3, 2008, Bangor police found the Dirigo Pilot “hard aground behind the treatment plant apparently after being untied from the city docks and cast adrift.” The yacht had to be pulled off the rocks at high tide and towed to a marina in Hampden for repairs. The boat was not ready to be launched again until July 22, 2009, Sawyer said. He set the total cost at $46,726.

Sawyer suggested to councilors that a lawsuit against the city to recoup damages could prove costly and that he would agree to drop the matter if the city would reimburse him $4,155 in dock fees for the past two years.

The councilors discussed the matter in executive session on Sept. 30, then voted unanimously to stand by the insurer’s decision not to pay for damages.

The matter is not necessarily closed, though.

Councilor Richard Stone has asked that Sawyer’s claim be discussed again at a meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 14, mainly to see whether Sawyer is owed any of the more than $4,000 he paid to the city in dock fees.

“We can debate all day what happened to his boat, but the issue is whether or not he had the use of it while it was damaged,” Stone said. “We’re going to take another look.”

Sawyer could not be reached this week for comment. Heitmann said Sawyer was out of state and was not expected to attend next week’s meeting.

Either way, Sawyer has expressed his displeasure with the way he has been treated by the city over the issue.

“The city’s responses during the past year, in my opinion, have been nothing but shabby, unprofessional and personally offensive,” he told councilors on Sept. 14.

The Bangor native was a longtime city councilor in the 1980s and 1990s and served as mayor in 1990. He also served in the Maine Senate from 2000 to 2004 after unsuccessful runs in 1994 and 1996 and more recently he lost a bid for Senate District 32 representing Bangor and Hermon to Democrat Joseph Perry.

http://bangordailynews.com/2009/10/09/news/bangor/exlawmaker-at-odds-with-city-over-yacht/ printed on September 19, 2014