VEAZIE, Maine — The town and a former manager have settled what his attorney characterized as a whistle-blower claim.
In exchange for a payment of $30,000, former Veazie Town Manager William Reed agreed to drop a claim he had pending before the Maine Human Rights Commission, Edmond Bearor, who represented Reed in the matter, said Thursday.
The town of Veazie paid half the settlement and its insurer covered the balance, Bearor said.
In his complaint, Reed alleged that he was fired because he had brought attention to what appeared to be illegal Town Council meetings. The Bangor Daily News published a news story about his concerns on Sept. 9, 2011.
Reed, who had been Veazie’s manager for 19 years, said at that time that he had fielded complaints from residents that three Veazie councilors — Tammy Olson, Brian Perkins and David King — were seen chatting in the town office parking lot about half an hour after their Aug. 29, 2011, meeting adjourned. He also said that residents had complained about councilors going to restaurants and discussing town business over dinner.
In Veazie, three councilors constitute a quorum, the minimum number of members needed to take an action as a governing body. Although there is nothing preventing three councilors from chatting outside town meetings, if town business is discussed at all, the discussion becomes a de facto public meeting, according to Maine’s Freedom of Access Act.
The act stipulates that the quorum can’t vote, take action or make a decision while outside an announced public meeting.
Reed was fired in a 3-2 vote three days after bringing attention to the matter. Perkins and King, who no longer is on the council, were among the majority. Olson abstained. Reed alleged that the vote took place after an executive session that was not properly noticed.
“Basically, Bill filed a whistle-blowers claim with the commission [in which he] complained that some of the meetings [town councilors] were having they should not have had,” Bearor said. “We resolved the matter within the last two to three weeks. It’s been a long time coming.”
Interim Town Manager Mark Leonard, who also is the police chief, declined to comment on the matter on Thursday. Leonard is the third person to hold the manager position since Reed’s termination.
Reed said Thursday he was glad to put the issue behind him.
“I just felt it was best to put this to rest,” he said. “I didn’t want this to drag out forever. I think everyone’s aware of the concerns I had and the issues that had gone on. I just wanted the town to focus on the running of the town.”
Since his termination, Reed has served briefly as Lincoln’s town manager, done some consulting and engaged in some real estate and development work. He also has been traveling with his family.
Reed said he is looking into establishing a travel-related business.