Critic of Bath’s sale of $6.5 million property for $800,000 seeks recall of city councilors

Posted Aug. 22, 2013, at 5:45 p.m.

BATH, Maine — A vocal critic of the city’s sale of the former Bath Memorial Hospital says he will seek support to initiate a recall of several city councilors who voted Wednesday not to make public discussions about the sale they held in executive session.

Larry Scott said Thursday that following the Bath City Council’s 7-1 vote on Wednesday not to waive executive session privilege, “there is a very good possibility there will be a recall.”

Scott said he would target the councilors who voted against waiving executive session and who are not up for re-election in 2013. Those councilors are Ward 1 Councilor Meadow Merrill, Ward 2 Councilor Sean Paulhus, Ward 3 Councilor Carolyn Lockwood and at-large Councilor Andrew Winglass.

As chairman, Bernard Wyman did not cast a vote, and Ward 6 Councilor David Sinclair voted in favor of waiving executive session privilege and making public the council’s closed-door deliberations about the sale.

Scott said that any investigation into the sale is pointless if an investigator that city officials intend to hire does not have access to all information and discussion.

Scott, among others, has been critical of the sale price of $799,000 to Phippsburg developer Bob Smith, given the assessed value of $6.5 million, and of the sale process. Among other objections, Scott maintains the property should have been listed on the multiple listing service in order to solicit multiple offers.

Wyman said Thursday that “personal vendettas” are driving talk of a recall.

“I think another person wanted to purchase the property and didn’t get a chance to bid on it,” he said.

Wyman was not specific about any other potential buyer.

“I still maintain that I don’t think we’ve done anything wrong,” Wyman said Thursday, adding that he’s confident Scott will not gain support for a recall. But he said he’s not worried.

“I’ve been on the council for 19 years, and I’ve got two more years to go,” he said. “If they want to throw me out for the next two years, it’s up to them. I’m 75 years old, I’ve got a rocking chair, and I’ll sit home and watch the meetings. I’ve lost enough sleep over this already.”

Scott — who in November ran unsuccessfully against City Councilor Leverett “Tink” Mitchell to serve the remainder of a vacated Ward 7 council term — said he will move forward with a recall effort if he finds 10 or 12 people “willing to make an effort.

“I think we could go after individual wards and get those people out,” he said.

According to the city charter, for a recall petition to move forward it must include the signatures of at least 50 percent of registered voters who voted in the election in which the official was elected.

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