June 18, 2018
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Bangor Chamber president accepts severance

By Eric Russell, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The debate over the recent dismissal of Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce president Candy Guerette has been resolved, with Guerette agreeing to a severance package of four months’ pay plus health insurance.

Guerette’s attorney, Charles Gilbert, sent Chamber members a letter Friday that indicated an agreement had been reached. A special meeting of the Chamber membership that had been scheduled for Friday afternoon was promptly canceled.

“The original reason for the call of the meeting has been resolved,” Gilbert wrote. “There is no longer any practical or legal purpose for the meeting. Discussion on any topic other than the one for which the original notice was given would have been out of order had the meeting been held, and could not have been undertaken even if the matter had not been resolved.”

While Gilbert declined to comment on the terms of the settlement, John Diamond, chairman of the Chamber’s board of directors, said Guerette agreed to the Chamber’s offer earlier this week of four months’ severance.

In a letter to Chamber members, Diamond apologized for any inconvenience during the past few days.

“As we put this personnel matter behind us, be assured that the chamber board and staff will continue to work diligently to advance the interests of our chamber members and our region,” he wrote.

Late last month, the executive committee of the Chamber’s board of directors concluded that the Chamber should part ways with Guerette based on poor job performance. She had led the Bangor Chamber for 13 years but did not have a specified contract and always served at the will of the board of directors.

The matter of a severance package caused the process to play out perhaps longer than either side would have liked. The Chamber initially offered Guerette three months’ pay but later increased that to four months. Gilbert sent the Chamber a letter indicating that his client was seeking eight months with benefits, plus a truthful letter of recommendation and assurance that Diamond is not and would not be a candidate for the job.

While the settlement agreement was in limbo, 22 Chamber members signed a petition requesting a special meeting, which was allowed under Chamber bylaws. That meeting had been scheduled for Friday.

On Thursday, the Chamber’s full board held a meeting and voted to uphold the earlier decision of the executive committee. Then on Friday morning, both sides agreed not to drag the decision out by agreeing to Guerette’s severance package.

Gilbert said his client declined to comment on the matter.

“Candy has asked me to convey her sincere appreciation for the many expressions of support she has received and her feeling that it is time to move on,” Gilbert wrote. “She has nothing but the highest regard for the chamber and its mission and wishes it and her successor nothing but the best.”

Karen Cole, who joined the Chamber as communications and marketing manager about two months ago, has been serving as its active director since Guerette’s dismissal on July 1.

Diamond said the board of directors immediately would begin the search process for a new president and chief executive officer. Jerry Whalen, a board member and vice president for business development of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, will lead the search committee.

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