Pauline Civiello of Bangor certainly didn’t violate any laws when she decided to place limits on which City Council candidates could participate in her “meet and greet” session last weekend.
She’s a private citizen. She paid to rent the conference room at Husson University where the event was held. Of course she got to choose who did and didn’t get to participate in the meet and greet.
“I want to mention, that as private citizens, we have the right to select our guests,” she was quoted by BDN reporter Andrew Neff as saying last Sunday.
Of course you do, Pauline.
To suggest she is a lawbreaker or a rule violator is silly.
In a letter to the editor in Friday’s BDN, Civiello said she was stunned and appalled by the reactions to the BDN story about her decision to hold a “public” meet-and-greet session with six of the eight Bangor residents running for three seats on the City Council.
OK. So let’s get this straight. That’s a public forum, hosted and paid for by a private citizen, limited to the candidates for public office whom that particular private citizen wants the “public” to hear from.
People hold political gatherings in their homes or local community halls all the time with candidates, usually of their chosen political party, available to meet and greet guests, press some flesh and, they hope, garner some support.
It has been going on for generations.
There is not a thing wrong with it.
But let’s be honest. At such gatherings there is always, always, always an agenda, and unless very naive, all of those attending are pretty clear on what that agenda is.
Civiello claims her reason for excluding incumbent candidates David Nealley and Rick Bronson had nothing to do with their political views or past disagreements. She and her husband simply determined Nealley and Bronson had enough publicity as current councilors.
She said she wanted herself and her “guests” to hear from the six challengers only, but welcomed Nealley and Bronson to sit in the audience.
It had nothing to do, I’m sure, with the fact that Bronson and Nealley were staunch supporters of building a new arena in the city — an effort that Civiello and her husband dedicated months of work to try to stop.
Just as I’m sure it had nothing to do with the Bangor council’s decision last spring to squash her proposal to change the municipal charter by requiring voter approval of certain borrowing by the city.
At that meeting last May, Nealley called the discussion brought forth by Civiello and Bangor resident Linda Thomas a “tea party hangover.”
There is a bit of testiness between the two.
That Civiello is a dedicated resident and willing to put in the time and effort to participate in her community’s governing is nothing but admirable. We should all be so willing.
But her efforts shouldn’t be disguised as anything but what they are — an effort to get Bronson and Nealley off the council and stock it with those with perhaps more economically conservative philosophies.
In Friday’s letter she said she was stunned and appalled that one of the incumbents said her actions didn’t pass the “smell test.”
She had all the right in the world to do what she did. What didn’t pass the smell test was the way that she tried to package it.
Former City Councilor and current candidate Joe Baldacci seemed to figure that out and chose to opt out, even though he was among the invited guests and might have picked up a vote or two by attending.
It didn’t sit right with him that two candidates were excluded.
It shouldn’t have, and perhaps he picked up a vote or two for making an honorable decision.