E-mail message stirs controversy
June 16, 2001
WATERVILLE — Mayor Nelson Madore said Friday that he objects to a Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce e-mail message that informs chamber members of a petition drive to hold a referendum on the recently approved $27.5 million 2001-02 city budget.
The electronic notice sent Friday morning by chamber president Kimberly Lindlof said, "If you are interested in signing a petition recalling the 2001-02 budget passed on May 29, 2001, due to the tax increase, please stop by the Mid-Maine Chamber office prior to 3 p.m. on Monday afternoon."
Lindlof ends the transmission with the statement "Please note, this petition does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce."
Madore, who had not seen the message when contacted Friday afternoon, said he considered Lindlof's words as clearly being a chamber position on a political issue.
"I was kind of surprised because I thought the Chamber of Commerce should be neutral on an issue like this," he said.
"I think it is a mistake on the part of the Chamber of Commerce."
Lindlof, however, said her intent simply was to inform — she sent the message to every chamber member who has an e-mail address.
"My thinking was simply that this is something happening in Waterville," she said.
"I, personally and professionally, don't have an opinion on this, one way or the other. The chamber doesn't have an opinion on this, one way or the other."
Kathy Corey, who heads the chamber's board of directors, supports Lindlof on this point.
"I agree with Kim," she said. "We are not trying to take a position, but we should allow our members the ability to sound out how they feel on that particular position."
Lindlof said the chamber annually notifies members of proposed state legislation that may affect them. What she sent today, she said, is much the same.
"I really didn't perceive this as being any different, except that this is on the city level rather than on the state level," she said.
Lindlof said that, as of early Friday afternoon, no chamber member had signed the petition.
City Councilor Paul R. LePage, R-Ward 1, is the one who started the petition drive.
LePage objected to the budget's use of reserve funds.
He also argued that Madore failed to consult him and fellow city councilors Paul G. Poulin, D-Ward 2, and John M. Fortier, R-Ward 5, of his plan to take the final two votes on the budget May 29.
Madore said the community, in general, is satisfied with the budget the City Council adopted. He predicts the referendum drive will fail.
"I'm still confident (the petition) will not get the necessary number of signatures," he said.
Petition supporters must submit at least 1,424 signatures to the City Clerk's office by 5 p.m. Monday.
To reach Colin Hickey, Phone: 861-9205, email@example.com
By COLIN HICKEY, Copyright © 2001 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc