CLINTON — The petition to oust Ronnie Irving from his position on the Board of Selectmen has failed after petitioners were unable to collect the required number of signatures within the allotted time period.

The petition, which was started last month by five residents, stated that the petitioners wanted Irving removed from his position because of violations of two sections of the town’s charter.

Section 2.05 (b) states that selectmen may not comment on matters in which they abstained from voting, and Section 2.07 (b) states that administrative business must be handled through the town manager and prohibits selectmen from giving orders to subordinates privately or publicly.

Randy Clark, a former Clinton selectman and current member of the town’s personnel subcommittee, right, talks with Michael Hachey, former director of the Clinton-Benton Solid Waste Transfer and Recycling Station during a selectmen’s meeting July 1 in the Selectmen’s Room at the Clinton Town Hall. Morning Sentinel file photo by Michael G. Seamans

Lead petitioner Randy Clark stated that Irving, who’s employed by the companies contracted to do Clinton’s plowing and highway maintenance, violated Section 2.05 (b) by giving public comments on town contractors at multiple selectmen’s meetings.

“I’ve heard him make comments about the town’s plowing company at town meetings, and he can’t do that since he works for certain contractors,” Clark said. “If you work for someone and you speak about it publicly to other board members, that could influence them. That can’t happen.”

Clark also claimed that Irving’s other violation came from him allegedly giving orders on numerous occasions to former transfer station director Michael Hachey.

“I know Ronnie has gone up to the transfer station and told Mike what to do before,” Clark said.

Petitioners had 30 days to collect 353 signatures, which accounted for 15% of the registered voter population in Clinton.

But as that deadline arrived two weeks ago, Clark stated that the group was only able to collect approximately 200 signatures between the five of them.

“Between all of us we had about 200 signatures, but I went to 142 houses and got 127 signatures,” Clark said.

In a phone call on Wednesday, Clark said that it was the time constraint that hindered the petitioners abilities to gather the required number of signatures.

“We just didn’t have enough time,” Clark said. “It was the 30 day time limit. If I had 90 days, I could’ve gotten 400 to 500 signatures.”

The petitioners expressed outrage during a meeting on Aug. 13 when Town Manager Earla Haggerty said the town had a new policy prohibiting the signing of petitions or conducting any unrelated business at the dump.

At the meeting, Hachey and his wife said they were made aware of the policy when they went to the facility to collect signatures for a different petition that called for Hachey to be reinstated as the station’s director after he was fired in June.

“When Mike and I went up there, we were told we had to leave and that we couldn’t collect signatures at the dump,” Mrs. Hachey said.

In response, Haggerty explained that safety concerns were the reason for the new policy.

“I’m a risk manager for this town. I work with Maine Municipal Association (and) they from time to time put inspectors on this property. I consult with them, I take their advice, I’m supposed to help the town avoid risk,” Haggerty said. “And when you mix pedestrians with the kind of traffic we have up there, that’s a risk. … Get them (signatures) anywhere you want, but not on town property when it presents a risk.”

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