Paris selectmen remove Janet Jamison from three posts

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REMOVED — Janet Jamison, left, speaks to Norway-Paris Community Television Committee member Rick Little, right, during the Thursday, Aug. 31 Paris selectmen meeting to hear formal complaints against her. The board voted 3-2 to remove her from all boards and committees she serves on.

PARIS — Despite Norway-Paris Solid Waste Board Chair Janet Jamison’s request to finish her term, selectmen voted 3-2 to remove her from all boards and committees she serves on after receiving two complaints about her.

Selectboard Chairman Scott Buffington, Gary Vaughn and John Andrews voted to remove Jamison, while Vice Chairman Chris Summers and Rusty Brackett voted against the motion at the special selectmen’s meeting held Thursday, Aug. 31.

About 30 people attended the nearly two-hour meeting where Buffington read aloud the two complaints against Jamison, who most recently served as selectboard chair until she was defeated in the June election.

Norway-Paris Community Television Committee member Rick Little and Norway-Paris Solid Waste Board member Corey Roberge filed formal complaints against Jamison. Both of them and Jamison attended.

Little wrote that Jamison harassed him at a spring meeting. In a July 11 letter, he wrote that Jamison became upset over a $1.86 receipt from Aubuchon Hardware and banged her fist on the table, which she denied. At last week’s meeting, Little said he was stressed to sit next to Jamison who refused to look or speak to him at the committee meetings.

“I can sit here and deny it, but I think I have already been found guilty,” Jamison said.

“This is a total fabrication and he knows it,” Jamison said as she turned to look at Little, who shook his head “no.”

Summers said he was curious as to when the town received these letters. Buffington apologized to Little that “it took us so long to address this.” When Little spoke later during the meeting, he expressed his “disgust” that neither Buffington nor Hodgkins emailed or called him back after submitting his letter.

“I just thought you guys didn’t care,” he said.

Hodgkins said he and Buffington “decided to let it sit there for a moment because we were frying other fish. … Then I look up and there is another [complaint].”

In an Aug. 15 letter, Roberge wrote that Jamison put her hands near his face during an argument about a safety program at the Transfer Station. Jamison said she was shielding herself from his negative words.

Roberge also accused her of withholding information, circumventing the board and NPSW Manager Warren Sessions when making decisions, including implementing a safety program at the Transfer Station. Roberge offered to run an in-house program and during a meeting this spring, he said there was a five minute discussion, no vote taken on the matter and Jamison instructed Sessions to call Mary Matthews of SafetyWorks! for the safety program.

“It’s pretty clear – it’s up to the board as a whole to make decisions like this, not a single person. We had a discussion about it and she continued to [act on her own],” Roberge said.

“I am being set up,” Jamison said. “What I am telling you is these allegations made by these two individuals [are] absolutely not true. This is not the first time I have been called out on less-than-honest allegations.”

Roberge said the board did not receive the safety report recommendations from SafetyWorks! until after the due date of when problems were supposed to be resolved by. Summers, who is a master electrician, said he was down at the Transfer Station working on some issues from the safety report.

Former Selectman Kathy Richardson questioned the timing of the complaints, noting they came in after “some very heated and highly uncomfortable exchanges” between Jamison and selectmen since the town elections in June.

“The consideration of removing Janet from two boards based solely on these two letters has all the earmarks of a set-up – a retaliation from those in power,” Richardson said. “If this selectboard chooses to remove a citizen from an appointed town position, they have an obligation to do so for legitimate reasons – not based solely on gathering personal gripes from other sources.”

Richardson is partially referring to Jamison questioning Buffington about the taxes he owes. Noting he would not tolerate personal attacks on himself or others, Buffington requested three times to have Jamison removed from selectboard meetings. She ultimately was not removed after agreeing to stop discussing the matter.
Brackett noted he wanted to be at last week’s meeting “like a heart attack.”

“I’m really bothered by tonight because no matter how you look at it, somebody’s lying. They can’t both be right, they can’t both be wrong,” he said. “I’m not take a side. … I don’t mind telling you (Jamison) I absolutely detest when you come in here and rant and rave. … On the same token, I don’t know if I can sit here and vote to remove you from the boards.”

Josh Tice, owner of Tice Waste Management, who has worked with Jamison as chair of Norway-Paris Solid Waste board, told selectmen he has come to Jamison with “pretty harsh stuff” and spoke his mind.

“At no point has she ever been … rude to me or shut me down,” he said. “I think removing her and not letting her finish [her NPSW term] out would not be a good move for that place. She does get stuff done. Is she perfect? Nobody is. … Sometimes you gotta step up and a be a little more forceful.”

The majority of selectmen did not agree.

“Your insults and rude comments that are made in this very room prove this is a trait you cannot control or should be tolerated by anybody else,” Vaughn told Jamison before he made his motion to remove her from all boards and committees. This include Norway-Paris Solid Waste Board, Norway-Paris Community Television Committee and Oxford County Regional Recycling.

After the vote, one audience member said, “Are you kidding? How does that happen?”

“Because it’s rigged,” another answered.

Jamison, along with the rest of the Norway-Paris Solid Waste Board members, were previously removed from the board when there was a dispute over how the board would operate. She was later reappointed to the board. In 2013, selectmen opted to not reappoint her to the Budget Committee because of her “confrontational” and “disrespectful manner,” according to Sun Media archives.

At last week’s meeting, Jamison promised she would not remain quiet regarding town matters.

“Yes, you can take me off these boards but do you think I am going to go away? I have lived here for 30 years and that has to count for something,” she said.

eplace@sunmediagroup.net