Oct 29, 2015

One thing after another: Rocklanders writing what they think about their new Rockland city manager.

Below, read Rocklanders speak ing out quite emphatically in reaction the  to the statements of  James Chaousis II and Rockland city councilors  (especially councilor/mayor Frank Isganitis), recorded by Villagesoup  at an October 22nd meeting and reported  on by  the Rockland Courier Gazette.(copy)


Selected comments
POSTED BY: ADAM S ACKOR Oct 27, 2015 15:35
comments and scrutiny from the public and press come with the territory.  The level of
arrogance within this council and city administration is unparalleled.  The public should always be encouraged to remain engaged in the process and discourse.  Who is the vocal minority the speak of?  Are they referring to the abutters and neighbors who spoke out about the Pleasant street hotel project, or are they referring to the vocal minority who are now attempting to dismantle our school district.  Are they referring to the vocal minority who believe that the harbor should be more of a cash cow?  or is it the vocal minority who believe that a power plant, producing energy for export out of Maine, would be a good replacement for our city hall....I'm just curious about who they are referring to.  If city councilor's don't like the criticism and engagement of the public, then they should step down and go home.

We (Kendall & Phyllis Merriam) are stunned by the attitudes of our city's council's and administrator's toward city employees and the public they are elected to serve. However, the following thoughtful Americans say it better than we can:
"Whereas it appeareth that however certain forms of government are better calculated than others to protect individuals in the free excercise of their natural rights, and are at the same time themselves better guarded against degeneracy, yet experience hath shown that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny."
-Thomas Jefferson
And from another great American and social critic:
"Forget the politicians. They are put there to give you the idea you have freedom of choice. You don't.   ...the city halls control just about all the news and information you get to hear. They don't want a population of well-informed citizens capable of critical thinking."
-George Carlin



What is next? If The People cannot “get along” with city council, are we going to be shipped to The Gulag?

POSTED BY: AMY FILES Oct 27, 2015 14:35
While I can understand frustration that city workers and volunteer council are constantly under fire -- I agree with Mr. Ackor that we should be VERY VERY weary of a council who is blaming a "vocal minority" as one of their major problems. A government intent on quieting its opposition in a democracy is a very scary thing. While I sometimes find myself part of this "vocal minority", and others I find I am in disagreement with it -- I would always prefer that there be people keeping a watchful eye on what is going on, and getting the word out about concerns -- as opposed to a council who passes important policy and prefers that "'Nobody even knows we've done this." Council should consider that more transparency and communication could result in a larger and louder opposition -- not simply assume that the "vocal minority" has no reasonable case to be upset with their actions or methods. There have been multiple duplicitous approaches to projects this year by the City -- from how we've handled bids, to having vote do-overs, to having our code officer act as lobbyist -- asking local businesses for of new development. I would prefer a "vocal minority" intent on calling these issues out than a Council who prefers to quiet them.

Isganitis, Clayton, Geiger, Pritchet, Mclellan Ruff & Chaousis [[mayor,city councilors and city manager]] think that Rocklanders are just a bunch of Morons!

On their "vision" they state "with a focus on renewable energy. . ." and then, they proceed to promote a natural gas burning plant!

What kind of Kool-Aid is being served at the council meetings?

Should we cry or should we laugh?

POSTED BY: SANDRA SCHRAMM Oct 28, 2015 11:29
This meeting was despicable and the taxpayers paid for it! More waste.

The counsel outlined all the weaknesses they observe. Remind them that most of them have been in office long enough to create more than enough decline and debt.
Recently I was told that the City officials let MBNA walk out on 8 million in taxes due! I would like to see the accounting on this and who signed it as it was the beginning of the debt issue resulting in former Mayor Pritchett's mission to sell of our PW garage and city hall for a greatly outdated plan for a natural gas plant. He likely plans to sell our harbor off as well for export.

The very issues the described fear mongers have been trying to explain at the podium are the issues that will take Rockland down. The actions of this council, manager and city attorney need close scrutiny in my humble opinion! If theses thorns were not correct why are we so feared we are all but banned from city hall?


The local Press:  we can thank the stars above our press representation finally has been restored to fair and respectfull representation. Stifling the press is to take away our First Amendment. As a young student in the Camden school system we learned early on the importance of the press and understanding the duties bestowed upon them.  Locally, we have a press team to be proud of. Yes there are issues nationally everyday where the press is called into question but I consider our press representatives to have restored their profession to a high standard after a long period of controlled press news reporting.  The men and women locally can be proud of the job they do each day exhibiting great integrity with some of what they have to deal with.  The only complaints come from city officials! Shameful.

To describe residents or the press as threats is not representative of a Democracy. To deny either entity of the Freedom of Speech is shameful and against our Constitution. They have as others have said, trampled the Charter of the City of Rockland. Is the Constitution next?

Please attend tonight's meeting and above all, Vote for change November 3rd.

I will will add that I sat in on this meeting for 75 minutes and was overwhelmed with the disdain shown for anyone opposing these people. It would be a positive step for the City should this piece of work be destroyed and those not tolerant enough of the entire populace resign their reign.

POSTED BY: DEBRA L WHITTIER Oct 27, 2015 21:05
"Enhanced civic amenities" certainly does not include an outsourced Recreation Department.  Having grown up in Rockland, this change will always bother me.

POSTED BY: DEBRA L WHITTIER Oct 27, 2015 21:03
Interesting that Daniel Dunkle's article was considered to be negative and taken out of context. A review of the attached document from the meeting was reported exactly as stated in the document.  City employees were characterized as casual, unprofessional and resistant to change.  Yet, in the City Manager's response it was said that morale was at all time high. Seems to me there is a bit of disconnect here.
POSTED BY: DEBORAH O ATWELL Oct 27, 2015 18:31

Vote for Bill Jillson.  I was at this goal setting meeting too. Mr. Chaousis referred to me, in private, as a deviant. I believe as soon as he rids the city of all deviants he will find the peace and victory of his personal vision for Rockland. That will leave....who? Perhaps you are next? Do you display deviance? Do you disagree with the city manager? Did you like how he fast tracked the power plant deal? Don't say so!  Watch out! the city manager is out to get you, you deviant!  Vote Bill Jillson. A Hundred Cheers for Rockland!

POSTED BY: RONALD HUBER Oct 27, 2015 17:21
I must agree with all of the above.One could reasonably say that Mr Chaousis and the city council are the most "threatening" vocal minority.

City officials have even sought to get around Maine's  Freedom of Access law, declaring (1) that not one of them ever keeps written or online notes of their office phone conversations to each other, Nor those to or from contractors, state, and county officials and others  No phone notes of what transpired during conference calls either; and.

(2)  that due to the   city policy letting city officials  use a single smartphone for both government purposes and private purposes, the two sets of calls are so hopelessly muddled  together  that  according to an email from Rockland's city attorney,  the city manager Chaousis has estimated  it will take him at least ten hours  to go through his last two phone bills  and figure out which are from his family and personal friends, and which aren't.  It will also take the city attorney Kevin Beal ten hours to go through HIS  last two  phone bills and Terry Pinto HIS.Ms  Bell likewise will need at least at least ten hours to read her last two phone bills and figure out which are from her family  and friends  and which aren't:
Hence, city attorney Beal wrote , at $15 per hour for each to look at their last two phone bills for ten hours, I'll need to cough up $885.00  - in advance- before they will undertake this arduous task, (which logically shouldn't take more than an hour, max) - with no guaranteed that there will be any records produced at all!

This is not good governance.
The city council and city manager can have all the "visions" they wish. What is needed is a mission statement with very specific goals with very specific steps to meet those goals.

The city governments' attitude toward Mr. Dunkle specifically, and the Fourth Estate, in general, continues the defensive posture city government continues to take in the face of any critiques. They do not seem to grasp the civic process and the role of journalists and newspapers.

POSTED BY: HOPE KOCIAN Oct 27, 2015 16:13
"The goal of the three-hour meeting, Bouchard said, was to create a vision statement for the city, setting a vision of what success would look like by June 30, 2018. She said this should be inspiring, achievable but not easy, something that would be a stretch to reach."
Was this goal achieved?

Hi there Rockland Residents [aka The Voters] members of the SILENT MAJORITY,

What else can be added to the very long list of what this group of DICTATORS has been imposing on us, The People?

BTW, this was a PUBLIC meeting. Notice the size of the room. Space for only 5 members of the Public. No cameras, no microphone, no OFFICIAL RECORD.

Democracy is dying in Rockland and on November 3, we can begin the process of electing new faces that will work for The People and not being in the pockets of "developers".


POSTED BY: ADAM S ACKOR Oct 27, 2015 11:55
I keep scanning the article for the part where at least one person on the city council speaks up and says "do you think this is appropriate, spending tax payer dollars to publicly state that those opposed to our views are the greatest threat to our city?"...but I don't see that....what I do see is a group who are void of even the most basic knowledge of civics, and frankly the foundations of a thriving democracy.  

I'd take a thousand voices of dissent over one of these pitiful clowns any day.  Their aim is to pander to development while weeding out any city employee who disagrees with them at any time....because of course the city manager is always right?!  Democracy doesn't exist without dissenting voices, and this council is operating now at a level of incompetence that I can rarely recall.  I believe it is time for the vocal minority to become the vocal majority and give this manager a ticket out of town
I believe that the single greatest threat to our city is the city manager

Oct 28, 2015

VSOUP story says: Rockland City leaders list 'vocal minority,' and change-resistant city employees as weaknesses/threats in goal-setting meeting

Rockland Courier Gazette 10/25/15 story by Dan Dunkle  detailing a three hour Rockland city "goal-setting" meeting  of city councilors, the city manager and a facilitator. held in a small room of the  Rockland Public Library. Headline slightly modified for clarity - RH

City leaders list 'vocal minority,'  media, change-resistant city employees as weaknesses/threats in goal-setting meeting.  by Dan Dunkle

ROCKLAND — Members of the City Council and city management created a list of what they see as the city's strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities in a meeting Oct. 22 at the Rockland Public Library as part of a goal-setting project.
City officials listed an entrenched and negative vocal minority of residents and resistance to change among city employees as weaknesses and threats during the meeting.
Laurie Bouchard of Bouchard & Associates LLC was hired to facilitate the meeting.
The goal of the three-hour meeting, Bouchard said, was to create a vision statement for the city, setting a vision of what success would look like by June 30, 2018. She said this should be inspiring, achievable but not easy, something that would be a stretch to reach.
Prior to the meeting, city management team members and councilors had created an initial list of the city's strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities. In many cases the same or a similar item was listed more than once as the city leaders went through these lists.
Change-resistant city employees
It was stated as a weakness that among the city employees are entrenched staff who are resistant to any type of change to the way things have always been done, including being managed. In addition, Bouchard said, the list included a lack of professionalism among the staff.
"This takes on different forms: staff shouting, being insubordinate, refusing to accept City Council policy decisions, going behind management's back to the council."
When she was talking about the threats on the lists, this was mentioned again as an internal threat.
"There is some up-front cost associated with providing the staff with appropriate direction, tools, training to do their jobs better," the list stated. "If this is not communicated to the public as a long-term investment, they will see it as a waste of money. There are also staff who will be incredibly resistant to change and will need to go through a grieving process associated with doing things differently from how they have always done them."
In addition, it was stated at the meeting that:
"Internal staff have become accustomed to operating in a very casual manner in their interactions with councilors and members of the public. It is likely they will view increased levels of professionalism as restrictive."
City councilors at the meeting felt the employee issues were to be handled at the city manager's level, not by the council. Valli Geiger said she has had nothing but positive experiences working with city employees.
City Manager James Chaousis said city administrators would need support from the council to push for change.
Chaousis did not respond to an email request for documents from the meeting or the amount of money the city paid to Bouchard.
The vocal minority
City officials listed as a threat to the city "a small cadre of people with relentless negativity," and "a vocal, entrenched minority."
It was stated that this small group of local citizens is continually trying to disrupt progress with "fear-mongering that everything is a coverup."
They also expressed concern about members of the public who have very strong opinions and emotions regarding planning and development issues, and who do not care about the underlying policy that is the basis for decision-making.
City officials said it would be "very important to communicate why and how decisions are made," and how they conform to policy.
The press
The lists of weaknesses and threats also included several references to local press, complaining that the city has no outlet to counter bad press, that too many editorials are written by one person, and that the press and the city are not "true partners in bringing forward the concerns of citizens while addressing the positives happening every day."
"There's a national 'gotcha' media, which has filtered into the state and I think is also represented locally," Chaousis said.
Geiger said she has struggled with this. She said she went to a Belfast meeting that was not covered by the press.
"It came before council, they passed it, and a year later they said, 'Nobody even knows we've done this,'" she said. "That would never happen here. Whatever you're doing here is lots of discussion, rabble-rousing."
At the meeting it was suggested that the city would have new communication policies going forward.
"Increasing trust is gradual, and there are likely to be steps backwards for every few steps forward," one of the items on the lists stated. "Will require patience, consistency and constantly overstating the same things."
Rising mil rate
Chaousis argued that the mil rate itself is not the problem. That is just a calculation, he said. The real issue, the council decided, was high property taxes.
"There are 489 municipalities in this state," he said. "The average of the mil rates is about $14.50, but the average town in the state has less than 2,000 population, doesn't have a police department, and is not a city. We have an average mil rate among the 24 cities in the state of Maine."
Councilor Will Clayton pointed out that much of the rising property tax rate is caused by increases in school costs, which the council does not control.
City Hall sale and engineering issues
City Councilor Larry Pritchett's responses to the questions took on the issue of the City Hall building, which the city may sell to be redeveloped as a location for a natural gas power plant.
Pritchett identified the building's weaknesses, saying it is on the edge of town, not easy to walk to, has a high energy intensity index and outdated lighting and building systems. He said the city must decide whether to stay or move, or building challenges may force stranded investments.
Pritchett also argued that the city does not have strong engineering for its projects, pointing to a "lack of solid technical specs," and "not using firms with strong portfolios."
Chaousis agreed, saying the city was working without an engineering budget and had made engineering a low priority.
City leaders also listed and discussed the following:
- Quality of place
- Vibrant city including arts, culture, manufacturing, being on the coast
- Unique retail; not too many franchises
- City staff members who have found more ways to do more with less
- Businesses are looking to locate here
- A unique situation where blue- and white-collar, industrial and entrepreneurs as well as retirees live side-by-side year-round.
- Ad hoc decision-making around development and planning; discussion and decision-making that focuses more on emotions and opinions, as opposed to relating planning and development proposals back to the broader policy framework
- A lack of trust on every measurable axis
- Trouble recruiting personnel
- Declining population
- Entrenched poverty
- Old housing stock with deferred maintenance
- Poor school outcomes
- Old lateral sewer lines
- More than 25 percent of the property is tax-exempt
- "Redistributing resources is often very emotional, and not something you can expect unanimity around; there is going to have to be a very direct and clear explanation of why certain resources need to be redirected for the good of the community, as opposed to the good of a few stakeholders or even a few areas of the city's operation."
- Increasing mil rate due to status quo of county and RSU.
- A continuing increase in overall poverty level
- A regression of the quality job the police department has done in reducing crime rate and drug influence.
- Civil unrest
- Aging infrastructure
- Families leaving Rockland
- Not enough rental housing
- Improved public communications strategies
- When hard-working staff are given appropriate direction -- tools and training to work more efficiently -- they will provide more service for less money and more taxpayer bang for their buck
- Improving professionalism among staff will improve trust among the public, creating a more customer-service culture

COMMENTS (worth reading)

Furious Rocklanders blast new city manager. Urge Chaousis be let go

Anger grows over behavior of new Rockland City manager.

Rockland is in a turmoil as its new city manager James Chaousis harasses employees,  foments community  division, creates enemies lists,  attacks the media,  turns government transparency into darkness.....the list is much longer. Below, Rockland resident David Myslabodski counts a few of the way in his testimony tonight to the council on whether Chaousis should be kept on or let go.
Click here for many more Rocklanders unhappy with Chaousis

Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Resident VOTERS of Rockland, 
My name is David Myslabodski. I live on Broad St.
 I see that the council will review the performance of the city manager.  
I would like to list just a few of the city manager’s “achievements:”

·      He is the one that called for a council meeting. The one that started the insane idea of bringing to Rockland a gas-burning plant.
·      He is the one that pushed our beloved and respected Harbor Master Ed Glaser into “Early Retirement.”
·      He is the one that, against our City Charter, elevated Audra Caller Bell to the new position of Assistant Manager. BTW, Ann Matlack was an Administrative Assistant and NOT an Assistant Manager.
·      He is the one who has been sitting on Rockland’s composting permit. The People are eager to compost but the city manager could care less.
·      During the budget sessions, he is the one that put his position on the table. Council should have taken him on his word. Instead council gave the Rec Center to the YMCA and chopped down our library.
·      Somehow, I can see that all this will fall on deaf  city council  ears and the city manager will get a glowing review plus a substantial raise . . . 

Oct 25, 2015

Deep Ecology conference, Belfast Maine October 23, 2015 AUDIO

 On October 23, 2015  the University of Maine hosted a conference entitled Deep Ecology: Ethical and Spiritual Principles”  Below are links to MP3s of the speakers at the event  (More links to come) Cosponsored by the UME Peace and Reconciliation program and the ESTIA organization , the event had a strong Native American focus. Key speakers were three members of the Penobscot Nation: Darren Ranco, chair of UMaine’s Native American Programs; Sherri Mitchell,  indigenous rights attorney and writer; and Maria Girouard, historian and expert  on the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act.  Ron Huber of the Friends of Penobscot Bay, a member of the Ecocentric Alliance , hosted a discussion titled "Shallow Ecology: applying deep ecology principles to protection of Penobscot Bay." Other speakers included Monique Larocque, UME Peace and Reconciliation program and poet Kathleen Ellis.


1.Introduction Hugh Curran  3min26sec 

2. Monique Laroque  6min 43sec

3. Darren Ranco  6min 20sec

4 Sherri Mitchell and film 33min 


5 Darren Ranco  7min 21sec 

6. Kathleen Ellis 14min 42sec

7 Maria Girouard 24min

8. Introduction to  discussion breakout panels 6min

(panels to be posted soon)

Oct 21, 2015

FOPB FOAAs Rockland city officials' phone records.

On October 2, 2015 Friends of Penobscot Bay filed FOAA  requests with five Rockland officials for their phone records, ie. ...public records detailing all your city-related desk phone and cellphone/smartphone useage for the period of August 1, 2015 through October 13, 2015. If you were using a personal cellphone or other device during that time in lieu of or in addition to the city-supplied phones for transacting public business, verbally or by text, we ask that you supply the relevant public records from that as well."

On October 19, 2015  city attorney Kevin Beal wrote back   claiming that:
1. half of the requested records don't exist [wrong]
2. The other half are so mixed together  with private messages that it will take 60 hours of intensive steady labor at $15 dollars per hour for the five persons to look through their two most recent phone bills.  $885.00 payment will be required up front.  Huh? What?  

Rockland FOAA phone requests
10/2/15 FOAA phone records request to Rockland city attorney Kevin Beal_phone

10/2/15 FOAA phone records request to Rockland city council member Larry Pritchett

10/2/15 FOAA phone records request to Rockland waste water treatment operator Terry Pinto

1012/15 FOAA phone records request to Rockland econ development staffer Caler Bell

10/2/15 FOAA phone records request to Rockland city manager Jim Chaousis

101915 Kevin Beal's response

NEXT STEP:  stay tuned!

Oct 20, 2015

Rockland candidates Atwell & Isganitis at forum for City Council seat

On Oct 19, 2015,  Rockland city council candidates  Debby Atwell and Frank Isganitis answered questions  about Rockland issues asked by the  audience, for about 90 minutes. Stephen Betts of the Bangor Daily News did a good job emcee-ing  the event  Below are mp3 audio recordings of the speakers  More being added. Check back later .

1. Introduction by Betts, Intros by Isganitis and Atwell 7minutes

Frank Isganitis
Debby Atwell

2. Q1. Barry Faber to Isglanitis re assistant city manager hiring issue
Barry Faber

3 A1. Answers to Faber by Isganitis & Atwell 3minutes

4. Q2 Rodney ___ to Isganitis & Atwell re re assistant city manager hiring issue3min 15sec
                                                             MORE AUDIO TO COME
Election Forum audience, City Mgr Chaousis,front right

Oct 11, 2015

West Penobscot Bay: Substantial coastal forest losses since early 1990s: report

"Substantial deforestation" in all West Penobscot Bay towns between 1992 and 2011.  
Summary According to a report prepared earlier this year for Friends of  Penobscot Bay, western bay towns Stockton Springs, Searsport, Belfast, Camden, Rockport, Rockland and South Thomaston lost about 30 square miles of forests between 1992 and 2011.

Twelve square miles of those lost forests became impervious surfaces, e.g. buildings, roads, parking lots. The remainder has become either wetlands or grasslands.  
Surprisingly with this 85% increase in developed land, came an average decline of 2% in west Penobscot Bay town populations.                                          

The report "Tools for Assessing and Managing Human Impact on Maine’s Harbors" was prepared by Kevin Frech, in cooperation with Public Laboratory

Funding for the study was provided  by the Azavea Foundation which is  dedicated to improving data access and usage in natural resource and social applications 

Stockton Springs & Searsport together lost 14%  of their forest cover: 5 and a half square miles. Population increase of 84 people since 1990.

More details here


Belfast  lost 4 square miles 15% of its forests. About 2 square miles became developed land.  While development went up 50%, the population only went up 4%.                      More details here


Camden & Rockport lost 8%  of forestland  3 square miles become developed land.  100% increase in development Lost almost 3 sq miles to new development.    
Population grew by 72, or 0.1percent                                                         More details here


Rockland  lost 23% of its forest cover.  45% increase in developed land  Population  of the city dropped  8%, from 7,900 down to 7,200 between 1992 and 2011.

More details here


South Thomaston  lost 40% of its forests. 6 sq miles. 80% increase in develop 1994-2011.  An increase of 3 square miles of wetlands and 1 1/2 sq miles of developed land. 16% drop in
population a decline of 500 people.  More details

The report was prepared by Kevin Frech, Azavea Intern, and recent Temple University graduate.