Council Could Appoint Interim Town Manager Tuesday

Council seeks to fill in hole left by Sutherland’s resignation

BAR HARBOR—The Town Council could potentially appoint an interim town manager to replace Kevin Sutherland who resigned last week, citing personal reasons.

Communications Coordinator Maya Caines said Monday, “The Council will not be using Eaton Peabody for the town manager search. They have reached out to the Maine Municipal Association (MMA) to work on finding a replacement. Additionally, the Council is hoping to appoint an interim manager during the Tuesday, January 31 budget meeting. We will provide more information as it becomes available.”

Appointing an interim town manager is not on the published agenda for the joint meeting of the Town Council and the town’s Warrant Committee. Agendas can be altered via a vote of the municipal boards involved. There is an additional special meeting for just the Town Council after the joint budget session. Both of those meetings’ agendas are below.

The council votes on the town manager’s appointment as well as the interim town manager’s appointment.

Simultaneously, an open letter from Annlinn Kruger and others, which was sent to the Mount Desert Islander and other media contacts, including the Bar Harbor Story says,

“Now that Town Manager Kevin Sutherland has resigned, Bar Harbor government can turn a new page. How will Bar Harbor select the next town manager? What will be the protocols and procedures, from start to finish? And most significantly, how will Bar Harbor residents participate in every step?”

The letter goes on to express discomfort with both the media coverage of the past town manager as well as the council’s handling of Kruger’s complaints of Sutherland’s alleged actions when dealing with her political protest against Leonard Leo. In multiple sidewalk locations and in a dissolvable chalk mixture, Kruger had written to google the conservative activist.

The letter says,

“We need a new town manager who: prioritizes their mission to balance environmental and economic issues; respects the limits of their authority; and sincerely welcomes full public inclusion. From the start. For this to happen, the Town Council must relinquish outsized executive privilege and prioritize citizen participation. Starting now.”

Kruger as well as Bo Greene, Linda and Peter Homer, Eric and Tina Stein, Rachel D’Angeli, Neha and Vivek Kumar, Zoe Schott, Amy Trafton, Matthew Bauer, Marlene Davis, Carolyn Maches, Murray Ngoima, Rebecca Gagne, Susan Covino Buell, Nancy Shaffer, and Sheila Eddison signed the letter. Some live in Bar Harbor. Some live on Mount Desert Island in other towns.

Sutherland’s resignation has caused other Bar Harbor residents to express support for him and his time here via social media posts.

Lead petitioner of the town’s recently passed daily cruise ship disembarkation caps, Charles Sidman, had sent a letter to town councilors prior to Sutherland’s scheduled yearly performance evaluation stressing his frustration with Sutherland and the process of implementing those caps. The town is currently in litigation about those changes.

According to its website, the nonprofit Maine Municipal Association,  which was founded in 1936 “is a voluntary membership organization offering an array of professional services to municipalities and other local governmental entities in Maine.

“The Maine Municipal Association has a core belief that local government is a fundamental component of a democratic system of government. MMA is dedicated to assisting local governments, and the people who serve in local government, in meeting the needs of their citizens and serving as responsible partners in the intergovernmental system.”

Prior to Sutherland’s tenure, Cornell Knight (2014-2021) was the town manager and before him, Dana Reed (1986-2014). Prior to his time in Bar Harbor, Sutherland served as a community development contractor and before that as a town manager in Saco, Maine (2015-2019) where a claim against him concerning age and gender discrimination against an older, male employee was dismissed by the Maine Human Rights Commission. The suit against the city itself was supported. Another lawsuit was settled out of court. Other employees who were put under paid leave had been reinstated. Links about those stories are below.

A November 17, 2021 article by Bill Trotter for the Bangor Daily News cites Town Councilor Jeff Dobbs as saying about Sutherland, “Not one person on the council had anything bad to say about him. He’s willing to jump right in. He’s unafraid.” He had been the only finalist.

In a letter announcing Sutherland’s resignation, Council Chair Valerie Peacock extended the council’s gratitude for Sutherland’s “effort and work on behalf of the town over this past year.”


Note: I am currently trying to determine our own letters to the editor policy, which seems like it should be easy, but isn’t quite because of legal issues, potential defamation and libel issues as well as verification issues. I’ll post when I’ve determined that policy. Apologies for the delay! And thank you for being patient with me.


LINKS TO LEARN MORE:

Maine Municipal Association

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CMwhnkJk-SyYwdk6LVebUkG2CnaxDehS/view

https://www.newscentermaine.com/article/news/saco-police-chief-deputy-chief-cleared-reinstated/97-4e54c047-8b7a-48d8-b74b-c351b127a7a7

https://sacobaynews.com/maine-human-rights-commission-supports-findings-that-city-of-saco-discrimin-p859-1.htm

Budget Presentations Begin Without a Town Manager

Bar Harbor’s Town Manager Resigns

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