April 08, 2020

Attorney critical of work by Belfast code officer > Investigator hired by city favors Temple’s dismissal

BELFAST — An attorney hired by the City Council to investigate the conduct of top-level city officials has recommended that councilors seriously consider the dismissal or revocation of the city code enforcement officer’s appointment.

In a letter to the council dated Jan. 6, Robert Miller, a Bangor attorney retained by the city, wrote that Code Enforcement Officer Bob Temple “has demonstrated a lack of good understanding of the ordinances within his jurisdiction and a failure to enforce local regulations in a uniform and nondiscriminatory manner.”

Miller wrote that it is his opinion that the council could find that Temple’s conduct has affected his “ability and fitness” to perform his duties. Since September, Miller has been investigating the conduct of Belfast’s top-level employees.

“It will be my recommendation that the council give serious consideration to a revocation of his appointment as code enforcement officer and dismissal as an employee of the city of Belfast,” Miller concludes. “In the alternative, it would be my recommendation that he not be reappointed to the position at the end of his current term.”

Temple is up for his annual reappointment in April.

According to Councilor Jon Cheston, a hearing on Miller’s findings likely will be scheduled for Monday, Jan. 19.

Miller wrote that Temple’s attorney, Ed Bearor, had asked him earlier this month that a hearing be scheduled as soon as possible. Bearor asked that he and his client be given at least a week’s notice of the charges before a hearing date be scheduled.

Miller wrote that he will submit a formal list of the charges against Temple as soon as a hearing is scheduled.

Temple could not be reached for comment Thursday at City Hall because it was closed due to the weather.

Lewis Baker, a Belfast resident who initiated and oversees the E. Robert Temple Legal Defense Fund, expressed dismay that Miller’s opinion was disclosed to the public.

“I think the city’s personnel policies have been violated,” Baker said. “I think there’s going to be some court action regarding that.”

Baker, who is a member of the city’s zoning board of appeals, said he started the legal fund because he believes that Temple’s legal rights have been “trampled on.” Temple has nothing to do with the fund and does not know who is contributing to it, Baker said. He declined to disclose how much has been contributed.

Temple’s hearing comes almost two months after Arlo Redman III resigned from his position as city manager on Nov. 24, 1997, with a $65,000 severance package. The council had investigated charges that Redman had improperly used his position to circumvent zoning and permitting regulations for real estate projects in which his wife, Jane Knight, was involved.

After a lengthy closed council session last October, the council announced that it would seek a formal employment contract with Redman. Days later, however, Redman sent a memo to Temple asking him to inspect certain properties belonging to councilors, a move that Redman said was simply following up on a council directive. A majority of councilors interpreted Redman’s action as one of retribution, which ultimately led the council to negotiate for Redman’s resignation.

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