Hancock councilman asks town manager to resign

February 11, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

HANCOCK - Hancock Town Councilman Darwin Mills has called for the resignation of Town Manager Louis O. Close over actions he took during last month's elections.

However, Close and Mills differ over what it was that Close did to anger Mills.

They agreed Wednesday that Mills accused Close of stepping over the lines of appropriate conduct in the days leading up to the Jan. 25 election.

Close, though, said Mills' resignation demand stemmed from a letter to the editor published in The Herald-Mail about town issues and Close's vocal public response to an election flyer.

Close said the flyer contained misinformation about the size of the town's debt. The flyer's co-author later said a typo caused him to misstate the town's debt by more then $40 million.


The flyer endorsed three candidates, including Mills' son, William. The three were defeated in the election.

Close said that if Mills had proof that he did anything wrong, he should speak up.

The exchange came during Close's monthly town manager report at the Hancock Town Council meeting.

Close ended his report by answering written questions from Mills, including the amount of his monthly phone bill and the size of his pension.

Close then announced publicly that Mills had demanded his resignation.

Close and Mayor Daniel A. Murphy asked Mills if he had additional questions for Close. Mills said he was not sure yet.

After the meeting, Mills said that Close was intentionally twisting the facts, a charge Close denied.

Mills said he went to Town Hall before the election to get an absentee ballot for an elderly woman. Close called and offered to drive the woman to the polling place at Town Hall, Mills said.

"That is crossing the line, and is not appropriate behavior for a tax-payer paid employee," Mills said. His objection was about that conduct, not about the flyer or the newspaper editorial, Mills said.

Close said he did offer to drive the woman, who is a friend, to the polling place, but said she ended up not needing the ride. He did not think there was anything improper about his offer, he said.

Former Councilwoman Glorious Sagle said the new council should revise the town election laws to ensure that town employees are not involved in the contests.

"Our elections have gotten kind of wild," said Sagle, who was defeated in the election.

Mills agreed, saying all election activities should be under the purview of the Hancock Election Board.

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