Falmouth council critic launches drive to recall chairwoman
FALMOUTH — Five residents, led by outspoken Town Council critic Michael Doyle, have launched a campaign to recall Chairwoman Cathy Breen for "repeatedly failing to comply with the Rules of the Town Council."
The petition filed against Breen, whose second term expires in June 2011, is the first step in an attempt to remove her from the council. The document, dated April 20, was signed by Doyle, Robert Povall, Jan Andrews, Beverley Knudsen and Peter Mullaney. But it was not turned in to the town clerk until May 19.
The following day, Mullaney requested that his name be removed. Mullaney did not respond to several requests to discuss his decision. His action voided the petition until Doyle's mother, Marion Doyle, signed the document on May 24.
"I could have gotten many people to sign it, but I wanted to move it along quickly," Doyle said. "And she couldn't wait to sign it."
Breen said she did not know if she would mount a counter-campaign against the recall, or if the effort would affect the manner by which she maintains decorum at council meetings.
"Mr. Doyle has the right to use the charter to make his views known through the mechanism available," Breen said.
"I do the best job I can. I'm sure I'm not perfect."
The recall process requires that five citizens sign on as members of a recall committee. The committee then has 30 days to collect signatures from 10 percent of the registered voters in Falmouth.
If they are successful, the town would have 60 days to hold a recall election. If the petition fails, it cannot be resubmitted for 180 days from the end of the filing period.
During the Town Council meeting on Monday, May 24, Doyle said he was encouraged to form the committee by a councilor he declined to identify. However, he distributed copies of an e-mail sent to him by Councilor David Libby on Feb. 23, 2010, that referred to a past recall campaign against former Councilor Ann Goggin.
In it, Libby stated that he "can't agree more that Chair Breen has been rude and short with (Councilor) Fred (Chase) and other citizens." Libby also encouraged Doyle to "Keep up the good work and more importantly keep the heat turned up!"
Libby on Tuesday confirmed he wrote the message. But he said he never encouraged Doyle to mount a recall campaign against Breen and said he specifically asked him, if he was going to attempt a recall, to not to do it until after the June election.
"I never said I condoned the recall. I don't," Libby said.
Doyle has also received permission to display a video of Breen and have a table at the polls during the June 8 election in an effort to gather signatures. He said he is planning to be there.
Meanwhile, on the evening of May 20, Doyle was removed from the Falmouth Republican Town Committee.
According to committee President Bill Gardiner, the action came after some committee members felt Doyle's recent criticism of town councilors stepped beyond their comfort levels.
"The politics of personality – that's really what it was," Gardiner said. "I think sooner or later, he's going to be vindicated."
Gardiner said he strongly supports many of Doyle's positions, particularly his criticism of the school budget. However, the committee was disturbed by Doyle's personal attacks against Breen and Councilor Bonny Rodden.
"The way he did it caused dissent in the ranks," Gardiner said.
Doyle on Tuesday would not discuss the town GOP committee's action, stating only that what Gardiner said should be considered accurate.
Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org