FALMOUTH — Frequent Town Council and School Board critic Michael Doyle has filed a formal complaint with the state attorney general’s office after council Chairman Tony Payne stopped him from speaking during a public comment portion of the Sept. 27 council meeting.
Doyle was criticizing School Department Finance Director Dan O’Shea for a contract O’Shea and Town Manager Nathan Poore had awarded for town printing and copying services.
When Doyle suggested O’Shea was “not smart enough to reel in his ego,” Payne cut him off. He told Doyle he could continue, but without being abusive.
Doyle continued, and was then cut off again when Payne said his five minutes were up.
Doyle contends that his five minutes, allotted to the each person who wishes to address the council, was cut short and that he is owed one minute and 16 seconds.
“In reviewing the tape of the meeting, I mistakenly thought he had reached his full five minutes,” Payne said Tuesday. “The public comment period at council meetings, however, is a privilege extended to citizens and one which should not be abused or be abusive.”
Doyle, who first filed the complaint with the Police Department, then sent it to the attorney general, said he has not heard back from the AG’s office. Nicole Sacre, an executive assistant for the attorney general said the complaint had not been processed as of Tuesday.
“The council cannot censure what anyone says during the public forum,” Doyle said. “When I checked with the (Police Department) last spring I was told that as long as I didn’t use profanity, physically threaten, or be disruptive to the meeting I was within my rights to criticize behavior.”
The attorney general’s office will review the complaint and then determine whether to proceed with an investigation.
“It is the responsibility of the chair to maintain decorum and order,” Payne said, “which has been a challenge in recent months, but something I will continue to enforce.”
Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org