SCARBOROUGH — A habitual critic of local government was arrested at the Nov. 15 Town Council meeting and charged with criminal trespass.
Michael Doyle, 69, of Shady Lane in Falmouth, was arrested by Sgt. Mary Pearson just after 7 p.m. during the public comment period of Wednesday’s meeting.
Doyle, who frequently speaks at meetings, started Wednesday’s public comment period by ridiculing the town’s bid for an Amazon headquarters at Scarborough Downs.
He then launched into comments about Town Manager Thomas Hall, suggesting Hall left his previous job in Rockland under suspicious circumstances. Hall’s contract in Scarborough was extended in June through 2020.
Chairman Shawn Babine intervened to stop Doyle, followed by Councilor Bill Donovan, who told Doyle he had to respect the chairman.
When Doyle refused and Babine asked him to leave, Doyle asserted his rights and said he would not, repeatedly protesting that his customary three minutes hadn’t expired.
Doyle again refused when Pearson told him the chairman had asked him to leave, and said she would have to arrest him.
“You’re going to have to arrest me,” Doyle said. “Do you want to arrest me?”
Pearson said no, but Doyle said she would have to because he was going to continue to exercise his freedom of speech.
Doyle was arrested and taken to Cumberland County Jail, where he posted bail and was released, according to Sgt. Rick Rouse. The bail conditions, according to Hall, include that Doyle may not visit the Scarborough Municipal Building.
On Friday, Doyle called his arrest “unlawful” and said, “you can’t arrest people for asking questions.”
“You are just in as much danger as being arrested for asking questions as I am because they don’t like the questions,” he said. “I did nothing to require my being arrested … I was being polite.”
Doyle said he has a court date of Jan. 10, 2018, at 8:30 a.m.
It won’t be the first court hearing pitting Doyle against local government officials.
In August 2015, he sued Scarborough in U.S District Court in Portland, claiming his First Amendment rights had been violated on three occasions when councilors interrupted him at the podium during public forums “to enforce their illegal rules for public speaking.”
The case was dismissed last February.
In a pending case in state court, Doyle is challenging the town’s fees for responding to his requests for information under Maine’s Freedom of Access Act.
In 2011, Doyle filed a complaint against Andrew Kinley, then vice chairman of the Falmouth School Board, for allegedly assaulting Doyle during a meeting. No charges were brought against Kinley.
Doyle, who is retired from the insurance and securities industries and ran unsuccessfully for the Falmouth School Board in 2013, pleaded guilty to misrepresenting and selling unregistered securities in 2002. He was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison with all but 14 months suspended and was ordered to pay a $16,000 fine. He blamed his conviction on his lawyers, who, he claimed, tricked him into twice pleading guilty.
Doyle has also filed hundreds of Freedom of Access requests in Falmouth, and in 2012 was provided with access to more than 3,100 email addresses of subscribers to the town’s email notification service. He then sent out a mass email to the subscribers.
The breach eventually led lawmakers to propose changes to the FOA Act to protect email addresses of people who subscribe to the government website and email announcement lists.