The May 8 Forecaster printed two columns with relevance to each other: Jonathan Crimmins criticizing Councilor Karen Klatt for trying to resolve conflict of interest in Brunswick, and Steve Mistler after attending a reporting conference in Boston. If The Forecaster allowed Mistler to do investigative journalism, Crimmins and The Forecaster’s readers would be better served.
The Forecaster should be encouraging Mistler to dig deeper into concerns Klatt has with resolving the conflict of interest issue. This would afford all interested readers a greater opportunity for constructive comments in place of expressed frustration.
In Brunswick, conflict of interest pertains only to the council. Anyone on a council-appointed committee has influence inherent in that position. A member who votes on a person/firm to do business for the town has influence over that person/firm. Anyone sitting on multiple committees has influence on multiple levels. Influence is power. There is no getting around this. Anyone who can, or does, gain financially by contracting with the person/ firm just selected to work for the town has a conflict of interest. No getting around this either.
Conflict of interest is not “moot,” as Crimmins states, if by “moot” he means abstract and/or lacking in practical significance. Conflict of interest is a real and persistent issue that corrodes the democratic process at the relevant and fundamental level of this town government. Crimmins asks, referring to this issue, “When will it end?” It will end when the full council summons the courage that Klatt has shown.