SCARBOROUGH - Amid charges of ethics violations Wednesday night, the Scarborough Town Council voted 3-0, with two abstentions and one recusal, to adopt a new pesticide control policy, prompting Councilor Karen D’Andrea to leave the meeting while it was still in progress.
Meanwhile, Councilor Richard Sullivan faces a censure hearing for submitting the policy because his brother holds a $40,000 lawn-mowing contract with the town.
Earlier this week, D’Andrea and Councilor Carol Rancourt submitted letters to Council Chairman Ron Ahlquist to “respectfully demand” that he strike the item from the agenda and that Sullivan be subject to a censure hearing because he failed to disclose his brother’s contract. While Sullivan did recuse himself from Wednesday’s vote, he argued that he derives no profit from his brother’s business. Sullivan also said his brother, Dan Sullivan, mows lawns only at the library and elementary schools and does not apply pesticides of any kind.
“I either want to see a full retraction of those letters and an apology, or I want to have a hearing,” said Sullivan.
“I will not be offering a retraction, so I hope you will be having your hearing,” said Rancourt, who joined D’Andrea in refusing to vote because, they said, Sullivan’s proposal essentially rewrites a ban on use of synthetic pesticides at town-owned sites.
That policy was adopted last September after more than a year of committee debate by a 4-1 vote, with Sullivan, a landscaper in his own right, the lone dissenter. Council policy prevents any member who votes against a measure from filing a motion to reconsider within one year of the decision.
Sullivan’s new policy, based on “best management practices” adopted by the Maine Board of Pesticide Control in February, encourages but no longer mandates use of organic pesticides. Instead, it seeks to “minimize human exposure” through a system of postings and notifications. It also cuts a newly created advisory committee from seven members to five and strips it of pre-approval power over the use of pesticides.
Sullivan said after Wednesday’s meeting that he will decide if he wants his hearing, yet to be scheduled, held in public or in executive session after consulting with his attorney.