Russell continues to flout state law and town ethics policies

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Lebanon resident Michael Walsworth explains to residents why a no vote is necessary during a public hearing on the two referedum questions on July 17. (Rochester Voice file photo)

To the editor:

I've been racking my brain for days about what I could say about the marijuana referendums. I keep coming back to the same thought; that the sides are already drawn and decided. I think it is likely that nearly everyone made up their minds about the marijuana ordinances and already voted their conscience back in June.

I don't think any more debate will change many voters' minds about how to vote. I think that the Special Election tomorrow is really about something entirely different. I think the election tomorrow is about corruption and abuse of power.

Why do I think that? The list starts with Mr. Russell. Here is where some of you will stop reading because you assume that my statements are a personal attack on him. I ask that you hear me out. My reasons are not personal. I've only ever called into question Mr. Russell's and other selectmen's actions and behavior.

For example, Mr. Russell stated that the town will issue licenses after the election no matter the outcome of the vote. So why go through the time and expense of an election if licenses will be issued even if the new ordinances don't pass? We're told it's to stop lawsuits.

That's bogus. State law allows the selectmen to put a moratorium "on the processing or issuance of" licenses. See The lawsuits are an excuse for the selectmen to push the new ordinances through. Maybe the vote is meant to be a distraction from other important controversies following Mr. Russell and the selectboard's unwillingness to address those issues.

Mr. Russell continues to flout state law and town ethic policies about disclosing his conflict of interest. Residents are still upset that he used his position as selectman to questionably have a resident's property confiscated without due process. He continues to lead the selectmen in a spending spree of taxpayer money, needing the voters to release $90K to cover overspending last fiscal year.

He belittles residents while posting so-called opinions on Facebook as a selectman for Lebanon, Maine. It seems impossible for him to take any responsibility for his actions. Blaming others seems to come easily for him. Maybe that's part of the game for him. When the promises he made selling the marijuana ordinances to us fall apart, he might point the finger at the voters to blame us.

Maybe Mr. Russell and the rest of the selectmen are using the election tomorrow to test the waters of the upcoming recall. Tomorrow's vote will probably be an indicator of how residents feel about the way the town is being run more than how they feel about marijuana. More and more people are waking up and seeing the lawlessness running the show is at the top of lawless Lebanon.

Maybe I'm wrong, but tomorrow's vote isn't about marijuana for me. It's about standing up for what is right and saying NO to the way the town is being run. While I personally am anti-marijuana, I could live in a town where retail marijuana is allowed in a manner that follows the law and benefits the whole town. But I can't support our selectmen pushing these bad ordinances down our throats. We need ordinances that protect the residents and the interests of the town as a whole, not put money into the pockets of the few at the expense of the rest of us. A YES vote tomorrow will only foster more corruption. Vote NO two times.

- Mike Walsworth,


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