Sabattus citizens sign 'no confidence' letter targeting town manager

·4 min read

May 14—SABATTUS — A fire official and at least 50 other town residents plan to submit a document Tuesday expressing their loss of confidence in Town Manager Timothy Kane.

The document, prepared by firefighter and lifelong Sabattus resident Austin Gayton, is part of a 37-page packet outlining various complaints about Kane's handling of city business.

"One of the most significant issues we have with Mr. Kane is his complete lack of effective communication with residents and employees of the town," according to the letter of no confidence. "He has failed to listen and respond to the questions and concerns raised by numerous members of the public and has been disrespectful, dismissive, and/or outright ignored town residents and employees who voice their opinions."

The complaints about Kane have come to include the Office of the Maine Attorney General and the Maine Department of Labor. Among other things, Gayton accuses Kane of failing to respond to Freedom of Access Act requests in a timely fashion — requests Gayton had submitted earlier in the year with the guidance of the AG's Office.

"One specific case and example of his inability to carry out his duties effectively," according to the complaint, "resulted in a continued and consistent lack of available hot water at Sabattus Central Fire Station for over a year, which is a critical element for fire department employees and volunteers to properly decontaminate after emergency calls, after repeated documented pleas and requests to address the problem while a pool of ARPA money sat untouched."

The boiler issue has been reported to the Department of Labor, according to Gayton.

Kane, a former Saco educator, was hired as town manager in 2021. The complaints about him listed in the document are numerous and allege ongoing lies, manipulations and cover ups in matters of town business. Kane holds a doctorate in leadership studies from Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire.

"In addition," according to the document, "we believe Mr. Kane has shown questionable judgment in his decision-making process in several cases influenced by personal vendettas and ego. His aversion to public transparency and lack of understanding of Maine State FOAA law has led to the destruction of important public records. His inclination for individual control of town business has led to abrupt and unexplained changes in long-standing community budget processes (laid forth in our community's charter) and public meeting procedures that we believe are not conducive or productive for an effective democratic process."

The package prepared by Gayton also shows his attempts to appeal to Mark Duquette, chairman of the Sabattus Board of Selectmen, about Kane's failure to address the boiler issue and to respond to the FOAA requests in a timely fashion.

Gayton apparently got no satisfaction from those appeals.

"Mark, please respond to this," according to one such email, "I am begging you, as the board chair, you have the ability to and agency to intervene here. Am I mistaken in thinking it's part of the board's responsibility to oversee the position of Town Manger? Your silence in this matter and others regarding his failures is deafening and asserts the public opinion you are complicit, or at the very least, apathetic to what's happening under this board's watch."

Gayton expects to hand the letter of no confidence to the board chair Tuesday during the annual Town Meeting. By Saturday afternoon, the document had been signed by 53 Sabattus residents.

Gayton's letters imply ongoing issues between the town manager and the people who work under him. The situation came to a head last week, though, when popular Fire Chief Troy Cailler announced he was retiring after disputes with Kane.

"Dr. Kane was looking for any reason he could to terminate me as the Sabattus Fire Chief," Cailler wrote in his exit interview. "As stated in my letter of resignation, this organization has come too far over the last three years to let it fall. I could not in my heart continue with a job that was no longer being progressive due to a Town Manager that is uneducated and out of touch with the delivery of fire/emergency medical services. I wanted to continue to see the Sabattus Fire Department grow and succeed and I felt with me being in charge that would only hinder their forward progress. So, with that, it hurt to leave however I hope it proves to be the right move in the end."

Kane and Duquette could not be reached for comment on Sunday.