NEW GLOUCESTER — Selectboard members Karen Gilles, Linda Chase, Tammy Donovan and Peter Bragdon call Selectman George Colby’s comment from a Dec. 3 meeting “offensive and inappropriate.”
“Let us be unequivocally clear: we do not condone, agree with or endorse the comments made on December 3rd by Selectman Colby,” the members said in a Dec. 19 statement posted to the town’s website. “Rather, we condemn them. They do not represent our beliefs, nor do they represent the beliefs of our Town, our citizens and our employees.”
Colby “does not join us in this statement,” it read.
Town Manager Brenda Fox-Howard said in a statement posted Monday afternoon on theNGXchange that “insulting comments” were edited out “under advice from the town’s attorney.”
“No employee of New Gloucester is very proud to be here serving the Town right now,” she said. “I have no power or control over the Board of Selectmen and I am mortified to have him as one of my supervisors.”
Colby, at the end of the Pledge of Allegiance during the Dec. 3 meeting that lasted less than five minutes, said “Liberty and justice for all, for everyone. Even us white folks!”
The comment was edited out of the publicly available recording of the meeting, posted to New Gloucester Television’s website, at some point between when resident Brian Whitney called the town to complain and when Whitney’s letter to the editor was published on community website NGXchange last Wednesday.
Richard Erwin, a volunteer for the town-funded NGTV, confirmed last week that he received a call from Town Clerk Sharlene Myers telling him to take the unedited video down and replace it with the edited version.
Sometime over the weekend “(Edited)” was added to the video description on NGTV’s website. Prior to that, there was no disclosure.
The Lakes Region Weekly submitted a Freedom of Access Act request last week for the original recording but had not received it as of Monday afternoon.
The town’s attorney, Matthew Tarasevich of Portland law firm BernsteinShur, said last Friday the video would be made available sometime over the next few days.
The Lakes Region Weekly has also made a Freedom of Access Act request to the town to provide it with emails from December 2010, in which Colby apparently used derogatory slurs in an email to then-Selectman Josh McHenry. Colby was not on the board at that time.
“I went to Walmart and saw they had Obama Christmas tree ornaments. Now ain’t that a (expletive)???? Suddenly it’s OK to hang a (expletive) from a tree again,” Colby wrote in an email to McHenry dated Dec. 16, 2010.
McHenry confirmed last week that the emails obtained by the Lakes Region Weekly were authentic but said he no longer had the originals.
The town said it would take up to 30 days to provide the documents.
Colby could not be reached for comment.