Westbrook City Administrator Mocks Residents in Email
At first I thought this story was going to be about how some City Official was speaking ill of the good citizens of Westbrook. But once I started reading my morning paper it became clear that this was just a frustrated guy who privately vented his feelings in an email to his boss. And let's be honest, how many of us have done that same thing countless times?
William Baker's email gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, "tell us how you really feel". Unfortunately the email dated February of this year fell into the wrong hands, and as a result some of the people who were named in his email chose to read it aloud at the City Council meeting this past Monday.
It all started when Michael Shaughnessy wrote to Baker asking about placing sculptures made by his students at USM along the city's riverwalk. Here are some excerpts from Baker's email which he sent solely to Mayor Coleen Hilton titled, "what I wanted to say"
this is the dumbest (expletive) idea I ever heard!... [Caren Michael, president of the Westbrook Arts and Culture committee] will be blaming the city for not maintaining those pieces of (expletive) five minutes after she says she supports them being there... [Deb Shangraw and James Tranchemontagne of Westbrook Taxpayers united] will be asking what public money paid for them and [city councilor] Mike Sanphy will help them file the freedom of information request to find out... [Donna Dwyer Executive Director of My Place Teen Center] will argue that (the sculputres) need to be bigger and must have kitchens to feed the 137 kids a day she feeds - by the way you will need to build her stipend in to the cost of construction - she is due 15% on the cost of material and labor for anything built within hree blocks of the teen center... [referring to Shaughnessy, a strong supporter of getting fish over the dams owned by Sappi Fine Paper] thanks to you Sappi will spend 7 million dollars helping 7 fish get over the falls - that is one million a fish you idiot! ... get your head out of your (expletive) and pretend you give a (expletive) about important stuff in the world like the fact that the police are disarming some lunatic with a gun on Church Street right now - or ISIS will be chopping off your noggin on the riverwalk before too long.... I guess I need a vacation"
According to the Portland Press Herald, Shaughnessy agreed that Baker needed a vacation saying, "This is obviously somebody that's very frustrated."
In spite of the frustrations Baker privately shared, (did I mention it was a private email to his boss venting frustrations?) Shaughnessy's students' sculptures were ultimately erected along the city's riverwalk and he said he would have no problem working with Baker again.
Of course those named in his email are calling for Bakers resignation because... well maybe because sometimes it's hard to hear the truth? But the Mayor has no plans for discipline. Baker has said his words are "not a reflection of how I think, how I speak, or how I treat people publicly or privately".
There were hints that this had been an ongoing battle between Baker and this group of individuals who no doubt reveled in the opportunity to read this email at the meeting on Monday. Which really seems to me like more of a comment on what kind of people they are, and less of a slight on Baker.
I guess the Moral of the story here is always be careful what you write in an email/text/message. Once it's on the internet it never goes away, and if it falls into the wrong hands, it could cost you your job or reputation.