NEWBURY – After investigating multiple complaints against Selectman Mike Doyle made by his colleagues, Chairman JR Colby said he concluded Doyle violated several sections of the board’s Code of Ethics, but the selectman contends it’s just the latest attempt to get him to resign.
In a letter to Doyle dated Feb. 4, Colby said he was acting in accordance with the "Board of Selectmen Code of Ethics Enforcement Process.”
Selectmen adopted the code in July, the only municipal board to do so.
Doyle had until Feb. 11 to respond in writing to the charges or otherwise defend himself.
“Any sanction, if necessary, will be determined by the Board of Selectmen after the presentation of all information is put forward" at a selectmen meeting, Colby wrote.
Doyle recently agreed to an interview and made the letter and related documents available to the public.
“The attacks don’t stop, they’re defaming my character. It’s time to fight back,” he said. Colby declined to speak about the issue, but said the public will learn more at the board's meeting Tuesday.
Selectman Damon Jespersen’s charge, made in writing Jan. 8, claimed Doyle asked Public Works Director James Sarette to do landscaping work at his home. Sarette declined, saying it created a potential conflict of interest.
Jespersen also said Doyle’s “routine angry outbursts” made staff uncomfortable; that he left Jespersen a provocative voicemail threatening to “flood” an upcoming emergency meeting with supporters if Jespersen didn’t explain why it was being called; and that Doyle attended Triton District Communications Committee meetings last fall despite signing an agreement to recuse himself because he was receiving stipends as a district employee and as a selectmen. Doyle resigned from his job with Triton on Oct.9.
Board member Alicia Greco’s complaints also involved Doyle’s attendance at District Communications Committee meetings in September and October.
Doyle indicated he was representing the town and said aloud how he would vote on a matter prior to the committee deliberating about it, she said.
“To have a colleague on the board willingly violate our Code of Ethics casts a shadow on the entire board and I feel a responsibility to bring this matter to your attention,” her letter to Colby stated.
Colby concluded there is sufficient evidence that Doyle violated seven of the 16 codes of conduct. Doyle’s alleged behavior was “abusive and unprofessional,” and “self-evidently antithetical to supporting a positive and constructive workplace environment,” Colby’s letter stated.
Doyle insists he’s been targeted ever since he beat incumbent Selectman Chuck Bear in the May town election.
He documented what he said were numerous attacks over the past nine months, starting with a complaint in June that he mistreated selectmen’s executive assistant Ellen Jameson when expressing concern that the selectmen’s phone was going unanswered when she was out sick for a few days.
When Doyle complained it was symptomatic of a larger communication problem, noting that Colby didn’t return his phone calls or texts, Colby answered, “We have to build a level of trust and with the hate that comes out of your mouth when you are in public places — frankly, it makes my skin crawl.”
In November, Town Administrator Tracy Blais filed a formal grievance against Doyle with the Human Resources Board after she said he raised his voice in her office when he thought she spread misinformation about him to a resident.
“Both Tracy's voice and mine were raised, but she was never threatened,” Doyle said in response.
In a letter to the chairman of the Human Resources Board dated Nov. 13, Blais described what she called Doyle’s 10-minute rant, saying his behavior was “inappropriate, unprofessional, and disrespectful to say the least.”
“I am becoming very concerned about his escalating anger and I’m actually fearful for my safety,” she wrote. Colby barred Doyle from entering Town Hall until the issue was resolved.
“I apologized in person to the town administrator and the apology was accepted,” Doyle noted.
A police investigation last month of a resident's complaint about the possible use of public resources for Doyle’s personal purposes was a misunderstanding that was blown out of proportion, he said.
Doyle eventually paid $150 to New England Tree Masters to chip brush in his yard once brush work at the neighboring site of the new police station was completed – but not before he had to respond to a resident's complaint to police about the work.
Doyle said he attended, but did not participate in a District Communications Committee meeting in September while still employed with Triton. But Doyle said town counsel Lisa Mead advised him that he could attend the October meeting. He said he objected to how Greco called him out in front of the other officials.
“... She chose to yell, and not only embarrass herself, but also the Town of Newbury. Her conduct was beyond disrespectful and in violation of the Code of Ethics,” he wrote to Colby on Jan. 11.
Doyle also claimed Colby ignores his requests for agenda items, his emails to fellow selectmen go unanswered, and important information is not passed along to him in a timely manner. He said he feels the board’s action creates a “toxic workplace and one that promotes intimidation and fear.”
“I remind you that I was elected to serve as selectman by the residents of Newbury,” Doyle wrote in a letter to Colby dated Feb. 8, adding, “I am aware that all four sitting selectmen, as well as the town administrator, are not — and were not — thrilled with my win … .”
“I feel like I am an island on that board. I feel like I’m not part of a team,” Doyle said, stressing that he believes they are trying to get him to resign.
“Pigs will fly first,” he said, “and if they want a war — the Irishman’s taking off his coat.”
To read the board's Code of Ethics, go to www.townofnewbury.org.