A case of nepotism in Casco?

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer

CASCO – A resident serving on the Media Sharing Committee leveled an accusation of nepotism against the town manager.

Jeannine Oren said she sits on the newly-formed communication committee with Donna Morton, who is the wife of Casco Town Manager Dave Morton.

According to Oren, Donna Morton “has been saying nice things about her husband” during the Media Sharing Committee meetings.

“And, according to the Maine Municipal Association, even the appearance of a conflict of interest is considered to be a violation,” Oren said during the Casco Board of Selectmen meeting on Tuesday.

Donna Morton, who had been sitting in the audience, could not hold her tongue. She went to the podium to explain that she was qualified to serve as a volunteer on this committee.

“On the media sharing committee, I’ve been interested in this from the beginning. This is my area of expertise,” she said. “This is what I do every day at my school. That is my interest as a citizen.”

“I speak my own mind,” Donna Morton said, countering any unspoken accusations that she was a mouthpiece for her husband’s agenda. Donna Morton has a master’s degree in technology, and is in charge of technology at Manchester School in Windham.

Resident Peg Dilley backed the idea of wives with opinions separate from their husbands’ with a quick story. She said her grandfather would tell her grandmother how to vote in elections. Then, her grandmother would turn to her four daughters, and tell them she planned to vote how she wished — and they should do the same during their lifetime.

Tuesday’s quick succession of audience comments came during public participation period — a few moments before the board adjourned its regular meeting and began a late night workshop. The public must refrain from testifying during board workshops.

Nepotism lines are crossed when someone in government or at a company pulls strings to provide employment to a family member. Nepotism isn’t limited to jobs, and also includes being given a political seat, receiving free college education, or valuable property — when those benefits would be available to anyone in the public, and the person making the selection chooses a family relation.

Town committee members are appointed by selectmen, and serve on a volunteer basis, which means committee members are not paid nor do they receive stipends.

The Media Sharing Committee — tasked with exploring ways to use the media to create better lines of communication between the town and its citizens — began assembling earlier this month.

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