Boothbay School Wars (Maine, USA)

CSD gets wishy-washy about the rule of law

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I have been moving and it’s not over yet! It’s very disorienting but my cat, Casper, is a new creature. I once had three cats but soon after my sister Elise died, two died leaving Casper who thereupon became very reclusive, sleeping all day and hiding away. Within hours of bringing him over to my new place, Casper was a lap cat and I could barely walk around without tripping over him rubbing against my legs. My cat loves my new place, that’s a good omen. The people are friendly and the morning sunlight is sublime.

Update on Boothbay School Wars ( full disclosure- I am not a lawyer)

After a citizen’s petition was filed consistent with the parameters of the law, the CDS board found a rationale for rejecting it by citing what the law does not say


CSD Trustees Reject Referendum Petition

Advised by lawyers from Drummond Woodsum, the trustees said the petition does not comply with 20-A M.R.S. § 1504. According to a document detailing the trustees’ vote, petitioners have a legal right to petition the trustees to reconsider a referendum vote, but the petition requests a referendum on two articles, which is not authorized by law. The trustees claim petitioners requested a new referendum on a different article than what was considered in the April 24 referendum, and that petitioners called for a second referendum on another article, the $10 million project, which is unrelated to the April 24 referendum.

There is a reason why 20-A M.R.S. § 1504 does not authorize what can be said in the petition.

Content-based laws are presumed unconstitutional!

Designation of a law as either content based or content neutral is an important first step in ascertaining whether it violates the First Amendment.

Content-based laws are presumptively unconstitutional and subject to strict scrutiny, the highest form of judicial review, whereas content-neutral laws generally must survive only intermediate scrutiny.Free Speech Center at Middle Tennassee University

The board faults the petitioner’s content, for discussing future plans related to the petition but the board already set that precedence on the April 24 ballot initiative by discussing their future fundraising plans, which can be interpreted as campaigning on the ballot, as if to say “Don’t worry about your taxes going up. Afterward we will swap the bond out with “donations”.

Furthermore, the reconsideration petition did not request a referendum, It asked a polling question:

The board interprets 20-A M.R.S. § 1504 as giving the petitioners the legal right to petition. That is incorrect, The First Amendment of the US Constitution grants that right:

First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. US Constitution

As does the Maine Constitution Article I.

Declaration of Rights.

Section 15. Right of petition. The people have a right at all times in an orderly and peaceable manner to assemble to consult upon the common good, to give instructions to their representatives, and to request, of either department of the government by petition or remonstrance, redress of their wrongs and grievances.

What 20-A M.R.S. § 1504 does is it outlines the procedure for a reconsideration vote, which if done according to the rules in 20-A M.R.S. § 1504 mandates the board to initiate a new referendum.

§1504. Reconsideration

The procedure to reconsider votes taken at a regional school unit referendum is as set out in this section. [PL 2007, c. 240, Pt. XXXX, §13 (NEW).]

1. Time limit. The regional school unit board shall, within 60 days, initiate a new regional school unit referendum to reconsider the vote of the previous referendum if, within 7 days of the first referendum, at least 10% of the number of voters voting for the gubernatorial candidates in the last gubernatorial election in the municipalities within the regional school unit petition to reconsider a prior regional school unit referendum vote.

[PL 2007, c. 240, Pt. XXXX, §13 (NEW).]

2. Required quorum. A reconsideration referendum is not valid unless the number of persons voting in that referendum is at least equal to the number who voted in the prior regional school unit referendum.

[PL 2007, c. 240, Pt. XXXX, §13 (NEW).]

20-A M.R.S. § 1504, specifically states that if the requirements stated therein are met, the board must run a reconsideration referendum. There is no reference to any other statute.

Although the document put forth by the CDS board cites 20-A M.R.S. § 1504, it never states that the requirements stated in 20-A M.R.S. § 1504 are not met. Instead, the document lists technical requirements not met by petitioners that are not mentioned in 20-A M.R.S. § 1504 but does not identify the law that defines those requirements. The technicalities they state may be found somewhere, in the Maine statutes and intended to be generally applied but the CSD isn’t saying where.

These are the rules for a people’s veto or direct initiative at the state level.



§901. Petitions

3-A. Review for proper form. The Secretary of State shall review the proposed law for a direct initiative of legislation within 15 business days after receipt of the application and either reject the application or provide a first revised draft of the initiative legislation to the applicant within that time. The Secretary of State may reject the application if the Secretary of State determines that the proposed law:

A. Does not conform to the form prescribed by the Secretary of State; or [PL 1993, c. 352, §1 (NEW).]

B. Does not conform to the essential aspects of the drafting conventions established for the Maine Revised Statutes. The drafting conventions include but are not limited to:

(1) Correct allocation to the statutes and correct integration with existing statutes;



That says correct allocation to the statutes and correct integration with existing statutes is a drafting convention. Did our school boards not repeal and replace the school charter with the words “align with state law”? Given that they did so, the same drafting conventions that apply at the state level should also apply to the school board but neither the school board nor 20-A M.R.S. § 1504, allocate or integrate the statutes that contain the technical mistakes that CSD applies to the petitioners and uses as a reason why the CSD does not have to honor its duty under the law. They say their lawyers have advised them. Why didn’t their lawyers advise them on drafting conventions?

Talking about what the law doesn’t say, which seems to be how CSD likes to direct the conversation, the law doesn’t say that if the petitioners make a technical mistake under a law other than 20-A M.R.S. § 1504, the CSD is released from its legal obligations pursuant to 20-A M.R.S. § 1504. The law doesn’t authorize the CSD to refuse to honor its duty under 20-A M.R.S. § 1504.

But who is going to do anything about it?

Just a reminder, the contest to win a free print of Winter on the Millpond is still going until June 10.

Enter to Win!

Here is an interesting fact that I just discovered. The Maine Statutes require the Maine Constitution to be taught in elementary and secondary education.



Chapter 207-A: INSTRUCTION


2. Maine studies. Maine history, including the Constitution of Maine, Maine geography and environment and the natural, industrial and economic resources of Maine and Maine’s cultural and ethnic heritage, must be taught. A required component of Maine studies is Maine Native American studies. Maine Native American studies and Maine African American studies must be included in the review of content standards and performance indicators of the learning results conducted in accordance with section 6209, subsection 4. Maine Native American studies must address the following topics:


PL 1983, c. 859, §§C5,C7 (NEW). PL 1991, c. 655, §4 (AMD). PL 2001, c. 403, §1 (AMD). PL 2001, c. 454, §§19,20 (AMD). PL 2001, c. 667, §A42 (AMD). PL 2003, c. 510, §B5 (AMD). PL 2009, c. 313, §§8,9 (AMD). PL 2021, c. 247, §1 (AMD). PL 2021, c. 247, §3 (AFF).

I wonder, Is the Maine Constitution being taught in our local school system, or is it just another law to ignore?

Ferns and Little Flowers by Mackenzie Andersen, your choice of media and size or on merchandise. Welcome to my new Art Storefront!

About Susan Mackenzie Andersen

I was blessed with being raised in this amazing business in a home that uses ceramic slip-cast production as an art form. My mission is to set this business up so that others can enjoy the same lifestyle while benefitting from what Andersen Design created. Follow me on my substack blog, Mackenzie Andersen's The Individual vs The Empire! I write about the public-private-non-profit-profit wealth concentration and redistribution industrial complex - and then I dream a better world.

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