Rockport town manager resigns
Rockport — Robert Peabody Jr. is no longer Rockport's town manager following the signing of a personnel agreement between himself and town officials. Select board members are scheduled to meet Feb. 20 to appoint an interim town manager. Acting Town Manager Linda Greenlaw, reached Feb. 20, said Roger Moody is expected to be named interim town manager during the meeting, which also is a workshop for select board members and town department heads.
Peabody has been on a paid leave of absence — though Select Board Chairman William Chapman has declined to say why — since Jan. 29.
In a document released Feb. 19, the five-page severance/release agreement states Peabody "irrevocably resigns from his employment as Town Manager, effective Feb. 14, 2013, and the Board hearby accepts Mr. Peabody's resignation, effective Feb. 14, 2013."
According to the agreement, Peabody will be paid a lump sum totaling 12 weeks of his regular salary as severance pay in addition to payment for unused sick and vacation time. Greenlaw said the town will pay Peabody $52,836.84.
The agreement states Peabody releases the town "from any and all claims, complaints, grievances, charges, actions, suits, causes of action, damages, costs, and liabilities of any kind or nature whatsoever, including, without limitation of the foregoing, any conceptual claims, and tort claims, arising from or in any way relating to Mr. Peabody's employment by the town and the termination of that employment." The agreement states the town also releases Peabody from any claims against him.
The agreement requires the town and Peabody to refrain from making "defamatory or disparaging" remarks for two years. The document states there is no admission of liability on the part of either party.
Peabody, reached by phone Feb. 19, only responded with, "No comment at this time."
Rockport Select Board members unanimously voted to “authorize the chair to sign a certain personnel agreement, a draft of which has been reviewed by the board, subject to obtaining final agreement from the other party” following a brief Feb. 12 executive session at Rockport Opera House.
Notes provided by select board members stated the agreement would be made public after had been signed by both parties; possibly by Thursday, Feb. 14. Chapman said in a Feb. 13 email the signing of the document would likely not take place until Friday, Feb. 15. He did not give a reason for the delay. Release of the agreement also was expected Feb. 15 and was delayed as well for unknown reasons.
Since the end of 2012, select board members have met more than a half dozen times, including Feb. 11, to discuss two personnel issues brought to their attention by a member, or members, of town staff, according to Chapman.
Chapman previously said he personally received a complaint about Peabody Dec. 28, 2012. Chapman previously said "the nature of the complaint" led it to be submitted to him rather than any other member of town staff.
An executive session Jan. 2 resulted in a select board vote to hire an investigator. Since then, select board members have met in executive session numerous times, including Jan. 22, during which the select board received a verbal report from Drummond Woodsum attorney Melissa Hewey, the investigator tasked with investigating the complaint against a town employee. Chapman said a written report has been submitted but due to the nature of the report — personnel — it will not be made public.
Tuesday, Jan. 29, Chapman confirmed there also is a second complaint against a town staff member.
"Yes, there is a second complaint but I can't characterize it," he said, adding the separate complaint was not investigated in conjunction with the more publicized one.
Chapman declined to say if both complaints were received during the same period of time or if the two complaints concern the same town staff member.
Prior to becoming town manager in Rockport, Peabody served as part-time town administrator in Hope, according to newspaper archives. He also served three-terms as a city councilor and as mayor of Rockland.
Peabody was hired — by a 3-2 split vote — as town manager in Rockport in March 2004, according to VillageSoup archives. Peabody replaced previous Town Manager Ken Smith.
Peabody's hiring was protested by hundreds of citizens at the time, who petitioned selectmen to begin the process from the beginning and request assistance from Maine Municipal Association. Selectmen Jonathan Duke and Dana Start said at the time they believed the process was flawed, the board didn't negotiate fairly with another candidate and the search should be restarted because the will of the people was demanding it.
In April 2011, select board members voted — again by a 3-2 margin — not to renew Peabody's contract following a motion made by Selectman Dale Landrith, according to VillageSoup archives. The process employed by selectmen at the time was determined illegal and the decision was overturned the following month, according to previously published reports.
Camden Herald Associate Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.