The Union Board of Selectmen debated newsletter guidelines after a board member’s writing was not published.

Town Manager Jay Feyler said board member Bill Lombardi’s writing about a proposed ordinance crossed the line into political endorsement.

The board voted 3-2 April 20 not to place the local food ordinance before voters.

Board Chair John Shepard said he would be willing to change his vote after the town lawyer completed a review of the ordinance. Once the lawyer completed the review, the board decided not to vote on the proposed ordinance again, though.

Lombardi said his writing only contained factual information about the proposed food ordinance, and no one told him it would not be published.

Feyler said political endorsements went beyond simply Republicans versus Democrats. Political endorsements are also trying to move the public opinion to one side of an issue.

Lombardi’s writing could have been viewed as a promotion to bring the vote back before the board, Feyler said.

Shepard said his main concern was that the statement was written after the board voted against the ordinance.

Once the board has voted on an issue, that becomes the board’s official stance. The newsletters should be only informational, Shepard said.

Board member Martha Johnston-Nash said she understood what Shepard was saying, but the board's vote on the ordinance left the discussion open to be revisited once the lawyer completed his final review.

Feyler said he consulted with the town lawyer and other town managers, and they agreed that Lombardi’s writing was political endorsement.

“We should never promote things the board has voted down,” Feyler said. “It will cause hate and discontent around town.” Instead, Feyler said such content should be kept to private platforms like Facebook.

Lombardi said the purpose of the newsletter was to have relevant commentary, not to avoid controversy. The board is made up of five different individuals who will not agree on every item.

Perhaps the newsletter should include a disclaimer to remind the reader that these are the opinions of the individuals, Lombardi said.

He also expressed concern that his writing was not published, and no one informed him there was a problem. Rather than not publishing what he wrote, Lombardi said Feyler should have called him.

Feyler said there is a chain of command, and he instead directed his concern to the chairman of the board.

Shepard said he corresponded with Lombardi about the issue, and he felt it was significant enough to warrant the current discussion.

Shepard’s email did not say the writing would not be published, Lombardi said.

Resident Gail Hawes said she felt some of the writings in the newsletter have been one-sided in the past. As elected officials, Hawes said, members of the board are elected to represent the whole town.

If Lombardi’s writing was published, Hawes said she would have raised an issue.

Resident Elizabeth Dickerson said Lombardi sent his writing to the food ordinance committee.

Lombardi’s writing was very clearly only an update on the work of the committee, and the effort to sabotage his work was ridiculous, Dickerson said.

She added that the committee tried to incorporate all ideas into the ordinance, both negative and positive.

Board member Adam Fuller said this is the first time a controversial issue was discussed in the newsletter. He suggested the board needs to take careful consideration of the writings in the future.

It is currently a small issue, but had the potential to become a bigger problem, Fuller said.

Shepard said he considered this discussion to be a growing pain.

Lombardi resigned from the committee to avoid the appearance of any personal conflict. He said he would continue to be in favor of the ordinance, though.

Fuller said he has heard from residents both in favor of and against the ordinance. He continued to have reservations about it, including a lack of size limitations.

Board member Josh White, who is also a member of the food ordinance committee, said the committee would continue to work on the ordinance, and present it for vote again during the November election.

In other business, Fuller gave an update on the broadband committee.

The committee has a second meeting with LCI this month, and Fuller described this as a “make-or-break meeting.”

The committee has been looking into either LCI or joining the Midcoast Internet Coalition. They have not made a decision about how they will move forward yet.

A public hearing for the June election and town meeting is scheduled for May 25 at 6 p.m.