Cut way too short – that’s how Gene Conlogue describes his time as Houlton’s town manager. A position he held for a year and a half.
“I had planned to finish my public management career in Houlton. I think I did a great job there. I think I had supportive staff, I certainly had good support from the public,” he said.
There was a lack of support, however, that came from the town council.. according to Conlogue’s letter of resignation. The town council accepted Conlogue’s resignation Monday night, which Conlogue said happened under pressure.
“Things just don’t happen neatly all the time.. That’s the nature of government..I do have a thick skin, but you do run the risk that its not going to end well, I am disappointed in this case because like I said, I love Houlton, love the people there, I come from there,” said Conlogue.
He says he met with council chair Paul Cleary and the vice chair last week – they told him they weren’t satisfied with his performance and he was given two options: resign or be terminated. He chose the first, and won’t comment on the possible reasons for his being forced out until he sees them in writing…which Cleary says probably won’t happen.
“If Gene doesn’t know the reasons that’s one of the major disconnects between the council and him. Because there was a lot of issues and a lot of reasons,” said Cleary.
When speculating on possible reasons, Conlogue said he and the town council often disagreed on the Right to Know law. Councilors would request information, and Conlogue would send the information but copy members of the press, and councilors thought this caused more harm than good.
“One of the things about the right to know law is you’re not allowed to conduct business as a council through e-mail or anything like that, none of it was conducting business, it was asking for information,” said Cleary.
Conlogue and Cleary both agree communication was an issue. For now, councilors have named Houlton Police Chief Butch Asselin as interim town manager, and Conlogue is looking at other opportunities.
“No matter what happens, I need to still continue to work, I want to work, and I will work,” said Conlogue.