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Joyce Endee

Gorham Selectman candidate may bring slander suit against Police Chief

February 15, 2012
GORHAM- Public comments made by the police chief about a candidate for selectman over his refusal to move his vehicles from public parking spaces in front of the town hall may end up in court. Select board candidate Tad Michaud confirmed that he is considering bringing slander charges against Chief P.J. Cyr for calling him "selfish, heartless and narrow-minded" in a public letter printed in a local newspaper.

Michaud parked two of his vehicles that were plastered with campaign signs in front of the Gorham town hall for several days. The police department ticketed the vehicles and the chief asked Michaud to move them on Feb. 7 – the same day that the Androscoggin Valley Hospital was holding a Healthy Heart Screening clinic at the town hall. Cyr said he witnessed elderly people entering the building and noticed people looking for parking spaces in more distant areas. According to Cyr, Michaud refused to move his vehicles even when presented with the immediate problem. Michaud, Cyr wrote, said he consulted an attorney and it was within his rights to park his vehicles there.

Michaud's vehicles – a one ton truck and smaller pick-up truck included signs promoting his election and criticizing fellow select board candidate William Jackson and school board candidate (and former selectman) Mike Waddell.

Town Manager Robin Frost said that Michaud informed her that he was going to file a slander suit against Cyr. She shares the chief's frustration with Michaud over the incident, but wishes that Cyr expressed himself differently.

"Shooting off a letter to the paper," she said, without contemplating his words was not the best approach. "He vented his frustration," she added.

Reached on Friday Michaud said, "The chief's comments are misleading and (he) is a liability to the town." He refused to comment further, but when asked if he is filing a slander suit against Cyr. He answered, "Not at this point but it's being looked into by an attorney."

In an e-mail exchange on Friday, Cyr said Michaud removed his truck from the area in front of the town hall on Thursday, February 9. The chief said he issued him two tickets for violating the winter overnight parking ban one on February 7 and another on February 8.

When asked if there were any complains about parking at the health screening, James Patry, AVH spokesperson said there were none. Patry said, he spoke to one of the nurses who at the screening. He reported, "She didn't hear any patient complaints."

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