2017-01-06 / Front Page

South Portland code enforcement officer retires

By Wm. Duke Harrington
Staff Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND — Capping off a period of high turnover of longtime South Portland city officials, code enforcement officer Pat Doucette has tendered her resignation.

In a letter submitted Dec. 27 to city Planning Director Tex Haeuser, Doucette said she will retire after 35 years with the city, “to take care of my newborn granddaughter several days a week and to do a whole lot of other things that I have been wanting to do.”

Doucette’s last day will be Feb. 3, she said.

In her letter, Doucette noted that during her tenure with the city, she has worked under six different city mangers, four planning directors, and in five different office locations.

“I am extremely thankful for all of the opportunities provided to me to grow and develop through the years,” she wrote. “I have worked alongside excellent colleagues and will truly miss not seeing them every day.”

Doucette requested that no retirement party be held in her honor.

“I came to work for the city without fanfare and wish to leave it the same way,” she said. “I do not want taxpayer money or employee time spend on any type of gathering.”

Doucette’s position is the eighth top job in South Portland to open up in recent years. Since 2012, South Portland has replaced its assistant city manager twice, while also losing to retirement Transportation Director Tom Meyers (after 12 years), Fire Chief Kevin Guimond (28 years, 12 as chief), City Assessor Elizabeth Sawyer (30 years), and school superintendent Suzanne Godin (11 years, eight as superintendent). In that time, it also has gone through two directors of parks and recreation with Rick Towle leaving under mysterious circumstances in 2015 after three years on the job. Last summer, City Manager Jim Gailey resigned to take the post of assistant manager for Cumberland County, following 30 years with the city, nine as its chief administrator. After working in the park’s department as a teen, Gailey’s first job for the city was in the planning department, where he worked under Haeuser and Doucette.

According to interim City Manager Don Gerrish, Doucette’s departure may present an opportunity to reorganize the offices of planning and code enforcement in South Portland.

“As with any retirement of a key municipal position we will review the operation of the department to see if any changes should occur,” he wrote on Tuesday, responding to a request for comment. “We are reviewing the position but no decisions have be made. We expect it will take about three months to fill the position.”

In recent years, Doucette found herself at the center of controversy.

Councilor Eben Rose did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday, but has been a vocal critic of Doucette’s job performance, dating to before his tenure on the council. Rose has stated publicly that both her approval of a never built tar sands VCU (volatile combustion chamber) and a propane distribution complex, were made despite zoning language that should have prevented them outright. The propane approval initialed a yearlong battle between the city and NGL Supply Terminal Company, which compelled the city to seek out third-party interpretations of its code language, before Doucette finally concluded the terminal should not have been approved. Also, the city council on Wednesday was scheduled to sign a consent agreement in a legal dispute stemming from a building permit the courts said Doucette should not have approved.

Doucette could not be reached for comment on her retirement. Mayor Patti Smith also did not respond to a request for comment.

Return to top