This is a story about a bitter, cake-baked politician, a police chief and a little, pink bicycle.
During the most recent Biddeford City Council meeting, former Mayor Joanne Twomey, was once again full of rage and fury.
As she does during most public meetings, she nearly tripped over herself as she stormed toward the podium to rant and pontificate before the council for the televised portion of the meeting.
Twomey uses rage and victimization like most people use deodorant. It is predictable, boorish and sometimes entertaining.
But her tirades of rage and indignation are rarely, if ever, based on logic or fact.
This week, Twomey’s tirade was about “a little pink bicycle” that she says was recklessly tossed into the metal recycling bin at the city’s public works facility by callous members of the Biddeford Police Department.
Twomey, who has lost her last three bids for public office, told the council (and those watching the meeting on television) that she had gone to public works to dispose of some grass clippings, when she witnessed the horror of a massive bicycle dumping in the metal recycling bin.
“They dumped 25 to 30 bicycles in there,” Twomey breathlessly proclaimed. “Bicycles!”
By her own admission, Twomey told the council that “I screamed and caused a scene.” (It’s what she does best)
Twomey said she asked the police officers why they didn’t give the bicycles to “the bicycle guy,” referring to Andy Grief, executive director of the non-profit Community Bicycle Center
“Is this a sense of community?” Twomey bellowed, ready to burst with indignation.
Twomey said she tried to alert the Community Bike Center about the atrocity, but staff was out for lunch. So, what did she do?
Make an inquiry at the police department? Nah.
Instead, she went home to fetch her Canon digital camera “because you have to document everything in this city.”
“I took pictures, and I put in on my Facebook,” Twomey told the council. (Editor’s note, we were unable to find photos of discarded bicycles on Twomey’s Facebook page)
Nonetheless, Twomey says reaction to the photos was overwhelming. “Where is our sense of community?” she asked again. “There was a little pink bike that could be used by some little girl.”
In summary, Twomey said the callous officers who dumped the bikes should be fired.
The rest of the story
Chief Roger Beaupre: Journal Tribune photo
Biddeford Police Chief Roger Beaupre was watching the May 20 city council meeting from the comfort of his home. After hearing Twomey’s comments, Beuapre decided the council should hear — as Paul Harvey would say — the rest of the story.
Beaupre’s e-mail to the city council appears below, and it offers some revealing insight about both the incident and Twomey’s tendency to shoot first and ask questions later.
HERE ARE THE FACTS:
We routinely and regularly pick up and store bicycles that are left abandoned on the street. In some instances, these bicycles are turned in by people who have discovered bicycles that have been abandoned on their property. The department’s Evidence Technician/Property Manager, then places a property tag on each of these bicycles, logging and recording the description and serial numbers into our records management system.
They are then taken to DPW and stored in one of our property containers. All bikes are hung from the ceiling in a neat and orderly manner. We are required by state law to keep these bikes for not less than 5 months, and if after that amount of time the bikes are unclaimed, we can dispose of them.
Prior to 2003, state law required that we auction these unclaimed bikes and return the proceeds of the sale to the Treasurer of State, less our cost of storage and auction. In 2003, the State Legislature changed the law to read: “…a local legislative body in a municipality may dispose of unclaimed bicycles in a manner decided by that body…” (25 M.R.S.A. 3503-B).
Now then, here is what we do AFTER six months of retaining the bikes. In our “Sense of Community” we have partnered with Andy Grief from the Community Bike Center, and all of our serviceable bikes are given to that center. Process is that at the end of six months, either Andy Grief himself, or one of his staff, accompanies the BPD Property Manager to the storage trailer at DPW. The Community Bike Center representative then inspects each and every bike that is eligible to be released.
With a magic maker he places a large “R” on those bikes he deems unserviceable and does not see as safe to place on the street. Cracked frame is usually the typical problem, or any other problem that they deem not worth repairing. After the representative claims the bikes he does want, our Property Manager selects a convenient time to collect the bikes that are destined for recycling and disposes of them in the metal bin at DPW.
On the day that Mrs. Twomey happened to bring her brush to DPW, a Public Works employee was helping our Evidence Technician unload the bikes from our Crime Van and place them into the recycling bin. I stress Public Works employee, because I want to make sure it is clear that there were NOT two police officers at the Recycling Center.
I don’t believe that I have to tell you of the city’s liability if someone gets hurt using a bicycle that the Community Bike Center has deemed unfit.
That pink bicycle that Mrs. Twomey so fondly referred to last night was deemed unfit by someone who knows whether or not a bike is safe to ride.
In closing, the system we have been using for about a decade now, keeps our unclaimed bike inventory down, and returns serviceable bicycles to the community to those who can’t afford to buy one. How is that for our “Sense of the Community?” And for her to state that the police officers should be “fired” is unfair and biased.