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Surprise! BCWA votes 4-3 to retain Ms. Mack...

The BCWA board voted for legal counsel — and nothing has changed.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results

Well, YOUR BCWA board of directors has voted 4-3 to retain Sandra Mack as their legal counsel. It couldn't be any other way. There is much too much that would be uncovered or discovered by a new legal counsel.

Gary Morse gave the directors copies of a letter written by Ken Burke of the Water Resource Board in January of 2011 which reminded Chairman Jannito and Executive Director Delise that the BCWA still had NOT submitted a strategic plan that had been due since 1993. He stated that he felt that Ms. Mack, as counsel, should have made sure that this plan required by statute was submitted. 

Peter Hewett stated that he felt that $375.00 an hour was just too much money to pay and that he was sure there were many capable attorneys  that would/could do the job for almost half that amount.

Jeff Black discussed Ms. Mack's missteps in threatening to sue the "East Bay four," and for collecting information regarding their emails and phone calls to various state agencies. He stated that all of the questions/charges brought up by the BCWA "watchdogs" over the last three years had all proven to be correct and certainly vindicated their actions of public outcry.

I stated that I felt it was time for the board to decide to respond openly and honestly to questions from the public. Case in point was the legality of the December 18th and 20th meetings. When first questioned, Ms. Marchand replied in writing that the  meetings all conformed to open meeting laws. (We can only assume that she verified this fact with her legal counsel.) When questioned the second time, both Ms. Marchand and Mr. Klepper stated that they had received a legal opinion from an unnamed local attorney who told them the meetings were legal. When questioned the third time... they agreed that they needed to redo the meeting. It's one thing to maybe make a mistake and have an undisclsed meeting that got out of hand and included discussion... and then admit it and start over.  It's another to deny, deny, deny. This last legal RFP fiasco has done, what I believe is, irreparable damage to the credibility of the BCWA.

Ray Palmieri of Warren said he could not vote for Ms. Mack for several reasons.  He felt that she had displayed unprofessional conduct by approving an inflamatory letter that then Chairman John Jannito had published in the Warren Gazette, along with several other incidents.  He was concerned about her not being approved by the bar in MA while the BCWA has a lawsuit pending in that state by the Anawan Club. He was concerned about the rate being twice what other Water Authorities pay. He was concerned about  future BCWA work being done by an attorney with only three years experience in order to keep Ms. Mack's firm, but keep her personal billing down. And he felt it was time for a change.

Kevin Fitta of Barrington felt that over 20 years with the same law firm was too much and that it reflected good business practice to change lawyers and accountants every few years.

Robert Allio agreed with Kevin Fitta that it was time for a change.

It was expected that John Jannito, Paul Bishop and Allan Klepper would vote for Ms. Mack. The tie-breaking vote was Bill Gosselin of Warren who many thought would vote for change. He did not really offer specifics as to why he was voting for Ms. Mack other than she had been there so long and knew the history. He asked Ms. Marchand what she would want and then voted accordingly.

Not one director stated that he felt she was the best qualified for the job. All stated that "she knew what was going on"  (and I am sure that she does.....). Another vote for institutional knowledge, as opposed to other qualifications.

All of the directors stated that the other applicants were very well qualified for the position.

And so it goes... nothing has changed... but much has been brought to the public's attention. It is up to the ratepayers now to contact their legislators and town councils and let them know that you want some sort of oversight on this authority/fiefdom!

Oh, and did I mention that not ONE Town Council member from any of the three towns were able to make the meeting?

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marina peterson January 17, 2013 at 11:16 PM
We can only hope that on the third try the directors who cast their vote for "more of the same" will be disenchanted with legal representation that continues to make them all look like fools. Open meeting violations, threats to sue ratepayers, not understanding the requirements of the enabling by-laws..... it's a pretty dismal picture. If you are a ratepayer and are concerned about the apparent dysfunction of the BCWA you may want to call your town councilors or BCWA appointed directors and tell them. It's your drinking water at stake here. I don't think there will be a fourth vote! (but who knows????)
marina peterson January 18, 2013 at 12:46 AM
Since the water authority is just now learning of the requirement for a "simple majority", i.e. minimum of five votes required to pass a resolution... do you think that there are other votes that have been taken in the past and passed without the sufficient number of votes?
Manifold Witness January 18, 2013 at 03:08 AM
Mrs. Mack was voted out on January 16, 2013. We think she knows it. A vote of 4 to 3 is a “no” vote for Mrs. Mack. She didn’t get the 5 votes required for the motion to carry. Mrs. Mack must have known that, so she had “no comment” at the meeting, and she let the Board think they had properly reappointed her. Even though she was sitting in a front row seat, Mrs. Mack apparently didn’t want to advise the board at the meeting. Had she done her duty, and advised the board, the board would have had to move right on to entertain a motion for the next candidate on the list, and so on. Until one of the others received the necessary 5 votes. The agenda says: “Discussion/Action: Vote , 1. Legal Services Selection” The first one to get 5 “yes” votes wins. But Mrs. Mack had a conflict of interest. So she didn’t speak up to advise the board the board to go on to the next candidate. The same board members who did the interviews and voted on 1/16/13, will now have to reconvene and continue the voting process. The meeting must reconvene right away after proper public notice. (Did the board members decide in advance to make the vote look like it was close – and so they went with 4 to 3? Was Mrs. Mack horrified as THAT played out right in front of her? And is THAT why she was uncharacteristically quiet? She couldn’t exactly pipe up and tell them “No! Somebody had better make a 5th vote here for me now or I’m OUT!”?) Ouch.
Gary Morse January 18, 2013 at 03:24 AM
Ex-BCWA attorney Sandra Mack! Let me repeat, ex-BCWA attorney Sandra Mack! She's out by a legitimate vote by the BCWA Board to NOT rehire her. She needed 5 votes, and only got 4! NEXT CANDIDATE PLEASE!
marina peterson January 18, 2013 at 03:51 AM
I concur. If you need 5 votes to win and you get 4... you lose. Plain and simple. But will this also be twisted and convoluted into something that it is not? And I repeat my question... if BCWA is just now realizing that you need 5 votes minimum to pass a resolution... how many have been passed illegally before the taping began?

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