Conference with the Judge

Yesterday, the court conducted a brief (5 minute) teleconference with the lead attorneys.  This was not the regular monthly conference.  That was scheduled for September 9.

Aside from logging the call,  the docket provides no insight into the subject except to note that Ms. Cull still appears to be our attorney of record.  There was speculation and an unconfirmed report that the town had a falling out with them over post trial developments.  The issue of diversity jurisdiction and venue shopping continues to hang over the case, and whether we really were well advised that there was potential for a reasonable return on the $1.4 million that we have spent with them.

Apparently, the Selectmen feel that the citizens of the town are not entitled to know anything about “their” legal matters.  It’s legitimate to exclude the public from discussions concerning legal strategy and other information that might compromise the town’s negotiating position. But the reality is that the defense knows the current status of the suit and we, the taxpayers that are funding the whole thing, are the only ones in the dark.

Let’s talk about the dynamic of the board of Selectmen.  They require a simple majority to slam the door and talk about this in non-public session.  But to seal the minutes of that non-public session, they require 2/3 vote.  In our town, that means they need 4 out of 5 Selectmen to say the public is not entitled to know anything about what was discussed.  We have at least one Selectman who was elected on a platform of fixing the town’s wastewater system.  From where I sit, there has been no fixing, and a lot of litigating and spending.  Any two Selectmen can change the tone of this by refusing to allow the minutes of these meetings to be sealed.

Next time the newspaper prints an editorial about how nobody showed up for town meeting, think about how the town is run, and the message that the Selectmen send us concerning our right to know what’s going on and to participate in the discourse.

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