Select Board Briefly Considers Question of Committee Members Involved in Litigation Against the Town; No Action Taken

Monday’s Select Board meeting agenda included the following: “Discussion of temporary suspension and/or removal of appointed committee members due to litigation against the Town.”

It was a quick discussion.

Board Chair Emily Mitchell acknowledged that according to the handbook distributed to all appointed members of boards and committees, the Select Board may suspend any of them if they are suing the town. [The Handbook for Appointed Board and Committee  Members can be found on the town’s website.] The item was placed on Monday’s agenda in response to a question directed to the Board.

Then the Select Board moved on to other business, before entering into executive session to discuss strategy related to current litigation.

The Superior Court suit alleges that the town did not follow state procurement law in choosing a site for a new fire station. The plaintiffs are asking the court to invalidate the town’s agreement to purchase 139 The Great Road, which was approved by a vote of town meeting on March 29.

There are 14 plaintiffs, but almost none serves on an appointed committee.

Former Select Board member William Moonan, a lead plaintiff and an abutter to the fire station site, is chair of the Historic District Commission. He has recused himself from all considerations involving the issue, not only as a member of the commission but also during his tenure as a Select Board member, which ended when his successor was elected on March 12.

Moonan is also a member of the Bedford Housing Authority, but he fills the seat as a state appointee.

Several of the other plaintiffs are former committee members, but the only current appointee is Jon O’Connor, who serves on the Patriotic Holiday Committee.

The handbook provision reads, “An appointed member of any Committee may be temporarily suspended by the Select Board during a lawsuit filed by the member against the Town in a court of competent jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

Mike Rosenberg can be reached at [email protected], or 781-983-1763

Editor’s Note: A link to the Handbook for Appointed Board and Committee members was added 5.11.2022

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