Here is a comment posted to the blog from the town administrator:
Regarding the expenditure for legal advice on the recent election, the Town Clerk came to my office with an important question: Can a candidate for election to the Water Department Board have his wife sign out nomination papers? This happened at 2:00 p.m. on the last day for pulling nomination papers. The law requires that the candidate must take out nomination papers in person. We did not know if there was case law or other decisions that were relevant, and we were aware that the Secretary of State would answer this question but it normally takes several days to get an answer. We did not have time, so I asked Town Counsel for an opinion and told the Clerk to issue the nomination papers to the wife contingent upon the opinion from Town Counsel.
If we had denied the nomination papers and Town Counsel came back with a ruling that we should have issued them, we might be accused of unfairly keeping a candidate off the ballot. It we simply issued the nomination papers without checking the legality, we might be accused of ignoring the law, so the Clerk and I agreed that issuing the papers contingent upon Town Counsel opinion was the best and fairest course.
The advice of Town Counsel was that issuing the papers to the candidate's wife was valid and that the candidate's name should appear on the ballot. The practice in most towns is to reveal the opinion of Town Counsel but not to release the written opinion. I would not release the written opinion without agreement by the Board of Selectmen.
Lastly, I want to assure residents that we are making every effort to consult Town Counsel only when absolutely necessary. For the first time in recent years, the Town's expenditures for legal counsel will be less than the amount in the budget.
So now we know why town counsel was contacted about the nomination papers. But why was town counsel having conference calls with the attorney from Light and Water? Are the ratepayers footing the bill for THAT legal advice?
Hard to tell anything from this invoice from Attorney Stephen Doucette:
" Dear Mr. Driscoll:
I have enclosed my bill for services for August 2012 in the amount of $900.00. Thank you for allowing me to be of assistance in this matter. If there are any other matters with which I can assist you, please do not hesitate to contact me."
Would YOU pay an invoice like the one from Attorney Doucette?
Wonder what the auditors will make of it?