The special meeting of the Town Board of the Town of Mount Hope was held at Town Hall on January 27, 2014 at 6:00pm with the following present: Supervisor Chad Volpe, Councilman Gary Ketcham, Councilman Matt Howell, Councilwoman Janet Sutherland, Councilman Dominick Cambareri and Town Clerk Kathleen Myers.
OTHERS PRESENT: Highway Supt. Hassenmayer & Attorney D. Bavoso.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance, Supervisor Volpe called the meeting to order at 6:00PM.
The Notice of Special Meeting was available at the front desk.
Supervisor Volpe stated the purpose for this special meeting is to vote whether or not to have our attorney defend the Article 78 against the Town of Mount Hope. This was tabled last time to give everyone a chance to read through the Article 78. He asked for board comments.
Councilwoman Sutherland stated she is not sure how we can be served with a lawsuit and not defend it. She stated this before and believes it is foolish to not defend something that’s been brought against the Town. She would like to move forward with defending it.
Councilman Cambareri stated that after reading it over & discussing with David, his father, and another attorney that he knows, he thinks the attorney should be directed to go down and answer the charges without investing a lot of the town’s time and tax payer money in defending a case that they were told they didn’t have a chance at winning. He was asked to repeat his statement. He stated he thinks that the board should send him to the hearing to represent the town’s best interest but not with the intentions of spending a lot of the tax payers’ money frivolously to defend a lawsuit that we can’t win. Obviously we have to be representative; we can’t go without representation. As far as defending the lawsuit goes, everybody has advised we don’t stand a chance at winning the lawsuit. He doesn’t want to invest thousands of dollars in fighting something we can’t win.
Councilman Ketcham stated he agrees with both Janet and Dominick. Every time we have a resolution that somebody doesn’t like and they are gonna throw a lawsuit at us this going to be an on-going problem. Or do we stand up and do what’s right win or lose. He does agree with Dominick that he doesn’t think a whole lot of money should be invested in the whole suit.
Councilman Howell believes that through our legal counsel being they don’t see a way we can win the case, there is not – like Dominick said – why spend the funds if we’re gonna lose the battle.
Councilwoman Sutherland stated she showed it to other attorneys and they feel that we do have a possibility of winning. She also brought her concern to other lawyers in regards to the fact with respect to David and she feels that there is a huge conflict of interest. The first lawsuit that was brought to the Town was filed by Mr. Volpe, Mr. Cambareri and Mr. Howell. She was told it wasn’t served or hasn’t gone through. It’s all here and you did. She feels it’s a conflict of interest and the 3 of them should recuse themselves. David’s father did not agree with her however she has also spoken with other attorneys who feel that it is a conflict of interest. And if you won’t recuse yourselves then she would like to have a formal opinion brought in by different independent counsel. Someone removed from this situation. She doesn’t understand what Bill was saying the other night but he is the attorney and she respects that but she does feel there is a conflict of interest. If the 5 of us are going to be heard, and not just 3 or not just 2, then she feels there should be independent counsel brought in and have them examine this.
Supervisor Volpe stated he has been on both sides of this. He has been in the audience and he has been up here. His position hasn’t changed at all. It was an illegal meeting that night. It was clear that there were people outside and it was clear that there were people in the hallway. It was clear that it should have been moved to a different venue.
Supervisor Volpe continued:
It was clear that quite a few people brought up in the audience that we’re easily breaking the code. They pleaded with the board to move it. Councilwoman Sutherland stated that Mr. Fairweather offered to go outside. Nobody took us up on it. Mayor Wona was in the way back of the room and he made it to the front of the room. He was heard. She hasn’t heard anybody say to her that they were unable to be heard that night. Supervisor Volpe added that there was some and they have their right. He wanted to entertain a motion to see if we are going to have Bavoso attend this or not attend it. Councilwoman Sutherland stated she would like to have independent counsel brought in. Supervisor Volpe asked Town Clerk to do a roll call vote on this. Councilwoman Sutherland asked if a roll call vote was needed to get independent counsel on this. Attorney Bavoso stated that it would have to be brought in a form of a motion. Councilwoman Sutherland asked Mr. Bavoso how he felt on the conflict of interest. She showed him the initial Article 78 brought on by the 3 of them. If you are truly representing the 5 of us, you would hear what I am saying. Mr. Bavoso stated he understands what she is saying but their position is that there was a previous Article 78 filed that has since been withdrawn. A subsequent Article 78 with other petitioners has now been filed and none of the current board members are named except as defendants as the Town Board of the Town of Mount Hope in that action. They don’t see any legal conflict of interest between any acting board members. Councilwoman Sutherland asked what harm it could do to have independent counsel brought in. Supervisor Volpe added that it would be more of a waste of money. Councilwoman Sutherland stated she would pay for it.
RESOLUTION TO HIRE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: (discussion)
MOTION offered by Councilwoman Sutherland to have independent counsel brought in to give an impartial opinion on this. (Councilman Howell asked who the independent counsel will be? She has a real estate lawyer and a friend of the family. If we are acting in the best interest of the town then there should be no problem. The counsel who is representing this stated a couple years ago, that God forbid there is a fire in the Town of Mount Hope, that the Village should lock the doors and not respond to it. Supervisor called for a second to her motion.
RESOLUTION TO HIRE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL:
MOTION offered by Councilwoman Sutherland seconded by Councilman Ketcham to have independent counsel brought in to give an impartial opinion on this. All in favor: Sutherland, Ketcham. Opposed: Howell, Cambareri, Volpe.
RESOLUTION TO AUTHORIZE BAVOSO TO NOT REPRESENT THE ARTICLE 78:
MOTION offered by Supervisor Volpe seconded by Councilman Cambareri to have Bavoso not represent this Article 78. Ayes: Cambareri, Volpe, Howell. Opposed: Sutherland, Ketcham.
RESOLUTION FOR ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION offered by Councilman Howell seconded by Supervisor Volpe to adjourn the meeting at 6:12pm. All in favor: Howell, Ketcham, Volpe, Sutherland, Cambareri; carried.
Kathleen A. Myers