Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Where was the Fuss on Kuss?

Recently, an arbitrator determined that the City of Fall River is required to pay an additional $2.15 million in damages regarding the eminent domain taking involved to construct the new Matthew Kuss middle school. According to the Herald News, several city councilors expressed surprise and concern over the $2.15 million liability.

“I didn’t know it was in arbitration,” Councilor Linda M. Pereira said. “I have a lot of questions about that.” Questioning the law department, Pereira said, “The council was not privy to Kuss, and I think that needs to be changed.”

“I didn’t know about the lawsuit until Adam Chapdelaine told me on Wednesday,” Councilor Leo O. Pelletier said.

When the concession stand was debated over several meetings recently, Pelletier said, “At no time did I know they wanted more money. We didn’t know we had all that extra money.

Now, anyone who has watched a City Council meeting knows that legal claims against the City of Fall River are listed on the agenda, and the standard practice is to expeditiously refer the legal claims to Corporation Counsel. Therefore, if legal claims against the City are listed in the agendas for City Council meetings, how can City Council members now claim that they didn’t know about the lawsuit? Are the City Councilors indicating that this lawsuit somehow never made it to their City Council agendas?

Another important point concerns the responsibility of the City Council to periodically request that the Corporation Counsel update them on the progress of all litigation against the City. Massachusetts law specifically provides the opportunity for the City Council to hold a meeting in executive session “to discuss strategy with respect to . . . litigation if an open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the . . . litigating position of the governmental body . . .” Yet, the City Councilors were left in the dark because they don’t request periodic reports on the status of litigation.

I suppose if the City Council never bothers to ask any questions or request updates that they then have the perfect opportunity to feign ignorance.


Skoorey said...

I am afraid this is another example of incompetence all around.

I blame the ZBA for this one. Imagine if they had not allowed so many units in the condos? The price tag for this settlement would have been a lot less.

Granting variances like you are giving out candy has now come home to roost.

It is time to appoint people to boards who actually know what they are doing, know the laws, and are qualified. Enough of the appointments of friends. Just sit in on a Traffic Board meeting and see what I mean.

Anonymous said...

I agree with both your points, there have been too many order before midnight items pushed through the city council.

Also too many conflicts of interest on the zba.