Following recent protests by residents about the handling of its contract for legal services, the Bristol County Water Authority board of directors is scheduled to meet today at 4:15 at its offices in Warren to take another vote on the matter.
Blogger Marina Peterson and residents Jeff Black and Gary Morse recently raised the issue after the BCWA board held interviews at a Dec. 18 meeting that was not advertised, then voted to renew its contract with longtime attorney, Sandra Mack, a partner with Cameron & Mittleman of Providence, on Dec. 20.
At the board's Jan. 3 meeting at Warren Town Hall, Morse and Black challenged the legality of the vote, saying the prior meeting — which Chairman Allen Klepper termed a "closed session" that had been supported by the opinion of another community's lawyers — was held illegally.
No agenda for the Dec. 18 meeting was filed with the Rhode Island Secretary of State's office; two days later, board members referred to the discussion from that meeting in voting to extend the Cameron & Littleman contract.
On Jan. 9, Cameron & Littleman attorney Sally McDonald told the board that state law governing such "working meetings" is "unclear," and suggested that the board convene another meeting to hold interviews and take another vote.
Klepper called the situation "an unintentional error," adding: "I accept responsibility for that."
This afternoon's meeting agenda includes one interview in public session, and two in executive session, as allowed under a section of Rhode Island's Open Meeting Law, General Law 42-46-5(a)(1), covering discussion of job performance by public boards.
A re-convening of the meeting to open session is scheduled for 6 pm, with public comment and a vote expected before adjournment.