It will be a do-over for the board of the Bristol County Water Authority.
The voted unanimously Wednesday evening, Jan. 9, to invite all of the finalists in the search for legal counsel to return and be interviewed again.
If no one is interested, the board will stick with the choice it made on Dec. 20 to rehire its longtime attorney, Sandra Mack, a partner with Cameron & Mittleman of Providence.
The board revisited the search on Wednesday because of criticism that when it awarded the contract for legal services it may have violated open meeting laws. It asked for an opinion from the RI Attorney General’s office before it decided to reopen the search.
Sally McDonald, associate counsel for the BCWA from Cameron & Mittleman, said she spoke to Michael Fields, the authority in the Attorney General’s Office on the open meeting law. She said the law regarding interviews “is unclear.”
But erring on the side of caution, she said, the board should probably conduct the interviews again.
BCWA Board Chairman Allan Klepper of Barrington, who asked for the legal opinion, said: “An unintentional error was made. I accept responsibility for that.”
So, he asked the board members if they would be willing to interview the candidates again next Wednesday, Jan. 16. Their proposals will be discussed in closed and open sessions and then the board will vote again after using the same ranking system as it used the first time.
“We are going to comply with the law,” Klepper said, “however ridiculous it may be.”
The board voted 5-2 the first time at a Dec. 20 meeting to retain the law firm of Cameron and Mittleman, specifically Mack, who has been the water authority’s legal counsel for about 20 years.
The vote seemed to end the search for legal counsel that had gotten responses to an RFP from seven law firms, five of whom were interviewed.
Nope. It will be a do-over next week, presuming any of the finalists opt to return for another interview.