Friday, April 21, 2006

Bill Dale's letter to council

Below is the text of an email sent by town attorney William Dale to Gary Foster and the Gray Town Council on April 17. The subject is Dale's response to insinuations of ethical misconduct made against him by Elizabeth Prata on her blog (link here and here) arising out of Dale's presence at Gray Town Hall on Saturday, April 8, and Mitch Berkowitz's subsequent arrival there. At the April 18 council meeting, Foster initially refused to read this letter aloud, but eventually did so at the urging of councilor John Welch.

----- Original Message -----
From: William H. Dale
To: Gary Foster
Cc: John Welch ; Denise Duda ; Andy Upham ; Skip Crane ;
Sent: Monday, April 17, 2006 1:11 PM
Subject: Local gray politics


I am concerned that I am being dragged unfairly into the middle of local Gray politics, capped off by Liz Pratta's adolescent new blog suggesting that I'm somehow conspiring with Mitch Berkowitch after having been "switched at birth" with an evil character from the Simpsons cartoon show.

My law firm has represented the Town for over 50 years. For the last 20 years, I personally have represented the Town fairly and, I think, extremely well. Just look at our litigation record and our equally exemplary record of litigation avoidance. Similarly, we have provided the Town with outstanding legal advice on both specific issues as they arise and on general matters on a prophylactic basis.

I have worked hard to stay out of the middle of Town politics. That's obviously the Town Council's business, not mine. Until this last year, I could count on one hand the number of phone calls or communications I'd had with individual Town Councilors. Even this year, when a substantial rift developed between the Town Manager and the Town Council, I tried to stay out of it except to provide the Town Council, but not the Town Manager, with advice when asked. When you and Andy came in to ask advice about Mitch's separation issue the night before you voted on it with Mitch, I gave you good, sound legal advice. That a majority of the Town Council opted not to follow that advice was perfectly permissible; I don't get a vote, I just give the best advice I possibly can. When you and Andy wanted a set of amendments to the subdivision ordinance on an expedited basis, I drafted them right up. When you and Andy wanted advice on how to incorporate his financial concerns into the Charter, I gave you good and timely advice on how to attach them instead to the Town Council's written policies. When you needed advice on the Attorney General's inquiry into Right to Know law issues, I gave you timely and practical legal advice.

Now, for Liz' blog to suggest that I would "secretly" conspire with Mitch on a Saturday in the Town offices with my car parked right in plain sight for heaven's only knows what purpose is ridiculous! With my having asked Donna Hill, the acting Town Manager! With one of my law partners with me! As I have told you and as Donna knew, we were there working on the Pennell litigation so that we could go through all the old town meeting reports in the Town office vault and have unrestricted access to the Town office's one photocopier. The purpose of that exercise was so we can file a "summary judgment" motion in court to avoid the time and expense of a full in-court trial. Yes, it was my day off, but no we were not there for free; we were doing Town work. I was let in by the building super, telephoned Donna at her home when we arrived (she couldn't attend because she had a bridal shower) and telephoned her when the afternoon was over. I have represented the Town and its citizens with regard to hundreds of thousands of dollars of litigation matters over the years, given many, many free seminars, helped the Town and its staff members through a myriad of municipal and even some non-municipal issues--what was I going to do on my Saturday after 20 years of such service: steal pens and notebook paper from Donna's office??

On another matter from Liz' blog, I expressly told both you and Andy here in my office that the Copp consent decree has NOT been amended by Mitch, the Court or otherwise to delete the so-called "self-help provision" about which you inquired. That remains in the consent agreement even today. It was a good idea when my office drafted it into the decree in the first place, it remains in place and it remains a good idea.

I'm not sure who reads Liz Pratta's blog, but just in case any of you do, I wanted to set the record straight. I would be more than pleased to come out to a Town Council meeting to explain any or all of this to you in person if you think that would be appropriate. Thank you.

Bill Dale

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Monument readers speak!

Latest reader survey results from Gray's super-accurate newspaper of record:

Hope Andy's not the worrying type...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Clown show tonight!

Grab your popcorn and soda, folks. Its the third Tuesday of the month, and that means clown show! Agenda here. Featured event:
Fourth Order of Business: Order #77 - Review and act upon amending the subdivision ordinance to clarify the authority of the Planning Board in imposing certain fire safety provisions in new subdivisions.
Watch in amazement as amateur lawyers use imaginary legal theories to dismiss the advice of a respected town attorney, ignore the urgent recommendations of your Fire Department, and cripple your Planning Board's independence while putting the interests of private developers ahead of public safety.

If this thing passes (and it probably will), try not to think too much about the future of the town you call home. And make sure your fire extinguishers work.