By William F. Zachmann for the Duxbury Clipper
Each week brings more troubling questions about the conduct of Duxbury’s legal affairs with, as yet, no satisfactory answers. Meanwhile, the number of lawyers the Town must pay for is growing, most recently with the decision by the Board of Selectmen last Monday to add the Cambridge, Massachusetts firm of Anderson & Kreiger to Duxbury’s ballooning special town counsel roster.
Given that the only publicly stated issue with our legal representation is with some of regular Town Counsel Robert Troy’s now repudiated representations to the court concerning the Johnson Golf suit and given repeated assertions that removing Troy from his position is not being contemplated (which at least implies continued confidence in Troy on the part of the selectmen and the Town Manager), why was Troy directed on April 19, 2012 to remove himself not only from the North Hill suit, but from three lawsuits concerning the Police Department as well?
According to the lead article on the front page of the Wednesday, May 2 issue of the Duxbury Clipper, although the Selectmen had directed Troy formally to remove himself from the North Hill suit, he did not do so immediately. This was confirmed by Lenny Kesten, the attorney for the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association (MIIA), previously appointed by the Selectmen as special town counsel and as lead counsel in the town’s defense against Johnson Golf and also by Steven Follansbee, attorney for Johnson Golf. Troy had apparently been told to not withdraw immediately by Selectman Shawn Dahlen and Town Manager Richard MacDonald (but has done so subsequently).
So then what is Kesten’s role in all this? Does he simply represent the Town, as some have said, or does he represent MIIA? The initial decision to direct Troy to step aside, according to the Clipper article, “came as a result of Selectmen, Kesten and Recreation Director Gordon Cushing meeting in executive session on April 19” to discuss the Johnson Golf suit. Troy was not there. What, exactly, are the legal and ethical obligations of an attorney, meeting in a secret session at which another attorney was apparently not present, in participating in a discussion to remove that attorney (Troy) who apparently had no opportunity to represent in that meeting his own position on the case?
If Kesten indeed represents the Town in the Johnson Golf suit (and the three others), why bring a third attorney, Kreiger, into the case at all? How was he selected? Who else was considered? According to BOS Chairman Ted Flynn, “They [Anderson & Kreiger] came highly recommended by Judi Barrett, head of the Zoning Board of Appeals.” Judi was a campaign manager for Dahlen when he was elected to the BOS in 2010. The ZBA’s decisions have a substantial impact on some of Dahlen’s construction company’s clients, whether or not Dahlen recuses himself from appearing directly before the ZBA. There are plenty of attorneys and engineers available to do that.
What assurances do the citizens, taxpayers and voters of the Town of Duxbury have that either the initial ouster of Troy from these four cases or its subsequent reversal was fair, just and proper? Could this have been an attempt to scapegoat Troy to distract attention from problems with the conduct of some other town officials and/or to replace him with someone certain elements in town government feel would be more compliant to their wishes? Did fear that Troy might “blow the whistle” on such an attempt perhaps motivate the sudden reversal of his dismissal? What really is going on here?
Until all the facts are honestly and transparently made public, there really is just no way to know. All we can be sure of at this point is that, one way or another, all this is going to cost Duxbury’s taxpayers a lot of money; money that might have much better been spent in some more worthwhile manner.