BCWA Legal Contract Will Need a Third Vote

The Bristol County Water Authority board will have to vote a third time on its legal counsel.


A third vote will be taken on the Bristol County Water Authority's legal contract, the agency announced on Thursday.

Board Chairman Allen Klepper confirmed in an interview that the 4-3 vote taken on Jan. 16 — the second time in a month that the group voted on the matter — was one "aye" vote short of the number needed to approve the contract, according to state law.

"We need to take another vote," Klepper said. "Usually, in the past, we have voted on almost all issues with a majority of a quorum."

However, Executive Director Pamela Marchand issued a statement on Thursday that explained the contract requires a majority of five votes.

In the statement, Marchand wrote that "a discrepancy was discovered" between the agency's by-laws and the state law governing the agency, the Bristol County Water Act.

The by-laws — essentially the rulebook for the BCWA — state: "any action to be taken by the Authority may be authorized by resolution approved by a majority of the members of the Board of directors present at any regular or special meeting at which a quorum is present."

Since there were seven board members present on Wednesday night, four votes would be enough to approve the contract under the by-laws.

However, the state law requires "a resolution [to be] approved by not less than five of the directors at any regular or special meeting at which a quorum is present," meaning that the legal services pact needed five votes to pass.

"Therefore, in order to concur with both the By-Laws and the BCW Act, the Board of Directors of the Bristol County Water Authority will hold a new Vote on the legal services, whereby five (5) votes will be needed to take action," Marchand said in the statement.

On Jan. 16, Klepper and board members John Jannitto of Warren, Paul Bishop of Bristol, and Vice Chairman William Gosselin voted in favor of renewing the BCWA contract with Cameron & Mittleman.

Kevin Fitta and Robert Allio of Barrington, and Ray Palmieri of Warren voted against.

Allio switched from his previous vote.

The board decided to hold the second vote after residents complained about the handling of the initial vote on Dec. 20, claiming that a Dec. 18 session was held illegally because it had not been properly advertised under the Rhode Island Open Meetings Law.

Manifold Witness January 18, 2013 at 11:50 AM
Mrs. Mack was voted out on January 16, 2013. We think she knows it. A vote of 4 to 3 is a “no” vote for Mrs. Mack. She didn’t get the 5 votes required for the motion to carry. Mrs. Mack must have known that, so she had “no comment” at the meeting, and she let the Board think they had properly reappointed her. Even though she was sitting in a front row seat, Mrs. Mack apparently didn’t want to advise the board at the meeting. Had she done her duty, and advised the board, the board would have had to move right on to entertain a motion for the next candidate on the list, and so on. Until one of the others received the necessary 5 votes. The agenda says: “Discussion/Action: Vote , 1. Legal Services Selection” The first one to get 5 “yes” votes wins. But Mrs. Mack had a conflict of interest. So she didn’t speak up to advise the board the board to go on to the next candidate. The same board members who did the interviews and voted on 1/16/13, will now have to reconvene and continue the voting process. The meeting must reconvene right away after proper public notice. (Did the board members decide in advance to make the vote look like it was close – and so they went with 4 to 3? Was Mrs. Mack horrified as THAT played out right in front of her? And is THAT why she was uncharacteristically quiet? She couldn’t exactly pipe up and tell them “No! Somebody had better make a 5th vote here for me now or I’m OUT!”?) Ouch.
Gary Morse January 18, 2013 at 11:56 AM
BCWA claims they can just say "oops", and that's it. They have to continue with the voting process on the other candidates, not give Ms Mack another bite of the apple. Ms Marchand and the board will have a public relations nightmare on their hands if she continues to rig this outcome.
BOB I January 18, 2013 at 12:30 PM
bet they wiggle out of this one too. timed for a complete investigation by risp.
Bristol County Anonymous January 18, 2013 at 01:26 PM
Mrs. Mack was voted out. That vote stands. Mrs. Mack was in the front row on 1/16, watching the latest illegal "Redo" meeting. She sat silently and allowed the Board to think that 4 votes were good enough. This is the latest example of her incompetence and /or dishonesty. She’s been the BCWA attorney since 1986. More than 25 years. That’s way too long. She’s paid $375 per hour. That's excessive. The old guard directors say she has “institutional knowledge”. She seems to apply it to serve her personal goals. Here’s what the “old-guard” directors say: Jannitto: “I’m convinced we have good, competent legal services.”; “Klepper “She has the most thorough grasp of the issues”; Bishop: “She’s done an excellent job”; http://barrington.patch.com/articles/new-meeting-on-legal-services-same-outcome We cannot “respect” Directors who make statements that ignore the truth about the incompetent / dishonest legal services at BCWA.
Manifold Witness January 18, 2013 at 01:27 PM
Sandra Mack was voted out. No wiggling on this. If one of the other candidates had received the same 4 to 3 vote, would there be a redo on THAT vote? We think not. We think Mrs. Mack would have made it known that THAT vote was over - no redo on that. No redo on the Mack ouster vote. That vote is done and over. Mack didn’t get the 5 she needed. Whether or not the board knew that at the time doesn’t matter. And if Mrs. Mack thinks that bit of knowledge should matter to the outcome of the vote? That’s another line of inquiry. The other candidates are still in the running. But Sandra Mack is out of the pool. And if none of the other candidates gets the requisite 5 votes? They're all out of the pool, too. And that would mean that BCWA needs to re-advertise to get a pool of NEW applicants. But Mrs. Mack was the first to be voted OUT of the pool. As to our speculative opinions regarding certain matters of process, those are reasonably based upon a knowledge of past experience. We now applaud those like Mr. Fitta, Mr. Palmieri and Mr. Allio who appear to be striving to bring positive change to the BCWA.
David Beller January 18, 2013 at 01:35 PM
It is amazing to me that this one county wide agency has been and continues to be fraught with complete nonsense. What should be done is that the candidate, Ms Mack, who did not get enough votes should be thanked for her service and then the voting process resumed and now move on to the other candidates who should have been voted on in the first place. Generally not only before the recent changes in management but also the current management would seem to not have the best interests of the ratepayers instead being more concerned with self perpetuation. What happend to all the recommendations of the audit. Are they now forgotten and the Authority simply moves along it merry way skirting laws and our interests.
Jeffrey Jeffrey January 18, 2013 at 01:40 PM
Posted by another at EastBayRI.com (and I fully agree): "Three meetings were held, Dec 18, Dec 20, and Jan 16th, all for the purpose of picking BCWA’s next legal counsel; and the preferred candidate of the Board and Ms Marchand is Sandra Mack; and now it is learned that all three meetings were illegal due in part to lack of legal oversight by the preferred candidate who attended the meetings." "You can’t make this stuff up. One last point, one of BCWA’s objectives is in part to rebuild confidence in BCWA within the community."
Gary Morse January 18, 2013 at 02:00 PM
Jeffrey, The last meeting on the 16th was not illegal, it just needed a continuance to allow a vote to be taken on all the remaining candidates. There is no redo that will allow a second chance for Ms Mack. The recorded board vote is clear that she is now voted out of the pool.
Manifold Witness January 18, 2013 at 02:26 PM
Mrs. Mack was voted out. The fact that the bylaws don't comply with the applicable law is no reason for another do-over vote as to Mrs. Mack. The bylaws should comply with the laws such as the enabling laws and the Open Government laws. The bylaws don't comply. Mrs. Mack should know that. The bylaws should have been rewritten to comply with all applicable laws. Mrs. Mack should know that. Will the bylaws be rewritten to comply with the law?
Manifold Witness January 18, 2013 at 03:45 PM
How and when was the board notified that the 4 to 3 vote means that the vote to hire Mrs. Mack did not carry?
Ray DeForge January 18, 2013 at 06:47 PM
If I won the "Powerball", I would buy the biggest laundromat in Tiverton, and expand on it; for, with the very real possibility of flooded streets and dry household water pipes from neighbors to the north, the clothes washing business will be booming in "T" town :P .................... Juuusst sayin' - the "Sausage King"
marina peterson January 18, 2013 at 07:35 PM
You are exactly right David!!! I have just posted a blog to that effect which should be live soon.
marina peterson January 18, 2013 at 08:21 PM
Please see new post "Mack Apparently Out...Who's in??" at http://barrington.patch.com/blog_posts/mack-apparently-out-whos-in-d59d94c1
Bob Venice January 18, 2013 at 11:27 PM
The question to be answered is Why the the councils of these three man, reelect them to the board again, if they felt the BCWA needed a change. Watch,The Board of Directors under Klepper will find a way to retain Mack.
marina peterson January 19, 2013 at 01:10 AM
Actually David, Ms. Marchand has stated that the B&E audit (for which we maid over $30,000,.00) is of no use and that the people who conducted the audit did not have the proper experience. (???) It didn't really say what they wanted to hear.
marina peterson January 19, 2013 at 03:14 AM
The photo on this blog is priceless!!!
Jack Baillargeron January 19, 2013 at 03:22 AM
It sure is Marina it sure is. Should have a "Caption contest" on it lol.
Jack Baillargeron January 19, 2013 at 03:37 AM
It is so frustrating to see the BCWA so publicy make a fool of itself on issues that someone in kindergarten could understand. Like I have said so many times the open meetings law is as simple to read and understand as the Jack/Jill book. They wrotetheir By-laws whch had to comply with Roberts Rules of Order and the Enabling legislation that was written over 20 years ago. I find it unbelievable or as Hillary would say, "a suspension of disbelief" that these rules are not known. Ms. Marchand of all people who is chairman of the water resoure board and has dealth with the BCWA for years on issue concerning the enabling legislation. She has to know or should know the score. If not then we should have known she was inept in that department before hiring in my opinion. I have never heard of any head of any organization, Town Council etc that uses Robert Rules does not know the voting procedures which are also layed out in that book. So if they are in the Enabling Legislation and the by-laws, how do these people especially the legal eagles not have a clue what the procedures are. Same as the open meeting fiasco. (we know there is an open meetings law, we just have no clue how to read it). Shame on them. Dissolve this BCWA immeadiatly and turn it over to the State. Ratepayer's and Taxpayers have suffered long enough with this cash cow that a burden on the tri-town area replete with either corruption, ineptitude, or just plain stupidity in my opinion anyway.
Jack Baillargeron January 19, 2013 at 03:49 AM
I swear if I could still go to the meetings every week like I use too, I would be thrown out everytime for cracking up laughing at this Circus. I feel sorry for some of the New Board members who are trying to make a difference and keep hitting a brick wall of th old guard. They have my respect, the others; not so much ;-}


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