Select Board votes to end services of Hudson’s town counsel


Work to remove lead paint in Hudson’s town hall was set to begin on Aug. 16. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)
Hudson’s Town Hall stands on Main Street. The Select Board recently voted to end the town counsel appointment in June.
(Photo/Dakota Antelman)

HUDSON — Last August, the Hudson Select Board voted on three finalists for the town counsel, including their current town counsel of 37 years, Aldo Cipriano. However, the board was not able to reach a majority vote to retain Cipriano or the other two finalists.

As a result, Cipriano remained the town counsel for Hudson until a decision could be made about new counsel.

At the April 10 meeting, the Select Board voted 3-1 to effectively end the town counsel appointment on June 30, with a separate vote to consider appointing new counsel with a start date of July 1.

Select Board member Shawn Sadowski did make a motion to move the item to their next meeting, as member James Quinn was absent. He believed it “should be decided on by the entire board.”

There was no second for the motion, so it died.

Members of the public expressed their opinions on whether the Select Board should replace Cipriano with new counsel.

“I was a little bit amazed to see that this is on the agenda,” Richard Harrity said. “Most of you know that Aldo has been town counsel for 37 years. … But after 37 years, to have the position terminated on fairly short notice under these circumstances is, shall we say, unusual.”

He noted that although the town counsel serves “at the behest” of the Select Board, he found the decision unusual.

Harrity has been moderator for 38 years and said he has come to understand the roles of everyone in town, including Cipriano’s.

He believed that town counsel is “not here to give you what you want to hear.” Counsel is duty-bound to follow the law, he said, and sometimes not give people the opinion they do not want to hear.

Harrity said, “In addition to that, he has to deal with just about every town board in the town of Hudson, and over 37, he’s had many interactions with just about every town board.”

From the perspective of Town Meeting, he said nothing happens without it. He said that Cipriano has followed the law over his tenure and advised the Town meeting of what it can and cannot do.

“The issue is we have 37 years of continuity here,” said Harrity.

Harrity was concerned with the handoff of duties to a large law firm that may not let the town choose who represents them. While the new counsel may have experience with town meeting overall, they would not have Hudson Town Meeting experience.

The issue with that, he continued, was that Hudson is unique in the sense that what is good for one town is not good for another. The new town counsel would have to get used to how Hudson “conducts business,” he said.

Sadowski asked to enter into record letters of support for Cipriano from former Select Board member Joe Durant, Chair of the Community Preservation Committee John M. Parent and current member of the Board of Assessors Christine Griffin as well.

Resident Andrew Massa asked what the impetus was for replacing the town counsel. Chair Scott Duplisea said there were multiple reasons, but the meeting was “not a public hearing to discuss performance.”

Executive Assistant Thomas Gregory said last May, in looking at town counsel services, he wanted to allow the board to look at alternate opportunities as the “complexity in municipal law has grown in the last 30 years, certainly in the last 10 years.”

“I issued [a request for proposals] in a very transparent manner, and I had a review committee of five department heads review nine proposals, including from the incumbent,” he said. “They spent over two hours reviewing proposals.”

The finalist list included Cipriano and two outside firms, which have professionals in different areas of legal expertise. Gregory noted the reason to be an evaluation of business practices.

“No action was taken a year ago,” Gregory said. “And, here we are. The board is addressing the issue now.”

Resident and former Select Board member Fred Lucy commended the Select Board for following best practices in the selection of town legal services, and noted the School Committee went through the same process 20 years ago.

He added, “No negative reason was required. The School Committee wanted a new firm to provide legal services and all school department matters.”

He also noted that the practice of replacing law firms was “not uncommon.”


Abstentions result in no change for Hudson’s town counsel

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