The Bristol County Water Authority’s board of directors voted to do just that Wednesday night, when members invited all of the finalists in its search for legal counsel back for new interviews. Those interviews ended prior to Dec. 20, when the board hired Cameron and Mittleman to continue to provide legal advice; one of the firm’s attorneys, Sandra Mack of Bristol, has represented the BCWA for 20-odd years.
The board elected to revisit the issue after facing criticism that its awarding of the contract might have violated Rhode Island’s open meeting laws. The agenda for Dec. 20 included an item dubbed “RFP – Legal Services” under the “Business” section. At a Jan. 3 meeting of the BCWA, Barrington resident Gary Morse argued that the topic was listed with that same description for months prior to the meeting, without any vote to appoint legal counsel.
In addition, Barrington resident Jeff Black questioned the legality of a board meeting on Dec. 18 that was not posted with the Rhode Island Secretary of State. The board interviewed five potential legal firms that night.
After hearing the criticism, members said, the BCWA asked for advice from the Rhode Island Attorney General before inviting any top candidates who wish to return for another interview to do so. Though the law is unclear, an associate attorney from Cameron and Mittleman said, it would probably be a good idea to offer the re-interviews.
The new round of interviews, if needed, will take place next Wednesday, Jan. 16. If no finalists elect to attend, the BCWA will stick with Ms. Mack as its legal counsel.