BCWA keeps Cameron and Mittleman


The Bristol County Water Authority board of directors voted 4-3 Wednesday night to retain Cameron and Mittleman as legal counsel.

Cameron and Mittleman partner Sandra Mack was one of three attorneys interviewed by the board of directors prior to its vote. The board previously voted 5-2 in favor of Cameron and Mittleman but decided to re-visit the issue following allegations that the move violated state open meetings law.

The board initially interviewed five firms following a request for proposals issued earlier this year. Two of the firms, including Cameron and Mittleman, agreed to return for interviews in executive session Wednesday while attorney Michael McElroy opted for public questioning. Another of the five finalists reportedly notified the board it could not attend Wednesday's re-interviews while the final candidate reportedly did not respond to the offer.

Director John Jannitto, of Warren, motioned to re-appoint Cameron and Mittleman.

"I'm convinced we have good, competent legal service," he said.

Paul Bishop, of Bristol, seconded the motion. He said the firm has done an "excellent job" in his year-and-a-half on the board. He also stated Bristol's two other directors – Joseph DeMelo and Frank Sylvia – had told him they supported keeping Cameron and Mittleman. Mr. DeMelo and Mr. Sylvia were not in attendance Wednesday.

BCWA Executive Director Pamela Marchand said she supported Cameron and Mittleman given the firm's knowledge of the BCWA;s history and issues currently facing the agency. Ms. Marchand said it would be "very difficult" for a new firm to come in.

Board of directors chairman Allan Klepper, of Barrington, agreed. He said Ms. Mack expressed the "most thorough grasp" of issues facing the agency.

Barrington director Kevin Fitta, however, supported a change in counsel. He said any organization should consider periodic changes in professional services. Mr. Fitta also said the BCWA has some "public perception" issues that could be alleviated with a change in legal counsel and other firms had "considerably lower rates."

Director Robert Allio, of Barrington, agreed while director Ray Palmieri, of Warren, said he couldn't support the firm because of cost and the potential that associates with less experience would be handling BCWA legal issues in Massachusetts.

A few members of the public also called for a change citing rates and and past issues, such as open meetings concerns.

In the end, the firm was approved 4-3 with Mr. Fitta, Mr. Palmieri and Mr. Allio voting nay.

Ms. Mack said her firm operated under a $60,000 cap this year, which was met in November. She said the firm's effective rate by the end of this fiscal year in February will likely be about $235 an hour, lower than a rate of more than $300 per hour referenced during the meeting.

Ms. Mack also said BCWA matters in Massachusetts will be handled by a senior partner at the firm and not an associate.



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It's time for Barrington to begin thinking about divesting itself from Bristol / Warren cronyism at BCWA, and linking up with East Providence.

Our water is now 100% from Scituate, the backup will come via East Providence, and the pipeline goes right past our pumping station.

There are few technical problems with this arrangement, and East Providence is a much better run water authority with rates about 40% less than BCWA's


The big problem will be in the future infrastructure warts facing Bristol and Warren that BCWA will expect Barrington residents to subsidize, and have subsidized in the past.

Consider that the recent Bristol Hope Street project to put in new residential water hookups to the historic homes was paid in part by Barrington residents. Why should Barrington residents be sharing in such costs? These Bristol Warren subsidies will get much worse in the future.

And that $5 million dollar cost overrun in 1998 on the East Bay Pipeline was due in large part to the Bristol directors, and buried without an audit.

BCWA now has their Bristol attorney to provide cover to these warts.

BCWA has been, and will always be, crony central for Bristol and Warren local politics. Barrington needs to find a new partner before things get really out of hand.

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