Rochester town counsel announces resignation
ROCHESTER — Longtime Rochester Town Counsel Blair Bailey announced his resignation during a Jan. 27 meeting of the Rochester Select Board.
“Unfortunately, my bandwidth and my ability to go back and forth and do multiple jobs and [handle] family stuff has gone down recently,” said Bailey, who joined the meeting via Zoom. “So I'm going to have to downsize a little bit. And it makes me sad, but it's something I have to do.”
Bailey served as town counsel for 20 years, attended board and committee meetings, and offered legal advice on behalf of the town.
“You have given a lot of your effort — far above your [contractual obligations] to the town,” said Select Board Chair Woody Hartley. “I think we all feel that you have big shoes to fill, and you will be missed.”
Hartley emphasized Bailey’s ability to communicate with the select board, personal knowledge of town issues and positive demeanor.
Now, said Rochester Town Administrator Glenn Cannon, the town needs to move forward with another option for legal counsel.
Cannon drafted a contract with Mead, Talerman and Costa, LLC., a New Bedford-based private law firm that was recommended by Bailey.
According to Cannon, the firm offered Rochester a flat rate deal which includes one weekly meeting for the first six months of the contract, and then one monthly meeting thereafter.
The rate includes union negotiations and zoning litigation.
A flat fee also means that the town won’t be charged “by the phone call or by the email,” said Cannon.
“Looking back, it's only been a couple of occasions where I have sat in on more than two or three meetings a month for certain boards,” said Bailey. “So I don't think that that's really going to be an issue from a cost standpoint to the town.”
With a new private law firm acting as town counsel also comes new procedures for how the town will utilize its legal advice, said Cannon.
“It is a flat fee, we don't want to abuse it,” said Cannon. “I think we need to have a policy about how we reach out to town counsel.”
The Select Board and Cannon will draft a new policy for how the boards and committees interact with town counsel that will be presented at the Feb. 6 meeting of the Rochester Select Board.
The Select Board will also vote to accept or deny the contract with Mead, Talerman and Costa, LLC. at the Feb. 6 meeting.
Until a new town consul is brought on, Bailey said that he’s only a phone call away.
“I am gonna be sad — I already am,” said Bailey. “But I told everybody, I am around — within reason you all still have my cell phone number.”