EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 12, 2013

Former Haverhill solicitor one of 2 finalists for Methuen's top legal post


Tonight will be the first time the full council weighs in on the search.

“I am concerned with the two applicants we have left,” said City Councilor Jeanne Pappalardo. “My vote is to go out for another search. I don’t care if it takes another three months. We need to be cautious.”

Councilor Jamie Atkinson said he will propose that McQuillan be reappointed at least until the end of the fiscal year June 30.

“I think we should keep Peter McQuillan,” Atkinson said yesterday. “It doesn’t seem prudent to bring in someone new at this time. Because of the timing, the best thing would be to keep Mr. McQuillan.”

Twelve people applied for the city solicitor job, which will pay between $87,390 and $113,144 per year.

Fountain, chairman of the search committee, initially told The Eagle-Tribune on Feb. 11 that four finalists had been chosen. The finalists were picked Feb. 6 during a secret meeting at Broadhurst’s Methuen law office.

A public notice for the Feb. 6 meeting was never posted. The Open Meeting Law in Massachusetts requires that meetings of public bodies — including City Council subcommittees — be publicized 48 hours in advance.

The search committee met behind closed doors again Feb. 26 for several hours before releasing the names of four finalists.

Fountain also planned to hold finalist interviews in executive session and release only two names to the public. But he reversed course Feb. 13, one day after The Eagle-Tribune reported such closed-door interviews constituted another Open Meeting Law violation.

After seeking clarification from Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office, Fountain said he was told that once finalists are selected, the search committee can no longer legally interview job applicants in closed-door executive session.




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