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June 4, 2014

Methuen holds special meeting to OK solicitor's salary

METHUEN — So close, yet so far.

After two searches, dozens of candidates and nearly 18 months and a vote last month to appoint a new city solicitor, the City Council could not vote to pay her.

Councilor Lisa Ferry, saying she was frustrated the council chairman would not let her voice concerns about how the new solicitor’s salary was negotiated, Monday evening postponed approval of attorney Kerry Regan’s salary by raising an objection to the vote.

After a run of taking care of old business, including a privatization of the IT department and restarting the search for a solicitor, the council again could not close the deal.

Several councilors said the deal will be done tonight at 8:40 during a special meeting called specifically to vote on Regan’s $101,394 salary after the hold up was denounced as “sabotage.”

“Two meetings in a row when I tried to speak on this issue, Chairman (Jamie) Atkinson basically shut me down,” Ferry said. “(Monday) night, he shut me down again and that’s why I charter objected.”

That objection means the vote is postponed to the next meeting, whether regular or special. The charter allows only one objection on a given item.

Ferry said she wanted to be involved in salary discussion, which was handled during a meeting last month by Atkinson and Councilors Joyce Campagnone, George Kazanjian and Ron Marsan, the three councilors on the search committee.

“I said to Lisa, that’s not part of what the resolution is and you can’t discuss that,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson said he called the special meeting Monday night after the regular council meeting and scheduled it for 8:40 p.m. today, just making the 48-hour required notice.

“It’s very embarrassing to the city and the incoming solicitor,” he said. “To me it was a few councilors that seemed to want to sabotage the process because they don’t like the outcome.”

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