EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 21, 2013

City to release names of solicitor finalists

METHUEN — The city solicitor search committee will meet in a closed-door executive session Tuesday night before releasing the names of four finalists for Methuen’s top legal job.

The finalists will then be interviewed in public session by the full City Council. Those interviews could happen as soon as the end of next week, said Council Chairman Sean Fountain, who is also chairman of the six-member search committee.

The search committee was scheduled to meet in executive session tonight. But Fountain rescheduled the meeting last night, after learning city councilors Jennifer Kannan and Lisa Ferry could not attend.

Fountain said the search committee will release the names of the four finalists after meeting Tuesday night in executive session. He said the meeting will be closed to the public so the committee can finalize its selection of the four finalists.

Fountain told The Eagle-Tribune on Feb. 11 that four finalists had already been chosen. The finalists were picked Feb. 6 during a secret meeting attended by five of six search committee members: Councilors Fountain, Kannan and Ferry; and local lawyers Arthur Broadhurst and Bryan Chase. The meeting was held at Broadhurst’s Methuen law office. Absent from the meeting was Councilor Tom Ciulla.

But yesterday, Fountain said the search committee has yet to officially vote on the four finalists. That vote will come Tuesday, he said.

“We were down to four, but it depends on Ciulla’s vote,” said Fountain. “We want to give him the courtesy of having his input.”

Fountain initially 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 a violation of the Open Meeting Law.

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 sessions.

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