MWDN: Former Southborough selectman challenges legal bills

Above: Former Selectman Bonnie Phaneuf at a meeting earlier this year

When the question of whether to reimburse four town employees for legal fees incurred during an investigation into remarks made at Pizzeria Uno in 2009 first came before the Board of Selectmen last June, then Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf declined to take a position on the issue saying it would be up to Town Meeting to decide.

Today the Metrowest Daily News reports Phaneuf has come out publicly in opposition of reimbursement.

“I think the investigation, although it took too long, was appropriate,” she said. “Approving this will do nothing more than prevent people from bringing reasonable concerns to the attention of an elected official.”

Phaneuf also questioned the $14,248 reimbursement figure in the warrant article, saying that, according to a May 13, 2010, letter sent to the town by a lawyer representing the employees, the total legal bill was $13,988.

You can read more about Phaneuf’s position in the MWDN.

The two remaining Selectmen have both spoken strongly in favor of reimbursement, and last month the Advisory Committee also voted to support the article.

Meanwhile, opinions on this blog have been decidedly mixed. In a recent poll, 55 percent of you said you favor reimbursing the employees, while 43 percent said you opposed the proposal.

Update: I originally wrote that the Advisory Committee voted unanimously to support reimbursement. A reader pointed out that the vote was not unanimous. One member abstained and another recused himself.

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12 years ago


This is ridiculous. The town is short on money and “we” want to spend it this way?!?

…I don’t think so…

Mike Hanigan
12 years ago

Government works best when the citizens have all the information they need to make informed decisions. Mrs. Phaneuf voted to prevent the towns people from reading the full un-redacted minutes public of the executive session that was at the root of this whole problem. I can’t support her position because she has prevented me from reading what I need to make an reformed decision.

I will wait to make my decision at town meeting and I will weigh the recommendations from all the speakers at the town meeting.

BUT, I am disappointed that Mrs Phaneuf, whom I greatly admire, would not allow these documents to be made public.

Insert Screen Name Here
12 years ago

Mr. Hanigan is correct. As a member of the BOS, Mrs. Phaneuf had the clear opportunity to vote in favor of releasing these unredacted minutes and voted not to. This flip flop is inexplicable.

As to her concern that reimbursing legal fees might “prevent people from bringing reasonable concerns to the attention of an elected official”, I suggest that the UNreasonableness of elected officials is why we’re still talking about this mess.


Pat D
12 years ago

This topic has gotten completely out of hand. There has been, and is still, much debate about this issue and it had taken up too much time and energy on everyone’s part. This I am sure of . . . if this had not happened at UNO’s in the first place, we would not be discussing this now.

Number 1: These town employees should NOT have been in a public restaurant discussing town issues and personnel!!! This was a private matter that they chose to display in a very public manner! That was not good for themelves or for the town of Southboro.

Number 2: For the town to reimburse legal fees is ludicrus!! If these individuals elected to hire an attorney, then the fees are their responsibility. In no way should the town reimburse them . . . because ultimately it is me, as a taxpayer, and you, as a taxpayer, who will foot the bill. For those town employees to pass this along to the general population is insensitive and selfish!

This is “opening a can of worms” or “opening Pandora’s box”. No amount of reports will change the fact that it’s the taxpayers who will pay the price through no fault of their own.

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