Atty. Richard Bowen, representing his own private practice, met with the Plympton Board of Selectmen at their meeting on Monday, June 19, 2017. The Plympton Board of Selectmen is strongly considering a potential legal partnership with Bowen as their Town Co-counsel. In this arrangement Bowen, would work alongside the law firm, Kopelman and Paige, the town’s current legal counsel.
Richard Bowen was a senior partner for Kopelman and Paige and worked there for 25 years before leaving to start his own practice. According to Bowen, there was no animosity between him and Kopelman and Paige; he believes they are a great firm.
Bowen said he just wanted to try things with a different approach, which he called “preventative medicine.” It’s a more hands-on approach that tries to work with selectmen at early stages of decision making in order to prevent law suits and any potential legal trouble.
However, Bowen said, this doesn’t mean he wants to take decision making power away from the town’s government. He said, “I’ve been a selectman. I don’t want to do it again.” Bowen also added that he’s not a policy maker, but is just “hands on.”
Another point Bowen brought up to selectmen was that he brings this sort of law practice for a small number of communities, including Wareham and Douglas. He said that being in a private practice has given him more of an opportunity to use what he called an “interactive person-to-person practice of law.” According to Bowen, a firm may be doing many more communities and it makes that personal practice much harder to achieve.
Selectmen questioned Bowen, especially about expertise on unique cases that may require a specialized skill, since he’s working in a sole practice. Selectmen Chair Christine Joy asked if there was something Bowen was not comfortable handling, would he refer the Board back to Kopelman and Paige?
Bowen said that he would have no problem doing this if what was needed landed outside his legal expertise. He said he would refer to Kopelman and Paige or anyone who would know the case better in specific circumstances.
Selectman John Traynor said he would like to try Bowen as a co-counsel on a six month trial basis. He did have some questions about comfort working with both him and Kopelman and Paige. Bowen said that would not be an issue as there is mutual respect. He emphasized that he worked there for 25 years and was happy.
Selectmen decided to proceed with Bowen. They are having a formal meeting soon to discuss how a contractual relationship with Bowen as co-town counsel would work. Depending on how things go at the meeting, Plympton selectmen voted to enter into an agreement with Bowen as their co-town counsel alongside Kopelman and Paige.
Fire Department Update
Fire Chief Warren Borsari met with selectmen asking if they could transfer an older, unused police vehicle for Fire Department use.
Chief Borsari wants the SUV reassigned to the Fire Department as a service vehicle that can be uses for required home and business inspections as well as transporting paramedics to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Plymouth to complete their required hospital hours.
Currently, the Fire Department uses ambulances for these types of services. Chief Borsari said, “I’d rather do this than send an ambulance to someone’s home.”
Selectmen asked what Police Chief Patrick Dillon thought about this proposal. According to Chief Borsari, Chief Dillon thinks this is a great idea.
The only cost for the town would be updating the insurance and a license plate transfer fee. The vehicle is a Ford Explorer with 84,000 miles on it. It also has new tires. Chief Borsari said, “It’s a good, safe vehicle that can be used for these kinds of things.”
Chief Borsari, with selectman John Traynor, also gave an update on the hiring of part time clerical help for the Fire Department. A job description for the position is being finalized.
Traynor said he collaborated with Police Chief Dillon by using the Police Department’s format for hiring their administrative assistant. The position is for 15 hours per week and pays $15 per hour.
Town Clerk Tara Shaw brought her list of committee reappointments for the Board of Selectmen to sign, barring any changes when she speaks with the various department heads.
The Board of Selectmen has considered improving volunteerism in the town to be a major goal for 2017. Ken Thompson, Chairman for the Zoning Board of Appeals did however emphasize that attendance needs to be emphasized for those volunteering. He’d like to see a reappointment process that takes that into account the volunteer’s ability to serve in the future..
Thompson said, “Continuances are causing issues, so it’s doing more harm than good if people miss more (meetings) than they make.” The Board kept the process the same for this year, but selectman Mark Russo also expressed a desire to change the process next year.
Selectmen decided they will interview a third hiring firm for the Town Administrator position. At the last meeting on Monday, June 12, the Board said they would make a decision at this meeting, however, the Board since learned that state law requires they interview at least three firms.
Bob Karling, Plympton’s Zoning Enforcement Officer, was sworn in as a new Planning Board member. At last week’s selectmen’s meeting Planning Board Chair Deb Anderson said naming Karling to the board would give the planning board the quorum they need to vote on items needing a super-quorum. Karling is also the Zoning Enforcement Officer.
The next Plympton selectmen’s meeting is Monday, June 26, at 6p.m.