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As AG deliberates, charges, countercharges fly in Conway

CONWAY — The state Attorney General’s Office is reviewing the former town administrator’s Open Meeting Law complaint against the Selectboard.

If the state conducts an investigation, it could take up to 90 days for the town to receive the results.

In the complaint filed with the state on March 9, Edward MacDonald alleged the Selectboard violated state law on two occasions. MacDonald has also requested $14,301 in what he believes is owed vacation, personal and sick time. He resigned from his position after only 47 days on the job.

The Selectboard has denied the accusations and believes it paid what was owed.

The complaint followed MacDonald’s surprise resignation on Jan. 7. He gave the Selectboard a 30-day notice, which the Selectboard did not accept after learning he was still employed as town administrator in the town of Chester.

Since receiving MacDonald’s original complaint, the Selectboard seems to have lost its patience.

“The board does not have the time or the desire to spar with Edward MacDonald and respond to his fallacious claims,” said Selectboard Chairman John O’Rourke in a statement to The Recorder. “As far as the board is concerned, Edward MacDonald is old news. However, Edward MacDonald and his wife have continued to request town documents, some of which have nothing to do with either of them, in an attempt to find whatever they can to get back at the board.”

The Selectboard has received four public records requests from MacDonald and his wife, Donna — two of which were the same requests. The requests include agendas from meetings in September, October and November; the Jan. 14 meeting minutes; and a sheet of paper from October with a list of the job’s tasks. MacDonald has requested the paper twice, but O’Rourke said it “cannot be located and it is assumed that it no longer exists.”

Though the Selectboard is content letting the issue rest, O’Rourke said if MacDonald continues “to snipe at the board and the town in an attempt to create mayhem, the board will not shy away from a fight but ... will vigorously pursue this matter and file a number of serious complaints with the state Ethics Commission.”

A complaint would likely include how MacDonald continued to work in Chester despite telling the Conway Selectboard he had resigned.

The open meeting law sets up a process for reviewing and investigating formal complaints.

According to state law, the Attorney General’s Office determines whether there “is reasonable cause to believe that the Open Meeting Law has been violated, and if so, whether to conduct a formal investigation.”

Penalties differ depending on whether and if the Selectboard violated the law unintentionally or not.

If the state finds the Selectboard violated the law unintentionally, it could order remedial action by directing compliance with the law, attendance at a training session or releasing records.

If the Selectboard did knowingly violate the law, the state could hold a hearing to determine whether the violation was intentional, whether the Selectboard is responsible and whether to impose up to a $1,000 civil penalty for each violation.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
kmckiernan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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