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Brewer Reappointment as Town Counsel Gets Backing from Selectmen

Hamilton Town Counsel Donna Brewer's reappointment was been supported by the Board of Selectmen in a 3-2 vote on Monday night.

Town Manager Michael Lombardo narrowly received support from the Board of Selectmen on Monday for his decision to reappoint Town Counsel Donna Brewer.

Brewer, who has served as the town's attorney since 1998, is reappointed each year. And two years ago, she actually told the town she did not want to be reappointed. But at that time, as Lombardo was coming on board as the town’s first town manager, she was asked to stay on board to help with the transition.

Brewer’s reappointment became a hotly contested topic in recent weeks after . The report, by Boston attorney Thomas Urbelis, faulted Brewer’s handling of advice to the Board of Selectmen in 2007 as it went into several closed-door executive session meeting to discuss problems within the police department.

Lombardo said he did not plan to “explain away” Brewer’s advice in 2007, but spelled out his support for Brewer’s reappointment in a three-page memo to the Board of Selectmen, which is attached to this story as a PDF.

Members of the public, including two former Selectmen who served on the board in recent years, spoke out for about a half hour on Monday night at . David Carey and Bill Bowler, who were both on the board when Brewer offered the advice to go into executive session, said she should be reappointed. Carey said that the problems from that time were addressed when the town adopted the town manager form of government. Former Selectman Bill Bowler, an attorney himself, said Brewer’s advice has been “thoughtful” and timely” and “she addressed issues in a fair manner.”

Then members of the Board of Selectmen, one by one, spent about an hour offering their opinions.

David Neill, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said , but that Lombardo asked the board to give advice on the decision.

“That is why we are here tonight,” Neill said.

In the end, Neill and board members Marc Johnson and Jennifer Scuteri backed Lombardo’s decision and selectmen Jeff Hubbard and Jeff Stinson said that the town’s legal services should be put out to bid.

Selectman Jennifer Scuteri, who is an attorney, said that the town’s first attorney in , Leonard Kesten, was using a defense “was to throw everything on Donna Brewer.” Brewer, she said, is a “phenomenal lawyer” who recently successfully had a lower court decision overturned by the state Supreme Judicial Court.

Resident Jay Burnham, , said that replacing Brewer would “completely heal the wounds” from the late 2000s.

Hubbard said, although he had coffee with Brewer to discuss her reappointment, had hoped the board would have heard directly from Brewer.

Hubbard said he favored putting it out to bid.

“I think she was part of the history of our town that people are looking to put behind us,” he said.

Neill said putting it out to bid would be a “quasi-solution” and suggested that town officials take a similar approach to the one taken by the police department, where “nobody was put out to bid.”

Instead, the – where one of his sons works as an officer - recognized that mistakes were made and put them behind them.

“They have put it behind them,” he said. “They have done what we are talking about tonight.”

Brewer has become a better attorney after the mistakes she made in 2007.

“She has learned from that,” Neill said.

Anne Sweeney July 31, 2012 at 04:21 PM
The culmination of town strife, politics was resolved with a duel by Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, with Hamilton losing his life after the gun battle. Both Hamilton and Jefferson manipulated the press and some townspeople of that time to scandalize the other side. Character assassination is a mild phrase to use when describing the vitriol that went back and forth. Look for more in the coming months. This time consensus and back-room politicking by town committees and the police will never be discovered again. They are right, they put everything behind them and assume everything will be ok. Assume, " Ass-u-&-Me. Whom represents the real posterior within the community, it's people whom are blinded by a veil of deception and transparency becomes dream rather than a demand. Mary Poppins is alive and well in the Towns of Hamilton and Wenham ?
Michelle Bailey July 31, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Theodore Geisel used the pseudonym Dr. Seuss, Theo LeSieg, Rosetta Stone and others but he was still the same person. How about you Jim Smith and Anne Sweeney?
Anne Sweeney August 01, 2012 at 03:57 AM
I don't know Michelle Bailey, you certainly are sugar and spice and everything nice! So I'll nominate you as the Mary Poppins of Hamilton/Wenham. I am sure as town manager you would easily benefit the Town of Hamilton much more than the status quo. I sincerely believe that you would make a great Town Manager for Hamilton. Give it a shot, you have nothing to lose and all to gain :-) BTW, I don't think Jim Smith sees eye to eye with my views, as many do not, but that's ok. Celebrate our differences ? That's what it's all about, true ?
Robert Foringer August 01, 2012 at 10:39 AM
Amazing Lombardo got the town to drink the coolaide. I wonder if the Cullen Gang showed him the road map to the secret room. I think the letter was a nice touch to get him off the hot seat...Did he meet with Jay? He says he consulted with many people...please
Allen August 02, 2012 at 04:12 PM
What an absolute horrible example of Hamilton politics! I am ashamed of the town manager and the selectmen for acting in this way. I was embarrassed at what went on at Monday nights meeting - Shame on this town.
N. Day August 02, 2012 at 10:17 PM
This topic shows how important it is to vote! Please vote to replace Selectmen who do not represent us well.
Jay Burnham August 07, 2012 at 11:34 AM
"MISTAKES WERE MADE"... was the argument used by those Selectmen who supported the reappointment of attorney Donna Brewer as town counsel for Hamilton. The word "mistake" implies that the actions taken were accidental…or not deliberate. To the contrary, any reasonable person who read the Urblelis Report would conclude that the actions taken by Ms. Brewer were carefully thought out and deliberate. Those of us that sought her termination recognize that her actions, actions that ruined an honest man's career and cast a pall on our town's reputation, were anything but "mistakes" and therefore not so easily forgotten and forgiven.

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