Why are the Citizens Paying an Outside Law Firm to do the City Law Department’s Job?

GRAVITAS . . . . Fair and Brutal Opinion (Trapped by Facts)

Headshot of Contributing Writer Scott J. Graves
 M the Media Project

About Contributing Journalist Scott J. Graves in his own words

Scott J. Graves, Esq., B.S. Biology, M.S. Pharmacology, J.D. Law – Father, Born-and-Bred Gardnerien-American, Gardner Native of Acadien Heritage, Gardner High School Class of 1982, Gardner Citizen-Voter, Gardner Homeowner/Taxpayer, 30-year Gardner Business Owner, 30-year Gardner Lawyer, former 16-year Gardner City Councillor, former Gardner City Council President, and former Gardner City Solicitor and Head of the City of Gardner Law Department.

Leave us your news tip

9 + 1 =

February 28, 2022

Why are the Citizens Paying an Outside Law Firm to do the City Law Department’s Job?

Mayor Nicholson sees himself as a lawyer.  Why not – he’s Everyman (or Everyperson).  He’s Unenrolled, for all and yet for none.   Just ask him, or everyone else.

Or, just read all his legal opinions in the City Council’s agenda materials.

The City Council is perfectly good with this. Just watch the February 22, 2022 City Council Meeting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTXLNRJCUyw

The Mayor’s written legal opinion is that the City’s Law Department is totally incapacitated from handling former Councillor Graves’ Public Records Law case because the City Solicitor’s name is mentioned in it.

Based solely on the Mayor’s legal opinion, six (6) City Councillors are wasting what the Mayor says will be $82,075 of your Tax Dollars to replace the City’s Law Department with expensive outside legal counsel.  

Those 6 spendthrifts are Walsh, Kazinskas, Tyros, Dernalowicz and The Cormiers – “The Automatic 6” – and they have already spent $20,000 of that $82,075, and the case is barely started.  All for no explained reason.

Mayor Nicholson’s legal opinion states, that the entire City of Gardner Law Department is incapacitated in Councillor Graves’ Superior Court case for one reason, and one reason only, quote: “due to Attorney Flick being a named member (sic) of the case in his capacity as representative of the City through (sic) his (sic) position as City Solicitor.”  

“Member”?  What exactly are we talking about?

Anyway, we will take a stab at trying to decipher the Mayor’s gibberish.  What the Mayor wanted to say is this: “In his Public Records Law appeal, Graves named the City Solicitor in his official capacity as the City of Gardner defendant, therefore, Flick and the entire Gardner Law Department are entirely unable to represent the City in that case.”

So, there you have it.  That’s the Mayor’s, and Flick & Kolodny’s, and James Walsh’s only excuse for the Gardner Law Department not doing their jobs in this case.  That’s the only excuse that is being used to justify the added expense of tens of thousands of dollars of the Citizens’ money.

Here is what led to this nonsense.

Councillor Graves, under the Public Records Law, requested that the City provide him with public records regarding the condition of the City’s drinking water – records going back 13 years.

As you all know, the condition of the City’s drinking water corroded the heating coils of the homeowners’ heating systems – for decades.  We were (and are) all forced to buy our drinking water from the City of Gardner – we had no choice, and have no choice. That drinking water we were forced to buy from the City ruined our coils.

This condition of the drinking water cost the Gardner homeowners several tens of thousands of dollars, or more, of damage – huge expenses that the Gardner homeowners had to pay out of their own pockets – to replace the ruined coils. 

We are still paying.  Not one homeowner has ever been compensated.  

What information has the City given us, the Citizens, about any of this?  Nothing. Exactly nothing.

So, Councillor Graves wanted answers – for you, the innocent victims of this travesty.  

In response to Councillor Graves’ Public Records Request, the City not only refused to follow the Public Records Law, they gave him nothing.  

Thirteen years of records regarding the City water, and the City gave Councillor Graves, your elected representative, nothing. Zero.

Councillor Graves had made his Public Request to the City Solicitor, John Flick. Not John Flick the owner of Flick Law Group, P.C., or John Flick from Maple Street – but John Flick as City Solicitor of Gardner, Mass.  That’s how it is done in these cases.

So, when City Solicitor Flick refused to follow the Public Records Law, and refused to give Councillor Graves one record out of 13 years of records, Councillor Graves filed his appeal in Superior Court.  The Public Records Law required him to do this.  

In that Public Records case, Councillor Graves naturally named John Flick, as City of Gardner City Solicitor – as he was the only City employee who refused to follow the Law or provide the public records. 

That made John Flick and his associate, Ethan Kolodny, pee their bunk beds – and here we are immersed in all this expensive nonsense as a result.

Why did Graves direct his Public Records Request to Gardner City Solicitor John Flick? Because there are allegations filed in Worcester Superior Court, and discussed by the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court – the highest Court in Massachusetts – https://casetext.com/case/magliacane-v-city-of-gardner

These disturbing allegations include that high-end City of Gardner Executive Branch officials engaged in fraudulent concealment of information, and other wrongdoing, regarding this Coil Scandal (having to do with the condition of the City’s drinking water going back to the 1990’s).

With respect to time frame relevant to these disturbing accusations, the Mayor was Mark Hawke. But, at the time of Councillor Graves’ Public Records Request, Hawke had run away to Westminster.  The only other high-end Gardner Executive Branch officials who were in office during that time frame were City Engineer Robert Hankinson, and City Solicitor John Flick.  Since Hankinson was retired, Councillor Graves knew that the only one who could provide the relevant public records Councillor Graves was looking for was John Flick, the City Solicitor. 

When he got stonewalled, Councillor Graves had no choice but to file the case in Superior Court – which is what the Public Records Law makes you do.  Naturally, Councillor Graves named “John Flick, Esq. as City of Gardner City Solicitor.”  That’s how you do it.

This action is what made Flick & Kolodny fold into a ball in the fetal position, and pee their bunk beds.

That would be fine and dandy if that’s what you want to do.  But, Flick & Kolodny’s meltdown is costing you, the Citizens, tens of thousands of dollars – for no explained reason.  

Councillor Graves never named John Flick, the person, in this case. John Flick, the person, has zero personal involvement, zero personal liability, zero personal anything in this case. He never did and never will.  

Flick is only involved in his “official capacity” – which means “the City of Gardner” is the only City defendant – not Flick. 

This is not difficult stuff – it is State Law 101.

But, the Mayor, Councillor Jim Walsh, and City Solicitors Flick & Kolodny (we can only presume – they have said nothing out loud), took all that – and turned it into a political opportunity.  As some would say, “never let a crisis go to waste.”

They exploited a perfectly natural and expected legal situation, and invented the fairy tale that Flick is, therefore, “conflicted.”  

This ploy enabled the Mayor to push the milquetoast Gardner Law Department to the sidelines, and hire the big guns (Petrini & Associates, P.C.) to crush Graves like a bug.  All the while, the Mayor pretended that he had no choice – it’s all Graves’ fault.

Perfect.

And the City Council fell for it. Awesome.  

But, wait. What?  Who’s gonna pay for the big guns to crush Graves like a bug?  

Answer: you are – the Citizen Taxpayers.  

You see, having your pockets picked in the Coil Debacle is not enough.  

Paying two lawyers $125,000 per year, plus benefits, to tell you and your elected representatives that the Coil Debacle is none of your business – is not enough.  

No, you, Taxpayer Citizens, you must pay more than that.  It’s not enough.  You also have to pay for the Mayor’s and Flick’s high-priced outside law firm, at the same time.

The Citizens pay, and pay, and pay.  Just shut up about it. Stay ignorant, children.

What the Citizens must realize is this.  You, the Citizens, are only willing to pay two City lawyers (Flick & Kolodny) $125,000 per year, plus benefits, to be the City of Gardner Law Department so that you won’t have to pay big bucks to outside law firms on a case-by-case basis. Just read City Code, Chapter 140-2 for yourself. https://ecode360.com/15385287

But, that is exactly what you are doing in this case.

You are not only paying the two City lawyers their $125,000, plus benefits, paychecks, but also paying an expensive outside law firm at the same time for doing those two City lawyers’ jobs.

Why? Because the Mayor and James Walsh say that Flick & Kolodny have this “conflict” just because Flick’s name was mentioned in Graves’ Public Records case.

Really? 

Let’s say that’s true, which it isn’t.  What is this “conflict” then? How does it work?

No one will say. We’ve asked.

That’s because there is no “conflict.”  

Want more?  Keep Reading Part II. 

Mike Nicholson Mayor of Gardner, MA 
Lizzy Kazinskas, City Council President, Gardner, MA
Elizabeth Kazinskas, City Council President, Gardner MA
Headshot in full color of Gardner (MA) City Solicitor John Flick, in a blue suit with light red tie.
John Flick, of Flick Law Group, P.C. (and Gardner City Solicitor)
Gardner (MA) assistant city solicitor  Ethan Kolodny, Blue suit with red tie, white shirt with a brick wall behind him.
Ethan Kolodny, of Flick Law Group, P.C. (and Assistant City Solicitor)

Listen Now! A podcast on the latest Open Meeting Law Violation

by On The Rocks Politica

The Media Project Logo in Blue
Official Seal of the City of Gardner, MA

Also from M the Media Project

Click Below to Access more podcasts, articles and more.

Article Series

by Various Contributing Writers | Contributing writers to M the Media Project

Podcasts

by M the Media Project | All our podcasts. In one Place.

Video Channels

by M the Media Project

News Features

by M the Media Project | News & Analysis both Local and National

Mental Suppository Podcast

 On the Rocks Politica

SMG’s ‘Are We Here Yet’?

The Media Project Logo in Blue
Underwriting with M the Media Project

Interested in advertising with us?  Perhaps you want a unique way to support the economic development work we accomplish while getting access to our intelligent and informed listeners?  Join our roster of supporters.  Click that button below to find out more.

© 2021 SM Graves Associates    •    Website Designed and Developed by inConcert Web Solutions    •    Site Map