PB: The Education of John Dubois
The village council will meet in full regalia on Monday night, Feb. 4th.
On the council’s agenda – after a number of noteworthy and typical items upon which SDM hopes to comment later this weekend – sits an interesting item authored by Vice Mayor John Dubois asking the council to join him and terminate the village attorney!
Thankfully, the Vice Mayor isn’t asking to terminate her with prejudice, but the act is surely intended to do harm, nonetheless.
SDM’s reaction to this item is decidedly mixed, so in an act of public-spiritedness worthy of a candidate for Mayor, we will attempt to contextualize Mr. Dubois’s plan so that he may learn the correct method of reaching the end he seeks.
To begin, it is important to understand that SDM sees the village attorney without any rose colored glasses interfering with our 20/20 hindsight. Ms. Boutsis – that is the village attorney’s name – has been serving the community faithfully for many years. She has had moments of both desperate failure and of shining courage.
For example, SDM would argue that Ms. Boutsis failed to vigorously argue against Mayor Stanczyk’s fateful motion to limit Palmer’s enrollment. A serious and competent attorney would have made clear on that record that the motion is likely to expose the village to significant litigation and financial harm.
Unfortunately, speaking the truth forcefully to power is dangerous for a village attorney, especially for one who serves at the pleasure of some unstable people. Ms. Boutsis didn’t do it.
On the other hand, Ms. Boutsis seems to have learned from Palmer and has provided the council written warnings when they attempted to go too far on the nonsensical and farcical “neighborhood protection” ordinance. SDM Says: Absent Ms. Boutsis, the NPO would have been much worse.
Mr. Dubois is right in one sense, which is that Ms. Boutsis is a contractor at-will and being a village attorney should not be a permanent sinecure. He raised at the last council meeting a serious point on her billing practices. He was doing his fiduciary duty when he questioned her decision to bill the village for speaking to Mr. Dubois about her billing practices.
Imagine if you called your lawyer to complain about her billing practices and she had the temerity to bill you for taking the phone call. SDM would not be pleased with our now former attorney, that’s for sure.
But is all of this grounds to fire the village attorney, just like that? SDM doubts it and unless we are reading the mood of the council incorrectly (heaven forbid), they just may rally to her side, even if they do so only out of antipathy toward Mr. Dubois.
SDM would have handled the matter differently (and, if elected will handle such matters differently…harrumph). SDM would place an item on the agenda putting the legal services contract out for bid.
The fact is that Ms. Boutsis and her late partner – SDM believes this to be correct – have been under contract to Palmetto Bay since its inception. Certainly, one should put virtually any contract out to bid at least once every ten years!
Had Mr. Dubois followed SDM’s plan, he would only be swatting away nit picky objections as if they were flies at the picnic. Instead, he may be facing a pity party.
SDM Says: The village council should transform the Vice Mayor’s idea into motion to put the legal services contract out to bid. No harm – and much good – can come from doing so.