RELATED STORY: Councilor Saba Want City Taxpayers to Pay his Legal Bills
Feb. 26, 2020
Less than 24 ours after it was learned that discriminatory comments by Methuen city councilors cost the city $48,0000 in a lawsuit settlement with the owner of a sober home on Quincy Street, Methuen Mayor Neil Perry says that city councilors need to choose their words carefully or the city will have more lawsuits to settle in the future.
Mayor Perry also admonished Steve Saba and other city councilors for not listening to the advice of City Attorney Rick D’Agostino, who cautioned them in 2018 that their words and actions could result in lawsuit payouts.
At the time Councilor Saba bragged that he wasn’t afraid of a lawsuit, yet is now asking the mayor and council to pay his legal bills if he is sued personally for his abuse of power at the council table.
“A review of documents related to the case shows that the city solicitor informed then-Council Chair Kannan, Councilor Saba, and Councilor McCarty among other recipients that ‘the prospects for an adverse finding against the city are highly favorable’.” Perry said.
“They were advised that ‘[a]n ultimate finding of Civil Rights violations by the city would render a judgement in a high dollar amount…. [and that] in addition to this bleak scenario” there was a concurrent investigation occurring with an independent agency that could potentially result in additional civil or criminal penalties. ”
“I encourage all elected officials to choose their words responsibly on the floor, to understand the laws, and to reach out to state offices (Ethics, Attorney General, and Inspector General) with questions when difficult situations arise, and to always err on the side of protecting the residents they serve.”
Perry said that councilors have a financial “duty to residents to protect [the city’s] interests. This includes speaking carefully on the floor to ensure we do not incur liability or breach any person’s rights. We also must avoid conflicts [of interest], and always put the interests of the residents and city first.”
Perry says that while the previous Mayor negotiated the settlement offer, he did sign the final agreement on the advice of the city solicitor because it was clear that the statements and actions of Councilors Saba and other councilors caused a financial liability for the city.
** EDITORS NOTE: Because of an editing error Councilor McCarty’s name was attributed to the above paragraph and headline.