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Easton Selectmen Deny Former Town Clerk's Financial Request

Easton Town Hall in winter.
Easton Town Hall in winter.
Former Easton town clerk Derek Buckley's attorney had presented a letter to the Board of Selectmen requesting reimbursement of $12,763 in software and hardware costs, Buckley says he paid for out-of-pocket, and legal fees — but the board took no action.

When asked on Thursday if that could be interpreted as a "no", First Selectman Adam Dunsby said, "'No' is a fair characterization."

Dunsby said the Board of Selectmen also directed him to write a letter of response to Buckley and his attorney, Robert J. Nicola, adding it should be issued within the next two days.

Buckley has said he developed and paid for software in the Town Clerk's Office and pointed to Board of Selectmen meeting minutes where the board agreed Buckley owned it and was allowing Easton use of it for free.

Buckley claimed that free use ended with his employment as town clerk and tried to negotiate a sale or lease with the town, otherwise, he said he would take the hardware and software with him. Nicola recently denied his client ever asked for a purchase or lease agreement.

Dunsby said the Town Clerk's Office has not been able to offer digital service of land records since Tuesday, adding everything is now being done on paper.

The first selectman said the town has copies of all land records made at the Easton Senior Center — where the server for the office is — and new Town Clerk Christine Halloran is pursuing a new software provider for Easton.

"Christine's interviewing approved vendors," Dunsby said.

Buckley's Financial Claim

At the Jan. 16 Board of Selectmen meeting, Attorney Robert Nicola presented four issues Buckley wants it to consider:
  1. Reimbursement of the $4,000 in attorney's fees he paid to defend the complaint which was filed with the State Attorney claiming he failed to discharge his obligations as Town Clerk;
  2. Reimbursement of the $7,162.99 paid by him to Lightning PC for the support it provided for the software and hardware utilized in the Town Clerk's Office to fulfill its statutory obligations;
  3. Reimbursement of the $249.00 paid to Lightning, PC for a network switch purchased by him;
  4. Payment of the outstanding invoice of $1,350.00 currently due Lightning PC.

Nicola said Buckley has provided assistance to Halloran since she was sworn in on Jan. 6, recently transferring data from the server at the Easton Senior Center and copying it onto discs in a process that took 18 hours.

"He has done this in good faith, without threats or preconditions," Nicola wrote in a letter to the Board of Selectmen. "... as a further example of his good faith he is willing to continue to assist Ms. Halloran as circumstances require while she determines what software system or systems she wants to purchase and install."

'Not Requesting a Purchase or Lease'

Nicola goes on to day: "Mr. Buckley is not requesting that his software be purchased or leased by the Town. That has never been his position even though others have claimed he was demanding that the Town purchase his system. His only request was and is that he be made whole as relates to the expenditures he made while in office and that the outstanding invoice be paid."

However, in a letter to the first selectman on Dec. 16, Buckley wrote: "I would be happy to sit down with you to discuss the purchase or lease agreement concerning my hardware and software, but if that is not something that you or the Board of Selectmen are interested in, I want to give you sufficient notice to have the new Town Clerk make arrangements to have a system and software package in place that will assist her in fulfilling her duties and obligations."
 
In a second letter to Dunsby on Dec. 18, Buckley wrote: "The decision is yours, but I must emphasize that it is my intention to remove my hardware and software if a consensus is not reached. It is not my desire to put the new Town Clerk in a position which will make the transition more difficult and I will assist her as best I can, but we need to act sooner rather than later."

Why He Paid

Nicola said Buckley complied with Sec. 7-24 of the Connecticut General Statutes requiring a town clerk to provide a suitable system for file storage when he paid for Lightning PC invoices to the tune of $7,162.99 after the town failed to make some of the payments — even though the statute says the town should bear the cost.

The letter claims Buckley requested payment of those invoices, but the "purchasing authority", then first selectman, Tom Herrmann, did not approve the funds.
John Bromer January 24, 2014 at 10:33 AM
Tom Herrmann is the criminal here, as he is everywhere he operates. The town needs to pay its bills, but Herrmann conducted vendettas against anyone who dared stand up to him during his 6-year reign of error. Ask me how I know... It's astonishing that no "hostile workplace environment" suits have been filed yet. Thank heavens Herrmann's political career has finally crashed and burned for good-
Hmmmm January 26, 2014 at 12:24 AM
Derek was told in advance by the Board of Finance that these would not be approved. But blaming others is a good strategy to try and deflect attention for Derek's incompetence. It almost works. It will take a long time to sort out the complete chaos left behind in the Town Clerk's office (as described and photographed in a recent Patch article).

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