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Outgoing Easton Town Clerk May Try to Remove Office Software

Derek Buckley says the town must buy or lease software he developed in order to continue using it after he's gone.

Easton Town Clerk Derek Buckley in his town hall office. Buckley lost to Christine Halloran in the 2013 municipal election.
Easton Town Clerk Derek Buckley in his town hall office. Buckley lost to Christine Halloran in the 2013 municipal election.

EASTON — Christine Halloran, a Republican, has been elected as Easton's new town clerk, but her transition may not be a smooth one. Outgoing town clerk, Derek Buckley, says he owns commercial rights to software and hardware in the office at Easton Town Hall and, unless the town agrees to a purchase or leasing agreement with him, Buckley will take it all with him when he leaves.

"If we cannot reach an understanding, I am going to remove the software and hardware programs from the network as the continued use of the programs, at no cost to the Town, was directly linked to my service as Town Clerk," Buckley wrote in a letter to First Selectman Adam Dunsby on Dec. 16.

But Dunsby and other members of the Easton Republican Town Committee strongly disagree.

Buckley writes that a motion unanimously approved by the Board of Selectmen on Oct. 3, 2002 supports his position. The motion says: 

To approve a proposal of the Town Clerk that he develop software, on his own time, which software, hardware and intellectual property he will make available for use of the Town of Easton without charge and that he will be able to test the software in his office and that he will retain commercial rights for outside of Easton.

Dunsby responded in a letter to the Easton Courier on Dec. 20, then the letter was re-run in the Republican Town Committee's email newsletter on Dec. 27.

Of the motion in the meeting minutes, Dunsby wrote, "There exists nothing which conditions this statement on your employment by the town as town clerk. Therefore, the town has a permanent right to use this software at no cost. Further, since there exists no executed agreement, the town asserts that standard software licensing terms will hold, including servicing and standard updates, provided by you, any company holding the rights to the software, and any successor company."

Dunsby goes on to ask Buckley to list any hardware he asserts to be his personal property, along with documentation to support the claim.

"Given your statement that you will 'remove' hardware, I feel obligated to make it clear to you that, as would be the case with any town office, the taking of equipment from a town office will be interpreted as the taking of town property," the first selectman wrote.

Town Land Records

Dunsby's letter also covered the issue of location and accessibility of town land records.

"As has been discussed at multiple [Board of Selectmen] meetings, in the media, by the public, and by the town's auditors no town official but you has access to the complete underlying digitized town land records or even knows where they are. You have treated this access as a personal privilege of your office. You must provide to the town access to these records (maps, etc.), provide instruction on how to access these records, and provide the records themselves. This must happen prior to your leaving office. I will certainly work with you to do this in an efficient manner that best serves the town."

In the Dec. 16 letter to Dunsby, Buckley wrote, "If the town elects to purchase my hardware and software, I would be happy to assist the new Town Clerk to understand the programs and their operation."

'Impending Change'

Buckley first reached out to Dunsby about the software issue in a letter on Dec. 16.

"I am bringing this matter to your attention at this time since I am very concerned that you do not comprehend the magnitude of the impending change," Buckley wrote. "I do not want to have any disruption in the Operation of the Town Clerk's Office when my duties end.

"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."

Dunsby wrote back, inviting Buckley to attend a Board of Selectmen meeting to discuss the matter, but Buckley said he had another commitment that evening. However, even if he was available, Buckley said he prefers all correspondence to be done in writing.

In a letter on Dec. 18, Buckley wrote, "I do not want to be difficult, but my experiences in the past with attending Selectmen's meetings were mostly negative and, frankly, the Minutes were not always reflective of what was discussed, but rather were self-serving."

Buckley said he wants to sit down with the first selectman in an informal setting.

"I am a reasonable man and think you are as well," he wrote. "My assumption is we can get to the heart of the matter quickly and look to a solution.

"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 will assist her as best I can, but we need to act sooner rather than later."

Matthew Olson December 30, 2013 at 08:15 AM
This is simple. If the software is his and the hardware is his, then the town can either PAY him for it or PAY for lawyers to take it from him. If the software and hardware doesn't belong to him, then the chief of police should cuff him and stuff him if he tries to remove anything. So, the argument is simple. Does this stuff belong to him?

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