Townsend recallers want to save the town money — unless it’s their bill

Ask a Townsend recaller why they want to change the town leadership, and they’ll point to their wallets. Selectmen are spending too much money investigating members of the Police Department, they’ll say.

The town’s legal bills are out of control, they’ll huff.

Selectmen Gordon Clark and Cindy King are so biased they need to leave immediately, they’ll say, rather than put to the whim of the voters when they seek re-election.

Ask a Townsend recaller who they think should foot the bill for their own legal fees, however, and they point straight back to the town.

How much money are they unwilling to shell out themselves? Between April 13 and June 1, the Townsend’s Truth political action committee spent $11,080.82 to retain the services of attorney Ira Zaleznik. That bill doesn’t include any services Zaleznik provided when it came to actually defending the recall in court or any time in its aftermath (including the writing of the letter suggesting that perhaps the town could settle the bill).

The payment of court costs is generally reserved for the winners in a court battle. There is no consolation prize.

But the recallers are arguing that the nature of their own convoluted case entitles them to taxpayer funding. Specifically, Clark and King were represented by their own separate lawyers (whom they paid for) when they successfully sought court injunctions against the recall.

Town legal counsel KP Law represented the town clerk and board of registrars, referring to them as “town defendants” or “municipal defendants.” And the recallers were also playing defense, referenced as “citizen defendants.”

The recallers argue that KP Law was not vociferous enough in its defense of the recall on behalf of the town.

“As a result of the Town-Defendants’ abdication, the ‘costs of defense,’ have been improperly shifted to the Citizen-Defendants, a group of private citizens who must now pursue, and bear the costs of, defending the actions of the Town-Defendants and a validity of the Recall Affidavit,” Zaleznik wrote.

What, exactly, were the recallers expecting when they decided to hastily switch up Townsend’s elected officials? Were Clark and King expected to just step away because a few people showed up at meetings and yelled or spread mis-truths on social media?

There’s been a lot of rhetoric flying around Townsend for the past year and half. In the case of the recallers, it’s time for them to put their own money where their mouths are.

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