Behind the scenes
On June 30, Katherine Merolla, our Town Solicitor, will end her tenure after serving in that position since 2007. (For the past several years she has also assumed the duties as Probate Court Judge at no additional cost.) While I appreciate that each Town Council has the right to choose their own solicitor, I’m disappointed that the move has occurred without what I consider sufficient recognition of the job Kathy has done for the past 15 years.
I can attest to the fact that Kathy is a superb litigator and her record in both defending the town in lawsuits, and prosecuting on behalf of the Town is nothing short of stellar. Still ongoing are two critical lawsuits she has defended over a series of several years: Charlie Donadio’s application for a high-speed ferry to the island and the litigation involving the so-called Old Harbor Triangle. Both have been complex and need to be carefully transitioned to the incoming solicitors by the Town Council.
There isn’t enough room to list all the work Kathy performed in the span of her 15 years, but this town has benefited enormously from her wise counsel and her ability in the courtroom. There are those who think that no excess praise should be given to people doing their job for which they are paid…but most of us can easily recognize when that job is done with exceptional ability and great care. Having been the beneficiary of Kathy’s partnership for many years, I can attest to the fact that she was amazingly responsive to endless calls for advice or court action…seven days a week. I can’t tell you the number of times we found ourselves on the phone on a Sunday night, or a holiday weekend - amazing how many times a crisis would arise “off hours” as it were.
Two highlights that should not be forgotten: the successful sale of the B.I. Power Company, creation of the Utility District including the drafting of its legislation, and the successful defense of the several lawsuits that arose from that action. (As an aside, the town wound up paying additional money to Sara McGinnes in her final lawsuit largely because the judge found that the company was substantially more valuable after a year under Jeff Wright’s guidance.) That case was incredibly time consuming. Equally time consuming, but perhaps not as noteworthy, was Kathy’s research into the deer question that resulted in the town being able to incentivize hunters into taking more deer by allowing it to pay for deer “tails.” That plan has survived all challenges and remains in place today.
I want to be sure this town recognizes and thanks Kathy not just for her exceptional skill on behalf of the town over these past 15 years, but also for providing the continuity and being our legal “historian” through the five town managers who have come after me. We owe her a debt of gratitude for that. Thank you, Kathy—we were so lucky to have you in our corner.