WOBURN -- Whether Townsend Selectman Gordon Clark faces a recall election Monday now revolves around a simple question: how similar are the petitions seeking Clark's recall and that of fellow Selectman Cindy King?
King's name will not be on the ballot Monday, because a Supreme Judicial Court justice decided Wednesday to uphold an Appeals Court ruling blocking her recall.
Clark had the "naive perception" that the court rulings in King's case would apply to him as well, his attorney Roy Pastor said Thursday.
Clark filed his own motion last week seeking an injunction against the recall, which prompted a last-minute Thursday hearing in Middlesex Superior Court.
Pastor said in court that the recall against Clark should be blocked for the same reason the Appeals Court judge blocked King's recall: The reasons cited for his removal do not fit within a specific set of requirements under Townsend's special act
Pastor referenced the Appeals Court and Supreme Judicial Court hearings several times, arguing that those should influence a decision in Clark's case.
"None of the kinds of complaints the petitioners had fit within the grounds in the special act," Pastor said. "This is improper use of this specific statute for the town of Townsend."
The Clark and King petitions share four reasons for recall. Clark's petition cites two other allegations:
* That Clark was not unbiased by participating in a discussion where he had a conflict of interest.
* That Clark acted outside his authority and negotiated a separation agreement with a former police chief.
Ira Zaleznik, an attorney for the recall supporters, argued that those two other reasons are enough for the Clark petition to stand as valid.
The state attorney general's office eventually ruled that the Board of Selectmen violated the Open Meeting Law when Clark shared information about his meeting with the former chief, Erving Marshall, with other members through the town administrator outside of a meeting.
"These last two parts of the petition, one alleging bias and one alleging an Open Meeting Law violation, bring this case outside the Cindy King case and make it distinguishable," Zaleznik said Thursday.
Zaleznik also said Thursday that the recall supporters had Townsend's town counsel review their petitions before filing them with the town clerk to ensure everything was legal.
Both sides alleged the threat of "irreparable harm" for their clients.
Pastor said Clark would suffer damage to his reputation and financial strain from facing a recall election. Zaleznik said the public would suffer if it was not allowed to exercise its voice at the ballot.
Justice Garry Inge took the matter under advisement. It was not immediately clear when a decision would be issued, but all parties asked for the matter to be resolved soon with the recall election tentatively scheduled for Monday.
Jackie Cowin, who represented municipal defendants in the case, said the town of Townsend does not have a stance on the merits of Clark's motion but requested a quick decision "so the town can get the word out to voters."
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