HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – There was a heated exchange Monday night between the Holyoke City Council Finance Committee and attorneys from Sullivan Hayes and Quinn, a law firm representing the City of Holyoke.
City Councilors wanted to know, ‘Why Mayor Alex Morse agreed to pay former City Solicitor Heather Egan?’ And, ‘Why the city council didn’t know about the settlement until after Egan left her job?’
On April 29th, Mayor Morse and Heather Egan signed an agreement, in which the city paid her $45,000. Mayor Morse called it a settlement necessary to prevent future lawsuits against the city.
Morse told City Councilors that he negotiated the agreement with Egan, and the negotiation lasted a couple of weeks.
City Auditor Brian Smith authorized the fund transfer to pay Egan, but city councilors claimed, since the law firm defines its client as “the City of Holyoke,” city councilors also have the right to know all the details, including the circumstances that led to the settlement.
According to City Council President Kevin Jourdain, “I think we also need to talk about for next steps how do we make sure the laws we have in the books now clearly spell out that nothing like this can happen ever again.”
However, Mayor Morse said his answer to “why” will always remain the same. “In terms of employee confidentiality be it with this employee or one of the 2000 employees working for the city I cannot provide information to the public or the media or that opens me and the city to liability.”
The finance committee will report their findings to the full city council Tuesday night.