Council appears to take action on firing Clauson

Council appears to take action on firing Clauson

LINCOLN – During a closed-door session Tuesday on the performance and possible employment termination of an undisclosed employee, former Town Clerk Monique Clauson, who was arrested in December and subsequently placed on leave from her job, slipped out of the room and quietly exited Town Hall.

Clauson, who served as town clerk and municipal court clerk, was arrested in December on charges of misappropriating approximately $69,000 in town funds for her personal use between 2011 and 2020.

She was placed on leave after her arrest while State Police investigated the matter.

Prior to her departure from the building Tuesday, she and attorneys met with councilors for nearly an hour.

Also up for discussion on Tuesday was the potential sale of the former Fairlawn Elementary School. Blackstone Valley Prep Academy, which leases the property, has expressed interest in purchasing the building from the town.

Both the clerk and Fairlawn School discussions were held in executive session away from public view.

When the council emerged, they voted to authorize Town Council President Keith Macksoud and Town Solicitor Tony DeSisto to “act as-directed in executive session,” though the specific actions they’re set to take on both matters were not disclosed to the public.

Once in open session, the committee also discussed Lincoln’s upcoming special election for town administrator. Pursuant to the town charter, the town clerk will need to call a special election to replace the departed Joe Almond in the coming months.

Lincoln does not currently have a town clerk to oversee the election following Clauson’s arrest and subsequent leave. Her position was posted late last month, and Deputy Clerk Erin Vaughan has been carrying out the clerk responsibilities since.

The council has not yet set a timeline for the election.

DeSisto said based on state law, they’d be looking at September or October for the election to replace Almond.

Councilor T.J. Russo said they want to give residents enough time to declare their candidacy and prepare campaigns, and that he’d prefer a date in September or October to give people time to do so.

Russo said they should plan around common vacation times to ensure residents are home from vacations or their summer homes so they’re available to vote.

“I’d hate to have a really small turnout,” he said, noting that he anticipates some “plurality” with the candidates. “Someone isn’t going to walk away with 50 percent of the vote,” he said. “The more voter participation, the better the process.”

The council plans to further discuss the timeline at a meeting on April 20.

Lastly, the council debated whether to postpone this year’s Financial Town Meeting one month. DeSisto advised that they plan it for the regularly scheduled May meeting.

Councilors said they’d be open to alternative formats, such as using a larger venue than Lincoln Middle School, or using Zoom to help separate large groups of people.