In a letter, Councilman Jerry Childs urged his fellow colleagues for a “no vote” in approving Mayor Tim Matthes’ selection of Carol Morris as city attorney.
Childs, a member of the Ad Hoc Committee to help select a new city attorney, was on vacation and absent at the April 14 meeting. But in a letter written by him and read by Councilwoman Cindy Lucarelli, he stated the selection process went well until the choices were narrowed down to three candidates.
“A major concern to me was that some members of the selection committee participated, and further negotiations and discussions were outside the selection process,” Childs wrote. “A lone applicant changed their proposal more than once when other applicants had no such option.”
In the letter, Childs recommended to the council that it resubmit the RFP and process.
“I frankly worry that other participants who have been fair in the undertaking and such may find legal recourse in our process,” Childs wrote. “I am also aware there are some legal issues facing the city on the horizon and it feels a sense of urgency, but should feel we should not be manipulated in making our decision based on this.”
Childs recommended a “no vote.”
Councilman Fred Chang made the motion to approve Morris as city attorney, but after a long pause Councilman John Clauson seconded the motion.
Clauson had some questions about the language in the contract under the city attorney’s duties. The contract read, “At the mayor’s discretion, the city attorney may be assigned to represent the city in lawsuits and other contested proceeding commenced by the city or in which the city is named as a defendant.
Clauson said it should be at the mayor’s or council’s discretion. He made a motion to have the language changed. Cartwright seconded the motion.
Morris said according to state law for second-class cities, the city attorney shall represent the city in all actions brought by or against the city or against city officials in their official capacity.
Clauson remanded his amended motion to reflect state law and it was approved with a 6-0 vote.
The council voted 4-2 in favor of Morris. Lucarelli and Councilman Rob Putaansuu were the opposing votes.
The Ad Hoc committee was comprised of Childs, council members Bek Ashby and Jeff Cartwright, along with City Treasure Alan Martin, Public Works Director Mark Dorsey and Development Director Nick Bond.
Human Resources Coordinator Deborah Howard said the city received nine responses for the city attorney’s position and the top three firms were interviewed by the Ad Hoc committee, Mayor Tim Matthes, Martin, Dorsey and Bond.
The top three candidates that were interviewed were Morris of Morris Law P.C., Angela Summerfield of Odgen Murphy Wallace PLLC and Jeffrey Ganson of Porter Foster Rorick, according to Howard.
On Sept. 11, Matthes terminated Greg Jacoby as city attorney. Jacoby has been city attorney since 2008.
A week later, Morris was approved as interim city attorney by a 4-2 vote of the council.
The council voted 5-1 to approve an associate city attorney contract with Lighthouse Law Group PLLC, for employment and labor-law legal services. Putaansuu was the lone opposing vote.