Charter still unclear on legal services
Ms. Bartholomew recently wrote to Council to ask us if we are content with our current legal structure but said she "can't promise to only use direct quotes" so, I decided to submit an op-ed instead.
Yes. I appreciate the depth and range of legal expertise that is available to the City from the City Attorney and his associates who have served our City well for over 25 years. The former "hybrid model of legal services" that involved two separate attorneys who reported to two separate entities — the City Council and the City Manager — was terribly expensive and incredibly complicated and inefficient in my opinion. I am grateful that the hybrid model became a thing of the past in 2018 after the former "Assistant Attorney" position was vacated. That saved us $120,339 last year. I have much more faith in West Linn's traditional mode wherein the Council hires the City Attorney and any other attorney that might be necessary for a certain task. This is how most other cities operate. No other City in Oregon has the hybrid model.
I wonder if the persons who were responsible for the "Vote No City Attorney Boondoggle" postcards knew that their claim that "Measure 3-552 would remove any City Manager oversight of the City Attorney's billing, contract or performance" was not true? Maybe they didn't know that West Linn's City Charter Section 23A states: "The City Attorney shall be appointed and removed by a majority of all incumbent members of the Council." This section of the Charter makes Council responsible for the City Attorney's contract, performance evaluation and billing. Oversight over the City Attorney is not the Manager's duty and never has been. You can't remove something that wasn't there in the first place.
I also wonder if the personal attacks coming from the Vote No group also made it hard for people to understand that Measure 3-552 was written to protect West Linn from another episode of the "hybrid model." No serious harm was done. It just means that the hybrid issue might rear up again someday because our Charter is still unclear as to whether the City Manager should be allowed to hire and oversee another separate attorney, even though Charter Section 23A requires Council to hire and oversee the City Attorney.
Teri Cummings is West Linn Council President
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