When Deborah Margolis, Pleasant Hill's City Attorney for 18 years, resigned last month, the scramble was on to decide how the city would move forward with its legal needs.
The City Council hired an outside firm to serve as "acting" city attorney for now - Janet Coleson of RWG Law has been assigned the task - while a council subcommittee takes a look at permanent options.
Why Margolis left is not being discussed.
"She was paid a severance amount per her contract," said councilman Jack Weir, who is on the city attorney subcommittee with Vice Mayor Michael Harris. "I'm not able to say more on that."
Some of the options, meanwhile, the subcommittee is exploring are hiring a full-time or part-time attorney, or contracting with an outside firm.
"We're studying what other cities do in our region," Weir said. "We're looking for the right combination of adequate functionality and cost."
When benefits and other factors are added in, Margolis was costing the city $300,000 per year. That doesn't include the cost of part-time contract attorneys and an occasional cost for a special counsel. It is important for cities to have solid legal represenation, but the cost is also an important consideration, Weir said.
"In spite of personnel cost reductions achieved in the recent round of bargaining, we're still projecting deficits for the next few years, so cost is a very important factor," he said.
To that end, the public is being invited to weigh in on the question at a special meeting on Monday, Sept. 24 at 5:30 p.m. in the Community Room at City Hall. The subcommittee will explain the present situation, and hear ideas from the public.
"I expect we'll be able to make our final recommendation to the council in November," Weir said. "My goal is to reach settlement of the issue during this council's term. The former city attorney's departure occurred on our watch, and I think we should deal with it."
The workshop will be held in the large Community Room at City Hall on Monday, September 24th at 5:30 p.m. All members of the general public are welcome to attend.
Do you have ideas on how the city should replace the City Attorney? Tell us in teh comments.