No-Bid City Attorney Contract Awarded to Insider

The limit of the reformers’ influence was dramatically illustrated when the powerful (quarter million dollars a year) legal contract for City Attorney services was awarded to an establishment insider without any competitive bidding.  The reformers argued it is prudent “best practices” business to put such an expensive and important contract out to competitive bid.  There was also a proposal to evaluate the overall legal situation and investigate whether it would be more effective to make the City Attorney a city employee rather than a contractor.

The business arguments were discarded in favor of sticking with the same City Attorney we have had for the past nine years.  The establishment’s defense of sticking with one of the good-old-boys that ran the City under the Murphy regime was that the new contract retains the standard termination clause.  How this never-used provision makes up for a lack of competitive bidding or evaluation was not addressed.

Also hard to understand was why the Council majority wanted to stay with the same attorney who led the city’s failed effort to give away the city park at 2090 S. Wright St.  In that case, the attorney persuaded Murphy’s City Council to spend tens of thousands of tax dollars in an ill-fated effort to defend the proposed giveaway.  The judge not only rejected the giveaway but lambasted the City’s legal team for questionable practices.  In addition, this same attorney advised Council it was legal to buy the contaminated land on the Federal Center, give tax money to charities and give developers protection from consumer lawsuits in construction defects cases.   It is a classic chicken and egg question of the City Attorney telling Council what the mayor wanted it to hear or whether the mayor was swayed by the attorney.

As is standard practice in these controversial matters, the City Attorney met with all the City Council members individually before the meeting and lobbied for their support.  Evidently it worked with one of the reformers, Charley Able,  joining the Council’s establishment block to approve the no-bid contract in a 7-4 vote.

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