The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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January 15, 2014

Officials will research options for replacing city attorney

CLINTON -- A city that’s unsure what to do with its city attorney vacancy got some helpful advice from an attorney whose been there.

Clinton City Administrator Jessica Kinser spelled out the situation at hand during the city council’s Tuesday Committee of the Whole meeting. Contracting with Frey, Haufe and Current, P.L.C. last week bought the city a little time to properly replace resignee Jeff Farwell. Now the council must decide what it actually wants to do: it can hire another full-time staff member or contract services out to another firm.

Both decisions offer pros and cons, Kinser said.

“Neither one is something we can just start on tomorrow,” she said.

By hiring another attorney, Clinton will continue what it’s done in the past. On hand to endorse the less charted option was attorney Pat O’Connell.

“Most cities of this size range have been doing this a lot lately,” said O’Connell, a member of the Cedar Rapids-based Lynch-Dallas law group. As a Clinton native, he said he’s followed the recent council activities with interest. He originally contacted Kinser to inquire about being involved in a request for proposal should Clinton choose contracted services.

Lynch-Dallas contracts with a number of cities in the east-central region, including Burlington and Washington.

“I think it would be a fantastic idea to issue an RF(P) and see what you get in response,” O’Connell.

Without an attorney controlled by the city, some questioned if availability would become an issue.

“With the cities I’m working with now, they don’t find that we’re not responsive,” O’Connell said. “When I say ‘we,’ I really mean I consider myself the city attorney. When they call they usually want to talk to me. I have four or five partners who specialize in this kind of work -- four or five of those folks are really steeped in city, county, municipal type work.”

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