City talks new attorney
Venice City Council this week began planning for selection of the next city attorney.
Current City Attorney Bob Anderson announced his retirement two weeks ago.
It was disclosed on Tuesday that Wayne Hall, current assistant city attorney and Anderson’s partner in the law firm of Hall & Anderson, approached some council members with an offer to support the hiring of Matthew Rheingans, an elder-care attorney in Venice who rents office space from their firm.
Anderson said he had been farming out some of the city’s work to Rheingans over the past “year or so.”
The offer was for a two-year contract after which time the city could continue the contract or not, based on Rheingans’ performance. Hall would lend his “institutional knowledge” to Rheingans as needed.
Anderson offered to extend assistance to Rheingans as well, but said he hadn’t been approached to offer that kind of support for any other candidate beyond his March 2013 retirement date.
Council Member Dave Sherman said he was inclined to go with the idea.
“Matt may or may not work out,” he said. “It’s going to be a personality fit as well as an institutional fit. There are a multitude of factors to consider. On its face value, it’s a pretty good plan.”
Council Member Jeanette Gates called the offer premature.
“In fairness, we can only (consider) Matt’s proposal like we would any other,” she said. “I don’t think it’s right to hear this.”
Council Member Bob Daniels said he wasn’t inclined to support a contractual arrangement for any attorney. Anderson, who’s been with the city for 22 years, doesn’t have a contractual arrangement with the city.
What the majority of council did agree upon was utilizing a panel of community experts to whittle the applicants down to a manageable level for council consideration. City Manager Ed Lavallee used the model for its search for a fire chief. Fire Chief James A. Warman was sworn into that office Tuesday.
Key issues council will consider in selecting its next attorney:
• whether to hire an individual or a firm, and
• whether to give local preference.
A November workshop is planned to further refine the selection process and attributes the city will seek in its next attorney.