In case you missed it, last Monday the Vero Beach City Council held a special call meeting that lasted only five minutes. It was to decide on the five finalist candidates for City Attorney. Another special call meeting is scheduled for THIS FRIDAY at 1:00 p.m. to discuss the five finalists and “possibly” make a decision on one.
The problem is, well several problems. First of all, one of the five candidates is not a person, but a law firm. How can we hire a law firm to be City Attorney, you ask? Well, according to the City Charter, you can’t. So why is a law firm one of the five finalists? Because Council members Zudans, Howle and Brackett chose them. Council members Young and Moss did not select them as one of their five, presumably because they feel a law firm is not a person, and the City Charter calls for a City Attorney to be selected.
The second problem is we have a recent history of City Council majorities making unpopular decisions, usually with Councilman Zudans in the lead to make rush decisions before the public can react. The fact that he only chose two finalists, not five, with one being the law firm, should be suspicious. The other reason for suspicion is that he has already advocated eliminating the City Attorney office and going instead with outside counsel.
The third problem is that City Council cannot arbitrarily eliminate this Charter office without a referendum. Zudans has indicated that he is anxious to make the decision on City Attorney as soon as possible, like at the special call meeting THIS FRIDAY?
So you should be asking, “Why are we even considering an outside law firm instead of a person to fill the role of City Attorney? We know how much more expensive outside counsel would be, and besides, City Attorney is a Charter office to be filled by an employee of the City.”
To get answers, you need to attend this Friday’s special call meeting at 1:00 p.m. the consequences of this decision, if it is made in favor of the outside law firm:
- A major change in the structure of our City would occur without the public having any input. I say that because we have learned from City Council decisions over the past year and a half, that what the public wants has little bearing on what the Zudans-led Council wants unless the reaction is so overwhelming they have to back off (Remember the River House brewery? Sale of Dodgertown Golf Course?)
- Decisions can be made about the City’s future by outsiders “advising” Council on an hourly rate basis.
- Since 2011, the City Attorney’s office has won 100% of all major cases that have been adjudicated. Why mess with success?
You voted for a new City Council that represented your wishes, not more of the same. This and other decisions made before the next City election in November could have far reaching negative consequences.