In a very short meeting Tuesday night, the Edmonds City Council voted 4-3 to develop a process for evaluating the performance of Edmonds’ current contracted City Attorney, Lighthouse Law Group.
This approach was favored by those voting yes — Councilmembers Kristiana Johnson, Strom Peterson, Tom Mesaros and Adrienne Fraley-Monillas — with the idea that if the effort results in a positive evaluation, the council would move forward with negotiating a contract with Lighthouse. While most councilmembers indicated they expected the evaluation to be favorable, if for some reason it isn’t, the city would have the option of issuing a request for qualifications to look at other law firms.
Those voting no had expressed support for immediately approving the Lighthouse contract, which expires at the end of 2014, with the idea that the council could take its time to work on an evaluation process that could be used later.
When the Lighthouse Law Group signed a four-year contract with the City of Edmonds in 2011, it agreed to provide City Attorney services for a flat rate of $32,000 per month, with no adjustments. Lighthouse is now asking for a 28 percent fee increase — to $41,000 monthly starting in 2015, with 4 percent increases each year for 2016, 2017 and 2018.
You can read a summary of the issue in the June 3 council agenda packet here.
The council also continued its discussion from last week about concerns regarding the hiring of a part-time communications consultant to handle internal and external city communications on a contract basis, including press releases and marketing. A committee charged with reviewing candidates for that position made a recommendation to Mayor Dave Earling, but Earling chose not to follow it, citing the fact that the firm — from Gig Harbor — didn’t have enough familiarity with Edmonds. Councilmember Joan Bloom made it known during last week’s meeting — and repeated her concerns Tuesday night — that she believes the original request for qualifications (RFQ) issued for the position “was changed significantly” when it was reissued by Earling to find new candidates. In particular, Bloom said she is concerned the RFQ focuses “entirely on the arts” and is “Bowl-centric” — referring to the Bowl area of Edmonds — rather than prioritizing communications with the general public, and that it entirely leaves out both the Citizens Economic Development Commission and the City Council.
However, Bloom said she was not going to introduce an amendment to withdraw council funding from the position, instead urging her fellow councilmembers to keep a close eye on the position as it develops.