Wanted: Civil law attorney for Adrian

City still looking for law firm to cover meetings, legal issues

ADRIAN — The city of Adrian still is searching for an attorney.

The Lenawee County prosecutor’s office is handling the criminal prosecutions for the city, but the city still needs an attorney to do such things as attend meetings, offer opinions on proposed ordinances and be available on short notice for meetings or telephone conferences.

On Monday, the city commission made two decisions regarding legal services.

The first was to seek a second round of requests for proposals from attorneys or law firms interested in taking on the city’s civil-side role. The city commission unanimously approved sending out the revised RFP. The deadline to receive proposals is April 2.

The revised RFP’s stated qualifications include must reside within 20 miles of the city of Adrian (this may be waived by the commission); be familiar with the Adrian community; able to work cooperatively with commission and staff; and able to hold true to the city charter and governing laws even when commission or staff challenge conclusions.

The second legal decision was met with a bit more contention. By a 5-2 vote, with city commissioners Allen Heldt and Kirk Valentine saying no, the commission amended the temporary legal services agreement with Cohl, Stoker & Toskey, P.C., the new law firm of former city attorney Sarah Osburn.

On Feb. 19, the commission agreed to a legal services contract with the law firm to allow Osburn to continue to provide legal services to the city in the Campbell-Durocher case at a rate of $200 per hour.

In his memo to the commission on Monday, city administrator Shane Horn said the city has compiled additional information as it pertains to medical marijuana, including an application and guidance documents for applicants, so he “would also respectfully recommend that we amend the agreement with the law firm of Cohl, Stoker & Toskey, P.C. and specifically Sarah to continue to provide legal services as it pertains to medical marijuana documents and also any ordinances and contract reviews as required until such time that a city attorney is officially hired.”

Osburn would continue to charge the same $200 per hour rate.

Heldt asked why this firm was the only one considered and not any local firms. He said he also was concerned the city had to amend the agreement because he believes the city had plenty of time to hire a city attorney. However, he said, it’s been delayed because the request for proposal process wasn’t done originally according to the all of the commission’s wishes.

At a commission meeting in late January, Heldt raised a concern about the original request for proposals. Heldt said the RFP stipulated those interested must have five years of municipal law experience. He said he didn’t think the city commission made that a stipulation and thought it should be changed.

Also at that January meeting, Horn said he put together the RFP and, after the previous discussion on the civil matter at the last premeeting, he believed the commission agreed with his view that experience was necessary. He said if it was the commission’s wish, he could put an addendum with the RFP to change this. The commission unanimously agreed to insert in the RFP an addendum stating this experience is preferable, but not required.

Since then the hiring committee, put together by the city commission, reworked the RFP even further and now it’s been sent out with the revised stipulations.

Valentine said one of his issues with the amended agreement is that it doesn’t detail a cap on how much the city would spend for the temporary legal services and, like Heldt, he said the RFP false start wasted time.

Mayor Chuck Jacobson said he agreed with Horn that it makes sense to have Osburn assist the city with the medical marijuana planning process in the short term since she’s been part of it from the start. He said going with someone else at this point could delay moving forward on the commercial medical marijuana facilities process.

Commissioner Tom Faulhaber agreed that for the sake of continuity on the medical marijuana issue, at least until a hire can be made, it would be best for the city to amend the agreement with Osburn’s firm.

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