Updated at 1:50 p.m. Thursday...
The city attorney’s office is going to need to make do with one less lawyer for at least a few more months.
Mayor Art said Thursday he would still like to appoint Republican Edward Krawiecki, Jr, a former city attorney, to fill the position.
“I really believe we can make the case for my choice. It’s quite obvious that it’s non-partisan,” said Ward, a Democrat.
The move sets up a further showdown between Ward and the Democratic-controlled City Council over the possible appointment of the Republican mainstay to fill the last vacancy in the legal office.
The majority Democrats have said they don’t mind picking a GOP lawyer to fill the final slot in the five-person office, but they maintain that they won’t back Krawiecki for the job.
City Councilor Craig Minor said he told the mayor months ago “that demoting Ed to assistant corp counsel was very bad for morale and organizational dynamics.
“I tried to use a military analogy: you don't demote the company commander to sergeant and keep him in the same unit,” Minor said. “The men will be constantly looking to the ‘sergeant’ to approve whatever the new commander says, which completely undermines his authority.”
“The new commander never gets the chance to establish his own ways of doing things. It makes absolutely no sense given the wealth of experience possessed by the applicants,” Minor said.
The two Republican councilors, Mike Rimcoski and Ken Cockayne, strongly support Krawiecki.
Ward said the city notified the five other Republican lawyers who sought the job that it wouldn’t be filled for now. He said none could match Krawiecki.
All the respondents were “amply qualified professionally and I know many of them personally. I had no reservations about any of the other five,” the mayor said.
“I am thinking of waiting until September or October and putting out a new call” to see if there will be “a larger response” to his request for lawyers interested in the job, including perhaps some Democrats, Ward said.
In the meantime, Ward said, “We do have an opportunity to save” some money by leaving the position vacant.
The decision leaves the office with two part-time attorneys, including Corporation Counsel Dale Clift, and two full-timers, Ann Baldwin and Richard Lacey. The other part-timer is Jeff Steeg.
The move follows an unsuccessful bid by Ward, a Democrat, to install Krawiecki in the post. Krawiecki was the city attorney during former Mayor William Stortz’s last term.
Before the last regular council meeting, Ward said he decided to ask his colleagues to put Krawiecki into the part-time assistant city attorney's role because there's nobody better for the position."We're in difficult times. We're in trying times. That calls for bipartisanship," the mayor said at the time.
But the next night, during the meeting, Ward said that Krawiecki's nomination "will not be made this evening due to some personal issues that arose."Krawiecki apparently asked the mayor not to back him.
That came after four Democratic councilors – Frank Nicastro, Craig Minor, Cliff Block and Kevin McCauley – said they would not vote for Krawiecki. Some said they didn’t trust him.
Several of them said they didn’t have a problem with appointing a Republican to the job and were ready to vote for Tom Conlin, a former Board of Finance member, if Ward would agree.
But Ward instead declined to nominate anyone.
He said that after he asked for resumes from attorneys interested in the job, not a single Democratic lawyer expressed interest. But several sources said that Conlin was among those who did.Clift was appointed to the top city legal job in April after the council spent months leaning on the mayor to replace Krawiecki.
The mayor said that based on the last eight months – and the transition between the election and his taking the helm at City Hall – “I’m still of the belief that my consideration” of Krawiecki “is still the most appropriate,” based on his experience dealing the state on downtown, brownfields “and the types of the projects that are going to serve the city’s best interests.”
“Based on the due diligence and performance” shown by Krawiecki, Ward said, “I still feel he would be an asset” to the city attorney’s office.
The mayor said he spoke with Clift and Krawiecki about “working conditions and the environment” in the legal office if they were both there and each of them “agreed they can work together with no reservations.“I believe the office would experience the optimum of efficiency,” Ward said, if the council would go along with his pick for the job.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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