May 12, 2009

Differing opinions on lawyers

Mayor Art Ward said he doesn't want to talk about the resignations of two city lawyers. He said he needs to talk over the issue with the city's personnel director.
But city Councilor Craig Minor said the council needs to talk about it tonight -- behinc closed doors. Hmmm...
"We have to do a lot of talking," city Councilor Cliff Block said.
"We need to sit down and find out what's happening," city Councilor Ken Cockayne said.
Block said he thinks the mayor's failure to fill the vacancy in the attorney's office contributed to the problem there because it burdened the four lawyers with too much work.
Ward said he might consider replacing the two part-timers with another full-time attorney.
The mayor also said that given the state of the economy, it may be possible to hire two new part-time lawyers to take the place of Clift and Steeg "that are no clamoring for benefits.".
So far, the council meeting has consisted only of the Youth Recognition Awards, which I'll try to write about later in the week. There are, of course, some busy and wonderful teens in town, including those recognized here.
Ward said he sees many of these types of awards for youth. "If you don't have confidence in the youth of our community, then you haven't been there" to see the many talented young people in town, the mayor said.
He said that he has great faith in the future leadership skills of the city's students.
They almost have to be better than what we've had, right? ;)
We'll see what happens as the meeting unfolds. Everybody's here except city Councilor Frank Nicastro, who is also a state representative. The state House is in session this evening so Nicastro told me he may have to miss his first City Council meeting.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
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Anonymous said...

Maybe it is Ward that is the problem.

Anonymous said...

The mayor's comments are truly unfortunate. Dale and jeff have been the workhorses for years and should be allowed into the benefits plan. The fact that the mayor chose to pout over his choice not getting approved ain't helping get the work done in that office and these guys are the ones taking the brunt of it. And if the mayor is waiting to talk to the personel director for guidance then we are well and truly you-know-what since she is one of the most incompetent people in City Hall.

Anonymous said...

What a great country - these guys work their butts off for the administration and past ones too, and the mayor repays them with these types of careless, political remarks.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Stortz wasn't so bad after all.

Anonymous said...

Life goes on . . . the fact that these two have decided their practice needs attention is fine... move on. The City will not fall apart if they leave. No one is indispensabe. If you could not handle the job . . . fine. Let someone else in that can. Many others have been able.

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...

Is it me or does Craig Minor like to meet in secret a lot?

Anonymous said...

Okay Bill weren't were the worst.

not real said...

even bank robbers wear masks before they put a gun to your head.

Anonymous said...

"The fact that the mayor chose to pout over his choice not getting approved ain't helping get the work done"

The fact that the city council didn't approve the mayor's choice ain't exactly helping get the work done either!!!

Anonymous said...


It's not you! Part of the good old boy's who like to do things behind closed doors.

Anonymous said...

Ward is not filling positions because he wants to show the city he is saving money - of course if you overwork people, they leave. Guess Ward doesn't understand you can't play the shell game without someone getting hurt. Time for Ward to go.

Anonymous said...


at 33K per year, clift is seriously underpaid. to begin with, i don't care what they say but this is not a part time position. he's got to be putting in more than 35 hours per week (many of those are evening hours at meetings where his presence is mandatory). add to that the fact that he and his colleagues in the city attorney's office are short one attorney, so he's doing more work than he signed on for.

continuing to put this in perspective... in private practice at the reasonable hourly rate of $250 per hour, clift could generate $33K of revenue in only 132 hours, or about 3 working weeks. assume that he's putting in 20 hours per week for the city at 50 weeks per year (this is underestimating) for 1000 hours per year... he's basically making about $33 per hour as a city attorney. honestly, its probably less than that because i'm sure he's putting in way more than 1000 hours per year.

and... because there are only so many hours in a day, he's probably devoting 40% of his work day to city issues, and scrambling to get some good billable hours in with the rest. this means that he can't generate revenue from his private practice because he's too busy with public work.

so, in short, he's making $33K per year only to lose ... probably hundreds of thousands of dollars that he could be making in private practice. conservatively. even in this economy.

clift is a smart guy. he has experience. he knows what he is doing. he is an asset to the city.

my concern is that usually, you get what you pay for. clift has proven that, with him, the city gets much more than it paid for (a tremendous bargain). if the city loses clift, which private attorney will be willing to do the job if they're going to take a +85% pay cut from their private practice? people with ulterior motives or bad lawyers who can't get work legitimately.

i don't know why clift has put in 10+ years with the city for little financial gain (and likely, financial loss). marketing? power? good company? if those are his ulterior motives, i can live with that. after all, he's practically volunteering his services to the town.

unfortunately, he can't continue to do so while paying the high costs of insurance that he needs to keep himself and his family safe and healthy.

give the guy some freaking health benefits. its a small investment for the city with a huge return.

AND... call your local political representatives and the governor and tell them to vote for sustinet, which will allow small businesses like clift's to buy into the public health care plan and make quality health care affordable for him and his family.

let's also remember that, while he's a lawyer, he's also a small business owner who has to do the best he can for his family in these difficult times. in this regard, he's no different than the owners of your local salon, landscaping company, or favorite pizza place (try empire pizza in forestville.. yum).

have a little compassion. underneath their shiny suits and tie tacks, lawyers are people, too. ;)

Anonymous said...

dont know much about what exactly they do beside being lawyers but:

1. how much did they make last year as a part-time lawyer for the city?

2. if you give these part-time employees benies wont we be oblibated to give ALL part-time employees benies too?

my personal feeling is dont feel too bad for them, they are lawyers. seems to me that they are trying to hold the tax payers over a barrel. in this economy you take what you can get, Im sure there is a few other lawyers out there that wouldnt mind the part-time work.

Anonymous said...

In the entire universe of qualified attorneys there is only one who is not acceptable to the city council, and they gave Art several valid reasons (none of which were either political or personal) for rejecting that one attorney. Art chose to be immature about it and refused to put forward any other name. This childish behavior left the legal department seriously understaffed for over a year and has delayed untold projects for months. Hardly the actions of a true "leader".

Anonymous said...


Too bad the voters don't see it as you do.
Just one example of his management style.

Anonymous said...

Transparency, thy name is WARD

dreamer said...

11:28 - and don't be looking over your shoulder when you cash your city paycheck; maybe you will really earn it next week.

Anonymous said...


Thank God the voters don't see through the same jaundiced, biased, angry, little beady eyes that you and 11:28 seem to be looking through. We're able to see much, much clearer.

Anonymous said...


Since you claim to be seeing much clearer, that should lead you to vote Ward out come November.

Anonymous said...

7:18 Quite the contrary.

Anonymous said...

Then clean your glasses!

Anonymous said...

1:12 No glasses, 20/20 on the other hand, might want to consider getting a white stick and a seeing eye dog!

Anonymous said...

I too have 20/20 vision, AND I have good hearing.

Suggets you get out and listen to the people, not just your inner circle of 7 people.