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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Council Member Bukowski's Letter: City Attorney's Office

Any Emeryville elected official that makes a submittal request to the Tattler for publication, we will oblige.  Here then is Council Member Ken Bukowski's unedited  letter to the Tattler, received today:

Memo from Emeryville Council Member Ken Bukowski
       (510)  305-0000
To all:
I am requesting your support to urge the other members of the city council to have the Department of the City Attorney be required to keep hourly records of time spent by his office as well as other attorney's working in his department for every activity the city has to pay for.
As taxpayers in this community it makes sense to impose this requirement as we seek to identify wasteful spending in all city government.  This request is a common practice in the field of law, and the City Attorney & his staff, should be required to be accountable.
I remain disappointed the City Council refuses to consider the option of using outside counsel to perform the functions of the City Attorney's Office.  There is no good reason why the city council should not explore the option of using outside counsel. 
We're paying the City Attorney about $24,000 per month with nine months severance pay...  He earns more than the Oakland City Attorney. We pay the same amount of money as the City of Pittsburg pays for it's contract with an outside law firm of Myers-Nova who handles all their legal work. Their redevelopment agency is TEN TIMES the size of the City of Emeryville's redevelopment project.
When the State took money from redevelopment agencies last year, by a percentage of economic activity, the City of Pittsburg was required to return $128 million dollars to the State, compared to the $2.1 million the city of Emeryville had to pay, to give you some comparison.
The fact the city attorney works directly for the city council is a problem. The City Attorney must satisfy at least three members of the city council to keep his job. This creates a direct personal relationship between the city council members and the person holding the position.  The use of an outside firm prevents the possibility of such relationships.
Employee performance of the city attorney with an outside law firm would be determined by whether the client is satisfied. Such evaluations could occur annually, The question of client satisfaction would definitely include the opinion of the city manager, in an atmosphere where such criticism would be welcome, and not seen as an attack upon another employee of equal status with the city council. The City Manager does not participate in the evaluation of the City Attorney...?  A major flaw in the evaluation process.
The evaluation would also provide for the city council members to be objective where there is no personal relationship with individual city council members. Proper review of legal performance should occur outside of any political consideration. 
Specifically, as long as this city attorney knows that pleasing Nora Davis means he must do things against Ken Bukowski, and others, the system is broken.  Davis' strong level of influence over the City Attorney is a problem which must be recognized. Instead of each council member thinking about issues I raise during evaluation..  They have to decide what happens if anyone decides to support what I'm saying.
Davis will be very displeased........,  Does anyone want to bear the wrath of Nora Davis..?  This is reality.  That is what we have had for a long time. I'm tired of it, and I have to tell people about it.
At this point I'm simply asking for your support for the requirement for the city attorney to keep hourly accounting of all legal services performed. The council will be continuing the evaluation of his performance at the next city council meeting on March 1st.  Now is the time to communicate your support for this idea.
Ken Bukowski


  1. If we are going to do that, can we ask the same of council members?
    I'd like to know what Bukowski does with his time.