Council to Decide on Next City Attorney

Monday, March 14, 2016, 12:44 pm
By: 
Alice Dreger

Image: The offices of the current City Attorney

Tomorrow at 4 p.m. marks the deadline for law firms to submit their proposals to become East Lansing’s latest legal representative. As ELi reported earlier, on February 2, absent public discussion of the matter, East Lansing’s City Council passed a resolution instructing the City Manager to issue a request for proposals.

City Manager George Lahanas issued the call for proposals two weeks after the resolution was passed. In doing so, he notified fifteen firms that they had been “selected as a potential provider.” These include four firms in Grand Rapids, five in Lansing, two in Okemos, and four in East Lansing.

Among the firms notified was that of Tom Yeadon, the current City Attorney. Yeadon is a partner in McGinty, Hitch, Housefield, Person, Yeadon & Anderson, P.C., the firm that has held the position in East Lansing since the 1960s.

According to the resolution passed by Council, Council “desires to examine, consider and review the cost of legal services provided to the City.” Yeadon’s firm currently earns over a half-million dollars a year from East Lansing for legal services provided to the City.

Lahanas did not answer questions from ELi about how he selected the firms and why certain East Lansing-based attorneys were not invited to apply.

Mayor Mark Meadows, however, did respond, writing that all those firms that were invited “have departments that specialize in municipal law or are firms that have that specialty as their primary offering. There is nothing in the RFP [request for proposals] that restricts anyone else from submitting a response.”

According to the request for proposals, those interested in the position should identify attorneys in their firm who have experience with “land use, zoning, growth management, election law, Tax Increment Financing, Environmental Law, Inter-Local Agreements, Municipal Authority Agreements, Public Works, Employment Law, and other Municipal matters.”

Additionally, “The appointed City Attorney must have a minimum of five years of experience in the field of municipal law with particular experience in land use and general municipal operations.”

Meadows tells me he is the person who wanted that requirement in the call for applications. He says, “For myself, experience in representing municipalities or a municipality will weigh heavily in making my decision on who to retain. I am not interested in making East Lansing somebody's first venture into municipal law.”

Meadows says that all Council members were given copies of the call for applications before it was made public, and that he is “not aware of anyone objecting to any part of it.”

According to the “tentative schedule” published by the City, applications will be reviewed March 16-22, “follow-up calls or meetings” will occur March 23-30, and on April 1, a contract may be offered to a firm.

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