More than a month has gone by since the Santa Ana City Council extended an offer to its preferred candidate to fill the city’s vacant city attorney slot, but still no one has been hired.

Most council members have been relatively mum on the reasons for the delay. Councilman Sal Tinajero, however, attributes the delay to a lack of negotiating experience at the top echelons of city government.

“I think the main reason is we haven’t had anyone at the helm that has gone through something like this,” Tinajero said.

Santa Ana has been without a city attorney since Joe Fletcher retired late last year, part of an exodus of leadership from City Hall that included the retirements of City Manager Dave Ream and Cindy Nelson, executive director of the Community Development Agency.

The consulting firm Bob Murray & Associates has assisted the city in its search for both a city attorney and city manager. The firm was abruptly told to stop the city manager search last month.

Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez, when asked whether there was a void in top leadership experienced with such negotiations, said “not by any means.”

Mayor Miguel Pulido and Council Members Carlos Bustamante and Vincent Sarmiento did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The name of the City Council’s choice for the job — Maribel Medina, general counsel for the San Francisco Unified School District — was leaked to Art Pedroza’s New Santa Ana blog.

Sources close to City Hall have said that the release of Medina’s name was orchestrated by Pulido to undermine the hiring process after it didn’t go his way. Pedroza said that the name leak came from “a Miguel guy.”


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