Months after firing an interim city attorney with ties to a former councilman, the Anaheim City Council will start from the beginning in their search for candidates to fill the full-time position.
The City Council voted March 21 to form an ad-hoc committee to choose a consultant to conduct the search, a move Councilwoman Kris Murray said was unnecessary.
“I don’t understand why we’re developing a subcommittee when we’ve done it in closed session with the entire council…the [past] six years I’ve been on the council,” Murray said.
The city attorney position has been a lightning rod for controversy in recent years. In November 2016, just days before the general election when the balance of the city council was flipped to favor Mayor Tom Tait, the previous city council majority voted to appoint Arturo Fierro to the interim position, only to have the next city council majority fire him weeks later.
The previous council majority originally sought to appoint Fierro, whose son was the campaign manager and city policy aide for former Councilman Jordan Brandman, to the full-time position, but pulled back after media coverage of his appointment sparked outrage among residents.
In October 2016, the council also agreed to a $1.45-million settlement in a discrimination case brought by former City Attorney Cristina Talley. Talley, a 56-year-old Latina, claimed age, gender and race-based discrimination, and said members of the previous council majority forced her to resign because they felt she favored Tait and then-Councilwoman Lorri Galloway.
Tait, councilwoman Denise Barnes and councilman Steve Faessel will sit on the ad-hoc committee.
The last city attorney search, which resulted in Fierro’s appointment, cost $25,500 and took six months to complete.
Acting City Attorney Kristin Pelletier will continue filling the top attorney role until a permanent city attorney is appointed.
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