Letters to the Editor

Bainbridge city council can’t trust city attorney | LETTER TO THE EDITOR

To the editor:

I wonder who is writing the editorials in the Review under our brand-new editor. As a brand-new member of our community, he certainly seems to spout “opinions” that sound strangely like they were written by Mr. Scales. I guess gone are the days of fair and measured comments by the Review. What we have is troubling and often inaccurate reporting.

His latest rant about the use of the city’s contract attorney is wrong on many levels. Many council persons, myself included when I was on council, used the contract attorney for advice and we never had to “get permission” to do so. That continued even after the change in government. The precedent is that council can and does use the contract attorney. Mr. Ward simply followed that precedent.

Mr. Patton’s job is to provide legal advice to the city as the opinion correctly states. However, he provided his adverse legal opinions to Mr. Scales. Scales used that to “get” Council member Ward at a public council meeting. If Mr. Patton had believed that a council member was violating any rules, his job is to immediately discuss those concerns with the council member and then with the council as a whole.

Municipal Research & Services Center says in “The Care and Feeding of a City or Town Attorney” the following: “Since the attorney’s client is the city as an entity, recognize that the legal advice he/she gives should be timely shared with other interested officials. ‘Gotcha’ may be good for playing tag; it is not so good for the efficient and effective performance of important governmental functions.”

Next, instead of using the contract attorneys, Inslee Best, to review the “routine” contract amendment for Bauer, Patton used his old firm, Foster Pepper. They do not have a contract with the city and charged over twice as much for that review. That is a misuse of public funds.

It seems to me that Council Member Ward had it right. The council cannot trust Mr. Patton to provide all of them with appropriate and important legal advice. Further, they cannot trust him to handle our taxpayer dollars either.

DEBBIE VANN

Bainbridge Island

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