Mayor alone can’t
fire city attorney
Legal opinion sheds
light on issue
mayor has no unilateral powers in this area. Any decision regarding the
city attorney must have the consent of the city council."
Express Staff Writer
debate over firing and hiring a city attorney may be over — or just
So far, the
issue appears to have been the subject of two executive sessions and a
hand full of conversations between city officials and officials-to-be.
Ed Simon told city council members early last month that once he’s sworn
on Jan. 7 he would dismiss the city attorney, dissolve the city attorney’s
office and hire a contract attorney, Councilman Randy Hall confirmed last
a move that appears beyond the mayor’s exclusive power and beyond the
scope of the city council’s wishes. Additionally, City Attorney Margaret
Simms was surprised by the proposal and said she had no immediate plans of
leaving the city.
three-page legal opinion requested by the city council and released to the
public last week, Boise lawyer Susan Buxton wrote that a mayor must have a
city council’s majority approval to make administrative changes.
mayor has no unilateral powers in this area," she wrote. "Any
decision regarding the city attorney must have the consent of the city
includes hiring or firing.
confirmed in an interview earlier this month that he planned to replace
the city attorney upon his appointment. He made no mention of his plans
for the legal department and declined to reveal the person he plans to
name to the city attorney’s post.
think the voters elected me to effect change in the city government,"
Simon said in an interview last week. "In order for me to do that, I
really do need to have a city attorney who has some fresh ideas and a
unavailable to comment on Buxton’s legal opinion late last week.
Meanwhile, the gears of government continued to grind as the Ketchum City
Council met in executive sessions Dec. 17 and Dec. 21 to discuss the
matter. But public statements from council members are sparse.
Maurice Charlat said there is no news to report, that the city’s legal
department will remain as it is.
the issue still must play itself out, but added that the idea of replacing
the city attorney or dissolving the legal department "defies
logic," in his opinion.
council unanimously endorsed the decision to seek an outside legal
opinion, and on Dec. 13, Hall penned the letter to Boise law firm Moore,
Smith, Buxton & Turcke, where Buxton is a partner, to request the
he said, is "very well respected in municipal law" and
represents 10 municipalities in Idaho.
her opinion, Buxton said she researched Ketchum Code, Idaho Code and
Ketchum’s employee handbook. She answered four of Hall’s questions.