There was quite a conversation in the 10/18/2022 Council meeting after we posted the city legal bills for June, July and August (LINK: City Legal Bill June July Aug). We had previously submitted a public record request, which has not yet been fulfilled, for the city legal bill from Lighthouse Law Group for the month of September 2022. To fulfill this type of request is easy and usually takes five to ten minutes, certainly not a strain on city time and resources.
Now we are being told Lighthouse Law Group and / or Tom Brubaker the city attorney want to redact legal bills. This has legal implications and has not been done by the city attorney in response to our earlier requests. Would taxpayers like to see how their tax dollars are being spent since city legal costs are up over 195% at the end of August? Is Lighthouse and Tom Brubaker creating liability for the City potentially violating the Public Records Act? Are some councilmembers using the city attorney for personal agenda items and pet projects at taxpayers’ expense? Councilmember Freidman and Hachamovitch contacted Brubaker a total of 46 times in these billings. Taxpayers paid for Brubaker’s and his firm’s analysis and work on a “weblog” believed to be Hachamovitch’s personal online newsletter.
Also reviewed at taxpayer expense by direction of Hachamovitch and Friedman was the fire hydrant code. Hachamovitch has a fire hydrant on his property that was used to fight a house fire and has been subject to code complaints for lack of compliance with the law regarding visibility and accessibility (CHMC 13.08.220 – Fire Hydrant Accessibility)
Friedman’s line items total over $2,100 and Hachamovitch’s over $6,400. This was a combination of in person, telephone and email interactions with Brubaker. Previous serving councilmembers mention they contacted the city attorney once or twice every six to twelve months. The City attorney serves in the executive branch, under the mayor who enforces the laws and codes. Why are Councilmembers bypassing the mayor and staff to access the city attorney directly? Is Brubaker more agreeable to council’s pressure than voters, taxpayers and the mayor? Tom Brubaker’s contract is renewable every two years (Link: Brubaker Contract). The public should evaluate the contract and the performance.
Residents should contact the mayor and city administrator if they are concerned about redaction of the legal bills and bills not being released to the public.
Mayor Klaas Email: [email protected]
City Administrator Dean Rohla Email: [email protected]
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