weather icon Clear

Attorney selection not surprising

Is history repeating itself? It certainly seems to be the case.

The decision Wednesday to hire Brittany Walker as city attorney came as no surprise.

After an extensive and expensive — $47,000 for the combined city attorney and city manager — search, City Council once again turned the temporary acting city attorney position into a permanent job.

In September 2017, now-fired attorney Steve Morris was hired after serving as acting city attorney for roughly three months. (He also was on staff in the city attorney’s office since 2012.)

Then, as now, the hiring of a new city attorney fits accusations of back-room deals that have plagued the city regardless of who is sitting at the council’s dais.

And once again, it appears that a decision about who to hire was made before interviews began.

Even applicants Christi Kindel and Stephen Smith questioned council’s sincerity about being open to candidates other than the acting city attorney during their interviews for the job.

Both had seen the March 23 council meeting to narrow down the number of applicants for the job when Walker received high praise from all the council members. Mayor Kiernan McManus said she “would be someone I would consider for the position,” Councilman James Howard Adams put her “at the top of my list,” and Councilwoman Claudia Bridges said that if she had to make a decision that day she would want Walker to continue in the job because she was impressed with the work she had done.

Claims of actions done in the “spirit of transparency” are nothing more than platitudes. Appearances matter. Just as they did before.

When Morris was hired, I wrote “City Council members had the opportunity to show those who have hurled accusations at them for having favorites … that things are not always what they appear to be. And yet … that’s what didn’t happen.” Again.

Walker has been in the position since October and appears to be doing an admirable job, despite her lack of experience. Experience that the other candidates had years of on their resumes.

To her credit, Walker’s interview with council members went well. She was poised and took time to compose her thoughts before carefully answering each of the council members’ questions. But so did Kindel, who interviewed for the position in 2017.

Walker’s score from the evaluation was the highest, 400 points higher than Kindel. Council members found her lacking in only three areas.

Smith, who seemed ill-prepared for his interview, was easily eliminated from consideration.

We admit there are some red flags in Kindel’s past, including communications with residents of Boulder City about municipal issues and some obvious issues in her relationships with co-workers that resulted in a temporary protection order and court interference.

It seems that in this case though, the choice was to go with someone who barely met the minimum requirements for the job, but was someone they knew and someone they had a relationship with.

When her final contract is presented — assuming she passes her background check — we hope that council members learned a thing or two from the last time a city attorney was hired. We encourage them to put the city first when coming to terms of employment.

While we have some issues about Walker’s previous attempts to restrict access to public documents and her inexperience, we were pleased to hear that she recognizes her shortcomings and would be willing to seek out advice and assistance from colleagues when necessary.

We hope our concerns are unjustified and wish Walker well in her new role.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Guest commentary: Yes votes will raise funds for pool, not taxes

Broadbent Memorial Park encompasses five acres of recreational facilities, including a swimming pool, tennis courts and green space for picnic and play areas. The Boulder City Pool offers healthy, affordable, enriching and fun programs.

Police need our support

In 1962, President (John F.) Kennedy signed a proclamation, established by a joint congressional resolution, designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor all peace officers who were killed or disabled in the line of duty. The week of May 15 was designated as National Police Week. This year, National Police Week is May 9-15.

Legislature accomplished much, but more to do

It is my honor to serve as the Assembly Republican caucus whip in the 81st legislative session. The caucus fought to open the building to the public long before session began. Our pressure was eventually successful in opening the building. It has been a pleasure meeting with some of my constituents inside my office who made the journey up and I look forward to seeing more.

Vaccines necessary for return to activities

Spring has arrived with warming temperatures along with the usual winds. We are also beginning to see the warming of our local businesses with the downward trends of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Residents’ passion for city blazed during primary

Congratulations are in order for Councilwoman-elect Sherri Jorgensen and Cokie Booth and Matt Fox, who will face off for the second City Council seat in June’s general election.

Mask use, types raise many questions

Along with the mask mandates and protocols, I am fascinated by the many different mask designs. Aside from those that are medically proven, those that adhere to the face in such a way that no air whatsoever can escape around the mask, generally speaking, the majority of masks do absolutely nothing, especially those made of cloth.

Series shares impact of fraud

Does everything always come down to how much money will be made? Do we know what truth is? Does truth still matter?

Longtime public servant’s efforts benefited city

In recent election years there have been very vocal attempts to disparage the name and reputation of Bruce Woodbury and his family.