Council interviews attorney candidates

ISHPEMING – The Ishpeming City Council voted unanimously to eliminate one of the five candidates for city attorney after the candidate was unable to attend his scheduled interview this week.

Karl Weber, a partner at Marquette’s Plunkett Cooney, is out of the running for the city attorney position held by David Savu, who is retiring at the end of the year.

“The council passed a resolution to exclude him from future consideration, since he gave us late notice about his inability to come to this meeting,” City Manager Mark Slown said. “We just received an email yesterday; the invitations for this had gone out on the 13th of August, according to (Assistant City Manager) Carol Holmgren. He was informed some time ago about it, and so the council, they took that action.”

Another motion, made by Councilman Mike Tonkin and seconded by Councilwoman Elaine Racine, to appoint Dominic Andriacchi Jr. of the Ishpeming law firm Dominic F. Andriacchi, P.C., to the position failed 2-3.

Councilman Joe Juidici, who cast one of the nay votes, said he wanted more time to consider all of the candidates, and his motion to set a later meeting to make a decision was approved 4-1, with Racine casting the dissenting vote.

The council will next meet to discuss the candidates at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 8.

Slown said he’s unsure if the failed motion to hire Andriacchi excludes the attorney from consideration.

“The other four (candidates) I think could still be viable, depending on how the council chooses to interpret the first vote,” he said. “Whether it was because they didn’t want (Andriacchi) or because they weren’t ready to make a decision, I don’t really know. But at least the three others are still viable at this point.”

In addition to Andriacchi, the council interviewed former Negaunee City Attorney Caroline Bridges of Negaunee-based Bridges and Bridges, P.L.C.; Bonnie Hoff, former city attorney of Marquette, and Negaunee-based Kevin Koch of Kevin W. Koch, P.C.

Slown said he thought all four candidates interviewed “quite well.”

“It was really, I thought, a good interview session,” he said. “David Savu asked most of the questions of all of the candidates, but the city council members also asked some, and I asked a couple.”

Slown said Savu “went over the whole litany of … city attorney kinds of things: ‘Have you worked with (the Freedom of Information Act)?’; ‘Have you worked with Open Meetings Act?’; ‘Have you worked with property, easements, deeds?’; ‘Have you worked with ordinances?’; ‘Have you worked with civil rights?’; ‘Have you worked with labor negotiations?'”

He said council members asked the candidates what they thought their role would be if hired and how they would perform in the position, among other questions.

And Slown asked candidates about their familiarity with the U.S. Department of Agriculture legal services, “because we’re going to do this big USDA project with the water (infrastructure) and the facilities … the USDA has a bunch of legal requirements that the attorney is going to get up to their neck in,” he said. “And it’s a lot of work. It’s actually probably going to keep the attorney really busy for the next year.”

Slown said he was happy with the interviews and confident in the candidates’ abilities.

“I think everybody was pretty impressed,” he said. “My point of view is, whomever the council decides (on), we’ve got good candidates out there.”

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401. His email address is zjay@miningjournal.net.