City Manager Oversteps His Bounds


During the April 11 Committee of the Whole meeting, the DeKalb City Council discussed whether to outsource any or all of its legal services. Here’s how it ended.

Ald. Gallagher moved to direct staff to prepare a Request for Proposal, using Version #1 to out source the City Attorney’s position; seconded by Ald. Verbic.

Ald. Baker moved to direct staff to prepare two (2) Requests for Proposals, using Version #1 to out source the City Attorney’s position and Version #2 to outsource the entire Legal Department. Motion failed for lack of a second.

Motion carried 4-3 on roll call vote. Aye: Simpson, Verbic, Gallagher, Kammes. Nay: Teresinski, Naylor, Baker. Mayor Povlsen declared the motion passed.

Clearly, the vote directed staff to prepare an RFP for partial outsourcing. Now we see this in the April 25 agenda:

4) RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER OF THE CITY OF DEKALB, ILLINOIS TO ISSUE A REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS ATTORNEY SERVICES. The City Council previously discussed the outsourcing of the City Attorney’s duties and responsibilities, and directed that a Request for Proposal (RFP) be issued soliciting private contractors to perform these services. Circumstances have since changed necessitating a modification of these RFPs to instead solicit private contractors to perform all of our legal services, not just those assigned to the City Attorney.

The resolution appears on the consent agenda, so the city manager doesn’t think his decision is up for discussion. However, circumstances don’t get to change how the city manager carries out the council’s directions. Council gets to do that. In open session. Council members should pull this item from the consent agenda and put the smack down on this violation of their purview.

Doing anything less would also make the city look like it can’t separate personnel decisions from business decisions, or that it has not properly defined its goals. Change everything just because an attorney has resigned? Ridiculous.

Special bonus quote from the outsourcing discussion:

Ald. Baker suggested that both versions be sent out for responses. He said that he depends on several attorneys to make his business successful. Ald. Baker stated that Council wasn’t given an accurate legal opinion on the difference between lay-offs and terminations. Mr. Biernacki disagreed with the statement.

This sounds like a comment on last year’s Reduction in Force. Other tidbits:

  • The Citizens Environmental Commission is drafting a letter in favor of Waste Management’s “toter” program. The group may also consider recommending a ban on plastic shopping bags.

  • The Citizens Community Enhancement Commission is putting together a website for a Launch 2011 event, even though the city is not hosting the event. The website is being created by Cohen Barnes’ friend Mr. DeStefano. Barnes says he or Mr. DeStefano could host the site.

  • You can find all of these agenda items, minutes and quotes in the April 25 agenda packet.

    We’ve got quite a range of topics here, so let’s make this an open thread.