What’s the Deal with DeKalb’s Legal Assistant?

DeKalb used to have in-house legal counsel, but now has contracts with individuals and firms to supply legal services.

One of the legal service providers is Dean Frieders of Frieders Law, LLC, who supposedly works for DeKalb three days per week.* Frieders is required by his contract with the city to supply all of his own staff for the $208,000 per year that we pay him. If any employee of City of DeKalb were to work for Frieders in any capacity, it would constitute a violation of that city contract.

Trouble is, DeKalb still employs a full-time legal assistant, and it looks like she works for Frieders. I say this because her actual job description requires her to assist legal counsel as well as the city manager.

Now, let’s say for the sake of argument that the documentation is wrong, that the job description is outdated and the assistant does not screen Frieders’ calls and help him with his briefs. In that case, we should ask what possible need city manager Anne Marie Gaura has for a full-time legal assistant at $60,000 per year that an administrative assistant at $40,000 or $45,000 couldn’t do.

It is pretty sloppy of the city manager to allow even the appearance of a breach of contract that comes at the citizens’ expense. It is also not best practices to overpay staff for the jobs they are doing. This arrangement has a stink no matter which way you turn your nose. It needs to be explained and corrected where necessary.

While we’re at it, let’s have a look to see what other jobs assigned to management staff could actually be done by persons of lower pay grades. It is budget time, after all.

*I say “supposedly” he works here three days a week because a recent Freedom of Information Act request has revealed that attorney Dean Frieders keeps no time records whatsoever.