Huntington Beach

A legal firm for city council?

DOES the Huntington Beach City Council need its own legal firm? (Shutterstock).

Does a city with an elected city attorney and staff need a separate outside legal firm as well?

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Huntington Beach City Council, an agenda item supported by three council members, suggests that outside legal advice be sought that would directly report to and support the city council.

HB City Attorney

Huntington Beach is unique in that the city attorney – currently Michael Gates – is an elected position with some independence from the council. In a report issued on Thursday, Mayor Barbara Delgleize, Mayor Pro Tem Mike Posey and Councilmember Dan Kalmick wrote “there have been multiple circumstances where the City Council has been uncomfortable with the quality and accuracy of the legal advice provided by the City Attorney.”

Their report cites two legal setbacks – one of which could cost the city $3.5 million in legal fees – and an age discrimination lawsuit against the city attorney resulting in a settlement of $2.5 million as among the reasons for obtaining other professional legal opinions.

The requested action is to direct the city manager to help the council to find and select an outside legal firm answerable to the council.

Also on the agenda are labor agreements with firefighters, management, Teamsters and police management.

The council will meet in person and via Zoom in its chambers at 2000 Main St., with the study/closed session at 4 p.m. and the regular session at 6 p.m.

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