EDA gets update on attorney search

Published 9:38 pm Monday, February 17, 2020

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The Economic Development Authority received an update on its search for a new attorney to represent it at its meeting last week.

City Attorney Helivi Holland advised the authority in November that it would need to get its own attorney due to the conflict of interest to have a city attorney represent the EDA while at the same time representing the city.

Holland told the board at its meeting last Wednesday that it would begin interviewing this week the five “experienced, well-reputable” firms that responded to the request for proposal to provide attorney services to the EDA.

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“The plan is that we will interview, come up with some type of matrix, or something of that nature, to present to you all at your March meeting,” Holland said, “and hopefully you can make a selection then. At that time, we have to do some more things to finalize the contract.”

If selected at that time, Holland said the firm could start representing the EDA as soon as April 1, but more likely, a new firm would not start until May.

She said the selection committee designated to evaluate the proposals from the five firms are “very pleased” with their choices.

“It was prudent that we interviewed all five, as opposed to just selecting some from the five,” Holland said. “So we look forward to doing that (this) week.”

When she informed the board it would need a new attorney, she said, “what has happened now, in regards to a legal analysis of what would happen if the EDA had a different opinion than the city, we would be in a situation of conflict.”

Currently, Assistant City Attorney Karla Carter represents the EDA, but Holland said that if what she wanted went against the Planning Commission or City Council, which Holland represents, it would be difficult to reconcile, if not be an outright conflict of interest.

The EDA, which is a special political subdivision that is independent of the city and has its own decision-making process, previously had its own legal counsel, according to Holland. However, it began using the city attorney’s office to represent it in 2006.

Holland said the EDA having its own attorney would prevent conflicts or anything unethical from happening, though she stressed that no conflict or anything unethical has taken place.