More from City Hall: Fireside chat

7:11 p.m.:

Now the hard one (one of them, anyway). Assistant City Attorney Shelley Green is introducing a measure to hire outside lawyers for former City Manager Gordon Palmer and Human Resources Director Dianna Garcia, both of whom were subpoenaed by the Johnny Ford committee. Green said, “There is a great potential for future litigation, and it would be in the city’s best interest that we approve these agreements.” Green said the agreements¬†deal only with testimony before the ad-hoc panel.¬†Green said the expense for both lawyers, combined, is less than $10,000.

Green is telling Councilwoman Susan Eggman that no agreements with the lawyers have yet been signed. Green said that Palmer and Garcia could file claims against the city for the cost of the lawyers if the agreements are not approved.

Councilman Dale Fritchen is asking if the government code discusses potential litigation, or if it discusses claims or charges brought against an employee. Green said the committee investigation is a kind of proceeding in which the council has discretion. Fritchen said this is the equivalent of a boss asking an employee to talk to him and the employee saying he would get a lawyer for that and charge the boss for the lawyer’s services.

Green said to represent Palmer and Garcia is in the city’s best interest. She said there being lawyers involved with the committee and Ford “does create some kind of an adversarial situation.” She said the testimony is likely to be subject to discovery in litigation.

Vice Mayor Kathy Miller said, “To think this was just a conversation with their employer, I would have to disagree with that characterization.” Miller said the employees had been accused of wrongdoing for weeks at council meetings and were the recipients of subpoenas.

Fritcen said people who get six-figure incomes should be able to handle the heat. However, he said, there have been some “horrible things said.” Fritchen said, “Mr. Ford was called in, and there was counsel with his boss, and he didn’t have counsel.” Fritchen said, “I have looked at it simply as an administrative process.” Fritchen said, “I just want to find out what the facts are.” He said, “It’s not an accusatory thing.”

Councilman Elbert Holman Jr., the committee chairman, said the issuance of subpoenas made no different a conversation than could have been had in a “fireside chat.”

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