City Hall: Palmer and Garcia owed for attorney fees in Ford matter

A  lawyer for the city has opined City Hall is required to pay for lawyers who represented former City Manager Gordon Palmer and Human Resources Director Dianna Garcia at hearings in the Johnny Ford matter, officials said today.

The opinion is a rebuke of a City Council that rejected its own attorney’s advice and voted in September not to pay those fees.

Interim City Manager Kevin O’Rourke said this afternoon that he will discuss the opinion with the council in a closed session and that, “My recommendation would be to go ahead and to pay it.”

The fees were estimated by Assistant City Attorney Shelley Green to be about $14,000.

The council voted 4-3 in September against paying lawyers to represent Palmer and Garcia, two of several employees who appeared on subpoena before a council committee investigating Ford’s firing.

Palmer and Garcia filed claims challenging the council’s decision and threatening litigation (Read Palmer’s claim here and Garcia’s lengthier claim here).

The city attorney’s office referred the matter to outside lawyer Stephen Scott, of Stockton, who issued the opinion.

Councilman Elbert Holman Jr., one of the council members who voted not to pay the fees, declined this afternoon to discuss the opinion in detail. However, he said, “I don’t agree with his findings. … We’ll talk about it in closed session.”

Holman was expected to discuss the situation with O’Rourke this afternoon.

A report will be in the morning paper.

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