*This article was on the front page of the EPA Today newspaper. Read the January 2016 issue here.*
The City of East Palo Alto is looking for another city attorney. During the East Palo Alto City Council’s meeting on January 12, 2016, the council authorized its City Manager, Carlos Martinez, to seal an agreement with Ralph Andersen & Associates to begin the recruitment process for a new city attorney.
John Nagel, who was the city’s attorney, submitted his resignation on December 8, 2015. He joins the City of Sunnyvale’s legal counsel. His last day with East Palo Alto was on Friday, January 15.
Nagel previously worked as assistant attorney for the City of Vallejo before becoming East Palo Alto’s city attorney in 2013.
During its January 19 meeting, the East Palo Alto City Council approved a motion to appoint Valerie Armento of Atkinson’s Farasyn firm as interim city attorney. Armento served as East Palo Alto’s interim city attorney on several previous occasions over the past few years. Marc Hynes was also approved to serve as interim city attorney whenever Armento is absent.
The city staff reported during the council’s January 12 meeting that it had reached out to twelve recruiting firms in order to find a permanent replacement for Nagel. Four of the firms responded that they would not be available and the remaining seven firms had other contractual agreements that would keep them from participating. Ralph Andersen & Associates was the only firm to respond to the city with a full proposal. Given the urgency of the matter, Martinez advised the city council to approve the agreement with Ralph Andersen & Associates during its meeting.
Mayor Donna Rutherford, Vice Mayor Larry Moody and Council member Carlos Romero agreed and unanimously approved the motion to enter into an agreement with the firm.
The mayor expressed her gratitude towards Nagel saying, “We really appreciated all of your work, all of the long hours, your legal advice, your detailed directions to the council.”
“I’m glad you were able to hang with us for as long as you did. I think you did wonderful work,” Council member Romero said jokingly, “Watch out because you might be coming back.”
“I want the community to know that when we went through our selection process, it was by unanimous decision that you assume the role,” Vice Mayor Moody said. “I think you have absolutely done well by us.”
In responding to the council, Nagel said, “The last two years have been a very exciting and fulfilling time for me. People say unique all the time, but I think East Palo Alto truly deserves, unique.”
The city expects to take four-to-six months to find a new city attorney.