PLEASANT HILL -- An acting city attorney will provide legal services while city leaders search for a short-term replacement for Debra Margolis, who resigns at the end of the month.
Beginning Aug. 1, the San Francisco law firm Richards Watson & Gershon will act as the city attorney. Greg Stepanicich, an attorney with the firm, negotiated the city's resignation agreement with Margolis.
Since the announcement last week that Margolis is leaving, several attorneys and law firms have expressed interest in providing legal services to Pleasant Hill, said City Manager June Catalano.
Working with Catalano, a subcommittee of Councilmen Jack Weir and Michael Harris will vet applicants to serve as interim city attorney and aim to make a recommendation to the full council at the Aug. 20 meeting. The chosen applicant could serve until the end of the year.
Harris would like to see an individual or law firm with general knowledge of municipal law and an understanding of the legal issues surrounding economic development, for example.
"We should outline specifically what are the areas that are most critical to us over this next five- or six-month period," Harris said. "If we are anticipating any big legal issues we should look to someone with experience in those areas."
A provision added in 1992 to the Pleasant Hill municipal code created the appointed position of city attorney. At the Aug. 20 meeting, the council will discuss
"We just no longer assume that a full-time, paid city employee is the best way to get the job done at a cost that is reasonable," Weir said.
Margolis, who is resigning after 18 years with Pleasant Hill, will receive a severance of $281,090. As required by her employment contract, the payment is roughly equal to her total compensation in 2011 of $281,354, which included a base salary of $203,808, deferred compensation, and pension and medical benefits. The city also will pay Margolis for her accrued vacation and sick leave.
Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.