Mitchell appoints ad hoc committee to find new city attorney

Amelia Flood Jul. 23, 2009, 12:29am


At a city council meeting Tuesday -- where three council members walked out -- Fairview Heights Mayor Gail Mitchell appointed three aldermen to a committee to find the city's new legal advisor.

City Attorney Al Paulson, who did not attend the July 21 meeting, was not retained by the city on a narrow vote May 19.

One of those appointed to the search committee was the person Paulson blamed for the end of his firm's more than 20 years of city representation.

The new ad hoc committee consists of Ward Three Alderman Pat Baeske, Ward Two Alderman Roger Lowery and Ward Four Alderman Carol Warner.

Two messages left for Mitchell about the appointments and the committee were not returned Wednesday morning or afternoon.

Paulson's Belleville firm, Becker, Paulson, Hoerner & Thompson LLP, had represented Fairview Heights since the city's incorporation in the 1970s. Paulson was preceded by his now-deceased partner Robert Becker.

Paulson is statutorily obligated to continue as the city's attorney until a new one is found.

In an interview shortly after the May 19 vote, Paulson said that the city's decision not to retain his firm was politically motivated. He claimed it was led by Baeske.

At the time, Baeske declined to offer comment about the issue.

Paulson represented the city in its failed class action suit against 13 online travel companies. The city was able to pursue the suits alone and all of the defendants settled.

At Tuesday's meeting, three members of the city council, Aldermen Speed Allen Jr., Lowery and Linda Arnold, walked out of the meeting shortly after the ad hoc committee was approved.

The three disputed a list of topics that Baeske wanted to discuss such as city council meeting times, the city calendar and "other." They argued that committees, not the full council, should discuss such topics.

Baeske countered that too few aldermen attend committee meetings.

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