East Ridge Council Votes 3-2 To Make Hal North Permanent City Attorney

Thursday, June 13, 2013 - by Gail Perry

The East Ridge City Council on Thursday night voted to name interim City Attorney Hal North as the permanent city attorney.

His pay continues at $10,000 per month. 

Attorney North noted that he still is operating without a contract and would not be eligible for severance pay. He said the council could fire him at any time and he can quit at any time. 

Voting in favor were Vice Mayor Jim Bethune and Council members Denny Manning and Marc Gravitt.

Opposed were Mayor Brent Lambert and Councilman Larry Sewell.

Prior to the vote, Mayor Lambert said a citizen had advised him "just this afternoon" that the recent naming of a charter study commission had been done illegally. He said he checked with the Municipal Technical Assistance Service and it agreed.

He said the council was not supposed to name a new charter study panel until five years had elapsed from the last one. He said the new one was named "one month shy" of the five years.

Mayor Lambert said the mayor could have done so sooner, but he said he was absent the night the panel was named.

Other council members asked why he had not called Attorney North on the issue, and he said MTAS officials "are the experts in city government."

Mayor Lambert said he had nothing against those named to the panel, which has met twice, but "want it done right."

Attorney North said the "simple solution" was to declare the previous action void and pass a new charter resolution.

That is what the council finally agreed to do.

A third meeting set for Monday of the current charter commission was called off.

The new commission will contain the same members. 

In the discussion about the hiring of a city attorney, Councilman Gravitt read a list of accomplishments by Attorney North. He said he has done considerable work on several upcoming legal cases facing the city.

Mayor Lambert said he is "a good attorney," but he said he wanted a search process.

Vice Mayor Bethune said the council has had seven months to evaluate Attorney North.

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