City Attorney Job Draws Eight Applicants; Review Begins Tonight

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Then-Mayor Ruth Beier, Aaron Stephens, and Tom Yeadon at the last round of interviews for City Attorney, in June 2019. The new Council will choose a new City Attorney.

East Lansing’s City Council will hold a special virtual meeting this Thursday, Aug. 27, starting at 7 p.m. to review the eight applications for the position of City Attorney.

Applications have been submitted by Bloom Sluggett, George Brookover, Casey Conklin, Clark Hill, Foster Swift, Gallagher Law, Rosatti Schultz, and Thrun Law Firm (which represents East Lansing Public Schools). The applications can be viewed online.

According to a press release from the City and the posted agenda, the intention is to choose which applicants will be interviewed at a follow-up meeting on Thursday, Sept. 3. The agenda report also says that Council will decide tonight “questions that will be asked” during the interviews.

The posted agenda indicates the meeting will be discussion-only, indicating a non-voting meeting.

Asked how that could result in a decision by Council about who to interview and what to ask, Mayor Aaron Stephens told ELi by phone last night that he does expect Council to come to decisions about finalists and questions.

“Our intention is to figure out who we are going to interview and to go forward with the interviews at the meeting after that,” he said.

Three members of Council voted to terminate City Attorney Tom Yeadon’s contract on July 14 – an action that led to then-Mayor Ruth Beier and Council member Mark Meadows resigning from Council. Stephens automatically rose from the position of Mayor Pro Tem (substitute Mayor) to Mayor.

The three remaining Council members – Stephens, Jessy Gregg, and Lisa Babcock – then conducted interviews to appoint two citizens to Council. In that selection process, the three announced the questions that would be asked of every applicant and asked no follow-up questions, leading to what amounted to prepared statements rather than conventional position interviews.

We asked Stephens last night if this was going to be the same kind of process – previously announced questions with no follow-up.

To that, he replied, “I wish we had been able to ask follow-up questions in the Council interviews and that is my intention, to do that this time.”

Yeadon’s contract is terminated as of October 1. The pressure is therefore on to appoint a new City Attorney very soon.

It appears that Council will not have an attorney to advise them during this process. Yeadon has previously recused himself on this issue due to potential conflict of interest. For reasons not explained, he did not attend this Monday’s Council meeting and his firm sent no substitute.

Members of the public can call-in to comment at the start of the meeting by phoning 312-626-6799 and using meeting ID 874-0243-2516. (No participant code is required.) Council can also be reached for comment by email at council@cityofeastlansing.com. Messages sent to Council become part of the public record.

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