Council retains Jenkins & Hogin for city legal representation
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula City Council
Published: November 30, 2012
Jenkins & Hogin will continue to oversee the legal aspects of Santa Paula’s business after the City Council agreed to keep the firm on board to provide services to the city.
The council renewed an agreement with the Manhattan Beach law firm at the November 19 meeting. As part of the new contract, the firm, which has represented the city since 2003, must provide an attorney who will hold at least 16 regular office hours at City Hall each week. Longtime Assistant City Attorney John Cotti, who works for Jenkins & Hogin, was named city attorney, a seat he has informally filled since the departure of Karl Berger, also of Jenkins & Hogin.
The staff report by City Manager Jaime Fontes noted that “earlier this year” the council decided to seek proposals on legal services, but the subject initially surfaced in June 2011.
The issue of exploring potential savings on legal fees was first brought up by then Vice Mayor Bob Gonzales. Gonzales said at the June 20, 2011 council meeting that he brought up the issue due to cuts to staff and salary due to city financial shortfalls, and that all costs should be examined.
The council was presented with a report of legal representation costs. Learning the fees had not been raised since 2008 and costs were lower than other cities, then-Mayor Fred Robinson and Councilman Rick Cook voiced their objections to seeking proposals.
Ultimately the council went ahead with seeking proposals, and the city evaluated nine law firms that submitted proposals to provide legal services. Fontes’ report noted the “review panel” shared the results of the candidates’ evaluation process at the October 1 and October 15 meetings.
It was decided that Jenkins & Hogin would provide the best value, based on its experience in municipal law and litigation, cost, and familiarity with local issues.
There is much emphasis on the latter, as, according to Fontes’ report, “The Council also acknowledges that continuity in the provision of legal services is critical at a time when the city continues to make progress on water and sewer issues and will soon be dealing with a new wave of development activity in East Area 1 and 2 as well as in other areas of Santa Paula. Jenkins & Hogin’s experience with the City of Santa Paula is seen as critical in the city moving forward on these and other issues.”
During the later communications portion of the meeting Cotti thanked the council for “your continued faith in the firm” and its services.