MILTON — The City Council will not search for a new city attorney; Lindsay & Lindsay will remain the city’s official law firm.
Councilman Alan Lowery at the June 22 Executive Committee meeting said the city should look for another attorney, stating that the firm has worked for the city for 40 years. Heather Lindsay, the city’s attorney, was absent from the meeting.
At the July 6 Executive Committee meeting, the agenda included an item for a Request for Qualifications for a city attorney; the committee recommended approval to proceed with the search.
Al Brewton, a Milton resident, approached the council to discuss the issue. Brewton said he didn’t want to speak when the issue was brought up at the last meeting because Lindsay was not present; he suggested that the city leave things the way they are.
Lowery said that Lindsay & Lindsay could apply along with any other firm interested in the position. Councilwoman Peggi Smith said that an RFQ is not an insult and isn’t meant to suggest that Lindsay is unqualified.
Jerry Couey, a Milton resident, approached the council and said that he agreed with Brewton; that there have been at least three occasions he can think of when Lindsay intervened and saved the city from a lawsuit.
“Sometimes it’s tempting, when you get no to something, you want to do to reach out to get a new employee,” Couey said. “Getting a no from time to time is a good thing.”
City Manager Brian Watkins added his personal opinion on that issue, saying that in his 11 years with the city, the city has received nothing but sound legal advice from the whole firm.
Councilwoman Mary Ellen Johnson said that she has been getting calls about the issue and the community is upset; she said the issue should not have come up because there have been no problems, and she feels it was a personal attack.
Jack Sanborn, a Milton resident, said that he believes Lindsay does a good job, but she may not be right for city law and that Lindsay seems to side with former mayor Guy Thompson on issues. Audience uproar followed.
Frederick Smith, a Milton resident, said that Sanborn’s comment was out of context, and the city can’t move forward without getting over the past.
“If you are going to hold her accountable, hold yourself accountable for what you do,” Smith said.
The council voted on the agenda item, and it failed with Ashley Lay, Pat Lunsford, Johnson, Sharon Holley and Casey Powell opposed and Smith, Alan Lowery and Jeff Snow in favor.