Yesterday we were advised that the contract city attorney for Tustin, Douglas Holland, has resigned. Our source had no further information for us, only saying that the letter was addressed directly to Mayor Jerry Amante. We put a call in to the city for further information and, yesterday we got a call back from Lisa Woolery, Communications Officer for the City of Tustin. She verified that the City Attorney Douglas Holland had, indeed, resigned on Friday, August 12, 2011.
In his resignation letter to the city, Holland states, “Over the past few months, it has become apparent to me that I am not able to continue to serve Tustin at the high level I expect of myself while continuing to serve my other principle client, The City of Palm Springs.”
Woodruff, Spradlin & Smart, has served the city through contract since 1995. Holland has worked on city matters for 11 of those years and has been the designated City Attorney for the past 6 years. His letter continues by saying that the law firm will continue to serve the city and names the new primary attorney from the firm as David Kendig, another attorney with the firm. Holland committed to conferring with Kendig when necessary. So, it would seem, this is not as ominous as it sounds. The city will continue to receive services for, what appears to be the same going rate of $195 (adjusted annually) per hour from the same law firm as always.
A couple of question arise, however. While the city attorney does not necessarily handle the lawsuits, such as the ill-fated TUSD v. City of Tustin, it would at least coordinate the information flow and manage the projects for the city. So why, after 6 years as the City Attorney, has Holland abruptly resigned? Surely, with the declining economy, the legal issues facing Palm Springs could not be so suddenly overtaxing that Holland would have to give up working for a city that is closer to home. No one at the city is talking and the only information is from the attorney’s resignation letter.A call to Holland’s office was shunted to his voicemail, where a recording advises that he will be out of the office until September 6th. We left a message and, hopefully, he will call us back when he returns.
Is this coincidence or is this another house cleaning attempt by Boss Tweed Amante? The City is still reeling from the abrupt firing of City Manager, David Biggs. In that episode, the council split on a 3-2 decision, with Amante and his yes men Nielsen and Murray to fire Biggs. Holland and his firm are contracted to the city so, in theory, it is easier to eliminate the service and recontract to another bidder. Is Jerry unhappy with the services provided? Or is this simply a matter of another member of the management team getting sick and tired of Amante’s antics and getting out while the getting is good? It should be noted that the law firm, including Holland, appears to be involved with the Orange County redistricting effort as well.
What remains to be seen is, with the sudden departure of Holland, will the city continue to contract with Woodruff, Spradlin & Smart or is Amante looking to make another no-bid contract with a favored firm? We’ll keep you updated as we get new information.