City Attorney Resigns

Updated August 17, 2011

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.

Conspiracy Theory

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.


About Jeff Gallagher

I am a retired peace officer from the 2nd largest law enforcement agency in Orange County. I live in and love Tustin where my family and I have resided for the past 25 years. I am a highly moderate libertarian that despises hardcore Republicans, Democrats and anyone else who is not willing to compromise for the good of the people.

Posted on August 16, 2011, in Local Government, orange county, politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Did Deborah Gavello give you a copy of the actual letter from the attorney?

  2. No, the city was kind enough to provide me with one.

  3. Why would the city provide you with a letter when you write as if the attorney is resigning because he is unable to work with them – although I have to say the letter didn’t really strike me that way, it just seemed this guy in the firm had too much to do and they brought in another guy. The letter I thought seemed very positive for the city, in contrast to your blog. Do you think you tried to read too much into it as it’s the same firm as always? I mean the city probably hasn’t had the same person all the time, just the same firm?

  4. Why do you think the city wouldn’t give me a copy of the letter? It would be something they would give me anyway under FOIA. In this case, it was offered to me.

    As to the tone of the post, I don’t think it was particularly ominous. But, it seems suspicious that the named city attorney of 6 years would suddenly resign. All the post does is ask questions. If I am provided more information, I will post it, of course.

  5. Well, the fact that they freely offered you the letter would more indicate they have nothing to hide, wouldn’t it?

  6. To some degree, I agree with that. However, the PIO is probably smart enough to know that I may have just asked for it anyway under FOIA and wanted to be cooperative. Also, I think we have all been around enough to not just take someone or some entity for their word. Based on other behavior by some of the council members in the recent past, it is just as safe to conjecture that Holland had other unstated reasons to stop working for the city.

  7. Did you delete my earlier comments?

    • Update: B Peryl, I was able to move your comments over to this page, where they belong, from my “About” page. I apologize if the system shows my avatar rather than your gravatar but at least everything is where is should be. I have closed the comments on the About us page to keep that from happening again and trashed all comments that did not belong there, leaving only former mayor Lou Bone’s as he asked a legitimate question. Everything should be accurately reflected and where they are supposed to be.Should anyone request further information of me or about who I am, simply hover your mouse over the Gravatar image. If that is not enough for you, simply email me and I will be happy to supply you with further information on my identity. It’s not a secret. I just don’t want to have irrelevant comments on the about page.

  8. Actually, the city is required to provide copies of documents under “public information requests.” It’s the law. Getting the PIO to return phone calls, is a courtesy that she only extends to members of the press she wishes to work with. She won’t return a single call we make to her but what she fails to understand is if she doesn’t talk to me, I’ll talk to everyone else.

  9. Well, Dan, we’ll see if she returns my call next time.

  1. Pingback: Tustin City Attorney Resigns; City Launches New Lawsuit Against School District | The Liberal OC

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