Little Rock city attorney raises ‘serious legal concerns’ about LITFest contract

There are “serious legal concerns” about the contract to produce LITFest between the city of Little Rock and the consulting firm Think Rubix, City Attorney Tom Carpenter said in a letter to Major Frank Scott Jr. and members of the Board of Directors in a Friday letter.

The Arkansas Times received a copy of letter as part of a Freedom of Information request.

Carpenter cites an undated Zoom conference call between Kendra Pruittchief of staff to Scott, other representatives of the city; Tristan Wilkerson, head of Think Rubix; and other Think Rubix employees, which Matt Campbell of The Blue Hog Report reported on yesterday. In the call, which happened before the LITFest contract was signed, Pruitt acknowledges that the festival will likely cost into the six figures and that the city will provide its resources, including from the Little Rock Police, Public Works and Parks departments “at evidently no cost for materials, overtime, or other matters,” Carpenter says.

But Carpenter says the most important thing the call reveals is that the major’s office wanted to keep the matter from reaching the board. The city’s policy is that all contracts up to $50,000 can be authorized by the city manager without board consideration. Think Rubix’s contract to produce the festival is for $45,000.

In the call, Wilkerson asked if it was possible to increase that contract amount. Pruitt responded, “If we go above [$50,000] within this contract, that would trigger a need to go before a board. It becomes political at that point. That would just be something we’d have to deal with there. I think it’s possible to leverage some sponsorship dollars for additional work as necessary because that wouldn’t be city money and therefore wouldn’t require that political step if you will. … I don’t

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Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison is failing on transparency, says Jason Rantz

Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison is doing a superb job holding criminals accountable. But she’s falling deeply behind on office transparency.

Unlike her predecessor Pete Holmes, Davison actually leads with compassion. She diverts the right kind of criminals to get the help they need while understanding her office must have compassion for victims, too. That means jail time for dangerous criminals.

Davison cut the median decision time on whether or not to charge by 98 percent, resulting in a 124 percent increase in cases filed. Holmes, for his part, did what he could to keep criminals out of jail. It’s actually quite difficult to figure out how he and the attornies who reported to him spent their days.

But transparency is taking a back seat.

Rantz: Did Seattle councilmembers abuse police help, while defunding department?

Transparency taking a back seat

There’s little doubt Davison is actually working. But when it comes to her office fulfilling straightforward public disclosure requests, she’s dropping the ball. And her communications team is as bad as Major Bruce Harrell’s office. They don’t really offer a key component of their job: communication.

Public disclosure requests, or PDRs, allow members of the public to gain access to documents, emails, court records, surveillance footage, and so much more. PDRs are an effective tool to uncover stories, and ultimately, keep public officials and workers accountable.

But Davison’s office is understaffing her public disclosure unit, which is responsible for fulfilling PDRs. And it means requests take months to complete, even when they appear to be relatively simple.

Sometimes, to give the appearance that requests are being fulfilled within a reasonable amount of time, they’re sent in installments. Most troublesome, when requests are partially delivered, they appear to be done with the intention of withholding what you’re most interested in

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Neenah searches for new city attorney after Adam Westbrook leaves for job with CESA 6

Adam Westbrook

Adam Westbrook

Reader questions: What happened to the Neenah city attorney? Is he no longer in that position?

Answers: Adam Westbrook resigned as Neenah city attorney effective July 5 and took a job as the executive director of human resources and legal affairs for Cooperative Educational Service Agency 6 in Oshkosh.

Westbrook told me he made the move from City Hall for “personal and professional growth and career development.”

“I’m very thankful for my 4½ years there,” he said.

When Westbrook tendered his resignation, he agreed to stay on as city attorney on a contractual basis through August to ensure statutory requirements were met and to assist with the transition to a new attorney. However, he abruptly ended that arrangement July 22.

On that day, according to records obtained by The Post-Crescent, he sent an email to Common Council members and department heads stating he wouldn’t be continuing as planned.

“Recent events have made that no longer tenable,” he wrote. “I want to thank most of you for making the last four and a half years both personally and professionally enriching for me.”

Westbrook declined to elaborate or provide any specific reason for the sudden change.

“I am no longer affiliated with the city of Neenah at all, other than I’m still a resident there,” he told me.

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Westbrook, 33, was appointed Neenah city attorney in January 2021. He had been with the city since 2018, first serving as assistant and deputy city attorney.

He successfully defended Neenah’s right to construct a recreational trail on a picturesque strip of land between Lakeshore Avenue and Lake Winnebago in the face

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City attorney says Las Cruces ready to post opening for vacant inspector general job

Las Cruces City Attorney Jennifer Vega attends a <a href=city council meeting at Las Cruces City Hall on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021.” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/9AxiwuUsxvp.9R5QuT6HLg–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/9aXtTaYw8F_3gsGr8zmYUA–~B/aD0yMjAzO3c9MzMwNTthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/las-cruces-sun-news/a5298e4b4c23becb62f59c27c0fa7f07″/

Las Cruces City Attorney Jennifer Vega attends a city council meeting at Las Cruces City Hall on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021.

LAS CRUCES — The City of Las Cruces is one step closer to filling a position that’s been empty for more than three and a half years.

During a Las Cruces City Council work session July 11, City Attorney Jennifer Vega said the municipality is ready to post the job opening for an inspector general.

The IG position was created in November 2018, when the city council passed the Accountability in Government Ordinance, though it’s never been filled.

The ordinance requires the city to employ a “full-time” IG in its legal department. The ordinance also sets the IG’s minimum qualifications, authority and responsibilities and limitations on their power.

The Sun-News asked the city attorney and City Manager Ifo Pili about the delay in filling the position in January. The number of work hours required, the position’s salary and the IG’s required independence from city administration were all reasons given for delaying the job being posted.

Former Las Cruces City Councilor Jack Eakman, seen here July 1, 2019, now chairs the City of Las Cruces' Oversight Committee.

Former Las Cruces City Councilor Jack Eakman, seen here July 1, 2019, now chairs the City of Las Cruces’ Oversight Committee.

The inspector general can investigate city employees, elected and appointed officials, municipal agencies, contractors or any other party doing business with the city or receiving city funds. The IG cannot investigate matters under police or fire department internal affairs. The IG can begin an investigation independently or in response to a complaint.

The IG has the power to subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, require the production of records in line with the rules of civil procedure and refer suspicions of criminal wrongdoing to prosecutors or law enforcement. In most

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