The Voice of OC ran an updated story on the City of Irvine’s new interim lawyer, Richard Jones, from the Fullerton firm Jones & Mayer. It’s not the most flattering photo, and it was taken after the vote to name the City of Costa Mesa’s firm to the same position in Irvine at last Tuesday’s council meeting on the heels of a special closed session meeting a week ago where the firing of long time city counsel Rutan & Tucker was made clear and after the agenda for the council meeting was released last Friday.
But the actual vote to fire Rutan & Tucker wasn’t taken until the council meeting and the vote to name Jones & Mayer to the interim spot in a no-bid contract wasn’t taken until the council meeting. Jones himself was in the audience and then assumed his seat on the dias as the city’s new legal counsel and there in the Voice of OC photo is the rub.
Jones had his own name plate waiting for him as he assumed the chair.
Now the city has it’s own duplicating office at City Hall, so getting the nameplate made on site isn’t an issue. What is an issue is someone had the forethought to order a nameplate made in advance of the vote. So what we have is either a super efficient city staff that read the tea leaves correctly on who was getting hired as the interim city law firm, or we have what amounts to a Brown Act violation on the part of the new Council majority.
What the city can’t tell me (yet) is who ordered the nameplate. Did a staffer take it upon themselves to be ready? Did an order come down from the city manager’s office? Did the council majority instruct staff to have the nameplate made? We can’t get a straight answer on who ordered the nameplate.
In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t like the mayor committing $100,000 from a public safety budget for a reward without consulting the rest of the city council, but the city is usually pretty methodical on issues like this. It’s small potatoes. But it makes you wonder what else the council majority might have instructed staff to do without going to a full vote of the rest of the council. Irvine hasn’t had much history when it comes to Brown Act violations. Something tells me that’s about to change.