"Bremerton, PO will share attorney"
June 12, 2008 · Updated 10:25 AM
"Bremerton has hired a temp to serve as city attorney until the long-vacant position can be filled permanently. And the identity of the firm will be a familiar name to followers of Port Orchard politics. Attorneys from McGavick Graves of Tacoma will work Wednesdays - the day the Council has its study sessions and regular weekly evening meeting - and additional days as needed, totaling about 20 hours per week.The council hired the firm Wednesday, July 18. Attorneys Loren Combs and Gregory Amann started right away - they were on hand to advise city leaders during the evening meeting as well as earlier in the day during study sessions.Combs also acts as Port Orchard's city attorney. During a study session earlier that day, council members wondered if this may be seen as a conflict of interest.Port Orchard is wrestling with Bremerton over whether or not county offices - and jobs - could move to a city/county government building proposed for downtown Bremerton.His firm is representing Port Orchard over the question of the location of the city/county building, said Council President John Law. I don't think this will be a problem, but I don't want anyone to be surprised by this.Combs assured the Council that the legal issue is not city versus city, but rather the clarification of state law on where county offices must be located - mostly in a county seat such as Port Orchard, or in satellite locations such the one proposed for Bremerton.We're working with (Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney) Russ Hauge to get a summary judgment on offices that can and cannot be moved, said Combs. At first glance, you might think, 'Why are we hiring them? They're the enemy.' But even if Port Orchard was not involved, you might still want to participate in (the summary judgment) to determine what's legal.Combs said this will help Bremerton proceed with its own plans for the government building. We're not in a conflict situation, he said.Councilman Mike Shepherd agreed.I thought of this as an advantage, he said. It's better for Loren to work on our behalf as well as for Port Orchard.... It makes it more of a joint effort rather than a confrontational thing.Combs said either he, or Amann, or any one of six attorneys living on this side of the (Narrows) Bridge will be on call whenever Bremerton needs them.The firm came in with a lower bid than any other firm the city contacted for temporary work - about $8,000 per month for the half-time position. Council members described this as reasonable. Shepherd said the city will pull money away from other outside legal contracts to pay the Tacoma firm. Newly appointed Councilman Eric Younger pointed out this was about what the city was paying for its former full-time city attorney, Glenna Malanca. Bremerton officials have been toying with the notion of hiring a headhunter to find a new city attorney. Very few attorneys have responded to the city's ads for the position, said Mayor Lynn Horton. The city has been looking ever since Malanca resigned in November of last year. "