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Concerns regarding the City Attorney RFP

From: domainremoved <Soody>
Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2020 13:57:05 -0800

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Dear Menlo Park City Council and City Manager
I am delighted that the City Attorney position has been opened to other potential candidates and not simply awarded to the same firm that has been acting in the City Attorney role for almost 60 years since 1961.
Consistent with the memo I sent to Council on December 2nd, 2019<http://ccin.menlopark.org/20781.html>, below are my concerns and recommendations regarding the current Request for Proposal<https://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/View/24036/RFP---City-Attorney-Services?bidId=143>.

Warm Regards

Soody Tronson
Resident
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS.

        1. Distribute through impactful channels.

        2. Extend the deadlines.

        3. Update Job Requirements.

        4. Assemble an advisory committee to review applicants and participate in the interview process.

BASIS FOR THE RECOMMENDATIONS.
1) Distribution of Job Opening Does Not Enable a Broad Reach.
Networks by their very nature are biased. The distribution of the post, as is, is very limited.
To encourage a diverse pool of qualified applicants for such a critical role with the City of Menlo Park this critical opening should be advertised widely.

a) Does the City know how often RFP pages are viewed by unique visitors? In particular, how confident is the City that the relevant audience for this ad will have a reason to view this ad?

b) Has the City recruited a professional search agency for this position? If yes, thank you, and if no, why not? When the position for the City Manager was opened the process was to include the recruitment of a professional firm<https://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/View/18754/I4---CMO---Interim-City-Manager-staff-report-18-190?bidId=>. I submit that the the City Attorney role rises to similar level of importance, justifying the recruitment of a professional firm.

c) There are at least several professional organizations whose membership includes qualified candidates: California Minority Counsel Program<https://cmcp.org/>; League of California Cities<https://www.cacities.org/index.jsp>; and County Counsel Association<https://www.counties.org/county-office/county-counsel>, and the California Lawyers Association<https://calawyers.org/>. The first 3 were named in the Dec. 2nd memo.

d) Has the City placed ads in relevant legal publications, such as the San Francisco<https://dailyjournal.com/> and San Mateo<https://www.smdailyjournal.com/> Daily Journals? The cost of such an ad is under $400 for 5 days, 25-30 words using a space of 1 inch in length and 1 column in width (2.88 inch), with examples provided here<https://www.dailyjournal.com/job_listings?job_location=Los+Angeles> and here<https://dailyjournal.com/job_listings?job_location=San+Francisco>. To take out a larger ad, simply multiply.

e) Has the City sent this information, to firms which represent local municipalities?

2) Relevance of Certain Requirements.

a) I appreciate and applauded the City’s requirement for Evidence of Equity Training. (See Additional required information, 5th bullet). The requirement mentions active training from specifically 3 groups (or their equivalent): (1) Northern California Grantmakers, (2) National Equity Project, (3) Race Forward.

b) However, these institutions are not known for offering training to attorneys. Upon inquiry, it was verified that in fact attorneys/law firms are not within their target audience. So, the question is why are they listed as the relevant agencies?

3) Additional Disclosure Requirements Important to Include in the RFP.

a) In the Qualifications section, Applicants are required to provide certain statements, including whether their firm provide legal counsel or other professional services to any of Menlo Park’s top 10 employers. This is a very valid and appropriate requirement.

b) However, there is no similar requirement of disclosure regarding services to developers (for profit and not-for-profit) who have engaged in transactions in Menlo Park, whether directly or through subsequent transactions (many developers have multiple companies, they buy with one and then sell to the other).

c) It is recommended that requirement to disclose services to developer is added to the RFP.

4) Additional Qualifications Important to Include in the RFP.

a) The qualifications correctly require the “ability to speak clearly, concisely and effectively in public.”

b) A major part of the work requires the preparation of written material. Clear, concise, and persuasive writing skills are critical, not only for their use in legal settings but also for communication with the public.

c) It is recommended that a similar requirement, namely, clear, concise, and persuasive writing skills is added to the RFP. It is also recommended that examples of writing skills are requested from the applicants, in particular because the minimum number of years is set to 5 only years.

5) Additional Language Regarding Commitment to Diversity is included in the RFP.

a) A statement about the City’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and retention of workforce would be impactful. It is recommended that the following sentence is added: "Menlo Park is committed to recruitment, inclusion, and retention of a diverse work force."

6) The Deadlines in the RFP are not Commensurate with the Criticality of the Position.

a) Given the critical nature of this role and the apparent lack of proper distribution, the stated deadlines (below) are too impractical. It is recommended that they’d be extended:
Event

Target Date

Release of Request for Proposal

January 15, 2020

Deadline to submit questions

January 29, 2020

Issue response to questions

February 5, 2020

Deadline to submit proposals

February 19, 2020

Review proposals and select finalists

February 28, 2020

Oral presentations by finalists

March 10, 2020

Background and final selection of proposal

March 24, 2020

Contract Completion / City Council Approval

April 21, 2020

Contract Start Date

May 1, 2020















7) Assemble an advisory committee to review applicants and participate in the interview process.

a) Many cities assemble advisory committees to assist in the implementation of certain key initiatives, including hiring. As stated in the Dec. 2nd memo, I highly recommend that such an advisory committee is assembled for this opening.
Received on Tue Jan 21 2020 - 14:01:00 PST

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