The City Council extended its hearing over City Attorney Mike Aguirre’s budget to this afternoon after failing to squeeze the hearing into the two-hour window it scheduled for the morning.

Here are a few tidbits we saw in the morning:

  • The large turnover within the office’s ranks served as a backdrop for much of the comments Aguirre and his deputies made this morning. The departure of veteran lawyers was a big issue in last year’s discussion of Aguirre’s office, as council members pointed to the flight of 67 lawyers within his first 17 months as a concern that it could affect the flow of everyday city business.

This year, Aguirre and his deputies made turnover an issue in their presentation.

Aguirre hinted that the attorneys that left didn’t embrace his philosophy about the office’s role. “I told every city attorney that they could stay, but the attitude had to change,” Aguirre said. “We weren’t going to be about telling the council what they wanted to hear.”

Assistant City Attorney Chris Morris, the head of the office’s Criminal Division, briefly lauded the longtime lawyers who have stayed on despite the rapid turnover. He said their experience, when balanced with the energy of the younger attorneys who have replaced some of the office’s seasoned attorneys, provide a good working atmosphere.

“Like a good baseball team, you have a mix of veterans and young talent,” Morris said.

  • Members of the public and Aguirre’s staff referred to the office’s disagreements with Mayor Jerry Sanders’ Development Services Department, an issue we highlighted in a story last week.

Residents were overwhelmingly supportive of the divide, arguing that it showed that Aguirre wanted to take on the interests of powerful developers in favor of the environment.

But the city attorney and his deputies tried to downplay the disagreement. Aguirre said his office “takes a slightly different approach to environmental issues,” while Assistant City Attorney Karen Heumann said, “there really only are a handful (of cases) where there’s a conflict between our office and DSD.”

  • As I noted earlier, council members last year wanted more information about how the city attorney spends his office’s money.

Councilman Ben Hueso said he still hasn’t received an answer.

“I’m still waiting for last year’s information,” Hueso said.


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