GREEN Following the passage of Issue 14, which will make the city of Green law director an elected official, officials have some details to work out.
The Charter Amendment Implementation Committee has been put in place, which consists of three members of council: Rocco Yeargin, Barbara Babbitt and Matthew Shaughnessy. The committee held its first meeting Dec. 27 to go over some preliminary details of the law director position.
Yeargin said while the three members of the committee may have disagreed on Issue 14, it is time to put that aside and come together. Issue 14 was approved by 26 votes during the November General Election following a recount by the Summit County Board of Elections.
Requirements for a candidate are that they are a resident of Green and have five years of law experience. Those wishing to run for the position have until Feb. 6 to file for a possible May 7 primary. There would need to be four or more candidates in order for a primary to take place.
Yeargin said the goal of the committee is to determine if he position should be full time or part time and to determine what the salary should be. He said Green Mayor Gerard Neugebauer sent members of council a letter about hiring an outside legal council to review matters related to Issue 14.
Yeargin said members of the committee have been talking to city directors, the mayor, reviewing past documents and talking to other municipalities about the law director position. A few of the cities spoken to include Brook Park, Seven Hills, Rocky River and Barberton.
Having the position be part time is what Yeargin is favoring based on the city typically having a part time law director in the past. He said the best way to get qualified people to run for the position is by making it part time. With full time, he said, many would have to walk away from their own practice. He said plus the position could only be a four- or eight-year commitment and most lawyers are not willing to give up their practice for that.
Babbitt said she agrees the position should be part time. She said the position very well could draw someone outside of a private practice to apply such as an assistant prosecutor, which she once was.
Shaughnessy said at first he was thinking the position should be full time, but now he agrees it should be part time.
Yeargin thinks the salary should be $60,000 and include benefits.
Shaughnessy would like to see the person elected into the position at least make what a public defender makes, which is $62,000. He is also in favor of some sort of pay increase, in time, as he doesn’t want to see someone who holds the position become an underpaid law director.
The committee weighed the option of having an hourly requirement for those in the position to be at the Central Administration Building. Yeargin said, at this point, he would like to see that be flexible and see how things go. He said input can always be collected too from whoever is elected into the position.
Duties of the law director include gathering record requests, reviewing ordnances, contracts, phone calls, reviewing legislation and also reviewing what the other directors would like to put in place.
Yeargin raised the concern of what happends if the person elected doesn't do their job. He said some other municipalities have in their charter a way for the mayor or council to remove the law director if they are not doing what they have been elected to do. He said this is something that should be considered.
Any changes to the charter would have to be done by the Charter Review Commission, which will be meeting as 2019 is a review year.
“I feel confident we will attract good people for this position,” Babbitt said.
No details have been finalized yet for the law director position as legal council is expected review the proposals and the information is expected to be presented to City Council.