Mexico Beach hires interim city attorney during special meeting

MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Mexico Beach council members had a meeting on Friday to discuss hiring an interim city attorney, but the process was a little unusual.

Current City Attorney Clint McCahill’s last day is this Sunday. At their regular meeting on Tuesday, Mayor Michele Miller invited attorney Tim Sloan. Sloan expressed interest in being the city’s interim attorney.

“I’ve done city work since 1986 represented Cedar Grove with Mr. Hubbard, I’ve represented Springfield, I’ve represented Parker since 1986 and then I’ve done some associated governmental entity work,” Sloan said.

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But, council members decided against voting on the issue on Tuesday and decided to wait for Friday’s special meeting.

“We do need legal counsel, we’re in a situation that we shouldn’t be in so here we are today and we have to deal with what we have to deal with but the way that it was approached was very wrong,” council member Richard Wolff said.

Attorney Michelle Jordan agreed with Wolff. She’s submitted a bid to become the city’s permanent attorney and is disturbed by Miller inviting Sloan to the meeting.

“Madam Mayor, I mean no disrespect by this at all, but it’s certainly unorthodox for an elected official, a person with power such as the mayor, to circumvent the advertised public competitive procurement process by making a personal phone call to an attorney or a professional that had not submitted a proposal,” Jordan said.

Miller said she did not go against any city ordinances or state statutes by contacting Sloan.

“It was an emergency and it does say we can address this as an emergency because we are just within a couple days of not having a city attorney,” Miller said.

McCahill offered to continue for the next three meetings at a rate of $200 an hour but retracted his offer a few minutes later after a disagreement between him and council member Linda Hamilton.

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With McCahill’s offer off the table, Wolff suggested the city’s only current option and motioned to hire Sloan immediately. It passed 4 to 1.

The city is accepting attorney bids until the end of April. As the interim, Sloan will charge the city $300 an hour. His contract is open-ended until city council members hire a full-time attorney.

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