With the official retirement of Jim Briscoe on Dec. 31, both the Town of Paonia and the Town of Hotchkiss needed to appoint a new town attorney. Briscoe was the town attorney for both municipalities since 1974.
On Dec. 10, the Paonia Town Council heard a report from Ross King, trustee and member of the interview committee. The town issued a request for proposals Oct. 25. Following the deadline for the applications on Nov. 15, interviews were conducted with three applicants Dec. 3 and 4. The members of the interview committee included King, Amber Kleinman, Barbara Peterson and Scott Leon. Original committee members Sarah Sauter and Larry Wissbeck had to resign. Sauter had other commitments which couldn't be broken and Wissbeck was out due to health problems.
Jim Briscoe provided questions for the interview committee to ask. The applicants were Susan Baker of Ridgway, Bo Nerlin of Montrose and David Marek of Paonia.
King said all applicants are licensed attorneys in the State of Colorado. They have various experiences in municipal, special district and general legal law.
The interview committee felt all three applicants were qualified and then looked at their access, knowledge and background with the community. Next they compared fees, expenses and other costs which the town would incur with their legal services.
The Paonia interview committee recommended David Marek to be the new town attorney. King made the motion to appoint Marek. Kleinman seconded. There will be subsequent contract negotiations. His start date will be Jan. 1.
Mayor Neal Schwieterman read a letter from Susan Baker who was unable to attend the council meeting. She has 15 years of experience.
Bo Nerlin said he was present to answer questions.
David Marek was also present and said he has 36 years of experience practicing law. Nineteen of those years have been in Paonia on Grand Avenue. "That experience will be helpful in this position. I look forward to working as a city attorney. I think it would be a great experience," Marek said.
Eric Goold, trustee, asked how much time it will take to complete the civil suit against Kristin Chesnik, former finance officer, and how much the town could benefit from the lawsuit. Marek said, "That's a hard one to predict. Filing a lawsuit would not be too time extensive." The time involved for the case would depend on Ches-nik. She could refuse to cooperate because she is in prison already and a contempt charge might not have much effect on her. Discovery of assets and enforcement of a judgment could be difficult. The town could spend $3,000 to $5,000 on the lawsuit.
Marek was also asked about his knowledge of the open meeting laws in reference to staff meetings formerly attended by trustees. Marek said he would need more time to research the Sunshine Laws.
Bo Nerlin was asked to answer both questions. He said, "Our office has done municipal prosecution. We do a lot of civil work and civil litigation." He wasn't familiar with the Chesnik case.
Regarding the open meeting law, he said he and the firm he is with are knowledgeable. He had read articles concerning the recent controversy in Paonia. His office would be "confident in outlining a process" for the council to follow to be in compliance with the open meeting law.
There was unanimous approval by the council to appoint David Marek as the new town attorney as of Jan. 1 and dependent upon terms being worked out.
The same three applied to the Town of Hotchkiss. The Hotchkiss Town Council met on Dec. 12 and appointed Bo Nerlin. The council selected Nerlin because of his and his law firm's municipal and special district experience. The Hotchkiss staff and office were impressed with the depth of the law firm's staff.blog comments powered by Disqus