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Big Dallas backer up for city attorney post in Carmel

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Two years ago, Carmel lawyer Glen Mozingo resigned from his city’s Library Board with a blast, saying he was upset by the administration of Mayor Jason Burnett and City Administrator Jason Stilwell. In an interview with the Carmel Pine Cone, he even accused the two Jasons of stealing newspapers from the racks whenever they contained critical articles.

The year before, Mozingo’s wife, Heidi Burch, had resigned her post as Carmel’s city clerk and assistant city administrator for similar reasons, disgruntlement with Burnett’s management style and Stilwell’s personnel policies. Their resignations were among the storms in a long-playing controversy that ended with Stilwell’s  resignation and Burnett’s decision not to seek re-election.

That was then. In the 2016 election, Mozingo was a key supporter of successful mayoral candidate Steve Dallas, who defeated Burnett ally Ken Talmage, and he is now considered a good bet to be the next city attorney. Longtime City Attorney Don Freeman still holds the part-time, contract position but he acknowledged Wednesday that “there could be an announcement in the near future.”

Freeman said he doesn’t believe Mozingo’s appointment is a done deal, however.

“My recommendation would be to do a national search for someone with the right experience and temperament to serve the city of Carmel,” Freeman said. Freeman, 75, is also city attorney for Seaside and represents the Peninsula mayors’ water authority and the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments.

Sparking considerable speculation, the city recently retained Mozingo to assist the city in negotiating its next contract with the non-profit organization that operates the city-owned Sunset Center. Mozingo said his work for the city is limited to that role for now but he acknowledged he might be interested in the city attorney’s post.

Much of Mozingo’s law practice has been in Southern California. He is currently a partner in the firm of Mozingo and Patel, which lists offices in Carmel, Irvine and London. According to its website, it specializes in estate planning, business law and civil litigation. The website goes into considerable detail about the firm’s specialties and representative clients but doesn’t mention any government work or municipal clients. Mozingo, however, said he has represented numerous local government agencies, all in Southern California, mostly as a litigator. He mentioned that he also represented former Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates for 18 years.

The website also lists several awards for Mozingo, including the “American Jurisprudence Award in Trial Practice,” a 2003 Top Lawyers in California award from the American Lawyers Council, and a 2003 Congressional Medal of Distinction.

The American Jurisprudence in Trial Practice designation is awarded to high-achieving students in many law schools. Mozingo graduated from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego in 1979.

The Top Lawyers award is given by American Lawyers Media, which operates a number of legal publications and directories. The Partisan couldn’t find any record of the American Lawyers Council.

The Congressional Medal of Distinction is awarded periodically to top financial contributors to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Dallas didn’t return messages seeking comment Wednesday. His campaign Facebook page features a video of Mozingo addressing Dallas’ campaign kickoff event with a 16-minute denunciation of Talmage and Burnett.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jeff Baron January 19, 2017, 8:36 am

    The city of Carmel has a long, storied history of hiring well connected locals or insiders rather than searching for the most qualified candidate. In this case, the most qualified candidate might have experience dealing with Calpers, the Coastal Commission, the Brown Act, other CA laws that govern city conduct, employment law, and of course, vocal local residents.

    Given that no one was aware of the attorney search, well at least I wasn’t aware of it, and I try to stay connected, let’s hope that our city will go down the latter road rather than the former road.

  • Jean January 19, 2017, 9:29 am

    I hope the City pays attention to Jeff’s suggestion.

  • john moore January 19, 2017, 9:54 am

    As a licensed, but retired lawyer, I have spent hundreds of research hours since 2008 following bay area city and county governance. One conclusion is that almost every city needs a full time lawyer who has undivided loyalty to the management of city business. Part time Agency lawyers are often made aware of an issue much to late to efficiently manage the issue.

    A major problem with part time city attorneys is that it is reliant on a city administrator or city manager to refer a matter to it, as opposed to the attorney analyzing the issue in the first instance to bring its expertise to bear in deciding the legal priority for the matter.

    A city attorney has a duty to monitor the legality of advice by the administrator or manager to the legislative body, but cannot perform that function on a part time basis. A council needs the attorney as an independent check and balance.

    I doubt that part time city attorneys save legal costs, except for small cities like Del Rey Oaks. Here in Pacific Grove legal costs with a part time city attorney are inadequate and very expensive.

  • chris mack January 19, 2017, 11:27 am

    Good points by Jeff and John. Sounds like Mozingo doesn’t need the money, will he council pro-bono?

    Freeman receives approx $154,000+ expenses from Seaside to sit in on council meetings. As any consultant knows, they get paid well for their time. I believe Freeman was partially responsible for Carmel’s excessive spending in outside lawyer fees durning the Burnett years. Probably because he was a part-timer city attorney and didn’t want to spend the time on city work or it was outside his expertise.. Freeman had Seaside hire outside attorneys to represent the city concerning Monterey Downs. Part time city attorneys/consultants have a cushy position. When things get tough, they have out side attorneys take over. Hire someone who has the expertise needed

    PS. Don’t expect much info out of Dallas outside of the public meetings. I asked to have a conversation about FORA and his reply was “If it is about Fora no. Especially if it is regards to any items on the agenda. I do peoples business in public”.

    That means I only had 3 minutes at public comments to express and educate Dallas on the item on the agenda. Sorry I did not know I was breaking protocol by having a one on one conversation with my mayor out side the council hall. So far he is the only one who has taken this stance. Wish I could be in those closed door sessions to hear and participate in the complete conversation. Sounds Trumpy!