ROSAMOND — The Rosamond Community Services District governing board, with three new members elected in November, terminated the services of the district legal counsel during a special closed session meeting on Jan. 4 and hired another firm to serve as interim counsel while seeking a more permanent replacement.
The board voted unanimously to relieve the Newport Beach firm of Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth, effective immediately, and bring on the Bakersfield law firm of Klein DeNatale Goldner.
“The board just wanted to go in a different direction,” Board President Greg Wood said. “It was the board’s collective decision during (the law firm’s) evaluation.”
Wood said they felt it was time to bring in a “fresh set of eyes” and a new perspective, not that the firm had done anything wrong.
Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth, which also serves as the city attorney for Lancaster, was hired in 2014 during another turnover of the board majority, when Ed MacKay, Olaf Landsgaard and Dennis Shingledecker were elected. In one of their first acts in office, the board voted 4-1 to release the previous law firm and hire Stradling.
All three of those directors are no longer on the board — Landsgaard and Shingledecker did not run and MacKay was not re-elected — but two of the directors ousted four years ago won election this time: Wood and Rick Webb.
The Bakersfield firm was chosen as interim counsel because “they came across as a very prestigious and respectable law firm,” Wood said, with experience in the many areas of the law affecting the district’s operations, including contract, labor, water and special districts.
“They’re well-versed in all the issues facing a public agency,” he said.
An ad hoc committee of Wood and Director Byron Glennan will lead the search for a more permanent legal counsel. A request for proposals is being prepared to seek potential firms. The interim firm of Klein DeNatale Goldner will also be able to submit a proposal for the contract.
“We’re not in any hurry to move to fill that position,” Wood said.
In addition to applicable experience, the board will also be looking to keep legal costs down, he said.
An attorney from Klein DeNatale Goldner will be advising the board at its next regular meeting on Jan. 15.
The board also will be considering changing the schedule for its regular board meetings, moving from the first and third Tuesdays of each month to the second and fourth Wednesdays. This would revert the schedule to where it had been prior to 2015, when the previous board changed it despite public opposition.
“We’re hoping that this change will bring more of the public to meetings, more transparency,” Wood said, and avoid conflicts with other agencies’ meetings.
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