Legal Office Gets Extension

December 3, 2007
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Dykema Gossett PLLC will serve as the city’s consultant on federal affairs for two more years, as city commissioners extended the firm’s contract through 2009. But granting the extension didn’t happen without some disagreement about the firm’s value to the city.

Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong said the three Dykema Gossett staff members who have worked with the city for the past year have helped strengthen the city’s relationship with several federal agencies. He said the firm connected the city with the EPA on redeveloping the Butterworth Avenue landfill and with the USDA on the Emerald Ash Borer infestation.

DeLong also said Dykema helped the city qualify for a federal grant of $575,000 that will go to after-school programs in the city’s public system. The money has been appropriated, but as yet has not been awarded. The city hasn’t received those funds in past years.

“The Dykema staff has worked well with us and has stayed in touch,” said DeLong.

“Their performance has met and exceeded the city’s expectations, and the firm has proven to provide good value,” he added.

“They have been able to put us with the right people at the right time to move things along,” said Mayor George Heartwell.

Two commissioners, though, disagreed.

Second Ward Commissioner Rick Tormala said he didn’t think the law firm could take credit for the after-school funding, as that was more of a function of legislative action. He also said the city would be better off if it eliminated the middleman and dealt directly with the state’s Congressional delegation on federal requests.

“We’ve got great members in Congress and this is their job,” said Tormala, who previously served in Sen. Carl Levin’s office.

Then 1st Ward Commissioner James Jendrasiak said he hasn’t seen any progress on redeveloping the landfill during the 10 years he has been on the commission.

“I don’t think those people are doing that great of a job. I think we can do a better job,” said Jendrasiak. “I don’t see where these people are helping us.”

The city will pay the firm a retainer of $75,000 to serve as its federal consultant next year and one not to exceed $84,000 for the following year.

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