December 3, 2023


Buy Law now

Pamplin Media Group – Newberg moves to outside legal services; Stone on his way out

4 min read

The move is intended to provide a higher level of legal services, officials say.

PMG FILE PHOTO - The city of Newberg will begin contracting with an outside legal firm or attorney for services; acting city attorney Truman Stone will depart the city at year's end.

Following the lead of other cities of similar or greater size around the state, the city of Newberg is replacing its city attorney with outside counsel.

City attorney Truman Stone will depart the position at the end of the year, with the search for a replacement firm or individual currently underway.

“After discussions with the Newberg Mayor and Council President regarding the legal needs of the city, the city attorney, Truman Stone, has agreed to step aside to allow the city to engage an outside law firm to provide a higher level of legal service to the city than can be provided by a single in-house, general counsel,” a November release from the city said. “The mayor and council wish to express their gratitude to Mr. Stone for his seven years of service to the city and his professionalism throughout his tenure.”Stone

There is a position of city attorney (or attorneys) in every city, but it’s not necessarily a city employee position as it has been in Newberg. Some cities hire an outside attorney or law firm to serve in that role — the nearest example is Dundee, which has contracted for its legal services for decades. The Newberg City Council has decided to eliminate the internal employee position and solicit proposals from outside attorneys to fill that role.

Stone met with the council and Mayor Rick Rogers before agreeing to the move, which he said has both positive and negative consequences for the city going forward. For a city that was often embroiled in both legal and extralegal controversy before the arrival of City Manager Dan Weinheimer, the move is part of a series of changes to leadership across the board. Weinheimer emphasized the move — by the council, not him — was made because the city’s legal needs are changing and becoming more complicated.

“I do feel like changing to this model is a good move and had recommended that we should consider changing if the opportunity to look at our structure came about at least a few years ago,” councilor Denise Bacon said. “The city has a lot of complex projects and it is impossible to find one person who would be knowledgeable enough about each one of them, so contracting out our legal needs to one larger firm does make sense as we grow.”

Stone will serve in his current role through the end of the year and has been assisting with the transition. A request for proposals has been put out to begin the search process, and a candidate for the city’s new counsel could be chosen in the coming weeks.

Stone said he believes there will be steep challenges for whoever replaces him, regardless of their qualifications and experience. It comes with the territory of serving a city as attorney, he said.

“The role of attorney, however that role is filled, their primary role is to deal with problems,” Stone said. “You’re always going to be in the middle of problems and that’s not unique to city attorneys. It’s a fundamental part of the job description. There’s a lot of high emotions involved, and issues aren’t easily solved. And I think you’re going to see that regardless of what route you take.”

Stone is taking time to adjust and said he’s been working on some home projects that have been piling up, as well as finishing the stack of books on his nightstand. From the city’s perspective, Stone is helping wherever he can to make the transition as smooth as possible, if only in a limited capacity. He said he has had conversations about where he might work next, but nothing firm has surfaced yet.

Asked what stood out about his seven years as city attorney, Stone said that a recent and significant project came to mind.

“Assisting in the discussions of the mill property being sold for redevelopment was something that stands out to me,” Stone said. “That is probably the biggest thing to come out of the city in recent time and I’m just astounded at how little that has been celebrated internally and everywhere in the city so far. The work that was put into that and its importance to the city long term can’t be overstated. I’m happy to have played a small role in that.”

You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism. | Newsphere by AF themes.