Newport City Councilors Monday, during a workshop meeting, decided to reduce the level of legal services provided by the Eugene law firm Speer Hoyt. Councilors claimed that the attorney chosen by the firm to perform much of the city’s legal work did a better job of serving the former city manager than it did serving the council. The council, therefore, moved to terminate the law firm’s full time status with the city and decided hire a “generalist” city attorney part time for day to day city operations. However, Community Development Director Derrick Tokos and Public Works Director Tim Gross both expressed a strong preference to retain Speer Hoyt for technical legal assistance for contracts, complicated land use issues and employee relations. The council said they would ask Speer Hoyt if they would be amenable to such an arrangement.
During the discussions, City Councilor David Allen said he would consider applying for the job of part time city attorney. From the demeanor of the council, he just might get it.
On the matter of how to run the Newport Airport, the city council balked at hiring public works project technician Melissa Roman as interim Airport Director. There has been a feud going on for the past few months between certain pilots, hanger renters and airport staff. A lot of it is over rules, access to certain areas of the airport and other matters. Interim City Manager Ted Smith initially suggested that Roman be the interim Airport Director since she was acting as project manager for the rebuild of the airport’s runways – a nearly ten million dollar job.
Beyond the airport runways rebuild Smith said establishing a set of basic airport operating standards requested by the FAA will be the next step. Although it was revealed during Monday’s city council workshop that the FAA prefers that the city hire an Airport Director, the council determined that the timing may not be right to consider the matter since the city doesn’t have a permanent city manager under whom an airport director would serve. A new city manager is expected to be hired within the next few months.