The Mobile City Council on Tuesday dealt with more fallout related to a lawsuit brought by Mayor Sandy Stimpson over the hiring of a council spokeswoman.
The body unanimously approved individual legal counsel for Councilman Joel Daves related to the lawsuit. Archibald T. Reeves IV of McDowell, Knight, Roedder & Sledge agreed to serve as Daves’ special counsel and will be paid $200 per hour, according to the agreement.
Despite voting against the resolution to hire council spokeswoman Marion Steinfels, Daves is listed as a defendant in Stimpson’s complaint. In a statement, he said he disagrees with the position the council has taken in the suit.
“It has since become clear that, inasmuch as I disagree with the position taken by other defendants in the case, I cannot be defended by their attorneys,” he wrote. “As a part defendant, I cannot be defended by the plaintiff’s attorneys. Consequently, I have asked the City Council to approve the engagement of Mr. Reeves in order to represent me in the pending lawsuit.”
Following the meeting, Daves said that while he is currently not facing any exposure from the suit seeking injunctive relief, he said lawsuits can be unpredictable.
“We don’t know where it’s going to go,” Daves said. “I don’t anticipate taking an active stance in this matter.”
On Daves’ suggestion, the council changed the wording of an ordinance seeking to stop Stimpson from entering into contracts unilaterally. Daves told councilors and they unanimously agreed that the new language would make clear the intention of the law.
With only a few exceptions, Stimpson must have council approval in order to enter into a contract.
During a hearing on the lawsuit Friday, Dec. 14, Stimpson’s attorneys characterized the contract ordinance as a “power grab,” but councilors Tuesday characterized it as something else.
“It’s not a power grab, but an information grab,” Council Vice President Levon Manzie said during a pre-conference meeting. “It’s a transparency grab.”
The council, per its rules, delayed for one week a vote to approve the sale of a city-owned building at 650 St. Anthony St. to Activation Maintenance.
The management company behind Gulf Coast Ducks is seeking to buy the 5,000-square-foot building downtown for $255,000, which matches the appraised value, according to John Olszewski of the city’s real estate department.
Activation Management has previously leased the building from the city for $8,700 per year to house its duck boats. City spokesman George Talbot said the lease agreement allowed the company to put in a bid to buy the building if the city wanted to sell it.
Activation co-owner and operator Scott Tindle has already been advertising the new business that will occupy the building on Facebook. Five Star Auto Care will occupy the building, Tindle said in a video posted to social media.