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Poll: Should Snellville Pay Its City Attorney?

As of Monday's council meeting, the city of Snellville had not paid Stuart Oberman for his services. He is owed more than $14,000.

Updated 4 p.m., January 30, 2012: Snellville Patch will close this poll at 5 p.m. on the Friday before the next council meeting scheduled for Monday, Feb. 13.

Updated 6:36 p.m., January 26, 2012: According to a letter sent December 1, 2012, the interim city attorney agreed to represent the city at a reduced rate of $150 an hour. This new information is reflected below in a revised version of the original article.

Snellville's interim city attorney Stuart Oberman is owed more than $14,000, according to data received from city officials.

In November, newly elected Mayor Kelly Kautz promptly appointed Oberman to replace Tony Powell, who had served as city attorney since 2010. Powell had been appointed by former Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer.

Despite his appointment, Oberman has not been paid for his legal services as of Monday's council meeting. And, as of January 5, 2012, he was owed $14,015, according to data received from the This includes more than $10,000 for administrative services.

Several council members, including Dave Emanuel and Tom Witts have questioned not only the amount owed, but also Oberman's qualifications for being a city attorney.

Oberman is a practicing attorney based in Loganville, but he has not been a city attorney before.

Emanuel said "I've had a lot of problems with this appointment." Previous city attorneys had some 25 years of experience in municipal law, he added.

"Some of the charges, I feel are excessive and unjustified," Emanuel said. "The mayor does have the right to appoint, but I have the right to ask some questions."

According to a letter sent to the city on November 22, 2011, Oberman informed the city of his fees for consideration. They included: $225 an hour for Oberman's normal services, $130 an hour for any services by his associates, $80 an hour for any work by paralegals and $300 an hour for attendance at city council meetings.

Oberman later sent a revised scheduled of fees to the city officials, where he listed $150.00 an hour as his rate. The other fees remained the same. From those rates, the total owed -- $14,015 -- is derived.

Snellville Patch has requested the fee amounts for the two previous city attorneys, including Powell and Mike Williams.

Kautz said that she asked around for city attorneys for Snellville, but that no one really wanted the job. Oberman was not the first attorney Kautz went to, and the mayor said she had to find someone as an interim attorney on short notice.

"There are city attorneys out there that don't want to touch Snellville because of our image out there in the public," she said.

Recently, the mayor said she went to a municipal law class and asked for recommendations. Still, "several stars have said no, that they do not want to come here to our city."

Kautz said Oberman is qualified and stands by her appointment. Although he may be an interim attorney, she believes the city should pay the fees associated with his appointment.

What do you think, citizens? Should the city of Snellville promptly pay up? Take our poll! (This poll will close Friday, Feb. 10, 2012.)

hazybuck January 26, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Pay the man! It's not as though we are paying a mail clerk to fake it as an attorney. He's a qualifies attorney proviso g a service to the city.
T.Rawlins January 26, 2012 at 03:09 PM
I'd like to see the bill itemized out. That seems like a lot. But if it's owed, then we need to pay it.
Grant January 26, 2012 at 03:55 PM
It would be interesting and entirely relevant for our local news media to give us some comparable figures before asking popping up this poll. It would seem the most pertinent piece of easily available information has been omitted... That being What did the other guy charge ? It goes without saying that most of us havent a clue as to weather the billed fees are reasonable or not without some point of comparison..If only our local news media would get those numbers we could have something to go on..
Grant January 26, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Some othere interesting questions that should be (whats that word? ..oh yeah ) REPORTED Questions such as: Why did Tony Powell leave? Did he quit, or did she not ask him to stay? What put the city in a position to just take whatever they could find as an attorney? If she signed a contract on behalf of the city and she did or didn't have the authority to do that, the citizens need to know either way. Either she is paying for services that are excessively priced in relation to experience, or is this is the "normal and reasonable" costs of an attorney ? .
Adrienne Britt Levesque January 26, 2012 at 04:12 PM
There are Snellville attorneys interested in the job. In fact, I spoke with one last week who stated his interest...and he is a former city attorney.
Joy L. Woodson January 26, 2012 at 04:18 PM
I looked for that information, and it was not readily available before I wrote this. When I can get it, I will let you all know. Thanks, Grant!
Joy L. Woodson January 26, 2012 at 04:23 PM
This story is not about Tony Powell. I did not write about that at the time. (We can't cover everything, and the biggest news of that week was not the city attorney. It was the mayor's election and swearing in.) But, I did let everyone know there was a new guy. I heard conflicting stories about Powell, but I did ask. One city official told me that Powell stepped down because it was clear Kautz wanted someone else. Another said Powell was asked to stay. Thanks again, Grant!
Grant January 26, 2012 at 04:26 PM
This is a story about City Attorneys and a poll asking if his fees should be paid..The single most important issue in decideding that is "What did the City pay previous the attorney" One could even follow up by finding out what other cities similar to Snellvill pay their attorneys... Seems pretty simple and logical
Adrienne Britt Levesque January 26, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Just wanted to remind you that as stated in previous council work sessions and meetings, the reason the letter of engagement has not been signed is because the charges were deemed to be excessive and unjustified. Until that matter has been settled, and the letter signed, there can be no payment.
Joy L. Woodson January 26, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Yep, I hear ya! I have submitted a Freedom of Information Act request. Could be today, could be weeks before I know anything else. Reporting what I know as of now. If this goes on for weeks and weeks, we may look into what other cities pay.
Joy L. Woodson January 26, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Yes, I know that certain council members feel that way, thanks Adrienne.
John Hornbuckle January 26, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Tony Powell made a campaign contribution in the last Mayoral election this should diqualify him as city attorney. The Mayor and Council can't even have a weekend work retreat without a mediator and they can't even agree on a mediator. Snellville's government is disfunctional and the City needs a City Attorney from the outside who has no dogs in this fight. As far as the rates Oberman charges; I wish my attorney only charged $225 an hour. In addition $300 an hour to sit through an after normal working hours meeting while listening to the childish bickering going on is not nearly as unreasonable some make it out to be.
Jerome Williams January 27, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Yall just dont get it. This mayor done appointed this lawyer guy because he do what she tell him to do. I aint no lawyer but even I know what be going on. I think these council people be saying dont pay him because he charging too much and not doing right.
Jerome Williams January 27, 2012 at 03:52 PM
I dont write here a lot because the Patch lady dont like what I say and take it off sometimes.
Joy L. Woodson January 27, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Hello Jerome! It all depends on whether it looks to violate our rules and such. These comments,, however, look A OK!
Elaine Phillips January 27, 2012 at 06:11 PM
If he has done the work, he needs to be paid!
Jerome Williams January 27, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Good I try to keep what I say A OK. Heres another. If your roof leak and you hire someone to fix it and it still leak do you pay the man. Im not a good reader so maybe I dont understand. Seems he not getting paid because he dont do a good job.
Joy L. Woodson January 27, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Hey Jerome, I think usually you just take the roofer to court. We will see what happens here.
Darla Dixon January 29, 2012 at 02:32 PM
It's not asking too much to have an itemized bill and to be able to understand it. Just like if you get a bill from the phone company,and you don't understand the charges, you're going to wait until you understand it before you pay it. There are some charges that are extremely questionable at this point. I think the bigger point is that we were not 14 GRAND in the hole with Tony Powell. I think there is more information we will learn soon.
Jerome Williams February 01, 2012 at 04:16 AM
You say take the roofer to court ok how you take a lawyer to court. He pay for himself and drag everything out an you got to pay you own lawyer and you go broke. This Darla woman know what she be saying she say dont pay if you dont understand

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