Morro Bay mayor hires law firm for advice on personnel issues

dsneed@thetribunenews.com, jlavelle@thetribunenews.comOctober 18, 2013 

Jamie Irons

DAVID MIDDLECAMP — The Tribune Buy Photo

Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons has hired the law firm of Simas & Associates to advise the City Council on personnel matters related to City Manager Andrea Lueker and City Attorney Robert Schultz.

The council will get an update on Iron’s choice of outside counsel during its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday.

According to the contract signed by Irons and attorney Steven Simas, the two-attorney firm “shall provide to the City legal services involving legal advice and representation regarding the employment of the city manager and city attorney, and recent issues surrounding increased severance packages.”

The contract extends from Oct. 7, 2013 to Oct. 6, 2014.

Irons issued a news release stating, “I look forward to working with Mr. Simas as legal counsel and the entire City Council regarding this matter.

“As Mr. Simas reports to all of the council this will ensure that conflict, confidentiality and legal procedures are adhered to and that information will be disclosed with the utmost transparency.”

A majority of the council authorized Irons to hire the outside counsel at a Sept. 24 meeting, stipulating that the contract not exceed $12,500, based on 50 hours at $250 per hour.

Irons asked for the authorization after a highly contentious meeting Sept. 12 during which the council met in closed session to decide whether to fire or discipline Lueker and Schultz. The council heard hours of impassioned public testimony on the matter, most of it against firing the pair, and ultimately took no action regarding their employment.

Four law firms with experience in municipal and employment law applied for the contract: Schneiders & Associates, which has five attorneys and offices in Oxnard and Westlake Village; Widders, Gibson, Jones & Feingold, a 17-attorney firm in Ventura; Lozano Smith, a 65-attorney firm with eight offices in California; and Simas & Associates, which has two attorneys and offices in Sacramento and San Luis Obispo.

Simas is a San Luis Obispo native, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Cal Poly and a law degree from UC Davis School of Law. He started the law firm in 2002 and hired a second attorney, Justin Hein, in 2011.

In his application, Simas said his firm had no conflict of interest that would prevent him from doing work with the city. He noted, “As I grew up in San Luis Obispo, I believe my grandfather was acquainted with Council Member George Leage.”

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