City Attorney Robert Shannon recently retired, after 39 years in Long Beach.
In Long Beach, voters elect the city attorney every four years (without term limits), which is unique in California because city attorneys are appointed.
City councils directly appoint the city attorney in 464 of California’s 478 incorporated cities. Of those, approximately two-thirds are contract city attorneys from outside firms; the remaining one-third are hired as in-house city attorneys. Voters directly elect their city attorney in eleven charter cities and city managers appoint the city attorney in three charter cities.
The Long Beach City Attorney’s Office consists of 68 employees, including 21 attorneys. Their duties are set forth in the city’s charter, which provides that the city attorney shall be the sole and exclusive legal advisor of the city, its council and all its commissions, committees, officers and employees. The city attorney must be a resident of Long Beach.
When a city attorney leaves office before the completion of his or her term of office (Shannon’s term ends in 2014), the city charter and municipal code provide that the city council shall designate an assistant city attorney or deputy city attorney to be acting city attorney and serve in that position until the city council appoints a successor for the unexpired balance of the term.
Upon Shannon’s retirement, the city council selected Assistant City Attorney Charles Parkin as acting city attorney. Mr. Parkin is a resident of Long Beach and has been working in the City Attorney’s Office since 1995 and as assistant city attorney since 2012.
There are 12 months remaining for the balance of the term for the city attorney and there are some on the city council who are advocating to solicit resumes and to have the city clerk and the human resources director review the resumes and recommend five candidates to the city council for interview. The interview process would take place in closed session out of the view of the public.
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