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WHILE members of the Bartholomew County Council likely lengthened the time it will take in selecting a new attorney to represent them, they gained a great deal of credibility in making the process more competitive and open.
It has not been that long since such a hiring process essentially was closed to the public (and many interested job applicants) as decision-makers arbitrarily acted on their own in such matters. The tradition was widespread among government bodies at all levels, including city and county.
That decision-making method might have had a certain efficiency to it, but it left open the question as to whether the person selected was the best choice for the job and raised doubts in the public mind about the motivations of the members of the governing body.
The County Council could have very well followed that pattern in the instance of having to replace former attorney Rod McGillivray, who resigned last month.
Grant Tucker, the county attorney, has been filling in for McGillivray but told the council that in the long term it needed its own representation. Former Bartholomew Superior I Judge Chris Monroe had volunteered to serve as the council’s attorney through the end of the year.
While that might have been an easy way to settle the matter, the council heeded the suggestion of member Rob Kittle, who noted, “This is a position of public trust, not unlike the position we have. My belief is there is an expectation that we open that position up to anybody in the community who may be interested in serving in that capacity.”
As a result the council members agreed to advertise for the open position and to work to have an attorney on board by the start of September, when the council will first vote on next year’s budget. The council will advertise for the position, accept resumes and cover letters until Aug. 20 and hold an executive session Aug. 26 to interview applicants and make a decision.
That action not only creates a level playing field for all qualified applicants but gives the process a much-needed transparency. While the final decision will be made by the council members, the public can be reassured that fair procedures were established and followed.
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