Plagued With Lawsuits, Why Was WPB City Attorney Really Retained After Retirement?

One has to wonder why the City of  West Palm Beach suffer with so many lawsuits, in spite of having a top heavy law department, lead by City Attorney Claudia McKenna, prior to her retiring in mid April 2014? A city attorney’s main duties are to be the chief legal adviser of, and attorney for the City and all Departments and offices thereof in matters relating to their official powers and duties. The city attorney is suppose to give legal advice to minimize exposing the city to liability.

In a February 2012 workshop, Ms. McKenna disingenuously discussed ways to legally spend tax payers money, to finance personal opposition to the extension of State Road 7. Regardless of schemes, there was no legal way to spend tax payers money without taking the request to the commission for approval and budget the expenditure. Why didn’t she do her duty and advise the proper way to access the funding and spending of public money? The expenditure of public money for T-Shirts, Stickers and Charter Buses to transport pre-selected residents to an FDOT Public Hearing in March 2012 and only those residents with an opinion against the project, was illegal spending of tax payers money, biased and wrong.

Did Ms. McKenna not know the expenditure of municipal funds may be used only for a municipal purpose and only when properly budgeted? Or did she know the law and looked for ways to circumvent It?  Does Ms. McKenna know that her own current contract, as a personal consultant to Mayor Muoio for $4,800 monthly, for 32 hours per month has to be budgeted? Retaining Ms. McKenna is of  no benefit to the general public and should be a personal expense of the mayor. Ms. McKenna often sat in her legal position, on the dais, as public speakers rights were violated simply for referring to elected officials by name and she said absolutely nothing to address the violation for the purpose of protecting the city from liability and doing the right thing.  Surely a city attorney should know basic constitutional law and so should city commissioners but they are defiant of  applicable laws and reject oversight .

Another one of Ms. Mckennas Greatest Hits was when she offered the “Public Purpose” Florida Statue to justify a reimbursement of $7,325 to Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell to remedy a personal matter that clearly didn’t apply. Freshman Governmental law students from Northwood University or any other University would easily know that the commissioners personal problem with her home Comcast Cable had absolutely nothing to do with a public good or public purpose and Ms. McKenna had no justification to even suggest that Florida Statue. Her purpose was to make It fit regardless.

In September 2007, Ms Mitchell herself opposed tax payers paying Ms. Frankel’s attorney fees for her personal fight to withhold part of a Grand Jury Report from the public, saying, “My initial feeling is that is something that Mayor Frankel is financially responsible for,” so why wouldn’t her same reasoning apply to her?  When the city has square holes and need to accommodate round pegs,  making It fit was what was expected of Ms. McKenna and that is precisely what she did as oppose to stating the laws and ordinances, forcing the city to comply and avoid liability.

The city Commission was not even satisfied with just Ms. McKennas advice and entered into the expense of their own, hiring an on call attorney for second opinions so what would be the rational reason for retaining Ms. McKenna as a consultant to the mayor, after her retirement?

Is It because she is the one who drove the square pegs into the round holes on the Inspector General Lawsuit and the State Road 7 issue and she’s the only one who can further chisel the city’s way to victory on those matters?  What outside attorney could come in and maneuver through the maze of patchwork left by Ms. McKenna? Is there too much in the legal department to expose an outside attorney to and that’s why Ms. Rothenberg had to step up to the plate? With a top heavy administration, legal department, Internal Audit Department and Department heads, why does the city need so many consultants and study’s?

How many times have the current city attorney had to call Ms. McKenna regarding the piles under the rug? Jeff Green was an excellent Finance Director but when Ed Mitchell took to the sky in his golden parachute, Mayor Muoio did not scout for an outside administrator to come in to possibly look through files and under the rugs so Mr. Green was given Ed’s hat and no one knows how many times he might have been hung out to dry behind closed doors, by the mayor.  Tax payers should be outraged at this display of malfeasance and misfeasance by our city leaders because It is costly and If the public does not promptly snap out of the apathy mode, Gold will be cheaper than our city water and service fees to cover bad debt!