Clinton officials who want to give up their current attorney in favor of a rival attorney may find themselves in an unexpected package deal.
On the day the township board of trustees was expected to vote to replace the law firm of York, Dolan & Tomlinson, attorney John Dolan announced he had devised a deal to hire an attorney from the firm that is likely to win the contract.
The backstage move led to accusations of conspiracy, unethical behavior and other fraud.
Township leader Robert Cannon said a majority of council members are expected to vote to transfer the legal work to O’Reilly Ransilia and shareholder Linda McGrail last Monday, only to find out she joined Dolan’s firm.
Cannon called the move “very unethical, very deceptive, unprofessional and cunning.”
“Everyone is trying to get a bill,” he said.
Efforts by city officials not to renew Dolan’s contract as general counsel, which he held for more than four decades, and to seek proposals from district law firms interested in representing Michigan’s most populous township are being questioned.
A committee of six people, which analyzed applications, recommended hiring O’Reilly’s firm in Sterling Heights, and McGrail was the firm’s chief lawyer for the community. Committee members said the change would provide better legal representation at a lower cost.
Dolan told The Macomb Daily that during an interview he learned that board members felt his two men were too small to perform all the legal duties for a community of 100,000 residents. That’s why he reached out to McGrail, who was still with O’Reilly at the time.
“I wanted to attract additional professional help so we could provide additional services to our clients,” Dolan said earlier this week. “It became clear to me that this is what we need to do, and (fellow lawyer) Tim (Tomlinson) and I thought it was a wise idea.”
But Dolan’s unexpected hire on McGrail led to a dead end.
The move also shows that Dolan and McGrail violated a non-conspiracy clause they both signed before the committee was elected, Cannon said. The clauses are designed to prevent the parties from entering into an illegal conspiracy to manipulate when concluding a contract.
According to Dolan, he and McGrail came up with the idea of joining forces after applications were received and a decision was made, so there was no conspiracy.
McGrail is the daughter of the late William McGrail, who has long worked as a lawyer for the City of Utica, and Katie McGrail, a former clerk for the City of Utica, and the younger sister of James McGrail, who is the court administrator of District Court 41B.
She is an “experienced litigation lawyer specializing in business, family law, wills and tax appeals,” according to her biography on the O’Reilly website.
In her statement, McGrail outlined the reasons for leaving O’Reilly and collaborating with Dolan.
“Realizing the concerns of the various board members, I felt that by pooling our talents, we could solve anyone’s problems and provide the best services to the town of Clinton. I feel that Mr. Dolan and I will work well together, and that is a good thing, ”she said.
When McGrail’s resignation was announced, committee member and city treasurer Paul Gilegam – who originally supported O’Reilly’s hire – withdrew his support at the last minute and said he could no longer support O’Reilly Ransilia.
In the absence of one board member, the board voted 3-3 on the issue, which has suspended the deal so far.
“I voted in favor based on the information available at the time,” Gilegem said. “Since then, I have held more due diligence. I can’t vote for the company, especially due to the changing circumstances. “
Cannon, along with clerk Kim Meltzer and proxy Tammy Patton, voted for O’Reilly, while Gilegem and confidant Jennifer “Joey” West and Mike Keys were against. Proxy Laura Cardamom was released from the meeting on Monday.
Critics of Dolan said that in addition to the desire of a larger firm they found that he had moved to Banita Springs, Florida without warning the township. They said he often does not answer phone calls and is unavailable for immediate discussion of legal issues with department heads because he is in Florida.
Dolan replied that he did not tell the heads of the settlements about moving south because he wanted to show them that he could work effectively from abroad.
His supporters say Dolan, who has lived in Clinton for 45 years, is well acquainted with the legal problems of the township. Attracting a new firm will lead to the cost of catching up with their institutional knowledge, they said.
According to the report committee, Dolan was paid $ 30,000 a month, or about $ 360,000 a year, plus about $ 40,000 annually for expenses not covered by the maintenance.
Over the past five years, Dolan’s firm has paid $ 1.9 million from Clinton, the report said.
According to the report, Dolan’s fee is an hourly rate of $ 173 per hour compared to $ 150 offered by O’Reilly. O’Reilly took turns offering $ 25,000 a month.
Committee members say that since Dolan’s time is shared between eight other clients, it is unlikely that Clinton Township gets half of his time. That would be his current hourly rate of $ 346. The firm’s two attorneys also practice Chesterfield Township, Chippewa Valley Schools, Grosse Pointe Woods, Macomb Township, Macomb Intermediate School District, New Baltimore, Roseville and 41B District Court.
The report says that while the population of the city of Clinton grew to about 100,000 people, the Dolan firm failed to survive and remained a small law firm. O’Reilly also has 20 other attorneys against two for Dolan.
“The difference in taxpayer prices is staggering,” committee members said in a report.
Trustee Patty’s attorney said he supports O’Reilly because the firm offers more and better resources at a lower price.
“It’s not a face contest,” Patan said.
“It’s not about who we like, who we don’t like. It’s about who can do the work, who will do it effectively, and who will do it effectively. And who can save taxpayers’ money. “
It is unclear what will happen next. Board members can try to resume the issue if all seven board members are present, or ask for new suggestions and start the process again.