The Brooksville City Council was disappointed in the number of law firms responding to a recent Request for Proposal (RFP). Earlier this year, Brooksville’s existing legal representation, The Hogan Law Firm, announced their intent to resign.
Mayor Robert Battista began the discussion, updating the council and public that a total of three firms responded, but only one met all of the RFP requirements. It is up to the discretion of the City Council to waive the requirements.
Council Member Natalie Kahler asked the council to consider the application sent in after the deadline, and also extend the search, since many firms were distracted by preparing for Hurricane Irma, or hindered by lack of utilities afterward. She added that the firms also may wish to amend their applications depending on how they were affected by the storm.
Council Member William Kemerer stated he was “very disappointed” in the small total number of responses. “There’s got to be 100,000 lawyers in this state, I find it incredible that we would have one or two real respondents.” Mr. Kemerer went on to say, “The hurricane did exist, it was a very unusual circumstance, and I think it would behoove us to solicit one more time.”
Council Member Joe Bernardini and Vice Mayor Betty Erhard stated they would like to move forward with the three current applicants. Ms. Erhard stated her desire to not deviate from the current RFP rules, which excludes two of the firms.
Kahler expressed her concern of hiring the one firm that currently meets the requirement, since there is no other competition for the position. “We’re basically going to hire this person because they’re the only one that [sic] applied ... This is a very important position that can cost us a whole lot of money if we do it incorrectly.”
Becky Vose of the Vose Law Firm shared her firm’s experience with being attorneys for multiple cities and counties. “I can tell you one of the big problems that you all have… your meetings are on Monday nights. Most local governments have meetings on Monday nights.” Vose went on to say that there is no real benefit to a law firm to give up an existing Monday night meeting to attend Brooksville’s meeting. Mr. Battista recalled an email he received recently from a firm who declined due to the day and time conflict.
Of the one qualified firm, Erhard said, “I think it says a lot of a law firm itself to have gotten it in, knowing that there’s a hurricane.”
A motion to construct a Professional Services Agreement with the eligible firm was made by Bernardini and seconded by Erhard. The motion carried 3-2 with Kemerer and Kahler voting no. The name of the firm was not given.