Chelsea Getting New Legal Team After 33 Years

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After 33 years, Chelsea will be getting a new city attorney.

Long-standing city attorney Peter Flintoft began as Chelsea’s legal counsel in 1989. Mr. Flintoft recently announced his retirement prompting the city to search for new representation.

At the city council’s Dec. 19 meeting, City Manager explained the process. “Staff posted the proposal (for bids) on the city website, shared on social media, and put it on state organizational pages such as the MML (Michigan Municipal League), Michigan Townships Association. Put it out far and wide.”

The city received three responses from Harkness Law, Fink & Fink, and McGraw Morris. The firms were reviewed and interviewed by Mr. Atkinson, Chief Kazyak, Clerk Sebastian, Director Jordan, and Mayor Pacheco.

“We really hammered down on who is the best fit for the city would be, the one best collaborative partner, best teamwork approach,” said Atkinson. “We looked at legal knowledge, team mentality, and familiarity within the region. Our review team came up with Mariah Fink of Fink and Fink.”

Fink & Fink’s bid came in higher than the other two, but Atkinson said it was comparable to what the city was paying Flintoft’s firm, adding, “We were very impressed with Fink and Fink and Mariah. We think that she would be sound counsel to the city.”

The scope of legal services needed by the city includes:

  • Review of the City Charter as required.
  • General governmental business consultation.
  • Attend city meetings as needed.
  • Prepare, revise, and review city resolutions and ordinances.
  • Prepare and review all city contracts.
  • Represent the city in all matters of government.
  • Consult, prepare, and review bonds, annuities, election law, and financial issues.
  • Represent the city in all legal cases not handled by the City Insurance Counsel.

The council endorsed Atkinson’s recommendation.

“One of the things we ran into in the past is that when we have a smaller firm, they don’t have as much area to branch out,” commented Councilmember Wiseley. “Whereas the Fink and Fink is a family of a lot of lawyers, and they’re not just here in Chelsea. They’re in Ann Arbor. So that when we have a diversity of issues, they may be able to help us in that way.”

“Fink and Fink does have enough bandwidth,” added Mayor Pacheco. “One of the other things that we really liked was their knowledge of Washtenaw County. The other firms came from farther away.”

“Fink and Fink has a tremendous reputation inside of Washtenaw County and amongst people from outside of the county that might have to come here,” said Councilmember Feeney. “It would be a strength for us, I think. So, good choice. Your process was awesome.”

Councilmembers Ruddock and Wiseley recused themselves from the vote due to prior dealings with the law firm.

The council approved a motion for Mr. Atkinson to negotiate a contract with Fink & Fink and bring it back in January for approval.

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