Wellington Council Negotiating New Contract With Village Attorney

The Wellington Village Council.

On Tuesday, March 22, the Wellington Village Council appointed Councilman Michael Napoleone to serve as the point person negotiating the renewal of Village Attorney Laurie Cohen’s contract. Cohen’s current contract expires on April 28.

While the council agreed that Cohen, who once served on the council herself, should remain as the village’s top legal advisor, some concerns were raised with the pace of litigation efforts.

Vice Mayor John McGovern said he was concerned that some village issues are not being litigated to conclusion the way the council has directed.

“In 2016, there was a clear mandate, I believe, from the voters, and I believe it’s still here, that litigation with the Village of Wellington should begin and end, and not go on and on and on,” McGovern said. “I’m becoming concerned that some of these issues are not being pushed forward and not being litigated to conclusion in the way that the five of us have directed.”

He said he understood that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the timely conclusion of some issues. Cohen said there were also a number of cases that the village has been waiting for the court to rule on.

Mayor Anne Gerwig said waiting for those cases to conclude is not contingent on negotiating a new contract with the village attorney.

McGovern said his issue is whether the outstanding cases relate to who is going to serve as village attorney.

Cohen noted that some of the cases are very close to concluding.

Gerwig said the council’s responsibility was to appoint a member to negotiate a contract with Cohen.

Councilman Michael Drahos suggested renewing the contract for a year to see where the court cases go, but Gerwig said that Cohen would need to be on board for that, since she still has to approve the contract.

“Let’s designate someone to have that conversation with her out of the public so that if there’s anything she wants to say, she can say it,” Gerwig said. “I’m willing to do it. I’ve done it before.”

Napoleone said he would also be willing to negotiate the contract, and the council agreed by consensus to appoint the task to Napoleone.