A divided Palmetto Bay Village Council voted to fire the village attorney Wednesday night.
Eve Boutsis of Figueredo & Boutsis will stay for 30 days, then will be succeeded by John Herin Jr. of Gray Robinson. Boutsis and her firm have represented the village since its 2002 incorporation.
But Herin’s appointment will be temporary, the council decided. He will serve until the council has time to repeat its search process and find a permanent lawyer.
Vice Mayor John DuBois had proposed putting Boutsis’ job out to bid, leading to Wednesday’s vote. The decision to let Boutsis go passed by a 3-2 vote with Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Councilwoman Joan Lindsay dissenting. Both said they wanted to keep Boutsis on the job.
“I like the institutional knowledge of the Boutsis firm, the background that we’ve had,” said Stanczyk during the meeting. Later on Stanczyk clarified to the Miami Herald that she was referring not only to Boutsis’ background with the village’s ongoing litigation with the Palmer Trinity School over expansion, but also to her familiarity with village laws. “She knows where we’ve been, where we are going, where we are headed.”
DuBois wanted to give the permanent job to Herin, but the council rejected that plan by a 2-3 vote, with only Councilman Patrick Fiore joining DuBois.
This was the second time since DuBois was elected that he moved to fire Boutsis. A previous attempt did not receive the needed council support.
“There’s nothing unusual about working with Eve,” DuBois said. “She is a super nice person, and it is very difficult to change because she is such a nice person to work with. It was just a case that we selected, what I thought, was a better firm."
Boutsis declined to comment immediately after the meeting.
DuBois also said he made the motion to re-issue the request for applications from attorney firms because the council did not approve his initial proposal to permanently hire Gray Robinson.
This time, three firms applied to work for the village: Figueredo & Boutsis, Gray Robinson and Alayon & Associates.
A selection committee comprised of two village residents who are also attorneys, the village manager, the village clerk, and the planning and zoning director had looked at the firms’ experience, references and presentations. Based on these and other qualifications, the committee ranked the three firms as follows: 1. Figueredo & Boutsis, 2. Gray Robinson, 3. Alayon & Associates. The ranking was based on the number of points the committee awarded to each firm.
Under Palmetto Bay’s charter, the village attorney is one of three positions appointed directly by the Village Council. The others are the village clerk and village manager.
Per her contract, Boutsis will be Palmetto Bay’s attorney for another 30 days, at which point Herin, of Gray Robinson, will take over. He will serve until the new set of applications comes in front of the council.
Herin also serves as city attorney for Doral, a job he took about six months ago, as well as city attorney for Marathon.
According to its application, Gray Robinson has proposed to work on an hourly basis, charging the village $185 per hour.