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North Miami delays decision on vacant city attorney position

At Tuesday’s meeting, North Miami’s council delayed a vote to select the next city attorney and tentatively approved a salary increase for the interim city manager.

The main item

The North Miami city attorney search will continue after the City Council voted to schedule a round of interviews with the semi-finalists for the position.

At Tuesday’s meeting, council members expressed varied frustration with the process to fill the position. The city created a search committee filled with attorneys selected by the council and narrowed the field of more than 60 applicants.

Council members delayed action until Nov. 24 to allow council members to have one-on-one interviews with nine semi-finalists for the job.

The search committee chose four finalists, including three law firms (Austin Ramies Norris, The Brown Law Group and Gray Robinson) and one individual (Guilene Theodore). Members ranked the applicants based on their discussions and not on a numbered ranking or by assigning points.

“We felt that the three firms and the one individual represented the four best candidates we had before us,” said attorney Clarel Cyriaque, chairman of the search committee.

Councilman Scott Galvin said that he didn’t feel comfortable selecting an applicant without having face-to-face meetings with each candidate.

“How are we supposed to choose somebody, that has one of the biggest responsibilities and the biggest salaries in this government, and not have any idea who they even are?” Galvin said.

Vice Mayor Carol Keys criticized the request for proposals process and said the city removed requirements for applicants like having at least three years of municipal experience. She also questioned why one firm, Greenspoon Marder, was left out of the pool of four finalists.

Before delaying the decision, the council considered selecting Greenspoon Marder to fill the vacancy. Keys later withdrew her support for the item after Galvin, and council members Philippe Bien-Aime and Alix Desulme, said they wouldn’t vote in favor of the selection.

Desulme said that the City Council ultimately should have only considered the four finalists.

“They were not part of the firms that the committee selected,” Desulme said.

Mayor Smith Joseph said he hopes that the search process, which began in June after the city terminated its contract with former City Attorney Regine Monestime, can be completed soon. Roland Galdos has served as interim city attorney since July.

“People don’t like to come to a city where they keep seeing interim this, interim this and interim that,” Joseph said.

Other business

City manager pay: Interim City Manager Arthur Sorey will likely get another boost in his salary after discussion by the City Council. The council members agreed on a $25,000 stipend for Sorey to cover his role as executive director of the city’s community redevelopment agency. The funding will come from the CRA so the council members, who also act as the CRA board, will have to wait until the next CRA meeting to approve the increase.

If approved, Sorey’s salary will increase to $200,000. He was given a salary increase to $175,000 at the Oct. 27 meeting.

SoLe Mia money: Sorey announced that the city has received an initial $4.4 million for the recent sale of 55 acres of the 183-acre SoLe Mia project on Biscayne Boulevard. Staff will provide a plan for the money for City Council consideration at the next meeting.

The next meeting

When: 7 p.m. Nov. 24

Where: North Miami City Hall, 776 NE 125th St., North Miami

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