Cutler Bay council moves town attorney away from mayor

Cutler Bay is putting its lawyer in his place.

Town Attorney Mitchell Bierman will have to sit at the end of the dais during meetings from now on, the Town Council decided this month.

The council voted 4-1 to disallow Bierman from sitting next to Mayor Ed MacDougall, where he had been seated for several months. Clerk Debra Eastman and Manager Rafael Casals sit separate from the council.

Council member Peggy Bell said Bierman and MacDougall’s chatting during meetings was distracting.

MacDougall was upset by the request to move Bierman, saying he needs the attorney beside him for advice during legal discussions.

“I don’t have an attorney sitting next to me because it makes anyone uncomfortable,” MacDougall said. “It keeps me on track.”

But Bell argued that the move would not affect the mayor’s ability to talk to the attorney.

“If you want to pass a note asking the attorney to come over, I’m sure that would be OK,” she said.

Council Member Sue Ellen Loyzelle also said she found it difficult to talk to Bierman when he was next to the mayor.

Loyzelle said she was pushed away by the mayor when she went to consult with Bierman at a recent council meeting. She said when she got up to talk to Bierman, MacDougall told her, “Don’t worry, I’ve got it,” despite not knowing what she wanted to discuss.

MacDougall, who is running for Congress, said he would not fight the decision, as he won’t be mayor in a year and a half.

“I’m not going to have to deal with it,” he said.