Emeryville City Attorney Services by Contract, Measure F (November 2011)

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A City of Emeryville Attorney Services by Contract, Measure F ballot question was on the November 8, 2011 ballot for voters in the City of Emeryville in Alameda County, where it was defeated.

If it had been approved, Measure F would have prohibited the Emeryville City Council from employing an in-house city attorney or any employees in a city attorney’s office. Rather, under the terms of Measure F, should the city have experienced a need for legal assistance, it would have been required to contract for those legal services with one or more legal firms or attorneys.

Election results

Measure F
Defeatedd No84065.22%
Yes 448 34.78%
Election results are from the Alameda County elections office as of 6:00 a.m. PST on November 24, 2011.


Supporters of Measure F were concerned about how much it costs for the city to have an in-house attorney. A ballot argument written by Emeryville city council member Ken Bukowski said:

"Currently, the City Attorney receives a salary package of $263,000 a year, and nine month’s severance pay, both of which are more than the Emeryville City Manager or the Oakland City Attorney receives. The City Attorney, in turn, hires a deputy City Attorney, a paralegal, and the outside law firms that do the nuts and bolts of the City’s legal work. The City Attorney has no assigned duties other than attending City Council meetings.

The City Attorney has unfettered authority to spend money and to set priorities independent from other City departments, without prior approval of the City Council. No budget is ever prepared for an upcoming case. No accounting is made for the City Attorney’s time. By transitioning to an outside firm, the City Manager will be able to reduce the cost of legal services by setting priorities, approving expenditures in advance and monitoring the work."


The argument against Measure F submitted for the voter guide said:

"Currently, the City Council has the ability to contract out legal services for the City or hire an in-house City Attorney. Let the City Council continue to provide oversight for the most cost effective legal services to the taxpayers of Emeryville. Forcing the Council to contract out legal services could dramatically increase our costs. Emeryville, as a “general law city,” may find that removing this power from your City Council is unconstitutional as it usurps powers granted to the City Council by state law.

Your City Council is open to evaluating the most cost effective and efficient ways to provide legal services, whether it is having an in-house legal department and private contracts, or another alternative. Your City Council welcomes verifiable information about the City’s legal costs, with increased accountability, specific tracking of time and expenses, and greater transparency. But we do not support a structural change.

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Measure F: "Shall an initiative ordinance be enacted that amends Emeryville Municipal Code Section 2-1.302 to prohibit the Emeryville City Council from employing a City Attorney and subordinate employees in the City Attorney's Office and require the City Council by contract to designate a City Attorney or law firm to act as City Attorney?"[1]

Path to the ballot

Measure F earned its spot on the ballot through the collection of signatures on petitions.

External links

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