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Newport Beach city attorney says he'll resign rather than lay off staff, outsource legal services

Photo: Newport Beach City Hall. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times The Newport Beach city attorney said he will be resigning, citing a reluctance to lay off three to six members of his staff and outsource legal services.

City Atty. David Hunt and the City Council mutually agreed to the departure, effective Sept. 23 or until a successor is found, officials told the Daily Pilot.

Hunt, who was asked by the council to create an outsourcing plan to save costs, could have been forced to lay off three of his six in-house attorneys. The move could save the city up to $566,000 annually, according to a staff report.

"Their direction is a perfectly valid choice," Hunt said. "It's simply not a model I care to execute."

Officials sought to downplay any internal discord.

"This is a decision amongst reasonable people," said Mayor Mike Henn, "and should not reflect in any way negatively of the work in the office of the city attorney."

The six-month probationary period in Hunt's contract ends June 30. According to the agreement, if the City Council decided to fire him before then, without giving cause, he would receive three months' severance pay. At the council meeting Tuesday, he said that he will get three months' severance.

Hunt waived his right to sue the city in exchange for his contract's severance provisions. His annual salary was $220,000.

Hunt has had a rocky 2-1/2 years as Newport Beach's chief attorney. He was arrested on suspicion of domestic abuse in March 2010 but was never charged, and he has been under a sort of probation since his contract was renewed in January.

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-- Mike Reicher, Times Community News

Photo: Newport Beach City Hall. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

 
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