When I retired from Glendale City Council in January of 2013, Horatio Skeete was Interim City Manager and Craig Tindall was City Attorney. A new mayor and several new councilmembers were enough of a majority to shake things up. While a new search for a city manager took place Dick Bowers was appointed as Acting City Manager and Craig Tindall was asked to resign. Nick DiPiazza became Acting City Attorney. Tindall’s Severance Agreement was executed on April 1, 2013. Here is the link: http://www.glendaleaz.com/clerk/Contracts/8419.pdf .
In exchange for his immediate resignation, he continued to be employed by the City for six months. Council offered six month’s pay plus benefits totaling $186,378.14 which included pay, benefits, CLE, bar dues, IMLE conference, deferred compensation, and additionally, a joint press release. Mr. Tindall could approach Councilmembers and city officials for recommendations (references). He was entitled to keep the city phone and phone number and he remained in the system an additional six months and did not exhaust his vacation or sick time. For whatever reasons other than the publicly offered “time for change,” they wanted him gone immediately and were willing to pay nearly $200,000 to have it happen. It’s a sweet deal. For up to 5 hours of work in a 2 week period over 6 months he received over $186,000. I bet you wouldn’t turn it down.
As part of his severance package he would stay on board in a limited capacity as a Special Counsel. The agreement called for him to be available to respond to factual questions he had previously handled for the city. There was a requirement for a separate agreement to allow him to provide legal advice. Here is the exact stipulation: “Employee will be available for up to five hours per two-week period from the date of this Agreement to the Separation Date to respond to factual questions regarding matters Employee previously handled for the City; provided however, Employee will not provide legal advice to the City unless by separate agreement.”
The Severance Agreement was approved by city council on a 5 to 2 vote with Mayor Weiers and Councilmember Alvarez voting “Nay.” Mayor Weiers turned out to be correct in viewing Tindall’s stay for an additional 6 months as problematical.
Can we assume all of council read the agreement? Yes, as there was a great deal of discussion about its terms prior to the vote. They knew that he could respond to factual questions but not offer legal advice. So why did Councilmembers Knaack, Martinez and Sherwood, three of the four votes needed to approve the IceArizona Agreement, ask him for legal advice regarding the IceArizona Agreement? And why did Tindall respond by offering legal advice?
Did Mr. Tindall breach his Severance Agreement by offering councilmembers legal advice regarding the IceArizona Agreement without fulfilling a separate agreement allowing him to provide legal advice?
I received, anonymously, a copy of an email dated Friday, June 20, 2013 sent at 8:04 AM. Here is a copy of that email:
In Item 1 of his email, Tindall says, “First, in § 8.3.1 the exception for the 2013-2014 season should be removed. That was in the Jamison agreement for last season when the League faced issue sight he (sic) collective bargaining agreement. The year was changed, but it is not needed any longer.” The only recipients are Councilmembers Knaack, Martinez and Sherwood as they apparently asked Tindall for legal advice. The email is not copied to the Acting City Manager or the Acting City Attorney. Copying others is a usual and typical practice. I always copied my Council Assistant and on city matters copied the City Manager, Assistant City Manager and relevant department heads. It informs others and prevents blind-siding on an issue. It’s also a matter of professional courtesy. Since Tindall referred to the Acting City Manager in his email, he should have copied him as well.
It appears that the councilmembers were the only ones to ever see this email. Was the email offered with the “understanding of the City Manager” as Tindall stated? If that were the case it would be expected that he Cc the acting city manager and/or the acting city attorney formally for informational purposes at the very least.
Less than 2 months later, August 20, 2013, Mr. Tindall is hired as IceArizona’s (successful bidder for Jobing.com arena Management Agreement) General Counsel. His Severance Agreement retains him as Special Counsel to the city until October 1, 2013. For 6 weeks he continues to work for both the city and IceArizona. He could legally and he did despite appearances. I guess he forgot the old adage, “Perception is reality.”
Former Councilmember Phil Lieberman filed a complaint with the Arizona State Bar Association alleging among other things, that Tindall may have breached his Severance Agreement. Does this issue have the potential to become part of the Bar’s investigation? Despite many who view Lieberman as an old curmudgeon, you have to wonder what else he knows…and in this instance he appears to be right.
© Joyce Clark, 2014
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