The MOBN! board is proud to endorse City Attorney Barbara Parker. We strongly encourage Oaklanders to vote for her in November. The factors that contribute to our endorsement include her record both as City Attorney and Chief Deputy City Attorney, her broad range of experience in the practice of law and in law office management, and her strong performance in the past year in reducing outside counsel costs by millions of dollars. We were also strongly influenced by the candidate’s responses to the MOBN! questionnaire, which we reviewed and compared to some of our own observations of the two candidates.
In her approximately ten years as Chief Deputy City Attorney during John Russo’s years as City Attorney, and in her first year as City Attorney after her appointment to complete Russo’s term, Barbara Parker has demonstrated unwavering professionalism, integrity and competence. While she was Chief Deputy, she was the most frequent representative of the City Attorney’s office at City Council meetings, where we often had cause to observe her even-handedness and professionalism in advising Council on both procedural and substantive matters.
Barbara Parker is a Harvard Law School graduate and a lawyer with experience in a broad range of public and private sector practices for more than thirty years. She has the depth of experience it takes to lead the City’s representation in these challenging times. The City Attorney’s office provides a broad range of legal representation to a municipal corporation with nearly a one billion dollar budget. The City Attorney is essentially the managing attorney of this mid-sized law office. Someone with Barbara Parker’s experience can best serve in this role.
In her first year in office, City Attorney Parker’s fiscal management of her department has been impressive. In the previous nine years, the City Attorney’s Office lost more than a third of its staff (19 attorneys and 14 support staff) to City budget cuts. As the need for legal services increased and the number of in-house lawyers declined, the cost of outside law firms had increased every year because of the loss of in-house resources.
But that pattern reversed when Barbara Parker became City Attorney. In the fiscal year that just ended (FY11/12), the cost of outside counsel is down almost 40 percent from the prior year, from about $6.4 million to about $4 million. This may be the most significant recent cost reduction by any still-operating department in City government.
We carefully reviewed the questionnaire responses we received from both candidates, and appreciate the time and effort they devoted to these. Some of the key responses and our reactions to them appear after the jump.