Why getting rid of Parker was a bad idea

Published 3:31 pm Saturday, July 15, 2017

Watching our city council over the past two months, citizens should question the business side of recent decisions and whether those decisions financially are in the best interest of the city and it’s citizens.
Most recently was the decision of council to terminate the contract of long time attorney and Port Arthur lobbyist Carl Parker in a five-to-four vote. After the Port Arthur News published an editorial Wednesday stating this was a bad idea, there was a barrage of social media posts for and against this decision. So let’s see if we can clear it up a little.
It’s no secret that there are some members on council who view Carl Parker negatively. They have for quite some time. They have personal agendas and vendettas against this man for one reason or another. All of this has been openly shared across social media and especially during local elections. However, making a decision based on your personal feelings toward an individual will ultimately hurt everyone, even those making the decision.
Fact 1: Carl Parker was under contract by the city of Port Arthur. His retainer fee to handle issues beyond the experience of what the city attorney could handle was $6,000 dollars a month. It may sound like a lot to some, but the cost to hire an outside attorney specializing in any case would be upward of three times the amount of Parker’s retainer fee.
Fact 2: Carl Parker was working on a number of different cases for the city. Cases that need a specific understanding and experience that will help minimize potential risk of losing a case, and giving a better change of winning these cases.
Pact 3: Carl Parker’s contract was up for renewal in April of 2018. That’s only nine months from now. Why not wait until then, have him finish what he was working on, then not renew his contract?
Fact 4: Removal of Carl Parker when he still had this many cases he was working on for the city will force the city to hire another attorney to handle these cases. This attorney would not be under a retainer, and could cost the city upward of three times as much as it would had they kept Parker. Parker’s cost over the next nine months would have been $54,000 dollars. An outside attorney could cost close to $162,000 over the same time frame. This is an increase of $108,000 dollars paid for by citizens of Port Arthur.
Fact 5: Some wonder why the city attorney cannot handle these cases. Hypothetically, she probably could with additional experience and understanding in specific areas. But, just because an individual has the title “attorney” does not mean he or she has expertise in all legal areas. In fact, most attorneys who work for city government specialize in general municipal law. This covers real estate, internal personnel issues, etc. Thus, the reason city governments, or all larger businesses for that matter, have a number of attorneys on retainer who do specialize in other areas of importance. Now this is not to say the city attorney cannot handle these cases. But in business, we would rather have an attorney experienced in a specific area, giving us a better chance of winning a case as opposed to someone not as experienced in a specific area and rolling the dice.
Fact 6: Carl Parker was also used as a lobbyist for the city, which is invaluable. His experience, connections and respect by those he knows at that level cannot be touched by anyone locally. With Port Arthur as one of the top industrial communities in Texas, we must have someone who can be available on a whim to handle issues that might come up that could negatively affect our community. Some of these issues could cost millions of dollars. Truth be known, it happens almost every legislative session. And just because citizens are not aware of the behind-the-scene discussions that take place on our behalf does not mean they don’t happen.
Fact 7: Rep. Joe Deshotel’s name has been brought up as an individual who could handle being our lobbyist. And he most definitely could, if he wasn’t currently a state representative over an entire region. His responsibility is not focused on Port Arthur alone, nor should it be as more than just the citizens of Port Arthur elected him. When he is not a state representative anymore, than he definitely could help here. But that day is not today.
Fact 8: The city council jumped the gun in terminating this contract due to lack of business sense on the council. And due to this, citizens of Port Arthur will be the ones affected.

Rich Macke is publisher of The Port Arthur News. Contact him at rich.macke@panews.com.

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