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City of Dallas Attorney: Mary’s Bus Victim

March 8, 2013

 

tom perkins busMary Suhm’s bus chose City Attorney Tom Perkins as it’s next victim

A pattern has emerged over the past year, where 2 high ranking City employees who report directly to Mary Suhm end up either jobless or demoted for just doing what the boss instructed them to do.

It was made official on Wednesday, during the City Council executive session when it was announced that Dallas City Attorney Tom Perkins was taking “early retirement” at the end of August.

Both Perkins and City Manager Suhm took a grilling from two Council members regarding the side deal agreements with Trinity East Energy to allow shale gas drilling on city park land. Council members Scott Griggs and Angela Hunt did a thorough job of asking the right questions as to who knew what and when. Answers coming from both Perkins and Suhm were inadequate, and never fully answered some very simple questions.

The rest of the Council members either read from previously prepared remarks of support for Suhm or gave very weak general statements of support. At the end, Mayor Mike Rawlings paid homage to the gas industry thus sealing the day’s deal when he said that “only a minority of the council is passionate about gas drilling.”

When the side deal was discovered back in January by Griggs and revealed to the public, it was assumed that a City of Dallas employee would reluctantly take the fall for Suhm’s sneaky deals. Everyone was shocked that it would be Perkins.

Back in August 2012, City Sanitation Director Mary Nix was demoted for her supposed mishandling of the 50 year solid waste disposal plan for Dallas. Insiders say that she was only following Suhm’s orders in forming the plan. Since none of the questions related to Trinity East have ever been fully explained and as more and more stories begin to emerge about other possible deals with drillers gone bad, it should be interesting to see just where the buck will stop.

The Dallas News article from Wednesday, made it official:

Dallas City Attorney Tom Perkins to retire in August

By
rbush@dallasnews.com
11:34 am on March 6, 2013

Tom Perkins, Dallas’ city attorney for nearly eight years, told the City Council in executive session moments ago that he will retire in August.

Perkins’ surprise announcement comes at a time when his office has come under questioning for the handling of a 2008 gas drilling lease that included 22-acres of land not specifically approved for lease by the Dallas City Council.

But that had nothing to do with the decision to retire, Perkins said today.

“It’s been 14 years (with the city attorneys office), and it’s time to move on,” he said.

At 59, Perkins has served in the city attorneys office since 1999 and has overseen major cases on behalf of City Hall, from the shutdown of a polluting meatpacking plant to an ongoing suit by waste haulers to fallout from the dismissal of municipal judges. He was also instrumental in the Wright Amendment Reform Act.

In recent years, Perkins shepherded the office through deep budget cuts that saw attorneys let go and programs cut.

Mayor Mike Rawlings issued a brief statement about Perkins’ leaving that shed little light on the decision.

“Tom Perkins’ years dedicated to the city is to be applauded. He recruited and retained a group of first-rate attorneys and his leadership in doing so is much admired. I wish him the best on his future endeavors,” the statement said.

After informing the council, Perkins released a memo he wrote to the council stating “I believe I will leave the City Attorney’s Office with a well-qualified, highly motivated, and widely respected staff that will continue to zealously represent the interests of the Dallas City Council, the City of Dallas, and the citizens of our great city,” he said.

The decision appeared to take a number of council members by surprise. Today’s council agenda included only an oblique reference to an executive session briefing on “personnel matters” in the city attorney’s office. Several council members said Tuesday they did not know what the item referenced.

Rawlings apparently did have advance knowledge of Perkins’ plans, however.

Perkins was appointed city attorney in 2005. He graduated from Loyola University Law School after receiving a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University, according to his personnel file. City Hall hired him in 1999, and he served as former city attorney Madeleine Johnson’s first
assistant city attorney.

His career also included stints as a private attorney, Texas special assistant attorney general and Federal Trade Commission staff attorney.

According to city records, Perkins’ salary as of February was $258,343 a year.

Tom Perkins Retirement Memo

One Comment leave one →
  1. R A King permalink
    March 8, 2013 5:48 pm

    I guess there a is more than one reason a person might leave-especially if he needs to stay in good standing with the communty and keep a law license. I still don’t understand why Tom Leppert left when all this was going on, by the way. We still don’t have the whole story.

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