Motley City Council fires its city attorney

By Tina SnellStaff Writer

The Motley City Council voted to terminate its relationship with the law firm of  Gammello, Qualley, Pearson & Mallak of Little Falls and hire Peter Vogel as its city attorney.

Motley’s clerk-treasurer, Terri Smith, told the City Council Tuesday that Gammello, Qualley, Pearson & Mallak had been non-responsive to her queries.

“We need to discuss this,” she said. “Should we go back to Peter?”

Smith said she has waited sometimes up to a month for responses from the firm.

“I have even emailed and there has not been a response,” she said.

City Council Member Pat O’Regan said he was aware that Gammello, Qualley, Pearson & Mallak has continued to invoice the city for work done.

“Are we paying for the things we are not getting any response on?” he said.

Smith said they were, and O’Regan’s response was that it didn’t sound right.

“These are current events that we need response on,” he said.

Mayor Nancy Nieken pulled several years of past attorney’s bills which came to an average of about $2,300 annually.

“We have surpassed that already this year,” she said.

Smith reiterated that she needs quick responses from the city’s attorney  to be able to get city business accomplished.

“We had better response time with the past attorney,” she said.

Representing the law firm at the City Council meeting was Thomas Pearson.

“I was appointed (to work with Motley) during the DiMar situation,” he said. “I apologize for the poor communication.”

In reference to the current billings, Pearson said the law firm has worked on personnel and other matters for Motley.

“We sought this job out, to work with Motley. I’m asking for another chance,” Pearson said. “It won’t happen again.”

Nieken told Pearson that she didn’t think the large law firm of Gammello, Qualley, Pearson & Mallak had the time for Motley.

“I think you have more than you can handle,” she said.

Councilman Steve Johnson said there have been so many instances (of not responding to questions from the city).

“That bothers me,” he said.

There was also no response from Gammello, Qualley, Pearson & Mallak when the Morrison County Record attempted to contact them.