By Robert Haugh
Tonight, the Santa Clara City Council will likely have to hire a law firm to help with legal matters because no one has applied to be City Attorney.
The position has been vacant since the 49er Five fired former City Attorney Brian Doyle in August, 2021. That was seven months ago.
But in the Town of Los Gatos, they’re likely to hire a Town Attorney tonight. That position has only been vacant since December.
The Los Gatos Town Council will name Gabrielle Whelan the new Los Gatos town attorney. Whelan was the assistant city attorney for the City of San Mateo.
She was reportedly available when Doyle was fired, according to a source who knows about the Santa Clara and Los Gatos searches.
Whelan will make $249,500 annually. The law firm Santa Clara is likely to hire, Lozano Smith LLP will be paid $300,000 a year.
According to our sources, it’s unusual for a city the size of Santa Clara to hire a law firm. That practice is mostly done by smaller cities who can’t afford or don’t need a full-time attorney.
“You don’t get the same commitment or attention to detail as you would with a full-time city attorney,” said an attorney in a neighboring city.
Los Gatos received numerous applications before picking Whelan.
Santa Clara has been searching since last September and no one is interested.
The 49er Five’s firing of Doyle and their unprofessional style has turned off potential applicants “big time” said a local attorney.
Most local government watchers think it’s unlikely anyone with experience applies to be the Santa Clara City Attorney until there’s a better City Council.
“Look at the example of Los Gatos,” said one source. “They’re smaller and got more applicants than Santa Clara. But you only have to get one warm body to have more than Santa Clara.”