Councilmembers Didn’t Know There Was A Town Prosecutor? Give Me a Break!

Councilmembers Didn’t Know
There Was A Town Prosecutor?
Give Me a Break!

One can’t help but wonder who scripted the charade that took place at last week’s City Council meeting (Aug. 28, 2014, item R-3, if you want to watch the video) regarding Larry McCallum, the Town’s longtime prosecutor. Maybe they need to find something else to do as script writing isn’t their thing.

Reporting, obviously, isn’t either as the paragraph in the town newsletter on this topic implied that no one knew Mr. McCallum worked for the Town, he had no supervision nor did anyone approve his fee billing.  As usual, significant details were left out that readily explained what was going on.

Here’s the back story. The topic was brought up to City Council because a friend of the mayor complained about the handling of his/her traffic ticket.  It seems the resident expected favorable treatment and none was forthcoming. Had the mayor promised to “take care of it”?  Who knows?

As a former prosecutor himself, the mayor had to be aware Addison had the services of a prosecutor.  And, a sitting councilmember, recipient of several speeding tickets, also had to know a prosecutor existed.  Yet both announced during the Council meeting they didn’t know the Town had a prosecutor so Mr. McCallum was called in to explain himself.

Just for grins and a bit of background, take a look at the brief video (prepared when Water Tower Theatre awarded him it’s C.J. Webster Award for community service in 2004) (  Mr. McCallum has been the Town’s prosecutor for 22 years! Prior to that appointment by a previous city council in 1992, he had served as the Town’s city attorney for a number of years.

In the ensuing 20 minute discussion, Mr. McCallum explained he was in regular communication with the City Judge, City Manager, City Attorney and the Courts Administrator. He spends several days each month prosecuting cases, meeting with attorneys and defendants, reviewing new ordinances or state laws for enforcement issues and conducting jury trials. His hourly rate – $100/per hour – hasn’t changed since 1992! Addison’s longtime court administrator reviews his hourly billing to verify his activities and submits it to the Finance Department for payment.

So where’s the problem? There appear to be two: (1) Mr. McCallum’s name does not appear on an organization chart; and (2) a few months ago, the Council was asked to hire a second prosecutor, Buck Johnson, to serve when Mr. McCallum wasn’t available. Mr. Johnson reports to the City Attorney who reviews his billing. The Council, informally, agreed that when Mr. McCallum retires, a similar reporting structure would be put in place.

This exercise, which took 20 minutes of Council time, could easily have been handled with a few phone calls.  But, it gave the mayor another opportunity to appear as if he were defending the public’s interests and implying that the Town was being poorly managed. Shades of the Kanter forensic “audit”! Is it likely you’ll find another attorney willing to work for $100 an hour?

These Council charades are why Truth in Addison is needed. Residents deserve “the rest of the story.”