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Council fires city attorney

Jennifer Smith

City council tonight abruptly fired City Attorney Suzanne Staiert following a 90-minute executive session designated for receiving legal advice.

The only explanation offered was the following statement read by Mayor Pro Tem Debbie Brinkman:

“Over the last several weeks, the council has been working with the city attorney to address performance issues and her future role with the city. Through this process, council’s collective loss of confidence in the city attorney and her judgment has been reinforced. Accordingly, I hereby move that the council terminate the employment of the city attorney, effective today, September 20, 2011.”

Staiert immediately left council chambers. Asked whether she’d like to comment, she simply said, “No thanks.”

Nobody on council responded to a request for a comment other than Councilman Jose Trujillo, who said they’d been advised not to. He and Councilman Phil Cernanec were the only "no" votes.

Council is directly responsible for the hiring and firing of the city manager, the city attorney and the judges.

Staiert started her position on June 1, 2008 at a salary of $120,000.

“The Council selected Staiert from a highly qualified field of candidates,” read the press release at the time. “ … Having lived in Littleton, Staiert has roots in the community and a deep fondness and regard for the heritage and character of Littleton. Staiert’s commitment to the transparency of government, open communications and building trust were important factors in the Council’s decision. The Council noted her fresh perspective and astute legal mind.”

Staiert had served as assistant city attorney in Aurora, records consultant in Denver, associate judge for Aurora and Centennial and assistant county attorney for Arapahoe County. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Denver. Her undergraduate degree is from the University of Wyoming, where she was Phi Beta Kappa.

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Points to Ponder

Did you see this coming?

Did you have an impression of Staiert?

Council last night unanimously voted to appoint Assistant City Attorney Kirsten Crawford to the position of acting city attorney, "Until such time as a final attorney is selected, internal or external," said City Manager Michael Penny.