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DMT Comments re City Attorney Selection

COMMENTS BY COUNCILMEMBER DOUG TISDALE:

“ON THE SELECTION OF THAD RENAUD, ESQ. AS CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE CITY ATTORNEY”

Recently, questions have been raised as to the selection of our City Attorney and the process that was followed. These questions arise, at least in part, because of the concern that some persons have raised regarding the fact that Thad’s law partner, Charlie Kuechenmeister, is married to our City Manager, Cheryl Kuechenmeister. In order to respond fully to those concerns, and to put them to rest, I make this statement.

I joined the City Council as a member in April of 2000.

At that time, Erin Smith was the Cherry Hills Village City Attorney, having taken over the position from Bob Morris (who, like me and Councilman John Love, had graduated from the University of Michigan).

For various reasons, it was recommended by Mayor Jeff Welborn, shortly after I joined Council, that we initiate a search for a new city attorney. The City went through a comprehensive RFP process. Robert Widener of Gorsuch Kirgis was ultimately recommended by the search committee, which included Councilmembers (and lawyers) Jan Steiert and Ned Giles, as I recall. The selection of Gorsuch was unanimously recommended and unanimously adopted by the City Council, which included Jan, Ned, John Love, Viola Lahana, Bonnie Blum and me, along with Mayor Jeff Welborn.

At the time, I raised the question of Charlie Kuechenmeister’s involvement in the lawfirm with which Bob Widener was a partner, given that his wife was our City Manager. I was assured by the interested parties back in 2000 – and by the most competent legal authorities in the state – that such a relationship did not create a conflict and that it would not interfere with the duties of the City Attorney or the City Manager. As there were a total of four lawyers serving on Council at the time, and as some of this advice came from the premiere City Attorney in the State of Colorado, I agreed. Later, in 2003 Bob accepted the position as in-house city attorney for Centennial, putting us in the position of having to initiate another search.

That search proceeded in earnest throughout the end of 2003 and the first quarter of 2004. All of the established and better known law firms with experts in municipal law were solicited to participate. From the numerous responses received from the many solicited lawfirms, three were selected for in-depth personal follow-up interviews.

On March 1, 2004, in my office, Councilmember Bonnie Blum, City Manager Cheryl Kuechenmeister and I interviewed Ken Fellman of Kissinger & Fellman (Ken is the Mayor of Arvada), John Hayes of Hayes, Phillips & Maloney, and Randy Funk and Thad Renaud of Gorsuch Kirgis.

After much discussion of the pros and cons, the decision was made to go with Gorsuch Kirgis, on the expressly stated condition – imposed by me – that Thad Renaud would be designated as our Deputy City Attorney. Thad had recently joined the Gorsuch firm as a partner and was working with Randy Funk, who had taken over Village matters from former partner Bob Widener. Later it was decided that Randy would not be working on city business and that Thad would assume the formal role and title of Cherry Hills Village City Attorney in all respects.

When Thad left Gorsuch with Malcolm Murray and Jerry Dahl and Charlie Kuechenmeister a few months after that, it was decided to keep Thad as our City Attorney. That action was acknowledged by Council in open meeting. I spoke on the record at that time about some of the reasons for selecting Thad Renaud as our City Attorney, and I will repeat some of those comments now on this record.

I was adamant about Thad Renaud being named our city attorney for one principal reason: Thad Renaud was trained, supervised, directed, educated, tutored and counseled by one of the most intelligent, most talented, most skilled, most experienced and most effective municipal attorneys in the history of the State of Colorado. That remarkable teacher was Patricia Claire Brennan Tisdale, Esq.

In order to give credence to that comment – which is not my observation, but rather the observation of the Colorado Municipal League, the organization to which every municipality in the State of Colorado belongs – a word of background is necessary.

Pat Tisdale graduated number three in her class from the University of Denver Law School. Her modest class rank of Number Three was no doubt attributable to the fact that she had two children while in law school. Pat Tisdale studied and wrote published articles in legal journals on the subjects of municipal law and land use throughout her law school career and was an editor of the Law Journal at DU.

This interest in municipal law was not surprising as Pat had been the office manager for the law firm of Brennan & Bibeau in Oakland County, Michigan, a law firm founded by Pat’s father, Terry Brennan. Terry Brennan was the acknowledged Dean of the municipal law bar in the state of Michigan. Again, those are not my words; they are the words of a Concurrent Resolution of the State Senate and the House of Representatives of the Michigan State Legislature upon the occasion of Terry Brennan’s untimely death at the age of 51.

After graduation from law school, Pat was named the Deputy City Attorney for the City of Arvada for 12 years, also acting as the City Attorney for about two years during that time.

In 1991 she joined the law firm of Holme Roberts & Owen and headed up their newly-established Municipal Law and Land Use Practice Group.

While a partner at Holme Roberts, Pat was selected as the City Attorney for the City of Lafayette, the Town Attorney for the Town of Frisco, Special Counsel for Golden, Special Counsel for Castle Rock, Special Counsel for Parker, and Special Counsel for the City and County of Denver for airport land use and condemnation issues.

She was the Chairman of the City Attorney’s Division for the Colorado Municipal League. She was a board member of the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute. She argued more cases on municipal law and land use and condemnation in the Colorado Court of Appeals and the Colorado Supreme Court than any of us will ever hope to read.

She lectured nationally on municipal law and land use for the prestigious American Law Institute and for the National Institute of Municipal Law Officers. She was awarded more accolades and honors in the fields of municipal law, land use and condemnation than any other Colorado lawyer, living or dead, in modern times. And the annual Patricia C. Tisdale National Symposium on Land Use has been established in her honor by the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute.

I give you this brief and incomplete background of Pat Tisdale for one principal reason:

Throughout her years at Holme Roberts, when she was doing that work and being given those tributes, Thad Renaud sat at her right hand. Learning. Studying. Training. Emulating.

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen of Cherry Hills Village, is why Thad Renaud is our City Attorney.

Thank you.

These remarks will be made available to the City Clerk for lodging in the permanent records of the City of Cherry Hills Village for future reference should this question ever arise again.

  • Douglas M. Tisdale, Esq.
    • Councilmember, District 1
    • Cherry Hills Village, Colorado

 

January 17, 2005

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