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No local firms applied? That’s not surprising at all

The Fairmont City Council on Monday could not agree on choosing a legal firm to provide the city with advice over the long term. It was another example of the group’s dysfunction, led by a majority of three council members who fail to see their own failings.

Consider: At one point during the meeting, Councilman Randy Lubenow said local attorneys did not “step up to the plate” and submit bids for the job. But it is absolutely no surprise that local firms are shunning City Hall. If any did “step up to the plate” they would face beanballs. As did the former City Attorney, whom the trio ousted, and as does the current interim City Attorney, whom the trio rejected or criticized Monday.

The city asked 30 firms to submit bids and only three responded. None local. That Fairmont can get any bids from anyone given the current composition of the council is no small accomplishment. But the 30 firms were not enough for Councilman Tom Hawkins, apparently because Mankato firms were not included. OK. Did he make his wish known when he had the chance, when requests for proposals went out? Nope. Neither did Lubenow. They say they missed the email on that one. Oops.

But because the pair, along with Ruth Cyphers, represent a majority with a remarkable knack for marching in lockstep, the city will now start all over again with requests for legal representation. Which will be nice for those firms — Mankato firms, apparently — that can now see what three bids were already submitted. That ought to help them shape their offers.

By the way, on the topic of legal counsel, the city has been spending more money every month on legal bills than if it had kept an in-house attorney. The figure is $1,100 more each month from June through September, and is expected to balloon higher for October through December. The majority trio got rid of the former City Attorney in May, touting it as a way to save money. Oops, again.

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