East Ridge Council hires interim city attorney

East Ridge Council hires interim city attorney

December 16th, 2012 by Rachel Bunn in Local Regional News

Hal North

The East Ridge City Council on Saturday hired the only name mentioned for interim city attorney: Hal North.

North's nomination was a surprise, said Mayor Brent Lambert, who had speculated former city attorney Cris Helton would be a nominee for the position.

North replaces John Anderson, who was fired Thursday. He will serve for 90 days and will be paid a flat $7,500 a month.

North said his hiring took him by surprise, as well. He said he had contacted Councilman Marc Gravitt just hours before the special called meeting.

"I think they made a good move, hiring on an interim basis," North said of the position. "They need to take a step back and look at the position."

Gravitt and Councilman Jim Bethune nominated North. No council member offered any other nominee.

The vote was 4-0, with Lambert abstaining. He said after the meeting that he did not feel comfortable voting for someone he had never spoken with.

"He may be the best attorney in the world, but I don't know," he said. "And that's the problem -- I don't know."

The council had to hire an interim quickly because the city will need representation at a Monday morning court appearance.

At least one resident felt like the East Ridge City Council was pushed into hiring North.

"They brought in one guy, and they had to vote for it," said resident Kenny Ludlow. "It was obviously predetermined. They had to have voted on him."

North works for Chattanooga law firm Chambliss, Bahner and Stophel and is a special counsel for Chattanooga. He is a previous head of the Chattanooga Bar Association.