You can’t be much more “Menlo Park” than city attorney Bill McClure. He grew up on San Mateo Drive, attending Oak Knoll (when it was a K-8) and then Menlo-Atherton High School. And he’s spent his entire career at Menlo Park’s law firm, Jorgenson, Siegel, McClure & Flegel.
“I’m the fifth city attorney in the history of Menlo Park,” he said. “Jim O’Keefe, Sr., who wrote the city’s incorporation papers in 1927, was the first, followed by his son Jim, Jr. Next was Jack Jorgenson (1960-1985), followed by Jack Cosgrove (1985-1993). I assumed the position in March, 1993.”
While Bill continues his personal practice of real estate, land use and small business law, we were at his office to talk about what a city attorney does.
“The analogy I use is general counsel for a corporation,” he explained. “I oversee and manage all of the legal affairs of the city. I attend all the City Council meetings and am involved in contracts and resolutions as well as overseeing litigation.
“There’s an average of 10 claims a year against the City, and two to three end up as lawsuits. One aspect is managing claims to keep the costs down.
“I bill the City at a significantly discounted hourly rate. I do so for the public good. It’s the community I grew up in, the community I work in, the community I raised my family in.”
Over the years, Bill has learned that Menlo Park residents and businesses are passionate about the issues affecting the City. “They get involved because they care,” he said. “I’ve learned to not take it personally when they disagree with my advice. I also don’t have to be right all the time!”
What, we asked, is the most contentious issue the City has faced during his tenure. Bill’s reply was swift — “leaf blowers.”
Photo by Irene Searles (c) 2016