The Cookeville City Council should withhold further payment to the city attorney until it audits his bills and expenses
June 3, 1998
How much will you make on Tuesday?
When part-time Cookeville City Attorney T. Michael O'Mara chalks up hour after hour of fees serving the discredited and lame duck Cookeville City Council, one thing is clear -- O'Mara gouged the public far more than city attorneys at some of the nation's biggest cities. On Tuesday, O'Mara will make $125 an hour of your money watching an inspection of public records that a $10-an-hour clerk could do.
O'Mara is assigning himself such work in a last-ditch, desperate attempt to fill the trunk of his car with as much cash as possible before the new council takes office after the August election and throws the bum out. His actions are made even more unseemly because it was O'Mara who concocted the unconstitutional scheme that has the city facing federal civil rights actions left and right, for one of which he will be making that $125 an hour on Tuesday -- possibly as much as $1,000.
Remember when he charged the city $12,000 for prosecuting a mere speeding ticket? Do you believe he worked almost 100 hours on a case of someone driving 38 in a 25 mph zone?
A few months ago, O'Mara made more than $500 driving round-trip to Nashville to ask that a public records case, filed originally in Putnam County Chancery Court but transferred to federal court at his request, be returned to Cookeville. This disgraceful behavior from this "good Christian gentleman" clearly is in his own interests and not the public's. In fact, it appears from a comparison of salaries that O'Mara got rich giving bad advice to the city, then got richer defending the decisions in court.
It wasn't bad enough that O'Mara got so much for his motoring outing to Nashville -- the government paid a second lawyer to drive from Knoxville to Nashville to hold O'Mara's hand when he asked the judge to send the case back to where they had it transferred from.
We have to wonder whether the council isn't trying to funnel money through O’Mara to repay lame duck Councilman Don Wagnon's $10,000 legal fee defending an official misconduct prosecution. When he beat the rap, he tried to get taxpayers to cover his expenses. The council tried to make it look like it was asking for the attorney general's advice on the matter, although members know the attorney general does not answer such questions from municipalities. At least members SHOULD have known, seeing that their $125-an-hour lawyer was there when they discussed it.
Unprofessional and unlawful as District Attorney General William E. Gibson is, voters used intelligence in rejecting O'Mara in the Democratic primary election in his bid to unseat Gibson.
We can only encourage the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility and whoever serves the next eight years as District Attorney General of this district, to investigate and prosecute such outright, shameless greed and betrayal in public office by those sworn to protect their clients and work on their behalf.
As Doyle Shirt Manufacturing learned the hard way, O'Mara's clients are sometimes his biggest victims.
We recommend the city council withhold further payment to O'Mara pending an audit of his time cards and expenses.
Councilman Steve Copeland is the only incumbent who is seeking re-election. He will make a great statement about his worthiness to serve another term by what he does to plug T. Dike O'Mara.
Dr. Copeland, show that you care as much about taxpayers as you do about puppies with worms.
Look at what full-time city attorneys make
Return to The Putnam Pit