Payment of the City of Denison’s $13,500 bill for services provided Des Moines attorney James Gilliam was put on hold by the city council on Tuesday.
Gilliam is the attorney who conducted an investigation into the city manager/city engineer, city clerk and fire chief beginning in December and ending in March.
The first public views of the invoices (one for $12,500 and a second for $1,000) from Gilliam occurred in April as the result of an open records request made by former police chief Rod Bradley.
City Clerk Lisa Koch said at that time that no invoices from Gilliam had been sent to city hall asking for payment and that city hall staff had not seen those invoices prior to the open records request.
It appears the invoices that were part of an email change for the open records request were directed to BrownWinick Attorneys at Law, the Des Moines firm hired by the council to serve as special counsel.
Councilman John Granzen said the Gilliam invoices were not part of the BrownWinick contract that the city council saw before voting on its approval at a special meeting the morning of Friday, December 21.
The contract that the councilmembers saw in their dropbox was dated December 14, 2018, and addressed to the City of Denison, to the attention of Mayor Jared Beymer.
The contract that the mayor signed was dated December 21, 2018, sent via email only to the mayor’s official email address.
At dispute in regards to the services of an investigator are the differences in the scope of engagement terms of the two contract versions.
The contract dated December 14, which the council viewed before they voted on December 21, did not mention the hiring of an investigator. The December 21 contract did.
“Once Mr. Mayor received his contract (the December 21 version) he should have brought it to us so we could have voted on it again,” said Granzen. “Nothing in the scope of engagement of the one the council voted on has nothing about an investigator. It’s not part of the contract and I don’t think we should pay it.”
The council agreed to table action on Gilliam’s bill and wait for a suggestion from the city’s attorney.
Granzen said Beymer should be responsible for the amount, not the city, and added that perhaps BrownWinick could cover Gilliam’s bill out of the money the city has paid that firm.
That amount is $65,796.69.
Bradley also spoke about Gilliam’s bills during the public forum portion of the meeting. He said he was dismayed that the council had not discussed the bill at the previous meeting.
“I think what we walk away from this, is this a really good reason that nobody, whether the mayor or an individual council member, receives any bills from any vendor for any reason,” said Bradley. “All bills should go through city. That way they’re not lost in the shuffle. They’re not mistaken to be an information document but an invoice to be paid.”