Kobach to continue legal work for Nebraska town, report says

Kansas Secretary of State-elect Kris Kobach will continue as lead attorney for the city of Fremont, Neb. in court challenges to an immigration ordinance. The Fremont Tribune report that follows notes there are some major changes in that town’s city hall, but Kobach will continue his work.

Fremont’s search for a new city attorney will be in its final stages soon, but the hunt for a city administrator is just starting.

Dean Skokan’s career as city attorney will wind down Dec. 31 or shortly thereafter, and Administrator Bob Hartwig will leave town Jan. 7 to accept a position in Erie, Colo.

“I will try to stay until they find somebody,” Skokan said in August while announcing his retirement. “There’s an informal cutoff date, but whether they will reach that point or not, I don’t know.”

Utility General Manager Derril Marshall, one of four city department heads interviewing attorney candidates, said finalists will be named as soon as background and reference checks are completed.

“We will narrow down the finalists in the next few days,” Marshall said. “We hope to be to that point by early next week.”

Marshall was unsure how many people applied for the position, but the committee interviewed seven, he said.

Other members of the committee are Human Resources Manager Laurel Korman, Planning and Building Director Jeff Ray, and Administrative Services Director Jan Rise.

Mayor Scott Getzschman said he expects the full city council will meet the finalists “over the next couple weeks.”

The new attorney will be full time, unlike Skokan, whose position is part time.

“We really feel that a lot of the outside legal services that we’re hiring out now could be brought inside if the person was full time,” Getzschman said. “When you have a person that’s half time, some things get diverted just because you don’t have time to get them done.”

Kris Kobach will continue to be the city’s lead counsel defending Fremont’s illegal immigrant ordinance, Getzschman said.

Hartwig’s replacement, meanwhile, is still several months away, but Getzschman said he doesn’t want the process to drag out. It took about a year in 2006 to hire Hartwig after his predecessor, Randy Reyzlik, died.

Marshall served as interim administrator between Reyzlik and Hartwig, and will fill that role again until Hartwig’s replacement is found.

“There wasn’t a lot of urgency (in 2006) because we were in good hands,” Getzschman said. “We’re still in good hands, it’s just that Derril’s got his hands full and to be doing both (administrator and utilities), he doesn’t need that. He’s said that he doesn’t want to be interim for more than three or four months, so the process isn’t going to drag out.”

A search committee was formed consisting of council members Jennifer Bixby, Steve Navarrette and Kevin Eairleywine, along with Marshall, Korman, Police Chief Tim Mullen, Steve Narens of SilverStone Group, and Russ Peterson.

Getzschman said council members and department heads were asked for input on the new administrator’s qualifications. The committee will meet Monday to review that input, fine tune it, and come up with questions and criteria for the position.