Burlington, Vermont -- April 6, 2007
Long-time Burlington city attorney Joe McNeil resigned today. McNeil is caught up in a controversy over what he called "a close personal relationship contractor Owiso Makuku, who presided over much of the city's zoning rewrite. The city investigated whether his relationship with her affected work on the re-write of the city's zoning laws. In his resignation letter, McNeil says he regrets that "my lapse in judgement caused problems for the city."
McNeil is one of the longest-serving municipal officials in Vermont, having served as city attorney for 37 years. "My overall impression is one of great gratitude," he told Channel 3. "You can't have done a job like this without really interacting with Burlingtonians of all shapes and sizes, and Vermonters of all shapes and sizes over quite a period of time.... We try real hard to do the right thing and we don't always succeed. Sometimes we look pretty foolish. Sometimes look pretty brilliant. Generally speaking, we get our way through it."
Mayor Bob Kiss (P-Burlington) said, "Joe will continue to work with the city in a transition to make sure that there is continuity so that there's no negative result for the city, from my accepting his resignation."
McNeil said this is not a retirement. He still represents several school districts and other municipalities.
The senior Burlington assistant city attorney, Ken Shatz, becomes the city attorney for the next two months until Mayor Kiss appoints a permanent successor. The mayor also says it's time to discuss making the city attorney a regular city employee instead of working under contract with the city.
Andy Potter - Channel 3 News