Councilman Gene Gallo is 'very satisfied' with current representation

BRADENTON — Local law firms have a month to submit a pitch if they are interested in providing their services to the city of Bradenton.

On Wednesday, the City Council voted 4-1 to publish a request for proposals from attorneys who want Manatee County's largest municipality as a client.

Councilman Gene Gallo said he is “very satisfied” with the Blalock Walters firm, which the council hired as acting attorney after Bill Lisch retired earlier this year. Lisch, who had a solo practice, served as city attorney for more than 40 years.

Blalock Walters assigned attorneys Scott Rudacille and Will Robinson to represent the city. Rudacille is currently consulting with attorneys for Manatee County and the city of Palmetto on a possible ordinance that all three jurisdictions can use to curtail panhandling.

“They’re local,” Gallo said of Blalock Walters, which has an office within walking distance of City Hall. “Their office is in the city of Bradenton.” He added that the firm pays city taxes.

Gallo said some residents will blame “the good ol’ boy system” if Blalock Walters is chosen over other applicants after the RFP process. “They’re going to say that no matter who you pick.” He said he remains convinced that Blalock Walters is “the best firm in the city” that could be selected. “I’m going to stand by that.”

Yet Mayor Wayne Poston and other council members thought the RFP is warranted in case there are other qualified applicants.

“I just think it’s the right process to go through,” Councilman Gene Brown said.

Poston said the RFP is a procedure related to the city’s commitment to “best practices.”

Rudacille said Blalock Walters will submit a proposal.

Responses are due Sept. 16 by 2 p.m.